Friday, October 29, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Steampunk Blog Tour with Jon S. Lewis + Giveaway

I am honored to host The Brimstone Key's blog tour today and doubly honored to share Jon S. Lewis with all of you! So cool!!

Not too long ago, Shannon Whitney Messenger celebrated an entire week of Grey Griffins and reviewed
The Brimstone Key. I was lucky enough to win an ARC of it that week AND some autographed posters drawn by Jon Lewis (now framed and hanging proudly on my son's wall!). Today, I get to host a giveaway too! But first... read this awesome guest post!!


10 Things You Need To Know Before You Write With Someone Else

Author: Jon S. Lewis (the cutie on the right)

Writing with someone else isn’t for the faint of heart. Like any other relationship, it’s exciting in the beginning, but what happens when you have that first fight? Will the story come to a screeching halt? Will you friendship last?

Derek and I have been best friends for as long as we can remember. He bought me my first Star Wars action figure when we were six. And even after all that, there are still tough times when it comes to writing the Grey Griffins series together. Don’t get me wrong, it can be blast but it takes work.

Here are ten things you need to know before you write with someone else . . .

1) Work with someone who is strong where you are weak. Do you stink at dialogue? Find someone who writes dialogue effortlessly. Do you love to use adjectives and adverbs? Find someone who deletes 99% of them in the editing process. Do you struggle with action sequences but love tender moments? Work with someone who can choreograph a fight scene.

2) What you see is what you get. If you’re about to write a story with someone who likes to wax poetic, but you value minimalism you have two options: (1) Learn how to wax poetic; or (2) run away before it’s too late. Change doesn’t come easy, so don’t expect a writing partner to change his/her writing style just because you prefer something written a different way.

3) Put everything in writing. Whether you sell your manuscript to a publisher, self-publish the book, or sell the option for the movie rights, you need to have a partnership agreement. What percentage of the story does each of you own? What happens if one of you gets sick? Or run over by a bus? Or you don’t want to write any more. Who pays for the website? Are you going to form a business? The more you have in writing, the better.

4) Set the ground rules. Figure out your process before you start writing. Is one person in charge of the outline and the edits, and the other in charge of the first draft? Will one of you write the first half of the book and the other write the second half? Are there style rules? Will all speech modifiers be limited to the word “said?” How many modifiers will you allow per noun or verb. It may seem like ridiculous minutia now, but the more you cover, the less of a heartache you’ll get later on.

5) Don’t take things personally. This won’t come as a surprise, but none of us can write the perfect sentence every time. If your writing partner gives you some constructive criticism, don’t take it personally. If anything, learn to appreciate criticism. It could help you become a better writer.

6) Make detailed outlines. If you write with a partner, I highly recommend a detailed outline – particularly if you’re both going to be working on different parts of the manuscript at the same time. It’s important that you don’t contradict what the other person is writing.

7) Communicate. There is nothing wrong with changing an outline, but if you do, you should inform your writing partner because your edit may affect what he/she is doing as well.

8) Pick your battles. You aren’t going to get your way every time, so try not to elevate situations that aren’t critical. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care about the story – passion is an important key to good storytelling. But this isn’t just your story – you brought in a writing partner and that means you only own half of it. Save your strongest arguments for elements of the story that can’t be compromised.

9) Take advantage of the situation. If you have a writing partner, writer’s block should be a thing of the past. The moment you get stuck, pick up a phone and call, text or even email your writing partner to help you dig yourself out of the hole. You don’t have to go it alone.

10) Have fun. You are writing a book. The very nature of the “job” is that it’s fun, so don’t forget to enjoy your time writing – as well as the time you get to spend with your writing partner. Being an author can be a lonely experience, so take advantage of the times when you get to be around other people!

For more from Jon, visit his awesome website !!
It's a wonderful resource for aspiring authors.

And now...the giveaway!
*sound of trumpets*

One lucky winner will receive:

a signed copy of The Brimstone Key


some of Jon's awesome POSTERS!
To see how cool they are, go here.

To be entered to win:
  • Be a follower of this blog
  • Leave a comment (with email address) on this post by Sunday, Oct. 31st
For extra entries:
  • Spread the word!
  • 2 extra entries for each additional blurb (FB, Twitter, Goodreads, know the drill)

Good luck to everyone!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Every Book is a River

Swift or smooth, broad as the Hudson or narrow enough to scrape your gunwales, every river is a world of its own, unique in pattern and personality. Each mile on a river will take you further from home than a hundred miles on a road.
~ Bob Marshall

The same is true for books. Every book we read is unique, full of its own story and people and worlds. Picture books, chapter books, 700 page books... they all create a new place for the reader to explore.

I cry every time I read Pink & Say or Faithful Elephants, two picture books that pack the painful punch of reality as well as any novel. I think I've been scarred for life by James Patterson's Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas, yet I recommend it to everyone I know - it's beautiful and powerful and oh-so-heartwrenching.

Without fail, Janet Evanovich can make me spit my coffee. And I still laugh when I think of Rick Riordan's line about Grover "hauling goat tail" - ha ha ha!

Imagine Bob Marshall's quote like this:
Swift or smooth, broad as the Hudson or narrow enough to scrape your gunwales, every book is a world of its own, unique in pattern and personality. Each page of a book will take you further from home than a hundred miles on a road.
Each book is a river. Enjoy the ride!

Stop by tomorrow for The Steampunk Blog Tour of The Brimstone Key. I'll have a guest post from Jon S. Lewis himself!! And, of course... PRIZES!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Wish I Was a Glow Worm

"I wish I was a glow worm,
A glow worm's never glum.
'Cuz how can you be grumpy
When the sun shines out your bum!"
~Author Unknown

This is my attempt at spreading cheer and positive attitudes today.

Whatever is getting you down right now - drafts, edits, query wars, jobs, family, diets, an empty chocolate drawer (I really, really hope it's not an empty chocolate drawer) - go forth and shine! Not necessarily from your bum.

What is something you can SHINE about today?

Monday, October 25, 2010

So...Who Wants a Pre-Order??

Thank you to everyone for helping spread the word. I knew you'd like the pre-order idea, but I'm overwhelmed by the response.

There were an unbelievable 712 total entries!

Now THAT'S what I call a party! The winners were selected by Random.Org's random number generator, 1 - 712.

The three numbers generated were: 275, 131, and 696

So... there ya have it! Congratulations!

What? That's not clear enough? Oh, fine. Those numbers belong to...*insert drum roll*

#275 = Cass from Words on Paper

#131 = Terry Lynn Johnson

#696 = Susan Fields

Congratulations to the winners! I'll be emailing you soon to find out what you'd like me to order!

Have a happy Monday!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Repeat After Me

“It is not rejection itself that people fear, it is the possible consequences of rejection. Preparing to accept those consequences and viewing rejection as a learning experience that will bring you closer to success, will not only help you to conquer the fear of rejection, but help you to appreciate rejection itself.”
~ Bo Bennett

Rejection is NOT personal.
It is about our story.
It is about our story as it is at THAT moment in time.
It is about how our story resonates with THAT agent.
It is NOT personal.
It is a learning experience and an opportunity to improve.
It means that agent was not THE ONE.
It is NOT personal.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat!

This is my new mantra.

It's Mr. Lenny's Special Day!

Happy Birthday, Lenny Lee!!

photo source:

Here's a big birthday high-five from me!

photo source:

I wish I could do something fun,
like send you here:

photo source:

I can't...
but I CAN send you some cute birthday cheer!

photo source:

Happy Birthday
to the biggest ray of sunshine
in the whole wide blogosphere!!

Go visit Lenny's blog today and wish him a happy 11th birthday!
And if you aren't already following him, you are really missing out on something special!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Power of Water

"Rivers are magnets for the imagination, for conscious pondering and subconscious dreams, thrills and fears. People stare into the moving water, captivated, as they are when gazing into a fire. What is it that draws and holds us? The rivers' reflections of our lives and experiences are endless. The water calls up our own ambitions of flowing with ease, of navigating the unknown. Streams represent constant rebirth. The waters flow in, forever new, yet forever the same; they complete a journey from beginning to end, and then they embark on the journey again. "
~ From Lifelines by Tim Palmer

Photo Source:

Sometimes, I think water can be the source of all creativity. Simplistic? Yes. But then I think of the role water has played in so many of my favorite stories.

I once wrote an essay about how the river was a MAIN CHARACTER in Huckleberry Finn. What would that story have been if we took away the river as a character?

What about The Wind in the Willows or Letting Swift River Go or Moby Dick or The River by Gary paulsen. Water is the source of Dustfinger's fire fairies in Inkheart, water nymphs and mermaids, and of legends like The Loch Ness Monster.

Water can represent or control things like power, strength, danger, life, death, peace, freedom, beauty, chaos, cleansing and renewal, knowledge... the possibilities are endless.

Don't forget the power of water - basic water - when you write.

What are some other ways we can use water to strengthen our stories?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Recipe of a Winner

"Tactics, fitness, stroke ability, adaptability, experience, and sportsmanship are all necessary for winning."
~ Fred perry

And for writing. Think about it.
  • We need the right tactics to approach and develop our story.
  • We need to stay fit by writing regularly.
  • Stroke ability is the quality of our skill.
  • Good writers adapt to their stories, their characters, their CP's, their editors...
  • With experience comes wisdom and the greater possibility of achieving the dream.
  • And sportsmanship? We definitely need to be good sports when it comes to critique feedback and query rejections!

What else should be added to this recipe?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Travels with Gannon and Wyatt Giveaway Winners!

Travels with Gannon and Wyatt


Two hardback copies
Travels with Gannon and Wyatt: Botswana. Each book includes a DVD with safari footage and interviews with Gannon and Wyatt.

Reminder of the book:

In the tradition of the historic journals kept by explorers such as Lewis and Clark, Dr. David Livingstone and Captain James Cook comes the adventure series

In this volume, Gannon and Wyatt arrive in Botswana for an African safari to find that a poacher has shot and wounded a lioness. They set off into the wild in the hopes of saving the mother and her cubs before the poacher finishes the job.

And the winners are:

Everyone's favorite blogger, #30, Mr. Lenny!!!
(thank you, for picking him, cuz it's his birthday month!)


The second winner was originally #14, Stephanie at Hatshepsut, but she's getting a copy already, so she withdrew herself. The new winner is #3...

Jennie Englund

Congrats to the lucky winners. I'll be e-mailing you soon.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone
and be sure to enter my Party Time contest!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Party Time At Book Dreaming!

In the past couple of months I have passed the date of my first blogoversary, over 200 posts, and the 500 follower mark. I can't believe I made to any one of those milestones, let alone all three. So, what next? I say it's party time!

Let's pop open the champagne, turn up the music, and gorge ourselves on unhealthy party foods!

But what's a party without prizes? We need prizes! Good prizes. Coveted, must-have, can't live without prizes. Oh, yeah. Wanna know what they are? Do ya? Me too.

I've been thinking about this for a while now, and Here's what I came up with. You all know what you covet, must have, can't live without right now. I don't. So you get to choose this time. I got this idea from Candyland (thanks, Candace) when she offered several pre-order books, and I was lucky enough to win Paranormalcy. That was a definite must-have for me!

3 Winners!
ANY upcoming release
pre-ordered and delivered to your door

you choose, I buy!

To enter:
  • You must be a follower of my blog (Old = +3 New = +1)
  • You must leave a comment on this post with your email address by Oct. 22nd (next Friday)
Extra Entries:
  • +2 Follow me on Networked Blogs
  • +5 do a blog post about this contest
  • +3 link it in your sidebar
  • +2 Each: Twitter, FB, etc.
  • +1 for each person who says you sent them
  • +1 for doing the math
Some possibilities:
  • Across the Universe by Beth Revis
  • Possession by Elana Johnson
  • Pegasus by Robin McKinley
  • Nightshade by Andre Cremer
  • Matched by Ally Condie
  • The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
  • XVI by Julia Karr
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid 5
  • The Ranger's Apprentice: Book 10 by John Flannagan
  • Virals by Kathy Reichs
  • Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Sapphique by Catherine Fisher
  • Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris (when available)
  • Selling Hope by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb
Good luck to everyone!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It's Love, People!

Okay. Everyone who has followed me for a while knows that I go totally "fangirl" when it comes to James Dashner. If you DON'T go all fangirl (guys excluded), then what is wrong with you?! Really. His books are *sigh* the best!

Yesterday I posted a small announcement at the top of my blog because I already had a post scheduled (what was I thinking?!). Today I am giving the release of Scorch Trials the attention it deserves!

The Maze Runner was my favorite book of 2009 - no contest. Thanks to Shannon #1 (aka Shannon Whitney Messenger), I got to read a sneak peek of the first five chapters of Scorch Trials. O-M-G!! He took the entire first book and turned it upside down, inside out, and backwards in those five chapters! Someday, I want to write that well. The man is freaking amazing! (yes, that's a lot of exclamation points - and yes, he deserves all of them)

So like I said yesterday... dont walk, RUN to the nearest bookstore! RUN, Forrest, RUN!!! Or better yet, follow the link to Amazon and one-click it!!

And now, for your viewing pleasure, the trailer:

Today's question: have you read anything by James Dashner yet? The Maze Runner? The 13th Reality series? Or perhaps the Jimmy Fincher Saga? If the answer is no, you need to fix that!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How Much Do You Want It?

Goals are probably one of the things unpublished writers use the least. There are no deadlines, no "boss" telling them to get it done or get out. All they have is what they impose upon themselves. Published writers have to set goals if they want to keep on top of the industry and hold onto the slot they have with their publisher(s). For every action there is a reaction, and this scientific law also holds true for procrastination and goals. The less you write, the less you want to write. The more you write, the more you want to write.
~ Karen Wiesner

Today, I am standing up to my greatest challenge as a writer - and no, I'm not referring to adverbs (this time). I'm referring to...procrastination. Shhh! Don't tell anyone.

Don't get me wrong. I love to write - love it! And I'm proud of what I write. I just have a gift for avoidance, also know as that "P" word. Karen Wiesner believes that in order to be successful in this business, we must set goals. She recommends setting an easily attained goal, a challenging goal, and an impossible goal. What those goals are will vary, but once we've set them we need to test them, reach them, surpass them. So, how am I going to stand up to procrastination? Like this:

I hereby declare, publicly (yes, I may be insane):
  • to write something EVERY DAY
  • to set goals and meet them: an easy goal, a challenging goal, an impossible goal
  • easy goal: to beg my CP (that's you, Valerie darling) to use some tough love to kick my butt in gear (She's a writing work horse. If Valerie can't make me do it, no one can) and then to do what she tells me.
  • challenging goal: to complete and revise a new PB before Christmas
  • impossible goal: to write 25,000 words during NaNo (remember, I don't write full length novels, so this is a monster word goal for me)
  • to maintain a positive attitude and remember how much I want this dream!
The best way to get something done is to begin.
~Author Unknown

How do you stand up to procrastination?

P.S. Check out yesterday's review of The Popularity Papers. It belongs on your shopping list!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Do You Feel Popular? Well, Do Ya?

From Goodreads:
Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang are best friends with one goal: to crack the code of popularity. Lydia’s the bold one: aspiring theater star, stick-fighting enthusiast, human guinea pig. Julie’s the shy one: observer and artist, accidental field hockey star, faithful recorder. In this notebook they write down their observations and carry out experiments to try to determine what makes the popular girls tick. But somehow, when Lydia and Julie try to imitate the popular girls, their efforts don’t translate into instant popularity. Lydia ends up with a bald spot, their parents won’t stop yelling, and Julie finds herself the number-one crush of Roland Asbjørnsen. Worse, they seem to be drifting farther and farther from their goal—and each other. Amy Ignatow’s hilarious debut novel introduces the intrepid fifth-graders Julie and Lydia, whose quest to understand popularity may not succeed in the ways they want, but will succeed in keeping readers in stitches.
From Me:
This book is adorable! If you are looking for something to hook kids who enjoyed Diary of a Wimpy Kid, look no further. Even my son loved this book (though he may deny it, since he said it's "a girly book" Ha Ha). I loved it, my kiddos loved it, and even several of my high school girls have now read and enjoyed it. It's too funny and colorful and adorably memorable NOT to love. If you know any girl readers (or boys in love with Wimpy Kid), I would recommend adding this to your Christmas shopping list. I'm buying a copy for my niece.
Okay, spill it! What are some "don't miss" books on your shopping list?
And yes, I probably will ask you again before Christmas. Is that a problem?!

Special thanks to Laura @ Abrams books

Friday, October 8, 2010

Stretching the Tension

When writing the first draft, the author is often in a discovery phase. This can lead to slogging and over descriptive passages that bog down the story. It's fine to have the saggy middle in the first draft, because the rough draft is laying down the plot. Revising and editing a book is the time to tighten up, firm up, and get rid of the excess flab.
photo credit: (

Suzanne Pitner is a font of useful writing info. She is a teacher, a published author, and a contributing writer at suite101. For more info about her and to find her articles, go here to her homepage.

One of my favorites is an article she posted on the "sagging middle syndrome" we are often plagued by in our stories. She tells us that tension comes in many forms:
  • Physical tension, action. (She swung a hammer at his head.)
  • Emotional tension, thoughts, feelings. (Her anger boiled inside her and she felt her fists clenching, her nails digging ditches in her palms.)
  • A sense of impending doom. (The principal called me into her office. Thunder rumbled outside in the darkening sky.)
  • A sense of anticipation. (Sarah saw John looking in the jeweler's window as she rode by on the 5:30 p.m. bus. She took a hopeful breath, patted her hair, and freshened her lipstick. Perhaps tonight would be the night.)
In her article, she shares exercises and tips to help tighten our plots, stretch the tension, and avoid the sagging middle. If you are concerned about the tension in your novel or about how well it is distributed throughout your story, go read her article and try some of her suggestions.

Do you have a favorite strategy to stretch and tighten the tension in your stories?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Storytelling Here

"Put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it."
- Colette

Elana Johnson had this wonderful post on her blog yesterday about the difference between writing and storytelling. And there really IS a difference. My composition students are writers. Brandon Mull and J.K. Rowling and Tolkien are storytellers.

Think about what the differences are - how we feel those differences when we read something. Textbooks are created by writers. Newspapers and most magazine articles are written by writers. But good books, the ones that make us want to savor them and delay that last page, are written by storytellers.

Check out Elana's article (if you're one of the FEW people who doesn't already read her blog every single day). It's thought provoking.
Draw your chair up close to the edge of the precipice and I'll tell you a story.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald

Do you think there is a difference?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Review + A Giveaway

About the book:

In the tradition of the historic journals kept by explorers such as Lewis and Clark, Dr. David Livingstone and Captain James Cook comes the adventure series "TRAVELS WITH GANNON AND WYATT."

From Africa to the South Pacific, twin brothers Gannon and Wyatt have traveled to all corners of the globe. The journals, photographs and video compiled on these expeditions provided the foundation for this action-packed adventure series. In this volume, Gannon and Wyatt arrive in Botswana for an African safari to find that a poacher has shot and wounded a lioness. They set off into the wild in the hopes of saving the mother and her cubs before the poacher finishes the job.

The real-life Gannon and Wyatt are normal 15-year old twins, except for their extraordinary travel schedules. Since Botswana, the boys have traveled to Egypt, Greenland, Iceland, The Great Bear Rainforest, and beyond for future volumes in the series.

They are passionate about the book and about the Youth Exploration Society, which they founded with the authors, after their experiences in Botswana. The Society was created to inspire youth to do their part to make the world a better place. It informs members of ways they can help people, environments and species at risk and promotes a better understanding of geography, cultures and wildlife.


These books are fun! My eight-year-old saw my copy and immediately stole it. I had to wait for him to finish before I could read it. The highest praise I can give the book is that my son LOVED it! He wants me to buy them all - now! I highly recommend these books for those who love adventure. The format of the story, told through journal entries of both boys, is riveting and real. I can't wait for the next one! And what I especially appreciate is that for every book purchased before December 31, 2010, a book will be donated to an organization that supports literacy.


I have two hardback copies of Travels with Gannon and Wyatt: Botswana to give away. Each book includes a DVD with safari footage and interviews with Gannon and Wyatt.

To enter: leave a comment on this post by Thursday, October 14th. You must be a follower to win. Please include your email address with your comment.
*yes, I will open it internationally - I love you all!

Extra entries will be given for any helpful promotions:
  • FB
  • Twitter
  • following through Networked Blogs
  • sidebar links
  • blog posts
  • and sending friends my way.
(+1 for each) Just let me know in the comments what you've done and total your entries.

I will announce the winner on Friday, October 15th.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Write, Revise, Repeat.

The reason 99% of all stories written are not bought by editors is very simple. Editors never buy manuscripts that are left on the closet shelf at home.
- John Campbell

No matter what else we do, we must keep working.
We must keep believing in possibilities.

Write. Revise. Write. Revise. However many times you must.

And then... send it out there.

Do NOT leave it on a shelf, too fearful to try. Use our wonderful blogging community for strength and support. Read Elana's ebook, From the Query to the Call; stalk and learn from agent blogs; utilize you can't succeed if you don't brave the process

At what stage of the process
are you and your story?

I am currently querying my MS, hopeful and with fingers crossed.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hello Book

Hello Book!
by N.M. Bodecker

Hello book!
What are you up to?
Keeping yourself to yourself,
shut in between your covers,
a prisoner high on a shelf.
come in book!
What is your story?
Haven't you ever been read?
Did you think
I would just pass by you
And pick me a comic instead?
No way book!
I'm your reader
I open you up.
Set you free.
Listen, I know a secret!
Will you share your secrets with me?
What book are you currently reading?

Friday, October 1, 2010

I'll Just Die if You Don't Read This!

"I tend to basically exaggerate in life, and in writing, it's fine to exaggerate. I really enjoy overstating for the purpose of getting a laugh. For another thing, writing is easier than digging ditches. Well, actually that's an exaggeration. It isn't."
~ Dr. Seuss

Exaggeration is a wonderful tool, one used successfully by great writers. And by young adults! Everything is hyperbole to a teenager. They'll just DIE if they don't get lunch by noon, if they have a fight with a friend, if they can't stay out past ten.

The use of simile and metaphor are a way to create hyperbole in our writing. Creating powerful and exaggerated visual images is another. Suzanne Pitner used the following example:
“His face was worn, eroded by years of hard work, deep wrinkled canyons carved into his features, laugh lines so deep a small child might get lost in them.”
Michael Grant does a wonderful job of using hyperbole to create humor in The Magnificent Twelve. Janet Evanovich is another master. And of course, Dr. Seuss! Don't forget the value of exaggeration when creating your stories.

Have a wonderful weekend!
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