Friday, August 29, 2014

Celebrating Small Things


LG KELTNER @writing off the edge
KATIE @TheCyborg Mom
CAFFEEMAGGIEATO @mscoffeehouse
This was a week filled with family and friends, so I'm celebrating having both groups of people in my life.

Finished my CAT story for Kyra Lennon's charity anthology and have it ready to publish on 9/5. Anyone else doing that? I enjoyed writing a short story again.

I've been invited to join in another anthology, so started that story. The theme is based on Alice in Wonderland, and since I've always loved the idea of Alice and her adventure, I had to take part in this one.

I was blown away by the kindness and generosity of spirit I experienced this week as I watched them  create a tribute to Tiny Downey. 9/8 there will be a Sunflower Tribute to her.

How was your week? Celebrating?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pros Part 7, The Pros Give Us Some Advice, Featuring Brinda Berry & @WeWrite4U

For those who are new to me, 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 or log line and a short piece of advice they wanted to pass on to writers, especially those still seeking publication. Last week JENN HUBBARD with her book, UNTIL IT HURTS TO STOP. Today I have Brinda Berry of UNCOMMONYA joining us. Take it away, Brinda.

Brinda's Book Available at AMAZON, B and N, KOBO, APPLE ITUNES
Logline: Tales of myth and legend retold. A collection of six folklore retellings that will twist your mind and claim your heart.

Best advice: Never underestimate your audience. YA readers want to be challenged by rich plots, genuine emotion, and multidimensional characters.

Brinda Berry
Adventures with Adrenaline-Addled Attraction


In keeping with Brinda's advice, one thing that seems to still surprise readers is that what is categorized as young adult, intrigues older readers. That's because, even though the MC is usually a teen, the plot, the characters and the themes are not limited to reach a stereotyped teen profile. Here's what one reviewer--THEBOOKSAGE--said about some YA books he read. One is mine. I blush! But not much, not anymore.

"I have a confession to make.  I am NOT a 16-year old girl.  And, yet, I absolutely loved C. Lee McKenzie's The Princess of Las Pulgas, which IS about a 16-year old girl.  I have read and enjoyed several YA books in the past that had teenage female protagonists - Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne and Wyndano's Cloak by A.R. Silverberry (his was a fantasy to boot) come to mind.  So I'm not a novice when it comes to YA's.  You can add [McKenzie's] to my recommend list.  It's absolutely terrific." The Book Sage


Now here's a little drum roll.  

Below (if Blogger hasn't sabotaged me) is a Linky. This is NOT a HOP, so you can relax, Gary, and you can sign up, too. September is National Literacy Month, and I hope that you'll join me in supporting LITERACY. Here's how.

1. Let me know you're interested by signing up on the Linky. Then, please get the code and post the Linky on your own blog if you can. If you don't want to add the Linky to your blog, put up a link to THE WRITE GAME, so others can sign up. I'll keep the Linky on my blog until the last week in September.

2. Below are some pre-written Tweets and I'm hoping we can TWEET UP A STORM with Tweets and RT's the month of September. I'll be posting more pre-written Tweets during the month to keep them fresh.

3. I've created a LIST/GROUP for Twitter @WeWrite4U_Lit, so please join and use the group's handle in your Tweets.

4. I've followed and been followed by these literacy groups. You might want to add some of them or find some local to you.


12 PREPARED TWEETS ( in parentheses I’ve put the source just in case you need it) Hope you'll create some of your own, too.

30 min of reading to a child each week=literacy & love of reading

Don’t give kids a sucker. Give them a book. Make reading valuable

Learn to read. Read to learn.

Get books into homes. Create readers.

Children who can’t read can’t contribute to society.

Read aloud to your kids. Make it dramatic. Make it fun. Create readers.

32 million adults in the U.S. couldn’t read  2013 (FYI citation:
academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure (FYI citation:
$225 billion or more each year in non-productivity in the workforce (FYI citation:

over 2 million New York City residents are functionally illiterate That’s 25% (FYI citation:

This is the first year I've tried to organize this, but I'm hoping to make this an annual event, improving it as I learn what works and what doesn't. Any suggestions? Leave them in your comment. Thanks.

My quote for the day: "Another belief of mine: that everyone else is an adult, whereas, I am merely in disguise." One of my favorite authors, Margaret Atwood

No questions today. You're on your own.

Monday, August 25, 2014

For Tina Downey

Tina, may you continue to dream in technicolor.

My Monday Post will go up on Wednesday this week.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Celebrating Small Things and a Talk With Julie Musil


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

Celebrating my hike to Summit this week. Hot, but worth the sweat. 

One more ridge and you're at the Pacific Ocean.

And a huge thanks to Darby Karchut for her generous giveaway. She sent me a $25 gift certificate for B and N. Guess which books I'll be buying? You can check out Darby's books HERE.


Interview with Julie Musil

I read Julie's The Boy Who Loved Fire a few months ago, and really enjoyed her story. I was glad to see her come out with another one and asked her to stop by and give us some information about this new book. 

When her protective older brother disappears, sixteen-year-old Melody infiltrates a theft ring, gathers clues about his secret life, and falls for a handsome pickpocket. 
At what point does truth justify the crime?

Hi Julie,
Is there a story behind your story that you wish to share? The ah-ha or lightning moment where the story inspiration struck?

Thanks for having me here, Lee! Yes, I remember the exact moment when inspiration struck. I was watching the news while a police chase took place on a Southern California freeway. The chase ended with a teen girl and guy sprawled out on the freeway beside a small white pickup truck. Police found a cache of weapons in their truck.

The wheels in my YA writer brain started turning. Where did they get the weapons? Where were the teens headed? What got them to that point in their lives? That moment on the news became a major scene in my new release, The Summer of Crossing Lines. I worked backward from that moment and created a story.

How important is community in keeping you inspired? What authors are a part of your virtual and/or hometown community? How do they keep you inspired? How do you inspire them?

The writing community means everything to me. I can’t imagine writing in a time without social media--I’m sure I would’ve quit a long time ago. I love meeting new people via blogs or Twitter and chatting about books and writing. My local writer friends are Lisa Green, Leslie Rose, and Sarah Skilton. We’ll meet for lunch or dinner, with or without kids, and just hash it all out. The writing community keeps me ground and inspired.

What were some of the challenges you encountered when working on this book? How did you overcome those challenges?

I had to do some major re-writing, re-structuring, and character work before I got this story right.  Beta readers pointed out the glaring flaws and helped brainstorm solutions. The biggest hurdle was the fact that my main character Melody crosses several moral lines. I had to make those decisions believable while also keeping Melody likable. In the end, all the hard work was worth it.

How do you juggle the marketing and press of your books and still continue to find time to get the exciting stories in your head down on paper?

This is a big challenge for me, as it is for most writers. I compartmentalize. I do the creative work first--especially when I’m writing a first draft--knowing that my mind is less creative when it’s burned out. I do the other work later in the day.

What’s your idea of a perfect day?

Reading a good book, in the warm sunshine, near the water...pool, beach, river, it doesn’t matter where.

Now the Lightning Round:

Pantser or Plotter? Definitely a plotter, but I give myself some wiggle room for changes.
Morning person or Evening person? Morning person. I run out of steam by 8 pm and I’m usually asleep by 10.
Beach or Mountain Vacation? I love hiking in the mountains, but I’d rather spend vacations at the beach, as long as it’s warm. Cold, windy beaches are not my thing. But a toasty beach with waves lapping on a sandy shore, and me holding a book in my hands? Heavenly.

Thanks for visiting here today! I'm looking forward to reading this one. 

Julie Musil writes from her rural home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband and three sons. She’s an obsessive reader who loves stories that grab the heart and won’t let go. Her Young Adult novels, The Summer of Crossing Lines and The Boy Who Loved Fire, are available now. For more information, or to stop by an say Hi, please visit Julie on her blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Here are the buy links for The Summer of Crossing Lines


Now, of course, it's time for my thought for the day. Ready? "Your whole life passes in front of your eyes before you die. This is called living." Terry Pratchett, Author.

What are you celebrating this Friday? Have you read Julie's book The Boy Who Love Fire? Ready to order The Summer of Crossing Lines? Happy Weekend!

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?