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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Just keep smiling

November has been a hard month. It started out with our 2-year-old dog’s unexpected death (a complication from his surgery in September for bloat) and it’s ending with the equally unexpected arrival of a new puppy. 

Finn is actually our late dog's nephew. Here's our beloved Leo…


Minor resemblance. Ha. These English Pointers are special dogs and we feel so lucky to have brought another one into our family.

But it’s been a hectic month. In school, at home, and also in our community. The death of a friend’s wife hit us hard. She was young, vibrant, active, a loving mother, a beloved teacher—and yet, she took her own life.

Mental illness and depression are not easy things to talk about. I’m certainly not an expert. There are so many questions about why. So many feelings of guilt, I imagine, for those who were closest to her. But at this woman’s celebration of life last weekend her husband and her family members spoke powerful words that amounted to the following:

Tell those you love how much you love them. Smile more. Help others when you can. Don’t take one day for granted. It’s not possible to know what is going on in the deepest parts of a person’s mind. We all have secret lives, I believe, and some are darker than others. But that one smile, that one laugh, that one moment of giving can make a difference. It might inspire another smile, another laugh, another gesture of kindness.

These things multiply. We hear about it all the time—the person in the car ahead of you at the drive-thru pays for your coffee. What do you do? You pay for the person behind you. You let one car into your line of traffic and behind you another person stops and does the same for another car.
Such small things, but they make a difference.

There will always be loss. It’s inevitable. And it’s pretty damned hard to smile when sadness is consuming us. Sometimes, we don't want to talk about it. We'd rather pretend it doesn't exist. That’s when we need another person’s smile the most. Even if they never know how much it meant. 

When Thanksgiving arrives tomorrow, I’m going to bake my apple pie and scalloped potatoes. I’m going to go to my parents’ house and pour gravy on everything on my plate. I’m going to talk to my grandmother, who has finally (!) gotten a hearing aid. I’m going to snuggle with my puppy and try to convince my daughters to eat turkey and peas and mashed potatoes and not just pie. And I’m going to try to do it all while smiling.



Thursday, October 1, 2015

YA Scavenger Hunt -- RED TEAM!








Hi YASHers,


I’m happy to be hosting Lea Nolan in this round of the YA Scavenger Hunt!


Please note: In addition to the grand prize, I’m also giving away a signed copy of the UK edition of The Beautiful and the Cursed right here on my blog. Enter to win by leaving a comment and following this blog!


Also, if you need any guidance on how to play YASH head over to the main website!

Welcome, Lea!


About Lea: Lea Nolan is a USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance and YA. Her books for young adults feature bright heroines, crazy-hot heroes, diabolical plot twists, plus a dose of magic, a draft of romance, and a sprinkle of history. She also pens smart, witty contemporary stories for adults filled with head-swooning, heart-throbbing, sweep-you-off your feet romance. Born and raised on Long Island, New York, she loves the water far too much to live inland. With her heroically supportive husband and three clever children, she resides in Maryland where she scarfs down crab cakes whenever she gets the chance.

About her new novel, ILLUSION:



Things aren't always as they appear…
New school. Cross-country move. Broken heart. If only these were Emma Guthrie's worst problems. Instead, she must battle a trio of enemies--human and spectral--who may or may not have joined forces against her and everyone she loves. All while pretending to be over Cooper Beaumont, her ex-boyfriend and true love, to shield him from her arch-nemesis's revenge.
Worse, when the fight escalates, Emma is tempted to use black magic, which will endanger her soul. As her enemies close in, join forces, and fight with new and dark magic she's never seen before, Emma must harness the power within her to fulfill an ancient prophecy, defeat a centuries-old evil, save her family, and reclaim the only boy she's ever loved.



ILLUSION sounds awesome! It’s the third and final book in Lea’s Hoodoo Apprentice series. If you’re playing the YASH game, Lea is giving away a copy of the first book, CONJURE as part of TEAM RED’s grand prize! Check out Lea and her other books too!


Now, for Lea’s BONUS CONTENT—a sneak peak from ILLUSION:


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A screech echoes through the woods. The sound is like a nail scraped against tin and raises the tiny hairs on the back of my neck. It’s the unmistakable caw of a crow. Spinning, I search the dimness for the source. Before my eyes can focus, a glossy black shadow bursts through a sheet of Spanish moss draped on a nearby live oak.

Shrieking, I cover my head with my hands and duck, then dart toward the path that brought me here. The bird pursues, flapping its large wings and gaining ground fast. With a whoosh, it swoops from the sky and slams into me, sinking its talons into my arm. I scream, then thrash around, trying to knock it loose. Its spiky nails clamp deeper into my flesh.


“Get off her!” Cooper’s voice booms.


Tears, the very best kind, surge. I’ve never been so happy to have him near. 


“Help!” I lamely shake my arm again, but the psychotic bird hangs on.

Cooper’s feet pound against the dirt as he races toward me and my winged assailant. As he draws close, the crow squawks, then jams its beak into my scalp, yanking out a clump of hair.


Pain, brilliant yellow and blinding, flashes across my vision. I wail, overcome.

“Emma, duck.”
I drop to my knees. Something hard thumps against the bird, launching it into the air like a golf ball from a tee. Its piercing caw bounces across the clearing. As the bird soars into the moonlit sky, it attempts to beat its wings, but something’s wrong. Only one of its feathered sides extends. Midair the shiny black crow stalls then careens back toward the earth. Just as I’m sure it’s headed straight for us, the lame wing unfolds then beats furiously to avoid what is sure to be a deadly collision. Veering off, it follows a wobbly flight path toward the shadowy forest.

Cooper tosses a long, heavy stick onto the ground, then reaches for my hand and pulls me to my feet. “Are you okay?” His wide hands clutch my arms as his eyes search mine.


“I—I think so.” My voice shakes as I work to process all that’s happened in the last few minutes. My temperature drops as shock sets in. Was it real, or just an immensely screwed-up dream? One glance at the slick streak of blood dripping down my skin confirms my new wound, though I can’t tell how bad it is until I see it in the light.


Grabbing me close, he wraps his strong arms around my back. The heady scent of his Cooperness swirls around me, filling me with familiar warmth that heads off my shock. My thoughts zoom to the red stain that has likely already smeared his polo. “I’m bleeding.” I try to pull away.


“I know.” He grips me close, like he’s fallen from a ship and I’m the only life preserver.


“But it’ll get it on your shirt.” A tear streams down the side of my face.


He pulls away, just enough to meet my gaze. “Who cares about my shirt? I thought I lost you, Emmaline.” Brushing his thumb against my cheek, he wipes away the salty liquid.


“But you didn’t. You saved me.”


“I was almost too late.” His voice is breathy and so full of despair it nearly breaks my heart.
 

-------------

Oooh, I’m putting this series on my TBR list!


To read more, check out ILLUSION when it releases on October 5, 2015! You can also find out more about Lea and her books by visiting her website.
 And now, hunters, you’re on your way to author Lauren Saft’s post. I’m sure there are 26 reasons to love the author and book she is hosting (wink, wink).


Don’t forget, leave a comment and follow this blog to enter to win a signed UK copy of THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE CURSED!
 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Summer's End and Bookish Things

Well, it's happening. I've started shutting the windows at night, and the last few mornings I've been getting dressed with layers in mind. That's what we do here in New England in September. We layer. Tank top underneath for later, sweater on top for now. It's cold and misty in the morning and 80 degrees by noon. Socks in the morning are a must inside old houses with wood floors like the one I live in, too. Outside, there are already spots of yellow, orange, and red in the trees. We all sigh and point out the color like it's an atrocity. Like it's something to lament. But really? I love it. I love autumn. 

I love the layering and socks and leaves. I love the sweaters and stews and the way my cold fingers feel while holding a warm mug of coffee. It's perfect book reading weather, too. There have been some exciting book releases lately. I can't wait to read Erin Bowman's new YA western Vengeance Road:




And then today, Julie Murphy's Dumplin' released! It's getting a lot of attention, and it seems like I'll be joining the masses :-) 



Both of these covers are fabulous, aren't they? And both Erin and Julie are wonderful in person. So excited for them and their books! 

Also, another one of my favorite books from last year, The Almost Girl by my pal Amalie Howard, has a sequel coming out in 2016, The Fallen Prince. The cover for that one has just been revealed and it is so perfect:




Awesome cover, awesome book! If you haven't read The Almost Girl yet, definitely check it out. Great science fiction, action, political intrigue, and romance.

What new books are you excited about? 

As a side note, this weekend, I'm packing a bag and driving up to the coast of Maine for an annual writing retreat. I've been going for years, and for me it always signals the true start of the fall season. A handful of writers stay in a cabin, staking out a spot to write for hours on end. We gather for meals and drinks at night. We talk books and projects, and there are usually word-count wars, a dance-off, and arm wrestling, too. If there's arm wrestling this year, I'll try to capture the evidence on camera to share with you :-)






Monday, July 6, 2015

What I'm Reading


So many books to read, so little time!

Whenever I have a free moment, it’s hard not to fill it with writing. Add in that I’m a dreadfully slow reader, and you have a bad combination for my to-be-read pile. It grows and grows, and I just can’t keep up with it. But there are definitely some books that are living on the top of that pile. This summer, I plan to finally be able to devour a couple of them.

REAWAKENED by Colleen Houck


I adore Colleen—I’m pretty sure she’s one of the kindest, hardest working, and fan-friendly authors I’ve ever met. This book looks absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to dig into it. Thus, it’s at the top of my pile!

THE UGLY DUCHESS by Eloisa James


I love a great romance, especially historical romance. Eloisa James has a fun voice—there’s always a fabulous sense of humor in her writing. I’m also very interested in romances where the main character isn’t particularly stunning in the looks department. Love is deeper than that, and I’m looking forward to reading this one to see how the theme is handled.

A DESPERATE FORTUNE by Susanna Kearsley


It has a gorgeous cover and intriguing premise: Sara Thomas, an amateur codebreaker has been sent to Paris to crack the cipher on a cryptic 300-year-old journal written by Jacobite exile Mary Dundas. As Mary’s tale is revealed, Sara’s story also unravels—so really we get two stories in one.

What are you looking forward to reading this summer? Any beach reads you want to recommend?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Finding the Time to Write

When I tell someone I’m a writer, and they then find out I have three kids under the age of 12, they often ask: “Where do you find the time to write??” usually accompanied by an expression that says, “Are you nuts?” :-)

Sometimes, yes, I think I am. But I love what I do, and I’ve learned that when you love something, you make time for it.

I make time for my family. I make time for my friends. I make time to fix up my fixer-upper house. I make time to run. Writing is another thing I make time for—not just because I love it, but because it’s my career. And because it’s my career, I sometimes have to make less time for fixing up my house, or maybe I don’t go out to dinner with a friend, or maybe I skip a run.

Figuring out how to balance all areas of your life is something you deal with even if you’re not a writer. When you’re a writer, you just kind of…add that in.

How to use my time wisely and effectively is always on my mind. I read a great interview with author Kate Forsyth recently. I liked everything she said, and she gave me some great ideas. For example, she sets aside one day a week to take care of the "business" side of writing. Emails, mailings, blog post scheduling, etc. She also has set times for being on social media every day, so she doesn't find herself trolling for hours.

When I asked writers on Twitter how they view making time to write, @TheRapture said to wake up early or go to bed late. “It’s like working a muscle.” I like that. It’s very true. The more you do it, the more consistent you’ll be at it. It becomes a part of your routine.

@NicoleKLarson said something similar to what Kate Forsyth says: “Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day.” She also added, “Stay in the story.” I do this by thinking about my characters even if I can’t actually be writing. I plan out their next scene, or re-imagine their last one.

If I really think about it, having kids isn’t a hindrance to my writing at all. They are what inspire me to focus. They’ve taught me how to multitask. They also keep me going and make me really decide what is important and what isn’t important.


How do you find time to write? What’s your advice to aspiring writers who have a book to write but feel they have very little time to spare?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer Writing

Summer! It’s finally arrived. 

My daughters are very excited to be finished with school until September. And let’s be honest. I’m excited to be finished packing lunches every morning.

Summer is always a great writing time for me. I usually have a lovely babysitter lined up to come here a few days a week so I can go down to my little writing cabin for a handful of hours. I also usually have a specific writing project to work on. This summer, while I have a babysitter scheduled in (yay!) I don’t really know what my project is going to be.

This has been a strange year for me. I’ve seen the completion of my first trilogy, with the release of The Wondrous and the Wicked in April, but while I have a few projects with my agent and out on submission, there’s nothing really in the pipeline. Questions like What do I work on? and Do I want to shift gears and write for adults? Or for younger children? have been on my mind.

I can’t write the same thing again and again. Challenging myself with every new project is important. I think it is for every creative mind. But I also have to think about building my career and platform, and yeah, being a little consistent—even as much as my mind wants to buck against that thought.

I don’t really have any hard and fast answers. Sometimes I get a story idea that demands to be written right now. Others just sit back and wave at me as if to say, “Go on, do what you have to do right now. I’ll be waiting here when you’re ready.”

So right now the story that’s demanding to be written is the companion novel to a New Adult rom-com mystery that I’m kind of in love with. It’s totally different than anything I’ve written before and maybe that’s what’s making it so fun and exciting to work on.


I’ve been building as inspiration board on Pinterest for the first novel. Here's a hint: Scotland, scotch, and hot men in kilts. :-)

What are you working on this summer?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

RT 2015!

I'm busy packing and getting ready for my flight to Dallas tomorrow, where I'll be joining in on the RT fun! Last year was my first time at RT, and the experience was amazing. I loved being able to meet other authors and talk to readers, and really, you can never go wrong with a whole week devoted to romance books :-)

This year I'll be on a few panels that promise to be a blast:

You're Never Too Old! (Thurs. at 2:45 p.m.), a YA trivia game event that will have a ton of other YA authors there, including some friends I can't wait to see, like Amalie Howard, Victoria Scott, Colleen Houck, Sarah Fine, and Jennifer Armentrout. 

Humble Beginnings: Your Favorite YA Authors Share Their Teen Writing (Sat. from 4:30-5:45), where I will be reading a truly embarrassing excerpt from a story I wrote in a black and white composition notebook when I was in the 5th grade. Oh. My. Goodness. I cannot wait to hear what the other authors are reading, but I am seriously wondering why I signed up for this panel! It's going to be awful! But hey…like the panel title says: Humble Beginnings. 

Here's a link to my RT agenda if you want to check it out. Hope you can make it! 

And then on Saturday, I'll be signing paperback copies of The Beautiful and the Cursed and The Lovely and the Lost, and brand-spankin' new hardcovers of The Wondrous and the Wicked in YA Alley! If you're coming to RT, swing by and grab one of my sparkly new bookmarks and say hi!


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The countdown begins!

In less than one week, the final installment in the Dispossessed series will release into the world!
My blog tour is getting underway, with interviews, guest posts, and reviews on some of my favorite book blogs. I'm giving away a signed copy of each book in the trilogy, so be sure to check out the tour and enter to win.

It feels like I've been hearing a bunch of bad news about series being cancelled lately, and I can't help but feel extremely lucky to have had all three books published as planned, even though they haven't been bestsellers. The series has gained a steady readership through word of mouth and I can't thank all the readers and reviewers out there enough for sharing their love for these books! Every review, every social media mention, every email you've sent me has made a huge difference for me and the books, so THANK YOU!

I've spent the morning making some Wondrous Wicked quote memes and plan to share them over the next few days. Please take a moment to share them on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, your blog…anywhere you can! Visibility is a new book's best friend :-)

You're all the best!


Thursday, April 2, 2015

YASH Scavenger Hunt! Team Teal

Hello, YASH Scavenger Hunters! I'm so excited to be part of the hunt again, and this time, on a shiny new team color!




If you're new to YASH or want in on the fun and prizes, visit HERE for all the information you need to get started!

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE RULES
Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on Team Teal, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by April 5, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.



I’m hosting author Courtney Alameda, author of SHUTTER. Hi, Courtney! 


About Courtney:


Courtney Alameda has spent her entire career trying to con and cajole people into reading great books. A veteran bookseller and librarian, Courtney now spends her days writing thriller and horror novels for young people. Her debut novel, SHUTTER, was hailed as a "standout in the genre . . . [and] sure to please thriller fans" by School Library Journal. Her forthcoming novel, PITCH DARK (Fall 2016), is a genre-blending science fiction/horror novel in the vein of Ridley Scott's 1979 film ALIEN.

Courtney holds a B.A. in English Literature with an emphasis in Creative Writing from Brigham Young University. She is represented by the talented John M. Cusick of Greenhouse Literary. A Northern California native, she now resides in Utah with a legion of books and a five pound cat who possesses a giant personality.

************

About SHUTTER:


Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She's aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera's technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.

When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn't exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she's faced before . . . or die trying.

Lock, stock, and lens, she’s in for one hell of a week.

*******

SHUTTER sounds awesome and I love that cover. Now for Courtney’s BONUS CONTENT—it’s truly hilarious. In this link, Courtney tries Vegemite for the first time and captures it on camera!


I have to agree with you, Courtney. I’ve tried Vegemite before and I think my eyes watered too! I think the Aussies can find at least 26 things to put Vegemite on, but thank you so much for reminding me to never try it again! 

For more about Courtney, check out her website and Tumblr, and order SHUTTER for yourselves here

ALSO, dear Hunters, I'm giving away a personalized and signed copy of THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE CURSED! Leave a comment here and either follow me on Twitter or Google+! Let me know if you've already read TB&TC!! If you end up winning and want either THE LOVELY AND THE LOST or THE WONDROUS AND THE WICKED, I'll send you one of those instead! 

Now, Hunters, it’s time to travel on to the always awesome, Amy Plum





Saturday, January 17, 2015

Best Mail Day!

Look at these beauties!


Spain's NOCHE OSCURA EN PARIS (A Dark Night in Paris, I think?) and Germany's GROTESQUE (they kept the original title!) are soooo pretty. I also now have a few copies of The Lovely and Lost compliments of Listening Library. What do you think?? That orange hair is something, but just like the UK covers, these covers capture the dark and dangerous elements of the series better I think.

A giveaway is coming up! Tell your German and Spanish blogging friends!

Friday, January 9, 2015

And the winners are….

Congratulations to Jessica at A Great Read! You've won the signed ARC of THE WONDROUS AND THE WICKED!!

And for that extra surprise giveaway for those of you who also Tweeted with #WinWondrousWicked, congratulations to Kristen at My Friends Are Fiction! I hope you enjoy collecting different editions of books because…the surprise giveaway(s) are the UK paperback editions of The Beautiful & the Cursed and The Lovely & the Lost!


…which I actually think captures the tone of the series a bit better. What do you think?

Thank you to EVERYONE who entered to win and for all your kind comments. I'm love hearing that so many of you have enjoyed the series so far and are eagerly anticipating the third novel!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

ARC giveaway for THE WONDROUS AND THE WICKED!

It's 2015! That means in just a few short months The Wondrous and the Wicked, the final book in The Dispossessed series will be hitting shelves!




I'm excited to get this final installment out there for those of you who have read and loved The Beautiful and the Cursed and The Lovely and the Lost! 

I'm also excited to hear from new readers who've been waiting for the full trilogy to be available before they tuck in to my world of shape shifting gargoyles and demon hunters in shadowy Paris :-) 

To celebrate, I'm hosting my first ARC giveaway! The rules are simple: 

1.) Leave a comment here on this blog post to enter to win the signed ARC

2.) On Twitter and/or Facebook, link this blog post using #WinWondrousWicked to also enter to win a surprise giveaway item (it'll be good. Promise!)


And that's it! The contest runs through Thurs., Jan. 8 at midnight. Thanks everyone!