Monday, September 30, 2013

3 Years Ago Today: A Walk Down Memory Lane

I was preparing to release Emotional Intensity in Gifted Children. I'll never forget it. The nervousness, the excitement, the shock! I launched that book with a twitter chat and an online party. The book sold out in hours and my future as an author had begun.

Fast forward to May, 2011, 7 months later. Life had thrown it's share of curve balls with family illnesses, the loss of my mom, and parting with my agent. I held many book events for Emotional Intensity, queried fiction projects, and had a few nonfiction book proposals rejected. It was a 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids. My publisher had a larger print run with this one. I didn't sell out on the first day, but it was a strong launch. That book confirmed my desire to be an author.
rollercoaster ride. But it also brought the release of my second book,

My next book release wouldn't happen for almost a year, in February 2012. The nine months between represented my most difficult in the business. The loss of my mom had challenged me greatly, defining me in ways I hadn't expected. Likewise, I was struggling with the shifting publishing industry, unsure of exactly where I fit in - did I want an agent still? Or did I prefer to forge my own path as an Indie? Did I want to continue with medium and larger publishing houses? Or did I want to partner with a publishing start-up?

Writers don't live in a vacuum. We have lives outside of the writing industry that exert their own pressure and influence on our artforms. For me, this pressure took the form of fiscal stressors and the normal pressures facing families today. I took a job change, made decisions about my writing career and forged a path as an Indie author with my fiction, while continuing with my medium-sized press in my nonfiction life.

Suddenly, both worlds, writing and nonwriting, were exploding with activity. I released 3 short stories, and 3 novels, over the next year. Life was exciting and busy. But as I mentioned before, I had switched jobs at this same time, and life was also filled with long hours at a job that proved to be less fulfilling. I didn't have time to pour into my art, didn't have time with my family in the same way, and wasn't paying attention to my health. My life spun out of balance and my art suffered.

By February 2013, I was artistically fried. Okay, I was fried in every aspect of my life. I made the difficult decision to change jobs and slow everything down. I pushed out or shelved ever fiction project. In nonfiction, I released the Girl Guide in May 2013 and sold Quiet Kids. I had a great local book event and started to breath again.

As I refocused on my art, I found a clarity of purpose I had been missing. My small press for my fiction reverted my rights back to me and I re-released my books under my name. I also made the decision to complete the Requiem series for my fans before changing my focus in my fiction career.

I rewrote my goals in August 2013 and decided to focus on my health, my family, and my writing career. Yes, I still work in education, something I love. But writing, my art, it brings me a different type of joy that I need in my life. I decided to continue pursuing both fiction and
nonfiction careers and decided to once again partner with an agent. I got busy finishing my books under contract and preparing for fall events.

So, here I am - on the eve of the release of Quiet Kids, and a week away from the release of Dominus. It is a reflective moment (of course, that may also be because it is three am). A lot has happened in the past three years. My life has moved in directions I could never have predicted. It looks nothing like what I envisioned. It is both better and unexpected.

It's hard to know what the future will hold. I know that I am continuing to write both fiction and nonfiction. And I know that I will publish more books. And I know I must stay balanced while I do it. How that will all come together remains a mystery. But isn't that the fun part? Just like when our characters take control of the story and take us on a journey, my life in publishing has been one heck of a ride.

I can't wait to see what's next...

Thank you all for your support, your readership, and your friendship. I never, ever would have predicted how many amazing people I would meet along this journey. The writing community - agents, editors, publishers, readers, reviewers, and writers - are amazing in every way.

Here's to many more years!!!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Fiction: A Snippet of Dominus

Dominus is almost ready to release. Finally. This book was delayed - really, really delayed. It was plotted, replotted, written, deleted, rewritten, replotted, rewritten again, edited and rewritten once more. And now (or rather, early next week), it is ready to be released to the world.

I will admit, I am sort of terrified. Not only because the series is ending, but because I don't want to let my fans down. In this story, we tie up all of the loose ends - the relationships between Nesy, Zane, and Aydan, the war between Mikayel and Aydan, the vengeance of Lilith, the betrayal of Caim...

All of it is addressed in some way in this story. WHEW!

Okay - so some of you saw an early version of the opening. Yes, as you probably guessed, that was trashed during rewrites. Okay, not trashed but significantly changed. 

Here is a new excerpt for you from the beginning of the story. This scene brings Lilith and Azza together in Infernum, and sets a tone that continues throughout the story:

Flames lick the walls of the cavern that fills the center of Infernum, casting huge shadows against the space. Screams vibrate through the rocks and hang in the air, like something out of Dante’s Inferno

A human version of hell, Lilith thinks as she enters the small cave.

“I see you’ve returned,” a deep voice says. Shadows begin to dance along the cavern walls, joining to form a large mass. Immense bat-like wings stretch across the rocks, a skeletal form in the middle, with fanged teeth and clawed hands.

Lilith takes a step back, awed by the form in front of her. A thousand years of hatred has done nothing to diminish her appreciation for Azza’s commanding flare for the dramatic.

“What? Don’t like my version of this place? It is my domain, after all.” The shadow of Azza’s form grows taller and bends at odd angles, covering the entire cavern.

“It’s just so...human.”

Azza releases a low, menacing chuckle. It fades too fast, replaced with unveiled expectations. His shadow swirls and changes as he morphs into his human form. Blond hair tied back at the neck, chiseled features, and the distinctive brand of Celtic knots circling his neck. A brand carved by Iblis, Lilith’s father.

And the reason for her vengeance.

“What do you have to report?” Azza asks as he closes the distance between them, his eyes pinning her where she stands.

“Everything is as I’ve promised, Lord Azzaziel.” Lilith’s voice is steady, undeterred.  

“And Aydan? Do you have him?”

“Yes, he is ready to serve you as well.”

“The brand?”

“Complete. Just as you’ve ordered. Nothing has been left undone. You will not fail this time, my lord.”

“And the angel, the Sentinal? What does she know?”

Lilith swallows hard. Azza will not tolerate failure. “She...” Lilith hesitates. “She has her memories. The Mediator—”

Azza grabs Lilith by the throat. “What does she know, Lilith?”

Lilith tightens her neck, willing her form to remain solid. “She only knows that Aydan is gone, that I’ve taken him. She knows nothing else. I’m certain of it.”

Azza closes his grip around her neck. The symbiont protests and begins to pulsate through her body. 

She must stop this before Azza figures out what’s happening.

“She’s mortal, my master. She cannot prevent the war.” Lilith leans into Azza’s grasp and whispers in his ear. “She has no power now.”

Azza glares at Lilith, his eyes ablaze. “Do not make the mistake of underestimating her.” He brushes his lips against Lilith’s. “I want her dead.”

Lilith nods.

Be sure to stalk my FB page as I will likely post a few more excerpts over the weekend, and come back Monday for exciting release news!

    Thursday, September 26, 2013

    A Bookanista Review for BREAKING GLASS by Lisa Amowitz

    Time for another Bookanista review. Today, I am bringing you my thoughts of Lisa Amowitz's BREAKING GLASS. I first told you about the book on my Author Spotlight. And then brough Lisa back for ANOTHER Author Spotlight post.

    Now, I get to tell you my thoughts! But first, check out the other Bookanista posts:
    Okay, back to Breaking Glass:

    Why I liked it: 

    Holy WOW!!!! I am a serious Lisa Amowitz fan now. Lisa and I have been online buds for years and talked about being critique buddies. But, it's never happened. That is gonna change. Man oh man is Lisa's debut a FABULOUS read.

    Mysterious and intriguing, this YA thriller not only get me turning pages, it kept me guessing. Her main character is a great lesson in character development, as she makes him at once flawed and the person you MUST root for. A great story from start to finish, my advice to you is to RUN and get this book ASAP!!! Definitely something for the MUST READ shelf!

    What are you guys reading these days? 

      Wednesday, September 25, 2013

      Preparing for the Series End: An Excerpt from Libera Me

      As we edge closer to the weekend and the release (FINALLY) of Libera Me, I wanted to share another excerpt with all of you, this time from Libera Me.

      I shared one scene yesterday on Facebook - one with Aydan (now mortal) in High School being confronted with...demons...the decide.

      This scene brings us back to the love affair between Nesy and Aydan. Aydan is hoping the girl, Nessa,  he found in this mortal life, the one that has given him a reason to live again, is Nesy reincarnated. But, there is a chance that she is something else entirely - a demonic presence meant to destroy him. 
      In this scene, Nessa, having been scared - terrified - by the presence of angels and demons - has returned to Aydan seeking comfort:

      The walls shake as the pounding on my door continues. “Coming,” I yell. “Coming.”  I open the door, startled. Nessa stands in front of me, her eyes half crazed. She looks like she did at the gym—lost in some distant memory.


      She throws her arms around my neck and pulls me to her. Our lips meet as she melts into me. I inhale her anguish, her pain, her fear. For a moment I feel the familiar craving I refuse to acknowledge. I push against her, forcing her to stop.

      “Nessa,” I growl, barely able to control myself. “What happened?”

      “Nothing,” she whispers through a ragged breath. “I need you.” Her lips meet mine again, riddled with desperation. I want to lose myself in her, lose myself in this moment.

      “No.” The words scrape along my throat. I pull myself away from her. “We can’t. Not like this.”

      She stares at me, blinking. Her eyes cloud over and she turns, heading back out of the door.

      “Nessa, wait.” I grab her arm. “I didn’t say you had to leave. Stay.” She stops moving. The air crackles between us.

      I feel her take a heavy breath.

      And another.

      Everything seems to move in slow motion as she turns and looks at me. In that brief moment, I see Nesy in her eyes, the blue oceans pushing deep into my soul. My body quivers. She collapses any space between us. Her eyes close and our lips softly brush. A moan escapes me before I can stop it. Again she teases my lips with hers.

      It feels so familiar. Images spring to life against my eyelids. Another time with my love, another place.

      A church and courtyard.

      A fountain and statue.

      Promises of a life together, admission of a love that should never have been.

      I can’t hold myself back any longer. I need her touch, her kiss.

                I always have.

      I press my lips hard against hers, tasting her desire and confusion. Her love. At once I’m in two places, two worlds, two lives. 

      For more from Libera Me, you can check out the book on Amazon or check out my BOOK page for more information!

      Friday I will share a special snippet from DOMINUS in preparation for the release. Wow - I can't believe the time is nearly here!!!

        Tuesday, September 24, 2013

        Another Author Spotlight Visit from Lisa Amowitz!

        As promised, I am bringing back Author Spotlight, a chance for author's to be featured on my blog, talk about their book, and answer some silly questions. I revamped things a little bit to include monthly questions - some related to their books, and some just designed to let us know the author a little better. 

        This week, I am featuring Lisa Amowitz. I was fortunate enough to help her celebrate the release of Breaking Glass. Since that time I have had a chance to read the book (come back to read my review on Thursday) and can I just say...LOVE LOVE LOVE it! 

        Before I introduce the book, here are the questions I asked Lisa - and her fabulous answers!
        • Name your favorite comic book hero or villain and why. ~ The Joker, of course. Who doesn't love him? [Seriously! He has been my go-to archetype for villains for years!]
        • Your main character is attending ComicCon. Who does he/she dress up as and why? ~ Jeremy Glass would dress up as Captain Hook. The reasons would be obvious for anyone who read BREAKING GLASS. 
        • You get to invite 5 people, living or dead, over for dinner. Who are they and what are you serving? ~ 
        • The first person on my list is Nathan Hale, because I have a strange obsession with the young hero who was hanged by the British as a spy at age 21 and never got to see the America he died for;  
        • The second is J.D. Salinger to tell him that greatness is not an excuse to cop such a bad attitude; 
        • Third is my grandfather, Hyman Epstein, because he was one of the kindest and funniest people I know and he'd make dirty jokes and embarrass everyone; 
        • Fourth is Martin Luther King, to get his opinion on things as they stand and to thank him for his courage;
        • Fifth is Janis Joplin--just to hear her sing Bobby McGee.
        • Dinner? I have to make all these people dinner? No way--my kitchen is too small. I'd take the to a nice restaurant overlooking the Hudson and we'd sit and drink Cosmos and shoot the breeze.
        Best answers ever Lisa! THANK YOU!

        And now, a brief introduction to BREAKING GLASS. You'll get my take on it on Thursday: 

        BREAKING GLASS by Lisa Amowitz (Spencer Hill Press, July 2013)

        On the night seventeen-year-old Jeremy Glass winds up in the hospital with a broken leg and a blood alcohol level well above the legal limit, his secret crush, Susannah, disappears. When he begins receiving messages from her from beyond the grave, he’s not sure whether they’re real or if he’s losing his grip on reality. Clue by clue, he gets closer to unraveling the mystery, and soon realizes he must discover the truth or become the next victim himself.

        About Lisa Amowitz:

        Lisa Amowitz was born in Queens and raised in the wilds of Long Island, New York where she climbed trees, thought small creatures lived under rocks and studied ant hills. And drew. A lot.When she hit her teens, she realized that Long Island was too small for her and she needed to escape. So she went to college in Pittsburgh. Go figure. On leaving college, Lisa became a graphic designer living in New York City. She eventually married her husband of a zillion years, had two lovely children, and was swept away to a fairy tale life in the Bronx, where, unbelievably there are more trees and wilderness than her hometown. She can see the Hudson River from her kitchen window.
        Lisa has been a professor of graphic design at her beloved Bronx Community College where she has been tormenting and cajoling students for nearly seventeen years. She started writing eight years ago because she wanted something to illustrate, but somehow, instead ended up writing YA. Probably because her mind is too dark and twisted for small children.
        BREAKING GLASS is her first published work. VISION, the first of the Finder series will be released in 2014, along with an unnamed sequel in the following year. LIFE AND BETH will also be released in the near future, along with graphic novel style art

        Thanks Lisa! I always love having you stop by the blog. 

        How would you answer my questions of Lisa? Come on back in a few weeks for my next Author Spotlight. And if you are an author interested in being spotlighted, please let me know. 

        Monday, September 23, 2013

        The Art of Soft Releases...

        Happy Monday everyone! I am excited to talk about my back-to-back releases coming up for Dominus, the final book in the Requiem Series, and Quiet Kids, my next parenting book.
        These books hold a lot of meaning to me.

        First, Dominus is the conclusion of a series that has been really important to me. In some respects I am thrilled to let go of the series and move on to new things. In another way, I am sad to see Nesy and Aydan go. They have been a part of my life for more than three years.

        Quiet Kids releases exactly three years after my very first book. It's exciting, and I can't believe everything that has happened over the last three years.

        I am doing some promotional activities for both books in October, but for now I am happy with soft releases. You know, when a book releases with little to no fanfare. Both books have had release dates move around and shift, resulting in some issues with my promotional calendar. So, to make sure I didn't have to again switch everything around, I decided to hold off and wait until mid October to celebrate the releases and promote the books. I have no idea if this will prove to be a wise decision. I guess time will tell.

        What do you do to promote your releases? Do you prefer big fanfare or something smaller?

        Friday, September 20, 2013

        Shiny New Cover...

        I am SO excited to bring you news about QUIET KIDS, my nonfiction book coming in the next few weeks. After listening to feedback from early readers and wanting to include the nice words from Publisher's Weekly, my publisher made the decision to give me a BEAUTIFUL new cover and I couldn't be more ecstatic with the results! The cover is everything I could hope for and I am beyond thrilled.

        QUIET KIDS is my latest book for parents and educators, and tackles the topic of parenting introverted children. I am so excited for this timely book, and humbled by early reviews calling it "an empowering read for those of us who have learned extroversion the hard way"(Dr.Helen Wright) and "extremely useful for parents and educators" (Publisher's Weekly).

        Without further adieu, my new cover:

        Barnes and Noble will have the book in it's stores in a few weeks, with promotional displays in various parts of the store now and throughout the upcoming holiday season. I'll be doing #Twitterchats, Google hangouts and blog tours in the upcoming weeks. Stay tuned for more information.

        And be sure to spread the word!


        Thursday, September 19, 2013

        Preparing For Requiem's End With An Excerpt From LACRIMOSA

        I can't believe the Requiem Series is coming to an end. Part of me is ready to move on, as too many ideas nip and my toes. Another part will be very sad to see Aydan and Nesy go. As I get ready to celebrate Dominus's release in a week or so, I want to share excerpts from the series (as well as get you ready for some special things coming...)

        Today, I am sharing an excerpt from Lacrimosa. In this scene, our heroine, Nesy, is wrestling with her task of killing her beloved Aydan, and her need to protect him:

        I stare at the statue, so perfect in its details—the Sword of Truth grasped firmly in Mikayel’s hands, the strong muscles of his shoulders as he battles, and the broad expanse of his wings. Carved images of the planets, scientists and animals wrap themselves around the base of the angel. A perfect union of Celestium and humanity.
        And a reminder.           
        My oath to the Council pounds through my thoughts. My obligation to protect. My role in the forever battle against evil. My duty to resist temptation. Resist the Dark One.
        And my job to vanquish Aydan.
        A pang of deep longing ripples through me. I’m torn between my promise to send Aydan to the Abyss and my need to keep him safe. The opposing forces fragment what remains of my mind, breaking me down once again.
        I close my eyes and center my thoughts. Let go of him. Let go of that life. I picture my life as a Sentinal—the training, the commitment to live a life detached, the oath to serve. It’s everything I am. Everything I’ve wanted.
        Until now.
        Now there’s Aydan.
        Black, spiked hair. Smooth, pale skin. His image floods my thoughts, looking exactly the way he did that first night. Same black jeans, same leather jacket.
        I draw a ragged breath and let the fantasy unfold. The musky pine scent of his skin. The feel of him next to me. The sound of his voice as it resonates through me.
        In the recesses of my thoughts, Aydan wraps an arm around my waist and pulls me close. His other arm drapes across my chest and in my dream, I am forever safe. 

        For more from Lacrimosa, you can check out the book on Amazon -

        For more fabulous book info and reviews, check out what the Bookanistas are up to today. Happy reading!

          Wednesday, September 18, 2013

          What's in a Name?

          Hi all! Happy Weds. It's time for another round of the Blog Chain and this week's topic is a GREAT one from  Alyson:

          How do you come up with titles for your work? Does it just come to you or do you spend hours stressing about it? Do you use silly working titles? What have you read recently with a great title? An awful title?

          Ah yes, titles....the bane of my existence. I am the first to admit I am NOT a good title generator, though I have improved greatly with my fiction. With non-fiction, I just ... well ... I'm horrible at it.

          Let's start with fiction. I am a deep thinker, so I tend to find obscure, deep-meaning titles for my word. Lacrimosa is a great example of that. It means "day of weeping" and is from the Requiem mass. It fits the theme of the book perfectly. But for most people, it is not a good title - heck, most can't pronounce it and yea...not the best. (though I LOVE IT). My other fiction titles, both on for unpublished and published works, are better.

          My nonfiction has been retitled by my publishing house EVERY.TIME!!! Not that I mind at all. I learned a long time ago NOT to get married to the title - to be flexible on it. And I am.

          What about you? How do you title your own work? And for my readers out there, do you judge books by their title? For more on this topic, check Sandra's post from yesterday and Katrina's tomorrow

          Tuesday, September 17, 2013

          The Crossroads Halloween Tour is COMING SOON!!!

          I wanted to take a quick moment a let you all know one of my favorite events to participate in - the Crossroads Halloween Tour. Started by the incredible Judith Graves, this is not your ordinary blog tour. This event features 23 authors and 7 bloggers. For a fun-filled week we will be answering wacky questions, touring multiple sites and giving away a kindle loaded with all of our titles. It is EPIC to be certain!
          Authors this year range from small, micro-presses to large traditional imprints and everything in between. And our stories - epic!
          I will be celebrating BOTH my psychological thriller Transcend, and the end of my Requiem series, Dominus. 

          Mark your calendars for Oct 20-26 and be sure to check out the tour. I will post more info in Oct. And BTW, expect some exciting giveaways that week here too - just to celebrate!

          Monday, September 16, 2013

          In Search of a Partner (and other news).

          Many of my frequent readers of this blog know that I will be querying my next novel, hoping to find an agent to partner with as I work to sell my next work. With Dominus coming out in a week or so, and Quiet Kids releasing in two weeks, and nothing else committed it is the perfect time for me to start down a new road. Some of you have asked my why I wanted to find an agent. I mean, clearly I can both publish my own work, as I have with my novels recently, or sell my books to a small publisher on my own, as I have with my recent nonfiction.
          The truth is, I want a partner. This is a tough industry. And although it is a great time to be an author, with all of the options and opportunities available right now, I still believe an agent would be an asset to me in reaching my larger publication goals.
          Am I nervous about jumping into the query waters again, several of you have asked. YES, of course I am. But I truly believe that there is a partner out there for me, and agent that I can work collaboratively with, someone who will "get" my vision and my work and want to partner with me to reach my lofty goals.
          And if I'm wrong, if I can't find the right agent for me, the good news is I can still pursue it alone, no harm no foul!
          Yep, it is a great time to be an author!

          And in other news, I just received my FIRST Publisher's weekly review ever, of Quiet Kids, my latest nonfiction releasing 10/1/2013:
          "Extremely useful for educators and parents, this thoughtful text emphasizes the many gifts of quiet kids."


          Friday, September 13, 2013

          A Little Apprehension for Fiction Friday

          I can't believe it's Friday! What a wonderfully fast week. I'll be spending the weekend locked away in a cave finishing a book. No seriously...that is the plan! I HAVE to finish this rewrite. Like NOW!

          Anyway, As I mentioned last week., Friday's are about fiction and writing exercises. For today's prompt, you were supposed to big an emotion from the emotion wheel and write a scene. Easy peasy.

          And yes, there are a couple of "Rules:

          1) Sit down and write for a minimum of 15 minutes on the weekly topic. [in truth, I only wrote for a few minutes on this one]

          2) NO EDITING allowed - this is a creative free-for-all, strictly editor-free. Consider it a lesson in letting go!

          3) It would be great if we could visit each other's pieces and show some love - and remember, this is not about critiquing. Only cheering. It's an exercise - a way to get in touch with other aspects of the artist within and bring that to the writing.

          Okay - so yea, I am probably the only one doing this, but here is my Friday Fiction scene...

          I used apprehension as my emotion. The scene features Madison, the feisty MC of my next YA paranormal thriller I am working on...

          The morning starts like every other. My alarm blares through the silence, pulling me from sleep. I roll out of bed, too out of it to notice my roommate didn't come home again. Splashing cold water on my face, my brain slowly kicks into gear. 
          The first thing I notice is the blood-shot eyes greeting me in the mirror. I look like hell, I think. I haven't slept much this week. Too much on my mind between my parent's constant phone calls and my brother's disappearance. 
          More water on my face. More deep breaths. And then...something different.
          Something passes through my field of vision, a quick blur on the fringe of my awareness. I stop, hold my breath, turn. There is nothing. I look back in the mirror, my pulse quickening. A moment passes. And another. Still nothing. My pulse slows and I release a ragged breath.
          Shaking my head, I turn off the water and go back to my room. It feels different somehow, like it's a different day or a different time. I glance around the room, scrutinizing every inch. With each turn of my head, my heart beats faster. Stiff apprehension climbs my spine as I look under the beds and in the closet. Nothing.
          No one is here, nothing has changed, and yet I know that nothing is the same either.
          "What's happening," I whisper as the hair on my neck stands on end and my pulse roars in my ears. 

          And there you go - but little writing exercise this morning. Anyone else have something to share?

          Thursday, September 12, 2013

          Bookanista Review: This Is W.A.R. by Lisa and Laura Roecker

          It's Bookanista Thursday and you know that that time! This week I am talking about THIS IS W.A.R, the latest by Lisa and Laura Roecker. Now, you already know I am a huge Roecker fangirl, but this book....this is AMAZING!!! But more on that in a moment. First, here are the other Bookanista reviews:
          On to my Bookanista Review of THIS IS W.A.R. by Lisa and Laura Roecker

          Release Date: 07/02/2013

          Basic Blurb: (from Amazon)
          This is not a story of forgiveness...
          The mystery of their best friend's murder drives four girls to destroy the Gregory family. Emily Thorne would be proud.
          Everyone at Hawthorne Lake Country Club saw Willa Ames-Rowan climb into a boat with James Gregory, the Club’s heir apparent.

          And everyone at Hawthorne Lake Country Club watched him return. Alone.

          They all know he killed her. But none of them will say a word. The Gregory family is very, very good at making problems go away.

          Enter the W.A.R.—the war to avenge Willa Ames-Rowan. Four girls. Four very different motives for justice and revenge, and only one rule: destroy the Gregory family at any cost.

          Why I liked it: 

          As I mentioned previously, I am a die hard Roecker fan. The Liar Society series has been excellent so I went into THIS IS W.A.R with very high expectations. And I wasn't disappointed in the least. In fact, I must admit that this book is my favorite by the Roecker sisters to date.

          The book is basically a mystery presented with such compelling writing that you are sucked in from the first sentence. There are twists and turns to keep you guessing, dark raw emotion to keep you intrigued and just enough humor, at just the right times, to keep you reading.

          Definitely a MUST READ and probably my fav YA book this year.

          What are you guys reading these days? 

            Wednesday, September 11, 2013

            Writerly Weds: The Anatomy of a Short Synopsis - Part 1

            Welcome to Writing Weds - a semi-monthly post dedicated to the craft of writing. For the next two weeks I am tackling the dreaded Synopsis. This post, originally written in July 2010, has gotten more hits than any post written on that blog of this blog. Something about it just resonates with people...

            So, I've decided to repost it here and write the second part (which never actually got posted back in 2010) next week.

            **Originally posted here**

            After playing around on the interwebz this week I discovered a theme emerge among my writerly buds...lots of angst over the dreaded synopsis. Now, I'm not saying writing a synopsis is a piece of cake - far from it. But, there is a way to do it that s a little less painful.
            The editors, agents and published authors I've spoken with have all said that shorter is better when it comes to the synopsis.

            WHAT? SHORTER...It's hard enough cramming the storyline of a 70 - 80K novel into a few pages single spaced. Now I need to cram it into 500 words or so. CRAZY! True...but totally doable too.
            That is, once you really KNOW the arc of your story.

            That's right, a synopsis can be an easy endeavor, relatively speaking, if you have taken the time to plot out your story arc.

            For me, the easy way to do this is to "borrow" a little structure advice from our friends - the screenwriters. All dramatic movies and TV shows follow a similar structure - 5 or 6 stages that lead the viewer from the opening scenes to the final climax and resolution. Nail down these stages with your own novel, including the turning points that transition one stage to the next, and you will have the structure of your story. Here's a quick list of each of the stages and plot turns in a typical story:
            • Opening set up - The MC is introduced in the "normal world".
            • Initial challenge  - The problem the MC needs to solve.
            • Reaction or new scenario - A new scenario occurs for the MC as a direct result of the choice the MC makes regarding that opportunity
            • Mini Crisis - An event occurs that changes everything and a new goal is made
            • Edge of Adventure - The MC works towards his new goal
            • Point of no return - The MC fully commits to achieving the goal - to his journey
            • Complications - The MC is tested and the stakes are raised as new complications arise
            • Despair - The MC in despair as he hits a major set back in his plans
            • Transformation  - The MC pulls himself together to face the final obstacles to his goal
            • Climax - The MC faces the final obstacle standing between him and his goal
            • Resolution - The outcome of the final confrontation.
            Now that the stages are clear, go through your story and write a sentence or two for each of these sections of your story.

            In the next post, we'll take our sentences and write the synopsis! And yes, I'll use a popular movie as an example.

            See, not so bad...right?

            Tuesday, September 10, 2013

            Author Spotlight: PJ Hoover and SOLSTICE

            I am excited to bring another Author Spotlight to you. But before I get to that, I wanted you to know that I am changing the Spotlight posts up a little bit, adding some unusual interview questions and maybe a giveaway or two. This is a great chance to get to know different authors and see what they are up to.
            If you are an author and would like to be spotlighted, please let me know!

            Okay, back to today's post. I am thrilled to be featuring PJ Hoover and SOLSTICE. PJ is a fantastic author and I just can't want to read SOLTICE. Let's start things off with a little bit about PJ:

            P. J. Hoover first fell in love with Greek mythology in sixth grade thanks to the book Mythology by Edith Hamilton. After a fifteen year bout as an electrical engineer designing computer chips for a living, P. J. decided to take her own stab at mythology and started writing books for kids and teens. When not writing, P. J. spends time with her husband and two kids and enjoys practicing kung fu, solving Rubik's cubes, and watching Star Trek. Her first novel for teens, Solstice (Tor Teen, June 2013), takes place in a global warming future and explores the parallel world of mythology beside our own. Her middle grade novel, Tut (Tor Children's, 2014), tells the story of a young immortal King Tut, who's been stuck in middle school for over 3,000 years and must defeat an ancient enemy with the help of a dorky kid from school, a mysterious Egyptian princess, and a one-eyed cat. For more information about P. J. (Tricia) Hoover, please visit her website P. J. is also a member of THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS & SCOUNDRELSand THE ENCHANTED INKPOT.

            See why I think she ROCKS!!! 

            Now, about Solstice:

            SOLSTICE (Tor Teen, June 2013)

            Piper's world is dying. Each day brings hotter temperatures and heat bubbles that threaten to destroy the earth. Amid this global heating crisis, Piper lives under the oppressive rule of her mother, who suffocates her even more than the weather does. Everything changes on her eighteenth birthday, when her mother is called away on a mysterious errand and Piper seizes her first opportunity for freedom. 

            Piper discovers a universe she never knew existed—a sphere of gods and monsters—and realizes that her world is not the only one in crisis. While gods battle for control of the Underworld, Piper’s life spirals out of control as she struggles to find the answer to the secret that has been kept from her since birth. 

            "Solstice is one red-hot read—it intrigues, sizzles, and satisfies." —Cynthia Leitich Smith, New York Timesbestselling author

            Monday, September 9, 2013

            Monday Musings: Taking Stock...

            Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. - Henry David Thoreau

            There have been a lot of posts about burnout lately. Writers falling out of love with blogging, feeling overwhelmed by the marketing demands of today's publishing climate, and frustrated by the state of their careers. While I have not been among those that have posted, I have felt every one of these feelings over the last year. So much so, that I nearly walked away from writing all together.

            See, I have been struggling with my feelings related to writing fiction. My nonfiction career is good – the books are selling at a consistent rate, people continue to enjoy the message, and more than anything, the books are helping others. I have some great friends in the non-fiction world. We support each other fully in both our professional and writing lives. All of my nonfiction goals are being met.

            Fiction has been a rockier road. I continue to be inspired, but the road is harder for me in every way. More than once I ask if this is my purpose – should I continue to write fiction. More than once I know the answer is yes.

            Which brings me to the point of this post.

            I had to take a step back in order to gain some objectivity to my career and the demands on my time. I had to come clean with myself about many things, committing to releasing the toxic and embracing the new. The journey has resulted in a new focus for my other blog, An Intense Life. It has also resulted in a renewal of a commitment I made to myself five years ago when I started down this path...
            A commitment to keep the focus on my writing and my creative process.

            Someone once told me that this particular creative endeavor will challenge everything you think you know about yourself. It’ll awaken you to your own inner demons, surface the doubt that has long lingered in the shadows and expose the toxic elements in your life...
            If you are willing to open your eyes and see.

            I’ve spent a lot of time determining how I want my path to go. And at least for now I am content, knowing that I am traveling in the direction of my dreams.

            Thoreau once said "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." As artists, it is imperative that we listen to the music of our hearts, follow the path we feel in our soul and dare to go it alone when necessary.

            Burnout and frustration are never easy feelings. But they are beautiful calls to action, reminders that we all need to take a moment to take stock, find our footing, and forge our own path. 

            Friday, September 6, 2013

            Bringing Back Fiction Friday and a Plea To You Writers...

            Happy Friday! Why is it that after a Monday holiday the week truly can't end fast enough. LOL! Anyway, here we are at the end of my week-long roll out of the new look, the new focus, and the new blog schedule.

            Friday's are all about fiction. And what better way, then practicing writing skills with a little Friday Fiction challenge. Here's how it will work - I will post a story idea today. Next week, I will post my Friday Fiction entry based on that theme. If you want to join in, you can - just sign leave a comment to let me know, or link back to this post. At the end of each Friday Fiction entry I will post next week's topic. These can be story starters, images or other pieces of inspiration.

            For the first Friday Fiction, I thought I'd use one of my favorite exercises I use to explore emotions. Use the following emotions chart and pick ONE emotion as the focus of your Friday Fiction piece. That's it. Easy, right???

            Now, the rules:

            1) Sit down and write for a minimum of 15 minutes on the weekly topic.

            2) NO EDITING allowed - this is a creative free-for-all, strictly editor-free. Consider it a lesson in letting go!

            3) It would be great if we could visit each other's pieces and show some love - and remember, this is not about critiquing. Only cheering. It's an exercise - a way to get in touch with other aspects of the artist within and bring that to the writing.

            Okay, now the scary part - I am hoping there will be more than just me participating in this. So please, join me...yes??? Leave me a comment and let me know if you're "in"

            Thursday, September 5, 2013

            Susan Cain's QUIET - The Introvert's Manifesto

            Happy Thursday! I don't know about you guys, but MAN...this week is zooming by at high speed. With the new look and new schedule, Thursday will continue to be dedicated to book reviews - all kinds of book reviews. Fiction, non-fiction. Adult, YA. Self-help, cookbooks...anything is game. Sometimes I will have links to other Bookanista reviews, sometimes not as the group re-organizes. The point is, Thursdays are all about whatever it is I am reading.

            This that in mind I wanted to bring you Susan Cain's QUIET. As most of you know, I have a nonfiction book for parents and educators releasing next month entitled Quiet Kids. Part of the research for that book came from reading anything and everything related to introversion. Including this piece of pure mastery - QUIET:

            Release Date: 1/24/2012

            Basic Blurb: (from Amazon)
            From the Introduction:
             At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society-from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.
            Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves.
            Why I liked it: 

            I will never forget finishing the book, rereading my manuscript for Quiet Kids and wondering why on earth I was bothering to write the book. I mean, Susan Cain had effectively said anything I wanted to say on the topic and done so with a level of pure brilliance. She is the epitome of the NF writer I would like to be. QUIET is a masterpiece, a manifesto giving voice to a often misunderstood segment of the population. Most important, she gives permission to every introvert to just be who they are!

            Now obviously I figured out what to say in QUIET KIDS that would offer something new to the conversation, but I would be remiss if I didn't give a nod to the author and the book that has been the inspiration to so many introverts.

            Thank you Susan Cain for your absolute brilliance. While I may not be in agreement with everything, I applaud your endeaver to bring into the light a conversation that most introverts would not have been able to have themselves!

            Read this book - if only to see how a nonfiction book should be crafted.

            What are you guys reading these days? Any suggestions for me?

              Wednesday, September 4, 2013

              Help! I am a chronic abandoner...

              Hi all! Happy Weds. As I mentioned yesterday, Weds will regularly be dedicated to craft - either through the Blog Chain or through a series of tips. This week is Blog Chain time! And the topic is a good one, brought by Sandra, who asks:

              Is there a writing project you've failed to finish? If so, why? Are you planning to return to it at some point? Alternatively, describe a book you started to read but didn't finish and why you didn't finish. You don't have to name the book.

              I took a class taught by Amy Koss. She presented the seven deadly sins of writing - including abandonment. I will never forget that class - mostly because I am SO GUILTY on this one. I have no less than four abandoned manuscripts, each with at least 20K written, on my hard drive right now. I do plan on finishing day. I'm not sure why the books were ever abandoned, other than I got fickle. The stories are outlined. The books are good. The pieces I've shared with trusted beta readers have given me enough input to feel like they could each be written and enjoyed. And yet, they stay - half done on my hard drive.

              Perhaps it is the timing factor. Perhaps they are not yet ready to be written. I know most of them were abandoned in 2010 when my mom died. It's like I have an incredibly productive 18 mos with writing, and then stopped for too long. When I started back up with Transcend, I had a few books under contract. That has been my focus for the past two years - getting those books done. Now, with nothing under contract once the rewrites of Dominus are finished, I can refocus on writing something new, something that speaks to me. There is a freedom in that I am completely looking forward to. An excitement.

              Hopefully, when I again think about Koss's class and the deadly sins of writing, I will no longer obsess about the books laid to waste on my hard drive! Hopefully I can again talk about my productivity and the stories that have captured my heart.

              What about you? Are you guilty of abandonment? For more on this topic, check Sandra's post from yesterday and Katrina's tomorrow

              Tuesday, September 3, 2013

              New Look, New Message, Same 'Ole Me

              Happy Tuesday all! I hope my US friends had a fabulous few days off. For me, I spent the time with family remembering what it is to cultivate relationships away from my computer. I know, shocking, right...

              Which sort of brings me to the irony that is today.

              Today I am bringing you my new "brand" - a new website and refined look that better matches who I am at the moment. As part of the shift, I will have a second FB page in the upcoming weeks, as well as a complete facelift for my other blog, An Intense Life.

              I know, nothing ironic yet...

              Most of my friends are at odds with blogging and some forms of social media, feeling a level of burnout that I can completely relate to. In all honesty, this is where I was for the past several years. And now, after a lot of soul searching and coming to terms with both my purpose on the planet and my identity as a writer, I feel ready to move forward in a big way!

              Today, I bring a new website - - that features all of my work, nonfiction and fiction, as well as my events and social media information. This blog will continue to exist with posts about books I love, author spotlights on some amazing writers, new weekly writing exercises, and some marketing information. The truth is I enjoy blogging when I have a schedule - so I developed an editorial calendar and am organized!

              My other blog, An Intense Life - - will refocus on its purpose of authentic living. This is where I'll give advice and tips related to living a life filled with purpose and in touch with individual authenticity. It has been more than six months in the making. Today's post outlines some of the regular features, so be sure to check it out.

              I mentioned a new facebook page too. Yep, since I am talking more about living authentically and honestly, I need to come clean about just how out of balance certain aspects of my life have been. In an effort to get myself in check AND support others doing the same, I will be launching a facebook page from my other blog with the hopes of both staying inspired and inspiring others.

              So, there you go...
              A new look, a new brand of sorts and cleaned up sites. I hope you will visit and glean whatever it is that interests you. In this day of limited time and social blogging overload, it's hard to know if any of you will continue to read blogs.

              What do you think? What are you feeling about blogging these days?