Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pre- Writers Conference Giveaway: NYRC 2013

Cross-posted to Operation Awesome:

Woot! I love it when Operation Awesome is operation: AWESOME!

It's time to spread the word about our upcoming online writers conference, and what better way than with an awesome online giveaway!

Enter using the rafflecopter form below.

New Year's Revisions Conference 2013

January 4, 5, and 6 

Totally free, totally online. 

You wrote the crap out of that book in November. Or maybe you've been working on yours even longer. The time has come... revision time. Pay the piper, meet the reaper -- all those lovely euphemisms for the real work of writing: revising. You do not have to do it alone. We have gathered a group of fabulous book lovers: the ones who write the books, the ones who represent the authors, and the ones who edit the books. They all want you to succeed in making your book as shiny as it can possibly be before you query/publish.

That's the focus of NYRC 2013.

If you love books, want to write, or have written a book, this conference will have plenty for you to love in the way of professional publishing advice, and yes, more giveaways. There will also be a critique partner matching service for those looking for a second pair of eyes for their work.

We'll be live-tweeting the events @OpAwesome6 and using the #NYRC hash tag. Hope you'll join us!

To recap:

  • Professional publishing advice from our panel of experts
  • Guest posts by literary agents, editors, and published authors - all with an eye toward helping you through the revision process
  • Book giveaways - *happy sigh* mmm, books.
  • Critique partner matching service (January 3, the day before the conference officially begins)

Giving away today via rafflecopter (giveaway runs from Dec. 21-24):
SHADOWS OF THE HIDDEN by Anne Riley (e-copy)
DEADWOOD by Kell Andrews (signed ARC)
AMAROK by Angela Townsend (e-copy)
A LITTLE BIT WICKED by Robyn DeHart  (e-copy)
SHIMMER OF ANGELS by Lisa Basso (e-copy)

$10 gift card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Chain: The Gift of Writing Advice


Cole's question Christmas is a time of gift giving. If you could gift aspiring authors with one piece of advice, what would it be?

When I was a baby writer, just starting out in this very complex industry, I was on the receiving end of a lot of very good advice. My critique group started Operation Awesome as a way to pay it forward, and we've been passing along good advice and writing insights there for the past two years. 

Coming up in January is our very first free, online writing conference, inspired by the awesome ladies of WriteOnCon and the need for a solution to the NaNoWriMo hangover. It's called:

New Year's Revisions Conference: January 4-6, 2013

NYRC is going to have a LOT of free advice for aspiring and experienced writers alike. We'll have Q&A's with literary agents and guest posts by editors, authors, and agents. There will be giveaways and critique partner matching. It's our way of using the connections and knowledge we've been blessed with as Operation Awesome and Mystery Agent administrators to help other writers sharing our journey. 

As you can see, I'm very excited about it! And I hope to see you there, blog buddies. 

But to answer Cole's question, here's the best writing advice I can think about in this moment. It isn't new, and it isn't profound. It's just the best thing I've ever remembered about being a writer. 

Writers write. 

Perseverance is the only thing all writers have in common. If you're querying, write. If you're releasing a book, write. If you're lost for ideas, write. If you're overflowing with ideas and can't focus on just one, write. The only thing you can control in this industry is you. I'm not published yet, but I will be. And while I wait for somebody else to recognize my unique brilliance, the one thing I have complete control over is how seldom or how often I do what I do. How often do you write?

I'm writing every day right now and loving it. I don't always feel like I 'have time' to write. That's why this piece of advice is the most important one to me. It reminds me that my dreams and aspirations are just puffy clouds in the sky unless I do something about them. 


And when that's fulfilled, writers revise! See you in January at NYRC!

Also check out Christine Fonseca's blog for her answer. And tomorrow, Lisa Amowitz will answer this week's question.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Return to Bookishness


All it takes for me to fall into my favorite pastimes of reading and writing is one good book. And by 'good,' I mean emotional, romantic, universal, painful, cathartic. Just one good book, and I'm hooked until the next major life event unhooks me. :)

Granted, with three kids five and under now, I have less time to write and indulge in reading. But time can be managed. And I'm learning to do that out of necessity.

So right now, my bookish to-do list:

  • Co-writing a YA time travel thriller with my baby sister
  • Revising an MG and YA project of my own, intermittently
  • Reading the Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • Getting ready email-wise for the New Year's Revisions Conference we're putting on at Operation Awesome. Totally free, totally online writer's conference for your NaNoWriMo hangover. Hope to see you there!
  • Unpack some of the book boxes from the move because I've got some serious reviewing to catch up on. 
  • Start critiquing again. I so miss this. It's a duty, yes, but it's also a privilege. And I've missed doing it.

Squee! I get so excited when the future holds fabulous stories.

What's on your bookish to-do list?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Vote for Literacy (and a Grant for NaNoWriMo)

Vote for the Office of Letters & Light to keep NaNoWriMo and the Young Writer's Program going: 

Even if you don't do NaNoWriMo, you can appreciate the Office of Letters & Light and their efforts to promote literacy everywhere. 

If you're like me, you don't always have the cash to donate to these awesome causes. 

Your vote for this video will put the Office of Letters & Light in the running for the Project for Awesome 2012 grant. 

So here's that link again. Promote literacy! :)


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Co-Writing a Novel: Challenges and Benefits

If you write MG (middle grade) or YA (young adult) and attended WriteOnCon, you've likely heard of LiLa.

Lisa and Laura Roecker are sisters and co-authors of The Liar Society...

On Goodreads

...and The Lies That Bind...

On Goodreads
Awesome, right? Sisters who write, writing together. 

Well, I happen to have a sister who writes. We often talk about writing, and reading, and stereotypes vs. reality, and good vs. evil, and symbolism in literature and film.... We have great conversations. 

Recently, we decided to start a little co-venture of our own. 

The conversation went something like this:

Me: We should write a book together. I know of these two sisters who wrote a book together and it's been very successful. 
Her: That could be fun. What would it be about?
Me: *laughs* I don't know. I had a weird idea a while back based on a dream I had. [describes dream in all its weird glory]
Her: That could work, but we should change this part so it makes more sense and is easier to write.
Me: *blank stare* That's genius. How come I never thought of that before?

This led to an intense telephone brainstorm that lasted an hour or two. A few days later, we did it again. My phone battery died, so we caught up online to chat, sharing research links like crazy. 

I realized... this is the easiest time I've ever had researching a novel, outlining a story concept, and fleshing out characters. Best of all, I was having a BLAST! 

She wrote the first scene from her character's POV. I wrote a horrible first draft from my character's POV. And we're revising back and forth to make sure our characters sound consistent. The two divergent voices don't matter so much since we're writing from different characters' points of view. 

We're only at the beginning of this adventure, but already the story has taken on dimensions I wouldn't have thought of on my own. And it's fun! It's so, so fun. 

  • Consistency in voice for shared characters
  • Shared vision of setting and sequence of events
  • Communication

  • Unparalleled brainstorms
  • Out-of-your-box experiments
  • Sister bonding (or whatever bonding if you choose to write with a buddy) 

Would you ever co-write?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's Elana Johnson's Birthday But YOU Get the Gift

Happy Birthday to the Dystopia-licious Elana Johnson!!

Christine Fonseca and Michelle McLean have gifts for YOU in her honor. Fill out the rafflecopter form on one of their blogs for a chance to win. 

And be sure to say Happy Birthday to the amazing author of POSSESSION and founding organizer of August's WriteOnCon, Elana Johnson: 

Abandon (Possession, #3)
add it on Goodreads

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ooh, Scandalous! (Entangled's newest imprint: launched)


USA Today posted interviews with Scandalous editors and authors yesterday in their piece:

It's a Scandalous Day: Entangled introduces its new imprint

There was a time when a mere glance at a handsome man, a seductive movement by a single woman or even a slight, knowing nod between couples would be cause for denunciation. Reputations were ruined; people were forced to flee to far-off lands to spare families from distasteful improprieties. Whatever became of these days of social morals and righteous standards? A time when men were men and women knew their place. Well, wonder no more. Welcome to the world of Scandalous, the newest imprint from Entangled Publishing.
Scandalous is historical, classical, sexy — romantic! Our tales are set between 900 and 1920s/1940s, anywhere from the lush hills of Ireland, Regency London, Renaissance Italy … or even the Viking age. These stories are bold, sexy and heartfelt, and can be funny, action-packed, mysterious or dramatic. They are full of romance, deception, love and, yes, honor between strong men and even stronger women. Wherever there's a masked ball, Scandalous will be there. Whenever there's a damsel in distress, Scandalous will be there. If there's a scoundrel to be had, Scandalous will have him.

Sounds great, right?

And great news for authors, Entangled's Scandalous line is looking for new authors! Check out their SUBMISSION GUIDELINES, which are deliciously detailed:
Specifically, we want:
  • Quality, well-researched story-telling
  • Authors who aren’t afraid to push creative boundaries
  • Prolific authors who can write three to four books a year are a plus
  • Time periods: 900–1950
  • Heroines who are age 20+, confident, and can be unconventional (a scientist, for example). If absolutely necessary to story, heroine can be 18-19.
  • Stories that feature an alpha male, whether he be the captain of a ship, royalty, or a warrior
  • Realistic stories—no manipulation of history, or alternate history
  • Although we are not a paranormal line, stories may contain light paranormal elements.
  • Active, dialogue-rich stories, with a minimum of narrative and navel-gazing, but firmly ground the reader in the setting and culture
  • Emotional depth depicted through strong conflict, theme, symbolism, and sub-text
  • Stories focused on the heroine and hero falling in love
  • Sensual stories, but the heat level should grow organically from the characters, their situations and emotions. We are not looking for erotica, but closed door is also fine on occasion.
  • Manuscripts must be 60-70K words in length
  • Revised backlist titles will be considered on a case-by-case basis
  • We accept agented and un-agented submissions, although agented submissions will receive first priority in the slush pile 
This certainly describe's Michelle McLean's upcoming regency romance, Treasured Lies, which I am hotly anticipating. 

Author Michelle McLean

Check out her blog and anticipate with me.

Blog Chain: Darkness in Fiction


Christine Fonseca says, 

I've been described as a writer of highly emotional and dark stories. So much so, that some could not read Transcend saying that while it was "beautifully crafted and written", the story was just too dark. So I ask you...How dark is too dark for your aesthetic? And is writing "dark" and "emotional" a "bad" thing?

This is a great question, and one all writers must face at some point. Where is my line? Where is the place I won't go, and why? There's a line for everything: violence, emotional oppression, sex, profanity, provocative symbolism. 

For me, the darkness line has to be drawn pretty close to the lighter side of the spectrum. My favorite recent series was Paranormalcy by Kiersten White. I also enjoyed the Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter about girl spies. The lighthearted humor, true-love-wins-out theme, and lovable characters are a trifecta I can't resist. 

That said, I have written some pretty emotionally dark stuff, from a little boy who witnessed his father's vehicular manslaughter in gory detail to a girl being seduced by the devil himself. For me, writing dark stuff is like taking off all your clothes. It's nakedness for an author, because no two people are dark in the same way. That part of us is intensely personal. Authors are routinely mocked for the darkness in their stories, from The Shining to Twilight: Breaking Dawn. 

So for me, I prefer to keep it in the light part of the spectrum, with just a dip into the darkness for that all-important black moment, right before the cavalry arrives to save the day. 

How about you? How dark is too dark for you, as a writer? As a reader? 

See Christine Fonseca's blog for her original answer. And tomorrow, Lisa Amowitz will answer this week's question.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Blog Chain: Daily Writing Goals

Sandra started this week's chain with the question:  

During National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), writers attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Do you set daily writing goals for yourself, either a certain word count or time spent on writing? Does this include other writing-related activities, like research, plotting, or revising? Do you focus on reaching the end of the journey (such as finishing your current project), or do you enjoy the writing process along the way?

Get this free printable calendar here

This is one of those questions that shames me every time I read it. No, I am not good at keeping a daily habit of writing. When I'm in the middle of a project, I generally write every day, but whether that ends up being a paragraph or ten pages depends on how relaxed I am and how open to the creative process. After a long day with the kids, some days all I can do is reread what I wrote yesterday, fix a few typos, and eke out a stilted sentence of dialogue. 

I have done Nano before and enjoyed the thrill of accomplishment at the end. This weekend my family is moving, so my husband and I decided it wouldn't be the best time for me to go on a writing binge. I am notoriously attention deficit while in the midst of a project, often zoning out during a conversation to think about how my characters would say something. 

Someday I'd like to be more organized in every aspect of my life: a time for school, a time for blogging, a time for critiquing, and a time for writing. 

That may have to wait until such time as I no longer have a baby in the house. 

My ideal would be at least a thousand words per day, or maybe one or two scenes per day instead. 

As for enjoying the process, it's pretty essential to my writing. If I'm not enjoying it, it usually means my flow is messed up and the words are coming out in an unsteady gallop of irksome goo. 

You can imagine that's not very encouraging to my delicate artistic sensibilities. :)

How about you? Outside of NaNoWriMo, do you make and keep a daily writing goal?

Also check out Christine Fonseca's blog for all her latest Libera Me news and giveaways!! And tomorrow, Lisa Amowitz will answer this week's question.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Blog Chain: Book to Film Goodness

There are so many book-to-movie adaptations out there. Which are your favorites? Which are your least favorites? Why? Do you make sure you've read a book before you go see the movie adaptation, or do you prefer to read it after, or not at all? - topic provided by Michelle McLean

Generally speaking, I like to read a book before I watch the movie because otherwise I feel like I'm missing the inside jokes. BUT... in the case of Harry Potter, I enjoyed the first movie because I hadn't read the books yet. Later Harry Potter installments left me frustrated because entire subplots were left out and I knew

But the best thing about films made after a book is the comfort of seeing and hearing your favorite characters go through their dilemmas and come out on top. You get to experience the catharsis anew. I've watched every version of Pride and Prejudice I could get my hands on. I watch the Colin Firth version pretty much every time I find myself feeling overwhelmed with my life. It's like spaghetti-o's on DVD: comfort food for the soul. 

Now for the book-to-film adaptations that get me FREAKING EXCITED!!!

Stephenie Meyer's one and only adult novel -  it's awesomesauce.

Watch the trailer @ imdb
When Melanie, one of the few remaining "wild" humans, is captured, she is certain it is her end. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, was warned about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the glut of senses, the too-vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind. 
Wanderer probes Melanie's thoughts, hoping to discover the whereabouts of the remaining human resistance. Instead, Melanie fills Wanderer's mind with visions of the man Melanie loves - Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she has been tasked with exposing. When outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off on a dangerous and uncertain search for the man they both love.
Orson Scott Card's epic Hugo and Nebula Award winner (in the same year: a record)

Fan-made poster, no official movie poster yet. Due out:  11-1-2013

70 years after a horrific alien war, an unusually gifted child is sent to an advanced military school in space to prepare for a future invasion.
Here's more Ender's Game filming news:

and one that has been optioned and appointed a director that I'm just really, really hoping gets turned into a movie:

Kiersten White's first trilogy, huge crossover appeal from young teens to adults
Evie's always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she's falling for a shape-shifter, and she's the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours.
But Evie's about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.
So much for normal.

Read all the latest on movie news for Paranormalcy at the unofficial fan site! Apparently, the first draft of the screenplay is done, so... WOOT!

I'm leaving off some big ones other people are thrilled about: Twilight, which is the first in the latest flood of book-to-film adaptations; Mortal Instruments, which is already cast; The Hunger Games, which is working on number 2 already; Divergent, which I'm saving to read when the movie is just about to come out (because it's more exciting that way); Delirium, which I also haven't read but really want to.

So if you are a book-to-film lover, there's a lot to be excited about these days. 

What do you think of this trend? Is Hollywood being lame by not coming up with "new" ideas? Or do you love seeing your favorite book characters brought to life on the screen?

Check out other members of the Blog Chain and their thoughts on books-to-films. Christine Fonseca gushes about The Lord of the Rings, and Lisa Amowitz will give us a glimpse of her favorites tomorrow.

Monday, October 8, 2012

At last, the answer to NaNoWriMo hangover...

Operation Awesome has the solution to your NaNoWriMo hangover (i.e. the December after you wrote a novel in thirty days wherein all your love of the novel dims and you realize: I have to revise this thing before submitting!)...

New Year's Revisions Conference!!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Call me Ishmael, or Ishy for short. Whatever.

The fabulous BLOG CHAIN is starting up again and I'm blessed to be a part of it along with a gaggle of writers I both adore and admire. Good people. Find them in my sidebar.

The format is a little more predictable this time, so I can tell you I'll be posting Blog Chain topics every 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month. Yay for schedules and predictability!

Read it backwards. The Mirror of Erised has a special name.

Kate Karyus Quinn has picked our first intriguing topic:

What's in a name? What if Harry Potter had been Larry Snotter? What if Edward was Jacob and Jacob was Edward? What favorite books had character names that you loved or hated? And how do you come up with your own character names?
 This topic makes me smile because of the memories it revives. My junior high school English teacher taught me about literary names, using the old classic Oliver Twist. The teacher pointed out that Mr. Bumble was an appropriate name for a bumbling fool, and Bill Sikes had kind of a menacing note to it, while Oliver TWIST made you think of something crooked or perhaps ill-fated. Then there was the atrocious Fagin, the self-sacrificing Nancy, and the most literal: The Artful Dodger.

It tickled my literary-loving brain to explore the implications and emotions each name conjured.

Years passed and I didn't worry about that element of literature too much again... not until my baby sister, then about 13, told me there were these awesome books about magic that I really should read. Can you guess?

Harry Potter!

I relished anew the fun of deciphering a character by his or her name. Some were just weird: Hermione? Really? How do you even say that? Pshaw.

Then there was the harry Hagrid, the awkward Neville, and the fancy Draco with all his perplexing opinions about Hogwarts houses. Those names, too, were packed with meaning. In fact, there's not a single name in Harry Potter that isn't. It's incredible. JK Rowling must be absolutely exhausted. My favorite is Sirius, the dog star. So many layers can be hidden in a name.

When I name my characters, I usually look for one that matches a type: 

For instance, I created a science fiction writer who wrote his first book as a teenager and still collects comic books. His name was Eric.

I have a neuro-scientist with a tragic past who spends all his time imagining this other, better world created in our minds. His name is Professor William Astor.

I created a pair of twins, one good and one evil, named Rob and Rupert. If I'm honest, Rob was initially kind of a Harry wannabe. Rupert was the interesting one. (Those characters are still evolving, and their names might, too.)

I had fun naming a miracle child Mirielle, and an ex-spy Angus Chase.

A beautiful blonde alien named Azalea beams all over the pages of my one and only alien book.

And when I want to write a story set in a high school, there is invariably a side character named Jessica. Not sure why...

Naming characters is fun. Almost as much fun as naming my own kids, but without the guilt of possibly giving them one that doesn't work well atop a resume.

For me, the meaning is important. But even more relevant than the official meaning is the feeling it evokes, or the word associations (things it sounds like or ideas it inspires).

I like to give characters a stereotypical name so readers think right off they've got them figured out. People like to have easy first impressions, like Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice. And it makes it all the more fun to stand those stereotypes on their heads, to show the audience that you can't judge a book by its cover... or its title.

After all, a name is just a name.

Don't miss yesterday's blog chain post by the lovely and talented Christine Fonseca, and tomorrow head over to Lisa Amowitz's blog. These two lady authors have a lot going on right now, so be sure to check them out on goodreads, too.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Weekend to-do

I'm going to be working hardcore on plotting and outlining this weekend. I've got a middle grade treasure to refine.

What will you be working on this weekend?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Two different books in one!! Not as cool as it sounds...

I'm revising a novel... sort of.

The thing is that I've already done the proof-reading type of revision a million times on this novel and it's nearly perfect that way. But I kind of got ahead of myself.

The big picture revision should have come first.

It's tough to wait on line-editing when that's what you do naturally, but really it's just an excuse to put off revising what actually needs to be revised... you know, the stuff that hurts!

So in talking it over with friends and family who have read my book, I've come to realize that the big picture revision that is needed is kind of, well, BIG.

See, my book is like two different books in one. It begins very lighthearted, a truly silly middle grade offering. But by the end, it has become dark, scary, and quite serious. This happened because my inspiration for the book was the Disney movie, Sky High. My sons were enjoying the movie so much, I wanted to write something about super heroes and villains, something about stereo types and identity crisis. Yeah, I purposely started writing something derivative.

But then the curve ball hit, and the story took on a life of its own. My main character had resolved his identity crisis and was now trying to prove himself to the people he cared most about. Stakes had to rise. Circumstances had to get worse.

So they did. And oh boy, did they!

My silly middle grade became a bit of a thriller by the end. And now I'm faced with a difficult decision. Do I make the beginning more serious to match the ending? Or do I make the ending less scary and intense to match the beginning?

What would you do?

p.s. To avoid this happening to you, check out

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My mom, the artist

Imagine awesome cover here.

This weekend I get to visit my mom and dad, sister and her family. There are lots of reasons I'm excited to see them! This will be our first road trip with new baby boy, too, so that should be interesting. But the most writing-related thing I'm looking forward to is brainstorming cover art with my mom.

She's always been a naturally talented artist, and earlier in life she had some training that's just stuck with her. Now, even if she hasn't done anything in a while, she can pick up her drawing tools and make the most emotionally evocative artwork. She's done landscape oil painting, but for most of my life the artwork I've seen from her has been in pastels. Whenever I see a pastel drawing, I think of her.

And I'm excited because she's agreed to make a cover for my middle grade novel. 

I'm just starting to do my part by revisiting the novel once again for another round of revisions. Because it's been two years since I originally wrote it, I'm finding it much easier to see the big picture problems. It's still a challenge for me to re-imagine it (I think that's the hardest part of revision). But it's easier than it was two years ago when I thought I'd written something almost perfect in only two months.

I'm finally reading Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, and loving the advice (and the relatable voice of the agent/author). But so far, unfortunately, all it's inspired from me is to outline a completely different novel based loosely on the characters in my existing book. That won't do. I need to maintain the integrity of the playful middle grade by NOT making it a "breakout novel," but I'm loving the advice because of how it will help me write my next book.

For now, I'll be rereading my middle grade book again and again, trying to find those weak spots that make even me - the writer - go, "huh?"

What are you working on today?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Taking my own (writing) advice

For the last two years, I've been blogging with writers for writers. I end up dispensing a LOT of writing advice, much of it recycled, some of it through goofy metaphors I make up with my creative genius (an adorable, invisible owl named Oliver).

Would you look at that! He's not invisible!

Today, I'm taking some of my own advice:

  • Set a writing goal (big or small, your choice)
  • Tie it to a motivation (people you love, an audience you want to reach, recognition in publishing)
  • Get excited about it!!!

Here I go:
  • Ambition: Get my middle grade superhero story publishing-ready through rereading, editing, and seeking professional advice. Do it by next spring.
  • Motivation: The pleasure of seeing my soon-to-be-six-year-old's face when I show him the finished product and tell him Mommy wrote it just for him. Add to this the bonus of reading it aloud with him when we're done with all his 1st grade read-alouds (Charlotte's Web, Detectives in Togas, Homer Price).
  • Enthusiasm: Hanging out at WriteOnCon next week with other ambitious, motivated, enthusiastic writers. I'll also garner enthusiasm this fall and winter as I watch FOUR of my six critique partners achieve their publication goals with DEADWOOD, TREASURED LIES, THE EMISSARY, and AMAROK. Go Operation Awesome ladies!!!! Woooot! Oliver is SO proud! <-- check it out, the enthusiasm is already building!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Operation Awesome: Cover Reveal: DEADWOOD by Kell Andrews

Have you seen this exciting new middle grade book? Kell Andrews reveals the stunning, magical cover of DEADWOOD!

Operation Awesome: Cover Reveal: DEADWOOD by Kell Andrews: I am often excited about cover reveals, but this is the first one I'm nervous about -- my own MG debut, DEADWOOD ! Instead of biting my nail...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Birthday for Ben

My mind settles slowly back into my body. With the final fury of instinct past, I'm completely blank, like an angel has pressed my restart button. Donna tells me, "Look at your baby, Katrina. He's looking at you."

And I remember where I am - what I've just done.

I look down at the baby in my arms. Here's Ben. He's absolutely perfect, I'm convinced of it. I can't look away. His tiny dark eyes watch me in the dim morning light. I take his long fingers and wrap them around my finger. Then he lets out a cry. Just one, like he's testing it out. We go back to inspecting each other. I've given birth twice already, but I've never had this moment before. It's monumental, this sudden and unexpected calm. I could stay in the water forever, just touching his silk cheeks, watching him breathe. "What do you think?" my husband asks. "Does he look like a Benjamin?"
"Oh, yeah," I say, coming back to the world around me. "Yeah, he does."

Ben starts to cry again, and all I want to do is hold him close, kiss his face, and teach him to smile.

For those of you wondering why I never blog anymore, here's an answer. :) I usually get back into writing within a few months after having a baby, but now I have three, so we'll see how it goes. I still blog weekly at Operation Awesome on Fridays, and post to Afterglow Book Reviews when I fall in love with a book.

I'll be back. (said Terminator-style)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Max's Big Deal Debut: THREE PARTS DEAD

So not only did Max Gladstone win one of our very first Mystery Agent contests over at Operation Awesome (what seems like ages ago). He also worked his butt off and got a two-book deal with TOR! TOR! That's no small potatoes. So when he contacted me to let me know his cover had been revealed, I was thrilled just at the thought of his book becoming a real life book (we writers are all Pinocchios at heart).

Imagine my elation when I saw HIS COVER!

Add it on goodreads

Isn't it GORGEOUS?!! We were honored to be a very small part of this book's journey to publication.

A God has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart. 

Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb. Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot. Tara’s job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in. Her only help is Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead God, who’s having an understandable crisis of faith. 

But when the duo discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb’s courts—and their quest for truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and the city’s slim hope of survival. 

Max's exciting steampunk fantasy debut is featured on Operation Awesome today so head over there to squee with us. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

I am over here. Now I am over here.

I'm OVER HERE today on Operation Awesome with a book giveaway of one of my all-time favorite YA wonders:


The third book in the trilogy comes out July 24th, just one month after my baby is due! So go to Operation Awesome now for the giveaway of Book 1. :) You're welcome.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pretty, Pretty Amy


The PRETTY AMY cover revealed!

I love the juxtaposition of the lovely, fairy tale dress and the dirty jail bars! Read the blurb below to find out why she's sitting in a jail cell!

Amy is fine living in the shadows of beautiful Lila and uber-cool Cassie, because at least she’s somewhat beautiful and uber-cool by association. But when their dates stand them up for prom, and the girls take matters into their own hands—earning them a night in jail outfitted in satin, stilettos, and Spanx—Amy discovers even a prom spent in handcuffs might be better than the humiliating “rehabilitation techniques” now filling up her summer. Worse, with Lila and Cassie parentally banned, Amy feels like she has nothing—like she is nothing. Navigating unlikely alliances with her new coworker, two very different boys, and possibly even her parents, Amy struggles to decide if it’s worth being a best friend when it makes you a public enemy. Bringing readers along on an often hilarious and heartwarming journey, Amy finds that maybe getting a life only happens once you think your life is over.

Add it on Goodreads

Pre-order at Amazon  (due out May 15th, 2012!)

Pre-order at Barnes and Noble

Also, for everybody who desperately wants to know where Amy got her terrific shoes...

You can ask Lisa here:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Dies Irae Blog Tour with Christine Fonseca!! Understanding Gothic and Thriller Subgenres

Today it's my pleasure to welcome Christine Fonseca to my blog!!

You may know Christine from her very cool non-fiction about gifted children, but if not, then here is a real treat, because you get to meet her at the start of her YA debut! Dies Irae!

Short Blurb for DIES IRAE (Goodreads)

Some sacrifices should never be made—even for love.
Mikayel lives by one rule—obey the orders of the angelic Council at all
costs. But when he and his friends, Azza and Demi, are sent to Earth as
teenagers, following the rules is more difficult than they expected.
Being human isn’t the only problem facing the three angels. Unbeknownst
to the Council, demonic activity is on the rise, threatening to break a
tenuous peace that has existed for a millennia.
Caught in a struggle for power with unseen demonic forces, and fighting
against his rising emotional, Mikayel must now decide how many rules he
is willing to break to save his friends, a decision that could reignite an
ancient war and will threaten the only thing that matters to the angels, the
survival of humanity.

“Dies Irae is the perfect introduction to Christine Fonseca’s Requiem series. The beauty of the words will tempt you, the tragedy of the story will break you, and the love, woven throughout like music through the trees, will haunt you for days afterward. Dies Irae promises a tale unlike any you’ve read before.”
~Ali Cross, Author of BECOME

Christine Fonseca
School psychologist by day, critically acclaimed YA and nonfiction
author by night, Christine Fonseca believes that writing is a great
way to explore humanity. Her debut YA Gothic series, The Requiem
Series, including DIES IRAE and LACRIMOSA, examines the role
of redemption, sacrifice and love. When she’s not writing or spending
time with her family, she can be sipping too many skinny vanilla lattes
at her favorite coffee house or playing around on Facebook and
Twitter. Catch her daily thoughts about writing and life on her blog.

Now, here's Christine...

My Type of Writing: Understanding Gothic and Thriller Subgenres

Thanks, Katrina, for being part of the blog tour for DIES IRAE. Today I want to talk about the types of stories I like to write—namely Gothic stories and thrillers.

We’ll start with Gothic stories. While DIES IRAE is not strictly a Gothic story, it does have several elements of this subgenre. Typically a Gothic novel has the following features:
·         Setting: Typically a Gothic tale takes place in an old castle of house, full of gloomy shadows, long dark hallways, trap doors, etc. In more modern takes, a Gothic tale may take place in a rundown part of a city.
·         Mood/Tone: An atmosphere of suspense and mystery overrides every aspect of a Gothic tale. Typically, the setting itself is used to portray and enhance the tone.
·         Story: Gothic novels usually include an ancient prophesy of some type, omens and nightmares, women in distress of one form or another, and mystery.
·         Characteristics: A Gothic tale has supernatural occurrences in the story and usually pulls on mythology and Jungian archetypes.
·         Language: The rhythm of the writing is somewhat fluid and lyrical. The emotional content is intense and overwrought throughout the majority of the story.
·         Romance: Yes, there is often a romance, usually involving a woman trying to get away from a tyrannical male, and the hero meant to save her.

The Requiem Series fits nicely within these guidelines, tapping into almost all of them.

The other genre I enjoy writing, is thrillers. Specifically psychological thrillers. Similar to the Gothic story elements listed above, thrillers are dark, spine-tingling stories. A few of the common characteristics include:
·         Setting: Since I write psychological thrillers, I fill focus on the mind, using it as the setting for the story in many ways. I may even make it a character of sorts.
·         Mood/Tone: Varies, but it is typically dark. Foreboding. And can be done through a series of literary devices designed to elicit the emotional response of fear.
·         Story: A thriller typically focuses on WHO committed the terrible act, or HOW it was committed. The pacing is typically fast and furious, all designed to keep the reader at the edge of their seat.
·         Characteristics: These are not your overarching moral-tale kind of stories. Thrillers are all about one thing—eliciting a feeling of fear from the reader.
·         Language: Simple and quick, designed to mirror the pacing. It may be fluid and lyrical, but the variance of sentences will still maintain the pacing.
·         Romance: I use romance, albeit a dysfunctional romance, in my thrillers as a motivating factor for the crimes being committed. I find love the best emotion to elicit a response, you know?!?

As you can see, there is a lot in common between these sub-genres, and indeed, I fluctuate between them often, pulling elements of each into every story I write. I don’t know, I just like writing the somewhat creepy stuff. I hope my readers will like it too!

Thank you, Christine!! I love this insight into writing psychological thrillers! What an exciting genre!

Here's a peek at the beautiful Lacrimosa cover:

Short Blurb for LACRIMOSA (Goodreads)
As if casting out demons isn’t hard enough, five-hundred-year-old Nesy has to masquerade as a teenage girl to do it. Nesy is the best of the warrior angels called Sentinals. She never makes mistakes, never hesitates, never gets emotionally involved. Until she meets Aydan.  He is evil incarnate; a fallen angel that feeds off the souls of others. Everything Nesy is supposed to hate.  But she can’t, because he’s also the love of her former life as a human girl—a life that ended too soon, tying her to emotions she was never supposed to feel.
Now Nesy must choose between doing her duty—damning Aydan to the fiery depths of hell—or saving him, and condemning herself.  

"LACRIMOSA reaches out, grabs readers by the heart, and takes them on an emotional journey from the first page to the last. The last novel you'll need to read to understand true sacrifice." - Elana Johnson, Author of POSSESSION 

Additional Titles in the series include LIBERA ME (Nov 2012) and REQUIEM (March 2013). 

For more information about Christine Fonseca or the series, visit her website – or her blog