July 21, 2014

Glorious Giveaways

I wanted to take a moment this Monday morning to share a couple of giveaways with you.

First, the amazing Amy Jones is hosting a YA Podcast Birthday Bash Giveaway with over 30 eBooks!! The contest ends today (7/21/14), so please take a minute to enter here

Chasing Memories and Chasing Shadows eBooks are up for grabs.

I want to wish a happy first birthday to YA Podcast, which is now going to have YA VLog and YA Hangout components, too. Check it out while you are visiting to enter the giveaway.

Second, the organizers of the Sweet Yet Naughty Book Blog are running a UtopYA Swag Giveaway. Some Tala Prophecy swag, plus much more, is up for grabs.

Enter the Rafflecopter here

Good luck!

July 20, 2014

Awards, Summer & Puppies: ROW80

Happy Sunday!

I find marketing and self-promotion so difficult. It's not my comfort zone to talk about myself or my books, although I want them to do well and am quite proud of my work.

Last week, I found out Chasing Shadows is a Finalist in the Young Adult - Paranormal category for the 2014 Reader's Favorite Book Awards. I am thrilled, but it just now dawned on me to put it on my blog! 

One of these days, I'm going to hire a publicist. Until then, I need to be my own advocate and force myself to wear the marketing hat. I have no problem talking about other authors' books that I love. ARGH!

Please check out all the other finalists here.

Sunday is also my A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) check-in day.

I'm almost 4,000 words into my anthology short story. I'm hoping to wrap it up this week. Now if only my puppies and children will create a serene environment for me to work in. *jerks back from the roaring laughter from everyone reading this post*

My goal is to blog Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Last week, I missed Friday. I have some big post-UtopYA plans for this blog, but summer is the worst time for big work plans. Since my other goal this round was to prioritize and make time, I really need to figure out my summer challenges. 

Overall, however, I'm managing to stay on top of things. I'll take it.

Since this just happened...

and my kids are still asleep, I better get back to work!

July 16, 2014

Between the Stars & Sky by David James Cover Reveal & ROW80 Update

Happy Wednesday! Today is A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) check in day. I'll get to that; but first, I want to share an awesome cover with you. 


Available this September, BETWEEN THE STARS AND SKY is a vivid contemporary novel from Young Adult author David James.  Lyrical and romantic, BETWEEN THE STARS AND SKY is a heart-stopping, contemporary read for fans of Maggie Stiefvater and David Levithan. 

SYNOPSIS: "In the small, lakeside town of Huntington, the Firelight Festival marks the end of summer. A time to laugh, to live, to love. And for Jackson Grant, it is a chance to begin again. 

But there is a darker side to the Firelight Festival, a deadly tradition known as the Firelight Fall. A secret game. A legendary lie. A test of bravery. Those who fall risk everything, and Jackson is on the edge. Until he meets a girl who pushes him over. 

For Jackson, falling for Sarah Blake might be as dangerous as jumping in the Firelight Fall. As summer burns away, Jackson and Sarah ignite an unstoppable love game. For her, his heart is on fire. And soon, Sarah shows him life, saves him from loss, and opens his heart to an infinite and wild love found between the stars and sky."


David James writes books about stars and kisses and curses. He is the author of the YA novel, LIGHT OF THE MOON, the first book in the Legend of the Dreamer duet, as well as the companion novellas, THE WITCH'S CURSE and THE WARRIOR’S CODE. A Legend of the Dreamer anthology, SHADES OF THE STARS, was released July 2013, and includes the exclusive novella, THE ENCHANTER'S FIRE. The final book in the duet, SHADOW OF THE SUN, will be released in 2015. Living in Michigan, he is addicted to coffee, gummy things, and sarcastic comments. David enjoys bad movies, goofy moments, and shivery nights. Visit David’s blog at djamesauthor.blogspot.com and facebook at facebook.com/djamesauthor to learn more about his novels.


Pretty cool, huh?

Thanks to great productivity on Saturday--although I don't like working eight hours on a Saturday and I'm hoping my family forgives me--I was able to write the last few days. My total words for three days: 1,450. Slow, but steady. Hoping to do even better for the rest of the week.

Oh, and I'm finishing up an incredible beta read. Can't wait to share more about the book when it comes out!

How's everybody else doing?

July 14, 2014

Meet Martha: Interview with Martha Louise Hunter

I'm so thrilled to host Martha Louise Hunter, author of Painting Juliana, today. First, I absolutely loved this book (see my review here). Just as importantly, I've come to adore the author.

Without further ado...

In Painting Juliana, Juliana is a character struggling through the breakdown of her marriage and watching her father decline due to the grips of Alzheimer's. In the book's acknowledgements, you mention your father "lost to the cruel storm of Alzheimer's". How personal was this story for you?

MLH: So incredibly personal. I began the book shortly after he died. It is a tribute to my dad and a way for the two of us to go on a healing journey together. He truly helped me write it; I sincerely believe that.

Your answer speaks volumes as to why this book touched me so much. So, I have to ask another question about Juliana. She discovers a kinship with her father through his old paintings. What made you choose this vehicle as a window into the soul of your characters?

MLH: From a writerly standpoint, Painting Juliana is written in the first person, which means everything that happens/seen/heard must happen through her eyes. Because the flashbacks in the book are her father's, I had to come up with a device so that Juliana could experience them. When her father's paintings come alive (via magical realism), it's not only visual in the sense, but her father goes into a trancelike state when she puts a paintbrush in his hand and he begins "narrating" the paintings. Voila!

It was truly magical, I must say. Clearly your father was a driving influence for Painting Juliana. What else inspires you?

MLH: Photographs. I'll send off for old magazines from the time period of my story. In Painting Juliana, the flashbacks happen from 1955 through the 80's. The Life magazines I got were invaluable! For example, the ads were priceless, because they gave me all sorts of knowledge about products being used at the time. I also found an old photo album at Goodwill one day that was stuffed with old black & white photos from the 60s. Sometimes, I'll even get funny things like cookbooks and child rearing manuals from the time period. Little things like that--who knows what things actually make it into the book or end up on the cutting room floor. I don't guess it especially matters—for me, it's just part of the process. I'll also hang out in coffee shops & listen to people's conversations & watch them move. Lots of things in Painting Juliana came from those types of interactions.
As a writer, I am curious what your writing process is. Do you outline and plot or do your characters lead you on a journey?

MLH: In the beginning, I write, write and write (too much, maybe?) on the character motivations, etc., making sure I know them completely from all angles, which helps story ideas gel in my head. Then, I get a bunch of note cards with plot points, affix them to my big bulletin board, and begin moving them around. I'm a huge "moving-around-er." After that, I jump in—writing scene, scene, scene. I understand there's a "formula" for the amount of scene versus exposition that's supposedly key to the storytelling process. Anyway—I absolutely let the characters lead me on a journey. Maybe this sounds weird, but the characters do things I never imagine they'd do—that happens while staying in the "spiritual mode" while writing. I meditate a lot.

It doesn't sound weird at all! So, I must ask... what writing project are you currently working on?

I was beginning a book entitled The Little Man Inside the Boy—a mystery that revolves around night terrors and the solving of the mystery through a past-life element. I'm a little stalled on that—it hasn't been coming to me, if you understand what I mean, and I'm sure you do!! People have been asking for more from Juliana, and I've come up with all sorts of ideas (watch out Oliver!) and my mind is also cogitating on Painting Juliana, The Screenplay.

I have to admit I’m partial to Juliana, but I’ll be in line to buy whatever you write next. Thanks so much for hanging out with me today—few things are better than loving a book and finding out the author is pretty darn amazing, too.

MLH: Thanks for having me!

Just a bit more...

Martha Louise Hunter has an English degree from the University of Texas. After writing magazine features, working in politics and owning homebuilding and interior design companies, she now has an estate jewelry collection, www.marthasjewelrycase.com. With four children between them, she and her husband, David live in Austin, Texas. This is her first novel.

Painting Juliana was awarded finalist in the Writers League of Texas Mainstream Fiction Contest.

For more information, please visit: www.marthalouisehunter.com.

You can also keep up with her at her blog, www.beingmarthalouisehunter.com.

And is it me, or does she remind you of Kathleen Turner circa Romancing the Stone. Joan Wilder, anyone? I so love that movie!

Happy Monday, all!

July 13, 2014

I Need A WriteBit Pronto -- ROW80 Update

Do you have a Fitbit?

I do, and it has made me super-OCD about exercise. It is extremely rare for me not to hit my 10K step goal daily. I might even be the person who jogs in her bedroom or up and down the hallway to get the last few steps. Or maybe not, depending on if you think that's borderline crazy.

Seriously, even though I've always exercised, this tool has greatly increased my focus on moving. I thought exercising 3-4 times a week was cutting it, until I saw how hard it was to get 10k steps on a non-workout day.*

Things like this motivate me, because it's in your face. On that note, I would like someone to invent a WriteBit--a device that would measure the speed of my wrist movement and catalog the number of words I write per day and shoot it to all my friends. 

Sadly, that's what it might take these days to get my butt in the chair to write. I came back from UtopYA determined, but the massive amount of catch-up from being gone almost three weeks and having my kids home for summer have given me the excuses I need to not prioritize writing. UGH!

So, I'm considering the next best thing. I want to use one of those sidebar writing trackers to show my progress on my various writing projects. Can anyone suggest an easy-to-use one? I need accountability.

Or, maybe I should invent that WriteBit with an electric shock feature. When I don't write in any 24-hour period, I would get a few electric shocks until I hit 1,000. 

Since Sundays are for A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) updates, I'm happy to report I have been meeting my goals on blogging, editing, and productivity. In the last few days, I've plotted an anthology, written three guest posts, organized some guest posts for my blog, and paid the bills (heck, it's important!).

Now to get to writing!

* Note: some Fitbits have been recalled for skin issues. I have not had this problem. I'm not endorsing the product. As with anything, you should do your own research to see if a product is right for you. But, if I ever make a WriteBit, I'll totally sell you one. *smiles*

July 11, 2014

My Fan Girl

Q: What's better than an exhilarating, inspiring, uplifting and powerful writer's conference?
A: Sharing it all with your daughter.

My oldest daughter is the one who inspired me to write young adult. First, she wanted me to write in a genre she would enjoy. Second, she wanted to help. I had my first assistant!

Proudly wearing her t-shirt!
Jackie is a voracious reader, usually knocking out 3-4 books a week. Plus, she re-reads books. Something I never seem to have time to do! 

When I told her I was going to a young adult writer's conference, she asked if she could tag along. She wanted to meet several authors--one in particular was LP Dover--and find new reads. At the beginning of the day, she calmly set expectations. 

"Mom, don't dance and please don't embarrass me" was her first declaration. More on that later.

Then... "I really don't think I'll freak out or anything. I'm just going to calmly walk around and check out some new books." 

Within minutes, literally, she came running back up to my booth. "I just met LP Dover and ..." She was jumping up and down. I've never seen my reserved, book-loving girl so animated and excited. She ran from table to table collecting books and swag. So many authors were amazing to her, and she and I are extremely grateful. 

A special shout out to LP Dover, Mary Ting/M Clarke, Casey L Bond, Jo Michaels, NL Greene, Rebecca Ethington, Jacinda Buchmann, Devyn Dawson, and Krystal Wade for making her feel so special! You have a fan for life.

She hugged me so tight after, telling me how proud she was of me as a writer and a mom. *heart melts* Oh, and about the dancing. Both of us ended up on the dance floor at the Awards after-party. She danced with me... in public!

At the end of the day, I'm a mom first. But I'll never forget the day I got to be a proud mother and writer all at the same time. My heart almost burst at seeing my daughter so happy and so proud of me.

Just another reason I'm thankful to Janet Wallace and UtopYA!

When was the last time your heart melted?

July 9, 2014

Dream Big & Read Often -- Sylvia Day at UtopYA

UtopYA and its awesomeness will be a common theme on my blog in the coming weeks, maybe months. I'm still on a high, and I want to share as much as I can about the event.

There were two amazing keynote speakers. I'm embarrassed to admit I wasn't familiar with either author, but both reignited my passion for writing with their inspiring words. First up was Sylvia Day. Her speech was focused on the business side of writing. 

Let's face it... indie writers are entrepreneurs. We run a small business where we are in charge of everything from research and development to marketing to taxes to production.

Some highlights of her advice:

Don't Say No Because You are Afraid
She mentioned being afraid of public speaking--she rocks, so I'm not sure why--but does it anyway. In addition, she said her career was built on the lessons she learned from failing.

Don't be Afraid to Say No
She's one of the highest paid authors in publishing today, and this resulted as much from the contracts she rejected as the ones she accepted.

Don't Make Decisions to Seek Validation
Nobody can validate you. You have to be believe in yourself and not be afraid to fail (see above). 

Do Your Research
Not knowing your options is unacceptable. Ask anyone and everyone until you know what you need to know. 

Write the Best Book You Can
Then, let it go. Never let a deadline (whether self-imposed or not) dictate the quality of your book. 

Dream Big & Read Often
Read everything, across genres.

As a hybrid author, she was so respectful of indie publishing. At the end of the day, even traditionally published authors are responsible for their business. She really inspired me to take responsibility for my business and my brand. 

After all, if I don't, who will? 

Her speech was just another example of why I adore the writing community. We are all willing to share and see others succeed. I feel blessed to be a part of it.

Find out more about Sylvia Day on her website, Twitter and Facebook.


Wednesday -- time for my A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) update. We are two days into Round 3, and I'm off to a slow start. Basically, I've spent two days catching up on being gone for almost three weeks. Needed to be done, and it's cleared the way for a much better check in on Sunday. See you then!