Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Break

If they get 100 new fans on the Bancroft Press Facebook page
they’ll reveal the title of the second book of the
Atomic Weight of Secrets trilogy!!
Please go "like" them!

I'm taking the holiday off to spend quality time with my family.
Have a wonderful Christmas, everyone. I'll  be back on January 2nd.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

HarperTeen Holiday Book Deal

From 12/20/11 to 1/30/12
10 incredible HarperTeen ebooks 
will be on sale for $0.99 each! 

* The titles, authors, and ISBNs are: *
 ~ Unearthly 
Cynthia  Hand

~ Vesper 
Jeff  Sampson

~ Hereafter 
Tara  Hudson

~ Bumped 
Megan McCafferty

~ Unidentified
Rae Mariz

~ Poison Diaries, The 
Maryrose Wood

~ Entwined 
Heather  Dixon

~ Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) 

Sarah  Mylkowski

 ~ Withering Tights 
Louise Rennison

~ Lucky 
Rachel Vail

 You can visit either Amazon or Barnes and Noble to purchase these great deals! To find out more about hot Harper deals and titles, giveaways, and goodies, click HERE to visit the Epic Deals Facebook page!
Happy Holidays!
Happy Reading!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Deja Vu Blogfest

hosted by 
D.L. Hammons @ Cruising Altitude

Today is a day for Deja Vu, for re-living some of our favorite posts of the past. Choosing ONE post was not an easy task. In fact, it took me HOURS to narrow it down to five, and another hour from there. Ugh! Hopefully, I chose a post you'll think was worth it.

From February, 2010:


You all know by now how much I enjoy writing lessons by Barry Lane. I've realized I'm not alone in this - you seem to enjoy them as much as I do. So, here's one of my favorite Barry Lane lessons, taken from After The End:

"If I were to tell you that the maple tree outside there on the playground just said to itself, 'I'm sick of being a tree. I think I want to be a person now,' and if I told you that maple tree got up and is now sprinting down Interstate 89, what would you say?"

We would all say No Way! Not possible. Right? Barry Lane agrees that the initial response would be that trees don't run. So...

"OK, OK. But what if I said, 'The maple tree decided it didn't want to be a tree anymore and is running down Route 89 and there is a little boy named Seth chasing after it and a blue Chevy Cavalier wagon. And it just stepped on my 1979 Toyota Liftback, crushing the box of Twix candy bars I was saving to bring to class tomorrow.' What if I were to say, 'There is a cat up in the tree, and the fire department is chasing after it, and that cat is howling like a wolf on the highest branch, and the principal, Mrs. Stewart, has lassoed it with an orange extension cord and tied it to the bumper of bus number ten.' If I could tell you enough details, so that you begin to imagine something exact and real about this runaway tree, you might, you just might, go to the window and look. That's What writers do. They make you go to the window and look."

According to Barry Lane, we should think of the details of our writing as walls, not as wallpaper. Details are not decoration. They are part of a story's bones

Details are the best tools a writer has to bring writing into focus and find deeper meaning. Barry Lane says they should not be ends in themselves but should serve to bring to light the writer's larger vision.
How do you view the function of details?

Thursday, December 15, 2011


"To reach a port, we must sail - 
sail, not tie at anchor - sail, not drift."
~ Franklin Roosevelt

To achieve OUR goals we must write. 

Not stare at the screen for hours "thinking" (please say I'm not the only one who does that)

Not check Twitter and FB every 10 minutes for new messages. 

Not put it off until tomorrow . . .


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Winners Are People Like You

Winners Are People Like You
Nancye Sims 
(inspirational poet)

Winners take chances Like everyone else, they fear failing,
but they refuse to let fear control them.

Winners don’t give up. When life gets rough, they hang in
until the going gets better.

Winners are flexible. They realize there is more than one
way and are willing to try others.

Winners know they are not perfect. They respect their
weaknesses while making the most of their strengths.

Winners fall but they don’t stay down. They stubbornly refuse
to let a fall keep them from climbing.

Winners don’t blame fate for their failures, nor luck for their successes.

Winners accept responsibility for their lives.

Winners are positive thinkers who see good in all things.
From the ordinary, they make the extraordinary.

Winners believe in the path they have chosen even when it
is hard, even when others can’t see where they are going.

Winners are patient. They know a goal is only worthy
as the effort that is required to achieve it.

Winners are people who believe in themselves.
They make this world a better place to be.

 Be a winner!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I Am Me

"I am somebody. I am me. I like being me. And I need nobody to make me somebody."
~ Louis L'Amour

In the crazy world of publishing, it's easy to fall into the mindset that we NEED an agent to validate who we are as writers. Then we NEED a publisher to validate our stories. Then we NEED sales to validate our publishing success. Then we NEED a second book to validate that the first book wasn't a fluke. And so on and so on . . .

THAT'S NOT TRUE. Those things are all wonderful and are all part of the journey we are trying to take, but they do not make us somebodies.

I am a somebody every time my husband tells me he loves me. I am a somebody when I hug my kids and tuck them in at night and watch their Christmas programs or athletic activities. I am a somebody when I help my students become better readers and writers. I am a somebody in a hundred different ways each day. Because I AM ME.

When your heart starts to doubt, 
what makes you feel like a somebody?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Tales of a Sugar Hero

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Shannon Whitney Messenger decided it was time to give middle grade stories the attention they deserve, and "Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays" was born.  

Tales of a Sugar Hero
 by Michael Dahl
Goodreads Blurb:
On her eleventh birthday, Halo Nightly receives a mysterious collection of candy jars from her Aunt Pandora. The sweet treats inside fuel her with the powers of fire, water, earth, and air! As the worlds newest sugar hero, Halo must defeat the evil sour-villains who threaten to rid the world of fun and flavor!
This is a darling book, and it definitely hits the mark with its intended audience. My daughter absolutely loves it! She reads it over and over. In fact, whenever we go out and she gets bored, she asks for my kindle so she can read it some more. The illustrations are fantastic, the story is fun, and the message is a good one. I highly recommend this for young readers everywhere. 

*** ALSO . . . I'm making my debut over at PROJECT MIDDLE GRADE MAYHEM today. Please stop by and say hello. 
** Others who can be counted on for MMGM: **
 Happy Monday!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Persistence in Practice

"Forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you're inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won't. Habit is persistence in practice."
~Octavia Butler

I am working to embrace this philosophy right now. My re-writes were flowing freely, my CP and agent were loving them, and then . . . nothing. I hit a wall. And my CP was on vacation when I hit it. I just kind of shut down, ya know? Two weeks and not ONE new word.

So, it's time to just write. Period. I can't give myself permission to live in this bubble of denial any longer. Waiting for inspiration has not moved me forward. Maybe getting back in the habit of punching the keys will. 

How do you break through those brick walls when you write? 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Kindle Fire

 I'm in love with my Kindle Fire, 
and here's why . . .

Thanks to the combination of  landing an agent and the upcoming Christmas season, I was able to sweet-talk my hubby into getting me a Kindle Fire. And I love it! I know not everyone has an eReader and many are still apprehensive about them (it took me a long time to cross that line, too), but the Fire is really something fun.

Aside from the amazingly inexpensive $199 price, I love that it's in color.We are all pretty addicted to book covers, and seeing my favorites in color is awesome! Also, I no longer need a portable reading light at night because I can switch to a black background with white font. Then, voila! No problem.

My kids love playing Android Apps like Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies on it. My 9 yo even uses it to practice his math facts--I downloaded some free math games and flash card apps, and now he loves to practice.

I use my Fire to check my email, Twitter, and FB accounts. I use it as a family planner/calendar. I watch Dr. Who and Lost on it. I can use it as a GPS, a calculator, a travel planner, an alarm clock, an MP3 player, a movie player, and a gaming device. AND MORE.


For anyone who has a Fire (or gets one), the KINDLE FIRE DEPARTMENT BLOG is a gold mine of information. I think it's a DAILY must-read. The Fire Department provides links to Amazon's daily FREE kindle books and daily FREE Android Apps

Even better, the Fire Department Blog provides tips and tricks to help make your Kindle run better: How to set up an external speaker system; How to use the Cloud Drive memory to maximum effect; How to sync your fire with your desktop apps . . . Plus, if you have a question, they will try to find the answer for you. I am addicted to the info on this blog!!

A recent tidbit from the Fire Dept. was a link to this article, which you might find interesting:
* An awesome article called The Goldilocks tablet: Why Amazon’s 7-inch Kindle Fire is ‘just right’

If you are considering whether or not to purchase the Kindle Fire, 
I say go for it! 
I really LOVE mine!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


"Nothing is predestined. The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings."
~ Ralph Blum

If there is one thing we learn as writers, it's that nothing is guaranteed in the book world. More than anything else, we have to hold onto hope with both hands. Never let it go. A setback today may be the stepping stone that leads us forward tomorrow. 

So many writers have shared stories of heartbreak and success with us over the years. SO MANY: Elana Johnson's 180+ rejections before finding an agent smart enough to sign her; Beth Revis wrote TEN novels over TEN years before her ACROSS THE UNIVERSE success. It goes on and on . . .

If you want to be inspired, to feel hopeful, to believe in the impossible, read the following stories.

* Caroline Starr Rose's joy...then disappointment...then joy again story HERE and HERE and HERE 
* Natalie Whipple wrote this post HERE and now has a novel being published by HARPER TEEN in 2013!!
* Katie Ganshert's long wait HERE
* Karen Amanda Hooper's story, HERE 
* Shelli Johannes-Wells's story HERE

These are only a few of the many stories out there, but they never fail to make my heart smile and soar with new hope.

What helps keep your hope alive?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Cabin Fever + Giveaway

WINNER:  Brenda Demko!!
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Shannon Whitney Messenger decided it was time to give middle grade stories the attention they deserve, and "Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays" was born.  

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever
 by Jeff Kinney

Greg Heffley is in big trouble. School property has been damaged, and Greg is the prime suspect. But the crazy thing is, he’s innocent. Or at least sort of.

The authorities are closing in, but when a surprise blizzard hits, the Heffley family is trapped indoors. Greg knows that when the snow melts he’s going to have to face the music, but could any punishment be worse than being stuck inside with your family for the holidays?
My 4th grade son read the entire book the night I brought it home, and my 2nd grade daughter devoured it the next day. We all know these books sell themselves, so I don't need to convince you of their greatness. I would like to give away a copy to one lucky commenter, though. But NOT my copy! He he.

Simply follow my blog and leave a comment by the end of the day Wednesday. I'll announce the winner on Thursday's post.

** Others who can be counted on for MMGM: **
 Happy Monday!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Book Lover's Holiday Giveaway Hop



Like all of I Am A Reader's hops, this one is HUGE, which means an amazing number of opportunities to win--again. Participating blogs are all featuring book related giveaways

The window of time to enter is from December 2nd - December 6th. You can find the linky at either of the hosting blogs. It is too long to post here.


One winner will get to choose an ebook or print copy 
of the brand new release, 

Trust me: you REALLY want this book!!


Because I don't like it when contests take forever to enter, just . .  follow me
leave a comment 
and if you want to hit the tweet button below, that's good too (but not required)!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Taste

Tempest Rising100 Cupboards: Book 1 of the 100 CupboardsWolves of the Beyond #1: Lone Wolf
LiarRaised by WolvesThe Declaration
Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible EdiblesLittle Blog on the PrairieThe Wishing Pearl (Diamond Estates)

Here are some of Amazon's December sale titles for Kindle. 
All are $3.99 or less!

Also, one of my favorite writing gurus, Ralph Fletcher
is doing a holiday promotion of
on his website (


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Carving Angels Blog Tour + Giveaway

WINNER:  Diane Estrella!!


Carving Angels Blog Tour

Goodreads Blurb:
Papa Adam, the North Pole's oldest elf and Santa's former chief carver, has given up. Blind, frail, and feeling useless, he counts the minutes in every day as he waits to die -- until his youngest granddaughter challenges him to carve again. Together they prove that the most beautiful creations can come from the most unlikely sources and with the right love and encouragement, anything is possible. 

Guest Post: The Story Behind the Story
Carving Angels - Behind the Wood Shavings

I love a background story.
Just as I love the secondary characters in a movie.
Each adds . . . substance.
And, let's face it, the lead story and the lead characters have all been done to death. The world is looking for something fresh and new.
But who says that fresh and new can't be siphoned off of the old and overdone?
Carving Angels came from just such an idea.
I was looking at a picture of Santa Claus, riding in his famous sleigh.
Pulled by his equally famous reindeer.
And the thought struck me - 'Huh. I wonder where he got his sleigh?' It is such an integral part of the whole 'Santa' story, but no one has ever explained where it came from.
Did he mail order it?
The number of stamps alone would be mind-boggling.
Visit 'Sleighs R Us' on one of his weekend getaways to New York or places south?
Possible, but doubtful. For one thing, I've never seen a 'Sleighs R Us' store.
Even in Edmonton.
I sincerely doubt that one could find a Sears or Costco at the North Pole.
The only other solutions seemed to be either union-made (elves), or non-union 'constructed in someone's shop' (also elves).
I had my premise.

Santa's sleigh was constructed by elves.
Or more particularly, by an elf.
A very gifted elf.
But what kind of gifts?
A metal worker/welder?
I'm sure they have them in abundance at the North Pole. After all, who else could construct the plethora of things metal that appear under our tree on Christmas morning?
Okay, that's one possibility.
Computer whiz.
Handy, especially when it came to interior bells and whistles.
But, let's face it, a virtual sleigh, though it might look good on the silver screen, really couldn't pass muster when it came to actually carrying the big guy and serving as a repository for the all-important toys and gifts.
Computer whizzes - out.
Wait. What about a wood carver?
We're talking about a night spent in an open sleigh in sub-zero temperatures.
Okay, yes, I know that many of Santa's deliveries are to tropical and sub-tropical locales, but we should plan for the frozen-est, rather than the warm-est, right?
Moving on . . .
Hmm. Wood vs. metal.
Wood is so much warmer than metal.
Anyone who has done the all important/stupid frozen metal-tongue test (and I'm not saying I have) knows that wood, even when frozen solid, simply does not have the sticking power of super-cooled metal.
A definite plus for the wood argument.
Let's go with that.
So. A wood-carving elf.

Now, how can we make him (or her) special.
And at the same time make his (all right, I've decided he's a guy) accomplishment just a bit . . . tougher. Harder to imagine.
Or believe.
We'll give him a handicap.
Something to overcome.
Something that will make his achievement that much more astounding.
And we'll drag in his tiny little granddaughter because she is so sweet and cute and because she is equally handicapped by age.
And because we need someone to help on the rare occasions when our carver actually needs to 'see'.
So now, all we need is a bit of background: A former career as Santa's chief carver, followed by ten years of despair.

And the story is set.
Carving Angels is born.


Just in time for the Christmas season, Diane Tolley's lovely and deeply touching Carving Angels was released by Cedar Fort Publishing. I loved this story. The bond between Amy and her grandfather is wonderful, and the fact that he is one of Santa's elves doesn't hurt either. 

I recommend reading this one together as a family. It's full of love, hope, friendship, determination, and the joy of Christmas. I felt the emotional tug on my heart from the very first chapter. This is an absolutely beautiful Christmas story.

Cedar Fort has generously offered to give away one copy of Carving Angels. Their giveaway policy is that giveaways are open to International entries, and if someone outside North America wins, they'll send them an ebook, inside North America they'll send them a hard copy, unless the winner would prefer an ebook. 

Just leave a comment and be a follower to enter. Winner announced on Friday.

Does your family have an annual must-read Christmas story?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Steer by the Stars

"There is no satisfactory explanation of style, no infallible guide to good writing, no assurance that a person who thinks clearly will be able to write clearly, no key that unlocks the door, no inflexible rules by which the young writer may steer his course. He will often find himself steering by stars that are disturbingly in motion."
~ E. B. White
So true.
If you want to see how to play with the rules we writers do have, read SHATTER ME, by Tahereh Mafi. Wow . . . that girl can write! And she does it while following her own rules. Delicious, every word. 
In The Underneath, Kathi Appelt does the same thing with equally delicious results.
Are you willing to write by your own rules? 
Or do you play it safe? 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Holiday Break

I'll be back on Monday with a Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post! Until then, have a wonderful week.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Untraceable Blog Tour + Guest Post

Shelli Johannes-Wells
Today, I am honored to host Shelli from Market My Words and her awesome book tour. I have read Untraceable, and it's good, people. I gave it 4/5 stars! 

Shelli was kind enough to write a guest post for us, chronicling her rocky road to this dream moment. How she and her fantastic agent  worked so hard. How and why she and her agent parted ways. How Untraceable came to be published. It's quite a tale and very worth the time to read it. I promise.

Shelli's Author Journey

It’s been a long road for me. And indie publishing was not the easiest decision or the easy way out. It is actually the faster way to publish but an uphill battle. Between the stigma and the work – doing everything on your own with no support. That is hard.

When I got an agent 2 years – I had already had two books go to Acquisitions, only to fall through at the last minute. It always seemed like I was up against one other book for the slot. If I had a dime for how many times I’ve heard – “it’s down to you and another book, but we can only take one.” It was hard always coming in 2nd. And 2nd is not even bad – it’s the silver medal, the top 2. But for me – it was a curse.

When I signed with a top agent from a top agency – I thought everything was downhill from there.  I actually remember saying to someone – “now that I have an agent - it’s a matter of who will buy it and for how much.” HA! (This is where you laugh at me) Was I a sucker (a little too overconfident.) or what?

I didn’t know then that getting an agent is a small part of the overall battle. I would still have to get a publisher, sell well, and then get another book out and sold.

When I was with my agent, my 3rd book went to acquisitions at a couple of houses. I still have not seen a book like my tween story. Over three loooonnnnggg rounds – I completed 2 or 3 noncontractual revisions, went to several editorial meetings, and a few acquisition meetings. After a year of back and forth, ups and downs, and to be honest – compromises on my part in changing the book - the book ended up not selling. Needless to say - I was devastated – and so was my agent– but she was supportive and encouraged me to move on to my YA book (which is the book she actually picked me up on - Untraceable).

After 6 months of revisions, Untraceable went out on submission. This time to only a handful of houses. It was considered at one house - but once again – fell through. The feedback was mostly around this: “We don’t know if a tough girl survival thriller will do well unless it has a dystopic environment like the Hunger Games. What? I could not understand if people loved the book, and the characters, and the writing -why a tough girl in the real world – in today’s world – would not get a chance.

My agent was equally surprised and frustrated – I think at this point she didn’t know how to get me to the next level. I think because she couldn’t understand WHY I wasn’t already there.

We had a tough conversation about Untraceable. She talked to me about moving on to another book. But I felt there was life in Untraceable and didn’t want to give up.She said if I wanted to continue on with it – she wanted me to get a fresh perspective because she wasn’t sure what wasn’t working. I decided I wasn’t ready to give up on Untraceable so we decided to part.

That time was one of the hardest parts of this whole process. You see, I loved my agent and thought she was awesome. WE worked well together, we had the same sense of humor, and she pushed me.

I just loved my book more and felt it deserved a full shot.

Something broke in me during that time. I lost my love for writing. I lost my faith that I would ever get published. I contacted a few agents I knew about taking me on - but none of them were willing to touch Untraceable because it had gone out on a round and wasn’t their project. I guess Untraceable was “too tainted”. They all loved my WIP and told me to come back when that book was done.

At this point, I had written 4 books that had all gone to acquisitions and I was in the same place I was years before.

Meanwhile, I’d hear authors complaining about how they had no marketing, upset because they didn’t like their cover, horrified that they weren’t getting any support from their publisher, and terrified they weren’t going to sell again. A few authors were dumped by their agents even after they sold and I even had some author friends upset b/c they were told marketing was going to handle everything for them - only to end up doing nothing which hurt their book sales.

Something broke in me during the summer when I realized that there was always going to be someone holding me back. And I am not one to hang my dreams on someone else. I never have been that person.

My husband and I sat down and talked about all the things publishers do for authors. With my business and marketing background combined with finding the right distribution, I realized there was nothing holding me back. I could do everything myself. The book was done and had been edited by a well-known editor. Making the book was easy for me and marketing stuff is one of my strengths. I know who to contact and where and how and why – it’s one thing – besides writing - I do well.

So I decided to try it out and see. I had nothing to lose right? I mean, Untraceable was already dead in the water as far as the traditional process was concerned I had nothing to lose.

My pride got in the way for a while. I was worried about what everyone would think. Honestly – that ego thing held me back for an additional 6 months or this book would have been out in the summer. I finally just decided to go for it. Put it all out there. And if I fail, I fail and I’ll pick up and go on – like I have done with other things I’ve failed out. It would not break me.

Now, as I have embarked on this journey. I realize I have done the right thing for myself -  for now. The book I put out will be 150% mine. My cover concept, my copy, my characters uncompromised, and my heart, soul, blood, sweat, fears, and tears.

My book is like me on a platter.

I have loved the process but it’s been harder than I expected. I will say I do have an advantage b/c I don’t have to pay people to layout my book or my marketing materials. I do have a solid platform and solid relationships and people have stepped up to support me. I also know where to go and what to look for in marketing. I know what sells books and what doesn’t. I’ve been in marketing my whole life. I’m not saying I know everything because I definitely don’t. But when I don’t’ know something - I am not afraid to dig around and find out how to do it. I have a good instinct for marketing. And I think that helps me find my way through this muddled process.

So is indie publishing for everyone? NO! I love doing marketing and reaching out to people. It does not intimidate me. But I have spent the last 2 months preparing everything myself. Making my own decisions and mistakes. I am not afraid of mistakes. I’m more afraid of not knowing when I make one than actually making them. If you don’t like to market your books, if you don’t like to reach out to people and get rejected, or if you just want to write - this might be a much harder journey.

I have not given up on traditional publishing; I respect the industry, love all the people, and would love to take that journey someday.

For now, I’m interested to see if me – a total underdog – can make it on my own. And if I don’t, at least I will know that I put out the best book I could in every way – from design to plot to character.  That I am happy about everything I have done and would not change a thing.

At least, I will know I did it on my own, my way, with no regrets.

Contact information:

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