Friday, October 28, 2011

Wise Words

All of us have bad luck and good luck. The man who persists through the bad luck - who keeps right on going - is the man who is there when the good luck comes - and is ready to receive it.
~ Robert Collier

 With the number of contests going on throughout the blogosphere this week, I thought a few words about luck would be appropriate. Remember that luck doesn't apply only to things like winning, though. Sometimes, we make our luck through stubborn persistence!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Contest Update

I have two AWESOME contests going on this week 
that you don't want to miss!


* My agent celebration with *
The Scorch trials and The Death Cure 

Click on the links to enter!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Thank You + Celebration Giveaway!


Last Wednesday I shared the big news that I have an agent! If you missed it, you can read about it HERE. Then, you blew me away! The support from all of you was overwhelming: comments and tweets and FB tags and emails. THANK YOU!!! 

And as if that wasn't wonderful enough, Thursday was *sigh* amazing. Long-time followers of my blog know that I am a MAJOR fan-girl of James Dashner. Major. I mean, how could I not be? It's James Dashner!! 

Well, I spent most of the day with him on Thursday at the Montana State Reading Conference. I booked him for it...two years ago. It was a long wait. It was worth it!

He is even more awesome in person than in my imagination. So awesome that I can't keep him to myself, so to say thanks for all the blog love, I'm going to give away my TWO SIGNED ARCS!!

The Scorch Trials & The Death Cure

Because this is all about saying thank you, 
all you have to do to enter is 
 be a follower of my blog. 
I'll announce the winner on Saturday.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

This hop is HUGE!  I can't believe the number of participating blogs, which means an amazing number of opportunities to win.  Participating blogs are all featuring book related giveaways. The window of time to enter is from October 24th - October 31st. You can find the linky at either of the hosting blogs.  It is seriously TOO HUGE to post here.

My Giveaway:
 A pre-order copy of INHERITANCE
Expected publication: November 8th 2011 by Random House 
How to enter:
1. Be a follower of my blog
2. Leave a comment on this post by Oct. 31 
3. Include an email with your comment
Now go check out the list of 
over 400
other participating blogs at:

Good Luck!!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guest Post - Theresa Milstein

Theresa Milstein has been a wonderful online friend of mine for a couple of years now. LOVE her. Recently, she was published in an anthology called Fangtales. YAY! And we are going to help her celebrate!!

Book Blurb:

Fangtales is the third anthology in the popular ‘tales’ collections published for the YA market by Wyvern Publications. It joins Dragontales, published in 2009, and Mertales, published in 2010.

Fangtales visits the terrifying realms of the most popular creature ever to grace the pages of fantasy fiction. The vampire. The tales are fresh, original and scary enough to send delicious shivers down the spine of every reader. Each tale brings something new to the genre, and will be a welcome addition to any fantasy fan’s bookshelf. Vampires will always be a hugely popular theme – there’s a very good reason why Bram Stoker’s Dracula has never been out of print since  it was first published in 1897.

Lose yourself in the blood-soaked pages of Fangtales, where a best friend mysteriously disappears; wonder why a small child roams the woods alone at midnight, and how a terrified girl can get help when her house is surrounded by hungry vampires.

Guest Post:

Thank you for letting me guest post, Shannon.  You’ve been a great blogging buddy and friend.  I appreciate it.

When I asked Shannon if she’d be interested in helping me promote Fangtales because my short story “Daisy” is included, she came up with an interesting idea for a guest post:

“You know how I like to have guest posts about writers' journeys to publication. Would you be willing to do a guest post about what it's like to write and submit short stories?? That's an area we don't hear about very often.”

I agreed.

Before I seriously wrote, I tried writing two short stories for fun.  I didn’t finish either of them.  When I began to write seriously, I kept reading the advice to submit short stories because it was easier to get them published (less submissions) and it would boost a writer’s resume.

Sounded great. 

One problem: I was intimidated by the short story.

My first attempt was to take first chapters of longer pieces I’d written, revise them a little to make them more complete, and submit them.

Shockingly  That didn’t go anywhere.

For good reason.  As my blogging buddy, Alesa Warcan
Stories are like fruit trees... A novel is a big mature apple tree that produces big juicy red fruit. Trying to make a short using only the first chapters of a novel is like trying to get fruit from the roots of an apple tree... Possible but unnatural. 

Tangentially, A two chapter teaser of a novel is like the picture of those roots, making you wonder as to what the fruit must taste like.

A short story is like one of those miniature fruit trees... Perfectly proportionate, just tiny in comparison, and bearing delicious bite-sized fruit.
She should be writing this post, right?

I kept seeing calls for short stories, but I ignored them for YEARS.  Finally, one intrigued me enough to try to write something.  Wyvern Publications had published Dragtontales and Mertales.  Last winter, they requested short stories to include in Fangtales.  The vampires needed to follow the rules set in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  In other words, no sparkly vampires need apply.

I started off with a couple of sentences, having no idea where I was going with it.  But as I wrote, the story began to take shape.  Halfway through, I had a vague sense of what might happen at the end.  I thought it would be hard to be confined to a certain word count, but I found it made me sparer and clearer with words.  All of the elements of the story were easier to keep in my mind.  It was like savoring a satisfying piece of chocolate instead of being forced to write  eat an entire cake.  The editing process is also a lot quicker. 

Last winter, there was a call for submissions to raise money for Australian flood victims.  While the word count for Fangtales was 5k, 100 Stories for Queensland had to be 1k.  How could I write a short story with such a puny word count?  But a few lines came to me, and I was able to do it.  I went from a Recess Peanut Butter cup to a mini.  Smaller, but still satisfying.  This story was accepted too, and came out in May.

This summer, the editor of 100 Stories for Queensland was putting out another anthology.  These stories had to be around 1.5k.  My short story was accepted.  The anthology Tiny Dancers will be published in the next few months. 

Short stories have validated my ability to write.  For most of us writers, landing an agent and obtaining a publishing contract takes years.  And once that coveted contract is presented, it will be years before the authors see the book in print.  Short stories have a better chance of being published and a quicker turnaround.  And the best part is you get edit suggestions from an editor.  You get a sense of what it will be like to get an 8-15 page edit letter for an entire manuscript. 

I still don’t have an agent.  But when I query, I have publications to list.  I’m listed as a published author on Goodreads.  Writing short stories has made me a better writer and given me confidence that I belong here in the publishing world. 

Helpful links:
Theresa's blog:
100 Stories for Queensland:
 Thank you, Theresa!!! 
And Congratulations on your inclusion in Fangtales!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011



For three weeks I have been sitting on a secret . . . THE secret. It's been hard. This morning, I signed the contract.

And that means I can finally say

I HAVE AN AGENT!!!!!!!!!

Terrie Wolf, of AKA Literary LLC

I decided to query Terrie after seeing her spotlighted on Guide to Literary Agents AND Literary Rambles. Casey McCormick always does an awesome job of showcasing agents, and her post spurred me to action. There is also an awesome interview with Terrie at The Middle Grade Ninja Blog--such great questions.

Terrie and I spoke for over an hour on the phone. I love her warm personality and her overall philosophy of the writing world. This quote from the Middle grade Ninja interview was a clincher for me: 
"Don’t expect me to join in as you talk down my fellow agents and editors and your fellow authors. I’ll just not be a part. My parents taught me all about etiquette, and I believe in using my best manners with everyone I meet." 
I love that! And I love knowing I'm now a part of her team. YAY!!

It has taken me three years, a gazillion drafts, and over 180 rejections to finally be able to make this announcement. God works on His own time, always. It isn't always easy to wait, to keep the faith, and to keep working in the tween times, but don't give up.

I want to thank my AMAZING critique partner, Valerie Geary, for sticking with me and continuing to read my evolving manuscript. She is freaking brilliant and I adore her more than she'll ever know.

Next week we'll celebrate with some 
SIGNED James Dashner ARCS 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Really Good Editing

Really Good Editing

The Most Thorough Freelance Editing
in the Known Universe

Early in September, I shared THIS POST about Harrison Demchick as part of Random Acts of Publicity week. Harrison has been an editor at Bancroft Press for six years and recently started a freelance editing business. HE. IS. AMAZING.

His new website for REALLY GOOD EDITING is officially up and running. You can check it out HERE

And to refresh your memory, here is some of what I said about him in my last post:
I have never recommended something on this blog (other than books) that would cost you money, but I can't recommend Harrison highly enough. I assure you, his comments are worth their weight in gold--and then some. If you are struggling with an area of your manuscript, looking for a reliable set of extra eyes and constructive criticism, or preparing to query/submit, consider sending your story to Harrison. You won't be sorry.
For more, check out the rest of my post and visit his website. Two pages of comments from him took my novel in a whole new direction. My critique partner and I can't believe how much stronger my story has become. I'm eager to finish my edits and share the changes with Harrison.

If cost is what has been holding you back, email Harrison for an estimate. I could never afford professional editing, either, but his rates are VERY affordable.

Contact Really Good Editing at
Follow Harrison on Twitter: @HDemchick

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pay It Forward Blogfest

Pay it Forward Blogfest
hosted by

According to Matt and Alex, the goal of today's blogfest is "to introduce everyone to everyone else. We want this to be an easy post that allows you to meet and follow as many other bloggers as you can."

If you'd like to join the fun, it's not too late. Here's how: list, describe, and link to three blogs that you enjoy reading, but that you suspect may fly under the radar of a lot of other bloggers. Or they can be famous blogs, as long as they're awesome.

My three featured blogs:

 Susan Quinn of INK SPELLS 

Susan's blog is a font of information. Her background and knowledge is so varied that you never know what you'll find. She worked for Nasa as a rocket scientist and engineer (for real!), she's a genius at physics, she's held public office, she's a wife and a mother and a published writer... and she's brilliant! She also LOVES middle grade, which makes me love her even more.

Michael Gettel-Gilmartin of
Middle Grade Mafioso
Michael is a hoot! He never fails to put a smile on my face. Whether it's a blog post, a tweet, or a comment on my own blog, he cracks me up! I love his sense of humor. His blog is dedicated to reviewing awesome middle grade books, which is too cool! Go visit!

Theresa Milstein of 
Theresa has been published in multiple anthologies, the most recent of which I will be featuring on the 20th. Her blog is all about writing and teaching and awesome books. She rocks!

Now, go say hello and follow them!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Class of 2K12

We all know how successful the class of 2k11 has been, with huge hits like:
Across the Universe, Divergent, Possession, Liar Society, Bad Taste in Boys, Dogsled Dreams, Personal Demons, Clarity, Like Mandarin, XVI, Memento Nora, Hereafter, The Iron Witch, Lipstick Laws, The Faerie Ring, Girl of Fire and Thorns, Wildefire, Unearthly, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, The Near Witch, My Very Un Fairy Tale Life . . .

Well, the class of 2K12 has officially launched! 

For a look at some of the upcoming books, go HERE. There are some gorgeous covers coming up. And here's a list of current 2012 debut authors (incomplete, of course):

What upcoming debut titles/authors 
are you looking forward to?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ten Positive Assumptions

10 Positive Assumptions

1) I will make and keep my commitments.

2) I will find the right people who can help me.

3) I will look for an answer in every problem.

4) I will give up “trying” and simply do.

5) I will make it okay to be wrong and make mistakes.

6) I will create my own “good luck”.

7) I will not be afraid to lose before I win.

8 ) I will do it now!

9) I will be who I am and become what I was meant to be.

10) I will accept that all things are possible.
~ Robert Anthony, Betting on Yourself
What assumptions would you add?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Christina Lee's Kick A** Debut Author Spotlight

***Go HERE for Shannon Whitney Messenger's 
AMAZING news!!!!!!!!!!!!!***
Christina Lee @ Write-Brained came up with the brilliant idea of gathering a group of bloggers to highlight different debut authors of 2011. We all chose one that we LOVED, and together, we're spotlighting well over 30 new authors today!  So who did I choose?

Sara Grant
2011 debut author of

Goodreads Blurb:
Sixteen-year-old Neva has been trapped since birth. She was born and raised under the Protectosphere, in an isolated nation ruled by fear, lies, and xenophobia. A shield "protects" them from the outside world, but also locks the citizens inside. But there's nothing left on the outside, ever since the world collapsed from violent warfare. Or so the government says...
Neva and her best friend Sanna believe the government is lying and stage a "dark party" to recruit members for their underground rebellion. But as Neva begins to uncover the truth, she realizes she must question everything she's ever known, including the people she loves the most.
Dark Parties was released on August 3rd. I read the eGalley (courtesy of NetGalley) last December and it was love, love, love. It killed me to wait until its release date! Here is some of what I said in my review:
I loved this book. I'm so sad it doesn't come out until August, because it is  awesome! It's unlike anything I've ever read, and believe me when I tell you that the blurb DOES NOT do it justice. And the sexy boy in this one...oh, so hot! 
AND . . . Sara Grant is so sweet! She's been wonderfully supportive as I've fan-stalked her for nearly a year. So supportive that she agreed to an interview for today's post, despite touring with limited access to email. I <3 her so much!

And now, I present to you, Sara Grant: 

* I love the world you created in Dark Parties. Can you share what first led you to create such a world?
I’d just moved to London from Indianapolis, Indiana. I was immersed in the paperwork of immigration and uncovering news stories on both side of the Atlantic about who and how many should be allowed to enter a country. That got me thinking....what if a country closed its borders to people and ideas?
This question led to more questions of national and personal identity. You don’t have to look far to see countries, cities and individuals questioning how to maintain their cultural identity in a global society. What does it mean to be American or British when the cultural make up of your country is changing? I definitely believe that diversity of cultures and ideas makes a country stronger. Dark Parties was my way to explore all these issues.
I also think Dark Parties was influenced by growing up in a small town where it often felt as if I was living in a fish bowl. Everyone knew everyone else – which has many benefits but if you are a teenager, it makes it next to impossible to rebel. 
* Can you share a bit about your journey to publication? My readers are mostly published and hoping-to-be-published writers, and we always love hearing about another writer's road to success.
I started playing with the ideas that would become Dark Parties in 2007. It started as a short story, which I submitted to the SCBWI British Isles ( Undiscovered Voices anthology ( I let my friend and fellow editor Sara O’Connor and my niece Megan read it. They both wanted to know what happened next and encouraged me to write the rest of Neva’s story. I told myself that if my story was selected for the anthology, then I would write the novel. And, luckily it was included in the 2008 anthology. I spent the next year writing and revising it and I kept right on writing and revising and re-imagining it until it went to proof reading at Little, Brown in 2010. 

Dark Parties is my first published novel, but by no means the first novel I’ve written. I have several of what I like to think of as ‘apprentice’ pieces – from chapter books to other stories for young adults – tucked safely away. I attempted my first story for children nearly twenty years ago. I remember because I wrote the story when my niece Megan was born. (She’s now a sophomore in college, studying creative writing.) So my message to hoping-to-be-published writers is…don’t give up. Keep reading, writing, revising, learning, improving...and believing in yourself! 
* When will we get to read book 2? Can you share any hints? *wink wink*
My second book will come out in the spring of 2013. It’s another dystopian novel. Its working title is Half Lives. It’s a work in progress, but here’s what I know so far: 
Half Lives chronicles the journey of two unlikely heroes – Icie and Beckett. Both struggle to keep themselves alive and protect future generations from the terrible fate that awaits any who dare to climb the mountain. Even though they live hundreds of years apart, Icie and Beckett’s lives are mysteriously linked. 

Half Lives is a race against time and the battle to save future generations. It’s about the nature of faith and power of miscommunication – and above all the strength of the human spirit to adapt and survive.
And. . .I’ve already started working on a third novel, but even I’m not completely sure what it’s about yet! 
* What has been the most surprising thing for you so far?
It’s really a-maz-ing to have people around the world reading something I wrote. You write in solitude for so long, sharing with family, friends and a writers group. Then an agent and editors read and respond to your work and there’s this energy around your book. It begins to have a life of its own. Thanks to the internet – you get to see people responding to your book. It’s flattering and overwhelming! Shannon, yours was one of the first reviews I read for Dark Parties. I remember reading your review and being so excited that a complete stranger had read and liked my book.

As you see all these reader responses, you soon realize that you haven’t really written one book – you’ve written thousands. There’s the book you think you wrote. The one you imagined in your head. The one that’s actually printed in the beautiful book designed by Little, Brown, and then there’s the book each reader reads. It’s fascinating to discover what readers find in the pages of Dark Parties. 
And now a few for fun:

* Coffee or tea?
Even though I live in the land of the cuppa tea, I would have to pick coffee. I’ve only acquired a taste for coffee in the last few years. Growing up my family drank about a gallon of ice tea a day, but Brits don’t really ‘do’ iced tea. And, if I’m honest, my favorite beverage is Diet Coke. 
* Chocolate or carrots?
Oh, I’m going to be difficult here. Can I pick the potato instead? I’m not a big fan of chocolate and I’ve been on too many diets in my life to select a carrot of my own free will, but the potato…well, now that’s the perfect food. You can mash it, fry it, chip it, bake it. If left to my own devices, I’d probably eat potatoes for every meal. I’d have to throw in a snack of chips and salsa every now and then.

But if forced, I suppose I’d pick carrots over chocolate. 
* What's your favorite baseball team? 
Oh, I’m going to be a bit difficult again. I was born and raised in Indiana where basketball reigns supreme. I’ve always supported my home teams: the Washington Hatchets (my hometown high school team), Indiana University’s Hoosiers, and the Indiana Pacers.

To continue my line of excuses for not specifically answering your question…It’s not easy to follow baseball in England. It’s not a sport universally embraced by this country. I don’t really have a favorite baseball team. I did go see the St. Louis Cardinals a few times when I was young and I watched the Indianapolis Indians play when I lived in Indianapolis.

Now I live in England where the only real sport is soccer. My husband is a huge Tottenham Hotspur fan. I’ve had a crash course in soccer and follow Tottenham to maintain a happy marriage.

Thanks so much, Shannon, for inviting me and for your enthusiasm for Dark Parties!

You can find the awesome Sara Grant and her awesome book at the following links:

* Dark Parties Goodreads Page HERE
* Sara's Web Page HERE
* Sara's Blog, I'm Just Saying, HERE

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Good Book on Sale

On September 26th, I reviewed 
Sweet Farts by Raymond Bean.

Remember . . . ?

Well, the Kindle version is currently on sale for $2.99

Many of you expressed interest in this book, 
so I thought I'd let you know. 

Don't miss out!

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Person You Are

"Really, in the end, the only thing that can make you a writer is the person that you are, the intensity of your feeling, the honesty of your vision, the unsentimental acknowledgment of the endless interest of the life around and within you. Virtually nobody can help you deliberately -- many people will help you unintentionally."
~ Santha Rama Rau

You really ARE amazing . . .

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Guest Post - Bethany Wiggins & Shifting

Today I am lucky enough to host Bethany Wiggins, author of the new YA release, SHIFTING. Is that cover stunning or what?!

Published September 27th 2011 
by Walker Books for Young Readers

Goodreads Blurb: 
After bouncing from foster home to foster home, Magdalene Mae is transferred to what should be her last foster home in the tiny town of Silver City, New Mexico. Now that she's eighteen and has only a year left in high school, she's determined to stay out of trouble and just be normal. Agreeing to go to the prom with Bridger O'Connell is a good first step. Fitting in has never been her strong suit, but it's not for the reasons most people would expect-it all has to do with the deep secret that she is a shape shifter. But even in her new home danger lurks, waiting in the shadows to pounce. They are the Skinwalkers of Navajo legend, who have traded their souls to become the animal whose skin they wear-and Maggie is their next target.
Full of romance, mysticism, and intrigue, this dark take on Navajo legend will haunt readers to the final page.

Because we all love hearing about an author's individual story, Bethany agreed to share her journey to publication with us.
Bethany's story:

I started writing on a dare. Or a bet. My sister decided one day, out of the blue, that she wanted to try writing a book and since she was writing a book, would I like to write one too? Yes, please! I mean, why not? She told me all it took was an hour a day and a year. I could do that. So I did it.
And did it. And did it again. And again. And yet again, until SHIFTING was born (my fifth book and several years later).
Querying is a bleep. That rush of, "Oh my goodness! An agent wants to read my full manuscript!" Which quickly turns into, "Oh my. The agent hated my manuscript." Between the three books I queried (two of them prior to SHIFTING) I probably piled up well over 200 hundred rejections. Agents didn't even want to read SHIFTING. So after a lot of rejections, I gave up.
Like really, seriously gave up! (There were times before this that I not-so-seriously gave up, but this time was it. For reals.) I knew, in a sudden flash of clarity, that I was not going to be a published writer and it broke my heart and made an invisible-except-to-me dark cloud hover over my head and start raining--or maybe those were tears on my cheeks? So yeah. Dark, sad time.
The very--I KID YOU NOT!!!--next day, I got a phone call. "This is Marlene Stringer of Stringer Literary. I read your book and loved it . . ." Well, thanks to Marlene (and Walker Books), SHIFTING is being released September 27th!
So, for all of you aspiring writers out there, if you want something bad enough, and are willing to work for it, then WORK FOR IT! If you can't get an agent for your book, write another. If you can't get an agent for that one, write another. Every single thing you write will only make you a better writer, so one day, you'll write something amazing that everyone wants to represent/publish.

* Check out SHIFTING on Goodreads HERE.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - In the Forests of the Night + Giveaway

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.  

In the Forests of the Night
by Kersten Hamilton

Goodreads Blurb:
Teagan, Finn, and Aiden have rescued Tea's and Aiden's father and have made it out of Mag Mell alive, bringing a few new friends with them. But The Dark Man's forces are hot on their heels. Back in Chicago, Teagan soon realizes that she is not the target of the goblins. In fact, the goblins call her princess, and call her to come out and play. Something is happening to her, and she suspects it’s an infection she picked up in Mag Mell. An infected cat-sídhe becomes her test subject, and Teagan is determined to cure it of the sickness that seems to rot its flesh. If she can find a cure for the cat-sídhe, then maybe there is hope for her. 

Meanwhile, Kyle and Isabeau, Teagan’s goblin cousins, show up in her school, disguised as a substitute teacher and a foreign exchange student. They are sure she will come back to Mag Mell, as goblin blood is never passive. Once awoken, it will burn away every other aspect of her being, leaving her pure and solely goblin. When the process is complete, she will belong to Fear Doirich, the Dark Man. It is just a matter of time. In the meantime, Kyle and Isabeau are happy to entertain themselves by trying to seduce, kidnap, or kill Teagan’s family and friends. 

Tea knows she doesn’t have much time left, and she refuses to leave Finn to be hunted to the death or her family to be tortured and killed. A wild Stormrider, born to rule and reign, is growing stronger inside her, but as long as she can hold on, she’s still Teagan Wylltson, who plans to be a veterinarian and who heals the sick and hurting. The disease that’s destroying her—that’s destroying them all—has a name: Fear Doirich. 

And Teagan Wylltson is not going to let him win.
Last year I reviewed TYGER, TYGER (Book 1 of the Goblin Wars) HERE. Loved it!!! And I have to say that book 2 does not disappoint. It was a long wait for me, but it was worth it. I am thoroughly addicted to these stories.

I still love the Irish theme, the world building (especially of Mag Mell), the characters and creatures and crazy-tense suspense. This second book really adds to the development of our favorite characters, and I've fallen farther in love with Finn. *sigh* He's my kind of hottie.

My favorite middle school librarian ordered Tyger, Tyger for her library and can't wait to add In the Forests of the Night. These books are awesome.

TODAY is the release day for IN THE FORESTS OF THE NIGHT! And . . . Tyger, Tyger is now in paperback! Yay!

To celebrate, I'm giving away a copy of In the Forests of the Night to one lucky commenter. You just have to be a follower of my blog and comment on this post by Friday. Good luck!

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

 Happy Monday!
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