Monday, June 27, 2011


We are off on a vacation adventure! 
First Disneyland, then San Diego = fun, fun, fun!

I'll be away from the blogosphere until July 10th
See you soon!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Another Shelley Watters Contest!

Shelley Watters
Birthday Blowout First Page Contest!

Shelley is sponsoring ANOTHER agent-judged contest of the first 250 words of our complete MS
If your MS is finished, whip up a quick post and join the fun! This time the agent judge is Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider Literary Agency, who is currently building her client list. Yay!

For those who may be interested in joining in today, here are Shelley's rules:
  1. Sign up on the link below. (at Shelley's blog)
  2. On June 25th, post your title, genre, word count and the first 250 words on your blog for critique.
  3. From June 25th through June 26th, hop around to the other contestant's blogs and critique their first 250 words.
  4. On June 27th, come back to my blog and post your final entry on my dedicated contest entry blog post. 
* Many of you have seen snippets of my excerpt before, but thanks to excellent feedback, the MS is vastly improved. So here is the latest, greatest version.  :-)

Title: Scott and the Naughty Boy Factory
Genre: Young MG
Word Count: 19,700

Pink pony piñata . . . check.
Invisibility . . . check.
Cup of worms . . . check.
I crouched in my favorite tree, fourth branch up from the ground and only one branch over from my sister’s piñata. The perfect place for a ninja ambush. I just needed those girly girls to come a little bit closer.
My little sister, Victoria, spent all morning picking out her perfect party dress, pink and lacy, with a bow in the back. She and her frilly friends had a fashion show with fake jewelry and feather boas, played “Pin the Crown on the Princess,” and paraded around Fancy Nancy style through the back yard.
 Boor-ing. Time to show Victoria how fun is done.
I waited above her piñata, holding an old soda cup filled with worms. Only the best ones, though: long and fat and slimy. If worm-collecting was an Olympic sport, I’d be a gold medal winner for sure.
Oh, yeah. This was gonna be good.
When the girls finally got close enough, I took careful aim and dumped. The worms and dirt tumbled out of my cup and then—splat!—Victoria screamed and started hopping up and down. I raced down the tree for a better look.
Victoria’s hair and the shoulders of her pink, frilly dress were covered in dirt and wriggly worms. Excellent! She shook her head and flipped her blond ponytail like it was on fire. Dirt and worms were everywhere, even on some of her friends—and they were screaming too.
It may have been the greatest moment of my life.


Be sure to stop by Shelley's blog HERE to visit other participants.

Thank you, Victoria Marini of

Friday, June 24, 2011


Thanks for the many offers to help clear off my shelves. 
I'll be doing it again soon!

The winner of a 1st choice pick is:

Gisselle -- The Iron Thorn


 The winner of a 2nd choice pick is:

imabookshark -- Invasion

 The winner of a 3rd choice pick is:

Megzarooni -- Wildefire

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Giveaway Time

My shelves are too full, my counters and side tables are crowded, and my husband is tired of seeing books everywhere he goes (sad, but true).  So, today I'm giving away three of my ARCs. Want one?
  • Leave a message on this post.
  • List the Arcs in your order of preference, 1st choice - 3rd choice.
  • Leave me your email address.
  • That's it!
You can earn extra points for tweeting etc... just tell me in the comments what you did.  Winner wilol be announced on Saturday.  Good luck!

In the city of Lovecraft, the Proctors rule and a great Engine turns below the streets, grinding any resistance to their order to dust. The necrovirus is blamed for Lovecraft's epidemic of madness, for the strange and eldritch creatures that roam the streets after dark, and for everything that the city leaders deem Heretical—born of the belief in magic and witchcraft. And for Aoife Grayson, her time is growing shorter by the day.
     Aoife Grayson's family is unique, in the worst way—every one of them, including her mother and her elder brother Conrad, has gone mad on their 16th birthday. And now, a ward of the state, and one of the only female students at the School of Engines, she is trying to pretend that her fate can be different.

 Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own. With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time… And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.

 Colt McAlister was having the summer of his life. He spent his days surfing and his nights playing guitar on the beach with friends. He even met a girl and got his first car. But everything changes when his parents are killed in a freak accident.
He's forced to leave his old life behind and move to Arizona with his grandfather. The only person he knows at the new high school is a childhood friend named Dani. And Oz, a guy he's sure he's never met but who is strangely familiar.
But what if his parents' death wasn't an accident? His mother, an investigative reporter, was going to expose a secret mind-control program run by one of the world's largest companies. Before she could release the story, what if agents from Trident Biotech made sure she couldn't go public?
Vowing to uncover the truth, Colt gets drawn into a secret world of aliens, shapeshifters, flying motorcycles, and invisible gateways.
The Invasion has begun. 

Have a great day! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Anything's Possible

Anything is Possible
  ~Author Unknown
If there was ever a time to dare,
to make a difference,
to embark on something worth doing,

Not for any grand cause, necessarily…
but for something that tugs at your heart,
something that’s your inspiration,
something that’s your dream.
You owe it to yourself to make your days here count.


Know, though, that things worth doing seldom come easy.
There will be good days.
And there will be bad days.
There will be times when you want to turn around,
pack it up, and call it quits.
Those times tell you
that you are pushing yourself, that you are not afraid
to learn by trying.


Because with an idea,
determination, and the right tools,
you can do great things.
Let your instincts, your intellect,
and your heart, guide you.


Believe in the incredible power of the human mind.
Of doing something that makes a difference.
Of working hard.
Of laughing and hoping.
Of lazy afternoons.
Of lasting friends.
Of all the things that will cross your path this year.

The start of something new 
brings the hope of something great.
BELIEVE IT, my friends!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - The Guardians of the Hidden Scepter

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. 

Guardians of the Hidden Scepter
by Frank L. Cole

Goodreads Blurb:
Amber never dreamed her archaeology class would turn into a top secret mission that would take her across the globe, but when her teacher goes missing, Amber realizes it's up to her to protect the Hidden Scepter or risk unleashing an ancient power too terrifying to imagine. This guaranteed page-turner from the bestselling author of the Hashbrown Winters series is perfect for the adventurer in your family.
I'll be honest; I read this book because James Dashner said we should, and you know I always do what James Dashner says. For some reason I don't love the cover, but you know what? It. Was. Great! I really enjoyed it. And you know what they say about judging books by covers . . .

This is a perfect MG story:
  • young, brilliant, and brave characters
  • non-stop, Indiana Jones-style storyline (which is doubly true since it's an archaeology adventure)
  • biblical myths, hidden treasure, booby traps, scorpions, and faceless beasts
  • kidnapping and world traveling 
  • and ALL things awesome! 
It hooked me right away and held me riveted all the way through. I can see this as the perfect book for reluctant boy readers and adventure lovers of ALL reading levels. I am definitely adding it to my classroom library. 

* This week Natalie Aguirre has an awesome interview with Nathan Bransford as her MMGM feature. Don't miss it.

*** Others who can be counted on for a great MMGM review each week: ***
 Happy Monday!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Learn the Right Lesson

"We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is within it - and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove lid again - and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one any more."
~ Mark Twain 

Okay, re-read that. You know you want to. Mark Twain is one of my English teacher literary heroes. The great debate rages about which is the GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL: Grapes of Wrath or Huckleberry Finn? Well, anything by Twain will always get my vote. The man was a genius.

So how does this particular Mark Twain quote apply to you? Well, we are always learning as writers, oftentimes because we got "burned" somehow: stinging critiques, painful rejections, blistering criticisms . . . okay, fine. There are lessons within that pain.

What we need to be careful of, though, is letting those moments scare us away from trying again. My father-in-law is an AMAZING writer--seriously amazing. But he let a mentor's constructive criticism freeze him. He never writes anymore. He decided he wasn't good enough, so why bother trying? He walked away from something he loved to avoid the burn. That is NOT okay.

Learn from the process--good and bad--and then try again. And again. And again.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

How Intimate Are You?

"When writers are self-conscious about themselves as writers they often keep a great distance from their characters, sounding as if they were writing encyclopedia entries instead of stories. Their hesitancy about physical and psychological intimacy can be a barrier to vital fiction. Conversely, a narration that makes readers hear the characters' heavy breathing and smell their emotional anguish diminishes distance. Readers feel so close to the characters that, for those magical moments, they become those characters."
~Jerome Stern

Are you self-conscious about your writing, or have you developed the comfort and confidence to allow intimacy with your characters? This is a good question, one we should all face squarely. 

If you hesitate or lean towards "self-conscious", there are a wealth of resources right here in the blogging community to help you work your way to a resounding "Yes, I'm confident!"'

What would your answer be?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tag, You're It!

My bff, Robyn Campbell, tagged me. I just hope she was wearing her shades when she did. The three amigos must always wear their shades.

Do you think you're hot?

That would be a definite no, unless I just walked 3 miles
trying to earn activity points for weight watchers.

Upload a picture or wall paper you are using at the moment.

It's baseball season, so ya know it HAD to be baseball!!

The Song(s) you listened to recently?

I love to listen to K-Love, a Christian radio station. If I'm listening to music, that's what it is.

What were you thinking as you were doing this?

Well, I'm watching baseball right now (I love TiVo), and I'm wondering when my baseball team is going to remember they are PROFESSIONAL ball players and not little leaguers! Grrrr.

Do you have nicknames? 

When I was in high school, friends called me Muffy (don't ask). Now I'm "Mrs. O."

Tag eight Blogger friends.

1. Shannon "#1" Messenger
2. Theresa Milstein
3. Heather McCorkle
4. Jana Warnell
5. Jemi Fraser
6. Old Kitty
7. Stephanie Thornton
8. Natalie Aguirre 

Who's listed as number one?

The #1 Shannon, of course! That is always her spot.  :-)

Say something about number 5.

Jemi and I are sisters in teaching. I love how often I recommend a book and she says her students love it or that she has that book in her classroom library. She is ALWAYS encouraging a love of reading in her classroom. Gotta love that! Plus, I just love her.

How did you get to know number 3?

Heather is one of the awesome friends I've made through blogging. We've followed each other for a couple of years now. I love her Muse Mondays and her Twitter Tuesdays and her Creature Feature Fridays. Plus . . . she has a book coming soon!

How about number 4?

Jana is one of the world's coolest librarians--my son ADORES her! She works at the middle school in my town, goes to my church, run my oldest son's youth group, and keeps me hungry for cool ARCs. She is a great friend to me in real life, the kind of woman EVERYONE loves.

Leave a message for number 6.

Kitty, you are awesome! THANK YOU for always visiting my blog and leaving behind a smile for me. And I think Charlie is so handsome!

Leave a lovey-dovey message for number 2.

Theresa, you are a bloggy friend I always remember in my nightly prayers. I hope you find the teaching job of your dreams! I think you should move to Kalispell so my kids can be in your class, because you are a WONDERFUL teacher!

Do number 7 and number 8 have any similarities?

They are both brilliant women. Seriously, both of these women are genius material! Stephanie has a history mind that rivals my encyclopedia, and Natalie is uber-wise about the publishing world. 

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little game of tag. For the record, yes, I was wearing my shades!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fired by Reading

"Reading usually precedes writing and the impulse to write is almost always fired by reading. Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer. "
~ Susan Sontag

This quote is definitely true for me. The more I read great books, the more I long to write them. Some books almost hurt cuz they're so good, ya know?  Inkheart, Fablehaven, Maze Runner, The Ranger's Apprentice . . .

What are some of those books for you?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Angel Burn

When I first started getting access to ARCs, I was a bit over-excited. I'd read them and then review them right away. Even though their release dates were months away. I know better now, so I'll be reminding you of a few of the books I reviewed WAY too early.

I did a review of this book quite a while ago, but it was recently released. So as a reminder, I wanted to post the review again.

 Angel Burn
by L.A. Weatherly

Goodreads Blurb:
Willow knows she’s different from other girls, and not just because she loves tinkering with cars. Willow has a gift. She can look into the future and know people’s dreams and hopes, their sorrows and regrets, just by touching them. She has no idea where this power comes from. But the assassin, Alex, does. Gorgeous, mysterious Alex knows more about Willow than Willow herself. He knows that her powers link to dark and dangerous forces, and that he’s one of the few humans left who can fight them.

When Alex finds himself falling in love with his sworn enemy, he discovers that nothing is as it seems, least of all good and evil. In the first book in an action-packed, romantic trilogy, L..A. Weatherly sends readers on a thrill-ride of a road trip — and depicts the human race at the brink of a future as catastrophic as it is deceptively beautiful.

This book was a tough one for me. On the one hand, I didn't like it that angels were evil and the cause of so much pain and suffering--chronic pain, mental illness, cancer... On the other hand, I found myself fully captured by the story, compelled to keep reading. And yes, I will read the sequel.

The characters of Alex and Willow are both strong and independent, and the development of their relationship is enthralling. The writing and storyline are very well done, sucking you in and holding you to the end. In spite of my early doubts, I ended up really enjoying this book. It's a great YA read!
**ebook from Candlewick Press through netGalley. Thanks, Candlewick! 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

First Steps

"Be willing to be a beginner
every single morning."
~Meister Eckhart 

Wherever you are along the path of your writer's journey, there are new things coming your way. Embrace them with the openness and eagerness deserving of new beginnings. 

Elana J. is beginning a new path as she celebrates the release of her debut novel. Hilary Wagner is beginning a new path as she prepares for the launch of her second rat masterpiece.  You may be at the beginning of this writing dream or of blogging, or the start of revisions, or the search for your first critique group, or the beginning of query wars, or the fear of going on subs . . .

Enjoy each step of the journey for its newness and its challenges. Wake up each morning willing to be a beginner again. As beginners, we thirst for knowledge and experience. Stay thirsty.

What are you beginning today?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Punishment or Pleasure?

"Work is not man's punishment. It is his reward and his strength and his pleasure."
~ George Sand

On those rare days when I can devote sustained and undivided attention to my writing, I feel so good when I'm done--like I really got some quality work done.  Yes, quality work = feels good. It doesn't matter if that work was done on pre-writing, drafting, revising, queries, synopsis, WHATEVER. It just feels good to be working--really working--on my writing. 

Hard work dedicated to my writing never feels like punishment. And that is so cool!

How about you? 
Is hard writing work a punishment or a pleasure?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

MMGM on Tuesday




I've been down with a horrible case of strep throat and was pretty much non-functional the past few days. I even missed my daughter's birthday party on Sunday. *sniff, sniff* MMGM posts are too important to miss, though, so here it is--a day late.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday  
On Tuesday!

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

by Lauren Myracle

Goodreads Blurb:
Starting with her birthday in March, every chapter brings a new month and a new event in Winnie's life. From surviving her teenage sister's grumpy mood swings in April to dealing with prissy new rival Gail Grayson in September, there's a calendar full of the ups and downs of being eleven years old. Especially hard for Winnie is the growing distance between herself and her best friend, Amanda, as both girls grow into different social circles. The big and little moments of Winnie's year are captured with honesty and warmth, and her sharp observations and infectious enthusiasm make for hilarious storytelling. Eleven-year-olds of all ages will discover themselves in this winning young heroine on the brink of adolescence.

My favorite thing about this and other Lauren Myracle series is the voice. This woman has mastered the art of elementary girls and their voices: the excitement, angst, worry, jealousy, grouchiness, and love of girls! If you are a writer who is struggling with young girl voices, Lauren Myracle is the writer to emulate.
The storylines of this series are always fun and totally real. I saw this quote in a review on Goodreads by a girl who read it when she was ten, " I think this book is one of my favorite books that I've read. Since I was almost eleven when I read this book it told me a lot about how life was going to be like, and guess what, it was right!" How cool is that?  
Lauren is referred to as the Judy Blume of this generation, and I think it's a valid comparison. 

*** Others who can be counted on for a great MMGM review each week: ***

Friday, June 3, 2011

Lenny-Lee Fest

Today, many of us have joined together to spread sunshine throughout the blogosphere. But not just ANY sunshine. This sunshine is extra, super-dee-duper SPECIAL. This is Lenny Lee Sunshine, which is the very best kind!!

Sunshiney Guy
(for Lenny from Miss Shannon O.)

Outside's a gray and cloudy sky
the wind it howls, the rain does fly
but here online, we're safe and dry
because we have the "sunshine" guy

The sunshine guy? Who is he?
I gasp! I cough! It cannot be
that you don't know of LENNY LEE
the kid who's always sunshiney

Each place he goes, he shines so bright
that heavy hearts once more are light
and laughter echoes--echoes--our delight
each time we read the things he writes

When brush-offs leave you feeling blue
revision...plotting...queries, too
Here's good advice to pull you through:
Let Lenny's sunshine brighten you.

(buy stickers here)

If you want to meet and follow one of the best people in our blogging circle, go HERE and say hello to sweet, sunshiney LENNY!

We LOVE you, Lenny Lee!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hard Work Ahead

Writing is the hardest work in the world. I have been a bricklayer and a truck driver, and I tell you – as if you haven't been told a million times already – that writing is harder.  Lonelier. And nobler and more enriching.
~ Harlan Ellison
Yep! Validation. Writing. Is. Hard. You aren't imagining it. IT'S HARD. Butt-numbing, hand-cramping, make-your-eyes-bleed hard.

But I don't think it has to be lonely anymore. We have each other. 
Without all of you, I'd probably have given up long ago. I like to think I wouldn't have, that I want it badly enough to go on alone, but I don't think I'd still be here. But I'M NOT LONELY. 
I email Valerie Geary, my CP. I blog until I feel better. I cry to Shannon "#1" Messenger. I visit The Bookshelf Muse and Ink Spells and Writer's Ally and Heather's Odyssey and 100 others. You don't have to feel like you're in it alone, either.

When your butt goes numb 
your hand cramps 
your eyes bleed, 
who do YOU turn to?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wish. Work. Laugh.

To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.
~ Reba McEntire 

This is so true for writing. 

First, we have to wish the dream. 

Then, we have to work and work and work and work
Start over. 
Work and work and work and work . . .

. . . which means, we need to have a good sense of humor and a lot of comic relief along the way.

Only the ones who are willing to hang on tight and to shrug off the inevitable criticism and rejections along the way will make it to the dream. 
Wish. Work. Laugh.

How is your funny bone holding up these days?

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