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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Celebrating Small Things: My Book Launch and Broken Branch Falls by Tara Tyler



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



I'm celebrating something that's small in the scheme of things, but exciting for me. 

My Young Adult novel, DOUBLE NEGATIVE, officially goes on sale today.

Sixteen-year-old Hutch McQueen is shackled by near illiteracy and trapped in a dysfunctional family. When he tries to escape, he chooses the wrong way and lands in juvenile hall.  He might have a another chance if he listens to the priest and the teacher.

You can enter to win a free copy or some Amazon money for a shopping spree.

I waved my magic wand, and am now in four places at once today. Come visit me at MEDEIA SHARIF'S today. We're talking. Then DARBY KARCHUT  and TBM are featuring me at their special spots in the universe. And YVONNE VENTRESCA is letting me go a bit about writing stuff. How lucky can an author be? I launch and I'm hosted by four really super people. 

On Sunday, July 27 the magical two, JESS and STEPHANIE are hosting me at their Author Tracker blog.


So much for celebrating the Small Things, now let's celebrate the Big Things, like books for kids!

Available Now  Amazon 
Let me just get this over with and tell everybody how jealous I am of Tara's cover. There. I feel so much better.

So today I’m having a very different kind of guest. Everybody seated? Ready? Good. Now let me pass the GGs around. 

"Huh?" Crowd response.

Oh, What are GGs? Lee nudges her guest who is somewhat green (get over it) and small (get over that, too).

Gabe, you tell them what GGs are and that will get our conversation off to an, ahem, interesting start.

Gabe: I thought everybody knew GGs were Goblin Goodies. 

Lee: Well, not everybody. But now that you point it out. . . In fact, now that you’ve answered my first question, I’m thinking you’re not really as nurdie as you say you are. I think we need a Nerd Test. Are you up for that? 

Gabe: ​Uh, sure. I hope I will prove I'm not a nerd.​

Lee: I’ll just fire off a few questions and you answer them as best you can. At the end, I’ll tally all your “correct” answers--answers only a true nerd would know--and we’ll see what the results are.

What day is National Nerd Pride Day? A real Nerd would know this one.

Gabe: ​I didn't know there was such a thing. How about May 4th. (It's Star Wars Day - get it? May the 4th be with you... 

Lee: Oye! I'm afraid you're more nerdy than not. So here's question two. If a Nerd wears glasses, would he 

a) let them slide down his nose and leave them there
b) tape them if they broke
c) buy the latest fashion
Gabe: I'd have to say "b" - I had to help my friend Darvis tape his after an unfortunate flugelhorn incident.​

Lee: Oh yes. The *cough, cough* flugelhorn incident. Onward.

What did the nuclear physicist have for lunch? 

a)cesium salad
b)fission chips
c)atomic barbecue
Gabe: Those all sound...interesting.​ I'm going to have to go with "b" again - I don't like salad and atomic barbecue sounds like Troll fodder - no one wants that nuclear reaction!

Lee: I agree with that observation. Now for the last nerd determining question.

Rainbow suspenders are 

a) neato
b) uninteresting
c) expensive 
Gabe: ​Rainbows are cool, so I bet rainbow suspenders are "a" - neat!​

Lee: It seems you are truly a Nerd. Congratulations. But how is a Goblin Nerd different from say your average teenaged human one?  Or are there any differences? 

Gabe:​ Well, I've never met a human, only read about them. The books say human teens ​are lazy and like to put each other down to make themselves feel better. Here is the definition of a nerd - a person who behaves awkwardly around other people and usually has unstylish clothes, hair, etc. ; a person who is very interested in technical subjects. That about sums me up, so if a human teenage nerd is that way, then, we're pretty similar...

Lee: ​Hmm. Very interesting. Would you like to leave us with some special Broken Branch Falls wisdom a la Gabe the Nerd?

Gabe: I would like to point out that we shouldn't be judged by appearances, but by how we behave and treat each other. What's on the inside is what matters. Just because I'm smart, thin, and awkward doesn't ​mean I should be pushed around! Nerds unite!

And there you have it. But not yet. Be sure to buy Gabe's book. Hope you do. BTW are you a nerd? How many questions did you get right? Be sure to join my giveaway. 

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

One last thing. Here's my kind of quirky Eli Wallach, quote for the day: "Having the critics praise you is like having the hangman say you've got a pretty neck." Hmmm. I have to think about that one.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Double Negative Has a Cover.


I'm in the middle of Advice From the Pros Series, but I have to interrupt that for a moment because my new young adult novel, 
Double Negativemakes it's first appearance as a book, and I'm in a bit of a fritz

I've recycled my SADOTY Award for this occasion. The cat spoke to me, Gary.

Sixteen-year-old Hutchinson McQueen is a big time loser. Trapped in a dysfunctional family, his one thought is escape, but everything he does to get away lands him in trouble. Shackled by poor reading skills, he squeaks through classes with his talent for eavesdropping and memorizing what he hears. When he shoplifts and lands in juvenile detention, the court sentences him to a county youth program. There he meets the priest and Maggie, a retired teacher. They’re determined to set Hutch on a path leading away from trouble. Hutch is determined not to cooperate, and he blunders his way from one mess into another. It isn’t until he’s facing serious charges that he confronts the truth--his own bad choices are trapping him. The priest and Maggie have offered him the freedom he craves. All he has to do is take it.

Hope you'll enter my giveaway to win either a copy of my book or some shopping money. Then please stop by  some of the bloggers who've jumped in to help me out. 

My quote for you today is from Helen Mirren: "The word 'freedom' is batted around rather too freely. I like self-discipline."

Friday, July 18, 2014

Two Cover Reveals and Celebrating Some Small Things, Too.


LG KELTNER @writing off the edge
KATIE @TheCyborg Mom
CAFFEEMAGGIEATO @mscoffeehouse
Thanks for being good helpers!

July is treating me well. I'm writing. I'm reading. I'm hiking. I'm even sleeping these nights. Small things like this add up to some pretty spectacular life events. Hope you'll stop by others who are celebrating with me this Friday.

And here's a great cause that Evernight Teen is supporting. I'm buying some books and supporting a cause I believe in.



And now for the COVER REVEAL moment. Ready? Take it away Crystal.

Have you met the Soulless and Passionate? In the world of 1770 where supernatural beings mix with humanity, Alexia is playing a deadly game.

SOULLESS, Book 2 in the Maiden of Time trilogy

Alexia manipulated time to save the man of her dreams, and lost her best friend to red-eyed wraiths. Still grieving, she struggles to reconcile her loss with what was gained: her impending marriage. But when her wedding is destroyed by the Soulless—who then steal the only protection her people have—she's forced to unleash her true power.

And risk losing everything.

What people are saying about this series: 

"With a completely unique plot that keeps you guessing and interested, it brings you close to the characters, sympathizing with them and understanding their trials and tribulations." --SC, Amazon reviewer

"It's clean, classy and supernaturally packed with suspense, longing, intrigue and magic." --Jill Jennings, TX

"SWOON." --Sherlyn, Mermaid with a Book Reviewer

Crystal Collier is a young adult author who pens dark fantasy, historical, and romance hybrids. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, three littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her blog and Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

COMING October 13, 2014

PREORDER your print copy
Sign up for Crystal Collier's newsletter to receive release news and freebies.


And there's more! Here's Elizabeth Seckman's novel, BELLA's POINT. And does her heroine look and sound enticing?

Cover art by Sprinkles on Top Studios.

Isabella Troy Stanley is a divorced, slave freeing pariah surviving in the shattered post Civil War south the only way a fallen debutante knows how. She heads to a Yankee prison and buys herself a husband. 

Jack Byron is the former Troy plantation stable boy and object of young Bella's affection. He rejected her then, and he's still not sold on the idea of marrying her now.  

 It’s complicated.

 Though to Bella, it’s simple: make Jack love her, marry her, and live happily ever after. The plan seems to least until her secret is revealed.

Be sure to enter Elizabeth's CHALLENGE  to win some great prizes!

About the author: Elizabeth is a wife, a mom, and a writer. She has four wonderful boys, one dusty house, and three published books to her credit. Feel free to check them out and buy them HERE! Erm, the books, not the kids or the house...though all things in life are negotiable ;)

You can find her here - Blog // Facebook // Twitter

Monday, July 14, 2014

Part 2: The Pros Give Us Some Advice and What About Talking to Editors Anyway?

Last week I started a series that 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 CHERYL RAINFIELD visited. Today I have one of my critique partners, YVONNE VENTRESCA. Waving at YV! Take it away.

Now available at AMAZON and B and N

Tagline: In Pandemic, a teenage girl struggles to survive not only a deadly influenza outbreak and its real-life consequences, but also her own personal demons.

Advice from YV: Author Richard Bach said, “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” Persistence is definitely key in this business. Good writing is certainly important, but there’s something to be said for not giving up.

Thanks Great Critique Partner. 


And now about talking to editors.

The first time I had a chance to talk to an editor in person was at a conference, and my tongue kept sticking to the roof of my mouth. No wonder she didn't have any encouragement for me. How could she ever work with an author who couldn't get her ideas across.

My next encounter with an editor was much smoother. I could talk. I could tell her what my idea was and why I was presenting it to her. Hurray! I was learning. Here are some tips that I used in that second face-to-face with someone I wanted to interest in my book.

  • I planned for this meeting far in advance. I knew about the editor, what she was looking for, and I knew about her press--what they'd recently published. I was confident my book was a match for her and her company.

  • Just before the conference, I interacted with her via Twitter. She was posting about her walk on the beach (the conference was on the CA coast), so I Tweeted her that I lived nearby and knew the place she was describing. That's all. No pitch. No hustle. 

  • I made sure to attend the social gatherings, met her and talked about her walk on the beach. Again, that was all. I kept it social, but I wanted her to know I was the one who had Tweeted her earlier. 

  • I arrived exactly on time for our fifteen minute meeting. It was easy to greet her since we'd already had two informal encounters.

  • Earlier, I'd paid careful attention to her presentation on the editors' panel, and I used this line to start our conversation about my proposal. " I liked what you said about realistic fiction for teens. It made me think you might be interested in my idea."  

  • I had my tagline memorized, and I told her I would follow up with a query if she was interested in my idea. 
I admit that she didn't buy my manuscript, but she did ask for it, and she gave me some excellent advice when she turned me down. I know it was her advice that led to my sale of that book later because it changed the book from one that wouldn't sell, to one that might. I don't think she would have bothered if I hadn't laid some ground work to meet her and present my idea clearly. 

While my sale didn't happen as I'd hoped, it did happen, and I believe it was because I'd made a connection with this editor, and she was willing to take the time to help me.

Did you like YV's quote? Be sure to check out her book. It's good. Any other ideas on meeting with editors/agents? Oh, and Happy Bastille Day.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Celebrating Small Things Like Owls and Book Launches


LG KELTNER @writing off the edge

KATIE @TheCyborg Mom

CAFFEEMAGGIEATO @mscoffeehouse

One of my favorite spots to read or write is in my garden and during the summer, I like to go down early to sit by the pond, sip my coffee and get my head ready for whatever the day might bring. 

I'll never stop being grateful for my writing spot.

Yesterday I found a surprise. A small brown owl had caught his wing in the edging around the pond. Poor guy. He'd been trapped there for a while by the look of him, and I was afraid he'd broken a wing. I scooped him out of the water and set him on the edge of the pond. He blinked at me with huge yellow eyes, and for a minute I thought I'd have more rescuing steps--call the vet, find a cage, drive damaged owl to have wing fixed. I imagined that my day was going to be filled with owl care. 

But he rallied and in a few minute, stretched and flexed both wings, then flew into the trees. I didn't get a picture of him, but here's one of his brothers. 

I have something really small to celebrate this Friday. 


Double Negative Launch

For all of you who offered to help me with my launch, I haven't forgotten. :-) I've just been waiting for Evernight Teen to send my cover and my pub date. I've just gotten my pub date and my cover is on the way, so wanted you to know I will be getting that information to you next week! If I've missed someone, yell at me, please. And if anyone still wants to jump in and lend a hand, obviously, there's still time. 

Again thanks for your support.