Monday, June 30, 2014


I'm on vacation for the next few weeks, 6K into my next novel and writing every day. I'll be back with more book reviews, giveaways and a few interviews starting July 21.

Enjoy your summer!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Finding Friends and Followers

I had the chance to add more than 1,000 followers to my Twitter account last week. It was tempting. I mean let’s be honest – who doesn’t want to believe that there are thousands of people who want to hear what you think about books and writing and more?

The only thing that held me back? The cost.

And I don’t mean the $25 charge for adding their Twitter handles to my account.

One of the things I love about Twitter – about the internet in general – is the way it allows us to connect with other people. Last week Andrew Smith favorited and retweeted one of my tweets. And yes, I had a major fangirl moment ☺ I live in a tiny town in California with a population of less than a thousand people. And yet, I shared mini conversations with people in Canada, Florida, New England – even a guy in Africa. How cool is that?

I wouldn’t have had these conversations with people I bought from a list, people who may not even know their name was on the list. We had these conversations because we share a common interest. And finding those people to connect with – people who like books and reading, writing and publishing, movies and music – that’s half the fun. Finding and making those connections. Not buying them.

I may not have as many followers as some of the people who’ve been doing it longer. But I’m content to find those people over time. So that when we do find and follow each other, we’ll share a real connection. Maybe even have a memorable conversation.

That’s worth more to me. That’s priceless.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

And then there was one... winner, that is. Without further adieu, the winner of the Grasshopper Jungle ARC is...

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 6.02.27 AM
Congratulations, Danielle! I'll be sending your book out later today. I hope you enjoy reading it! And if anyone is looking for some more good reading, Lucy Silag from Book Country interviewed me on their blog today. This Penguin community for writers is a great place to meet critique partners and get your work read in a public forum. WISH YOU WEREN'T is an Editor's Pick this month (yay!) and I was thrilled that they wanted to profile me.

If you'd like a chance to win your very own copy of WISH YOU WEREN'T, don't forget about the other two blogs I mentioned yesterday. Sheri Larsen at Writer's Alley interviewed me and she's giving away a print book and an e-book. And the delightful Rosi Hollinbeck, a reviewer for the San Francisco Book Review, posted her review of WISH YOU WEREN'T on her blog, The Write Stuff, and she's giving away a print copy.

Oh, and one more thing! If you live in Santa Barbara County and want to learn more about writing for middle grade readers, I'm leading a workshop at the Solvang Library with three other authors: Valerie Hobbs (Sheep), Gwen Dandridge (The Stone Lions) and Kimberley Troutte (Saving Miner's Gulch). The workshop is on Saturday from 1 to 3:30 and we'll be doing a book signing from 12 to 1pm. To find out more, you can visit the library's website. I'd love to see you there!

Monday, June 16, 2014

All About the Win

You were probably expecting a post today announcing the winner of GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE. But since I entered the wrong date on the Rafflecopter, there's still a few hours left to enter the contest. If you haven't already signed up to win, do it now. I'll be back tomorrow to let you know who won.

In the meantime, if you've been wanting to read a copy of WISH YOU WEREN'T, there are three copies up for grabs on two different websites. Somehow I lucked out and two different bloggers featured my book for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday! Sweet!

Sheri Larsen at Writer's Alley interviewed me and she's giving away a print book and an e-book. And the delightful Rosi Hollinbeck, a reviewer for the San Francisco Book Review, posted her review of WISH YOU WEREN'T on her blog, The Write Stuff, and she's giving away a print copy.

Thanks to both of them for their generous giveaways. Now it's all up to you. Go forth and win!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Grasshopper Giveaway

The 2014 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards for Excellence in Children’s Literature were recently announced. And the winner in the fiction category? Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith.

I was lucky enough to get an advanced reader copy of this YA back in early February before the novel was released and I have to say, it was one of the strangest books I've ever read. Parts made me laugh out loud, and parts made me wonder what Andrew Smith was smoking when he came up with this plot. Six-foot-tall grasshoppers taking over the world? Yeah. Like I said...

But the backbone of the story – the relationship between Austin, his girlfriend and his best friend – make it a worthwhile read. Even if you do have to suspend your disbelief as an enormous grasshopper makes a meal out of the chemistry teacher. Or when you happen upon chapter titles like, "Never Look for Ice Cream in a Sperm Freezer."

You can read The Horn Book review here. But if you'd like to read this YA novel for yourself, I'm giving away my ARC. Fill out the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 2, 2014

Let’s Review – Goodreads or Point of Purchase?

I've been somewhat of a slacker recently on Goodreads, actually with reviews in general. I used to write reviews for books whether or not I liked them, but that took a lot of time. So I started only writing reviews for the books I loved. Then after hearing about the rise of fake reviews, I stopped reviewing all together.

But the thing is – fake review or real – I read reviews before I buy a book. And having my own book out there makes me realize how important it is to have those reviews from real readers. (I'm so grateful to every person that has ever written a review of my book, even if it wasn't a glowing review. I just appreciate their time first in reading, and second in writing the review.) So the question remains: how do you get legitimate reviews for a book without begging, bribing or otherwise paying for them? And where do people look for reviews? Goodreads? Amazon? Barnes & Noble? Or old-fashioned word of mouth?

 I love reading the reviews that come through my Goodreads feed, telling me what books my friends have read. (And if we aren't already friends over there, send me a friend request!) I have definitely read someone's review and then gone online to buy the book. But otherwise, I tend to just look at the reviews at whatever online portal I'm buying the book from.

What about you? Do you generally review books that you read? How much do reader reviews inform your purchases? And where do you go to find reviews?

And speaking of Goodreads, author friend Dawn Malone is giving away 10 copies of her new novel, Bingo Summer. Pop on over to enter for your chance to win!

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Little Book That Could

Almost two years ago I read a book that a friend loaned me, a book with a cover that fascinated me from the start. Written by R. J. Palacio, the book was called Wonder. The book had a good story, great characters – always important for me to keep reading. And even though I cried through most of the second half – not because it was sad, more because the story just touched me – I ended up really enjoying it.

The amazing thing is, a lot of editors didn't want to publish this book. They thought it would be a downer. Even the publisher who did pick it up, didn't have high hopes for it; they only did a small print run. But word of mouth has turned this little book into a bestseller and two years later, it's still topping the charts. 

If you're a writer, this story should give you hope. Hope that even a single title from an unknown author can catch on with readers and build on the strength of its merits. If you're a reader, I hope you'll continue to search for stories by unknown authors and give them a try. And maybe in the process, you'll find something wonderful.

Find more great posts for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday on Shannon Whitney Messenger's blog.

Monday, May 19, 2014

E-books for the Win

A big thanks goes out to Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Katie from Youth Literature Reviews for organizing last week's blog hop. I found a lot of blogs I'd never read before and discovered some new books as well. It was nice to meet so many new people who are interested in books for kids – the perfect way to celebrate Children's Book Week!

If you didn't win a copy of Wish You Weren't (names are on the image below), don't worry. I'm also doing an interview and giveaway over on Dianne Salerni's blog, In High Spirits. You can enter the Rafflecopter there for a chance to win one of two copies up for grabs.

Next week I'll have a book review for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday. Until then, have a great week!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Children's Book Week Kid Lit Giveaway Hop

I'm so excited to be part of the Children's Book Week Kid Lit Giveaway Hop. Reading books with my kids has always been a special part of our time spent together. I hope WISH YOU WEREN'T will become one of those books that parents and kids enjoy reading together, that kids enjoy reading under the covers and that people enjoy enough to share with each other. Want to check it out for yourself? You can enter to win a copy below!

Marten doesn't believe in the power of wishes. None of his have ever come true. His parents ignore him, his little brother is a pain and his family is talking about moving to Texas. Not cool. So when he makes an impulsive wish during a meteor shower, he doesn't expect it to make any difference.

Until his annoying brother disappears.

With the present uncertain and his brother’s future in limbo, Marten finds himself stuck in his past. And if he runs out of time, even wishes might not be enough to save the ones he loves.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

More than 100 bloggers, authors, publishers, and publicists are sharing copies of fabulous books through this blog hop put together by Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews. The Children's Book Week Giveaway Hop 2014 features links to giveaways for fabulous children/teen's books, gift cards, cash, or other prizes.  What better way to celebrate Children's Book Week?

Enter to win more great stuff from the people below!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Author Spotlight on: Kendell Shaffer

I'm excited to introduce you today to a YA writer I met several years ago through an online class, Kendell Shaffer. A screenwriter, a teacher and most recently a radio show host (!), Kendell has combined her background in entertainment with her current hometown of Venice Beach, to create a novel that feels different from your typical angsty teen stories, totally raw and real.

Welcome, Kendell!

Let's start with the basics. How long did you work on this novel? How many versions did you go through?
I started writing the novel in the online writing class through where we met! Once I finished it I did two more drafts then sent it to an editor, Winslow Eliot. The self-publishing part was fairly quick once the manuscript was ready. I had fun with the cover art. I found a girl with blonde dreadlocks, like Kalifornia, and did a photo shoot on Venice Beach. My husband designed the cover.

I love that Frances Bean was an inspiration for writing this story and I also love the relationship that Kal develops with her dad. Who were your rock star idols growing up?
When I was a teenager, hair bands were popular and I really didn't like those. I grew up in Baltimore and the summer before 10th grade a radio station in Washington DC, DC101, played only music from the 1960s the entire summer. So my best friend Virginia and I listened to that nonstop and I gained an education and love of the music from that decade. The funny thing was that the following school year we found the boys who had the done the same thing we had, so our first boyfriends were discovered because of the shared love of sixties music.

That's so cool that the radio station focused on the sixties for the summer. I know I've dated guys based on musical tastes in the past :-)

I like how you placed your characters in a lot of real locations around Venice, almost making the city another character in the story. What made you decide to set the story there?
I live in Venice and it's so vibrant and ever changing. It doesn't know if it wants to be a beach town or Rodeo Drive or Silicone Beach or all of those at once. It's restless and unpredictable, sort of like a teenager, so yes, Venice Beach is very much a character in KALIFORNIA BLU.

Yeah, anyone who has spent time in Venice knows what a crazy, fun place it is. My kids like going just to people watch. Do you plan to set additional novels there?
I'm working on a sequel to KALIFORNIA BLU. It will take Kal at first to Europe with her mom, but then she returns to Venice and all the characters we met in the first book.

As if writing books isn't fun enough, in your other life you're a screenwriter. How does writing a novel differ from writing a screenplay?
In novels you get to take the characters much further then you would in a screenplay. You can explore details in more subtle ways and you aren't limited to the number of characters you have or pages you write.You have much more room to play and don't have to limit yourself thinking about the reality of a budget and locations.

In addition to working on VFX on "Knight and Day," you've also worked as an associate producer on several films and television shows. Do you think that production background has helped you with the business side of self-publishing?
I am finding the ability to walk up to strangers and say, "I wrote a book, will you read it?" has been helped by my living and working in Los Angeles. You can't really be shy when you do that and I have learned to be able to talk to anyone while working as a producer. The organization skills help with self-publishing; the "I can do that" attitude helps too. In production and post production you are constantly given problems that need to be solved quickly and cost efficiently. So yes, all that helps.

It definitely helped with your book trailer. The production value on this is just amazing. It's one of my favorite book trailers EVER.

Just gorgeous! It makes me want to see a movie of KALIFORNIA BLUE. I think you might need to get working on that ;-)

So tell me – what do you think is tougher: the writing, the publishing or the marketing? Why?
The publishing is a piece of cake. CreateSpace has been remarkable and they have unbelievably good customer service. Writing is just a joy. But marketing is a challenge. You have good days when something great happens like an interview with you, Sherrie, but there is no direct route so it's challenging to navigate all the different directions you could take. Also it does take time away from writing. I have a radio show once a month called WriteSpa Teen where I interview YA authors so that helps with the marketing and it's really fun!

And you've gotten to interview some incredible authors like Amy Timberlake and Jane Yolen. I'm so impressed!

So what are you working on right now? What will your next book release be?
I'm working on a sequel to KALIFORNIA BLU which will come out at the end of the summer. And I started a middle grade reader about a boy ballet dancer called THE BUN TEST. Both my kids are in a serious Russian ballet program so I spend a lot of time in the dance studio. My eleven-year-old son is the only boy in a company of 60 girls. I thought that would make a good novel.

Love the title! My son did ballet for a very short time. I told him he should have stuck with it  because there will come a day when he appreciates being the only boy in the company of 60 girls!

Thank you so much for stopping by, Kendell. It's been great catching up with you!

You can find out more about Kendell and her projects (including the upcoming Japanese translation of her novel!) by visiting some of her virtual hangouts:

Radio Show:
Buy the Book:

Monday, April 28, 2014

Guess the Musician, Part Two!

Kelly Polark’s debut middle grade novel, ROCK ‘N’ ROLL PRINCESSES WEAR BLACK  is out! Did you know that Kelly has seen over 100 bands live?!  If you missed GUESS THE BAND PART ONE, check it out here! Here are a few more pics of her and some cool musicians. Read the rhyme and guess the bands in the comments. Kelly will comment later today with the correct answers! Rock on!

1.  He played Noah Drake.
     Jessie's Girl brought him fame.
     He's done everything for you.
     ___________ ______________ 's his name.

2.   "Animal" was their first hit.
       Frontman sings it with ease.
      "Pop Psychology" was just released.
      This band is __________ __________.

3.  They are "Sorry" they're bad
     Singing "Crazy B..." and
     "Gluttony," "Lit Up."
     _______________ 's this band.


4.  He "Performs This Way."
     Makes us laugh without fail.
     He sings "Eat It" and "Yoda."
     You know it's _____________ ___________!

5. "Raise Your Glass" to this gal.
    "So What" doesn't stink.
    "Try" not to love her songs.
    This singer is ____________ !

You can say "HEY!" to Kelly at her blog, her celeb book recommendation site, on Facebook, and Twitter! She is also a picture book author. Check out ROCKABET, BIG SISTER, BABY BROTHER, and HOLD THE MUSTARD! Purchase ROCK 'N' ROLL PRINCESSES WEAR BLACK here!

Don't forget to enter for a chance to win some bookmarks and an ITunes gift card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 21, 2014

Eyes on the Stars

WishYouWerent-ShootingStarYou may have guessed, based on the topic of WISH YOU WEREN'T: I'm a fan of meteor showers. And as luck would have it, there's a good one tonight!

The Lyrid meteor shower is a bright one, which is good since the moon is still pretty big. The comets will look like they're coming from Vega (part of the Lyra constellation), but really, they're coming from the tail of the Comet Thatcher. (But Lyrid meteor shower sounds so much better than Thatcher meteor shower, don't you think?)

 The meteor shower will peak between midnight and sunrise and if you're in a remote area away from city lights, you should be able to see as many as 20 comets per hour. But if you miss it tonight, don't worry. They should be visible through the 25th of April. NASA also plans to do a livestream for people who are unable to see it where they live.

So will I be dragging my kids out to see the shooting stars tonight? Making wishes? What do you think ;-)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Total Eclipse of the Moon

redmoonTax day approaches – everyone's favorite day of the year. Tonight I plan to stay up past midnight and watch the day arrive. Not because I waited until the last minute to do my taxes (although there's that) but because tonight there will be a total lunar eclipse.

Most of North America will be able to see the eclipse and since the moon is close to full it should be pretty dramatic. Because of the timing of the eclipse, sunsets and sunrises in other parts of the world will make the moon look blood red. Kinda cool! If you have cloudy skies or too many city lights to see it, The Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles will broadcast the eclipse live starting at 9:45 p.m. PST.

This is also the last week of the blog tour for WISH YOU WEREN'T. Here are the planned stops.  

The Book Cellar: Erica posts an interview about my reading and writing habits.  
Books and Needlepoint: Kristi will post her review of Wish You Weren't.  
Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile: Jessica adds her review of Wish You Weren't.  

Book Loving Mom: Amy will post her review of Wish You Weren't.

I want to thank all of the bloggers who hosted me during this tour. Book bloggers are seriously the coolest people. They don't make money from this. They do it because they love books and I'm totally honored to have been part of so many awesome blogs.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Review: The Eighth Day

It's a long drive from where I live in California to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, twenty-two hours to be exact. But I made good use of my time. During the trip I was able to start and finish an ARC that I won of THE EIGHTH DAY by Dianne K. Salerni. Five pages in and I was lost to the world. Stopping for dinner was a huge inconvenience. And did my family really need to interrupt to point out the snow / lake / mountains / wild animals we were passing? I think not. In fact, I was so engrossed in the book that I failed in my role as navigator and we ended up more than twenty miles off course before I looked up and realized what had happened. Needless to say, hubby might not be as big a fan of Dianne as I am :P

So what did I love about this book? For starters, the concept is cool: an extra day stuck in the middle of the week that only a few people know about. The problem lies with what certain people decide to do with all that extra time on their hands. By blending modern day situations with Arthurian legends and throwing in a few Dr. Who and Ancient Aliens references, Dianne has created something completely original. Filled with heart-pounding action and wonderful characters–people who grow on you even when you start out thinking you won't like them–this is the type of book that I finish reading and hand off immediately to my kids. If you have a chance to get an ARC, jump on it. Otherwise, look for it when it releases next month. You'll definitely want to add this to your TBR list.

As for the WISH YOU WEREN'T blog tour, there's plenty of fun stuff happening this week. Reviews, deleted scenes, 25 things you might not know about me, and of course, plenty of give aways. Here's where you'll find me around the blogs this week:

Read This Instead: Wednesday, Kathy will share a deleted scene from Wish You Weren't.
Me, My Shelf & I: Thursday, 25 Things you may or may not know about me :)
Book Dreaming: Also Thursday, Shannon O'Donnell reviews Wish You Weren't.

All of these sites will be giving away prize packs as well (printed copy of Wish You Weren't, astronaut ice cream and a wish token), so stop by and enter your name to win!

Of course, you can always get your very own copy of WISH YOU WEREN'T from these magnificent retailers. And when you buy the print version from Amazon, you get a free e-book download, too -- bonus!

Amazon   |  Kobo  |  B&N  |   Smashwords  |   Solvang Book Loft

Monday, April 7, 2014

Cover Reveal: Prom Impossible

I'm so excited to be part of the cover reveal for Laura Pauling's newest book. I've known Laura for a while and as soon as I read the synopsis, I knew I wanted to read the book. Check it out:

1 girl. 1 prom. 3 guys.

Cassidy decides her senior year, including prom, will be about Michael Greenwood, the boy destined to be her soul mate. One problem. He hasn’t figured that out yet.

But certain events like exploding smoke bombs—that weren’t completely her fault—introduce her to Zeke, the reformed bad boy. And cutting deals in the boys’ bathroom with Jasper, the hottest guy in school, lands her in a complicated web of half-truths that spirals out of control.

At the end of the year, she’s dateless the day before the big night but risks a lot more than her pride if she can’t find a way to fix her mistakes.

PROM IMPOSSIBLE is a modern-day Shakespearean romantic comedy in the world of teens, true love, and life.

Coming May 2014!
Prom Impossible by Laura Pauling
Genres: Comedy, Romance, Young Adult

Sounds good, right? Click here to add it to your Goodreads TBR list :)
And now for the big reveal: the beautiful cover!

Isn't it lovely? And you know, with prom season coming up, the timing for this release is perfect! Laura designed this cover with Steven Novak, and I have to say, the more I see from him, the more I'm impressed. The guy does good work! Here's some more info about Laura.

Laura writes young adult romantic suspense and romantic comedy. She’s the author of the exciting Circle of Spies Series, and the time travel mystery, HEIST. She’s a former elementary teacher and currently lives in New England. After spending time reading books to her kids and loving a good plot turn, she put her fingers to the keyboard. Don’t ask her about the unfinished quilts and scrapbooks. Stories are way more exciting.

She writes to entertain and experience a great story…and to be able to work in her jammies and slippers.

PROM IMPOSSIBLE, a modern-day Shakespearean romantic comedy will be released in May 2014.

Author links:   Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

Monday, March 31, 2014

Celebrating Around the Web

We woke up to rain today – hooray! When you're living through a California drought, every drop is celebrated :) I'm also celebrating the release of WISH YOU WEREN'T with friends around the internet. Here's where you'll find me this week:

  • Laurel's Leaves: I'm sharing some of my favorite research tips and giving away a WISH YOU WEREN'T prize pack.  
  • K. Troutte: I'm chatting with my friend and critique partner about my writing process.  
  • Geo Librarian: MG librarian Heidi Grange will be reviewing WISH YOU WEREN'T and giving away a prize pack. 

And that's just today!

On Wednesday, Tonja Drecker at Bookworm for Kids will be reviewing WISH YOU WEREN'T and giving away a prize pack. (Her blog recently received a Best of the Blogs award from Middle Shelf Magazine -- cool stuff!!) On Thursday, Melanie at Mel's Shelves will post her review and give away a prize pack. And on Friday, I'll be stopping by for an interview with Inspired Kathy at I am a Reader where she'll be giving away a prize pack as well. So many chances to win!

If you don't want to wait, you can always get your very own copy of WISH YOU WEREN'T from these magnificent retailers. And when you buy the print version from Amazon, you get a free e-book download, too -- bonus!

Amazon   |  Kobo  |  B&N  |   Smashwords  |   Solvang Book Loft

Thanks for celebrating with me!

Monday, March 24, 2014

It Begins!

Today starts the blog tour of awesome around the internet. Twelve stops, twelve chance to win a copy of WISH YOU WEREN'T and astronaut ice cream – yum!

Here's where you'll find me this week:

Monday: Mundie Kids (I'm guest posting about -- you guessed it -- wishing on stars!)
Wednesday: Cover2Cover (This time I'm talking about other ways to wish)
Wednesday: The (Mis)Adventures of a Twenty-Something Year Old Girl will be posting a review Friday: Sher A. Hart reviewer Ken Rahmoeller shares his thoughts on WYW

In addition to the tour, I'm thrilled that the esteemed Middle Grade Ninja will be featuring me this week on his amazing blog. Tuesday he'll do his Book of the Week review of WISH YOU WEREN'T and on Thursday, I'll be answering his famous 7 Questions Interview. If you're a writer and you've never visited the Middle Grade Ninja, do yourself a favor and go now. He's got interviews with agents, editors and writers like Sara Crowe, Tina Wexler, Kendra Levin, Lynne Reid Banks and Ingrid Law. Seriously cool interviews I'll be rubbing shoulders with!

If you're looking for more chances to win, the contest is still open over at Literary Rambles. You can win a copy of the book, a wish token and a pocket watch just like the one Tör uses to manipulate time in WISH YOU WEREN'T. (Although I don't guarantee that this watch will have the same magical properties as Tör's!)

Whew! It's going to be a busy week! I hope I'll see you around the web!

And just in case you forgot, you can always get your very own copy of WISH YOU WEREN'T from these magnificent retailers :)
Amazon   |  Kobo  |  B&N  |   Smashwords  |   Solvang Book Loft

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

It's Finally Here!!

Pardon me for shouting but I'm SO EXCITED!!!


And yes, I may be a bit biased, but isn't it beautiful?!

Here's what a few AWESOME people have said about WISH YOU WEREN'T:

“If you’re looking for the same old formula middle grade fantasy, this isn’t it. Wish You Weren’t is magically real. You wouldn’t be surprised if you met Marten in “real” life, but what he encounters in this story is pure magic.” ~VALERIE HOBBS, award-winning author of Wolf, Sheep and Minnie McClary Speaks Her Mind

“Wish You Weren’t is a sweet story about the blessings of family contained within the rip-roaring roller coaster of time travel. It is a page turner that kids are going to love!” ~KATIE D. ANDERSON, bestselling author of Kiss & Makeup

I love all the science details mixed with fantasy in Wish You Weren’t — just the kinds of flights-of-science-fancy I wish I had as child!” ~SUSAN KAYE QUINN, bestselling author of the Mindjack Trilogy, Faery Swap and Third Daughter

“Fun and accessible, rich with realism and heart, this magical adventure reminds us of the things truly worth wishing for.” ~CASEY McCORMICK, literary agent intern and blogger at Literary Rambles

And where's where you can get your own fantabulous new copies!

Amazon    Kobo    B&N    Smashwords    Solvang Book Loft

Thursday I'll be guest posting at Susan Quinn's incredible blog.
Friday I'll be guest posting over at Literary Rambles.

There will be prizes of awesome at both sites, including free books! So be sure to visit their blogs. 

And now I'm going back to what I was doing before: caressing the glossy covers and grinning like a fool :D

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

5 Quick Things About Faery Swap

March 3rd - March 21st
A little about Faery Swap...  KindleNookPrint

5 Quick Things About Faery Swap
  1. Celtic (Irish) legend that says fairies descended from the Tuatha De Danaan (an ancient people driven to another world by a wave of invaders).
  2. Some of the legends say this "Otherworld" (which is what I call it in my story) is called Tir Na Noog (Tír na nÓg ), and that there, time stands still. 
  3. The Faery Magick spell words in Faery Swap are based on the four original cities of the Tuatha De Danaan, which also represent four magical items: Finias (spear), Gorias (sword), Falias (stone), murias (cauldron).
  4. Spriggans (the rock like sprites in Faery Swap) are  real (mythical) creatures from Cornish (English) faery lore. 
  5. The “anam cara” or soul bond in Faery Swap is a real ancient Irish word that means “soul friend” – “When you are blessed with an anam cara, the Irish believe, you have arrived at the most sacred place: home.” – John O’Donahue, poet and priest

Warrior faery princes can be very stubborn. Especially when they possess your body. Fourteen-year-old Finn just wants to keep his little sister out of Child Protective Services--an epic challenge with their parentally-missing-in-action dad moving them to England, near the famous Stonehenge rocks. Warrior faery Prince Zaneyr just wants to escape his father's reckless plan to repair the Rift--a catastrophe that ripped the faery realm from Earth 4,000 years ago and set it adrift in an alternate, timeless dimension. When Zaneyr tricks Finn into swapping places, Finn becomes a bodiless soul stuck in the Otherworld, and Zaneyr uses Finn's body to fight off his father's seekers on Earth. Between them, they have two souls and only one body... and both worlds to save before the dimensional window between them slams shut.
NOTE TO TEACHERS: Check out the Virtual Author visit video and Common-Core-Aligned Teacher's Guide for Faery Swap here.
2 minute book trailer
Blog Tour Giveaway $25 Amazon Gift Card Signed Paperback of Faery Swap Two Faery Wands ENTER TO WIN

Susan Kaye Quinnis the author of the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, which is young adult science fiction. Faery Swap is her foray into middle grade, which is her first writing love. Her business card says "Author and Rocket Scientist" and she always has more speculative fiction fun in the works. You can subscribe to her newsletter (hint: new subscribers get a free short story!) or stop by her blog to see what she's up to.
Faery Swap
Kindle | Nook | Print
Fourteen-year-old Finn is tricked into swapping places with a warrior faery prince and has to find his way back home before the dimensional window between their worlds slams shut. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Bruce and Ben are on Call

Today I'm posting over at my new blog:

It's a post about asteroids. And Bruce Willis :)

Come visit!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Mid Grade Madness

Sharon Mayhew is hosting a unique opportunity through her blog: the chance to submit a 7-line pitch for your completed middle grade novel to Terrie Wolf from AKA Literary Management.

The contest starts with a live Q & A this evening in a Google+ Hangout from 5-6:30 p.m. PST. Everyone is welcome to the chat where they'll learn more about the contest, middle grade writing and Terrie. The pitch contest opens on March 6.

Learn more about the entire event on Sharon's blog:

Monday, February 24, 2014

Unraveled by Julie Daines

Today I'm participating in a book blast for a new author, Julie Daines. Her novel, UNRAVELED, captured my attention from the moment I saw the cover.

Lovely, isn't it?

Here's a little about the book: When sickness swept through Bronwen’s family, it took the life of her father, brother, and sister, and left her permanently crippled. On the stormy eve of her sixteenth birthday, a faerie-witch gifts her a pair of enchanted shoes. Bronwen slips them on and is healed--but only when the shoes are on her feet. Her grace and beauty catches the eye of the king’s son--Urien, a handsome young man who prides himself on having everything perfect.

When Rhys, an old acquaintance and Captain of the Guard, recognizes Bronwen, he threatens to tell Urien her secret. Desperate to keep her deformity hidden and not to lose the love of handsome Urien, Bronwen quickly finds herself tangled in a web of lies and deceit.

Release date: February 2014
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Genre: YA Fantasy/Fairytale
ISBN: 9781621086277

Julie Daines was born in Concord, Massachusetts, and was raised in Utah. She spent eighteen months living in London, where she studied and fell in love with English literature, sticky toffee pudding, and the mysterious guy who ran the kebab store around the corner.

She loves reading, writing, and watching movies—anything that transports her to another world. She picks Captain Wentworth over Mr. Darcy, firmly believes in second breakfast, and never leaves home without her verveine.

But here's the question I know you're dying to have answered: Facebook or Twitter?   
Facebook. Twitter goes too fast for me.
Which doesn't mean you won't find her on Twitter! Here are her links:

Twitter: @juliedaines  
Facebook: Julie Daines Author
Blog: http://www.juliedaines.com
Book on Goodreads: Unraveled
Author on Goodreads: Julie Daines

Win $50 PayPal cash! This giveaway only lasts during the Book Blast so be sure to enter today!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Big Reveal

So, I have some news that I've been sitting on for a while.

Since I've been thinking about it so long, you'd think I'd have a fantastically creative way to announce it. But you'd be wrong. The combination of late nights working on edits and standing in line in the sun in the Magic Kingdom have left me brain dead this week. So instead of talking about it. I'll just show you...

Yep, that's my name on the cover. I can't tell you how excited I am about this! It releases in a month, on March 17, which is coming up much faster than I thought it would! Eeeek!

This is a middle grade novel that is close to my heart, one that has had a long journey from concept to print. If you'd like to read the first chapter, you can find it on the new website I set up at, and since I'm back on Facebook now, I'd also love to have you like my spankin' new Author Page at In a few days a Goodreads giveaway will be opening up and you'll be able to register to win one of five copies. The widget for that is omewhere in the left column of this blog. You'll also find the link to it on my Facebook Author Page and new website.

It's been hard not to talk about it, but now that it's out there, I also promise not to drive everyone crazy by talking about nothing else :) At least not until March!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Judging a Book by its Cover

Please don't try to convince me you don't. We all do. Especially when it comes to books. And as a graphic designer, I find myself analyzing covers more than most.

Two days ago I had the pleasure of browsing the MG/YA shelves of Hastings in Coeur d'Alene. Our whole family loves this store because they seriously have something for everyone: books, music, movies, and used versions of all of that as well as new. I wasn't looking for a specific book, just taking in what was there and picking up books that appealed to me.

Right now my favorite cover has to be this one.

I love the colors, the ethereal beauty of the people, the way her hair and dress are billowing, the way their hands are reaching for each other but not quite making it. And of course the stars. I'm always fascinated by stars. This cover tells a story all on its own. It makes me want to read it.

But I haven't bought it yet. Maybe when it comes out in paperback, but even then I might wait. Know why? It's a series. And I'm done with reading book one of a series and waiting a year or two for the next book to come out. And another year or two for the next. Once they're all available, I'll start. So in the meantime, if you've read it, no spoilers!

This book also intrigued me from the moment I glimpsed the cover.

I love the font choice, the way the title is laid out, the way the girl seems to be staring down the city, the way her yellow dress stands boldly against the elegant buildings. And interestingly, as soon as I realized that this is a historical novel, the fact that her hair is down spoke volumes. This girl is a rebel.

So I bought it. Gorgeous cover, stand alone book, strong heroine. Exactly what I'm looking for. With a school break coming up next week, I'm looking forward to plenty of reading time and this is at the top of my pile.

What draws you into a cover? Did either of these attract you?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Booking Hollywood's It Girl

Is it me, or is Shailene Woodley the most literary actress around?

This year she has two eagerly anticipated movies coming out based on highly successful YA novels. Divergent releases March 21 and The Fault in our Stars comes out three months later. The trailer for TFIOS has been the subject of many discussions at the school where I work, since pretty much everyone has read the book. Freshmen and sophomores had it for assigned reading over the summer. (Yes, our teachers are awesome that way!)

If you haven't seen the trailer, you must watch it. Now. I'll wait.

Isn't it amazing?
*wipes tears*

So, Shailene.

She also has a third film releasing this year, White Bird in a Blizzard, and guess what? You got it. The movie is based on a 1999 novel by Laura Kasischke.

Her IMDB profile is filled with movies based on books. Last year she starred in The Spectacular Now (novel by Tim Tharp) and in 2011 she was in the George Clooney movie, The Descendents (novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings). In 2005 she starred in Once Upon a Mattress (gotta love your fairy tales) and Felicity, an American Girl adventure. (We own this one since my daughter was obsessed with American Girl books, dolls and movies.) In fact, every film she was worked on has been based on a book.

Her next two movies are already predetermined since she's locked into the Divergent trilogy. But I can't help but wonder what book to movie adaptation will be next for this young actress.

Two more MG/YA novels-to-movies this year: The Giver and The Maze Runner.

Jeff Bridges might need to grow a little more facial hair :)

And in 2015, the one I'm anticipating the most -- Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Any book-to-movie adaptations you're looking forward to?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

On Becoming a Whovian

  • Take a guy who still obsesses over his original Star Wars action figures...
  • introduce him to a girl who can't seem to stop reading books about faeries, Greek gods or intergalactic travel...
  • throw in two kids who constantly reference Gandalf, Dumbledore or Daleks in everyday conversation...
  • and what do you have?

Right! The Petersen household.

This summer my son turned me into a Whovian. (Thank you Netflix!) While some people may have wasted their summer swimming or getting tans, we watched back-to-back episodes of Dr. Who every weekend, making our way through several seasons before the end of summer. After all, we live in southern California. We can go to the beach any old day ;D

I'd like to point out that I introduced my son to the 10th doctor (David Tennant -- my personal favorite) years ago when I recorded a couple of episodes that we watched together. Apparently, he was too young at the time, but with the seeds planted at a young age, it didn't take much to nurture the curiosity into a full-blown mania.

These days he has become a walking repository of Who trivia. Not only does he know every current episode title and synopsis, he can also name the actors who portrayed the doctor and his companions from the very beginning of the series. And that's just the tip of his extensive knowledge. (His father and I are holding out hope that this somehow proves useful in two years when he starts writing essays for college applications.)

In November I took him down to Universal City to see The Day of the Doctor on the big screen in 3-D, and his father is making plans to build him a walk-in book case that looks like a Tardis. Seriously. If those plans ever get off the ground, trust me, there will be photos.

What are your current obsessions, books, movies or otherwise?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Year in Books and Numbers

Not sure what this says about me, but according to my husband, it says that I don't spend enough time sleeping :)

Books read last year: 89
Books started but not finished:15
Books reviewed on Goodreads last year: 10

Favorites (in no particular order):
  • Throne of Glass 
  • I'm Not Her
  • Eleanor & Park
  • Shades of Earth
  • The Rosie Project
  • The Promise of Stardust 
Books on my Kindle: 906 (a lot of these are freebies that aren't necessarily high on my TBR list)
Books in my TBR pile: 38

Words written last year: 40,000
Words written so far this year: 30,000

Books read so far this year: 7 (two were re-reads)

Books published last year: 0
Books to be published this year: ???

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Resolutions vs. Goals

I've never been a fan of New Year's Resolutions. They just seem to set me up for failure. And this year, I plan to succeed. Really.

Instead of setting resolutions, I made a list of concrete writing goals and pulled out a calendar to set guidelines for when I could reasonably expect to accomplish them. After being in a writing funk last year, I realized that I have several projects that I've abandoned along the way that I'd like to revisit this year. One book is complete, but needs to be totally rewritten. One is 75 percent complete but requires more research. Another one is fully outlined but only written about a third of the way. I set goals for outlining, research, writing and editing, to give myself time to focus on each story and get them finished.

Maybe it's just semantics, but I'm excited about putting these goals into action. I think writing out specific goals on a timeline will help me focus. And hopefully keep me from becoming another resolution statistic.

What about you – do you make resolutions or set writing goals for yourself?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Opening at the Close

A Christmas present from my brilliant hubby
Yesterday was a significant day in our house. I finished reading the entire Harry Potter series (for the second time) out loud for the whole family. And then, of course, we had to watch movies 7 and 8 back to back and discuss theatrical omissions and additions. Because that's how we are :)

We started in the spring, reading together at night. At first I thought it would just be for my 11yo daughter. I had already read the series with my son when he was in 6th grade, and read books 1-4 to my husband when they originally came out. Now it was Jasmine's turn. But my husband and son always managed to be in the room when I was reading and complained bitterly if we started without them. It became a family activity. During our road trip over the summer we finished book four. Since I didn't think we'd get through the whole thing, I hadn't brought book five with us. They insisted I purchase another copy because they couldn't go the rest of the trip without hearing more.

By the time we got to book seven, we slowed down. Not because we'd lost interest, more because we didn't want it to end. Reading together as a family has opened the door to some wonderful discussions and given us a shared reference point for viewing the world. Now when my husband answers telemarketing calls, he can be Stan Shunpike or Vernon Dudley. When we enter a dark room, someone will inevitably say "lumos" as they turn on the light. Next month when the kids have a week long break we're headed to Orlando. Not for the beaches or Disneyworld. We can't wait to revisit Harry Potter World to stock up on butter beer, chocolate frogs and Ollivander's wands.

There are people who have burned Rowling's books, claimed that they encourage kids to experiment with the occult. Obviously, they haven't read the books for themselves. They've missed the whole point. To me, those books are about love. They celebrate the love between parents and children, between friends, between teachers and students. The wonderful messages woven into the fabric of these amazing stories are so much bigger than the books themselves.

Now at the close of this series, I feel like I've opened my kids up to a deeper understanding of so many things: racism (mudbloods), looking past surface actions to deeper motivations (Snape), always standing up for what they know to be right. Rowling is a genius. It's no wonder her books are cherished and adored. And I'm so glad that I've been able to be able to share that with my kids.
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