Friday, December 23, 2011

Give Yourself Permission

Dude, so it's 1:11 AM right now, and I'm just sitting down to write a blog post. I don't know what this says, but I'm pretty sure it goes against everything I'm about to say. Shocking, I know.

I think it's important to give ourselves permission for things. As a new year approaches and many of us stop to contemplate the last year and what we might like to do differently in the upcoming year, my vote is for you to give yourself permission.

Skip writing for a day if you need to. Maybe for two days. Or three. Sometimes there are more important things.

Don't beat yourself up over this. Give yourself permission.

Feel free to write terribly one day. Maybe two. Or three. Or weeks. It's okay to spew the draft out in the hopes that you can fix it in revisions.

Don't worry about every word being perfect. Give yourself permission to stink it up.

Feeling like the constant noise of the Internet is making you insane? Finding that you're moving into the land of "I Suck" because she has good news and he blah blah and blah blah blah?

Turn it off.

Give yourself permission to be disconnected for a day. Or two. Or three. It's important to be a whole person too, not just an Internet presence. Work on your real relationships and go to work and make dinner and all that other stuff that forms you into who you are.

Don't feel like blogging?


Give yourself permission to scale back, improvise, experiment until you find what works for you. And since I always follow my own advice (ha!), I have given myself permission to take all of next week off from the blog. From a lot of things, actually.

Hope you have a happy holiday season. See you in 2012!

What do you need to give yourself permission to do (or not do)?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

EVERNEATH by Brodi Ashton

Okay, so I've been waiting for months to talk about this book, and not only because Brodi Ashton lives here in Utah and is pretty much the Queen of Awesome. But because EVERNEATH has about a million things going for it.

Ready to dive in? Okay, let's go.

About the book: Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she’s returned—to her old life, her family, her boyfriend—before she’s banished back to the underworld . . . this time forever. She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance—and the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s queen.

My take:
1. The cover. One word: Brilliant. I mean, how do you get better, really?

2. The writing. One word: Emotional. And this is exactly the type of writing/story I'm looking for. With deep feelings and a main character that is afraid, but strong, and vulnerable, but willing to act. Nikki is genuinely torn, and that makes for a greatly emotional piece of writing. Which just happens to be my style.

3. The concept. One word: Fantastic. I like the twist on the underworld and the enticing that went on to get Nikki there. I like that many things depend on her returning, and the things that will be left behind if/when she does return. It's all just something that combines together to feel fresh and new to me.

So yeah. I think with any book, we're always looking for a brilliant cover to suck us in, following by writing that's well-done, and a story concept that feels fresh. EVERNEATH delivers on all three.

So add it to your Christmas wish-list!

What do you look for in books?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Best of 2011: Books

Dude, so this post could be miles and miles long. I promise I'll do my best just to highlight a few, okay? Okay.

Best Dystopian Read of 2011: PRIZED by Caragh M. O'Brien. It's the second book in the BIRTHMARKED trilogy--and I loved Birthmarked (also read this year). This novel was absolutely amazing. I aspire to write like this.

Runners-Up: DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth, ASHFALL by Mike Mullin, THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE by Jeff Hirsch.

Best Contemporary YA: VIRTUOSITY by Jessica Martinez. I've blogged about this book before, so I won't go on and on again. But it's a fabulous read. Buy it for yourself for Christmas.

Runners-Up: MOONGLASS by Jessi Kirby, THE LIAR SOCIETY by Lisa & Laura Roecker, THE DAY BEFORE by Lisa Schroeder, SEAN GRISWOLD'S HEAD by Lindsey Leavitt.

Best Fantasy: THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson. Once again, I've blogged about this book, and I just can't stop thinking about it. I want to write a book in this genre. At the same time, I'm scared I'll do it badly. So yeah. A book that tells a great story and inspires authors to write better. You can't go wrong.

Runners-Up: THE NEAR WITCH by Victoria Schwab, CLARITY by Kim Harrington, CHIME by Franny Billingsley, RUBY RED by Kersten Gier

What are you best reads of 2011?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Best of 2011: Movies

Okay, so I'll admit that I don't see a lot of movies. Well, maybe I do, I don't know. But I've decided to do a "best of" series for the end of the year, beginning with movies.

Best Movie of 2011: The Help. Seriously, if you haven't seen it, drop everything and see it. It's fabulous.

Best Children's Movie of 2011: The Muppets. I love this kind of stuff, especially the "Am I Muppet or a Man?" song. Genius.

Movies I Still Love Even if They Didn't Come out in 2011: Despicable Me. I will never tire of this movie. Watch it. Love it.

Most Anticipated Movie of 2011: Harry Potter 7.2. It was well worth the wait, and I loved every minute of it.

Movie I Thought I'd Hate, but Loved: Thor. It just doesn't sound like my "thing." But it was. Oh, it was.

Most Anticipated Move of 2012: The Hunger Games. I simply can not wait to see that! The trailer was awesome, and I have no doubt the feature-length film will deliver.

What movie did you love this year? What are you looking forward to next year?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Introducing Romeo! Er, L.L. Muir... Yeah, That's Right

Okay, so I'm thrilled to have an interview with a friend of mine for you today. L.L. Muir is here with a hilarious post for us to highlight her recently released novel, GOING BACK FOR ROMEO. If you've ever smiled, this book is for you.

The Twitter version: tell us about your book in 140 characters or less:
Jillian is conned back to 1495 Scotland to extricate a plaid-clad Romeo and Juliet before tragedy strikes...w/o falling for the bad guy!

Why e-publishing? Why now?
I have a wonderful agent who is shopping around other novels for me, but GOING BACK FOR ROMEO falls into that small time-travel niche. E-pubbing is all about creating a home for niche stories.

Why now? Because the stigma is dissolving. Best-selling authors are e-pubbing left and right. The ratio of gold vs. fool’s gold is improving by the hour, and agents and editors are finding great new authors from among the e-pubbed lists instead of the slush pile. Where is the shame of being on that list? “E” is the new way to break into the business, not a Scarlet Letter. What is a Scarlet Letter is an e-pubbed book that isn’t ready for prime time. You don’t want that brand. It’s more than skin-deep; it’s a tattoo that can’t be removed later.

What’s the one thing you learned about publishing this way that you didn’t anticipate? The Giddy Factor.

Okay, I’d heard friends tell me how wonderful it was. I wasn’t buying it. I wanted the fairy tale.

The surprise? It really is wonderful. And wonderful started the minute I decided to go for it. I feel like I’ve been offered a contract. Crazy but true. I’m the queen of delusions, but this feeling is not some mind trick.

And it burns no bridges. The JK Rowling dream is still alive and well and pushing me to write better, faster, and over the top.

Designing my own cover—with the help of an amazingly talented friend—resulted in the perfect cover for the story. I was giddy for days. I still am.

Watching e-pubbing from the outside was like standing at the train station, on the platform, a few feet away from the trains as they screeched and rumbled by. Train after train stopped for me, but I wouldn’t get on, so they left. When I realized what had changed in the industry, I jumped on the next train leaving the station.

What really pushed me over the edge was learning that I DIDN’T HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO DO IT! I was amazed at how intimidating the process was for me, even though writer-friends assured me it was easy. Then one day I was given the name of a guy who would format for me for under a hundred dollars. I could afford that. It would have cost me a week of labor hours trying to learn that on my own. And there are lots of people out there who are reasonable. Lots of people who will take that stress away.

What else are you working on? Secrets? Inside scoops? Give us the juicy stuff!
First off, the sequel to ROMEO is AVENGING JULIET—another Muir Witch Project. The hero in this one is someone the readers will already love. There’s a sneak peek at the end of ROMEO.

The juicy stuff? I guess that would be my next e-book, an angel love story with an Amish twist called SOMEWHERE OVER THE FREAKING RAINBOW. It’s not Scottish, but I always find a way to squeeze a Scot into every novel. It’s a Young Adult series, but romance fans should dig it, especially if they love a good sob. It has some wrenching black moments, but here’s a lighter line: “You know that song, ‘Somewhere over the birds fly?’ Yeah. Well. Those aren’t bluebirds.”

Have you always wanted to be a writer? I decided to be a writer when I was 11. It made all my other decisions pretty easy—especially on career days.

What made you decide to go that “extra step” and seek publication? I’m a bit ambitious. Being a florist wasn’t enough, I had to open my own shop. This is just opening another kind of shop.

Quick! You’ve been chosen to be a contestant on Survivor. What luxury item do you take? A lovely length of plaid wool. That stuff is as good as an army tent for keeping out the weather...and maybe a bug or a serpent. (Excellent choice! Did you see the finale last night??)

Tell us something about yourself we don’t know. I’m a stand-up comedian. No. Really. I even landed a paying gig. But the nine months I spent worrying about the crowd and coming up with the jokes was NOT worth the lovely check I got. Only three jokes bombed in a 20 minute set, so I think I kicked butt. (Holy brown cows! I've always wanted to be a comedian. Jerry Seinfeld is like, my fave.)

And the most important of all: bacon or chocolate? Thick, nearly burned bacon, served with piping hot chocolate, at Sill’s Cafe in Layton, Utah. (Is that cheating?) ((Yes, yes it is. But I don't care.)) Just holler when you’re up my way. (And now you know why I love her.)

You can get GOING BACK FOR ROMEO for only $2.99 from now until Christmas. Check it out!
Barnes & Noble

Be sure to follow L.L's adventures on her blog.

Are you giving books this holiday season? You can gift Kindle and Nook books--just sayin'. Are you hoping for books to be lurking in your stocking? Which ones?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Good News Friday!

Dude, not my good news. I suppose I could bore you with my weight loss, or the fact that today is the last day of school until 2012, or that I have ALL my Christmas shopping done.

But that would be boring.

And this is Good News Friday!

I'll go first.

My friend, Christine Fonseca, will be a published fiction author very soon! (Her non-fiction has been out for a little over a year now and is FABU.)

First, she has a prequel novella, DIES IRAE that will be out February 22, 2012. Here's what it's about: Some sacrifices should never be made – even for love.

Mikayel lives by one rule – obey the orders of the angelic Council at all costs.That is, until he and his friends, Azza and Demi, are sent to Earth. Assigned as Watchers while they await their decision of which angelic order to serve, the three assume the bodies of teenagers and experience life as human.

The sensations are overwhelming, especially for Azza. Determined to experience everything humans do – rage, terror, love - he tempts Demi to break one of the unbreakable rules – never fall in love. But being human isn’t the only problem facing the three angels. Unbeknownst to the Council, demonic activity is on the rise, threatening to break a tenuous peace that has existed for a millennia; a peace Azza seems bent on destroying.

Caught in a struggle for power with unseen demonic forces and Azza, and fighting against his rising emotional attachment to Demi, Mikayel must now decide how much he is willing to sacrifice for his new found love – a decision that could reignite an ancient war and will threaten the only thing that matters to the angels, the survival of humanity.

I haven't read this yet, but I have no doubt it will be awesome. I've read enough of Christine's other stuff to know.

Including LACRIMOSA. This full-length novel will be out in March 2012, and it is simply amazing. Deep, and heart-wrenching--and you know I like that kind of stuff.

About LACRIMOSA: As if casting out demons isn’t hard enough, five-hundred-year-old Nesy has to masquerade as a teenage girl to do it.

Nesy is the best of an elite group of angels – warriors called Sentinals – charged with the job of vanquishing the fallen. She’s never made a mistake, never gotten emotionally involved. But when she comes face-to-face with Aydan, she freezes.

He is evil incarnate. A fallen angel that feeds off the souls of others. Everything Nesy is supposed to hate. But she can’t, because he’s also the human love of her former life as a teen; a life that ended too soon, tying her to the emotions she was never supposed to feel. Now she must choose between doing her duty – damning Aydan to the fiery depths of hell – or saving him, and condemning herself.

This series is going to KILL. But don't take my word for it. The trailer says it all.

So yay Christine! Visit her on her blog -- go tell her congrats yourself!

And what good news do you have this fine Friday?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A MILLION SUNS by Beth Revis

Dude, this is an exciting day! The day I get to talk about A MILLION SUNS by Beth Revis. Another sequel. I don't even know what I'm doing anymore. Maybe I like sequels/series more than I think?


But maybe true.

I loved this book so much, I even sent Beth an email with this subject line: OH MY HECK.

And everything inside the email was in capital letters too. So yeah. Let's examine.

About A MILLION SUNS: Godspeed was fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos.

It's been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. And everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed. But there may just be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He's finally free to enact his vision - no more Phydus, no more lies.

But when Elder discovers shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a puzzle that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier, unable to fight the romance that's growing between them and the chaos that threatens to tear them apart.

And this time it all builds to one mind-bending conclusion: They have to get off this ship.

Trust me, you'll feel the same anxiety, the same, "I will die if I don't get off this ship!" It's that intense.

I've already gushed about the writing of this book. The verbs are fabulous, and it's exactly the kind of fast-paced action that I like. There were a couple more things that I loved:

1. The romance. It's broken and messy. And I think most of you know by now that this is exactly the kind of romantic relationship I like. It's complicated. People in real life are complicated. I want my books to match that, and A MILLION SUNS is a great authentic read.

2. The characters. I thought I loved Amy and Elder before. I was wrong. They have to go through some hard(er) things here, and it makes them come even more alive. There's one particular scene I'm thinking of that I can't say for fear of spoilage. But dude. I so did not want Amy/Elder to die!

And that's worth a lot.

So be sure to get your preorders in and get your copy of A MILLION SUNS when it comes out on January 10.

What book are you looking forward to in 2012?

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to this week at the Reading Room.

Or on their blogs:

Monday, December 12, 2011

Defining Success

Okay, so for me, this is one of the hardest things to do. The measure of success almost doesn't exist. Every goal is different and every person will look at it in a different colored light.

And so this simply becomes another area where I struggle. Like, what's good? What's successful? Does more blog followers = more success? Is it based on how many books you sell? How many people are subscribed to your newsletter?

I used to think all these things mattered, and in many ways they still do. The difference is how I'm looking at them now. Before, I'd seriously burn with jealousy if someone had more blog followers than I did. Now, I don't even look at that widget. As of writing this post, I could not tell you how many I have.

I'm not sure what's shifted for me. Perspective, maybe?

I do know that I wish there were more statistical data--something concrete and factual--I could examine that would tell me what these numbers mean. Like if I knew 25% of my blog's followers A) came and read every day or B) bought my book, then I could see myself caring more.

Instead, I'm not looking at twitter followers or likers on my Facebook page as the definitions of my success. Not anymore.

Now, I'm looking at the words on the page. Are they good? Did I get enough of them in? How can I make them better?

I'm looking at how many pages I edited. Did I choose the right word? Do I need another scene with Jag? How much backstory do I need here?

I'm thinking about new things for new books. Could that work? How can I make a character for this world?

And then there's all the real life success to consider and evaluate and continually try harder to achieve. Let's not forget that as we're writers, we're also people. Most of us with families and jobs and responsibilities. Those successes--and the striving for success--shouldn't be overlooked.

Publishing is a numbers game. I'm not oblivious to that. I'm just choosing to focus on different numbers as the measure of my success.

At what point do you feel successful? How do you measure success?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Query Letter Giveaway!

Okay, so that sounds weird, I know. Like, why would you want to give away your query letter? That's so lame. (Although at times, I wished I could slice my query letter into tiny bits...)

Anyway, since I am feeling all thankful and grateful for a great many things, I've decided to do a pay-it-forward query letter critique giveaway.

Meaning, I have very few things to offer, but I know how to critique a query letter. So if you'd like to have a chance to have me critique yours before this new year starts and you send it out, enter to win!

All you have to do is fill out the form. I will contact you tomorrow. That's right, people! This contest is open for one day only! And there will be 10 winners. (ETA: You can redeem your critique at any time. Now. Later. Whatever.)

So enter away!


How awesome this is and/or birthday wishes (that's right! I will be older on Sunday) in the comments. *wink*

Thursday, December 8, 2011

FURY by Elizabeth Miles

Okay, so I'm very excited to talk about today's book, FURY by Elizabeth Miles. Not only is the cover beautiful, but the story inside is too.

Let's examine in more detail.

About FURY: It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But all is not as it seems...

Em is thrilled that the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend. And on the other side of town, Chase’s social life is unraveling and the stress of his home life is starting to take its toll. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel....And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.

In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. There are three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—to choose who will pay. Em and Chase have been chosen.

Things I liked:
1. The dual narration. See, I've just started writing in this format, and it's refreshing to read two narrators whose stories are entwined, but not the same. I think that's the true sign of good storytelling. I don't mind dual narrators, but they each need a purpose.

And Em and Chase, while in the same town and connected by some of the same friends, have a story that is uniquely theirs.

2. The fresh feel of the paranormal. Sometimes I feel like every YA paranormal romance I read is the same. Formulaic. Which is fine, and it works, but I like books that bend the norm.

FURY bends the norm. I purposely don't read the backs of books so I can authentically discover the story as the characters do. And I loved how things unfolded in FURY. Like, I knew there was something funky going on, but I didn't know what.

3. Dude, Elizabeth Miles WENT THERE. I'm not going to say where THERE is, because you should all buy and read this book to find out.

There is nothing I love more than an author who dares to do what the story requires, whether it be "acceptable" or not. And Miles wrote what the story required, and I love her for it.

So get FURY for yourself this Christmas. You won't be sorry.

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to this week at the Reading Room.

Or on their blogs:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Thank You

Okay, so I know I don't normally post on Tuesdays anymore. But yesterday's post was hard-hitting, and emotional, and yeah. Kind of a "moment" for me.

And your kind comments and lengthy responses are worth my weight in gold--and I weigh a lot.

So thank you. I've read them all, and I'm keeping them all in my inbox so I can read them again when I have "one of those days."

*hugs and rainbows*

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing But The Truth

Okay, so remember that post I put up a few weeks ago about if you'd be less impressed if I stopped doing certain things? (Click here to read it.)

Well, today's post is along the same emotional vein. And it's this horrible, ugly truth that some of you may not want to be exposed to without the proper protective gear or something.

I feel like I should give you fair warning on that. I don't normally let this side of publishing out there, but I feel like it's something that I need to get out of myself.

It's the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

I have been a bit lost on my blog as of late. If you've been around, you know that. I have been re-evaluating everything in my writing life, and trying to make the best decisions for me.

Some things I've realized:
1. Being published hasn't changed who I am. In actuality, my life hasn't changed at all. Okay, not that much.

2. In the six months since POSSESSION came out, I have been trying to figure out where I fit on "this side" of the fence.

I have felt jealousy.

I've cried.
Watched too much TV and eaten too much candy in an attempt to detach from whatever it is that's making me jealous/angry/joyful/excited.

I've felt guilty.
Never alone.
And foolish.

Oh, so foolish. Maybe I'm the only author who's felt this way. I did not think my life would change when my book was published. And like I said, it hasn't. But somehow, along the way, I allowed myself to think that I was important.

And it's hard to accept and swallow the fact that I'm not. It makes a person shy away from the Internet and try to take stock of their situation. As I have done this, I have realized The Truth.

3. I am a midlist author, and POSSESSION is a midlist hardcover.

This is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

4. I am not an important author, with an important message. POSSESSION is not an important novel that is nominated for multiple--or any--awards, and it is not a Best Book of Anything.

I feel foolish for hoping for such things, or worse, expecting them.

And I feel foolish for allowing any of the above to make me feel anything but grateful and satisfied.

Because, dude, 5. I wrote and published a novel. A bestseller? No. Midlist? Yes.

Through all of this, I've realized something else:
6. I wrote a book I would like to read. I didn't sit down to write a book so that it could be nominated for awards, or that would change the lives of those who read it, or anything else.

7. I write because I like it. I write books that I'd like to read.

That's it. The truth.

I don't even have a question for you today. Thanks for reading this mongo long thing, and forgive me as I continue to hibernate, work past the foolishness, and try to be the best writer I can be.

Friday, December 2, 2011


*WARNING* Only read on if you're an Insider. (If you don't know what that means, well, then, yeah.)

Yesterday the YA Scavenger Hunt began. Author's secret content went live, including an exciting short story by none other than myself!

Dustin Hansen designed the cover! Isn't he a genius?

INSIDER INFORMATION: A Possession Short Story is available for FREE in all digital formats.

Click here to get it.

Click here to see Angela Corbett's exclusive part of the Scavenger Hunt, enter to win great prizes, and follow all the hunt action.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

YA Scavenger Hunt!

Squee! I'm so excited for today'S YA Scavenger Hunt! Not only for the amazing author I'm hosting, but for the secret content that I'm releasing SOMEWHERE OUT THERE. (Go find it! Go find it!) (Also, this is the brain child of Colleen Houck, and she's awesome, so you should go check out her website too.)

Every author will have some exclusive content AND a link to the next person on the hunt. Give yourself a couple of hours to make the circuit, collect the words in red, and enter all the contests!

Today, I'm featuring Angela Corbett! (Which is especially awesome, because I have met her in person!) So let's dive in!

About Angela: As a child, Angela Corbett’s most prized possession was a set of read-along books. She used to follow along with the narrator on the stereo and dream of when she would be able to read by herself. Her childhood reading habit led her to consider her future career. However, after consulting with her parents, she realized she had already exceeded hobbit height and since fairies and dragonslayers were tricky jobs to get, she decided she wanted to create worlds of her own. She started writing poetry in elementary school and worked as a journalist in high school and college, but could never leave her love for writing fiction behind.

She is a graduate of Westminster College where she double majored in communication and sociology. She has worked as a journalist, freelance writer, and director of communications and marketing. She loves classic cars, traveling, and escaping in a good book. She lives in Utah with her incredibly supportive husband and their five-pound Pomeranian, Pippin, whose following of fangirls could rival Justin Bieber's.

Eternal Starling is her debut novel and the first book in the Emblem of Eternity trilogy.

Click here to go to Angela's blog.

About ETERNAL STARLING: Evie Starling has lived a relatively uneventful life hanging out with friends, gossiping about boys, and driving her 1966 Mustang. All of that changes when she moves to Gunnison, Colorado, to start college and meets two mysterious men.

For centuries, Alex Night and Emil Stone have yearned for Evie—but they each have their own reasons for wanting to be with her. When both men claim to be her soul mate and tell her about an unbelievable past, Evie learns that she’s not the person she thought she was. Soon, Evie finds herself in the middle of an age-old battle between the Amaranthine Society—the soul protectors, and the Daevos Resistance—the soul destroyers. With a past she doesn’t understand, and a future rife with danger, Evie has to decide who she can trust. But Alex and Emil aren’t the only ones who want Evie, and her soul is about to become the rope in an eternal tug-of-war.

You know you want a copy of that! Click here to get it.

As Angela's BONUS MATERIAL today, she's giving you a sneak peek at an excerpt from the book (because ETERNAL STARLING does not come out until next Tuesday)! Lucky ducks!

Jas and Zach were waiting for us in the lobby of the restaurant.
“Hey guys!” Jas’s face lit up when she saw us.
“Hi Jas. Hi Zach,” I said.
“Hello,” Alex’s deep voice was seductive even to me. I couldn’t imagine the effect it was having on Jasmine.
Zach exchanged a head-nod with Alex and Jasmine smiled shyly. “Hi Alex. I’m glad you guys could come with us tonight.” Jas was being overly cordial and chewing her bubble gum like she was in a race. I hadn’t seen her so antsy since we were almost caught toilet papering the yard of our high school math teacher.
“Me too,” Alex said.
The hostess took some menus from her stand and we followed her to a table in the corner of the pizzeria. The smell of garlic, bread, and cheese permeated the air as we scanned the menus and placed our order. Zach immediately asked the server for a Pepsi; it was the only thing he ever drank and he was fanatical about it. Even though he wasn’t at our house much, we always kept a twenty-four pack of Pepsi chilling in the fridge for him.
While we waited for our food, Zach asked Alex all the general getting-to-know-you questions that I’d asked him when we first met. Alex reciprocated with questions for Jasmine and Zach.
The server brought our food and we talked as we ate. Alex asked Jasmine and Zach how they met. That conversation eventually led to Jasmine’s observations about my dating life.
“You’re definitely an improvement,” Jas said to Alex. His expression was curious, inviting her to go on. “Evie doesn’t have the best luck with guys,” she explained.
“Hey!” I said, trying to defend myself. “They haven’t all been bad.”
“Oh, really? Let’s see,” she raised her eyes as she thought. “There was the guy obsessed with jerky. Remember the theme card he made you for Valentine’s Day? When you opened it, it mooed.” She shuddered as she thought about it. “Or the one who asked you to prom with the stipulation that he be allowed to drive you there in your own car.” Jas leaned forward on the table looking straight at me, “And let’s not forget the holy grail of asshats: Luke,” she said, turning her attention back to Alex. “I could tell you stories about that idiot for hours. One of my favorites was when he told her he didn’t have time to deal with her feelings so she should think through her emotions and journal it, then get back to him when she wasn’t so pissy.”
A muscle under Alex’s eye pulsed as he smiled in a way that said he wasn’t at all amused. “Guys like that don’t deserve someone like Evie. In fact,” he paused, as if considering whether or not to continue, “if I’d been there, I would have dumped a glass of lemonade on his head.”
My mouth fell open a little. I looked at Jasmine to see her wearing the same shocked expression as me. After a few seconds, Jasmine regained her composure. “Actually, that’s exactly what Evie did,” Jasmine said. “Only she was drinking Sprite at the time.” Jasmine assessed Alex warily. “How did you know that?”
Alex’s mouth slid into a sly smile. “Lucky guess,” he said, picking up his glass and taking a drink. When he finished, he put the glass on the table and continued his explanation, “Throwing your drink on a guy isn’t a new concept. Girls do it all the time in movies and TV shows.”
Still stunned, I flicked my eyes back and forth between Jasmine and Alex. Jasmine clearly wasn’t convinced. Alex leaned on the table and laughed, “Or maybe I’m psychic,” he said, waving his fingers to lighten the mood.
Zach snorted. “If so, I need your help with my Fantasy Football team roster.”
Alex put his fingertips to his temples like he was divining the answer. “Can’t go wrong with Drew Brees,” Alex said. He grabbed the check the waiter had left and went up to the counter to pay for our food. Zach started to follow him but Alex told him not to worry about it, he was buying everyone’s dinner.
As soon as Alex was out of earshot, Zach said, “I like him, Evie.” He nodded to indicate Alex had passed some sort of man test. “He’s a good guy.” Zach leaned back in his chair. “I’ve never heard that story. Did you really dump Sprite on Luke’s head?”
“Of course she did! He deserved every drop,” Jasmine answered for me, waving Zach off. She put her elbows on the table, directing her attention back to me like Zach wasn’t even there. “Don’t you think it’s weird Alex mentioned that?” she asked.
I shrugged, still trying to make sense of it myself.
Jas kept talking, “I mean, it’s strange he’d say something so close to what actually happened.”
Before I could answer, Alex was back. “Are you ready to go?”
“Sure.” I got up from the table. Jas and Zach followed me. Alex held my hand and we walked in silence to the parking lot.
“Thanks, for going to dinner with us,” I said to Jas and Zach. “I had a lot of fun.”
“Yeah, we’ll have to do it again soon,” Alex suggested.
“That sounds great,” Jas answered as she opened the door to Zach’s Grand Cherokee.
“I’m adding Brees to my team as soon as I get home,” Zach said. He waved and hopped into the driver’s seat.
Alex once again opened my door for me, and I got in the Audi. Alex made his way to the driver’s side, started the car, and we drove in silence for a few minutes until I couldn’t keep quiet any longer. “It was lemonade, not Sprite.”
Alex slid a glance toward me, his expression giving nothing away. “What are you talking about?”
“I dumped lemonade on Luke’s head, not Sprite. Jasmine was wrong. But you weren’t.”
Alex gave a short laugh. “Really?” he asked, paying more attention than usual to his blinker as he pushed it down. “That’s a funny coincidence.”
I widened my eyes. “A coincidence? That’s your explanation?”
As we rolled to a stoplight, he draped his hand over the steering wheel and pegged me with a hard stare. “What else could it be, Evie?”
I put my hands out in front of me, palms up. “You tell me.”
Alex shifted his eyes away from mine. “Maybe you told me about it and forgot.”
I knew I hadn’t. Unless I was mocking him with Jasmine, Luke wasn’t a subject I cared to talk about. “I have an excellent memory. And I never told you that story.”
Alex snorted. “It’s not like you remember every second of every conversation we’ve ever had.”
I lifted my shoulders, looking at him in challenge. He watched me and gave a humorless laugh. “Memory is a complicated thing. You’d be surprised at the things you forget.”
“Try me,” I dared.
Alex clenched his jaw and seemed to be thinking, but didn’t say anything. We pulled into the driveway of my house. Alex opened the car door for me—again.
We walked up to the front door and, like always, he held out his hand for my keys. Alex opened the door and flipped the living room light on. I stepped into the house; he followed me, still silent. He sat on the couch as I went to the phone to check the voicemail. I put my purse down, my back toward Alex, and played the messages. There was a call from my mom, of course—she must have gotten my email—and another from someone looking for Jasmine. I wrote the message on a pad of paper next to the phone and hit the erase button.
I stood in front of the phone, wondering if Alex would continue our conversation. I took a deep breath, then turned around and gasped. Alex was inches from me, waiting. I hadn’t even heard him walk over. I should have at least felt that he was behind me. I was generally so good about knowing when someone was in my personal space.
I looked into his eyes—they seemed to be on fire, not with anger, but something else. Suddenly our lemonade / memory discussion seemed a lot less important. Alex grabbed me around my waist, slowly guiding me until my back was pressed against the living room wall. He placed his hands palms down on the wall next to both of my shoulders. Even if I had wanted to move, and I didn’t, it would have been impossible. I could smell his rustic cedar scent as he shifted his head toward mine and moved his right hand to the back of my neck. As he leaned into me, he whispered something that sounded like, “Let’s see if you remember this.” Before I knew it, his lips, the lips I had dreamed about every day since we sat together at the mountain lake, were on mine, pressing hard against my mouth, merging with his. The kiss was aggressive, but still gentle, his lips soft and warm, and my back tingled with a familiar heat that was quickly getting a lot hotter.


As an extra bonus we’ve put together a puzzle with one keyword found on each website. Complete it and you will be eligible for a fantastic GRAND PRIZE which will include signed editions of books, signed bookmarks, jewelry, and many more exclusive gifts with at least one gift from EVERY AUTHOR!

Scavenger Hunt Puzzle
Directions: Copy and paste the words below onto a document or print it out and unscramble the words as you proceed through the Scavenger Hunt. Search for keywords, one on each website that will be highlighted in RED. When you are finished, fill out the Google form here.


Rules: To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the unscrambled words before noon on Dec 4th Pacific Time. All the keywords must be in the correct place and you must include your full name and address. Entries sent in without name and address will not be considered!

As if that wasn't cool enough, you can also win a personalized, signed copy of POSSESSION right here, right now on my blog! Give it as a gift, whatever. I'll sign and personalize to whoever you want, and ship it anywhere.

To enter to win, you need to subscribe to my newsletter. It's easy and fast and I don't send out too much stuff too often. Click here to do that.

Ready to go to the next website on the Scavenger Hunt? Click HERE!

Monday, November 28, 2011

BOUND by Christine Bryant

Okay, so I'm here talking about a book today, which I know is freaking you out. I can see you nervously sipping your [insert morning drink of choice] and wondering, "Is is Thursday already??"

It's not.

But this Thursday is the YA scavenger hunt, which I am participating in. In fact, my bonus content for the scavenger hunt is SO EXCITING. I can't wait to share it with you! (If you get my newsletter, you'll already have a hint at what it is...)

So I thought I'd do my Thursday post today. And it's an interview with Christine Bryant, author of BOUND. So let's let her take it away!

The Twitter version: tell us about your book in 140 characters or less:

BOUND is a heroic tale of true friendship, infinite sacrifice and untamed love.

Why e-publishing? Why now?
Why not now? BOUND is ready. I'm ready. And there's never been a better time for an author to self-publish. It was scary at first, but now I'm glad I did it. I love having control over my cover and the content of my book. It's so gratifying to hold my first novel in my hands and know that, from the very first word typed into the computer to the finished product, I did it all myself.

What’s the one thing you learned about publishing this way that you didn’t anticipate? Ha! It's dang hard and time consuming. Learning how to format and typeset was the hardest, but I got through it.

I also learned a lot about friendship. People that I thought would support me disappeared into a crowd of disbelievers and people who think self-publishing is for writers who aren't good enough to get a REAL publisher, while others I expected no support from at all stepped up and did more than I could have ever imagined to get the word out about my book. It's been an incredible experience and has really opened my eyes.

What else are you working on? Secrets? Inside scoops? Give us the juicy stuff!
Well, of course I'm working on BROKEN, the second book in The Crystor series. I want to get that one published by early spring. After that I plan to finish the first book in another series called AQUATARA. It's about a girl who thinks she's a mermaid, but she's not. You'll have read it to find out who or what she really is. ;-)

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I've always loved to write, but the whole idea of writing a full-length novel seemed beyond me or my talents. I had a few articles published when I was younger, but didn't take my writing career seriously until I attended my first writers conference. After that I was hooked. I'd discovered a passion that had been dormant for much too long.

What made you decide to go that “extra step” and seek publication?
Publication was always the goal, even when I was writing short stories and articles, but the reason I sought self-publishing had more to do with wanting my books read than it did with anything else. The story of Kira, Lydia & Octavion had been such a huge part of my life and I wanted to share that with everyone. I love that it's being read and loved by so many.

Quick! You’ve been chosen to be a contestant on Survivor. What luxury item do you take?
ROFL!! I LOVE Survivor! (Yes! But all my faves are gone this season...) Hmmm, this is a hard one. The practical part of me says I should take something like a tooth brush or an extra pair of undies, but the creative side of me wants to record every second of my journey. Heck, who needs practicality, I'd take a journal and pen (with extra ink).

Tell us something about yourself we don’t know.
This is a little embarrassing, but I have a bowl fetish. Cereal bowls. Mixing bowls. Serving bowls. Little antique finger bowls and butter bowls. Not the unbreakable plastic or melamine kind or the clear crystal or milk glass kind, but the ceramic and crockery type. I especially LOVE antique mixing bowls. I've picked up a few at auctions and have them displayed in a couple of hutches. Is that bad? (Whatever floats your boat.)

And the most important of all: bacon or chocolate?
Definitely chocolate. Addicted to the stuff. My favorite is Symphony bars. (With or without toffee? I'm partial to the toffee...)

Thanks for hanging out with us, Christine! You can visit Christine on her blog, you can find out even more about BOUND and Christine here, and you can order your copy of BOUND in it's many e-formats here.

So... what is your morning drink of choice?

Monday, November 21, 2011

In An Attempt for Depth

Okay, so I don't think it's any secret that I am an escapist reader. I've said it several times here on the blog. I think I've confessed this too: I only read YA novels. Sometimes the ocassional middle grade. But, yeah, usually YA.

As the new year approaches, I've been thinking of how I can add some depth to my life. And I've decided to read an adult novel. Or at least something I should've read in high school. Or something.

Some choices are obvious. A Tale of Two Cities. Huckleberry Finn. Something by Jane Austen. (Yeah, I've read none of those.)

And let's face it, this might be the only novel I read for this purpose, so I want to make it a good one.

So... what should I read?

Also, I will be gone the rest of the week eating pie and generally giving thanks. See you next week!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Would You Be Less Impressed?

Okay, so today I'm talking about a touchy subject--at least for me. It's something I've been thinking about a lot lately, and I'm interested to see/hear your reactions.

I swear this isn't a brag-fest, but I've done a lot online over the past few years. I co-founded the QueryTracker blog, where I contributed for over a year and a half. I co-founded WriteOnCon, a free online writer's conference. I wrote an ebook that is a guide to anyone who wants to query literary agents, and I offer it for free. I have critiqued hundreds of query letters for free. I co-founded the League of Extraordinary Writers, where I've contributed for over a year and a half. I co-founded the Bookanistas, an online support system and book recommendation group.

I've blogged five days a week for over two years. I commented on literally thousands of blogs. I tweet. I facebook. Heck, I think I even have a MySpace account.

Impressive, no?

I also write novels. Things have been becoming clearer and clearer to me over the past few months. And it's this: What I love most is what I do least.

Sure, I quit blogging for QT over a year ago. I cut back my blogging to three days a week. I don't comment on blogs the way I used to/should. I gave up critting query letters for free a long time ago. And right now, I'm considering some radical changes that will further free up my time to do more of what matters.

More time with my family. More time for myself. More time for my novels.

The pressing question is this: Would you be less impressed?

I honestly want to know. In this wide world of blogging, have we allowed ourselves to get carried away? Have we somehow deluded ourselves that our blog matters? That we can't write good books without blogging? That people will be disappointed in an author if they don't have a blog/Facebook/twitter?

Are we less impressed by the author who doesn't have an online presence?

Be honest, now. This is me. I can take it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

VIRTUOSITY by Jessica Martinez

Okay, so today I've delved back into the contemporary world. I will freely admit that I'm a hard nut to crack when it comes to contemporary, because I'm an escapist reader. But dude. VIRTUOSITY by Jessica Martinez is a complex, layered story that will leave you literally gasping and crying and cheering all at the same time.

Or maybe I'm just nuts...

Let's not go there. Let's learn more about VIRTUOSITY: Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands-down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant, and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen's whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn't just hot...what if Jeremy is better?

Carmen knows that kissing Jeremy can't end well, but she just can't stay away. Nobody else understands her--and riles her up--like he does. Still, she can't trust him with her biggest secret: She is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to perform, and what started as an easy fix has become a hungry addiction. Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of always doing what she’s told, doing what's expected.

Sometimes, being on top just means you have a long way to fall....

I found this novel to be utterly charming. There are multiple instances of really great writing, that really draws the reader into Carmen's world of violin. I found myself marveling at the way Jessica could bring the emotion right to the surface in just a few words.

It was brilliantly written.

The second thing I loved was the exploration of Carmen. She's always done what her mother wanted, and now, well, now everything is different. The risks she takes felt authentic to the story and to the character. She's doing things for herself for the first time ever, and it's messy and complicated. And I like that.

Don't worry if you know nothing about the violin. Heaven knows I don't. VIRTUOSITY is a delicious read, no matter what your background. So be sure to get your hands on it!

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to this week at the Reading Room.

Or on their blogs:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Write What You Like

Dude, over the past few days, I've spoken to hundreds of teens and a handful of adults. I sat on 5 panels with other authors with kids from 7th - 12th grade. And every time, someone asks these inevitable questions:

1. Why do you write?

2. How do you get your ideas?
3. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

I feel like I've blogged about all of these things before, but as I was sitting on the panels this weekend, it was like an epiphany for me personally. Like, the advice I needed to remind myself of or something. Today, I'm only going to answer the third question.

What advice do I have for aspiring authors?

It's simple, really. Write a story that you'd like to read, and write it well.

That's it. If you do that, then there's no need to worry about stars, or best book lists, or reviews, or anything else really.

Write the book you'd like to read. (Because you'll have to read and re-read and revise and re-revise that book a lot.)

Trust that there will be other people in this vast world that are the same type of reader you are.

That's it. The end.

Are you writing what you like? Or trying to fit a trend?

Dudes! Today is the first day of the BECOME (by Ali Cross) giveaways! You have a chance to win a copy on Michelle McLean's blog, on twitter at 11 AM Mountain time (1 PM Eastern) with the hashtag #BECOME, and by filling out this form.

Friday, November 11, 2011

What Will You BECOME?

Dude! I have the amazing Ali Cross here with me today. Ali and I have been friends ever since I eavesdropped on her conversation in the lunch line at a conference. She's been in my critique group for years (poor thing), and today is the release day of her debut novel, BECOME!

I'm giddy with excitement to have her here.

Let's start with the book itself.


The Twitter version: tell us about your book in 140 characters or less: “The devil's daughter is sent to Earth where she must face the evil she despises and the good she's always feared.”

Hey, that’s only 113 characters. Do I get extra points for that? (Yes. Yes, you do.)

Why e-publishing? Why now?
Now because I felt that my book was ready, and I had a few friends willing to jump in this whole thing together—it’s a lot less scary to do a hard thing with friends.

E-publishing because this particular book, while it garnered a lot of agent-attention and won some awards, it just couldn’t make it in the traditional publishing market. But I didn’t believe that meant it couldn’t make it—just not by traditional means.

I think that if you’ve done your due diligence, just because your book isn’t snatched up by an agent and/or publishing house, doesn’t mean you should give up on it.

What’s the one thing you learned about publishing this way that you didn’t anticipate?
I learned that people are supportive and encouraging and all-round-awesome no matter how you publish.

What else are you working on? Secrets? Inside scoops? Give us the juicy stuff!
Juicy stuff? You know me? I’m bo-ring. ;) (Lies! All lies!)

Hmm, well. Right now it’s NaNo time, so I’m getting my NaNo on with my alter-ego—my middle grade boy-book self. But I just finished the sequel to BECOME, which will come out in the spring!


Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Nope! I always loved writing, but I didn’t make the conscious choice to become a writer until ten or so years ago. Instead, I wanted to be a veterinarian, an opera singer, a constitutional lawyer or prime minister of Canada. :) (Hey, you could still make that last one happen...)

What made you decide to go that “extra step” and seek publication?
I’ve never been one to hide my light under a bushel. If I wrote a story? A whole book? You can bet I was gonna try to take it all the way!

Quick! You’ve been chosen to be a contestant on Survivor. What luxury item do you take?
Lip balm! I swear, I would DIE without it.

Tell us something about yourself we don’t know.
It might not seem like it, but I’m really shy. I’m just a good faker. ;)

And the most important of all: bacon or chocolate?
Girl, I love you but . . . CHOCOLATE ALL THE WAY!

So there you go! Make sure you get your copy of BECOME. It's only $3.99 and a great read. Click here to get it on your Kindle. Click here to add it to your Goodreads list, or to leave a review once you've read it.

Be sure to visit Ali on her blog, and here to keep up with the whole Dark Carma team.


Paul Greci interviewed Ali yesterday and there's a great prize package to be won on his blog.


You didn't think there'd be two AND's, did you?

Well, there is. There's this:

Copy and paste this graphic for your blog! Help spread the word. 

"This" is a little (okay, BIG) giveaway that will happen next week, from Monday November 14 - Friday November 18. The finer print:

You have 15 chances to win Ali's BECOME.
5 chances on blogs according to the following schedule:
Monday: Michelle McLean
Tuesday: Sara Larson
Wednesday: Stacy Henrie
Thursday: LT Elliot
Friday: Nichole Giles

5 chances on twitter according to the following schedule:
Monday, November 14 - 11 am MST, 1 pm Eastern
Tuesday, November 15 - 7 pm MST, 9 pm Eastern
Wednesday, November 16 - 1 pm MST, 3 pm Eastern
Thursday, November 17 - 4 pm PST, 7 pm Eastern
Friday, November 18 - 3 pm MST, 5 pm Eastern

We'll be chatting with the hashtag #BECOME so join us for your chance to mix and mingle and win!

5 chances through filling out this Google form.

So join us in the BECOME celebrations for your chance to win, or just to show support of Ali!

And... What will you BECOME?

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Okay, I have put off writing this review all week. (It's like 11 PM on Wednesday.) And the reason is because I do not have words for the awesomeness that is THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS.

I just don't. I can't find adequate words (and that's sad when you're a writer) to express my love for this book.

I suppose we can just dive in. About THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS: Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

See? See?! And after you read it... Dude, you will not be disappointed. I think it's the highest compliment for a book when someone says "such-and-such book made me want to write." And THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS does just that.

In fact, my NaNo novel is a fantasy in the vein of GRACELING and... THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS. I think they're both beautifully written, with fantastic characters, and brilliant plots. If you like this GRACELING kind of fantasy, you'll love THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS.

I know I haven't said anything specific, but you'll just have to read it and see if you have words to describe this book.

I do have one specific thing: Rae Carson went there. She did something in the book that literally made me gasp and cry and moan and cheer all at the same time.

As a reader, I cried. As an author, I cheered. It was that kind of moment. I dream of achieving that moment in a book.

Maybe one day...

What book have you read that inspired you to write a similar/in the vein of story?

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to this week at the Reading Room.

Or on their blogs:

Monday, November 7, 2011

More of You Must Die!

Dude, okay so not like you: you. But like you: your characters.

There's something I've noticed about myself as a writer. I don't want anyone to die. Well, the bad guy of course, but no one else. So it's been extremely difficult for me to make anyone actually bite the bullet.

Sure, I make them suffer, I make them cry, I make them bleed, but no one actually dies.

But I've realized over the past couple of weeks that more of my characters must die. A lot more. I've been reading some fabulous books where the authors are braver than me. They killed people off left and right. People I as a reader loved. People the MC's loved.

And I found my courage to kill. (Dude, that sounds terrible!) I've decided that it's okay to let some of my characters go into the light. After all, it sure would make A) the book better and B) my life as the author easier, because then I don't have to keep track of that particular person anymore.

So there. As I sit down to NaNo this month, I keep repeating to myself, "More of you must die!"

Is it easy for you to kill your characters? Why or why not?

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Season of Thanksgiving

Okay, so November is one of my favorite months ever. It's not really because of Thanksgiving, but I do have a lot to be thankful for this year. My first book got published. I visited more cities this year (Phoenix, New York, Las Vegas, New Orleans, San Diego, and Denver) than I have in the past decade. No lie.

In addition to a few other big moments in my life, I signed with my agent in November.

Yeah, November is a great month.

And I've decided that you all get to benefit from my November love-fest. So, each Friday from now until the end of the year (skipping some holiday Fridays), I will be giving something away. Could be a book, or a piece of jewelry, or whatever.

Today's prize is a bar code ring and a bar code bracelet.

If you've read Possession, you know where these bar coded things come from. If you haven't read Possession, well, you should get on that. ;)

For the duration of this Thankful Giveaway, there's only one way to enter: through the Possession Facebook fanpage. You do NOT have to like the page to be entered (but I would love it if you'd like the page), but there will be activities associated with each giveaway.

To participate this time around, all you need to do is comment on the fanpage wall about what you're most thankful for right now. (Open from now until next Thursday night.) That's it. Then I'll know that you want to be entered to win the bar code jewelry.

Then, stay tuned to the fanpage for more happenings--every day, with giveaway announcements on Fridays.

Oh! And I'm giving away a signed hardcover of CROSSED. Click here to enter to win that.

So...what are you most thankful for right now?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dystopian Hits!

Okay, so today's post is all about the love for Ally Condie's CROSSED and Tahereh Mafi's SHATTER ME. These are both dystopian novels, and while they're very different, they're both awesome.

Now, CROSSED is a sequel to MATCHED, which if you haven't read it, you should, and I normally don't talk about sequels all that much. Why?

Because I'm sort of what you'd call spoiled. I read a lot of books, and I usually don't have the time or patience to spend with the same characters. I mean, there's SO MANY new friends to meet, you know?

But I spent some more time with Cassia and Ky, because well, they're people I wanted to know more about.

First, a little about CROSSED if you haven't heard of it.

About CROSSED: In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

What I liked about it:
1. The writing. It's emotional and moving, and forces you to turn the page to not only see what will happen next, but to feel it too. Gorgeously done.

2. Ky narrates. I hope that's not too much of a spoiler, but I loved that he was a narrator. He's so mysterious in MATCHED, and we finally get to see and learn more about him. He's a little explosive, a lot sensitive, and all around headstrong. I really liked him, and learning more about the Society through him.

3. The romance. Ky and Cassia don't spend a lot of time together in the book, but that's okay with me. Sometimes I think relationships are better when the person is alone, and has time to think about the other person in fond ways.

And when they do get together, it's magical, and the reader rejoices along with them.

4. The dystopian elements. So I write dystopian societies, and let me tell you, they're not the easiest thing on the planet. You basically have to tell the reader about the entire world without overloading them or seeming like the MC doesn't know what kind of world they live in.

The Society in CROSSED is further explored, and it's not overtly evil, yet utterly terrifying. And I like that.

So, put CROSSED on your list! And since she lives near me, and I can go to one of her signings, I will be giving away a signed, finished hardcover copy! All you need to do is comment to enter.

About SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi: No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon.

But Juliette has plans of her own.

What I liked about it:
1. The page-turning aspect. This is a really fast read, and you feel caught in the middle of the action, even if there is no action. I realize that probably doesn't make sense, but it's true. Sometimes there is emotional action, and when it's paired with plot action? Brilliant.

2. The world. I liked imagining the world Tahereh created in SHATTER ME. It feels real and scary and that's exactly what I want to feel in a dystopian novel.

3. The romance. There's really only one word for it: sizzling. And you know me, I like kissing in books. If you do too, you'll like SHATTER ME.

This novel comes out November 15, so be sure to get your copy then!

Which dystopian novels have you enjoyed?

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to this week at the Reading Room.

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Monday, October 31, 2011

Verb It Up

Okay, so I know today is Halloween, and many of you are probably blogging about said holiday, but I absolutely hate Halloween with every fiber of my being. I cannot tell you how happy I am that I don't teach on Monday and that Halloween is on a Monday this year.

The joy is too huge.

Anyway, today's blog post is really about verbs. I love verbs. I think verbs make or break what I deem to be "good" writing. When I read, I'm looking for brilliant use of verbs, and when I find it, it's what makes me fall in love with a book.

Let's examine:
A MILLION SUNS by Beth Revis: That's right, I've read it. If you haven't read ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, you should. Beth is a master with verbs.

Now, no spoilers, since this book isn't out for a couple more months, but I just want to highlight some sentences.

"She snaps the box open."

This seems simple, but the verb "snaps" really adds, well, snap to this sentence. It could've easily been "She opens the box." but it wouldn't then have that something extra. That something that gives me an idea of how she opens the box, that emotional element.

"A million suns stretch out beyond me, their light piercing the darkness."

Again, this is a beautifully crafted sentence, and I think it's because of the "piercing." I love that the light can pierce the darkness. "Stretch" isn't anything to shake a stick at either. In fact, it's perfect.

I think using vibrant verbs is something every author can do better. I know I can, and when I sit down to write, I try to get the right verb to convey the meaning I want. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but the intent is there.

And there's always revisions. ;)

What do you think about verbs? Which books have you read where the author seems to be a master of verb usage?

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