Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Just wanted to wish you well before I fall into my inevitable carb coma.

Have a terrific Turkey Day!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Author Interview: Priya Kanaparti aka The Goddess of Multitasking

One of my favorite people, Priya Kanaparti, has been kind enough to visit the blog.

You may remember Priya’s work from this debut interview. She is an indie author whose book, Dracian Legacy, is scheduled to re- release in Feb 2014. Priya is very active on Twitter and Goodreads where she's been known to drop teasers of her current WIP's (note: yes, I said WIP's as in multiple. She's the goddess of multitasking).

She’s been very busy lately and has a lot of news to share.

1. Okay lady, it’s been a while since you were last on the blog (when your debut, DL, was first released). Since then, your book has been picked up by a publisher. What has that been like?

PK: Oh my goodness, it’s been beautifully crazy! Lol. The publisher I finally decided to work with is super amazing. They are called Reuts Publications and I completely fell in love with their people and their process! I’m super excited to have the final version of Dracian Legacy out to the world once again in Feb 2014!

2. Reuts sounds fabulous and I love their website. Congrats on working with them! Let's see, the publisher has you working on edits for DL before it re-releases. That’s one WIP. A little birdie told me you are working on a few other ideas as well? Is that true? If so, share here :)

PK: I’m always working on Multiple projects! Always. But then again, that might be why I’m not able to produce finished stories as quickly. Lol. Let’s see so right now, I’ve finished the edits for DL, completed Dracian Origins (Book #2 of Dracian Series) and sent it off to my Editor, along with Forever Kinda Love (which is a Mature YA Contemporary Romance.) Phew!

Now that all of those are off my plate, I’m super excited to start my next project. Butterfly Pieces. This is a New Adult Contemporary Romance which I’m planning on releasing sometime in 2015. I’m taking this up as my Nanowrimo challenge. So I won’t be working on other projects, until December starts.

3. Wow, Priya (or should I call you Super Woman?!?!).
With all these ideas in your head and all the demands on your time how do you manage your writing? Do you have structured writing times? How do you decide which project to work on?

PK: Lol. Thanks…? My writing times have always been kind of structured. What I mean is, I try to get two hrs of writing every night, M-Th. This usually starts after my 3 year old is in bed and snoring away. But my ‘set time’ is on Saturdays and Sundays when I sit down from 9:30 p.m. until 3 a.m. the following morning. Usually I make up a lot of my writing during these 5 hr blocks.

As for deciding on projects, I usually go with which ever story is calling to me first and how refined a story is in my head. I don’t use calendars or dry-erase boards. They are all just up in my head. lol

4. I know you are a Pantser at heart. But do you use any special word processing software to help you with your projects? I hear Scrivener is a writers’ best friend.

PK: Lol. I’m a total punster, BUT I’m getting better, in the sense, I’ve been writing my first draft more or less in outline format, where I sit down and write out scenes with dialogues. I don’t worry about showing vs. telling or worry about removing a scene. Usually my first draft outlines these days have been around 800 words per chapter. And I don’t use any software. It’s Microsoft word all the way :)

5. If you could go for a night of drinking with any fictional characters, who would they be and why?

PK: DEAN from My Dracian Series. I want to know WHY he motivated me to write a story. Because if it wasn’t for Dean, I don’t think I’d be writing J. That’s the truth.

I don't blame you. I love love LOVE Dean. He's such a cutie.

PK: Thank you sooooo much for having me on your blog Colleen!

Thanks so much for stopping by. It’s always good to catch up. And congratulations on all your upcoming work.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Review: EXILE (a Keeper novel) by Shannon Messenger

EXILE, by Shannon Messenger, is the second book in her Keeper series. Shannon is writing up a storm working on both an MG series (KEEPER) and a YA series (LET THE SKY FALL) at the same time. Pretty impressive. Shannon is active on Twitter and has a popular blog.

The KEEPER series is a fun, MG Fantasy with elves who travel by light and take care of rare animals like T-rex and Sasquatch. I loved the first book and I couldn’t wait for the second.

EXILE picks up where KEEPER left off. EXILE is fun, light, and glitters with new animals, like an Alicorn (think unicorn + Pegasus but with lots of sparkles), and new challenges for the young friends.

Here is the blurb:

Sophie is settling in nicely to her new home and her new life in the world of the lost cities. And it helps that living at Havenfield means getting to spend time with rare, precious species--including the first female Alicorn, who shows herself to Sophie and trusts no one but her.

Sophie is tasked with helping to train the magical creature so that the Alicorn can be revealed to the people of the lost cities as a sign of hope, and Sophie wants to believe that the recent drama and anguish is gone for good.

But the secrets buried deep in Sophie's memories remain, and before long she's back in incredible danger, risking everything to find the answers to questions that could save not only her life, but the life of someone close to her...

I give EXILE five out of five kitties. I adore the fantastic world Shannon has built here and look forward to the next installment in the story.

Have you read KEEPER or EXILE? What did you think?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Write it Forward: #NaNo shove

Time for an inspiration break. If you're like me you need a bit of a shove to get NaNo back on track.

First, remember that anytime can be a good time to write. Write by hand if you have to. Write on your phone and email it to yourself. Lug your laptop with you everywhere.

Next, don't let your goals stress you out. *takes deep breaths*

And last, but not least, BICHOK: butt-in-chair-hands-on-keyboard.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Another Day, Another Day Job – the end of my parole from Corporate America

I realized that this week marks my last week of freedom from the Day Job. You may remember when I blogged about getting laid off, or paroled as I called it.

At the time, getting laid off felt like failure – much the way a rejection from an agent can feel like failure. In reality, getting laid off was anything but failure.

I’ve had a good deal of time to myself over the last few months and I realized something:

I’m absolutely grateful for it. The time off has been a gift. I a gift I spent on me.

I rested.

I finally caught up on some long overdue sleep. It cannot go without saying how much our bodies need sleep. I’m so thankful I had time to rest.

I read.

Oh boy, I read a ton of books. Well, 15 to be exact. It felt good to get lost in books without having to worry about being late for something. I’m grateful I had the time to read.

I wrote.

A lot. I wrote more than 111,000 words since I was laid off. I finished two MS’s and started work on a third. I’m grateful I had time to dedicate to my craft.

I spent time with friends and family.

My sister got married and I was free to spend as much time with her as possible. But that wasn’t all. There were meetings and parties and lunches. I am grateful I had so much time to spend with friends and family.

I interviewed.

I spent a lot of time interviewing for prospective jobs. I had a few great offers but in the end I selected the Day Job that will best fit for my life. I’m eternally grateful to my colleagues and network who helped connect me with the decision makers.

None of those things felt like failure to me.

Next week I will begin life at a new Day Job and all the madness that goes along with it.

I can say, with a thankful heart, that I come to this next challenge fresh and ready to learn.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ten Years Together? Fire The Cupcake Cannons!

Today marks the tenth year my husband and I have been together. We've known each other for much longer but we've officially been together for ten years (dating 2, married 8). We have a fun story that I'm sure I'll share here some day - when I'm not in a NaNoWriMo shame spiral, but I digress.

Today is about ten. Ten years together! It’s a long time and I’m so thankful for every moment we’ve shared (even the bad ones). And, oh yes, there have been tough times. It's not all cakes, and flowers, and romance novel moments. It's visceral and challenging and real. Which, in my humble opinion, is better anyway.

Here's a pic of us before a dance in high school. Talk about throw back Thursday! I'm sixteen in these pics. Ah, the memories.

(BTW, I wore that same dress to three high school dances. And when I didn't wear it I was usually borrowing someone's worn-before dress. I was pretty lucky to have such wonderful girlfriends. *blows kisses to all my girlfriends*)

Some of the most challenging times of our relationship were when we were dating long distance (which, forgive me while I date myself: the very young cannot appreciate the pain of long distance dating AT ALL. We dated long distance when writing HAND WRITTEN letters and saving pennies for long distance phone calls was the only method of communication. If you just thought 'what the heck is a long distance phone call' you're lucky LOL). We were separated by money, miles, time zones, and even oceans. The fact that we are together, after all that time apart is beyond words.

When I read a story that touches my heart it’s undoubtedly because the story reminds me of us, of him, of our trials and tribulations, and our very own HEA.

*raises glass* Here's to many more years of HEA <3 *muah*

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

#NaNo Push: Great is the enemy of Good

No, I didn't get it wrong. I know what the original quote is but I mean what I say: Great is the enemy of Good.

We want to be great. We want our drafts to be great. But Hemingway said it best:

Are you letting your desire to edit/revise as you go derail your NaNoWriMo goals? I've done it before *coughs* *remembers last years NaNo*

Don't let your drive for great derail your ability to complete the first draft.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Review: WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE by Sarah Dessen

Sarah Dessen is famous for her YA Contemp’s (she's prolific) and I'm embarrassed to say I hadn’t read her. At least, until now. I noticed a recent title was on sale so I gobbled it up.

WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE is a sweet, YA Contemp about a perpetual new-girl coping with her parent’s divorce. I loved the authentic was in which Dessen captured the stresses, and occasional benefits, of the new-girl lifestyle. Having moved around a lot her MC rang true for me.

Here’s the blurb:

Since her parents' bitter divorce, Mclean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move - four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother's new family, Mclean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, Mclean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself - whoever that is. Perhaps her neighbor Dave, an academic superstar trying to be just a regular guy, can help her find out.

I really enjoyed this story and the spark-filled romance. I personally like my romance a little steamier. At times I found the narrative was heavy-handed – a little in my face. Is that common with Dessen books? (or was it just me?)

I give WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE three kitties for being a sweet, authentic, fun read.

What are your favorite Sarah Dessen reads?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I Can Haz Productivity: October 2013 Month In Review

Last month I changed my daily writing goal to 800 words a month. I talk about my thoughts on updating goals here. And given that September was my best month ever (40k words in 30 days) I had high hopes that October would be another banner month.

But October was my month for revision. And revision means cutting words - not adding them (usually). Everything seemed to slow to a crawl, which was fine by me. I read a lot of books and chopped a lot of words.

I entered my newly polished Sci Fi MS in two contests. The first, Nightmare on Query Street, already wrapped and was great fun. Here's a link to my entry.

Contests are wonderful, humbling experiences. I learned a lot. Met a lot of great people via Twitter and had a great time.

It was also NaNoPrep month (for me) which I talk about in a post here. Some of the books I read were specifically aimed at helping me plot. If you haven't read Blake Snyder's SAVE THE CAT!, you should - it's FANTABULOUS!

And we finished the month with a quick trip to the beach to visit my in-laws.

Happy Writer Shot

So what did my month yield? The productivity is as follows:

16 blog posts
6 novels read
2 non fiction writing books read
2 contests entered
And words, lots of words *does happy dance *

For a grand total of 14, 947 words. That’s my Not the best month ever - and no, I did not hit my 800 word a day goal, but any month with words is a great month.

This brings my total ‘tracked’ word count for the year to 136,247! *blinks* *blinks some more* I just can’t believe it. I feel so legit because that’s a lota words. Check out how I did in Sep, Aug, and July.

How are your writing goals coming along? How do you determine you daily word goals?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Interview with Amiee Salter, Author of BREAKABLE

Today I'm thrilled to have the illustrious, YA Debut author, Aimee Salter on the blog. She's touring to celebrate the release of her novel: BREAKABLE.

Here's the blurb:

When seventeen-year-old Stacy looks in the mirror she can see and talk to her future self. “Older Me” has been Stacy's secret support through the ongoing battle with their neurotic mother, relentless bullying at school, and dealing with her hopeless love for her best friend, Mark.

Then Stacy discovers Older Me is a liar.

Still reeling from that betrayal, Stacy is targeted again by her most persistent tormentor. Only this time, he's used her own artwork to humiliate her - and threaten her last chance with Mark.

Sounds amazing, right? Add it to your Goodreads shelf here. Buy it here: Kindle | Paperback | Nook

Now on to the interview-

1. Hi Aimee *waves*. Thanks for being here today. As book lovers, I think we all romanticize the way authors come up with books. The thought of a single idea that later grows up into a novel is awe inspiring. So I have to ask, how did the idea for your debut, BREAKABLE, come to you?

AS: Hi! *Waves back* Thanks for having me!

Just as an aside: I read the word “debut” there, and my stomach twirled. All by itself. Which is disturbing. Especially to passersby. But I digress…

For me, book ideas usually “just come”. I’ll be thinking about something I saw, or an aspect of romantic relationships that interests me. Then suddenly I can see a character, and as I think about that character, I’ll see more. Then I get a scene in my head and I can’t stop fidgeting until I write it down.

BREAKABLE was slightly different in that it had a tangible seed: I was reading the website in which authors write letters to their teen selves. These letters are immensely personal and revealing. After reading about a dozen, I noticed how many of them began their letter with something along the lines of “I know you won’t listen to me, but…”

That sentiment resonated for me. I remember how I thought and felt when I was sixteen or seventeen. If the me from now could give advice to the me from then, I know my teen me would be nodding and smiling, all the while thinking “Sure, but…”.

It got me thinking – if I could have an ACTUAL conversation with my teen self, what would it be like? What would I tell her? What would she listen to and what would she discard?

And suddenly I could see it…

Two and half years, one publishing offer, one agent, one lost agent, and a terrifying plunge later, BREAKABLE is hitting the shelves!

2. Every writer seems to enjoy different aspects of the creative process. Example: I hate the first draft but love revising and rewriting. For you, what was the best part of writing this book? What was the worst part?

AS: This book has been an emotional roller-coaster from the start. The original version (VERY different to where it is now) ran very close to my own experience in high school, and the character of Stacy was very close to my own teen self. So those first drafts were heart-wrenching because it was like putting myself back through those experiences.

Thankfully, the story has morphed and the character has changed dramatically. It’s no longer a meat-grinder to read or revise those emotional scenes because I’m working with characters now, not my own heart!

Honestly, the best part has been people’s response to the concept. Right from the word go, the vast majority of people who hear what the book is about have that little *Ding!* moment where they go “That sounds interesting.”

Add to that, reader’s responses to the new ending I wrote this year (adding a significant twist). It was a risk to completely rewrite the last third of the book so late in the game. I was scared to death when I sent it out. But readers have been literally putting the book down to email me about how floored they were by the new developments – and about how they can’t write more than that because they have to get back to the book and see what happens.

As a writer, it doesn’t get better than that. I’ve had readers and critiquers read my manuscripts for years. I’ve never had responses like this before. It’s why I’m sure the book is ready to be out there.

3. That's awesome and I can't wait to devour it. Speaking of the act of writing - fitting writing and revising into our day-to-day lives can be hard. To complicate matters, I know you recently moved your family from New Zealand to USA. I’ve moved around a lot but nothing quite like that. How did your international move play into the writing/editing of this book?

AS: Oh, geez. That was a nightmare. I wouldn’t recommend it. And yet, I would, because it’s been wonderful to be back with my family! (Especially since I have a son now, so this is his first time living with extended family around).

Between January and June of this year I was literally under so much stress I was having trouble breathing. During those months I revised the book for my then-agent, cleared out my entire house, sold most of our stuff, had my agent put the book on first-round submission to editors, transitioned my son out of school in New Zealand, moved across the globe, reconnected with family and friends that I hadn’t had the chance to spend more than a few weeks with since I was eighteen, revised my book again, found out my agent was quitting agenting, cleared out another house that we moved into which was full of someone else’s things, decided to self-publish (that’s an entire ballgame on its own) and actually, you know, did it.

I’ll stop whining now. Suffice it to say, this year has been incredibly hard. But totally worth it! I think the book is better for it because I’ve had to be really focused. I haven’t been doing anything with half a brain. I couldn’t put much time aside for writing between February and July, so what time I did assign to it was completely tunnel-visioned. And I think it worked. (I guess we’ll see?)

4. Did your time in New Zealand inspire any scenes in BREAKABLE?

AS: There are moments in the book and settings that are inspired by real events and places. But the key word there is “inspired”. It never works to actually replicate life. The beauty of fiction is that I can take what I know, what I’ve experienced, and what I’ve observed, and roll it all together with ideas or things I like, into something that suits my story.

Since I only did my senior year of high school in America, in truth, New Zealand inspired most of the book. At least, my high school experience did. Interestingly, socially my high school experience in New Zealand was very different to my experience in America. So I was able to draw on both sides of the social spectrum from personal knowledge.

I will say this: The art room which features prominently in Breakable is an almost-perfect replica of the art room at my first high school. I had to change one little thing about it just for ease of description. But when I see it in my head, Stacy and Mark inhabit the same room I did. And the portfolios they're working on are based on my final-grade requirement for sophomore year.

5. As a fellow writer I have to ask: Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions? I’ve got this thing now where I need a giant iced coffee and a bottle of water before I can sit down and write. (Please say I’m not alone. Please say I’m not alone.)

AS: Er…sorry… *Shifty eyes* I have no idea what you’re talking about. (Please, ignore the mug of coffee to my right, and the playlist pounding out of my iPod dock…)

6. Your secret is safe with me *winks*. So, your decision to self pub has been well chronicled on your blog (See Aimee's posts on the self pub process here). What part of the self pub journey surprised you as being harder, or easier, than you anticipated?

AS: Hmmm…I’m still in the thick of it, so I could probably answer this question better in a couple months. But certainly in the early stages, the pleasant surprise has been the support I’ve received after making the decision. I expected a lot of skepticism and pessimism from people around me. But almost everyone has been very excited about and supportive of the idea. I’ve had a great deal of free help from people who are true professionals in their field. They’ve made my book better, AND helped me achieve an end product that is professional (without the price tag).

On the negative side, formatting electronically (for both digital and paperback) is far more complicated than I anticipated. I find computer software pretty intuitive, so it isn’t hard for me to understand instructions. But actually following them through is much, much more difficult than I anticipated.

Luckily, a couple dear friends self-published before me. They warned me that formatting would need more time than I thought. I gave myself the space on my to-do list, but honestly didn’t think I would need it. I was wrong. They were right. Thank the Lord I listened to them anyway! (If you’re wondering, they suggested giving the paperback formatting and proof process a full month prior to release, and the digital formatting a full week. They also said not to expect to use one format to set up the other. And they were absolutely right).

7. What awesome online resources would you suggest writers use if they are seeking to self pub?

AS: There are tons of them out there! The writing community is really generous in sharing information. But I’ll tell you my favorites (I’m going to have to split these up):

While Writing:

I hate do this but, I’d have to start with two of my series on my blog: plot development and self-editing . Sorry to blow my own trumpet, but I created those because I couldn’t find them anywhere else.

No worries here - those are excellent posts that I use myself. Great resources!

AS: While in final edits I’d suggest You do have to pay for that service, but for someone like me who can’t afford to pay a professional proof-reader, it’s a godsend.

Industry Commentary:

If you want genuine, experienced, been-on-every-side-of-every-coin advice from a guy who’s been in every part of publishing, you can’t go wrong listening to agent Chip MacGregor (quietly awarded Dealmaker of the Year by Publisher’s Marketplace more than once). I’ve been reading his blog since 2009 and it’s still the best, most solid advice I’ve found online:

He’s in a niche market now, but he’s literally been a writer, editor, publisher, self-published, traditionally published, agent, etc, etc, etc. And he’s been doing all that for 30 years or so. Listen to his words, Grasshoppers. He’s especially good on professionalism and what makes writing good.


While I haven’t made as much use of it as I could, author Kristen Lamb’s blog is incredibly solid, and backed by significant sales in the marketplace ( ). Her MYWANA hashtag group is popular on twitter, and she’s made it into conferences, etc, which is difficult for self-published authors to do. Another ripe resource, I think.

Wow, seriously, thank you for all the resources. You just made the day of some of my readers.

8. Publishing is a huge achievement. What plans do you have to celebrate the release of your novel?

AS: Well, right now I’m going to try and run down one of those unicorns so, just in case my book doesn’t fly, I can get famous for being the world’s first Unicorn Wrangler.

Other than that… Umm… sleeping? Haven’t got to do a lot of that for the past few months. Also, sitting in my house without chewing over what I have left to do, and whether or not I’ve done what I already did right. Though, I suppose the chewing will be reassigned to my nails, waiting to see if anyone actually enjoys the book…

On a more practical level, I’m going out to dinner with my family, basking in the congrats, etc, from people who’ve been walking this journey with me for the past four years, and also doing a blog-tour *wink*.

9. If you could go out for a wild night on the town with any fictional characters who would they be? (Please note that there is no chance of a hangover, bad press, or arrest record from any activities undertaken during this wild night).

AS: Well, to start with, do we mean wild as in, “Wow, sure wish I hadn’t left my skirt on the Velcro wall,” or do we mean, “Mom, you and your friends are laughing too loud, and I’m trying to sleep”? Because I far prefer the second these days. Just sayin’.

In whatever manner though, hands down, I’d want to party with Sunshine, Drew and Josh from Katka Millay’s The Sea of Tranquility. I’d also get giddy if I had the chance to sit down to dinner with Colin and Hassan from John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines.

But that’s enough from me. It’s been so much fun being here today, Colleen. Thank you so much for hosting me, and helping get the word out about Breakable. I hope I’ll get to visit again soon!

Thanks Aimee!

Don't forget you can get your copy of Aimee's Debut, BREAKABLE here:

Add it to your Goodreads shelf here. Buy it here: Kindle | Paperback | Nook

Friday, November 1, 2013

PROGENY cover reveal (book three in the ENDURE trilogy)

It's time for the PROGENY cover reveal. PROGENY is the third book in Starla Huchton's NA Sci Fi ENDURE series. You may remember my awesome interview with Starla re girl-cooties in Sci Fi. (It's a fan favorite, check it out).

Today is about more than girl-cooties. Today is the first celebration, in what I imagine will be a long line of celebrations, as the Endure series comes to a close. So here's the blurb:

Heartbroken over Lydia's unexplained departure, Daniel Brewer is barely functional. When she left the Endure, she took everything important with her: his purpose, his heart, his reason for breathing. Daniel's convinced Nick Miller has the answers to his questions, but Dr. Gorgeous isn't talking.

A world away, Dr. Lydia Ashley struggles with her choices and mistakes. With one small discovery, everything she thought was true is shattered in an instant.

The buried secrets of the Maven Initiative surface.

No one is safe.

And Daniel and Lydia must both decide exactly how far they'll go for love.

Sounds exciting, right? Add it to your Goodreads shelf here.

So how about the cover:

Pretty amazing right? It's a perfect visual end to the trillogy. See the details on books 1 and 2 of the endure series below.

Title: MAVEN (The Endure series, book 1)
Goodreads | Amazon | Smashwords


How far would you go for love?

Since losing her parents at 14, young prodigy Dr. Lydia Ashley has focused on one thing: an appointment on the Deep Water Research Command Endure. Now 21, she’s about to realize that dream, but nothing is how she imagined it would be. Her transitional sponsor forgets her, her new lab is in complete chaos, and, as if that weren’t enough, she’s about to discover something so horrific it could potentially destroy all life on the planet.

Daniel Brewer, a noted playboy and genius in his own right, may be exactly what she needs… Or he may make everything worse.

Has she finally found a puzzle she can’t solve?

Title: NEMESIS (The Endure series, book 2)
Goodreads |
Amazon | Smashwords


Tech genius Daniel Brewer isn't the only one with a romantic history. Already weighed down with the impossible problem of the Maven Initiative's plans for world domination and disaster, Dr. Lydia Ashley is finding it more and more difficult to keep things in balance. With an old flame reappearing and the schemes of a vindictive new rival thrown into the mix, her hopes for a life with Daniel may be on the brink of annihilation.

When Lydia's past is brought to light, one big secret could destroy everything.

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