September 19, 2014

Meet Some #UtopYA2014 Lovelies (Unofficial): Ginny Gallagher

Please welcome an amazing blogger and friend, Ginny Gallagher of Gin’s Book Notes. You'll definitely want to check out her blog this month, because she's having an awesome Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall giveaway all month! You can also checkout the giveaways on Facebook

Ginny, it was so amazing to finally meet you at UtopYA in June. You were the first person to walk up and introduce yourself, and it set the tone for what would turn out to be a stellar event. First things first, I have to share two pictures from our time together.

Below is a picture of you, Jo Michaels, Toni Lesatz (My Book Addiction), and me from UtopYA taken by the lovely Victoria Faye.

And, of course I have to share this great one of our shoes from the awards night.

Now, for the fun part…

First, I know we both love animals (I have two puppies--Lab/Terrier mixes--and two rats). What do you have and how old are they? Oh, and I’d love a picture!

Ginny: I have 5 dogs and two cats so a lot of my days are spent vacuuming and cleaning. I’m a little OCD about making sure my house doesn’t smell like a kennel. Let me introduce you to my fur kids.

  • ·         Henry (Pug #1. He is 13.)
  • ·         Daisy (Boston Terrier. She is 11.)
  • ·         Zac Morris (Pug #2. He is 8.)
  • ·         Lizzy (Collie Mix. I found her running down the highway when she was 6 weeks old. She is now 5.)
  • ·         Walter Bishop (Lab. He found me at the gas station, and we think he is about 3 years old.)
  • ·         Abbie (Gray Cat. She is 14.)
  • ·         Jr. (Cat. He is 12)
Whew that’s a lot. I’m tired just thinking about them. ;)

Right after I sent the interview, another sweetie joined her brood. Finley (an Australian Retriever, an Australian Retriever and Golden Retriever mix)...

That is just too much cuteness! 

By the way, I love your book blog. What inspired you to start it?

Ginny: I wish I could say something profound here, but honestly it was my awful memory that inspired the blog. I really expected it to be a place that I could just keep my thoughts on the books I read and help me to remember the things that I loved about them. It is still that but it’s also so much more. I had no clue that there was this whole community of people that loved books as much as I did and loved talking about them too! Eureka!!! I found my people!!!

It's an amazing feeling to find your people. Is there a common theme in your favorite books?

This is a tough one for me. I really love to read and enjoy many different genres. I guess the biggest thing I enjoy is a book with layers. You know, the ones, that make you think and look a little deeper. The ones have cleverly hidden moral or social messages that you wouldn’t notice unless you took the time to really think about what the author may have been trying to tell you with their story.

You are also a writer. Can you share some details about your current manuscript? (I already know you have a vivid imagination thanks to your ghost on the side of the road story. Wink!)

Ginny: LOL…is vivid imagination another way of saying “liar, liar, pants on fire”? J Oh boy, that imagination used to get me into a lot of trouble as a kid.  I actually have several stories that I want to tell which I suppose is a great problem to have if I want to be a writer. Right? I will admit that I’m having commitment issues on which one I want to tell first so I will have to get back to you on this question.

Can't wait to hear about it. Imaginations are a gift! We finally had a chance to meet at UtopYA. The link to your wrap-up post is  here (#1) and here (#2), but can you recap in a few words what the event meant to you?

Ginny: UtopYA was amazing. For me it meant validation. You will have to take a look at my No Fear Wrap Up post to understand but it was such a wonderful and validating experience for me and truly reminded me that with determination you can change things about yourself or at least make them better.

I came away with a lot of the same feelings. It was powerful! 

So, when you aren’t reading or writing, what is your favorite thing(s) to do?

Ginny: Oh, I’m going to need another list for this one. I have lots of things I love to do. Which I suppose is the reason I have never been bored; that and my vivid imagination. ;) I will name my top five things that I do when not reading or writing.

·        * Enter giveaways – I love to enter giveaways. I don’t win a lot but when I do I get really happy! J
·        * Sew- I love to make things. I’m teaching myself so it’s a slow process but I enjoy seeing the scraps of fabric come together into something that can be used and enjoyed.
·        * Photoshop/ Digital Scrapbooking/ Graphic Design- Another thing that I am self-taught at. I love to design book covers, quote graphics, etc. There is a lot that goes into really learning the design process and I have come a long way but still have more to learn.
·        * Organizing
·        * TV- I love to learn new things so I enjoy watching all those dorky documentaries that they have on the History, PBS, and the Discovery Channels. On the flip side of that I’m also a big kid at heart so if you popped over for a visit during the day you might find my TV on Sponge Bob Square Pants.

And now, quick Questions…

Favorite Punctuation Mark: Exclamation Mark !!!
Ocean or Mountains?  I guess I have to pick Ocean but to be fair I’ve never been to the mountains so that may change one day.
Favorite Alcoholic Beverage: LOL…I honestly don’t really enjoy alcoholic beverages. When I was at UtopYA I mentioned to Author S.M. Boyce that I hadn’t drank in five or six years, she responded with a concerned look on her face: "Oh, honey then maybe you shouldn’t have anything." I couldn’t help but bust out laughing and I let her know it wasn’t because I was a recovering alcoholic and I didn’t need to check in with my sponsor. LOL…If I do drink anything it is a Corona.  Whew…you knew I wouldn’t be able to keep my answers short. Right?
Favorite Dessert: Lemon Meringue Pie…YUM!
Shower or bath? Bath
Sweet or Sour? A little of both please. I’m complicated. ;)

Thanks so much for hanging out with me today! I can’t wait to see you again next year in Nashville. We should coordinate our kick-butt shoes next year. Hugs!

Ginny: Thank you so much for having me. Sorry I was such a motor mouth but you should know by now that short answers aren’t my thing. ;) You are so dang wonderful, fun, and just truly amazing! I can’t wait to see you in June 2015 and yes we will totally talk shoes before then. Big HUGS and puffy hearts to you and your readers! 

I love your answers! To find out more about more about Ginny, check her out on social media:

Please come back for more #UtopYA2014 Lovelies (Unofficial), and check out the announcement post to see the schedule.

September 15, 2014

Meet Some #UtopYA2014 Lovelies (Unofficial): Casey L Bond

Please welcome the lovely, and full of spunk and energy, Casey L Bond. Before Nashville, I knew Casey as the person who was first in line to show support on social media and share a smile or virtual hug. I wondered if she was as bright a light in person as online. No fear! She exudes joy and friendship. Love her!

Today, I am fortunate to have her hanging out with me on the blog. Join me in getting to know her a little better.

First, I loved Reap, Resist, and Shady Bay. You sure know how to write feisty characters who steal the reader’s heart. Any insight as to why these characters speak to you?

Read my review of Reap here, Resist hereand Shady Bay here.

Casey: Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Tia! Let’s dive in head first.

I write characters that I would love to read. If they aren’t fun and feisty, as you so-aptly put it, I lose interest quick and so do readers. Give me a strong female lead and a complex male and I’m in reader heaven!

And certainly, I hope that readers do fall in love with the characters in my books. The feeling that someone loves your characters as much as you do is overwhelming, humbling, exciting and awesome all rolled up together!

So true! Plus you're all kinds of fun and feisty yourself. Since I loved Resist so much (and the main character, Abby), I’m sharing the synopsis and cover here. Could you share a favorite line from it?

About Resist

Abby Kelley returns home from the Greater city of Olympus to find that things in Orchard Village are bad, very bad. The Olympian Guard has taken over village affairs.  The Lessers are being worked to the bone in the coldest winter Orchard has seen.  Villagers are being dragged away for the slightest indication of what they call “resistance.” She needs to keep her head down and her mouth shut. But, it’s so hard to do when everything within you screams rebellion.

Kyan is coming on strong, trying to convince her to take a chance on him. Shocking news of Crew’s activities in Olympus sweeps through the Villages. When Abby is taken away by the Olympian guard, Kyan sends word to Vesuvius for help. But, no one could have predicted their idea of help or what they might expect in return.

Who will be left to pick up the pieces of Abby’s heart?


**Snippet from Abby’s point of view**

“What do you think is going to happen?” I asked.

“I don’t know, Abs, but whatever it is, I hope I’m standing beside you.” His orange eyes burned into mine.

“I hope so, too.”

**And another snippet from Abby…***

Gray didn’t let me go. He pulled me closer. “He’ll cool off.”

“Why is he so mad?”

“Because he thinks he’s losing you. He doesn’t realize you were never his to lose.”

Love! This was such an emotional book for me, and it brought tears to my eyes at least twice. I also love the cover, which you designed. What do you think makes an amazing cover?

Casey: Two of my covers, Pariah and Devil Creek, were made by Stephanie Nelson of Once Upon a Time Covers. They are amazing. I am finding out that I love graphic artwork and that it’s something that helps me connect with my story even more.

Allyson contacted me because she liked my covers for The Harvest Saga and Sin. I offered to make the covers for her new serial series, the Mortal Sin saga, warning her that I wasn’t as skilled as most graphic artists. She was so fun to work with and I enjoyed making her covers! Not all have been released yet, so I’ll just share the first of her covers…

A cover needs to be eye-catching. Some of the best-selling novels have very simple covers. A perfect example is the cover of “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green. It’s simple but fitting. I like a pretty cover. When I flip through books on my Kindle, the cover is the first thing that draws me in—like a moth to a flame. The synopsis has to then hook me in order for me to purchase the book. That’s why a cover is so important.

The first thing that a reader judges is the book’s cover, despite the old saying. J

I agree. A cover draws you in. Now, tell us about your Sin Series. What do you think readers love about serials?

Casey: I like stretching my boundaries and Sin certainly does that. It is fast-paced, fun and very sexy. Yep. (Look away, Mom). Serials are so fun. They’re similar to episodes in a television show. They release very quickly in succession and each segment picks up where the previous one left off. Serials aren’t a new phenomenon. Even “The Green Mile” by Stephen King was released as a serial!

People are busy. Some readers like to read just a little at the end of a long day. A serial completely fulfills that need. Each part of Sin will consist of 15-25,000 words or about 30-35 pages. Easy reading! Fast and fun!

In a time-crunched world, I couldn't agree with you more. What do you love most about writing?

Casey:  I love to create something new and different. My books are unique, I think. I try to make the characters very three-dimensional and relatable. World-building is one of my favorite things. For instance, The Harvest Saga is a dystopian novel that takes place in the near future. I’m amazed and thrilled that Reap won the Indie Authors and Book Blogs 2014 award for “Most Creative World-Building!”

But, writing itself is cathartic and something that I truly enjoy spending time doing. It isn’t something that I dread, but look forward to. It isn’t something I have to make time for, it’s something I want to make time to do. I love it and hope that with each book or piece of work I produce, that I get better and further develop my craft.

When you have that kind of passion for something, it shows in the work. Last question... UtopYA gathers an amazing group of people into one space. I came away with a lightness in my step and a determination to be the best writer I can. What do you think makes this conference so powerful and special?

Casey: Girl! After Winter Shadows was published, I entered the world of social networking. As I found more Young Adult authors, they pointed me in one direction: Nashville, Tennessee and UtopYA! So, I bought a ticket, applied for a table and in June set off to the south west!

It was amazing seeing so many authors, your awesome self included, that I had connected with online and had become friends with via social network sites. I was fangirling all over the place and some people probably thought I was a little crazy. (It’s true. J)

But, UtopYA was like a breath of fresh air for me and one that was desperately needed. I cannot tell you how much I learned about marketing and writing. Meeting the readers and bloggers was so amazing.

I left with a feeling of confidence that I hadn’t felt until that weekend. And it has made a difference in my focus as well. UtopYA is never going to get rid of me now that I’ve had such an amazing experience. You will be seeing me there for years to come!

Quick Questions…

Favorite Punctuation Mark: Exclamation Point!!!
Ocean or Mountains? I live in the mountains, but love the ocean so much. I would have to pick ocean.
Favorite Alcoholic Beverage: I rarely drink. If I do have anything at all, it’s a glass of Cabernet. My drink of choice is Diet Sunkist! YUMMY!
Favorite Dessert: Apple crisp.
Shower or bath? Bath.
Sweet or Sour? Sweet!

Casey L. Bond resides in Milton, West Virginia with her husband Elton and their two beautiful daughters, Juliet and Eris. When she’s not busy being a domestic goddess and chasing her baby girls, she loves to write young adult and new adult fiction.

Bond graduated from Hurricane High School in 1999. In 2003, she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Marshall University in the field of Criminal Justice.

You can find more information about Bond’s books via the following links:

Thanks for joining me today, sweet lady! I can’t wait to see you again in 2015. I’m going to tackle hug you!

Not if I tackle hug you first, Tia! LOL! J

Please come back for more #UtopYA2014 Lovelies (Unofficial), and check out the announcement post to see the schedule.

September 12, 2014

Meet Some #UtopYA2014 Lovelies (Unofficial): NL Greene

Nichole Greene, otherwise known as NL Greene, is another lovely lady and author I met at UtopYA. I’m so thrilled to have her hanging out with me on the blog today.

She's all kinds of wonderful! After a short time, I felt like I'd known her forever. I even sang karaoke for the first time with her, Jo Michaels, and Casey L Bond. Fun times!

Nichole, thanks so much for letting me pick your brain.

NL: Hey!!!  Thank you for having me, I am SOOO happy to be here! 

I have to say, I love your Magic series and am eagerly awaiting Book three. When can readers expect it? Anything you’d like to tell us about it to hold us over?

Please check out my reviews of Magic Unfolds and Illusions Begin here.

NL: Well thank you very much! I'm currently working on it. I had honestly hoped to be finished by now, but summer was not very productive for me. The new plan is for it to be published by the end of September. With it being the final book, I want to make sure I don’t rush it. For now, I'll say that the final book will have A LOT more magic and romance ;)

Ooh. More magic and romance are exactly what we all need in our lives! Several people have told me I have to read Twisted. Tell me something about this story and what makes it so special.

NL: This one is actually pretty special to me personally. It's a book about bullying but a bit different than the norm. The bullying happens between two best friends who have been friends since the fourth grade. One of the friends is more dominating and as they grow up it turns into manipulation and betrayal. The reason it's so special to me is because I wrote this book based on my own personal experiences as a teen with my "best friend" and hoped that through writing it, girls experiencing similar things would be able to recognize it and get out of the unhealthy relationship. I'll warn you though, it's not at all sugarcoated. It's raw and intense, but it's also real!

My youngest daughter is in fourth grade this year, so now I definitely have to read it. It was such a treat meeting you at UtopYA. Speaking of treats, I see that you and have started a bakery named The Greene Pig Sweets (you can follow them on Facebook, too). When did you start baking? What’s your favorite dessert?

NL: Yes!  I am so excited about this new adventure! I started baking about 13 years ago and it kind of just grew from there. I used to get request all the time for cakes but it can be really stressful so I stayed away from the business part of it until I met my friend Michelle. She is amazing with flavors and I love decorating so we decided to work together and started the bakery. It took off too! We've WAY busier than we expected but it's been a lot of fun working together so far!!  My favorite dessert that we make would have to be our chocolate cupcake with raspberry white chocolate filling and cream cheese icing. It's YUMMY!!

That sounds amazing. I love sweets. We have a lot more than sweets in common, including having daughters and new puppies. At my house, this translates into chaos a lot of the time; yet I wouldn’t trade it for anything. What is your favorite part of any day?

NL: Dinner. It's the only time we are all guaranteed to be in the same room and all focused on each other, even the puppy…lol! It's our family time every day and it's always fun and special.

I love dinnertime, too. UtopYA was amazing, and it was a thrill to finally meet the authors I have connected with online. What do you think makes this conference so special?

NL: Easy, the people!! Everyone is so nice, excepting, and just amazing! It's, hands down, my favorite convention and probably always will be. There are so many people that I've met there that have become so special to me.

Quick Questions…

Favorite Punctuation Mark: Exclamation point!!!!!
Ocean or Mountains? Oh, tough one…probably ocean but they are very close!
Favorite Alcoholic Beverage: Lemon drop martini
Favorite Dessert: Anything chocolate
Shower or bath? Shower
Sweet or Sour? Sweet

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Please give hugs to your amazing husband who was brave enough to hang out with all the ladies in Nashville. He’s a pretty cool dude, I must say. Can’t wait to see you next June in TN!

More About NL Greene

Author N.L. Greene is a writer of YA and NA Contemporary and Paranormal Romances. She currently lives in Florida with her husband and two beautiful daughters. When she isn't writing or reading, she enjoys traveling around the world with her family, shopping and doing other girly things with her girls, or playing video games with her husband. She is a lover of dogs, chocolate, and anything pink!

Connect with Nichole: Facebook, Blog, Twitter

Please come back for more #UtopYA2014 Lovelies (Unofficial), and check out the announcement post to see the schedule.

September 10, 2014

Happy & Writing: ROW80

Happy Wednesday!

I might have mentioned UtopYA--the amazing conference in Nashville in June--one or two (maybe a hundred) times on this blog. There's a reason. It. Is. Awesome.

I highly recommend it to readers and writers of Young Adult and New Adult contemporary and supernatural fiction. 

Yesterday, they announced the official bloggers for UtopYA 2015 (see post here).

Congratulations to...

If you aren't familiar with them, please click on the links above and check them out. They are all amazing! 

Just in case you haven't read my blog, I ADORE Jo Michaels. She is my friend, my sister from another mister, my editor, my cover designer, my UtopYA roommate. I've become a much better writer and person since knowing her. It's so nice when great people get recognized. It simply makes me happy.

Wednesdays are also my A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80)

I'm writing. Finally. It feels good. And I'm about to start a really cool new editing project and finish another to send to the finally proofreading round before publication. Oh, and I got around to several blogs over the last two days. I still have lots of people to visit, but I'm pacing myself. 

Oh, and don't forget to keep checking this blog for my Meet Some Lovelies from #UtopYA2014 (Unofficial) series. Find the announcement post here.

September 8, 2014

Meet Some #UtopYA2014 Lovelies (Unofficial): Kelly Risser

Thanks to a meeting organized by Jo Michaels, I met Kelly Risser poolside at utopYA with a drink in hand. Pretty cool first meeting, I must say! Within minutes, I felt like I’d known her forever. She’s so sweet and uber-friendly.

Today, she’s hanging out here and answering questions. Please welcome Kelly!

Congratulations on publishing two books since utopYA! Both Never Forgotten and Current Impressions are high on my to-be-read list. What inspired these novels?

Kelly: Like many authors, before I started writing, I was an avid reader. While I read all genres, I love fantasy books. The first books I remember loving as a kid were Bunnicula, the vampire bunny; Behind the Attic Wall about living dolls, and the A Wrinkle in Time series. Incidentally, A Wrinkle in Time was the first time I remember staying up into the wee hours of morning because I just couldn’t put the book down. Give me a book with shape shifters, werewolves, vampires, mermaids, aliens…basically, anything not human and odds are that I will love it. I was a fan of these kinds of stories way before Twilight was a twinkle in Stephanie Meyer’s eye. This brings me to my books. I knew I wanted to write the kind of story that I would love to read, so the focus on paranormal came naturally. Considering that I am about a third Irish, Celtic lore intrigues me. My series focuses on lesser known creatures of Scottish/Irish origin, which hopefully will be interesting to readers of this genre!

About Never Forgotten

Those that we love are never forgotten.

How can one day go so very wrong? One minute Meara Quinn is making plans for how she will spend the summer before her senior year and the next she's finding out that her mother's cancer has returned and they are moving away from the only home she's ever known. Now every day is a struggle as Meara is trying to cope with her mother's illness, being forced to move to another country to live with grandparents—whom she thought disowned her mother—and having weird visions of a father who was absent her entire life. Top it all off with one whopping secret that everyone seems bent on keeping from her, and Meara has the perfect ingredients for a major melt down. The only things keeping her from coming unglued are some new friends and Evan, the son of her mother's childhood friend, who seems to know Meara almost better than she knows herself. Together with Evan and her friends, Meara embarks on a journey to unlock the secrets that will not only tell Meara who she is, but what she is.

Kirkus Reviews says, “A heartfelt story that didn’t need the magical sea creatures.” 

About Current Impressions

Are their current impressions enough to keep them safe?

After an emotionally draining year, Meara Quinn is not the same carefree and innocent girl. Her mom is gone. Graduation is over. Taking a leap of faith and temporarily separating from her one love, Evan, Meara joins her father’s world to learn more about who she is. Too bad life is not all starfish and seashells. Meara gains magical abilities, but she's forced to undergo intense training so she knows what to do with them. Her father chooses her aunt and Kieran as her trainers. And Kieran, a powerful male who's not from their clan, has the unnerving ability to infuriate and intrigue Meara at the same time.

While Meara begins her new life, Evan endures with her memory and the knowledge that he will see her in July when his internship begins. Although excited about gaining real world experience, it's the thought of seeing Meara that really drives him. Unfortunately, Evan finds it hard to focus on anything when he's suffering from vivid nightmares and screaming headaches.

When Meara and Evan reunite, everything seems to fall back into place. The summer appears to be perfect. Then two of her father's guards are found dead, and foul play is suspected. The fa├žade melts away. Someone is targeting them, and Meara must discover who it is and why. She turns to Evan to help her, but when he gives her the hot and cold treatment, she's left feeling alone and confused. As the puzzle pieces move into place, will Meara be able to solve the mystery in time to save her clan and her relationship?

Sounds interesting. I can't wait to read them. These novels were published through Clean Teen Publishing. As the mom of a teen who loves to read, I really appreciate their commitment to transparency. Tell me a bit more about the team and what made you want to work with them.

The Clean Teen Publishing Team (UtopYA 2014)
Kelly: Clean Teen Publishing was founded by four amazing women. They are such a pleasure to work with, treating the publisher-author relationship like a partnership. Initially, when I was searching for a publisher, it was their name that first caught my eye. Since Never Forgotten is a story about a young adult, the CTP target audience is spot on. When I read the owners’ bios on the website and saw how they rated their books, I was sold. It’s such a unique concept and approach. As an added bonus, the other authors are very friendly and supportive, too. We celebrate each other’s successes. It’s like one big happy family!

According to your website, you have been known to make greeting cards and homemade magazines. This in addition to writing. What do you love most about the creative process?

Kelly: Honestly, my favorite part of the creative process is when I get to share the finished product.  The creative discovery is fun, but I like to see the reactions from the recipients. Nothing makes me happier than hearing from a reader about how my story affected them. For the same reason, I love to give homemade gifts, because I like to see how much it means to the person who receives it. Creativity is such a huge part of my life. From cake decorating to making my own swag, it’s how I relax and de-stress.
We need to head to UtopYA early next year so you can teach me swag-making! Speaking of UtopYA, what do you think makes it so unique and special?

Kelly: There is so much positive energy at UtopYA. There has to be with so many amazing, creative, talented people in one place at one time. On top of that, everyone is friendly and supportive. It’s a great environment to learn, to network, and to make friends. I also love how active the UtopYA community is on Facebook. It’s a great way to stay in touch throughout the rest of the year.

Time for Quick Questions…

Favorite Punctuation Mark: Ellipsis. I don’t know why…I just love it.
Ocean or Mountains? Ocean, hands down
Favorite Alcoholic Beverage: Grasshopper
Favorite Dessert: Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (sensing a theme? Buy me mint ice cream, I’ll be your friend forever.)
Shower or bath? Bubble bath
Sweet or Sour? Sweet

I look forward to reading your books and hopefully seeing you in Nashville next summer!

More about Kelly from her website: 

Becoming a published author is a lifetime dream come true. As a child, I subjected friends and family to my "KellyMark" greeting cards ("When you care enough to make the very best."), poetry, homemade magazines, and short stories. In high school, my short story, "If Only to Escape" was published in the local paper, and I won a writing contest for my children's story, "Televisella." In college, my creative writing tapered off, but I still managed to write the occasional review for The Marquette University Tribune. Once I graduated, I mixed creative writing with business writing, and I've held positions in Advertising, Marketing, and Instructional Design/eLearning Development.

Today, I am busy writing the next book in Meara's story. When I'm not writing, I'm reading, hanging out with my husband and two kids, or playing with our Whoodle puppy.

Drop me a line. I'd love to hear from you!

Find out more: Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest

Please come back for more #UtopYA2014 Lovelies (Unofficial), and check out the announcement post to see the schedule.