Thursday, November 28, 2013



Check out these Black Friday Deals!
Lee Strauss
The Perception Series
YA sci/fi dystopian boxed set
$6.50  $.99

Complete Perception Series set: Ambition, Perception, Volition and Contrition

The PERCEPTION Series books ( SF/mystery/romance) are Young Adult novels that take place in the not too distant future in a world changed by climate extremes, natural disasters and impending wars, and where scientific breakthroughs cause class divisions--both financially and philosophically. It explores the clash between faith and science and how differences can separate us as enemies or ally us together. And in some cases, even in the midst of betrayal and personal crisis, there's room to fall in love.

Leigh T. Moore


Barnes & Noble:

Anna Sanders expected an anonymous (and uneventful) senior year until she crossed paths with rich-and-sexy Jack Kyser and his twin sister Lucy. Pulling Anna into their extravagant lifestyle on the Gulf Coast, Lucy pushed Anna outside her comfort zone, and Jack showed her feelings she’d never experienced... Until he mysteriously withdrew.

Anna turned to her internship at the city paper and to her old attraction for Julian, a handsome local artist and rising star, for distraction. But both led to her discovery of a decades-old secret closely guarded by the twins’ distant, single father. A secret that could permanently change all their lives.
Laura Pauling 
A Spy Like Me

$2.99  $.99
Eighteen-year-old Savvy Bent expects fireworks on her first date with Malcolm - in Paris! Except over a picnic of sparkling cider and strawberry tarts, a sniper shoots at them.


That’s only the beginning. From the top of the Eiffel Tower to the depths of the catacombs, Savvy must sneak, deceive, and spy to save her family and friends and figure out whether Malcolm is one of the bad guys before she completely falls for him.
Christine Fonseca
The Requiem Series
YA Gothic Romance
Lacrimosa (Book #1) - $2.99 $.99 
Libera Me (Book #2) - $2.99 FREE for Kindle
Dominus (Book #3) - $2.99 $0.99 for Kindle
Some sacrifices should never be made...even for love

Katie Klein
Cross My Heart
YA Romance

$3.99  $1.99 
Amazon only

Jaden McEntyre and Parker Whalen are a wrong fit from the start. Jaden is driven and focused, Harvard Med School within reach. Parker has a past—a reputation—and the rumors about his mysterious habits abound. So there’s no reason why, when they're assigned to work together on a project in English, they should discover they have anything in common, or even like each other, and they definitely shouldn't be falling in love.

Thanksgiving and Angels

One of my favorite pieces that I've written has never been published, per sea. It wasn't a story or a self-help guide. It wasn't for a training or a newspaper. It was my mother's obituary and shortened biography. 
It may seem strange that I consider writing it an experience in joy. Yes, it was a dark and sad time But working on mom's bio was a great way to center my thoughts, appreciate her life and move forward.
Today is not only Thanksgiving, but it is the anniversary of Mom's death - her Angel Day (to use the words from Ali Cross). And I felt like it was fitting today, to share her bio with all of you. Mom was a remarkable woman in a million-and-one ways. I continue to be blessed by her presence in my life!

The Life of Judi Dell Warren

Judi was born on February 25, 1940 in Los Angeles, CA. Growing up with modest means, she learned to appreciate every aspect of the life around her. In college she spent time as a singer, sharing her jazz and blues love throughout the blues houses in the San Francisco area. After college she worked as a teacher before marrying and moving to Oregon. She once said that the best thing to come of her first marriage was the birth of her only child, Christine.

Soon after her daughter's birth, Judi returned to California and divorced her first husband. She worked as a physical therapist and social worker for many years before finding her calling to a Christian mystical path. Ordained at the Church of Inner Light, Judi shared her spirit with those around her until she heard and answered her call to serve as the minister of the Church of Truth in Pasadena, CA.

Every Sunday she filled her congregation's heart and soul as she helped guide others toward a path of enlightening. It was at the Church that she met, and eventually married, her soul mate, Paul. Paul and Judi shared a relationship like none other - together on a path of awakening, they joined their hearts, their love, their soul, until there was truly no separation between them. 

Judi's talents were not limited to her expressions of faith each Sunday. She was a talented cook, an expert in interior design and a master with a brush and canvas. After her retirement from the Church, Judi pursued her love of painting, learning how to balance light and color on the canvas. Judi poured a piece of her soul into ever endeavor - every dish she prepared, ever room she designed, and every painting she painted. 

Paul and Judi spent the majority of their retirement continuing their journey toward awakening. They explored their Christian mystical roots more fully and expanded their wisdom through the Sufi teachings. In the years leading to her death, her path lead her to the teachings of Zen Buddhism. Judi's consistent pursuit of her awakened being culminated in her ordination as a Zen Sensei in October 2010. 

Judi spent her life dedicated to the pursuit of her spiritual growth in every aspect of her life, as well as guiding others to a deepening of their own spiritual experiences. She was well known for her warm smile, deep compassion and fiery spirit. Judi is greatly missed by her family and many friends. Her influence and presence will live on through the many lives she as touched.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and beginning to your Holiday season!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Author Spotlight: Rhys A Jones and The Obsidian Pebble

Time for more Author Spotlights! Today, I bring you author Rhys A Jones, the author of The Obsidian Pebble. This is a book I have not yet read, but really REALLY want to! 

Before I introduce Rhy's book, here is a little about him:
Rhys A Jones was born in 1955 and grew up in a mining village in South Wales with his nose in a book and his head in the clouds. He managed to subdue his imagination long enough to carve out a career in medicine, writing whenever the chance arose.
In 1994, writing as Dylan Jones, he published his first scary book for adults, a thriller, which was subsequently made into a two-part film by the BBC. Other scary books followed.
A growing desire to move away from adult thrillers and write for children is what currently preoccupies him. The Obsidian Pebble is the first in a quintet featuring eleven-year-old Oz Chambers whose family inherits a ‘haunted’ house. His mother wants to leave, but Oz wants to unlock the house’s mysteries and uncovers a secret that will change his life forever.
Rhys A Jones has three grownup children who have emerged remarkably unscathed into adulthood. When not writing, he practices medicine and lives in darkest West Wales with his understanding (very) wife and two dogs.

My favorite part of the Author Spotlights are the wacky Q&A I make them do! Here are Tracy's questions and answers:
  • Name your favorite comic book hero or villain and why.
Mr Mxyzptlk is my favourite villain.  Largely because I  loved the anarchy he brought to superman's world. The concept of him accessing 5th dimensional technology which he then brought into another dimension was brilliant. And, in the early days, he could only be got rid of if he was forced to say or spell his name backwards. Genius

  • Your main character is attending ComicCon. Who does he/she dress up as and why? 
If Oz Chambers, my main character, attended ComicCon, he'd probably go as his favourite crew member from Death Planet Hub, which is his favourite Video Game.  Its fictitious, but features a lot in the Artefact series. Currently, top of his list would be Ensign Carbomer, who's a geeky cybercode developer that always manages to outwit the dreaded Octobot with clever weapons of his own devising. What? You've never heard of Ensign Carbomer or Death Planet Hub? You need to get out more.

  • You get to invite 5 people, living or dead, over for dinner. Who are they and what are you serving?
5 people to a dinner party.
1/ Neil Gaiman--for authorly wisdom.
2/ Lee Mack-- for the laughs--he's a British comedian.
3/ Joanne Rowling--I mean, come on.
4/ Dianna Krall--for some music (maybe she'd bring a band)
5/ Ray Bradbury--for some stories.
I'm serving:
Madras fish curry with black lentil dal.
Lemon cheesecake for desert.
There's wine if you want it. Personally,  I'll stick with the cobra beer.
See why I love these so much???!!!

And now, a little more about THE OBSIDIAN PEOPLE 

Oz Chambers lives in a haunted house. His mother wants to move, but Oz believes that the old place is too full of mystery to leave. When he and his friends hear ghostly footsteps, they decide to investigate the house’s eerie reputation. But what Oz hasn’t bargained for is that he’s not alone in his quest and that solving Penwurt’s puzzles will uncover a murky secret, and the chilling realisation that nothing is quite what it seems.

Check out the Book trailer:

Be sure to join me next week, when I spotlight Ellen Booraem.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Oh NaNo....It's So Not Happening

Hi All!

Well, I made a decision about NaNo over the weekend...yea, it's not happening. In the past, when I haven't been able to finish, I was upset, feeling like I had failed something. That isn't true this year. This year, I recognize the payoff to NaNo for me - even though I did not manage to finish.

First, I started a new book I am thrilled about.
Also, I planned out a new series I am equally thrilled about
And most importantly, I fell in love with writing....again.

So, I may not have cranked out 50K on a single work, but I managed to do so much more.

Hugs and congrats to everyone who has made it. WOO HOO!!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Bookanista Review - The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

Time for another Bookanista review. Today, I am bringing you my thoughts on Tracy Banghart's BY BLOOD. I actually read this a month ago or so, but I FINALLY get a chance to talk about it! But first, check out the other Bookanista posts:
On to my review -

About THE INVISIBLE BOY by Tracy Ludwig (10/08/13)
Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party . . . until, that is, a new kid comes to class.

When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine.

From esteemed author and speaker Trudy Ludwig and acclaimed illustrator Patrice Barton, this gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish. Any parent, teacher, or counselor looking for material that sensitively addresses the needs of quieter children will find The Invisible Boy a valuable and important resource. 

Includes backmatter with discussion questions and resources for further reading. 
What Others Are Saying (From Amazon):

USA Today, August 22, 2013:
"Illustrator Barton adds a wonderful touch by drawing all the other characters in color but sketching Brian in faint shades of black and white - at least at first....Before long, Brian, in living color, is not so invisible after all. It's a lovely lesson in the simple acts of friendship, especially recommended for the most popular kids in class."

Scholastic Instructor, Fall 2013:
"Pitch-perfect words and art."

Starred Review, School Library Journal, September 2013:

"This is a simple yet heartfelt story about a boy who has been excluded for no apparent reason but finds a way to cope and eventually gains acceptance.”

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2013:
"Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly...Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children. Accessible, reassuring and hopeful."

Publishers Weekly, August 26, 2013:
"Ludwig and Barton understand classroom dynamics...They portray Brian’s situation as a matter of groupthink that can be rebooted through small steps. It’s a smart strategy, one that can be leveraged through the book’s excellent discussion guide."

"Trudy Ludwig has given us the gift of another empathic, poignant book for children that addresses the complex topic of peer relationships...A must-read." 
- Carrie Goldman
, award-winning author of BULLIED: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know about Ending the Cycle of Fear

Why I liked it: 
This book is the epitome of a FAB picture book - from the amazing art of Barton, to the poignant story from Ludwig, THE INVISIBLE BOY touches on the realities of a typical classroom and the difficulties some kids face in developing relationships. It is a discussion guide, a story, and a work of art. BRAVO to team Ludwig and Barton!

Check it out on Amazon and other fine retailers!

What great books have you read recently?

    Wednesday, November 20, 2013

    Cover Reveal: Copper Ravens

    Time for another fabulous Spencer Press book blast - and yes, this is another author I am so excited to meet one day: Jennifer Allis Provost!  Today, I am part of the cover reveal for her upcoming book COPPER RAVENS, a sequel to COPPER GIRL.

    Before I reveal the cover, here is a little more about the book:

    COPPER RAVENS (Spencer Hill Press, May 2014)

    Sara should be happy.
    She has what every girl wants: a man who loves her, a beautiful home, and wealth beyond imagining. She rescued her brother from the Peacekeepers, destroyed the Iron Queen, and doesn’t have to go to her boring job any more.
    And yet… Sara still doesn’t know if her father is alive or dead. Her mother hides in the garden, brooding about her missing husband. Her sister, the Inheritor of Metal, is scared of her own shadow, and her brother spends his days fighting and gambling. To add to Sara’s misery, the new queen (gold, of course) is more than a bit crazy, she misses her life in the Mundane world, and, worst of all, Micah wants to have children. A lot of them.
    As Sara wavers between happiness and homesickness, a conspiracy emerges against the Raven clan, implicating them in a plot to dethrone the Gold Queen. How can Sara prove her family’s innocence, and become the consort Micah needs her to be, without losing herself in the process?   

    Be sure to add COPPER RAVENS to your Goodreads list here:

    And now - the whole point of the post....



    EEP! This cover is so amazing, I want to show you the full jacket cover too:

    AHH!!!! I just can't wait! 

    For more about Jennifer or her books,connect with her online - 

    2014 is shaping up to be an AMAZING year!!! What book are YOU excited about reading?

    Tuesday, November 19, 2013

    Author Spotlight: Tracy Banghart and BY BLOOD

    Time for more Author Spotlights! Today, I bring you Tracy Banghart. I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing her lastest book BY BLOOD a few weeks ago. She is an amazing author and someone on my list of people I'd really LOVE to meet one day. 

    Before I introduce Tracy's books, here is a little about Tracy:
    Tracy E. Banghart is a cheesy movie–loving, fantasy football–playing (go Ravens!), globe-trotting Army wife who began “practicing” her craft at the age of five, when she wrote her first story. She loves visiting the international friends she met while pursuing her MA in Publishing and spends a portion of every summer at her family’s cabin in Canada, where she finds inspiration and lots of time to relax on the dock. She lives with her husband, son, two lazy dogs and one ornery cat. When not writing or spending time with her family, she is on a mission to bake the perfect cupcake.

    Tracy is the author of Moon Child and the forthcoming Shattered Veil (Feb 2014), the first book in an NA scifi trilogy.

     My favorite part of the Author Spotlights are the wacky Q&A I make them do! Here are Tracy's questions and answers:
    • Does your main character celebrate Thanksgiving? What is the menu for his/her celebration? 
    Emma does celebrate Thanksgiving! Usually she spends Thanksgiving with her estranged mom, but this year she’s looking forward to spending it with her dad. They’ll have her dad’s “beer can chicken” cuz a turkey would be too much just for the two of them, cranberry jelly out of the can, probably some store-bought mashed potatoes and green beans. Neither Emma or her dad cook that much. Probably Emma’s friend Helen will invite them over for dessert…her mom is an awesome cook and makes a million different kinds of cookies and pies for the holidays.

    • What three things are you most thankful for, besides your family or faith?

    My health (cheesy, but so true), our new house and neighborhood, and the fact that my husband, who’s in the Army, has had two-plus years on US soil and is not currently scheduled for a deployment. (You said besides family, so I didn’t include my 1-yr old son, for whom I thank my lucky stars every single day. ;-))

    • If you could go anywhere in this world or any other world, where would you travel to for the holidays?
    I would love to visit friends in England and Italy. As an Army wife, we move around a lot, and I find I get homesick for my friends more than any specific place. And I haven’t seen my friends in England and Italy in AGES. ::waves to Michelle and Heloise:: Miss you guys!
    See why I love these so much???!!!

    And now, a little more about BY BLOOD: 
    For 17-year-old Emma Wong, spending a summer in England should be a dream come true. Gorgeous scenery? Check. Lots of hot guys with accents? Yes, please.

    Throw in an estranged mom, annoying new stepdad, and drooling baby half-brother, and it's a disaster even her favorite cherry red leather jacket can't fix. Even worse, there's (hot) live-in research assistant Josh to contend with. The only thing more embarrassing than drunk-kissing him hours after they meet? Knowing he'll be witness to her family's dysfunction all. summer. long.

    But when Emma meets a mysterious girl who happens to be a Druid, her vacation suddenly promises to be far more intriguing than she anticipated. Powerful rituals, new friends, an intoxicating sense of freedom...and Simon, the sexy foreign stranger she was hoping for. It's all a perfect distraction from dirty diapers and awkward family dinners.

    Trouble is, intriguing doesn't often mean simple. And Emma is about to discover just how not simple her life really is.

    “BY BLOOD is an intriguing, emotionally-rich and exhilarating story full of complex characters and poignant emotional struggles as seen through the eyes of a frank, self-aware seventeen-year-old.” ~ 5 stars, Indie Reader

    You can read my review of BY BLOOD here.

    Be sure to join me next week, when I spotlight the author of The Obsidian Pebble, Rhys A Jones

    Monday, November 18, 2013

    Me, Intense???

    Clearly I've been a little too busy of late. I mean, my blogging has become spotty at best, most of the time just posting reviews and Author Spotlights. I've been writing and reading though - just not as much as I wish I was.

    Over the weekend, I reached out to a friend to apologize for not having her critique finished. Her response was kind (as expected) and she let me "off the hook" and asked me to read a later version of the book. It the email exchange that followed, she joked about how intense I am. I laughed. And I stewed...

    Am I intense? Really? I mean, my friend did say as I was as laid back as a cup of expresso. And the description is pretty spot on!

    Now, I don't think of myself as intense. But I guess, comparatively, I am. I hate missing deadlines, am brutally hard on myself when I make a mistake, and bring a level of intensity into my friendships that I often stress over - I mean, who likes being around intense people all of the time, right?

    I have tried to ditch some of my intensities in the past. But the truth is that I can't. And maybe, if I'm being super honest, I don't want to. I mean, my intensities enable me to get a lot done in a day. And it enables me to bring a level of emotion to my stories that I think is good.

    So, maybe I need to just embrace my intensities, yes. That and occasionally reach for "decaf".

    What about you guys? Are you ever characterized in a way that is surprising to you at times?

    Friday, November 15, 2013

    Cover Reveal: FOREST OF WHISPERS by Jennifer Murgia

    I'm so excited to be part of a book blast for an author I WANT TO MEET so much - Jennifer Murgia. She and I have spoken online and I will admit, I am a bit of a fangirl. One day we'll get to meet - I am certain of it!
    Anyway, back to this post. Spencer Hill and Jennifer are re-launching her book Forest of Whispers, complete with a shiny new cover. Totally awesome, right?

    Before I reveal the cover, here is a little more about the book:

    FOREST OF WHISPERS (Spencer Hill Press, September 2014)

    Raised by an old fortune-teller within the dark veil of the Bavarian Black Forest, Rune has learned two valuable lessons: only take from the forest that which you can use, and never, never look anyone in the eye in the village. For something terrible happened in the forest long ago... and now, the whispers of a long-dead mother with a vengeful secret have come haunting.

    Forced to flee all she has ever known, Rune soon learns of a legacy she is bound to—one that is drenched in fear, witchcraft and murder—a birthright that stretches beyond the grave to the trees where Rune is no longer safe. 
    Be sure to add FOREST OF WHISPERS to your Goodreads list here:

    And now - the whole point of the post....



    EEP! And yes, this was designed by the ever-amazing Lisa Amowitz!!! I can't wait for thisbook! 

    For more about Jennifer or her books,connect with her online - 

    2014 is shaping up to be an AMAZING year!!! What book are YOU excited about reading?

    Wednesday, November 13, 2013

    Confession Time!

    I am behind. Really behind. Sure, life is busy - but it's always busy. And yes, I have been fighting off a cold mixed with my anemia flaring up (again, my fault as I haven't been taking my iron as I should). But that isn't why I am behind on my writing goals...
    Nope - it's something much simpler.
    I am in a confidence slump.
    There, I said it. My confidence is waning at the moment.

    Now, this is nothing new. Everyone I talk to feels this way from time to time. And yes, I have been in this place before.

    And while I wade through the muck, I am trying to take it easy on myself a tad. But in truth, I just have huge goals. And waning confidence has no place in my plans!

    What do you do when the confidence fairy seems to have taken all of yours?

    Thursday, November 7, 2013

    ROOMIES by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando: A Bookanista Review

    Happy Thursday all! As you can likely tell by my erratic posting schedule, I am not in a routine at all of late. Really, it's because of some tech problems (WiFi related), traveling, and NaNo. The biggest reason for the spotty posts though - ANEMIA! That's right, I've been a bad girl and have not been watching my iron levels. And as a result I am practically comatose every night. But, I am taking my iron again, and eating nothing but iron rich foods. I should be back to normal in no time...what ever that means.

    In the meantime, it's back to another amazing review. On tap for today: ROOMIES by the ever-spectacular Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando. I am so excited about this book. But before I get into that, check out the other Bookanista posts:
    On to my review -

    About ROOMIES by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando (12/24/13)
    The countdown to college has begun.

    When Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment at the beginning of summer, she shoots off an email to coordinate the basics: TV, microwave, mini-fridge. She can't wait to escape her New Jersey beach town, and her mom, and start life over in California.

    The first note to Lauren in San Francisco comes as a surprise; she had requested a single. But if Lauren's learned anything from being the oldest of six, it's that you can't always get what you want, especially when what you want is privacy.

    Soon the girls are emailing back and forth, sharing secrets even though they've never met. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives...and each other.

    With humor and heart, Sara Zarr, National Book Award finalist for Story of a Girl, and Tara Altebrando, acclaimed author of The Pursuit of Happiness, join forces for a novel about that time after high school, when everything feels like it's ending just as it's beginning.

    Why I liked it: 
    I don't even know where to start with this. Maybe it's because my oldest is currently filling out applications for college. Or maybe it's because I am in a state of transition in some friendships and such. Whatever the case, I just know I LOVED this book so much. I loved the voice of the characters, getting to know their lives, and seeing that time of life - a time filled with endings and beginnings, tears and smiles; a time when all you know is that EVERYTHING is in a state of change. I remember that time in my own life, remember how alive I felt...
    THAT is what this book captures. It is simple and brilliant. A must read, to be certain.

    Check it out on Amazon and other fine retailers!

    What great books have you read recently?

      Tuesday, November 5, 2013

      Cover Reveal: ALL SHE WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS by Sara Olds

      Time for another amazing cover reveal - this one brought my Elana Johnson and Sara Olds!!! 

      Sara Olds is releasing her cover for ALL SHE WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS. Here is a little more about the book:


      George Clauson is Santa's daughter, but she can't stand Christmas. All that ho-ho-hoing, caroling and people's greedy wants? No, thank you. She's left the family business and struck off on her own in the human world finding her niche as a humble second-grade teacher. Ebenezer Herod is a descendent of King Herod. His family has never stopped trying to destroy Christmas. This year they may actually get their wish, but not if Ben can help it. George wants nothing to do with restoring balance to the Christmas season, and she certainly isn't interested in the shockingly handsome and devilishly rich Ben. A determined do-gooder, Ben's used to saving the day, but he can't rescue Christmas alone. Can George and Ben find a way to work together despite their opposing heritages to make the Season bright?



      What a fun sounding book for the holidays!

      About Sara OldsSara V. Olds has been telling stories for as long as she can remember. One of her favorite memories is of unfolding a tale for friends while they were all bundled in sleeping bags watching a comet shower in the Uintah Mountains.
      Mother of three: Large, Medium and Small, she welcomes her newest role, that of mother-in-law.

      Life has taken her from thither to yon and back again—she's moved 22 times during her marriage. She breathes to travel. Longs to fulfill a lifelong dream of owning a horse. Is an addictive reader. Enjoys swimming, skiing, violin and movies. Wonders if she'll ever get to SCUBA dive again. And has found a calling that fulfills her in ways she never could have imagined—teaching history to—wait for it—8th Graders.

      Her stories consume her. There's nothing she'd rather do than spend all day, all night and the next day conversing with her latest set of characters. History, adventure, action, romance, humor. Adults, YA and kids. Yep, she does it all. Looking for something to enjoy on a quiet rainy afternoon? Or wanting a pulse-pounding, stay up all night turning pages adventure? Or a you've-GOT-to-be-kidding romp? You'll find them in her pages.

      Sara’s social media links:

      To celebrate the cover reveal, Sara is doing a little giveaway. But you have to hurry, as the giveaway will end in 48 hours or less!

      a Rafflecopter giveaway

      Monday, November 4, 2013

      Celeb Sightings, Time Changes, and Humility Lessons.

      Happy Monday all!

      For those that read my lame status updates on Twitter or Facebook, you know that I was in Atlanta this past weekend, staying at the Sheraton - home to Eyecon 2013. For those who do not know what Eyecon is, it's a mini comic con for fans of the Vampire Diaries (TVD) that promises more face-to-face time with the cast. My take = GENIUS! I mean, no wonder TVD is such a huge success - not only is the story interesting and the cast beautiful (not to mention HAWT), but this...Eyecon...It is pure gold.

      Now, I was not at the hotel for that event. Not directly, at any rate. But, being a YA author, I have to admit how much I LOVED people watching! It started Friday night. I got into town in the evening, checked in and found myself searching for food around 8pm. The fabulous hostess did me a solid and sat me in prime people watching territory, and I watched as fan after fan tried to muster up the courage to approach Steve R McQueen and his half-bro Jessarae (yes, I actually knew who they were too! You know - for research purposes!). As I watched fan after fan finally muster the courage to talk to them, I was so impressed with their generous gestures and willingness to interact. It was refreshing.

      The next day I was busy with the reason I was in the hotel - the [U] factor project. As I said before, this was a pilot project - sort of research for the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, ISF, as it figures out how it wants to work with youth in the future.

      I was more than humbled and honored to be part of the line-up of speakers, which included the amazing Kim Klingler (CEO of ISF), Riley Ennis, a 20 yr old with an amazing start-up in San Francisco (his focus - curing cancer. And after listening to him, I am CERTAIN he will!!! Beyond certain actually), and the inspirational Maya Penn, 13 yrs old founder of an eco-friendly design company - Maya's Ideas Shop (she started it at age 8 and donates 15-20% of profits to charities).

      To say I was humbled is an understatement. I have no idea if my little section was as inspiring as Kim, Riley and Maya were - I can only hope I didn't mess up, you know. The kids in the workshop ranged in age from about 8 to 18, all there to discover their passions, cultivate their talents, and live their purpose. The message was inspiring and amazing - I know my soul will be filled for months to come.

      The event ended with a surprise appearance with the foundation's founder and name sake. This was another amazing moment - watching a celeb take the time to listen to and care about some of his youngest fans. He was genuine, humble, and generous beyond words; a true role model at a time when these seem to be few are far between.

      All in all - an amazing event!

      My trip ended with a very exhausted Christine, a time change that made me even MORE tired, and an early ...EARLY check out.

      I am anxious to get back to my routine this week. I know the messages of humility, generosity, passion and service I was honored to be part of will stay with me for some time!

      If you'd like to learn more about ISF and the incredible work they are doing, CLICK HERE!

      How was your week?