Saturday, December 13, 2014

Are you ready to read in 2015?

Okay people, 2014 is quickly spiraling into oblivion and before you know it, we will be popping champagne corks and pledging with our whole hearts to work out more, lose weight, not spend so much money, learn the finer points of comma usage, etc.

However, I prefer to set myself up for unbridled success, in addition to the list above, so I proudly proclaim that I am taking part in the 2015 Reading Challenge, in addition to the 2015 Debut Author Challenge.

Are you on Goodreads? Well, It's A Wonderful Death could use some love on listopia, including the YA Debuts 2015 list where it's currently sitting at #67. Don't forget to add it to your "To Read" list as well. What, you already have a long list. Oh please... what's one more?

Here's the checklist for the Reading Challenge. Add these to the 12+ debut novels I'll be reading to support my fellow Fearless Fifteeners plus the 60 or so books I'll be reading from March to September for the Young Hoosier Book Award Middle Grade nominees, let's just say this is going to be a book heavy year. Did I forget to mention It's A Wonderful Death comes out in October? So, basically, if you want face time with me, you'll have to be happy with my eyes peeking over the cover of a book (occasionally). (And please let some of these books count for more than one list!)

Happy Reading and make sure to hold your loved ones a little tighter this holiday season!

Happy reading and make sure to hold your loved ones a little tighter this holiday season!
gif,cute,holidays,Christmas,Peanuts, Charlie Brown

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Negativity Sucks

Someone once told me that writer’s block doesn’t exist. And, to a large extent, I agree. If you sit in the chair long enough, words are going to run through your head. They will. But what if the words running through your head aren’t yours? What if they are the words of every bitchy, jealous, hateful person who has tried to pull you down, disguised as your voice?

Blah Blah Blah

Like many writers, I battle against the forces of negativity every single day. Most days, I’m able to swat them away like they are nothing more than an annoying gnat on a summer day. But then there are the darker times. When what I want is to climb into bed, throw poptarts at my kids when they ask what’s for dinner, and ignore the voices that tell me I’m no good, or that I’m foolish for thinking I could ever write something good enough to publish. And certainly not lucky enough to have the publishing lightning strike twice.

Where does this come from? Because, if I’m being honest, I mean completely honest, I have practiced my interview for when I’m on the Ellen Show. I have imagined what it would be like to see my story up on the marquee at the local movie theater. I have dreams that, most the time, don’t seem unattainable. I’m not saying it’s a slam dunk, but every writer starts out new. We all make the rookie mistakes. The difference is who can push through the negativity and disappointment to achieve the highest level of literary success they possibly can.

So, what I’m saying is, I rarely lack for confidence. But there are moments. Moments when I question if my house being in shambles because I’m in the middle of major revisions or heading off to the local coffee shop to get a chapter or two done in one sitting while my husband stays home with the kids is really worth it.

Yeah, it is totally worth it, but that doesn't mean it's easy. I don’t know if people who aren't in the industry understand how hard it is to be a writer, much less deal with the demands of being published. I’m not saying it’s the toughest job out there, not by a long shot, but being creative, taking your work with you every single place you go and wondering if you have done everything you can to make your book a success can sometimes wear a person out. 

Okay, back to the negative thoughts. I’m struggling right now with the overwhelming negativity of my inner critic. I worry about the sophomore slump before my first book has even been magically transformed into an ARC. And based on conversations I've had with other writers, I’m not alone. So what do we do? What do we tell our crit partners when they've gotten bad news? How do we let them know it will get better and that yes, it’s okay to let your kids play an extra hour of video games so you can finish a really tricky scene? How do we lift each other up until they can get back to climbing the mountain of literary success on their own?

I think one thing we can do is give ourselves permission to relish in the little victories and let the big ones be singular events that don’t have to have an impact on future ones. What I mean by this is this: say your debut book doesn't fly off the shelf during your first week like you think it should. Does this mean you are bound to be a one-hit wonder what if? Hell no. It means you got a book published. That’s what it means. There is no reading in to it. Not making the best sellers list your first time out doesn't determine if you are a good writer. In fact, not getting a book published ever doesn't determine if you are a good writer. Remember those smaller milestones... like writing the first page... totally banana split worthy!

ice cream animated GIF

So BE FEARLESS when you face negativity. Just because someone gives you a bad review doesn’t mean you are any less of a writer or a human being. It just means they didn’t like your book. And that’s okay. Focus on being the hero to that kid who ponied up the courage to write you and tell you how much they loved your book. Or you vlog or whatever they loved. And tell the negativity to take a number. You can always go back to it. If you want to.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

#MWW14 starts tomorrow!!!

I’m kind of predictable about a few things. Like, given the choice of pen color, I will pick red every single time and at midnight of the day I’m supposed to leave for a conference, I will be doing laundry.

Today is one of those nights. Because in about ten hours, I head off for THE Midwest Writer’s Workshop. I have been to this conference for the last four years, and my “fifth year senior” trip is looking to be the best yet.

Why? I’m so glad you asked! This conference is like none I have ever been to, and I am a bit of a conference tramp. I’ve been to big conferences and little ones. Ones that take place in enormous hotel empires and ones that are held in a state park lodge. And they all have their outstanding qualities. But there is something about MWW that keeps me coming back. And, since you asked, I’m going to share a few of them with you.

1. Jama (and the Committee): It doesn’t take long to for even the newest newbie to realize that the heart of MWW is Jama. Don’t get me wrong, the Committee works their tails off and they deserve every ounce of credit they get, but you’ll be hard pressed to find someone more dedicated to fostering writers than Jama Bigger. Don’t believe me? Dude, she has her own fan club! Check this out:

2. The faculty: OMG. Not only does MWW deliver first rate faculty, but the conference is set up in such a way that it is so easy to actually TALK TO THEM. And you should talk to them. Because someday, they may be reading your book to blurb for you. Or at the very least, giving you a shout out to their legions of fans when you land that agent you’ve been hunting for. Plus, they seriously know what they are doing! I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure award winning authors don’t pick Muncie, Indiana as a vacation destination. Let’s face it. There really is only corn in Muncie in July. (Watch out for wrong turns or you might find yourself in a field of it!) But these authors and professionals show up, ready to hand out knowledge to anyone who will take it. TAKE IT!

3. Agents: As we all know, a lot of agents make their living in New York City. It is the publishing mecca of the US, if not the world. But this little conference in the middle of a cornfield has gotten such a well-deserved reputation in the Big Apple that agents actually beg to come back, on their own dime. In my humble opinion, I think that’s because when they get to MWW, they find an intense group of writers who are serious about their craft and intent on being the best writer they can be. And, let’s be honest… there’s something to be said about watching a New Yorker indulge in their first taste of fried pickles.

4 & 5. This last one is so important that it warrants two spots on this list. (And my laundry is ready so I need to finish packing.) But the biggest reason why this conference rocks is the people who come to it. Five years ago, I attended MWW by myself. I didn’t know a single soul. I had no idea what I was doing (although I did know better than to pitch an agent in the bathroom) and honestly, I was nervous. When you meet me, and if you are coming to MWW, PLEASE come up and say hi, you probably won’t guess this, but I am a seriously shy person until I know you. Then, good luck getting me to shut up, so I’m getting ready for the opening session and out of the corner of my eye I see a flash of red. Thank God, another Ginger. I sit down and something amazing happens. We start talking and it was serious insta-friend. Before the end of that weekend, that duo would merge with another group of writers and before I left, I had found my tribe. My tribe who hails from 3 different states and meets twice a year to recharge our writing batteries. We have endured heart breaking losses, unbelievable professional setbacks and wonderful highs. All because we met at MWW.

To sum it up, say hey to Jama, listen to the faculty, remember agents are people, too and don’t BE FEARLESS when you approach a stranger. By the end of the weekend, they may become your people.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Book Nerd Blog Tour: Essence by Lisa Ann O'Kane

The Review

(Summary provided by GoodReads.)
Autumn escaped a cult, but now she realizes she's fallen into another.

Growing up in San Francisco’s Centrist Movement, sixteen year-old Autumn Grace has always believed emotions—adrenaline, endorphins, even happiness—drain your Essence and lead to an early death. But her younger brother’s passing and a run-in with a group of Outsiders casts her faith into question.

Ryder Stone, the sexy, rebellious leader of the Outsiders, claims Essence drain is nothing more than a Centrist scare tactic -- and he can prove it.

Autumn follows Ryder to his Community of adrenaline junkies and free spirits in Yosemite National Park, and they introduce her to a life of adventure, romance, sex, drugs and freedom. But as she discovers dark secrets beneath the Community’s perfect exterior, she realizes the more she risks in search of the perfect rush, the further she has to fall.

I loved this book from the moment I saw the cover. There was something about the outstretched tightrope reaching into the unknown that I really connected with. And once I began to read, I couldn't put this book down.

Not only is Autumn and realistically flawed character, still reeling from the death of her little brother, but Ryder is a perfect blend of a boy trying to be the man his father wants him to be all the while wanting to be the person he is.

Without being judgmental or preachy, ESSENCE explores the psychological impact of cult life and leaves the reader crossing their fingers that Autumn can discover, for herself, the difference between right and wrong.

For anyone who has ever wanted to break loose and live life on the wild side, this book serves up a great helping of action scenes that will satisfy the literary adrenaline junkie every time.

Overall, ESSENCE is a fun read that leaves the reader both satisfied and begging for more once the book is over.

The Interview

First off, I absolutely loved Essence and especially Autumn! And I am thrilled to be able to interview you on my first Book Nerd Blog Tour! I have a few questions to go along with my tour stop, so here we go. (Awe, thanks so much, Sarah! I really appreciate it, and I’m so glad to hear you liked Autumn! I tried my best to make her flawed and believable, so it’s wonderful to hear you ‘got’ her!)

Sarah: Essence is such a unique book in terms of genre, it's such a perfect blend of a utopian, which we don't see often right now, and a cult story with a pre-dystoian flare. Where did you inspiration for this type of novel come from?

Lisa: Thank you so much! I have always been fascinated by the psychology of cults, particularly by idea that people who are raised in these cultures generally grow up very susceptible to manipulation and control. How tragic—yet logical—for someone to finally stand up for themselves and leave their cult only to accidentally fall into another cult.

I liked this idea of extremes very much. I also liked the idea that Autumn would grow to accept her new Community beliefs just as whole-heartedly as she originally accepted her Centrist beliefs. Although this flip-flop seems strange from an outsider perspective, it makes perfect sense in the context of Autumn’s upbringing. She has never been given the opportunity to think for herself, and this is the core of her struggles in Essence.

Sarah: Autumn is such a passionate character, throwing everything she has behind her convictions, including her love for Ryder. How do you think this helps and challenges her during the story?

Lisa: ‘Passionate’ is a perfect word to describe Autumn. What she lacks in street smarts, she makes up for in determination and loyalty. This is one of her greatest strengths, and it is also one of her biggest weaknesses.

Autumn is very a na├»ve person, so she typically believes everyone around her is looking out for her best interests. She doesn’t think to question other people’s motives, and this ends up being one of her greatest challenges in Essence.

Sarah: Natural disasters are an interesting way to inflict instant problems for characters, but in ESSENCE, the story begins after the country has mostly recovered from the events. What made you pick Yosemite as your setting?

Lisa: I definitely didn’t envision Essence as a post-apocalyptic novel, but I did want the country to be slightly different than it is now, so I figured an earthquake was a great way to shake up California’s social climate. (Haha, wow. That was a pretty terrible pun.)

I also remember the public outcry that ensued in the aftermath of the Northridge Earthquake in 1994. Some groups actually believed the earthquake was a manifestation of God’s anger, and they said San Francisco was targeted because it was a haven for perversity. I wondered what would happen if a group of San Franciscans actually took this message to heart, and the foundation for my story was born.

I chose Yosemite National Park as the hub for my Community counter-cult because I spent the summer of 2004 living in a tent and working for the park’s concessionaire. I have never been more inspired by a setting in my entire life, and it has been begging for a story ever since.

Sarah: How much of your background played into the creation of ESSENCE?

Lisa: Although Autumn and I are very different, we both share a fierce sense of loyalty and a strong desire to please other people. This fidelity sometimes trumps logic—and it often isn’t earned or deserved. I certainly poured this quality into her character, and her vulnerability is all me, too.

As far as the Yosemite setting, I lifted many destinations and occasions (shooting stars, swimming holes, moonbows, secret waterfalls, etc.) from the time I spent living and working in the park. However, the circumstances of the actual events were obviously far different than those portrayed in Essence.

Sarah: As a soon to be debut author, I'm always curious about what the biggest differences of a pre-pub writer’s expectation and the reality of actually being published. What surprised you the most?

Lisa: Congratulations on your debut! How exciting!

As far as my experience goes, I think I have been most surprised by how little has actually changed. I have enjoyed the validation that I haven’t just been wasting my time with my ‘little hobby’ all these years, but beyond that, it’s pretty much business as usual in these parts.

One exception is the introduction of strangers who actually care about what I have written. I’m so used to shrugging off my accomplishments that it’s strange to read a review or speak to a reader who actually ‘gets’ what I’m trying to say and is touched by it. That feeling makes all the struggles worthwhile.

Sarah: For all those writers out there who long to be where you are, can you tell us a little about your publishing journey? You know, how you met your agent, found your publisher, etc.

Lisa: Oh my gosh, my path to publication has been anything but an easy road. I am living proof that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I am also living proof that you should never, ever, give up on your dreams.

I was so affected by my publishing journey that I recently wrote a nine-part blog series called “The Path to Publication.” If you would like to check it out, here’s the link: (This link will go live on 6/9.)

Sarah: Finally, I have my Fast Five!

If you were stranded in a remote part of, let's say a National Park, what one of each of the following would you want to have with you to keep you sane?

Book: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. It’s so insane it just may keep me sane. 
Musical Instrument to learn to play: Bongo drums! I could totally see myself as a naked, hippie drummer (a la Matthew McConaughey).
Craft or Hobby supplies: Journal. Girl’s gotta write!
Comfort Item: I have this fantastic dragonfly quilt a good friend of mine made for me. I would probably wear it as clothes and sleep in it like a tent.
Food that happened to magically arrive when you want it the most: Macaroni and cheese. Every. Single. Time.

Well, that wraps up the interview portion! Lisa, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and I wish you the best of luck with Essence and every book after this! You are a fantastic writer!

Alright, my lovelies, now it's your turn to show Lisa how amazing you think Essence is: Click either of these links to be directed to Amazon or Barnes and Noble to order ESSENCE!


Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Debut Author's Worst Nightmare

Imagine a world where everything around you shimmers with excitement. Where you have lined up speaking engagements that both exhilarate and terrify you at the same time. You have perfected the way to mention you have a book coming out in a few months with the perfect blend of humility and confidence. The theme song of your book trailer is the backdrop of your life and you just received 1000 pens two days ago, proudly advertising your work. Humming the tune to “Everything is Awesome”, you hop in your truck and head to work where you get to make a movie with a bunch of amazing teens. Life really couldn’t be much better.

And then your cell phone rings and it’s your agent. In the middle of the day. You answer it, confused, but not concerned. Not until you agent tells you to sit down. You are sitting down, but you’re also driving an F250, so, in your confused state you ask, “Well, do you think I need to pull over?” To which she simply says yes.

Your mind whirls with what could possibly have happened. Have you been downgraded to e-book only for your release? Has your release date been bumped? You turn on your hazard lights. You’re ready for whatever’s going to happen next.

Your agent’s voice rings through the cab of your truck. “Strange Chemistry is closing their doors effective immediately.”

You were not ready for that. Your response is completely rational. “You’re kidding, right? That’s not funny.” You double check to make sure it isn’t April 1st because that’s the only thing that makes this conversation even remotely plausible.

The images fade and you sit up in bed. It was a dream. Right up there with who shot J.R. and every book that’s ever started or ended with a dream. Everything is still awesome.

Except it isn’t awesome and it isn’t a dream. It’s real. You and a lot of crazy talented authors are the proud creators of orphaned books. You have woken up to the writer’s worst nightmare. Add the distinction that this is your DEBUT and what you really want to do is go back to sleep and hope the next dream involves unicorns and glitter cannons.

But avoiding the situation won’t make it go away. Neither will the wine, though that does help a little.

I want to be clear. I don’t have any ill-will toward the people I’ve worked with at Strange Chemistry. Amanda Rutter has an eye for talent and is an amazing editor. I hope another publishing house knows what a gem she is and scoops her up. Caroline Lambe has been such a pleasure to work with, answering my endless stream of questions. And my IU Alum connection, Mike Underwood has taught me a lot about the sales side of the business. I don’t regret working with them at all!

But, I would be lying if I said I was okay with this. I’m not. I’ve done the denial thing. You know, when you hope a knight in gleaming armor is going to rescue your publisher, or at least recognize that your book is actually literary genius in its purest form and make you an offer you just can’t resist. Remember, this is denial, after all. I’ve tried to do the angry thing, but I’m not sure who to be angry with. There’s no clear direction in which to aim my furry. This is, unfortunately, part of the book business. Lots of factors went into this. (Can you see that I’m currently in the rationalizing stage… trying to make sense of something that just doesn’t.)

I still have some more emotions to go through. I’m trying to avoid the depression by staying focused on what’s next.

It’s A Wonderful Death is not the same book it was when SC gave it a home. It’s better.

So what’s next? Since the rights revert back to me, my agent, Liza Fleissig, who has been amazing through all of this, will send the new and improved manuscript out on submission, with the blurbs and trailer and pre-sales information, and we will find a home. It may take a little while, but we will see the inside of a bookstore.

In the meantime, I hope you will all join me in buying Strange Chemistry titles and show my fellow pub orphans just how much you love them!

Remember, when life slams a door in your face, BE FEARLESS and kick in a window. Because there's something wonderful about nightmares: you will eventually wake up and things will be okay.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Cover Reveal for CATCH ME WHEN I FALL by Vicki Leigh

I am so excited to take part in today's cover reveal. I've known Vicki Leigh for about a year now and we have been walking this publishing path together almost the entire time! She's an amazing woman and a crazy talented writer, so without further ado, let's get to it! There's lots of awesome stuff going on, including a giveaway! But first, here’s a special message from Vicki:


And here’s what CATCH ME WHEN I FALL is all about:

Recruited at his death to be a Protector of the Night, seventeen-year-old Daniel Graham has spent two-hundred years fighting Nightmares and guarding humans from the clawed, red-eyed creatures that feed off people’s fears. Each night, he risks his eternal life, having given up his chance at an afterlife when he chose to become a Protector. That doesn’t stop a burnt-out Daniel from risking daring maneuvers during each battle. He’s become one of the best, but he wants nothing more than to stop.

Then he’s given an assignment to watch over sixteen-year-old Kayla Bartlett, a clinically depressed patient in a psychiatric ward. Nightmares love a human with a tortured past. Yet, when they take a deep interest in her, appearing in unprecedented numbers, the job becomes more dangerous than any Daniel’s ever experienced. He fights ruthlessly to keep the Nightmares from overwhelming his team and Kayla. Soon, Daniel finds himself watching over Kayla during the day, drawn to why she’s different, and what it is about her that attracts the Nightmares. And him.

A vicious attack on Kayla forces Daniel to break the first Law and reveal his identity. Driven by his growing feelings for her, he whisks her away to Rome where others like him can keep her safe. Under their roof, the Protectors discover what Kayla is and why someone who can manipulate Nightmares has her in his sights. But before they can make a move, the Protectors are betrayed and Kayla is kidnapped. Daniel will stop at nothing to save her. Even if it means giving up his immortality.

CATCH ME WHEN I FALL will be available on October 23, 2014 in both paperback and e-book formats from Curiosity Quills Press. For more information, visit the book’s Goodreads page.

Now, there can’t be a cover reveal without a giveaway, right? Lots of authors stopped by and donated some fantastic books to help Vicki celebrate. You don’t want to miss out on these! Here’s what you can win:

 • An e-copy of HEIRS OF WAR by Mara Valderran
• Two query+first chapter critiques from YA author Emily Stanford
• Two full manuscript critiques from YA author Emily Stanford
• An e-copy of WITHOUT BLOODSHED by Matthew Graybosch
• A paperback of DESTRUCTION by Sharon Bayliss
• An e-copy of KIYA: HOPE OF THE PHARAOH by Katie Teller
• One query+first chapter critique from YA author Katie Teller
• An e-copy of DARKNESS WATCHING by Emma Adams
• A copy of DESCENDANT by Nichole Giles
• Two signed copies of DIVIDE by Jessa Russo
• An e-copy set of EVER and EVADE by Jessa Russo
• A copy of UNHINGED by A.G. Howard

Enter the giveaway below for your chance to win! All prizes will be accompanied by a Dreamcatcher swag package from Vicki Leigh. Thanks for stopping by!

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Book Blast + Giveaway for ESSENCE by Lisa Ann O'Kane

I can't tell you how excited I am to be a part of Book Nerd Tours latest BOOK BLAST. Not only is ESSENCE an adrenaline laden debut, but the Lisa Ann O'Kane is my pub sis! (So, you know, simply by virtue of being a Strange Chemistry book, it's awesome!) 

And the cover...


Autumn escaped a cult, but now she realizes she's fallen into another.

Growing up in San Francisco’s Centrist Movement, sixteen year-old Autumn Grace has always believed emotions—adrenaline, endorphins, even happiness—drain your Essence and lead to an early death. But her younger brother’s passing and a run-in with a group of Outsiders casts her faith into question.

Ryder Stone, the sexy, rebellious leader of the Outsiders, claims Essence drain is nothing more than a Centrist scare tactic -- and he can prove it.

Autumn follows Ryder to his Community of adrenaline junkies and free spirits in Yosemite National Park, and they introduce her to a life of adventure, romance, sex, drugs and freedom. But as she discovers dark secrets beneath the Community’s perfect exterior, she realizes the more she risks in search of the perfect rush, the further she has to fall.

You can order ESSENCE by clicking on the links below.


About Lisa Ann O'Kane

Lisa Ann O’Kane is a young adult author and former vagabond who once camped out in Yosemite National Park for an entire summer, an experience that inspired her debut novel ESSENCE.

Her background is in zookeeping and environmental education, and she has been kicked, cornered, bitten and chased by nearly every animal she has ever loved. She currently resides in Florida, and she is now a huge fan of shooting stars, indoor plumbing and keeping both her feet planted firmly on the trail.



3 Winners will receive an E-book Copy of ESSENCE by Lisa Ann O’Kane.
1 Winner will receive Two collectible buttons and a handmade Yosemite National Park vintage map pendant.
Must be 13+ to Enter
International Giveaway
*Book Nerd Tours is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Mail Box* 

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Saying Be Fearless is One Thing: A Tribute

It is completely different to ACTUALLY be fearless. Sometimes, I forget that.

This isn't going to be a regular post. I'm not going to espouse great things about the publishing industry or ramble on about the ins and outs of a debut year.

I can't. Because right now, I'm having a hard time remembering to breathe.

Yesterday, a friend of mine, perhaps  the first I made when I moved to Indiana, died. He was 37. His kids are the same age as mine. Yesterday, he had a wife. Today, she is a widow. And that sucks. On about 85 levels.

But Chris lived life. He enjoyed it. He laughed at himself and took pride in things other might have rolled their eyes at. He loved the Colts. He loved good beer... not the cheap stuff we drank at room parties at conventions, the good stuff. He loved his children. And he loved Colleen.

When we met, way back in 1997, like many college students, he was looking for his place. We were both highly charged, politically motivated kids who bled blue for the Democrat campaigns that would let us be a part of them.

And we grew older. I wish I could say we were as close now as we were then, but I can't. Life leads us in different directions. Chris found himself in service. He started a non-profit to help those who never experienced what it was like to have a father learn to become dads. He helped the poor and homeless. He worked with college students, inspiring them with his dedication to serve others. And he was one of the first ones to say congrats when something amazing happened in my life.

We both married Catholics and we both converted, lamenting to each other how we have grown more conservative with age, though not too conservative. Since Chris was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago, we have reconnected thanks to Facebook and DMs. And I am so glad I had that. Who knew sharing our disappointment that one of our local hang outs no longer made the sandwich we loved back in the day could become a treasured memory. I'm not ashamed to admit that I started stalking Chris on FB. I wanted to see his smile, the joy on his face when his kids were around. I wanted to assure myself that this was just one more obstacle for him to kick the crap out of.

See Chris is a force of nature. I can't bring myself to say was. Not just because I don't want to admit it, accept it, whatever a shrink would say, but because that force is like the wind. It continues on even after the trees have stopped swaying. Even in what we perceive as it's absence, it is there. His legacy lives on in the lives he touched. In the adventures he had. In the love that he gave.

So my friend, who lived life knowing that there was so much more to it than going through the motions, you will be missed by so many. And I am blessed to have been a small part of your journey.

Vaya Con Dios, mi amigo. I'll see you someday... at Denny's. You'll know it's me when you see the shoulder tick that only comes when you've been up 24 hours on the 4th of July. Three parades in one day starting at midnight? Bring it!

Book Trailer Is LIVE!

Yes, I know, I haven't posted in a while. I have no defense, other than it was May. It was only May because my summer is about to go nuclear. Seriously. Stay tuned for pics and stories from the movie set.

What? Did I just say movie set?

Why yes. Yes I did... but hold on, because it's not the answer to your prayers. It's A Wonderful Death is not in line for the big screen... yet. *Crosses fingers, blows on a dandelion, searches lawn for a clover of any leaf variety.*

In my other world, where I do the library thing, we're gearing up for Summer Reading, with our major project being the production of an original screenplay.

But enough about that. There will be plenty of time to dish on this! It's time for something I have been keeping a secret for weeks!


Thank you, thank you. Oh heck, I can't wait another minute, so here you go!

That's it! Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Your Feel Good Post of the Day

When I was in sixth grade, my friend called me a cry-baby. And, as much as it hurt, it was true. It still is. I am a crier. I think it comes from my empathetic nature. I ugly cry when good things happen as much as when bad things happen. It's who I am. There are still stories about my kids I can't tell people without tears welling up. Stories that are YEARS old.

But I think that's what makes me the kind of writer I am. Because even if I have never experienced something, a part of me connects and feels just a little bit of someone else's joy or pain.

Which is why I don't watch the news any more. I tend to get bogged down by the horrible stories. Like the missing airplane or the ferry that became a tomb. (See, I know current events.) And don't even get me started on the Ukraine situation or the fact that known kidnappers were caught in the town next to me this morning.

In my personal opinion, and this is not based on anything scientific and I'm sure an amateur statistician could poke holes in the validity of this statement, but I think our brains are being programmed to think that bad things, negativity, hate, and despair are the norm.

I don't want to think that the horrible things are the norm. Because I KNOW there is so much good in the world. So today, I'm starting to post a "Feel Good Post". It won't be everyday, but when I find something that makes me feel good, I want to share it. Be it a dog who's owner has just come back from deployment or this little video of inspiration. I hope you like these moments of good!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

NERD BLAST {Summer on the Short Bus}


I am so excited to be a part of this book blast. 
Why? Um... read this and you'll know why!

Release Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Running Press Kids

Spoiled, Versace-clad Cricket Montgomery has seventeen years of pampering under her belt. So when her father decides to ship her off to a summer camp for disabled teens to help her learn some accountability, Cricket resigns herself to three weeks of handicapped hell. 

Her sentence takes a bearable turn as she discovers the humor and likeability of the campers and grows close to fellow counselors. Now, if she can just convince a certain Zac Efron look-alike with amazing blue eyes that she finally realizes there's life after Gucci, this summer could turn out to be the best she's ever had.

Summer on the Short Bus is a very non-P.C., contemporary YA with a lot of attitude, tons of laughs, and a little life lesson along the way.

Want to know more about Bethany?

Bethany lives in San Diego with her husband, two kiddos (one of whom is differently-abled), and a chocolate lab who has no regard for personal space. She believes that prayer solves problems and that Jake Ryan is going to show up at her door any minute now…. She is represented by Rachael Dugas of Talcott Notch Literary Services. You can get to know Bethany better by following her on Twitter, Facebook, and of course her website.


"Crandell creates a wonderful and relatable protagonist with Cricket but even better than that, she surrounds her with equally relatable, flawed, and real characters...This book is an absolute winner!" – Feathered Quill Book Reviews

“A novel oozing with heart and humanity.” - Ken Baker, E! News correspondent and author of Fangirl and How I Got Skinny, Famous and Fell Madly in Love

“A hilarious and heartwarming ride.” – Jennifer Salvato Doktorski, author of How 
My Summer Went Up in Flames and Famous Last Words

Find more about the SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS by visiting 

About the GIVEAWAY!!!!

One Winner will get: a Signed Copy of SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS
One Winner will get a $25 Gift Card to Amazon or B&N – winners choice!
Open Internationally for the Gift Card. Book Ships in US only. Must be 13 + To enter

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, March 14, 2014

Give a book, change a life, twitter style

Okay, maybe change a life is a bit drastic, but you could at least change someone's day! 

Last week, two of my reading queens of the 5th grade class came to me and asked if the library had any books they were getting rid of. Of course, being the supportive and nosey librarian that I am, I asked why.

When they told me about a project they and a few of their fellow 5th graders were starting, my heart sang and tear threatened to spill over. They were on a mission to collect books for teens who, due to medical issues, were required to spend time, sometimes a lot of time, at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital. It seems that there are a lot of books for little ones, but when it came to YA lit, not so much. They couldn’t imagine anything worse than being confined to your room and not having any good books to read.

Honestly, I’m perfectly healthy and the idea of not being able to read good YA lit is depressing. I assured them that I had just done a weed a few months before and hadn’t gotten around to donating them anywhere and they were there’s for the taking.

Now, most of the books were pulled because they were old or tattered, but a few are in decent shape. Still, their plea got me to thinking: I know writers. I know avid readers. 90% of my twitter followers are somehow related to the book industry. So I thought I would try a test to see just how powerful the social media machine can be. I’m sending out a plea of my own, to you, my literary friends. A chance to give back and maybe, just maybe, help a teen escape the confines of needles and IVs to a world that is romantic, full of adventure, or even a little more scary than their own lives.

My goal, through social media, is to collect 50 books from twitter followers. That’s it. In the next two weeks, if you have a moment to pull an already completed YA book from your shelf or dig out a duplicate from your TBR pile… you know you have them… and mail them to me, you just might make a teen’s day.

Post in the comments below with your email and I will send you my mailing address. If we hit 50… let’s go for 100… maybe, if we can collect enough books, every teen who leaves the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital will have a prized book in their possession! I’m starting it off with two books from my private collection… who’s with me?

I thank you in advance and remind you to BE FEARLESS with every moment you have!

Monday, March 10, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour Rolls On!

Today is an AWESOME day! First of all, the sun is shining and , with the exception of a few piles that were huge a week ago, the snow is gone. Yes, spring is kicking and screaming to return to the Hoosier State. It’s also an awesome day because my amazing Agency Bro, Joshua David Bellin, invited me to be part of the “My Writing Process” Blog Tour. I highly recommend you click on his name and check out his blog! Seriously, he's one of the most awesome person on the planet!

 Now that the frivolity is over, let’s get down to the nuts and volts (shout out to those who have been watching Catching Fire on a loop for the last four days) of my writing process.

1)     What am I working on?
My current WIP is a pretty big departure from It’s A Wonderful Death. To begin with, every character is alive. In Genesis I Trust is a contemporary romance that centers on Genesis, a high school junior who, when her political operative father decides she needs to take a larger interest in the family business, is yanked out of her posh private school and forced to work on the campaign trail. Along the way she reluctantly falls in love with the son of a candidate from the wrong side of the aisle. I think the plot is best summed up as Romeo and Juliet meets Scandal, sans the body count.

2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I think there is something a little formulaic in contemp romance. Boy and Girl meet, obstacle, must overcome to be together, happy ever after (although not always). What makes this book different is the “inside” perspective of a teen living and working the world of politics. Her actions have consequences that go beyond her love life and could have serious ramifications on a national level.

3)     Why do I write what I do?
I love YA literature. But more than that, I love working with teens. Even though I have two kids of my own, I remember what it was like to try and figure out where my place in the world was. I remember being overwhelmed by trying to live up to someone else’s expectations. If my writing helps even one person take a deep breath and carry on, then everything else is cake. YA literature doesn’t get the respect it deserves and I hope to be a small part of the wave of writers who changes that!

4) How does my writing process work?
I’m kind of manic when I write. You know how some writers have this time of day where no one disturbs them and they write XXXXX number of words a day? That is not me. I am more of a binge writer. I tune in to the writing, work for 20-30 days, pretty much ignoring everyone else around me and then produce an, albeit, crappy first draft. Many rounds of editing later, it’s ready for the light of day. Don’t get me wrong. I want to be a methodical writer, but life doesn’t always work that way. I think it just goes to show that there is no right or wrong way to finish a novel.

Well, that’s me in a nutshell… not really… me in  a nutshell… that would be a tight fit… but that’s my writing process, for better or worse. Thanks for stopping by and make sure to check out the next people on my branch of this blog tour next week. For those of you keep track, yes that is March 17th, aka St. Patrick’s day, aka I better get my corned beef out to thaw later this week!

Kristine Carlson Asselin writes contemporary Young Adult & Middle Grade fantasy. She has written fourteen nonfiction books for the school library market with Capstone Press and Abdo Publishing, the newest (Dangerous Diseases ) came out in February 2014. She is one of the co-directors of SCBWI-New England this year, and her debut Young Adult novel, Any Way You Slice It, is due from Bloomsbury Spark in late fall 2014. She is represented by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. You can find out more about Kristine by checking out her website:

image.jpegJason Leclerc's first book, Momentitiousness, represents a new genre of  short stories--he calls them moments--that are tangential in space and time.  The "Novel Collection," as he calls it, is an adventure that draws on topics ranging from Arbitrage and Zombies. His poetry blog, PoetEconomist, is consumed by readers around the world and he is currently in talks regarding the adaptation of a short story from Momentitiousness onto the film screen. Learn more about this writing pioneer by visiting his website at:

AMALIE HOWARD grew up on a small Caribbean island where she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or being a tomboy running around barefoot, shimmying up mango trees and dreaming of adventure. 22 countries, surfing with sharks and several tattoos later, she has traded in bungee jumping in China for writing the adventures she imagines instead. She isn’t entirely convinced which takes more guts. She is the author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, PW and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Spring 2014 Kid’s INDIE NEXT title. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, then published with a small press, was a Seventeen Magazine Summer Read. She currently resides in New York with her husband and three children. Visit her at

Monday, February 17, 2014

My Obsession Paid Off

So, I watched @KelsNotChels vlog about How to Google Yourself Like A Champion and she said... well, see for yourself:

Handy information, right? I mean, who doesn't want to Google themselves... Okay, that sounded bad. I realized, after watching this, two things:

1. I need to get a cool mic so I can start doing voiceover blogs because, well, there’s just so much time in the day that’s free;
2. I have been Googling myself all wrong. (When you say it a second time, it's starting to get creepy… but let's just go with it!)

And so I Googled in the correct manner and guess what I found.

Here’s a hint:

When I saw my book was on GoodReads, I FREAKED OUT.

No. Not like that.

Not quite… give me a little more.

Yes! That’s it!

I'm not even joking! Tears were running down my face, making a puddle on my desk. I called my mom, woke her up and then proceeded to ramble and almost hyperventilate until she had to stop me and make me start over. I was a joyous wreck.

Now, I should preface it with this: When I signed my agent contract, I did not freak out. When I signed my publishing contract, I did not freak out. So what made this time more insane than the actual legal documents that committed me to the publishing path? Because those were surreal moments. Moments I had dreamed of for years but was always afraid would never happen. They were moments that meant my dream could be possible. Seeing my name on GoodReads meant the possible was happening and it’s happening now.

So what’s my point? Look for the progress of your journey not just in the milestones you achieve, but also in the moments that take your breath away (and make us ugly cry just a little bit). Maybe you haven’t found your forever agent. But have you found a community of writers that gets your work, supports your goal and (hopefully) likes you? That’s part of the battle my friend. Because it’s those little moments that keep us focused on the big ones.

So BE FEARLESS when you Google yourself. You never know what surprise is in store for you! 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

And then this happened


Strange Chemistry Books Sign Sarah J. Schmitt

Strange Chemistry Books is excited to announce our latest acquisition, World English Rights from Liza Fleissig (The Liza Royce Agency) for Sarah J. Schmitt’s It’s A Wonderful Death (OCTOBER 2014), a fantastic Mean-Girls-meets-A-Christmas-Carol, funny and warm debut.

Sarah J. Schmitt: "Signing with Strange Chemistry was a surreal moment. I've been dreaming of being a published author since I was in fourth grade, but to have a chance to work with the amazing Amanda Rutter was more than I could have ever imagined. I'm a huge fan of several SC authors, so to be included among them is humbling and awesome at the same time."

Amanda Rutter: "It's a Wonderful Death is a fantastically quirky and funny novel, with a surprisingly warm heart. I fell in love with the characters and with the story, and was desperate for the world to read this book. I can't wait for Strange Chemistry to publish it!" 

It’s A Wonderful Death:

When RJ’s soul is accidentally collected by a distracted Grim Reaper, somebody in the afterlife better figure out a way to send her back from the dead or heads will roll.
Eventually RJ is presented with two options: she can remain in the Lobby, where souls wait to be processed, until her original lifeline expires; or replay three moments in her life in an effort to make choices that will produce a future deemed worthy of being saved. It sounds like a no brainer. She’ll take the walk down memory lane. How hard can changing her future be?
But with each moment, RJ's life begins to unravel. Will she ever find redemption and walk amongst the living again?

About Sarah: Sarah is an elementary school librarian and Youth Service Professional for Teens at a public library who, in addition to planning a variety of events, enjoys opening up the world of books to reluctant readers. She also runs a teen writing program that combines Skype visits from well-known authors and screenwriters, with critique group feedback. Sarah is an active member of SCBWI, ALA and the Indiana Library Federation and is a regular participant at the Midwest Writer’s Workshop.

For Translation, Dramatisation, and other Rights, contact:
For more information, review copies, interview and feature requests, contact our Publicity Manager, Caroline Lambe at