Friday, October 30, 2015

November 2015 Releases

Ten Thousand Skies Above You Cover
Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird #2) by Claudia Gray

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Ever since she used the Firebird, her parents' invention, to cross into alternate dimensions, Marguerite has caught the attention of enemies who will do anything to force her into helping them dominate the multiverse—even hurting the people she loves. She resists until her boyfriend, Paul, is attacked and his consciousness scattered across multiple dimensions.

Marguerite has no choice but to search for each splinter of Paul’s soul. The hunt sends her racing through a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each world brings Marguerite one step closer to rescuing Paul. But with each trial she faces, she begins to question the destiny she thought they shared.

The second book in the Firebird trilogy, Ten Thousand Skies Above You features Claudia Gray’s lush, romantic language and smart, exciting action, and will have readers clamoring for the next book.

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart Cover
The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

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Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she's spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Leonardo da Vinci’s footsteps, she's ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive . . . and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in Beatrix’s own family’s closet tear them apart?

Neverseen Cover
Neverseen (Keeper of the Lost Cities #4) by Shannon Messenger

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Sophie Foster is on the run—but at least she's not alone.

Her closest friends from the Lost Cities have gone with her to join the Black Swan. They still have doubts about the shadowy organization, but the only way to find answers is to start working with them. And as they settle into their new lives, they uncover secrets far bigger than anything they’d imagined.

But their enemies are far from done, and unleash a terrifying plague that threatens the safety of an entire species. Sophie and her friends fight with everything they have—with new allies joining them—but every choice has consequences. And trusting the wrong person could prove deadly.

In this game-changing fourth book in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, Sophie must question everything to find a truth that will either save her world—or shatter it.

Dangerous Lies Cover
Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick

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A teen is forced to make a fresh start after witnessing a violent crime—but love and danger find her anyway in this novel from Becca Fitzpatrick, the New York Times bestselling author of the Hush, Hush saga.

Stella Gordon is not her real name. Thunder Basin, Nebraska, is not her real home. This is not her real life.

After witnessing a lethal crime, Stella Gordon is sent to the middle of nowhere for her own safety before she testifies against the man she saw kill her mother’s drug dealer.

But Stella was about to start her senior year with the boyfriend she loves. How can she be pulled away from the only life she knows and expected to start a new one in Nebraska? Stella chafes at her protection and is rude to everyone she meets. She’s not planning on staying long, so why be friendly? Then she meets Chet Falconer and it becomes harder to keep her guard up, even as her guilt about having to lie to him grows.

As Stella starts to feel safer, the real threat to her life increases—because her enemies are actually closer than she thinks…

Winter Cover
Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer

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Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend–the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Trailer Reveal: OBLIVION by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Title: Oblivion (Lux #1.5)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Release Date: December 1, 2015

About Oblivion

Experience the epic love story of OBSIDIAN as told by its hero, Daemon Black…

I knew the moment Katy Swartz moved in next door, there was going to be trouble. Lots of it.

And trouble’s the last thing I need, since I’m not exactly from around here. My people arrived on Earth from Lux, a planet thirteen billion light years away. Plus, if there’s one thing I know, it’s that humans can’t be trusted. We scare them. We can do things they only dream about, and honestly, we make them look weak as hell. ‘Cuz they are.

But Kat is getting to me in ways no one else has, and I can't stop myself from wanting her—or wanting to use my powers to protect her. She makes me weak, and I’m the strongest of our kind, tasked with protecting us all. So this one simple girl…she can mean the end for us. Because the Luxen have an even bigger enemy—the Arum, and I need to stay on my game.

Falling for Katy—a human—won't just place her in danger. It could get us all killed, and that’s one thing I’ll never let happen...

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  Check out the other books in the Lux Series!

Lux: Beginnings
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Lux: Consequences  
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About Jennifer L. Armentrout

# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA.

She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

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Monday, October 26, 2015

NaNoWriMo Survival Guide

This will be my last writing craft post leading into NaNoWriMo. Here is my advice to surviving November! Some of the tips are essential, others might not fit into your life right now. That's okay, pick and choose which ones work for you and use them.

Tip #1: Schedule, Schedule, Schedule (Essential Tip #1)

This is no joke. Set aside time every single day to write. I'm not a morning person, by a long shot. Yet I'm up every morning around 5:30. Usually I do my workouts right after I get my little guy in bed. This month I will be doing my workouts a bit earlier in the evening. That way I can use that later time to write. I still have to get to bed early to be able to function at 5:30am the next day.

And I'll be attempting to schedule extra writing time on the weekends to offset any possible loss in writing time during the week.

Tip #2: Enlist Your Family 

This is a big one. My family knows that when November comes around I need that quiet writing time. Which basically means I stick in my earbuds, turn on the music, tune everything out, and write like a crazy person.

Let them know what you're doing. Chances are, they will help you stay on track. Tell them you need time to write. Ask them to help give you that time. Ask them to keep you accountable.

Tip #3: The Mess Will Still Be There December 1st 

Seriously. Don't worry about all that mess piling up around you during November. It's not going anywhere. Schedule time at the first of December to take care of everything. If you have other adults in the house, they can either wait for you to return to your regularly scheduled life in December or they will get tired and take care of it themselves. lol 

Tip #4: Share Your Progress

Get on your social media and share your daily goals and your word counts. Remember to tag your posts (#NaNoWriMo or #NaNo or #NaNo2015). Other writers following those hashtags will keep you accountable and cheer you on. In fact, this is it a great way increase your writing network.

Follow writers on the NaNo site. As they update their word count you can see how everyone is doing. And as you update your totals, anyone who follows you will be able to see your progress. It's a great tool. Remember to make sure you have the correct region selected. That's another fun way to see how your region compares to others around the world. It's also fun to watch your graph climb to 50K over the thirty days. That's a huge motivator.

Tip #5: Do a Write-In

I've never gone to a write-in, but I plan on doing so this year. Or at least I'm hoping to. Here's the scoop on write-ins. A group of writers get together in one location and write non-stop during certain hours. No interruptions. No laundry staring at you. No phones ringing. Just pure writing time.

I'd love it if The Writing Barn would do a write-in or two. I'd definitely go there. But, I just joined The Writers' League of Texas, and word is they are hosting a bunch of write-ins around Austin during November. Also, NaNoWriMo has their own write-ins scheduled by region.

Tip #6: Keep a Steal Journal

Okay, so this is new for me. I usually like to keep one notebook per project. But, last week I went to see Austin Kleon speak at BookPeople about his new book, Steal Like An Artist Journal. If you haven't heard of him and his books, you really need to check him out. I've added his books to my Resources For Writers tab above.

Basically, drag around one journal, everywhere, all day, and write anything that interests you in any way. You never know what you're going to use, how you're going to use it, or when.

Tip #7: Keep a NaNo Journal

This is going to be me, in addition to the Steal Journal. Why? Because there will inevitably be times inspiration will hit you, or you have a few minutes to write, but you are not any where near your computer. For me, this will be lunch time. I'm sure I'll be found hiding in a corner, huddled over my notebook, jotting a few lines to type up later.

Tip #8: Forget Order! 

Some writers jump out of order when they write. I've had the urge to do this occasionally, but somehow every time I've tried this I get all sorts of mixed up with my momentum and can't go back to fill in the space between the scenes. If you need to, and can manage it, do it. Don't let yourself get into a rut and lose momentum entirely.

Tip #9: Go Off Track

don't worry if you have a detailed outline and your characters decide they need to go somewhere else entirely. That's part of the fun with NaNo. Follow your gut and your characters. Let them lead you. You might be surprised by what you learn about them and you. Plus, you can always edit it out after November 30th. 

Tip #10: Breathe (Essential Tip #2)

NaNo only last thirty days. It's doable. Trust me. Just remember to breath. Don't get worked up if you're behind. Calmly adjust your word count goals and get right back to writing. Thirty days goes quicker than you think. There isn't time to have panic attacks over word counts. Or worry about editing that sentence that doesn't feel right from day two. There certainly isn't time to freeze up and lose momentum. Keep going. Keep writing. Every. Day. You can do it. Even if you don't hit the 50,000 words by the end of the month, keep going and you'll have a really good start to a novel. You can keep going through December. While the challenge ends at midnight on November 30th, there is nothing stopping you from adding more words to your manuscript until you are done.

Note for November Blogging: During November I will still be blogging, but not about writing craft. It will be more of a check in style posting every Friday, or Saturday - I haven't decided yet. This is a way to let others see how I'm doing, keep myself accountable, and let other writers brag about their word counts in the comments below. I will be back to a regular writing craft blog in December. I also may be moving the postings to Saturday. It's a bit difficult to get to my personal computer and share the posts on Fridays. 

See you during NaNo.

Friday, October 16, 2015

NaNoWriMo Like a Pro

Last week I shared outlining methods you can use for NaNo. This week I thought I'd share some other ways to gear up for your month long writing sprint.

Set a Word Count: 

The entire goal is to write a 50,000 novel (or start to one) in 30 days. And looking at that number is seriously daunting. 50k words in 30 days. Um, yeah, that's nearly impossible. Right?

Wrong. It's manageable. All it takes is 1,667 words a day. That's it. Not so bad now, huh? I have my own number in mind when I sit down, though. A more even number. One that helps if I have a bad writing day later on. 2,000 words every day. That's my goal. I've heard of other writers setting the goal even higher. Some writers even set their word count for the entire month at 100,000. *gasping for air* That's insane if you ask me, but that's just me. If you can do it, then do it.

Regardless of what your goal is, set a daily word count and stick to it. Get those words in. Every. Single. Day.

Plan Ahead: 

It's November which means Thanksgiving. There will be at least two or three days this month where you will not get in your word count. At all.  I get it. My youngest's birthday is in November. So on top of Thanksgiving, there's his birthday. There is also the day I will be traveling with my daughter to a college visit. We're staying over night. I have plenty of days during November where I will not be getting in my word count.

Here's how I deal with that. I plan out 2,000 words every day. Then looking at my calendar I figure out which days will be no writing days. Then I spread out the word count on the days leading up to those non-writing days. 500 words here and there. So for every day I know I will miss there are four days I have to add 500 words to. It's not too bad. Especially in the first week. I really go strong there and if I can get extra words in at the beginning I will do it. If I'm on a roll and I have the time, I refuse to stop writing just because I made word count for the day. This helps out immensely around Thanksgiving, because the extra words are done. 

If you don't plan ahead, you will have to make up those words later on. I can honestly say from experience, it's not a good feeling. It tends to stress me out and make me nervous that I won't make word count in the end. I get too preoccupied with worrying about making word count that I lose momentum. So I try to do extra as much as possible in the beginning of the month.

Use an Outline: 

I use a very loose outline. One that I don't worry about if I change my mind and veer in another direction. Because, I always find some crazy twist that just has to happen. One I didn't think about while I was outlining, but now I know I have to add in. I don't fret over changing directions.

Here's why. I like to think of my outline as a map. There are multiple ways to get from point A to point B on the plot map. Instead of taking a direct route, I can take a longer route, or stick with the plan. It doesn't matter. I will still get to point B no matter what. There are certain places along the way that are, in a sense, non-negotiable for me. Those are the points where something does not go according to the character's plans. Those are the turning points that I know have to happen to further the story.

Or you can always do what I did my first NaNo. Fly by the seat of your pants. I didn't hit my word count that year. I fell short by just over 11,000 words. But I did finish a rough draft. And it's still sitting in a folder on my computer. Untouched because I have no clue where I was going with it. Hence, the reason I use outlines to at least figure out major plot points ahead of time. 

Don't Look Back:

This is one of the most important lessons NaNo teaches. Turn off your inner editor. Shut that thing down. I know writers who refuse to move on to the next chapter until they get the current chapter perfect. I can't do that. I lose momentum. When I lose momentum I lose the story. I get annoyed with the story quickly. And guess what? It never gets completed.

News flash: The story will still be there to edit when the rough draft is completed. If you want to make word count you CANNOT go back and edit while you write. Don't do it. NEVER do this. You will not in fact make word count. Nor will you finish that draft. Please, do not edit while you write for NaNo.

Yes, the draft will be a mess, but that's what rough drafts are for. They aren't supposed to be perfect. Not by a long shot. I love messy drafts. They're fun to clean up after NaNo. There are a lot of writers who band together again after NaNo to clean up their NaNo drafts.

Schedule Writing Time: 

This is another very important thing to do. Know when you will write each day. I know exactly when I will be writing every day, at the beginning of the week. Some days it will be in the morning, others in the afternoon, and others in the evening. My family understands, I'm unavailable most of November. Except on the days I will be too busy with family to write. My mom is really good about keeping my son entertained so I can write. My daughter knows not to bug me when I say I'm writing. My son is still learning that writing time is not his time to come beg me for computer time for him. lol He sees me on the computer and decides he needs to steal it from me.

Set the time aside. Explain what you are doing to your family. Get them on board. You might be surprised at how willing they are to help you reach your goals. Let them know you need time to set aside for writing. Time that is for the story and nothing else. Be serious about that time. It might seem selfish, but it really isn't. Think of it as study time. You're paying your dues before becoming published. Or, if you're already published, it's your time to work on your craft, your next book, or any number of ways to further your writing career.

Be fiercely protective of this writing time. Make it a habit. One that, hopefully, will stick around longer than just November. After all, you will need that time later to edit this manuscript.

Keep a Notebook: 

I always keep a notebook nearby. Why? I don't edit as I go. And I veer from my original outline. Every. Single. Time. Therefore, having a notebook to make edit notes to myself helps later on. When it's time to edit my manuscript I have notes to myself to go back and fix things at the beginning of the draft to make other things happen later on in the draft. Sometimes I make notes to cut an entire chapter during edits. Truth is, I wrote those words during NaNo, so they are going to stay and count towards my word count goal. If I edit and cut them in the midst of NaNo, they are no longer there to use for my word count. And that just flat out sucks.

So I keep every word during NaNo, but I cut a vast amount of those words in the editing process. A lot of my rough draft is me thinking out loud, well on paper out loud. I don't worry about words I tend to over use while I'm drafting. There will be plenty of time to edit the heck out of it and cut those words later when I revise. I like to think of my rough draft as the bones of the project. The final draft that others will see will eventually be smoothed out on top of those bones.

Since I usually don't get time to get back to my NaNo project until January or February I have a tendency to forget those little ideas I have while drafting. This is where that notebook comes in handy. Those thoughts are all there. Not lost or forgotten. It makes revising a heck of a lot easier.


This is pretty much the hardest thing for writers to do. Unplug. Get off the internet. When I NaNo, I do not go on the internet until after I get my word count in. When I sit down to write, that's the only thing I can do at that time. No checking in on Twitter. Or checking to see if my friends are posting anything interesting on Facebook. Blog posts can be read later. Some writers turn off their WiFi access on their computers while they write. Others use apps that keep them on track and not wandering away from their computer or getting on the internet during certain times.

I just use good old fashioned will power. It's really hard, but I refuse to let myself open my browser until after my daily word count has been met. If I need to research an aspect for my project, it goes into my notebook for later, for my internet time.

Writing time is sacred and should not be used playing on social media sites.

Get a Squad: 

NaNoers are everywhere during November. Just look for these hastags: #NaNo #NaNoWriMo and you will find your people. If you are on Twitter, which you should be, pay attention to your friends' tweets. They may be taking part. Do NaNo sprints and tweet about it. Use the hashtags. Cheer others on, they'll cheer you on. Tweet about your goals. Tweet about your word counts, daily. Before you know it, you will have a squad. Those that you know have your back. Your squad will be your ultimate cheerleaders and accountability partners. Chances are, they need to be held accountable for their word count goals as much as you do.

Find me on Twitter, I'll cheer you on. And you can hold me accountable, too. @HeatherHeleneYA.

Set a Reward: 

What are you going to give yourself when you hit your 50,000 word count goal? I'm still not sure what my reward will be, but I will be setting a reward. Chances are, it will be linked to reading. I never read while I draft a manuscript. If I read, I chance having the voice of my project influenced by the other author's writing voice. And, most importantly, that time goes to writing time instead of reading. By the end of November I'm usually foaming at the mouth to just sit down and read.

Regardless of what your reward is, set it. Something that you can only have if you meet your goals. Clearly I need to rethink my reading reward. Because, honestly, I will be reading no matter what in December. Maybe I'll have a cheat day with regards to my eating and have a cupcake. I tend to stay away from sugar as much as possible these days, so that sounds like a much better reward. Something I know I won't be having unless I reach my goal. I'll even post a picture of the cupcake if I hit my word count by November 30th.

What are ways you prepare for NaNo?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Release Day Blitz: ALWAYS SECOND BEST by Elodie Nowodazkij


Sometimes being first isn’t what you expected.

Seventeen-year-old ballerina Emilia Moretti is tired of always being second best. And she’s going to prove the world she deserves to be first. In her upcoming School of the Performing Arts showcase. In the eyes of her birth parents. And in the heart of the guy she loves. She spends hours rehearsing, hours dreaming about becoming number one, hours imagining how her entire life is about to change. But when nothing goes the way she planned, she’ll need to realize what it really means to be first.

Eighteen-year-old Nick Grawski doesn’t want to follow Daddy Dearest’s rules any longer. He's going to prove he's meant to be a dancer—not a lawyer—and he is not going to stay away from Em just because his father demands it. He needs to show Em that—this time around—he’s there to stay and that he won’t break her heart again. Even when her world goes down to shit, even when he finds out his dad may have been trying to protect him all along, even if being there for one another is harder than falling in love.

ALWAYS SECOND BEST is a novel of hope and heartbreak and broken dreams. It’s a novel about falling in love and discovering that being first isn’t always what matters.

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And now for some fun goodies. (Don't forget the giveaway towards the end of the post.)


Chapter 15 / EM

I FORGET MYSELF in his kiss, in the way his arms tighten around me, in the way my entire body wants to get even closer.

One of his hands cups the side of my face. I jump so my legs are around his waist. He’s holding me and I deepen our kiss. I don’t ever want to stop.

“Em.” His voice is hoarse and he walks forward, my legs still around him, until my back hits the mirror.

His lips trail down my face, to my collarbone, and his hands detangle mine from his neck to bring them over my head.

I can feel him, all of him. “I’ve missed you,” he says.

And I’ve missed him too. So much. My brain’s screaming for me to stop, my heart’s hesitating. What am I doing? What are we doing? Setting ourselves up for failure again.

“I have to go.” My voice shakes. “I have to go,” I repeat and Nick slowly puts me back on my feet before stepping away.

“What are you talking about?” He’s almost out of breath.

“I have to go.” I can’t look at him, or I’ll never leave.

I rush out. My feelings and my heart trailing behind.

Always Second Best Playlist

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Check out the other titles in the Broken Dreams Series

One Dream Only #0.5

One, Two, Three #1

A Summer Like No Other #1.5

Alles für einen Traum (German Edition)

Alles für einen Traum / Only One Dream (German/English Edition)

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About Elodie

Elodie Nowodazkij was raised in a tiny village in France, where she could always be found a book in hand. At nineteen, she moved to the US, where she learned she’d never lose her French accent. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Modern Language & Linguistics, and later earned master’s degrees in German Cultural Studies and European Studies. Unbeknownst to her professors, she sometimes drafted stories in class. Now she lives in Maryland with her husband, their dog and their cat. She's also a serial smiley user.

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Release Day Blitz: TOUCHING FATE by Brenda Drake


Aster Layne believes in physics, not psychics. A tarot card reading on the Ocean City Boardwalk should have been a ridiculous, just-for-fun thing. It wasn’t. Aster discovers she has a very unscientific gift—with a simple touch of the cards, she can change a person’s fate.

Reese Van Buren is cursed. Like the kind of old-school, centuries-old curse that runs in royal families. Every firstborn son is doomed to die on his eighteenth birthday—and Reese’s is coming up fast. Bummer. He tries to distract himself from his inevitable death…only to find the one person who can save him.

Aster doesn’t know that the hot Dutch guy she’s just met needs her help–or that he’s about to die.

But worst of all…she doesn’t know that her new gift comes with dark, dark consequences that can harm everyone she loves.

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The spell was broken when some partiers ran up the beach screaming and laughing. Aster turned in the direction of the noise and spotted Reese standing there. He waved. A moronic move, he reprimanded himself. Strolling up the beach James Bond-style would have been better, but instead, struggling in the sand, he headed for her. He decided if she moved toward him as well, it would be proof that she was attracted to him. Aster spun around and faced the ocean again.

Reese stopped. She was still angry with him. Just when he made up his mind to leave her alone, she started down the beach toward him.

“Hi,” she said, staring up at him. The golden specks in her eyes were like stardust glinting in the low-lying sun.

“What are you doing here?”

“Leah invited Jan, and he brought me along.”

“I see.”

“Well, I didn’t put up a struggle. I have to admit, I was hoping to see you.” He held out the aster. “This is for you. A peace offering. One simple flower can mean so much more than a bunch, don’t you agree?”

A shocked expression crossed her face, and Reese thought he had blown it. But then she gave him a sweet smile and took the flower from him. “Stolen ones are even better.”

“Well, in all honesty, it was a spur-of-the-moment decision. A gentleman doesn’t court a lady without bringing a gift.”

“So you’re courting me?” She tried unsuccessfully not to smile. It was rather fetching, her pink glossed lips twitching at the effort. “You don’t even know anything about me.”

“Well, that is the point of dating, isn’t it? To get to know each other?”

“I’m not sure.”

When the silence between them got uncomfortable, she lowered her head and picked at the stem of the flower.

“Not sure, huh?” This girl was a hard nut to crack. Reese got an idea. “How about we play a game?”

She looked back up at him. “What kind of game?”

“One where I tell you something about me, then you tell me something about yourself.”

“Sure, why not?” She twirled around and padded across the beach, lifting up sand with her toes and flicking it into the air in front of her. “You go first.”

“All right, then,” he said, keeping pace with her. “My family lives in a castle just outside of Amsterdam, complete with towers and turrets. It’s been in the family for generations. We only live in a few rooms. The rest of the place is open for tours. It helps pay for the upkeep and taxes.”

“Really?” She knotted her fingers behind her back. “Does that mean you’re royal?”

“No. But my father is a count.” He hated talking about his lineage. “It’s just a title,” he said, as if it wasn’t a big deal, which it wasn’t, at least to him.

“That’s pretty awesome,” she said.

“Now you.”

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Giveaway is 3 winners of …
Grand Prize of the Kindle + Swag Pack (US/Canada)
$50 Amazon Gift Card (INT)
$50 Amazon Gift Card (US/Canada)

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About Brenda Drake

Brenda Drake grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. Her fondest memories growing up are of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write stories with a bend toward the fantastical. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).

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Friday, October 9, 2015

Outlining For NaNoWriMo

I always used to think of myself as a pantser. I flew by the seat of my pants when writing. No outlines. Just a vague idea of where I was going. But that didn't work out too well. I found myself stuck doing a lot of revisions. Major revisions. Months of trying to figure out where my story was actually going. And how to fix it.

So I decided to outline. Go ahead, Google outlining a novel. You'll get a million links and if you're anything like me you will be overwhelmed. None of them work if you don't understand plot. So, I then started reading books on writing. I have a ton of books on writing. All helping with the whole process including outlining and plot. It's taken years to get where I am. And it's a mangle of methods all pulled into one that fits me, my style, and just generally is geared for me.

Even with this outlining method I still go astray. Usually I know where my story starts and ends, but have a hard time keeping them on the original path I intended. Most of the time my characters demand to go in a completely different direction, and I let them. That's part of the fun of writing, and the pantser still living inside me.

So I guess I'm a mixture of a pantser and an outliner. I'm cool with that. And I firmly believe that every writer should try multiple methods before deciding what works best for them. So try being a pantser. Try outlining. Learn your way to the best method for you.

Rather than tell you how to outline, I thought I'd give you some pointers. Then I'll give you my method. (Which I am still tweaking, but it's better than it used to be.)

The Snowflake Method: 

I still have no idea how this works for some writers. Apparently it does, and I am not one of those writers who has fully grasped this concept. But that's okay. Everyone is different in their writing methods.

This method starts out simple. Write a one sentence summary. (This is where they lose me. lol) Of course, you need to know exactly what your story is about. I almost never can trim it down to one sentence until closer to the end, though, I have found that I'm getting better at this as I mature as a writer.

Next comes expanding that into a paragraph summary, noting the main plot. Then add characters. Then go back to that paragraph summary and expand each sentence (plot point) into it's own paragraph summary. Now, go back to your characters and write full page descriptions of each one.

You'll then revisit those paragraph summaries you just expanded, before the characters expansion. Expand these. And from what I've read, you just keep expanding until you have a good outline or rough draft.

I cannot work like this. At all. But, maybe you can. If you'd like to give it a try, you can find out more about this method here.

Blake Snyder's Beat Sheet: 

One of the more popular methods to outline used by novelists and screenwriters alike is the Beat Sheet from Blake Snyder's Save the Cat.

I have tried this method. I have the book. I tried it desperately to make it work for me. I. Just. Cannot. Do. It. (Insert weeping.) I want to be able to understand it. However, my brain just doesn't want to comprehend it. It's simple, too. And everyone loves it. I recommend it all the time, because I know how popular and loved it is. I just wish I could use it correctly.

If you'd like to try it out I suggest you buy your own copy of Save the Cat and dissect every beat sheet included. And here is a link to more beat sheets to study.

Christina Farley's Outlines: 

Young Adult / Middle Grade author Christina Farley has her own outline that you can print out from her website. It's awesome. A really great tool. I actually have created my own version based off of hers for my own outlining. I'm using it as a part of my outlining process for NaNo this year.

She even gives you a simple outline of what should be happening in each chapter. I had to rework it since  tend to write more chapters than the twenty chapters she outlines. If you write New Adult you will need more chapters. And if you write Middle Grade you'll need less chapters. Tweak it. That's how you get better and learn your own writing quirks.

Flexible Outline: 

Writer's Digest posted this great article on 7 Steps to Creating a Flexible Outline. This is the method that most closely resembles the method I put together on my own. It's my go-to method and one I will probably never fully stop using. It's simple and flexible. Which is good, because I always go off on tangents with my manuscripts.

Someone once said, I can't remember who, that writing is like a map. As long as you know your starting point and ending point there are multiple ways to get there, and that's okay.

This method has you figuring out your premise. This is important if you want to outline anything else. If you don't know what your premise is, you can't outline at all. Then you'll need to sketch out scenes, characters, and settings. Once you have that you're able to create that outline, condense it, and put it into action.

First Draft in 30 Days: 

This is where I first learned how to start properly creating outlines. Love this book. Seriously, check it out. It's full of excellent advice. Wiesner lays out detailed information about the different plot points your manuscript should have. She has worksheets for character sketches, scene sketches, setting sketches, ... It's really worth having it. It also is the base of my own outlining method.

No Outline Method: (Pantser Method) 

Writer's Digest also posted this article on the 6 Secrets To Writing a Novel Without an Outline.  I won't go into it much, mostly because when I write without an outline, I don't think about these things at all. I just let the character take me where ever they want. But you are more than welcome to check out these ideas (or are they secrets?).

My Method: 

I usually start out with a blank spiral notebook. I use Wiesner's plot points from her First Draft in 30 Days book. Each plot point gets a separate page in the spiral. These are broad plot points that usually run the entire book, sort of like threads, rather than scenes. Each character and each setting gets a separate page in the spiral notebook as well.

Once I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what the story is about and who my characters are I will start creating scenes in the remaining pages of the spiral. I don't worry too much about where I put them in order. Mostly because I am still trying to get a handle on the smaller plot points. When I'm done with all of the scenes I will create note cards with the different plot points on them. Then I take over the living room, and spread out the note cards. I will reorder them, adding new cards where there is a plot hole, and even taking away cards for scenes that don't serve a purpose.

After I've completed this I will create a new project in Scrivener. It allows me to create a "corkboard" of sorts. If you have Scrivener then you know what I mean. If not, that's for another blog post. After I create scenes for each note card in Scrivener I can put away the physical ones for good. Now all I need is to write the story. Each scene already has a file and a note attached as to what needs to happen in that scene.

Once I've written the entire manuscript I will go back through and re-write the Scrivener note cards, because as I said above, I tend to veer off in other directions. So I need to make sure my plot notes match the actual written words.

Next, it's revision time. And that's a whole different post as well.

Your Turn: 

How do you like to outline? Or are you a pantser? Possibly a pantser hybrid?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Cover Reveal: DIRTY by Kylie Scott

Are you ready to get Dirty?

Dirty is Book One in Kylie Scott’s Dive Bar Series releasing April 5th!

About Dirty

The last thing Vaughan Hewson expects to find when he returns to his childhood home is a broken hearted bride in his shower, let alone the drama and chaos that comes with her.

Lydia Green doesn't know whether to burn down the church or sit and cry in a corner. Discovering the love of your life is having an affair on your wedding day is bad enough. Finding out it's with his best man is another thing all together. She narrowly escapes tying the knot and meets Vaughan only hours later.

Vaughan is the exact opposite of the picture perfect, respected businessman she thought she'd marry. This former musician-turned-bartender is rough around the edges and unsettled. But she already tried Mr. Right and discovered he's all wrong-maybe it's time to give Mr. Right Now a chance.

After all, what's wrong with getting dirty?

Add it on Goodreads

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About Kylie

Kylie is a long time fan of erotic love stories and B-grade horror films. She demands a happy ending and if blood and carnage occur along the way then all the better. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and one delightful husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet.

Kylie is represented by Amy Tannenbaum at the Jane Rotrosen Agency, New York.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

ALWAYS SECOND BEST by Elodie Nowodazkij - Interview and Giveaway

I have another awesome author interview for everyone today. Elodie Nowodazkij was sweet enough to take time out of her super crazy book launch schedule to answer some questions. Always Second Best will be available on October 13, 2015. Be sure to use the links below to read the other titles in this series. Yes, you can read it as a standalone, but then your're missing out on her other amazing characters in this series.

To celebrate the release of her newest book, Always Second Best I decided to interview her and host a giveaway of Always Second Best.

Here's a little about Always Second Best:

Sometimes being first isn’t what you expected.

Seventeen-year-old ballerina Emilia Moretti is tired of always being second best. And she’s going to prove the world she deserves to be first. In her upcoming School of the Performing Arts showcase. In the eyes of her birth parents. And in the heart of the guy she loves. She spends hours rehearsing, hours dreaming about becoming number one, hours imagining how her entire life is about to change. But when nothing goes the way she planned, she’ll need to realize what it really means to be first.

Eighteen-year-old Nick Grawski doesn’t want to follow Daddy Dearest’s rules any longer. He's going to prove he's meant to be a dancer—not a lawyer—and he is not going to stay away from Em just because his father demands it. He needs to show Em that—this time around—he’s there to stay and that he won’t break her heart again. Even when her world goes down to shit, even when he finds out his dad may have been trying to protect him all along, even if being there for one another is harder than falling in love.

ALWAYS SECOND BEST is a novel of hope and heartbreak and broken dreams. It’s a novel about falling in love and discovering that being first isn’t always what matters.

I loved Natalya in One, Two, Three, so I was so happy when you mentioned Always Second Best. Do you have plans to write more books in the Broken Dreams series?

I have a few more :-) I may or may not be currently writing a holiday novella featuring Camilo—the “bad” guy from One, Two, Three and Chloe, a new character. I’m also outlining Jen’s story. Jen is a part of A Summer Like No Other and Always Second Best… and I’m actually thinking of her moving to France for the summer after the showcase for an intensive workshop at the Opéra de Paris. Thinking out loud here. And I also have a novel about Becca—Natalya’s best friend. Oh and maybe about Roberto—Emilia’s brother.

Yayfor more books in the sereis!!! The Broken Dreams series is set in the world of ballet. Are you a dancer yourself? You definitely know what you're talking about. I love the references to ballet moves. It definitely brings out the dancer in the characters.

Thanks. I danced ballet for a few years, but nothing like Natalya or Em or Nick…I’ve done research, watched videos, read articles and tried to remember what I loved about ballet when I was dancing. It’s a world I tried to learn a lot about. Part of the Broken Dreams series will move a bit away from ballet thought when it comes to Becca’s story and Camilo’s.

Seriously, I'm thinking I should have waited to read A Summer Like No Other until Always Second Best released. Did you really have to leave ASLNO off like that? lol

Sorry. :-) The funny part was that A Summer Like No Other was not planned until end of June. But when I was drafting Always Second Best, I felt like I was missing a piece of the puzzle. So, I started writing A Summer Like No Other…And then I thought I could share their summer with everyone and I hoped people would fall in love with them like I did.

You're from France and lived in Germany, do you think you would ever set a novel in either of those locations? (I love the history and modernization all mixed together in Europe. Such a rich environment for a story.)

I’m thinking of Jen’s story partly taking place in France. And I do have a YA paranormal romance in the works that has parts of it in Middle Ages’ France…

The history geek in me is freaking out over the Middle Ages idea already! lol Having France and Germany in your life, do you plan to translate any of your books to either French or German?

I am definitely planning on having all books translated but it takes time and money. So, I’m starting slow. One Dream Only has been translated in German, and I’ve also worked on a bilingual edition… One, Two, Three is in the process of being translated in German as well… I translated One Dream Only myself in French, but it’s very hard and my brother-in-law as well as my mother are currently looking at the text, and amending it. I might try to hire someone to translate One, Two, Three in French and do the corrections myself. I’d love to be able to share my work with my family and friends, so it’s definitely something I’m trying to plan budget-wise.

Wow, so much work! You have mentioned a thriller in the works. Can you give us any teaser comments about it?

Well, well, well. This thriller turned into something much different than planned. I’m actually going to be publishing it under the pen name Elodie Jane and it will be a romantic suspense novel and it will not be a young adult novel…

Well, I will definitely have to check that non-young adult book out as well. lol You are a hands on self published author. What part of the self publishing work has been the most rewarding (besides the writing)?

Working on my own covers. I’ve started this year and am loving it.

Setting up my own schedule...

And the support from the selfpub community.

What is the best advice you can give someone who is thinking about self publishing?

Research. Research. Research. Make sure this is the path for you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to authors. Read the good, read the bad. See if financially speaking, it makes sense for you. Dream Big. But don’t expect instant success. (and wow that was a lot, sorry about that.)

Haha, all great advice, though! What is your number one advice for aspiring authors? Since they aren't drowning in advice already. lol

Hmmm. Find a wonderful group of writer friends.

Exellent advice. My first face to face critique group was the best! I still correspond with some of them regularly. Now, because I can't help adding new books to my bookshelves (not that there's any more space, but still). What are you currently reading, or was the last book you read that you loved?

I’LL MEET YOU THERE by Heather Demetrios.

And THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO by Huntley Fitzpatrick.

Absolutely loved both of those YA contemporary novels. So much heart. So much passion.

Awesome! I'll have to check them out! Thank you so much, Elodie for sharing your time with me and answering my crazy questions. lol

Check out the other titles in the Broken Dreams Series

One Dream Only #0.5

One, Two, Three #1

A Summer Like No Other #1.5

Enter to win a copy of Always Second Best. See official rules. a Rafflecopter giveaway
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About Elodie

Elodie Nowodazkij was raised in a tiny village in France, where she could always be found a book in hand. At nineteen, she moved to the US, where she learned she'd never lose her French accent. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Modern Language & Linguistics, and later earned master's degrees in German Cultural Studies and European Studies. Unbeknownst to her professors, she sometimes drafted stories in class. Now she lives in Germany with her husband and their cat (who doesn't seem to realize he's not human), and uses her commuting time to write the stories swirling in her head. She's also a serial smiley user.

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Friday, October 2, 2015

The NaNoWriMo Countdown Has Begun

It's that time of year again. You know, the leaves are changing colors, pumpkin spice is invading everything, cooler weather is right around the corner, and plots and characters ware swirling around in writer's minds.

Yup, it's almost NaNoWriMo!

When I first heard about NaNo I thought it was crazy. Seriously, sitting down to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. That's just plain crazy talk. Then I tried it. It worked. November is officially my second favorite month, October is my favorite, but only by a smidgen.

Why do I love NaNo? It forces me to get that rough draft done. Get it written. And it's a great motivator. There are tons of other writers participating. And by tons I'm talking over 325,000 participants in 2014. over 81,000 students and educators participated in the Young Writers Program. That equals a whole lot of fellow writers sending encouraging thoughts, virtual fist bumps, and keeping you on track.

“Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.”
As you may have guessed, yes, I will be participating this year. There goes any and all free time. Oh, and sleep. If you see me around and I'm a blubbering fool, know I'll be back to normal at some point in December once I fully recover.

You may notice that I will not be posting any Waiting On Wednesday posts for the next couple months. That is because I will be spending all free time during October outlining and planning out my manuscript for November. I have four separate projects that I would like to work on, but I have yet to narrow down which one I will actually be writing in November. So, I need all the time I can get to explore my options. Only one of them is a young adult. The other three are new adult. Two have fantasy elements while the other two are straight up contemporary. This is a struggle as they all sound really fun to write.

The whole goal of October and November will be to get a new rough draft completed. In the end, it's easier to revise, edit, and polish a manuscript that is written. Until next November I will be revising, editing, and polishing other projects. Hopefully I will get the one that I'm currently reworking back into the query process by February.

If you're skeptical about jumping in and joining here are a few young adult novels that were written during NaNoWriMo.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - She called it some of her "...some of the bravest writing I’ve ever done..."

Born of Illusion by Teri Brown - BOI was her second NaNo novel. If your first attempt at NaNo is more of a bust, don't give up. Go right back and do it again.

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy -  "To me, it’s the Ironman Triathalon of writing—but with more junk food provisions—because if you’ve completed it, you wear it as a badge of honor."

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard - "I’ve definitely become a better writer as each year passes—meaning less of the words I hammer out get trashed." 

Cinder, Scarlet, & Cress by Marissa Meyer - Yes, the first three books in the Lunar Chronicles were written in ONE NaNoWriMo. "My grand total was 150,011 words." My brain hurts just seeing that word count total.

Let me know if you're doing NaNo this year. Comment below with a link to your NaNo profile so I can add you as a buddy. 
Here's my profile.