Alligators Overhead Trailer

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pros Part 6, Jenn Hubbard and Long and Short Reviews 7th Anniversary Bash

For those who haven't been here before (tsk tsk) in the past weeks I've  featured some writer friends who have some excellent books out this year. I asked them to send me their latest book, their tagline and a short piece of advice they wanted to pass on to writers, especially those still seeking publication. Last week CRYSTAL COLLIER with her books, MOONLESS AND SOULLESS This week I have an old friend of mine, JENN HUBBARD. We debuted together, and she writes some excellent books. UNTIL IT HURTS TO STOP (Viking 2013) is her latest.

Available at B&N
TaglineJust when Maggie starts believing she can outgrow her history as the local outcast, the girl who once bullied her returns to town.

Advice: Never underestimate your audience.

Jenn's advice is quite similar to Medeia's, but while Medeia's focused on young adult writing, I think Jenn opens it up to include writing across all categories. At the word level, the danger in following this advice might be in our trying to impress the reader with our knowledge of those stupendous--sublime--exotic adjectives and adverbs. 

I love all of our words, but we risk falling into the quick fix called "telling" when we grab for the adjective or adverb and don't create images with active verbs to "show" what we mean by things like, "Marsha was repulsed by her mother." For me, a better way to capture that repulsion is through action. "I wanted to strangle Mother, but I'd have to touch her do it." That last sentence gives me the chills. The first one, not so much. What do you think?


Long and Short Reviews 7th 

Anniversary Bash

Reviewing Fiction One Happy Ever After at a Time

You can find them on FB and follow on TWITTER

There's a party you might like to come to, and you don't have to bring anything. However, you might win a $100 Amazon/BN GCs that are being given away– along with publisher GCs, books, ebooks, and author swag!  There will be dozens of winners. 

My quote for the day: "If you chase two rabbits, you catch none." Confucius

Friday, August 15, 2014

Celebrating the Small Thing and Darkness Cover Reveal


LG KELTNER @writing off the edge
KATIE @TheCyborg Mom
CAFFEEMAGGIEATO @mscoffeehouse

I have one small thing to celebrate today. I had one day this week that I only concentrated on writing. That was wonderful and long overdue.

Now we have a new book with a splendid cover to reveal. Ta da!

YA Supernatural Thriller
Release Date: August 12, 2014

Seventeen-year-old Carly Lopez suffers from post-traumatic stress, though the “post” part technically doesn’t apply…not when the killer’s still out there. 
As the only survivor of the killing spree that left four dead girls in its wake, Carly fails to unearth her buried memories of that day and is consumed with guilt. After a year of silence, the killer's back, and Carly will stop at nothing to stop him. 
With each new death, Carly’s reality shatters, propelling her deeper into the darkness where the dead haunt her and where the truth lies. Her only firm grasp of reality is Hunter Jackson, whose mysterious overprotectiveness of Carly forces her to doubt the reason behind her guilt.    
But Hunter has a secret.
And when she discovers a horrible truth, Carly questions her involvement in the murders. Was she directly responsible? Did she help the killer? Carly soon learns that finding answers may mean risking more than just her sanity.

About the author:
Elizabeth is the author of THE SECOND SIGN and THE SECOND SHADOW, a dark young adult paranormal romance series. Elizabeth currently teaches writing to teens at a local community center. You can find more information about Elizabeth at: 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How to Enjoy A Good Book. The International Potluck Blogfest

The brilliant idea of Lexa Cain, Medeia Sharif, and Beth Fred
A Very International Group 

You haven’t lived until you’ve read The Milagro Beanfield War and crunched a few chapulines. Pair those two delicacies with a lovely pinot, and you understand the concept of heaven.
Milagro was first published in 1974 by Ballantine Books. John Nichols was the author and brilliant in this book.
Here’s what steered me to choose this book and chapulines as the accompaniment.
Kirkus: “More alive than a grasshopper on a hot skillet. . .full of good humor.”

So here’s the Chapulines Recipe:
In May, and up until  late summer (hurry) trap a few thousand grasshoppers.
Thoroughly wash and pat dry. They like the patting part. Washing? Not so much.
After you’ve  thoroughly cleaned and dried them, Take out your comal, sauté garlic in a light oil.
Say good-bye to your tiny long-legged friends and toast your critters until crispy.
Toss in lime juice and salt containing extract of agave worms. This will lend the piquant—sour-spicy-salty—taste to the finished product. 
If you like spicy, add chili.
Get some napkins, the pinot, and find a comfy spot with good lighting. Open to page one and read, “Many people in the Miracle Valley had theories about why Joe Mondaragon did it.”

Hooked? You bet you are. Now enjoy those crunchy chapulines, that pinot, and a great adventure in the beanfield unlike any other. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Pros Part 5, Crystal Collier

If you're a regular, you know that I'm featuring  some writer friends who have some excellent books out this year. I asked them to send me their latest book, their tagline and a short piece of advice they wanted to pass on to writers, especially those still seeking publication. Last week MEDEIA SHARIF visited with her book, SNIP SNIP REVENGE. Today I have girl who knows her cheese, Crystal Collier.  

Tagline: MOONLESS: Jane Eyre meets Supernatural.
               SOULLESS: Everything has its cost.

Best Advice: Writer, know thy audience. Read like your writing depends on it. It does. Gobble up everything you can in the genre. Spend time with teens. Get inside their heads. Find their hangouts and habits.

Unleashing the dream world, one book at a time 

  Blog | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Website


At one of my high school visits I met a young writer who asked if I'd meet with him to answer some questions he had about writing. So I did. His questions were along the lines of Crystal's advice. He wanted to know what I did to be able to write for teens. 

I said, "I talk to them whenever I can.  Just as I'm talking to you."

"Is that why you go to schools?"

"Yep, but since I also feel my books have crossover appeal, I get to hang out with other age groups and do my 'research.'"


"That means, I want my books to appeal to older readers. I have grandmothers and grandfathers who read my books and send me emails."

Then he wanted to know where he should start with his writing. 

My advice was  this: 
  • Decide who your reader's going to be. 
  • Find other books that are written for that group and see if they're the kind of book you're considering writing.  
  • Go to a bookstore and find the shelf where you think your book will fit. 
  • Read the blurbs and the jacket flaps. 
  • Find out who publishes the books that are most similar to yours. 
  • Go home and write. . .a lot.
What did I leave out? 


My quote for the day: If you don't feel that you [have] read enough, you haven't read enough" Nicholas Taleb, Author.

So does Crystal's advice ring true for YA writers? Was my advice good for a young writer? Read much this summer?

I never post on TUESDAY, but I will tomorrow to celebrate The International Blog Hop. You don't want to miss my lip-licking recipe. Trust me. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Celebrating Some Small Things


LG KELTNER @writing off the edge
KATIE @TheCyborg Mom
CAFFEEMAGGIEATO @mscoffeehouse

 One Pond Lily the Raccoons Didn't Get Last Night

A Happy Face that Greeted Me in The Garden This Morning


offer up some literary cuisine. 

My quote for the day:  "Work is the greatest thing in the world, so we should always save some of it for tomorrow." Don Herold, Humorist

Be sure to visit the others and see what SMALL THINGS they're celebrating. How about entering the International Postluck Blogfest? I'm already in. I love to eat and read at the same time.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Insecure Writer Support Group

The NINJA ALEX's Brainchild

I remember when I was waiting to hear back from a publisher about the first book I'd written.  Like all writers who have researched, written, and re-written their manuscripts,  I really wanted to have it published. That would mean I'd succeeded in doing something and doing it well enough that someone besides my husband, my kids, and the family dog would let me read to them. 

When I finally heard back, and they wanted a full, I did my little dance and sent that book off into the big world. Then I waited. And if you're a writer, you understand waiting. The house sparkled from all my energy and angst. The dog smelled perfumy from too many baths. Dinners at our house during that time are still legend and longed for. 

Then I had a call. Back in those days, editors sometimes called. Mine did. She offered me a contract. I, of course, told her I had to think about it. Naawt! 

The book came out the next year. I went to New York to meet the real published peeps and the want-to-be-published peeps, and  I wallowed in my publishedness. The reality of what being published meant hadn't hit me yet. It soon did.

I discovered that not everyone thought my book was as fabulous as my dog had. I discovered not many people even knew I’d written a book. I discovered I had to do something called “blogging” and create a Facebook account, then there were 140 character challenges on Twitter to master. And that’s when Insecurity arrived at my door with its luggage. It took over the guest room and is quite comfy there. However, if I feed it, do its laundry and tuck it in at night, we co-exist, especially since I found that I was not the only writer who had one of these guests.

So that’s my story. I’m an insecure writer. I’ve accepted that, and I’ve moved on to go through several different publishing experiences. It has been a odd route, but interesting. 

If you haven’t joined IWSG, then here’s your chance. Find the bottom of the Linky (that will take a while), and sign up. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Pros Part 4, Medeia Sharif

In the past weeks I've  featured some writer friends who have some excellent books out this year. I asked them to send me their latest book, their tagline and a short piece of advice they wanted to pass on to writers, especially those still seeking publication. Last week MICHELLE ZINK visited with her book, The Wicked Games. Today I have an Evernight Teen author, MEDEIA SHARIF

Medeia's Book Available Now

Tagline: Don't touch a girl's most prized possession.

Advice from Medeia: My advice is to get inside a teenager's head and not to allow a wisp of an adult voice inside your story, save for the actual adult characters. Even during moments of growth, the teenage voice should be there. 


Here's one of my favorite quotes about VOICE from Sol Stein. "The author's "voice" is an amalgam of the many factors that distinguish a writer from all other writers. Many authors first find their voice when they have learned to examine each word for its necessity, precision, and clarity, and have become expert in eliminating the extraneous and imprecise from their work. Recognizing an individual author's voice is much like recognizing a person's voice on the telephone.


Sometimes it takes me a while to "get" the voice I want for my story, even when I think I have a good grip on it in my head. When I have trouble nailing down the character's voice I want, I try these strategies.

1) I switch the point of view from whatever I've written in already.
2) I play with tense.
3) I read both aloud, so I can hear the dialogue and the narration.
4) I decide which has the strongest connection between my character(s) and me.

Here's a really short bit of a scene from Double Negative. It's between Hutch and his dad and it's written in third person, past tense. 

His eyes hurt watching his dad. He missed his easy ways. Dee Dee was part insect, the way she darted around and made gnat sounds just before she jabbed her stinger into him.
“So what’re we gonna do about this school thing, Hutch?” His dad’s “thing” still came out “thang” even after twenty years living away from Texas.
When Hutch answered him, he'd already picked up that sound and Texas was in his voice, too. “I guess I’ll have to stop ditching?”
“You get to Kranski’s office and talk over the problem. If he wants a conversation, you best give him one.”

Here's that same bit as it is in the book--first person, present tense.

My eyes kinda hurt watching him. I miss his easy ways. Dee Dee’s part insect, the way she darts around and makes gnat sounds just before she jabs her stinger into me.
“So what’re we gonna do about this school thing, Hutch?” Dad’s “thing” still comes out “thang” even after twenty years living away from Texas.
When I answer him, I’ve already picked up that sound and Texas is in my voice, too. “I guess I’ll have to stop ditching?”
“You get to Kranski’s office and talk over the problem. If he wants a conversation, you best give him one.” 

I had to go with the first person and the present tense because, to my ear, it was really Hutch's voice that way. In third person, past, I lost my kid and I heard more of me. 


My quote for the day: "It is what you learn after you know it all that counts." Earl Weaver, Baseball Manager, Washington  Post

Do you have any strategies for nailing voice? If you write for YA readers, did Medeia's advice ring true for you? Anybody in your life that knows it all?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things and Snapshots Relaunch



LG KELTNER @writing off the edge
KATIE @TheCyborg Mom
CAFFEEMAGGIEATO @mscoffeehouse


My Grape Harvest.

My Grape Jam


So what small things are you celebrating today? Patricia Lynne's celebrating a Relaunch of her book Snapshots. Let's give her a hand for this job well done, then go buy her book! 

 photo SnapshotsRelaunchBlitz.jpg

Welcome to the SNAPSHOTS relaunch blitz!

 photo 89b7292a-d6ba-4528-a1e9-04a0147b5b6c.jpg
Add to your Goodreads shelf
Buy on Amazon | Smashwords
It's said the eyes are the windows to the soul, but that's a lie. They are snapshots of a time yet to come–the future of the person to which they belong.

Cyclop Blaine stands out in a crowd with his pale skin and mismatched eyes, but it’s his ability to see the future that really sets him apart. The unusual gift makes him an invaluable asset to Tyler, his adoptive father and leader of the Victory Street Gang. It also means Cyclop must hide what he can do from others. Once, a man he knew only as Master controlled him, using him for experiments. Cyclop has no desire to return to that life.

But he may have no choice. A man claiming ownership over him haunts his dreams and waking moments, leaving him no choice but to go back to the past he thought he had escaped. Cyclop must face this man, along with his past, if he wants to reveal his own future.

About the Author

 photo PatriciaLynneAuthorwithbook.jpg 
Patricia Lynne never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. But some stories are meant to be told and this one chose her. Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo and has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow.

Follow Patricia on Twitter | Goodreads | Google+ | Author Blog


a Rafflecopter giveaway

offer up some literary cuisine. Sign up and get ready to dine.

Here's my Quote of the Day. "The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."David Foster Wallace, in Vanity Fair

Like jelly? Patricia Lynne's latest hair color?  Are you entering the Potluck? What's your take on the truth?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Pros Part 3, Elizabeth Seckman's Hop, and I'm A NotSoAccidental Blog Tourist

Part 3: The Pros Give Us Some Advice and Happy Launch Day to Me

I'm back to enjoying this series that features writer friends who have some excellent books out. I asked them to send me their latest book, their tagline and a short piece of advice they wanted to pass on to writers, especially those still seeking publication. Last time YVONNE VENTRESCA visited with PANDEMIC. Today we have Michelle Zink, an author I debuted with and one great person to know.


Voodoo... Secrets... Revenge. 

Advice for YA writers:

Read everything in the genre. Everything. Not just the big commercial hits or the ones everyone is talking about. Look for books outside your comfort zone, books that have been shortlisted for awards or won them, books about characters with which you wouldn't normally identify, books you've never heard of but that have good word of mouth from a friend. It's easy to get in a rut and think the genre is derivative (and that you have to be derivative, too), but reading widely will remind you how much is possible, and inspiration will strike you in the most unexpected of places.

Prophecy of the Sisters Trilogy
A Temptation of Angels

This Wicked Game

Lies I Told (Spring 2015))

by Michelle Zink


 Availble at Evernight Teen

Double Negative's visiting some more blogs. 

7/27 Beverly Stowe McClure 
7/27 Jess and Stephanie--Author Tracker blog
7/28 Alex Cavanaugh
7/28 L. Diane Wolfe--Spunk on a Stick and Circle of Friends 
7/30 M. J. Fifield
7/30 Julie Musil
7/30 Crystal Collier

If you haven't entered to win the giveaway, it's still open. Jump in.

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And Now My Contribution to ELIZABETH SECKMAN'S
Totally Imaginative HOP--The Year Was 1865

I'm excited to join in the celebration of the release of Elizabeth Seckman's new historical novel, Bella's Point. While the canons were exploding, and the North and South were asunder, a man out here in California was busy with something literary, so my snippet is a bit tangential. Hope nobody minds. 

The Year Was 1865. . .

The ghost didn’t scare Hazel, but it rattled her while she was working because it disrupted her routine. It wafted here and there while she tried to polish the library floor or dust tables, and, while she tried to ignore it, it distracted her from getting her job done. She’d no sooner tidy a row of book spines so they lined up flush with the edge, than a cold finger would hook one book and tug it off the shelf. Then the ghost fluttered away, thumbing the pages, then dropping the book anywhere when it had finished reading.
Rita Baum was already getting ready to fire her. Hazel could tell by how the librarian squinted her direction while re-shelving those errant books. Rita blamed her for the mess the library was in. That ghost had to leave, and Hazel was going to see to it. 
The problem was she had no idea about how to banish ghosts. She knew mops and cleansers and not much more. But she wasn’t a woman who gave up once she set her mind to doing something, so on the next Monday night when the library closed early, Hazel planned to deal with her ghostly problem. She arrived just at dusk and waited until the white cloudy form plucked the first book, fluttered its pages, then stuffed it back almost where it belonged.
As the ghost moved down the row, Hazel retrieved the book and read the title. Short Story Crafting. She put it in its correct spot and followed the ghost’s route, reading each title it selected. The Modern Short Story. How to Write Good Short Story. Grammar and Style.
When she reached the end of that row, she peered into the next, but it was empty. Usually, when the ghost was near she could feel it. The chill. The wisp of vapor. But now she felt nothing. Maybe trailing after it had frightened it away. She returned the last book to its proper shelf and brushed her hands together, satisfied and very pleased that it had taken such a short time to free herself from that pesky intruder.
She finished the floors in the non-fiction section and made her way to fiction. For a change, her job was nearly done tonight on time. And as she ran the mop along row PQR, she imagined that hot bath and TV show waiting for her at home. Then that familiar chill sprang along her arms. When she walked into the next row, STU, the ghost stood not a few feet away. The worst part of its return was that it was tearing pages from a book. That would mean her job for sure. Before she thought better of it, she lunged for the book and yanked it away. 
The ghost stood as still as a vapor can, and stared at her. “That was rude.” While the voice was all about mist and particles, it was a man’s voice.
“Not as rude as you. You can’t tear pages out of a library book!” She held out he hand. “Give me those.”
He shook his head. “These are mine.”
“Not likely. They belong to Angels Camp Public Library.”
“See here, young lady, I wrote this.” The ghost waved the loose pages in the air.
Hazel glanced at the book in her hand. The Collected Works of Mark Twain. She shifted her eyes back to the ghost. “Who are you anyways?”
He pointed at the book she held. “That is me. Or who I used to be before this terrible and permanent affliction.” He waved a hand over his ghostly form.
She opened the book to where several pages were missing. “So what is it you’re here to do?” Hazel liked things simple and tidy, and a book with missing pages annoyed her terribly.
“It has come to my attention that my prose is out of date. I have a Pass to visit for a sufficient time to make modern at least one story.”
“That seems kind of weird,” Hazel said. “Sort of like changing history.”
“Perhaps, but I intend re-writing this one about the jumping frog.”
“I can’t see the reason—”
“Listen to this.” The ghost cleared his throat, then began to read from the papers he clutched. “‘In compliance with the request of a friend of mine, who wrote me from the East, I called on good-natured, garrulous old Simon Wheeler, and inquired after my friend’s friend, Leonidas W. Smiley, as requested to do, and I hereunto append the result.’” He looked up at her. “Well?”
“Hmm. Kind of high and mighty sounding,” Hazel said.
The ghost agreed with a grunt. “No one’s likely to read it written the way it is. Not in this century. The year was 1865 when I wrote that. Things have changed a bit in storytelling. I’m here to set this right, but I don’t have much time left on my Pass.”
Hazel considered the problem. Rita Baum would toss her and her mops right out the door if she found this book shredded. But that writer ghost wasn’t about to budge. He was one stubborn haunt. She could tell by the way he held tight to those pages. “Look here. How about I get you some paper and a pencil, so as you can do your re-writing, but you give me those pages. I’ll lose my job if you don’t.”
Mr. Twain hesitated, then handed the pages to Hazel. “I can’t be causing a loss of a job, but I’d appreciate it mightily if you’d give me that paper and pencil.” 
He wrote for over an hour, then he gave Hazel what he’d written. She tucked the new version into the book with the restored pages she’d carefully taped back into place, then re-shelved the book in exactly the right spot.
“I thank you kindly, “ the ghost said and vanished.
A few nights later, when she’d finished mopping row STU, she opened The Collected Works of Mark Twain and took out the loose pages. Curious, she sat and read the straight up and down strokes of the handwritten lines. “‘A friend of mine wrote me from the East and ask me to visit old Simon Wheeler. My friend wanted to know what ever happened to a guy named, Leonidas W. Smiley. When I found Wheeler, he had quite a tale to tell.’” 
She turned her face to the ceiling, thinking that Mr. Twain might hear her clearer that way. “Not so highfalutin now. Much better.” 


Thanks to Dianne Salerni for asking me to be on The Not So Accidental Blog Tourist Hop. (Eat your heart out Gary!)
Dianne's credits are impressive. She's the author of The Eighth Day MG fantasy series (HarperCollins) and YA historical novels, The Caged Graves (Clarion/HMH) and We Hear the Dead (Sourcebooks). Dianne was a public school teacher for 25 years before leaving the profession to spend more time hanging around creepy cemeteries and climbing 2000 year-old pyramids in the name of book research.

I'm about hopped out, but here's my contribution to this HOP. 

1.What am I currently working on?
I’m just wrapping up two projects. One is another young adult and I’m back to my female protagonist with this one, and my usual older character with issues. The second project is the sequel to Alligators Overhead, my middle grade fantasy/adventure. I've sent it to a to publisher, so I’m in the waiting room.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

You won’t find a lot of romance in my books, so don’t buy them if that’s what you want to read. My characters do love and they do have romantic moments—a few—but as you’ll see from my covers, my characters are the ones mostly on the outside, looking in or dealing with some hard life issues. There’s not a ball gown in sight. Maybe one of these days I’ll write something so I can have a beautiful girl and a beautiful dress on the front of my book.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

One reason I write “gritty” stories for young adults is that I want them to connect with my characters--the loners, the abused, the neglected, the seekers who have only a dim light to guide them. I want them to see they aren't alone and that others, maybe the author, have experienced and understand what they're going through. 

4. How does your writing/creating process work?

I wish I knew. If someone could see inside my brain and explain what’s going on, I’d pay a lot of money to them. Each book comes to me in a different way. Sometimes I write the end first. Sometimes I write all kinds of scenes, in no particular order. Sometimes I doodle for hours, walk, pout and give up being a writer because I’m sure I’m not one of those.

Now be sure to check out these two fine writers next Monday, August 4 and see what their answers to these questions are.
Carrie daydreamed her way through college—until they thrust a marketing degree into her hands, slapped a summa cum laude seal on the corner, and booted her out into a less-than-stellar job market. Instead of panicking at the prospect of unemployment, she used her Midwestern logic to steer into the skid and point her life in the direction she really wanted to go: writing out those daydreams.Her passion for New Adult fiction led her to co-found NA Alley—one of the first websites dedicated to the category. A year later, she started a design business specializing in graphics for the publishing industry, called Forward Authority. Her Mark of Nexus series has appeared on Amazon bestselling, top-rated, and hot new release lists in various genres.

Stephen Tremp lives with his wife and two daughters in Mission Viejo, CA. He has a B.A. in information systems and an MBA degree in global management. Stephen has a background in information systems, management, and finance and draws from this varied and complex experiential knowledge to write one-of-a-kind thrillers.

His novels are enhanced by current events at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and other scientific research facilities around the world. These potential advances have the ability to change the way we perceive our universe and our place in it! You can email Stephen at and visit him at his WEBSITE for more synopses, reviews, and links to purchase or download his books from Amazon.