Friday, December 16, 2011

Follow Friday Blog Hop

Hi. This is my first Follow Friday Blog Hop. Thanks for stopping by and joining the party. Hop along and discover some new blogs. Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkee and AllisonCanRead.

Question of the Week: When you've read a book, what do you do with it? (Keep it, give it away, donate it, sell it, swap it..?)

My answer: I love books, so I usually keep them, but I'm going to donate some of the cool YA books I've collected to the library for circulation because I like for readers to discover new books and authors. If I really loved a book, I want others to know about it too, and libraries don't always take the chance of stacking lesser-known books. But I don't chase after just what's popular. I'll pick up anything that catches my attention, especially if it's suspense.

The Rules:

1.(Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}

2. (Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers - Once Upon A Time & Books Are Vital.

3. Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.

4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say "hi" in your comments and that they are now following you.

5.Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "HI"

6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love...and the followers

7. If you're new to the follow friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!

Weekend Blog Hop

Welcome to Weekend Blog Hop. Thank you for joining us and linking up. We are happy you are here and hope you will always come around. We have had a great week and now it's time for us to increase our followers by Blog Hopping all through the Weekend. Come and make new friends and find some interesting blogs to follow. Happy Hopping.

Please only family friendly blogs only!!!

The rules of the blog hop are:-

1.) Follow clairejustineoxox in number 1 spot on Google friends connect.

2.) Follow Reflexions in number 2 spot the co-host on Google friends connect.

3.) Visit and read some great blogs and follow ones you like.

If you are a new follower please leave a comment so we can follow you back....

Have a great weekend...

Thank you for joining in .....

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How Do You Like My New Home???

Hi. Welcome to Gotta Have YA, my new and improved blog. How do you like my digs? Wicked cute, huh? I love my design!!! It was done by Freyja Silver at Silver Designs, so if you're looking for totally adorable designs, check out her site.

I know I don't have many followers yet, and that that looks really sad in the boxes, but I'm in the process of moving from Wordpress to Blogger. I still need to do my link lists, but just about everything else has come together sweetly. Please click the Follow button to keep it from remaining so pitiful.

Why did I move??? Well, WP makes you choose from stock designs, or you can pay, but why pay when Blogger's FREE? And it doesn't allow javascript, so there's only so much you can do with it to make it feel like your blogging home rather than a rental space. Like, you can't put little widgets in your sidebar, especially follower boxes, countdowns or to-be-read books. That's pretty much like not being able to hang pictures, put in surround sound or paint the walls.

I've been at Wordpress since 2008, and although it was nice for the time I was there, I felt it was time to part ways. Blogger offers fun, color and a more visitor-friendly platform. My blog posts may be old, but there are great nuggets in there for writers. Click on my labels if you are trying to figure out what people mean about different points of view, if you need a creative boost with a writing exercise or want to learn all about voice, hooks, the importance of story questions, etc. and how I really felt about Twilight.

For this blog, I intend to make it more YA-focused. Sure, I'll talk about writing and personal stuff too, but I mostly plan engulf myself in YA lit and blog about books and what's going on in the publishing industry regarding this way-awesome genre that sets trends, surprises always and bridges divides. Thanks for stopping in. If you follow, I'll follow back.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Shocker: I Designed a Cool Website

I'd created a writer website with CoffeeCup Visual Site Designer but had to do a system reinstall, losing the program. Plus, to add any little thing on it like videos or flash, you have to buy extra attachments, which is ridiculous. They have so many free builders online, there's no point in buying anything. So, I went on the hunt.

Most of the templates on various sites looked so generic and stock. I tried a few builders (Yahoo and some others I can't remember) but they weren't really what I was looking for.

Then, I landed on, advertised as FREE. It's huge array of templates, backgrounds, flash options, animations, customizable features, etc. won me over. So, I tried it out for my Kings & Queens page and loved the whole process. I think I made an awesome site with it.

The site builder was wicked easy to use, and ironically, I didn't even use a template. I got inspired by two of their examples, combined ideas, and designed my own.

Wix is not a perfect hosting company at all. It barely hosts. You don't get an email account or access to your code, nor a stat counter (Google Analytics) unless you pay $8.25 per month (the locked-in price for a one-year commitment), but you can have a free site if you don't care about stats (or their tiny ad bars) (though, their two ads will be affixed to your site) or upgrade to one of their plans. Most hosting sites are in the $4-a-month range.

They do have a $4-and-change plan but their little ads stay on your page. The $8.25 plan no ads, Google Analytics, a free domain and the extra advertising candies that every other host gives out.

For now, I'm online free; stats are not really important to me at this point. But I really don't mind paying $8.25 a month later on if it gets me an awesome site and I don't have to pay for a designer. Plus, I honestly don't need another email account to check, so linking my contact form to my current address totally works for me.

Here's my URL: if you want to check it out, but please note, it's a work in progress and I haven't plugged in my trailer, picked my set copy and all that jazz. I'm just so excited to show it. Check it out and let me know what you think.

If you pop in, please sign my guestbook, so I know you stopped by and let me know if it's easy to navigate and if everything appears cool on your end (fonts especially). My body text type should look kind of like Courier and all the page headers should look like black punch tape. Thanks a bunch.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Almost There...Eeeeek!

Okay. I got my final proof yesterday. I'm super excited because I'm almost finished with this twisted YA book, Kings & Queens, and the paperback will be out very, very soon.

I got as many PDF conversion glitches as I could find in my eBook. There may still be a couple of missing words or whatever, but I'm done with it. It will have to be as-is. [My eBook has been updated at Smashwords, Amazon and B&N, so if your copy doesn't change, let me know and I'll give you a coupon for a free replacement. I used a different font for chapter headings, so you will know instantly if you open it.]

I really need to move on to my next projects. I was going to finish Dropping Like Flies, but changed my mind. I'm going to put out Sapphire Reign next, in February or March, to keep my series momentum going. And I'm also going to continue writing StarStruck, which I intend to give away for free.

It's been a challenge to get this book out with one delay after another, including a power surge during a tornado storm, but I figure there's a reason for everything and I have definitely learned a lot about perseverance. When you want a dream to come true, you just have to keep pressing on and dealing with the obstacles as they come your way.

I know my book is not for everyone, and that I write on the side of realism and a character's mindset rather than my own standard of morality, but I believe a work becomes comprised and its message diluted when an author gets in the way. So, I just can't write in a pristine way. It's inauthentic to me. I let my characters be however ugly they are, say bad things and make mistakes because that's how people are in real life. Even my Christian characters are not morally perfect because, really, who is? I'm sure not! So why would I draft up book people who only make tiny, minor mistakes and never fail big? That's boring to me and not a true depiction of or glimpse at the problems, temptations or issues people face.

I believe the fact that I SHOW God's grace in a very non-preachy way in Kings & Queens and have an authentic and raw character who finds that grace will make a huge impact with some readers. And a certain enemy is clearly opposed to that message getting out and finding those curious, broken, questioning, thirsty souls who don't even know they're in search of it. When the initial idea for the novel came to me, I specifically prayed for a way that I could show God's grace, and that came about through my parallel protagonist's depravity and deep hunger for a clean slate.

I am giving away a short eCollection called Death Calls. Most of these pieces are scattered throughout my blog and now they're in one place for your reading pleasure. The collection is free at Smashwords and available in .mobi, .epub, PDF and RTF, so you can download your copy today. I also have it up at Amazon but I'm not sure how long it will take to switch to FREE. It's currently .99 there. Each piece touches on life's journey, death or dying in my own freakish way and it also includes a 5-chapter excerpt from my novel Kings & Queens, which is why I want it to be free at Amazon too. Everyone likes presents and you can't beat FREE advertising!!

Well, I'm off in search of dinosaur tracks. For real!

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Book Review: Songbird

Author: Angela Fristoe
Publisher: Little Prince Publishing (June 25, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0615470491
ISBN-13: 978-0615470498


There are defining moments in life when everything changes. For Dani Mays, it was the day she witnessed her father kill her brother. Now seventeen years-old, she still hasn’t put it behind her. After Jace’s death, she bounced between her alcoholic mother and foster homes, until she found a permanent place. And a reason to want to stay: Reece Tyler. He’s her best friend, yet Dani wants more from Reece. Faced with losing Reece, Dani struggles to define his place in her life and escape the influence her memories of her brother’s death have over her choices. Even as she weaves the pieces of her heart back together, the past becomes more than a memory when a former foster brother reappears and Dani begins receiving threatening phone calls.

My Take:

Songbird is a sweet story that perfectly captures the quest for love, laced with moments of pain and suspense, and you end up being sucked in from the very first words. The first chapter is so horrific and gut-wrenching and helps readers instantly sympathize with poor Dani, as the then six-year-old witnesses her brother's murder by her father from a playground tube she's hiding in.

Now, at seventeen, Dani yearns to escape her past and find love in the eyes and arms of her best friend, Reece, but right when the bonds of her friendships with him are strained, her life gets chucked into further turmoil at the resurfacing of a former foster brother in her school and threatening phone calls she begins receiving. She must make peace with her past and self-reflect to discover if her heart's desire is really her true love or just a replacement for her brother. And by the time the haze clears and the caller mystery plays out, will it be too late to follow her heart?

Some YA authors use empty, bland first person narrators, but Fristoe's use of Dani's voice immediately strikes chords of confidence and surety. Aside from a couple of grammatical slip ups, there's no hesitance or clumsiness or amateurism anywhere in sight in this debut novel. It's rich in detail and characterization and is packed with plenty of showing actions.

Songbird is light on plot, but it's the perfect read if you're looking a story that will tug at your heart and stay with you long after you close the cover ... or turn off your eReader ... or whatever your word-addiction vice may be. :)


~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Slow Progress

Here's where I'm at: the galley. I'm just waiting for that to arrive so I can go through it several times with a fine-toothed comb, a hatchet, and a red pen.

Ya see, when I lost my book files from the tornado storm, I had to convert my novel from a PDF to a doc I could manipulate, and when I did that, it randomly stripped out words, punctuation marks, numbers, etc. Oh joy. Right. Insanely annoying, especially for a perfectionist like me.

I uploaded my eBooks at Amazon, B&N and Smashwords on July 5th, but I've done at least three updates since because I keep finding these weird, random errors. (Soooorrry if you've bought my YA novel Kings & Queens and it keeps changing on your Kindle. :( I'm not finished either. One more round should do it.)

So, once I have my paperback book file and eBook file ready, I'll re-upload and send the final to the publisher and get to organizing another blog tour. Because I keep having one unforeseen delay after another with this novel, I wanna wait until my book is up everywhere so perked people won't have to wait for its availability.

I just wrapped up a Giveaway at LibraryThing. Three more people have requested my eBook in exchange for a review, which is cool with me. If you didn't win a copy and would like one for FREE, just let me know. I'm giving out Smashword coupons and my eBook is available in all eBook formats expect plain text.

Publishing a book is exhausting and this is just the easy part. Then I'll have to kickoff my big marketing phase and simultaneously finish up my second novel, StarStruck, which I hope to have out before Christmas. My plan is to offer that eBook for free. When you have a FREE eBook, you end up listed on all these sites that list free Kindle books, and that's free exposure and might just generate sales for Kings & Queens.

For marketing, beyond the blog tour, I may do another giveaway at Goodreads. I'm creating flyers, bookmarks and a press kit with a press release. I'll send the kit out with copies of my book (that I'll get for free with ecards I've gotten through swagbucks) to major newspapers, I may try click advertising at Goodreads for a month and try to land as many eBook of the day spots as I can across the web, like on Kindle Daily Nation. That's just to start. If you have any other inexpensive or free marketing ideas, please share. Thanks.

So that's where I'm at.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Win the Kings & Queens eBook

I'm giving away 50 eBooks of my YA suspense novel, Kings & Queens, all formats, in exchange for a review at LibraryThing. LibraryThing is not as pretty and or as easy to navigate as Goodreads and it seems far less social and popular, but there are some cool e-Books you can win. So sign up and click to win Kings & Queens.

Here's the synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Majesty Alistair wants police to look further into her father’s fatal car wreck, hopes the baseball team she manages can reclaim the state crown, aches for Derek…or, no…maybe Alec…maybe. And she mostly wishes to retract the hateful words she said to her dad right before slamming the door in his face, only to never see him again.

All her desires get sidelined, though, when she overhears two fellow students planning a church massacre. She doubts cops will follow up on her tip since they’re sick of her coming around with notions of possible crimes-in-the-works. And it’s not like she cries wolf. Not really. They’d be freaked too, but they’re not the ones suffering from bloody dreams that hint at disaster like some crazy, street guy forecasting the Apocalypse.

So, she does what any habitual winner with zero cred would do…try to I.D. the nutjobs before they act. But, when their agenda turns out to be far bigger than she ever assumed, and even friends start looking suspect, the truth and her actions threaten to haunt her forever, especially since she’s left with blood on her hands, the blood of someone she loves.

Here are some recent spots I landed on the web. Check 'em out.

An interview with me at Jeanne Bannon's blog, Beyond Words.
An interview with Derek, at Lost For Words, where you can find out how Derek and Majesty met.
An interview with Majesty at Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile, where you can find out what she'd most like to change about herself.
Character Tweets
will give you a sense of my main characters' personalities and how they'd communicate if on Twitter.

My paperback should be out next month. If you'd like to have me on your blog for a guest spot with an interview or anything to help me fill out my blog tour, just let me know in the comments. Thanks.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Kings & Queens eBook finally here. I expected it to be out by June 30th, but that didn't happen. After a little bit of a delay with my computer getting zapped in a tornado storm and me having to redo the eBook format, my YA suspense novel, Kings & Queens, is finally LIVE and available for purchase at Amazon (Kindle) and Barnes & Noble (NOOK book) for $3.99.

It was a pain to get it to look the way I wanted, and hopefully, it's right now. But, I do not own Microsoft Word, so that will present a problem in the future. I'm on a limited-use trial of Word on my computer and it wants the dang code. I think I have 5 more uses. I tried converting my file from Works and it completely disregarded styles, including the indents I set, and smashwords will take Open Office files that have been converted, but they DO NOT prefer them and tell tales of various horrors.

And marketing??? Well, I just wrapped up my tour with Teen Book Scene, which was a blast, and have been hesitant to fill out more dates until I at least had the eBook up. But really, I'm gonna need the paperback on hand too before I can go fish for YA book blogger reviews. Not all, but most bloggers only accept paperbacks. For the ones who do accept eBooks, once my book is LIVE on Smashwords, I can offer coupons and they can get it in any format they choose. And I'm still waiting on that.

I'm not sure when my paperback will be out, but hopefully by the end of the month.

The Kindle Indiependence Day Giveaway wrapped up. Congrats to the Grand Prize winner, Lilibeth, who won the FREE Kindle and all 17 Kindle books by the participating authors. If you haven't yet, you can still subscribe to the Kindle Indiependence newsletter to stay abreast of book news and upcoming contests. Just go here.

Once my dizziness ends and I find ground, I'll start compiling a blog tour. If you'd like to host me, let me know. That would be great!

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Book Review: The Queen Bee of Bridgeton

Author: Leslie DuBois
Publisher: Little Prince Publishing (May 17, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0615460534
ISBN-13: 978-0615460536


When fifteen-year-old Sonya Garrison is accepted into the prestigious Bridgeton Academy, she soon discovers that rich girls are just as dangerous as the thugs in her home of Venton Heights. Maybe more so. After catching the eye of the star, white basketball player and unwittingly becoming the most popular girl in school, she earns the hatred of the three most ruthless and vindictive girls at Bridgeton. Can she defeat the reigning high school royalty? Or will they succeed in ruining her lifelong dream of becoming a world class dancer?

My Take:

Sonya, a shy, black ballerina, who's been cleaning a studio for years in exchange for dance lessons, might actually be able to escape her real life in the ghetto and fulfill her dream of becoming a world-class ballerina, thanks to her dance scholarship at the prestigious Bridgeton Academy. Her older sister, Sasha, who spent years trying to get in through academic achievement, finally made it too. So, both sisters spend their lives in glam by day and return to cockroaches, nearby gunshots and ketchup sandwiches by night.

But, with Sasha having acted like a second mom to Sonya for years, by shrouding her from the dangers surrounding them and making sure she keeps up with her studies, Sonya has been skirting through life with her head down.

So, when she attracts the attention of the star, white basketball player and unwittingly becomes the most popular girl in school, the queens who rule her school don't like it one bit and take no hesitation in letting her know it. They've literally ruined the lives of others, and Sonya has become their number one target to destroy. And this shy girl must reach inside herself to find strength and the ugly in order to beat them at their own game. But even if she can, it may be too late to save her dream and her relationship.

What stands out immediately in this novel is the voice. It's full of humor, but also laced with a little bit of pain, which is hard to pull off. I find Sonya a relatable protagonist in that she has awkward moments, a passion for something and often underestimates her own worth. Growing up with a deadbeat father in a neighborhood of crime with no guys even glancing twice at her, she's felt invisible and bumbly her whole life, except when she's dancing. That's when she comes alive. And at Bridgeton, and in everything, dance is her sole focus. So, when she catches Will's eye, she's shocked and doesn't even know who he is. She blows him off at first, but something about him intrigues her and she soon becomes as smitten with him as he is with her.

I liked several things about this novel, but the things that stand out are the romance, the dashes of humor and the emotional journey the reader can experience.

If you want a YA book that's different and fresh on the familiar fish-out-of-water theme, that is packed with surprises and little bits that will make you laugh out loud, The Queen Bee of Bridgeton is definitely one to put on your to-read wall.


~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Book Review: Wake

Author: Lisa McCann
Publisher: Little Prince Publishing (December 23, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0615460534
ISBN-13: 978-1416974475


Not all dreams are sweet.

For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people's dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody- notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie's seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime.

She can't tell anybody about what she does -- they'd never believe her, or worse, they'd think she's a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn't want and can't control.

Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else's twisted psyche. She is a participant....

My Take:

This was a quick read for me. Finished it in about four hours. I really liked the concept. That's the best thing about it.

The characters are hard to relate to because they're so paper-thin. Janey??? (not even sure if I got that right and I just read it and have photographic memory)the MC was solely defined by her ability and there wasn't much else given. Another character Cabel in the novel had the most dimension of anyone and I found him to be the most interesting. The other characters are forgettable.

I did enjoy the MC's arc and her struggle to figure things out and turn a curse into a blessing, but I felt at times, her emotions rang flat within all that.

The fragmented style took some getting used to, and I did, but I got tired of the passive voice and seeing so many ISes abound. I just think a greater attention to wording would've made the prose much more compelling and pleasing to the ear. WAKE is described as lyrical by the New York Times and I wouldn't consider this lyrical in the least. Choppy is more like it.

The dreams were also so very linear and too perfectly drawn out, and Janey always took them at face value. Dreams in real life are often symbolic and chaotic and far more bizarre than the ones shown in this book, and in most of the dreams she gets sucked into, they were actual scenarios that took place in the past or very closely linked to them.

You may like this book if you don't mind a sparse read, one that gives just enough for readers to be entertained and no more. Some readers don't care, as they can be gripped by the hooky concept alone. If you like more depth in your reads, you'll probably be disappointed in WAKE.

Overall, I didn't find this book terrible, it just wasn't amazing, and I think it could've been.


~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Swearing... any given novel can be…





...and then some. But it is NOT…LAZY.


So why do I keep seeing this statement everywhere I look from readers and writers alike? To blanketly write off EVERY swear as being “lazy writing” is not only incorrect, it’s infuriating. I'm so sick and tired of hearing this.

Sometimes, swears just fit. Sometimes, they’re meant to be funny or understated. Sometimes, a setting or mindset demands it. Sometimes, nothing better conveys pain, frustration or anger. And sometimes, no offense is intended and there's a contradiction in the reader's response. Like if your story features a dog show, yeah, that's fine, but ‘bitchin’ can't stand in for ‘to complain’? Or an ass can heehaw but you’d better not talk about its rear. What is with that? It’s the same word.

Sure, there are books with swears that run amuck in prose and dialogue like verbal diarrhea, when the writer DID take the easy way out, when a story got ruined because of absolutely no restraint, but to say any and all writers are LAZY if they use ANY swears means you were too lazy to come up with your own reason for not liking them. That is parroted talk. And it needs to stop, damn it! Right now.

(Oh, and BTW: swears are okay in YA. It rhymes, so that should be easy to memorize. Let's say it together, "Okay in YA.")

I really don’t want my characters or stories to be censored by ME and MY moral code, my comfort level or my mom. I am not my characters. And they are not me. And if one of my characters needs to swear, given the circumstance, that doesn’t make me lazy. It makes me gutsy and FREE, in letting the story be told the way it needs to be told.

So, stop being a parrot. If you don’t like swears, that’s perfectly fine and up to you. No big deal. But please stop calling writers LAZY, or even thinking that way. Your tainted poison is unnecessarily and wrongly spreading to other weak-minded trolls.

Writing is never LAZY. It is a rush of creative breath, a gift from one soul to another, an exertion of energy, blood, sweat and tears. So how are you seeing laziness in that?

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Early Buzz About Kings & Queens

Wow. I know my book and my weird way with words is not for everyone, but I got a totally sweet and awesome review for my novel Kings & Queens from Missy at Missy's Reads & Reviews. She is one of the gracious bloggers hosting me for my tour.

Here's a tidbit from her review: I think the best way for me to describe the book is quirky. "Beautifully unique" would be another term I'd use. I just.. I love this book, and I don't know how to review this book without giving away too much.

Hop over to it if you'd like to read the rest. I am super psyched!!!! It's really freaky to finally have my book out there for critical eyes and minds. Every book gets less than favorable reviews, but my first two, at least, have me over the moon!

Here's my other review at Star Shadow Blog in case you missed it.

~ Signing off and sending our cyber hugs.

First Draft vs. Polished

Man, I am so super embarrassed by the awfulness of my first draft. It is...terrible. I wrote Kings & Queens before reading books on craft, before knowing it would be YA, before having a great group of critters at my disposal. Wow. What pure awfulness that I never even saw in the beginning.

Originally, I had 5 scenes in chapter two, and these were scenes 3 and 5, but now they're combined to create 4 of 4. I ended up hacking it down to the best bits and it is soooo much better. What I had before makes me cringe, it's choppy, the dialogue is so painfully babyish and the narrative is crap. Not even craptastic. Just plain crap.

One of the things I decided to do at some point was eliminate as many be-verbs as possible. And it's amazing how a little change like that can bring so much more life and pizazz to the prose. And it's not even something readers notice on a conscious level. Yet, overall, it makes your work much more colorful and engrossing. I also infused more showing and decided to write with a closer Third Person narrative, so now each perspective reflects the voice of each POV character.

So, without further adieu, here are my two hacked and sacked scenes, if you care to read them and promise not to throw tomatoes, that I turned into one:

The next morning at first bell, Majesty shut her locker door and felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned and said, “Hey, Alec.” His charming grin warmed her.

Fresh from the shower, his light brown hair was still damp, and he smelled deliciously like masculine soap. She inhaled deeply to take in more of his scent as if it could infuse her with strength.

He canted, “Way up in the sky, the big birdies fly; while down in the nest, the little ones rest.”

She tilted her head and muttered, “The sun comes up, the dew goes away. “Good morning, good morning,” the little ones say.”

“Why you so glum, Brown Eyes?”

She shrugged. “What do ya mean?”

“You’re not smiling and cheery like usual.”

“I’m smiling. See?” She exhibited a faux smile.

“, after the birdies pecked ya.” He flicked her nose. “You certainly don’t look like the manager of a winning team. You realize we won, right?”

“You know,” she said, rubbing the sting out of her tip, “my life doesn’t entirely revolve around baseball, ya know. Did it ever occur to you, I might have some personal problems?”

“Ohhh. Like that...The cotton pony thing?”

“Shut up!” She slapped his chest and rolled her eyes. “No, not that, you idiot! Just forget it. Saw you in the cage this morning. Troy’s suggestions have definitely made a difference.”

“Hopefully the adjustments stick.”

“They will. You’re amazing. I’m sure your little hitting slump is only temporary,” she said as they began moving towards the theater.

He huffed. “Yeah.”

Students streamed around Majesty and Alec. Thanks to the athletic director’s sensible decision to market paraphernalia, Colts shirts were plentiful, making Majesty feel less exposed wearing one of five she owned. Majesty cringed taking note of the guys. The smaller town of Megan’s Corner, which abutted Cedar Creek, didn’t have its own high school. Depending on zone, some kids came here, others attended a school in the city of Edgewood. According to the school records Majesty had looked up this morning after practice, males totaled 254. Finding them won’t be so easy. With more girls than guys, maybe Derek’s right. What are the chances they’ll find me?

“Hi, Majesty.”

“Oh hi, Hannah,” she answered as Hannah passed.

Majesty backhanded Alec’s shoulder. “She’s cute. Ask her out.”

“Heidi of the Alps? No way.” He scrunched his brow. “Bet she yodels and clog dances.”

“She does not. Cut it out…I know. I know. You gotta have a sports nut.”

“Just stop going all Aphrodite on me.”

She snickered. “Her son, Cupid’s the real romantic, ya know? Aphrodite enjoys causing havoc. If I went all Aphrodite on you, you’d be fawning at my feet, burning with desire, getting harder by the…”

“Okay! Gotcha!” The tan on his face was vanquished by pink, and his eye color, which teetered between blue and green and appeared to shift with emotional swells more reliably than any mood ring, yielded to green. “Quit matchmaking. Alright?…D’ya memorize all your lines?”

She beamed relishing her flair to beckon a blush. “Hope so, Red, but I had a hard time focusing last night.”

“That happens to me too,” he said carrying on as if she’d called him Alec. “Um, since we’re arguing, you could just storm off the stage and pretend that’s what you intended to do.”

She huffed and glanced at the Our Town poster on the bulletin board in the performing arts wing. “Sure. That’ll go over well. Mr. Hanson may renege and choose another Emily.”

“Doubt that. You’re perfect, ” he cleared his throat and added, “uh, for the part. Maybe we’ll be called on last and you can cram. We’ll figure something out…Come on, sweet goddess. Let’s get inside, or we’ll make a dramatic entrance if we’re late.”

She laughed. “Ooooo, Alec, your corniness totally turns me on.”

His cheeks went flush again. “Yeah, mock me all you want, baby, but my groaner gave you your first gut-wrench of the day.”

She smiled but started losing grasp of it once Alec opened the theater door and ushered her in with a nudge to her back. She wished she possessed the capability to enfold herself in the cozy humor like it was a thick quilt, but the wispy organza of delight blew away with a gust of anxiety.

As soon as they sat on the maroon, velvet cushions, joining about thirty fellow students, Maj felt the heat of eyes on her neck. She looked over her left shoulder to see if she was indeed being watched and found Preston Reilly staring at her. He smiled. She sneered and faced forward again. She crinkled her left cheek. That’s weird. Why would he look at me like that or pay any attention to me? He never has before. No guy does. She glanced over her shoulder again, but this time, he was so close, his golden hair feathered her cheek when she turned. She jolted.

“D’ya find the invitation to my party?” he whispered in her ear.

She nodded.

“Hope you come. Won’t be as fun without you.”

Some concern, jerk! Then why is this my first invite?
She watched him sit back and cross his arms looking satisfied and pretty darn cute too. If you weren’t such an egomaniac, you might actually be hot.

“What’d he want?” Alec muttered.

“He actually invited me to his party this time,” she said in his ear.

“Yeah. Derek and I found his junk mail in our lockers this morning.”

“Ya goin’?”

He coughed and shook his head. “Not a chance.”

“Well, then I don’t want to go, but Derek’ll want to for sure, and you know how easily I cave.”

He gawked at her like she was crazy. Yeah, it was dumb to follow Derek around like a tagalong puppy, but it was better than nothing.
“I’d ask you why you torture yourself, but I already know why.” He kissed her forehead and swept her hair out of her eyes tucking it behind her ear. “Can’t help it cause you’re madly in love with him. Want me to beat the crap out of him, or some sense into him, I should say?”

“No,” she moaned. She slumped her head on his shoulder and sighed.

“He’s been so detached and serious lately. He rarely laughs anymore.”

“Maybe your jokes just suck.”

“You know what I mean. I don’t know where his mind is.”

I do, she thought as she slouched in her chair.

After school, Majesty waited for an opportunity to use the payphone in town. When no one was in the vicinity, she ran to it and called the police.

“Police Department,” a male said. “We’re recording.”

She peered around, then hunched and shielded her mouth with her hand. “Hi, um…I was jogging in the woods last night around six-thirty and overheard two teens, who I believe attend Cedar Creek High, talking about some plan involving a church. They didn’t name any specific one, but they mentioned bullets and shooting up the place. That’s all I heard before they chased me away. I just wanted to let you know so you could warn the churches. Bye.”

“Wait a minute! Miss...”

She shivered as she hung up. I hope I did the right thing, but now I’m petrified. What if they find out I ratted? And figure out who I am? While her hand was still on the receiver, the phone rang making her jolt and shriek. Gosh! They traced it? Stupid caller ID. She gasped and did a double-take when glancing over her shoulder. "Oh no! The gas station cameras!" Cops will know who I am in five minutes. It's fine! Stop overacting. Be cool. “He-hello.”

“Tell anyone else, anything, even the fact that we found you, and someone you love will die,” said an electronically-altered voice. “No one can stop us…least of all, you.” In the midst of his freaky, warbled laugh, she slammed down the phone.

Panic overwhelmed her. How did they find out it‘s me? Her eyes grew wide as she scanned the area. Aside from Smitty, who was changing gas prices on his sign, no one else was in eyeshot. They have to be watching me now. They must’ve followed me. She was terrified as she ran home, the long way. “Oh my gosh!” Are they going to kill me? I can’t think. I just need to find out who they are before they hurt me or anyone else. But how? Who on earth could they be?

And here's the scene tightened up, beefed up, with me keeping just the necessary parts or conversation pieces I liked. In chapter 1, Majesty saves Jase from jumping off a building, so the scene opens up with her response to that.

Jase’s brown eyes, dull as mud, turned Majesty into organza when she said hi. Well, if he wanted more friends, he should try, um, returning gazes or replying when spoken to. She felt no itch to sweat it.

Unlike him, she didn’t mind skirting under the radar, not with killers-in-the-making on the hunt. Her neck ached from the protective slouch she’d lugged around all day.

Though her victory shirt, one of five Colts shirt she owned, screamed flamboyance with its sparkly MJ on back, she figured not wearing it would’ve beamed brighter to whomever the deadly sickos were. But thanks to the Athletic Director’s good sense to market paraphernalia, Colts shirts flooded in plenty, making her feel less self-conscious. Still,
she feared she held some other exposing tell.

According to records, males totaled 254, which included invaders from Megan’s Corner. Finding ’em won’t be easy. With more girls, what are the chances they’ll find me?

The dismissal bell rang. Finally.

Leaning against the lockers, Alec adjusted his Red Sox cap and squinted at her.

Majesty was about to snap, “What!” when a passerby said hi. “Oh, hi, Hannah.” She backhanded Alec’s chest. “She’s cute. Ask her out.”

“Heidi of the Alps? No way. Bet she yodels and clog dances.”

“She does not. Cut it out . . . I know. I know. Gotta have a sports nut.”

“Stop going all Aphrodite on me.”

“Actually, her son Cupid’s the real romantic. She enjoys causing havoc. If I went all Aphrodite on you, you’d be fawning at my feet, burning with desire, getting harder by the—”

“Kay. Gotcha.” Pink conquered the tan on his face, and his irises, which volleyed between blue and green, fell to the hue of colder oceans. “Quit matchmaking, all right?”

“For now,” she laughed. Being able to floor this rock among mere men sparked a thirst for even greater stun power. “Hey. I got my first invite to a Preston smash-n-bash today.”

“Yeah. Derek and I found his junk mail this morning. I’m not buying.”

“Then I don’t wanna go, but Derek might, and you know he kinda sorta weakens my will.”

He swept strands of her hair off her face and tucked them behind her ear. “Lovesickness. Tackles the best of us. Want me to beat some sense into him, Brown Eyes?”

“No,” she moaned.

He removed his cap and wiggled it onto her head. “Cuter on you.” He smoothed his golden brown hair but missed some wisps on top. “He’s beh…” She took care of ’em. “…um…been so detached and serious lately, rarely laughs anymore.”

“Maybe your jokes just suck.”

“You know what I mean. Don’t know where his mind is these days.”

“I do. Think fake boobs . . . Gotta go. Bye.” She one-shouldered her backpack, stuffed with books and letters of warning for every church within fifty miles.

“I can give you a lift,” Alec said, reaching for it.

She recoiled. “No! I’m good. I’ll walk. It’s gorgeous.”

“What the heck? Rob a bank?”

“No. I . . . have lots of locker crap . . . cleaned it out. It’s not heavy.”

He sneered at her and said, “Okaaay. You cool or what? You’ve been weird all day. Kinda jumpy and quiet actually. And you, quiet? With the title recapture a couple of wins away? Not like you at all.”

“I’m fine. Just tired. Need fresh air. See ya.” As she turned, faces warped like deranged clowns in a fun house mirror. She clenched her eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. Though her vision reset, anxiety stuck. Her pulse raced as she jogged to the Don’t-Blink Zone.

With no one near the payphone, she darted there, kissed her Carlton Fisk keychain for luck and called police.

“Cedar Creek Police Department. Recording.”

Peering around, she hunched and shielded her mouth. “Hi. Uh, I was jogging in the woods last night around seven-thirty. I overheard two guys, who I believe go to Cedar Creek High, talking about some plan involving a church. They didn’t specify, but they mentioned guns and shooting. That’s all I heard. Just wanted you to know. Bye.”

“Wait a minute! Miss—”

She hung up and gnashed her teeth. Load off me now. But what if they learn I ratted, figure out who I am? The phone rang, making her jolt. Stupid caller ID. Casting a glance over her shoulder, she gasped and did a double-take. “Oh no. Gas station cameras.” Cops’ll know in five. It’s fine. Be cool. She jerked Alec’s cap down on her brow. “He-hello?”

“Tell anyone else, anything, even the fact that we found you, and someone you love will die,” said an electronic voice. “No one can stop us . . . least of all, you.”

During a diabolical laugh, she slammed the phone down. Aside from Smitty changing gas prices on his sign, no one appeared in eyeshot. The letters, now affixed with a death sentence, suddenly weighed like lead.

Majesty couldn’t stop shaking, as she ran home, the long way.

I know that first one was super long, so imagine if that were still in my book? Yuck. I'm so glad I learned how to spot what was most important, SHOW more than tell and kill my darlings. Have you done any major gutting like I have and seen your stuff for the horror it really is?

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Blog Tour: So Far, So Good

I'm having a total blast on my blog tour so far. The Teen Book Scene is awesome for helping me with the start of it, for the next four weeks.

For my first visit at Rex Robot Reviews, I had to write a bio using only lines from my YA novel, Kings & Queens.This would have been so much easier with a First Person narrative because that gives you so much commentary to draw from, but mine's in close Third.

Well, the first bio I had written, consisted of mainly thoughts, since they're in First. But all the posts I had written weeks ago for my blog tour are on my zapped computer, so I had to redo them.

For my next go around, I decided to do something completely different: a Q&A. It's much, much better than what I originally had. A mock Q&A allowed my to use more chunks of dialogue to make the bio more quirky and weird like me.

I Love it!

Well, here it is, in case you missed my links all over cyberspace.

Barbie? Well, Totally Toxic. Not Malibu.
Another dreamer? Yep. I always fight for my deepest desires.
Excited? Getting more colorful by the hour.
Peculiar? Totally. And hot as fire and a bundle of laughs too.
Clothes? I don’t have the best fashion sense, but I’ve been so blinded by gorgeous face in the mirror, I didn’t stop to look. Bask in my awesomeness.
What about shoes, boots? Running shoes. Oldies. Though retired due to high mileage, they’re the comfiest things to beat around in.
Haven’t been in much trouble? Obviously.
Ever been prone to violence? I’ve thought about bashing a few brains in—today even. Never actually done it.
Where’s your sense of adventure? Ha. I’ll go half-naked…or skinny dipping in a Hawaiian lagoon.
Can I get tickets for the show, princess? Don’t count on it.
Got a secret lover or somethin’? Yeah, sure. Last night. We slept together.
You’re a sick freak, ya know that? Indeed. So weird. Gotta have a sports nut. Baseball, friendship and love…Little delights me more...Oh, and maybe one cookie. Yum.
Ya on drugs or somethin’? You’re not acting right. No. What’s right? That’s way lame.
What do you want? Everyone to love me.
Favorite thing? A lingering kiss, so amazing, so enrapturing, so perfect. The sudden closeness, the hardness of his chest and arms, the sexy scent of his skin and the taste of his mouth, all cinnamon from recently chewed Big Red or something. Mmmm.
Biggest regret? Life is so short, we never know what’s going to happen and I’ve been an idiot, wasted opportunities, didn’t take chances..I’m tired of being pitiful and listless. I wanna have fun for once. It must be freeing to be so uninhibited…so that’s what I plan to do.
See? You were nervous for nothing. You did great. Am I supposed to clap now? I forgot to bring flowers. My bad.

* * *

Yay!!! And today I got my first online review for Kings & Queens. I'm nervous because it's do or die time and the only feedback I've really gotten is from my way-awesome critters. I know my quirky writing style isn't for everyone and some negative reviews will likely come out, as they do for any book, but I did get a recommendation from Reagan Star at Star Shadow blog.. You can follow the hyperlink to her blog if you'd like to read it.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Friday, June 10, 2011

My Whirlwind Starts Here:

...The Teen Book Scene. This site and these bloggers are so awesome. They organized everything for FREE and my debut YA novel, Kings & Queens, will be featured for four weeks in a site-sponsored blog tour. I am soooo excited, but also a little bit stressed. I planned to have my eBook out already and my paperback by June 30th, but I'm not sure if that's gonna happen because some of my files are in limbo.
I live in Western Mass, and in case you haven't heard, we got plastered by an EF-3 tornado last week and another EF-1. The big tornado bypassed my town and it had a narrow path of destruction, though a very long one--39 miles. Anyway, there was also a vicious electrical storm going on at the same time with hail, rain, creepy yellow sky, the craziest lightning I've ever seen.

So, needless to say, my computer did not survive the power surge. I am thankful that I only lost a few electronic devices. Some of my friends and family lost homes and cars.

I'm bringing my PC to my tech today, who lives right in one of the strike zones. It didn't feel appropriate to be bugging him last week about something so insignificant. But, he's cool, wants the work, so I'm bringing it, praying it can be fixed. Even if my computer's toast, I'm pretty sure my data can be recovered, and I just bought a new laptop for $100 so I can work on that, but it's just a pain having to hunt down fonts and lost bookmarks and stuff like that that I was collecting for my launch. So, there will likely be a delay in my output.

It will be a little weird to have a book tour with no book available, but they understand and are cool with it. I had already written out all my posts and will have to rewrite them. I should have my eBook out very soon, just can't give an exact date.

Here's my tour schedule with them, along with what will be featured at the host site. Please stop by at a few and leave comments. Thanks.

Monday, June 13: Julia at Rex Robot Reviews (In Her Own Words)
Tuesday, June 14: Reagan at Star Shadow Blog (Review)
Wednesday, June 15: Mariah at A Reader’s Adventure (Tens List)
Thursday, June 16: Missy at Missy Reads & Reviews (Review)
Friday, June 17: Lisa at Baffled Books (Teenage Garage Sale)

Monday, June 20: Missy at Missy Reads & Reviews (Guest Post)
Tuesday, June 21: Corrine at Lost For Words (Review)
Wednesday, June 22: Lindsay at Just Another Book Addict (Author Interview)
Thursday, June 23: Serena at Pensive Bookeaters (Review)
Friday, June 24: Jessica at Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile (Character Interview: Majesty)

Monday, June 27: Julia at Rex Robot Reviews (Review)
Tuesday, June 28: Crystal at My Reading Room (Character Tweets)
Wednesday, June 29: Lisa at Baffled Books (Review)
Thursday, June 30: Mariah at A Reader’s Adventure (Review)
Friday, July 1: Reagan at Star Shadow Blog (This or That?)

Monday, July 4: Crystal at My Reading Room (Review)
Tuesday, July 5: Lindsay at Just Another Book Addict (Review)
Wednesday, July 6: Corrine at Lost For Words (Character Interview: Derek)
Thursday, July 7: Jessica at Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile (Guest Post)
Friday, July 8: Serena at Pensive Bookeaters (Guest Post)

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wanna get some cool YA and Middle Grade reads to jazz up your summer reading for FREE? The Kindle INDIEpendence Day Giveaway is a month-long celebration of the hottest Indie Middle Grade and YA books of spring and summer, culminating in a grand prize giveaway of a Kindle. And on top of that awesomeness, it's loaded with seventeen eBooks, including my very own debut novel Kings & Queens! Collect points in various, fun ways to increase your chances of winning. On July 3rd, names will be drawn from the pool for the Grand Prize, as well as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners. And we will also be giving out special goodies along the way. Yesterday, all entrants were entered in a giveaway for a $25 iTunes giftcard. So, sign up, have fun and start collecting points! Winners will be announced July 4th.

The Prizes:

Grand Prize: 1 FREE Kindle with all authors' books loaded onto it

First Place: 1 FREE copy of each eBook (from participating list)

Second Place: 10 FREE eBooks of their choice (from participating list)

Third place: 5 FREE eBooks of their choice (from participating list)

To Enter: sign up the the Kindle website and get your first point. FOLLOW THE BLOG AND FACEBOOK PAGEFOR 2 MORE POINTS.

Other ways to Collect Points:

Reading one of the sponsored books and leaving a review for it on a blog, social networking or retail site will give you the most number of points.

  • One posted review on a retailer site gets you 20 points

  • Posting that review on different sites (such as Goodreads, Amazon, Smashwords, etc) gives you 5 extra points per site

  • Posting a review on your blog gives you 20 points

  • Tweeting the number of stars you gave that book (like "just read this book, 3/5 stars) gives you 1 extra point

  • Talking about a book on FB, Twitter, etc (like "This book looks great!") gives you 1 point

So for example, you could read one of our books, leave a review on Amazon (20 points), then also leave a review on Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Goodreads, and Shelfari (for 20 points), then post a review for that book on your blog (20 points), then tweet the review (1 point), for a total of 61 points.

NOTE: Please send an email to kindleindiependence(at)hotmail(dot)com every time you leave a review for a book (ex: read "Wayward", left review on Amazon, Goodreads, Library Thing) to make sure your points are tallied!

You can also get points for blogging about our sponsored books, sponsored authors, or the contest in general.

  • A guest blog with one of our sponsored authors gives you 20 points

  • A blog post about the contest gives you 5 points

So, for example, you can make a blog entry about the contest (5 points), and do a guest blog with one of our authors (10 points), for a total of 25 points. There is no limit to how many guest posts you can do with authors, and there is no limit to how many times you can blog about the contest. For example, if you blog about the contest 3 times, you will get 15 points.

NOTE: Please send an email to kindleindiependence(at)hotmail(dot)com when you blog about the contest to make sure that your points are tallied! When you do a guest blog with one of our authors, our author will keep track of your points.

Social Networking:
You can also get points for tweeting abut the contest and talking about it on facebook.

  • Liking the Kindle INDIEpendence Day facebook page gives you 1 point

  • Liking any of the sponsored authors facebook or book pages gives you 1 point

  • Tweeting about the contest or our books or authors gives you 1 point

  • Following the blog gets you 1 point

So, for example, you could like the INDIEpendence Day fb page (1 point), like two of the author's fan pages (2 points--1 point for each author), like one of the author's book fan pages (1 point--1 point for each book page), and tweet about the contest 5 times (5 points--1 point for each tweet) author's fan page, for a total of 9 points. There is NO limit to how many times you can tweet/talk about the contest on fb/etc. For example, if you tweet about the contest 10 times, you will get 10 points. If you tweet about a book you really like (or don't like) 10 times, you will get 10 points.

Legal Disclaimer:

CONTEST BEGINS June 1, 2011 at 12:00 A.M. EST, and will run until July 3, 2011, 11:59 P.M. EST, with the winner to be announced on July 4, 2011.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  Sign up-sheet for Kindle Indiependence Giveaway can be found at  No further action is required to enter, however, optional actions can be taken by any participant to gain additional entries and improve chances of winning.  These include: 1.) Liking Kindle Indiependence Giveaway on Facebook, 2.) Tweeting about Kindle Indiependence on Twitter, 3.) Blogging about Kindle Indiependence and 4.) Purchasing a participating eBook and writing a genuine customer review on

This contest is open to (...)   Void where prohibited.  Participating authors and their immediate family members and persons living in their household are not eligible to enter.

One (1) Grand Prize Winner will be chosen at random on July 4, 2011, from all eligible entries received by the entry deadline. Odds of winning depends on the number of eligible entries received. Sponsor will notify Winner by sending an email and announcing the winner's name (but not email address) on the contest website and blog within a week of the contest deadline.  Winner will be required to provide his/her home address for mailing of the prize.  First, second, and third prize winners will be required to provide a valid email address for delivery of prizes.

The one (1) Grand Prize Winner will receive a Kindle ebook reader (Retail value $150.)  Sponsor is not responsible for delays of shipping from the manufacturer to the winner or in any issues related to the prize or its use or malfunction. The winner will be solely responsible for the prize's use, any downloads, any purchases, etc., as well as applicable taxes related to the winning of the prize. Any problems with receipt of the prize, functionality of the prize and further use of is not a responsibility of the Sponsor.

One (1) First Prize Winner will receive all 17 participating authors' eBooks, one (1) Second Prize winner will receive 10 participating authors' eBooks of their choice, and one (1) Third Prize Winner will receive 5 participating authors' eBooks of their choice.

By participating in this contest, entrants agree to abide by these official rules. Sponsor is not responsible for injury or damage to any computer, the prize itself, other equipment, or person relating to or resulting from participation in the contest, or participating in the Kindle Indiependence Day Giveaway email newsletter. Entrants release Sponsor, its agencies, and assigns from any liability, damage and/or loss resulting from participating in this contest and/or the acceptance, use or misuse of the prize. Acceptance of the prize constitutes permission for Sponsor to publish, post online, or otherwise refer to the name of the winner in any and all forms and media throughout the world, and for any and all publicity or promotional purposes, without obligation or compensation, except where prohibited by law.

Good luck!

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

More on Kings & Queens

When I was submitting to agents, Kings & Queens was at a too-terse 88,000 words. It didn't need to be that short, content-wise, but I didn't want to turn agents off with 106,000 words, so I stripped it way down. Let me just say, because it was so skeletal, I am SOOOO glad no one signed me.

When I decided to seek out an independent publisher instead, I stopped caring about word count and reinfused more substance into the narrative. My story did need major editing those months ago, but I overdid it to the detriment of the work. I'm now at 102,000 words and it's a little over 300 pages...328, if you count the excerpt from Leslie DuBois's Guardian of Eden. Now is that so ugly? 328 pages? That's not a behemoth at all. So what's the big deal?

With Little Prince Publishing, I get to call the shots too. The cover, back jacket copy, the way my book is presented to the world gets my say.

In the Big House world, I understand why my book didn't garner much interest. I couldn't find another one quite like it, and big publishers need good-selling comparisons. The best I could come up with was Veronica Mars. Kings & Queens is also written in close Third, but First is what's hot in YA. And my book is not high-concept. A teen trying to stop a massacre when cops don't believe her doesn't sound that special or unique...and it wouldn't be, if my novel were just about that. The best part of the read is not in some easily pegged ooo factor, it's in the surprises, the turns and twists, the blurred definitions of character so you're no longer sure who's good or bad, and the sudden decent into disturbia. How do you put that on a poster? You can't really.

Kings & Queens is not high-concept or in First or easily shelved... and I really don't care. That doesn't make it inadequate; it's just not very marketable from their standpoint. But the reality is, readers don't really care about concept at all, only marketing departments do. Readers just want good books.

I'm happy with my richer narrative. I'm happy that Kings & Queens is different and fresh. And I'm happy I get to call the shots about my own work and collect 100% of my royalties, as any Little Prince Publishing author can.

So, if you want to read a multi-layered, twisty suspense thriller, look for my low-concept YA novel ;) Kings & Queens this summer in all online stores.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Author Website is Finally Up!

It took me forever I know, but I finally have an author website. It's flash-based so it might not work on an Apple device due to their whole issue with Adobe. My YA novel, Kings & Queens, will be available for purchase in e-book June 30, 2011 and paperback on December 20, 2011. Come check out my new digs at

I now also have an author page set up at Goodreads. If you're on there, you can connect with me.

At the end of May I will be doing the YA blog tour with Teen Book scene. They plan the whole thing, so that will save me time. I'm hoping to have a different blog stop every day this summer and I'll be running some giveaways for a chance to win ARCs (advanced read copies), giftcards and other goodies.

Goodreads Giveaway: Enter to win 1 of 3 ARCs. Good luck!

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Book Review: Thirteen Days to Midnight

Author: Patrick Carman
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (April 5, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0316004049
ISBN-13: 978-0316004046


You are indestructible. These are the words that transfer an astonishing power to Jacob Fielding... and it changes everything. After all, there's something addictive about testing the limits of fear, experiencing the thrill of walking through fire, or saving your friend from a beating in front of the whole school.

Then Ophelia James, the beautiful and daring new girl in town, suggests that they use the power to do good, to save others at risk of death. But with every heroic act, the power grows into the specter of a curse. How to decide who lives and who dies? And why does darkness seem to be chasing them? Jacob only has thirteen days to figure out how to harness this terrifying power... and the answer is chilling: What if he has to kill the one he loves to save her?

In the context of a dark, unconventional superhero story, Patrick Carman has envisioned a high concept tale of intrigue, romance, friendship and adventure that probes deep into what teens face as they enter young adult years: navigating increasingly complex choices with greater consequences, as well as the gray areas blurring the definitions of right and wrong.

My Take:

Jacob Fielding survives a car accident, but was passed a gift from his guardian just before he died that makes Jacob indestructible. He soon discovers he can pass it to others too but only one person can have it at a time. But is this super power really a curse?

Thirteen Days To Midnight explores this question, as he and his friends survive daring feats without a scratch. But as they cheat Death time and again, they notice Ophelia, Jacob's crush, is fading into a dark shell of herself and is becoming more and more possessive of the gift. And although the become super heroes in saving people, they never stop to consider the consequences of when they succeed. The only way they can set Ophelia free from herself is to kill her. But do they have the guts to do it?

This book is lower-teen but still an interesting read.


~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Kings & Queens to Be Published

I'm so excited to announce my YA suspense novel, Kings & Queens, will be released this summer through Little Prince Publishing. My debut novel will be available in Kindle, e-book and print.

So, needless to say, I'm gonna be busier than a bee with all that I have to do between now and then.

I need to get my last draft in and finish up my website. Yeah, I'm way late in the game on that, I know. And I need to redo my book trailer, as I'm not that thrilled with the one I've already done.

For promotion, to start, I'm going to be doing a blog tour and some giveaways on here, but especially at Goodreads, so you'll get a chance to win some ARCs and other goodies. If you're on Goodreads, friend me and look for my events. For now, you can check out my book site.


Seventeen-year-old Majesty Alistair wants police to look further into her father’s fatal car wreck, hopes the baseball team she manages can reclaim the state crown, aches for Derek...or, no...maybe Alec...maybe. And she mostly wishes to retract the hateful words she said to her dad right before slamming the door in his face, only to never see him again.

All her desires get sidelined, though, when she overhears two fellow students planning a church massacre. She doubts cops will follow up on her tip since they’re sick of her coming around with notions of possible crimes-in-the-works. And it’s not like she cries wolf. Not really. They’d be freaked too, but they’re not the ones suffering from bloody dreams that hint at disaster like some crazy, street guy forecasting the Apocalypse.

So, she does what any habitual winner with zero cred would do...try to I.D. the nutjobs before they act. But, when their agenda turns out to be far bigger than she ever assumed, and even friends start looking suspect, the truth and her actions threaten to haunt her forever, especially since she’s left with blood on her hands, the blood of someone she loves.

I'll let you know when I get an exact date.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Book Review: Some Girls Are

Author: Courtney Summers
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (Jan. 5, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0312573804
ISBN-13: 978-0312573805


High-school senior Regina Afton has been what she believes is an important part of the most popular girls’ clique during middle and high school. And then she’s not. Summers spins a story in which kids are mean, abusive, and quixotic, while adults are for the most part absent or ignorant. Regina, nearly raped by her best friend’s boyfriend, pays for telling by being victimized in a hate campaign. Only her deceased psychiatrist’s teenaged son seems to really care, and when she tries to take revenge on his behalf after her former friends bully him as well, egregious behavior spins out of control. Comeuppance-seeking readers won’t mind that most of the characters are flat: Regina and her once and future crowd make up for their lack of depth with spiteful tongues and dangerous degradings of themselves and their fellow students. An additional choice for collections where Gossip Girl maintains a loyal following.

My Take:

When lies spread after Regina Afton is near-raped by her best friend's boyfriend, this member of the Fearsome Fivesome is thrust into no-man's land in the school halls she once owned. She's forced to reconcile with her past actions of tormenting others and hopefully make some kind of amends...and maybe find friends in the gutter.

Though she's hurt so many people, her regret endears her to readers and you end up aching for Regina to find a place somewhere. Her former friends don't make life easy with their horrid pranks. And when Regina decides to fight back, the war is on and there's no turning back. Every gain and setback can be felt by the reader and the tension builds to a bloody end.

While I myself found some of the pranks to be far-reaching, I'm sure someone who's been seriously bullied would beg to differ about their realism.

The novel could've been a bit longer with further exploration and depth, like with the romance in the book, I would've liked to see more growth, connection and chemistry, but overall, I enjoyed the read.


Here's the Some Girls Are book trailer:

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Turning Tricks

Every novelist wants to knock out a great book, one that engages readers and gets them to care about the final outcome and read beyond chapter 1. To be an exceptional storyteller, the vital thing you must master is the art of hooking. And you do that by using plenty of page-turning tricks and lures.

One of the best ways you can create a hooky work that's so very hard to put down is to end every chapter in some dynamic fashion...even better if it's every scene. You never want to be predictable, to always use the same kind of endings, with a banal note of foreshadowing if in First, with a dum-dum-dum moment if in Third. The same kind of downturn used consistently time after time becomes stale, moldy and barbless, even exasperating for readers. Aim to surprise, stimulate and catch readers off guard.

I was reviewing one novel on TheNextBigWriter where every chapter ended with some kind of cliffhanger, but then when the new chapter began, the perceived threat was nothing. Perception by the character, or more likely a case of cheap teasing by the author, was way overblown.

This is melodrama in its most insidious and ugly form. It's fake. It's stupid. And worst of all, if you've dished this out every chapter and we're four chapters in, guess what, you've inadvertently shifted your readers to a place where they no longer believe you, and you may never gain your credibility back. Even the most unsavvy minds are no longer fooled, more over hooked or affected, by your "trick". DO NOT fall into this rat trap. Ever. You can play the misunderstanding card once, maybe twice if it's far removed from the first, but really, overall, mix things up.

Even if you write literary fiction or a more character-driven work, you can strengthen your plot and make your book irresistible. Here are some cool tricks and angles you can infuse in endings in order to pull readers onward in the journey you've mapped out for them:

§ Failure in reaching a goal. Characters generally want or need something. Your job as a writer is to pull that object of desire further away from their outstretched hands. End the scene/chapter after a failed attempt.

§ A setback or deterrent. You can land your characters in a spot that's far worse than they were at the onset of their quest.

§ Increased jeopardy. Is the antagonist one step closer to his or her prey, someone readers care about? Nothing gets readers turning pages faster than tension or a threat to the MC or another likable character.

§ A twist. You can lead readers to believe one thing and then make a shift in the story that gets them hungry to learn more about the jarring shocker you just revealed.

§ A new direction or lead for the protagonist/antagonist to pursue. Readers are information junkies and care about the story question you presented at the beginning, so get them excited or biting nails over the new possibilities in the arc.

§ A new question. You can hint at something that will be fleshed out later. Adding another mystery into your mix of goodies will give readers more to be concerned with.

§ Something totally unusual or unexpected. Pique curiosity, and you'll hook.

§ A cliffhanger, imagined or real. If you leave a character in a state of peril, readers will race through subsequent scenes to get back and learn the outcome.

§ A chord of doom. If characters are about to follow a dangerous path in the story or are dealing with the weight of some kind of trauma or terrorizing realization, readers will be concerned with how a character deals. If you can end with sour, dire or terrifying chord, that's best.

§ A departure from a heated moment. If you yank readers out of a heated argument or a passionate frenzy, they'll be dying to return and see how things get resolved. BUT if the build up and full display are equally as important as the resolution, then do NOT shut readers out by giving a mere summary in the resurface, pick up where you left off. Write the scene and end with one character dissatisfied or regretful or spurred into another course of action. You can have a goal being met yet the outcome being not what the character anticipated.

§ Big trouble: a character dying, moving into a trap, blacking out because of a car accident, fall or whatever or caught in a chase; the emergence of a new threat; someone has died or has been found dead.

§ A new obstacle to overcome.

§ An apparent use of concealment. You may want to keep something hidden and depart from a point of tension that leaves readers guessing and wondering about what happened so you can reveal those details later on in the story.

There are many ways to hook readers. The key to good execution is to give doses of forward motion with plenty of unexpected and stunning scene-ending disasters along the way to the big answer. Write on. Hook 'em and reel 'em in, my fellow plumers.

~Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

To BE or Not To Be

This deep question posed by Hamlet is not merely about living or dying, it seeks to find the meaning in life, as well as the breadth, scope, purpose, and tangibility in it. There's an underlining hope for making an impact in it, to thrive beyond the pages of existence. To Be. It is the question of life. Everyone wants that. To Be.

Whether you know it or not, when readers delve into your story, they subconsciously ask this question of your creations. Will they feel alive or not? Can you make them Be, full of life, uniqueness and complexity, jumping off the page, demanding to be noticed and not soon forgotten, or will they be Nots, deadwood, quickly cast into a bin with other flat-lined drones, ill-crafted by countless others before you?

The best way to reveal true character and circumstance is to show. Many writers always chant the "Show, Don't Tell" mantra because it's a vital ingredient for good storytelling, while others are left shrugging their shoulders, unsure as to what that even means.

In my WIP, Sapphire Reign, my fifteen-year-old character, Skye, is adventurous and feisty. She's an anonymous writer for the school paper and is attempting to uncover the secrets of this mysterious, terrorizing bunch of tricksters in her school called the Wisteria Sisters so she can expose the truth to the masses. Doing so could be dangerous, since she has no clue who or what she's dealing with.

All that about her could easily be summarized in narrative, but that would be telling. Instead, when I pull her onstage in chapter 7, I open her POV like this:

* * *

A scant shuffle of her pink, suede boot sent pebbles tumbling down the jagged face of the cliff side. They clacked like bones snapping until they plunked into the roaring river below, exactly where the current picked up and foamed around boulders.

Just jump, Skye. Jump. Do it. Jump.

Her body tensed. Skye gulped and edged back several steps. The fifteen-year-old covered her face for a few moments and adopted a slow-breathing rhythm to quiet her better judgment before it changed her will. She'd hiked all the way up here through layers and layers of gray to do this. Her mind was set but her shaking body stood very opposed to her decision. Her present espionage gig aside, she never considered herself suicidal. And that's what this was. Suicide.

Skye refused to let herself back out. She took one deep breath and just did it. She ran two strides and jumped. At the fall, she screamed. Her stomach leapt into her throat. A hawk swooped below her. For one split second, she flew too and then fell into a thrilling negative-G producing plunge until her weight mashed into her harness seat and tugged taught at the zipline.

The rush surged so much greater than it ever had. Of course, she'd only zipped through woods, never over a gorge filled with so many ways to die.

"Whooooohoooo. This is crazy awesoooome. Wooo," she yelled on her rapid swoop. She buzzed down, seeing a cascading waterfall from a bird's-eye view, then fell fast in front of it, getting sprayed in its frigid mist as it spilled into another river. "Sweeeeet." Getting wet spots on her sweatshirt was a minor discomfort, with exhilaration making it so worthwhile.

* * *

Then it breaks into dialogue with her two friends that reveals her main goal. In this scene I refrained from writing one thing in the narrative about her personality, her purpose and the potential danger she's really jumping into. Dialogue and action reveal all of that. It's more engaging this way. Readers now know she's a fearless risk-taker, they've seen it, and that her friends, even the wild one who dared to make the zipline jump with her, think she's crazy for going after the Wisteria Sisters. That shows far more about the circumstance and character than telling in a summary ever could.

Here is an example of telling versus showing:

T: Sam, so hot and parched, doubted he'd make it out of the desert alive, but he kept going, a step at a time.

S: The sun lapped up Sam's sweat before it could bead on his arms and grit coated his throat, scraping it with each swallow. He smacked his tongue, but saliva remained dormant. Barely ambling, though still trying, he looked ahead again, shading his eyes with his hand, blinking at the vultures...waiting. An ocean of sand lay before him. Only by God will I get outta here alive.

Showing engages readers and helps them to identify with your characters. Show when you can. Let your people Be.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.