Monday, October 29, 2012

Win a Free Kindle with Books!

 Today's the last day of the Crossroads Blog Tour, so hurry and get your entry in for a chance to win a Kindle preloaded with stories from these fabulous authors:

Judith Graves – Leap Books – Under My Skin, Second Skin, Skin of My Teeth, Killer’s Instinct
Joy Preble – Sourcebooks – Dreaming Anastasia, Haunted, Anastasia Forever. Soho Press (forthcoming May 2013) – The Sweet Dead Life
Stacey Kade – Hyperion – The Ghost and the Goth, Queen of the Dead, Body & Soul
Amanda Ashby – Speak – You Had Me at HaloZombie Queen of Newbury High, Fairy Bad Day, Demonosity
Lucienne Diver – Flux – Vamped, Revamped, Fangtasic, Fangtabulous
Kiki Hamilton – Teen / Macmillian – The Faerie Ring, The Torn Wing
Jackie Morse Kessler – Harcourt Graphia – Hunger, Rage, Loss
Christine Fonseca – Compass Press – Transcend, Libera Me
Carrie Harris – Delacorte Books for Young Readers -Taste In Boys, Bad Hair Day
Dawn Dalton – Leap Books - SPIRITED Anthology, Killer’s Instinct
Leanna Renee Hieber - Sourcebooks – Darker Still (Magic Most Foul, #1), The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart (Magic Most Foul, #2)
Ty Drago - Sourcebooks – The Undertakers: Rise of the Corpses, The Undertakers: Queen of the Dead
Janet Fox – Speak – Faithful, Forgiven, Sirens

Visit the main Crossroads Blog Tour page for information on how to participate – who wouldn’t want a free Kindle with 13 e-books pre-loaded? :)

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Five Creepiest Books I've Ever Read

Photo: PD
I love Halloween.  Pumpkins and costumes and candy...oh, yeah!  But even though I love Halloween, I hate horror.  I can't watch slasher films or scary movies; no matter how many times my husband begs me to, I will never ever watch Rosemary's Baby or The Shining.  But I do love a good ghost story, and I can handle subtle creepiness.  So in honor of Halloween next week, I thought I'd list the Top Five Creepy/Scary Books I've Ever Read.

Keep in mind, my list is limited.  I've never read any Stephen King so that wipes out a whole bunch of possibilities.  And I'm keeping this to YA, save for one notable exception.

5.  POSSESS by Gretchen McNeil
Although I don't do horror, Gretchen's a friend of mine, and POSSESS was her 2012 debut, so there was no way I wasn't going to wimp out on her.  POSSESS is about a teenage exorcist, and it provides creeps galore, particularly one highly memorable scene that is set in an antique doll shop.  Trust me, Madame Alexander dolls will never look the same again.

ATTIP is a 1986 sci-fi YA novel in which a girl finds out she's a clone.  The entire novel has this general sense of creepiness and doom, as Anna digs deeper into how many clones were created just like her, and why.  Unfortunately, the book is out of print, which is really too bad because its message about genetic engineering - something that seemed so futuristic in the mid-80's - is very timely.  Which makes it even creepier...

3.  DOWN A DARK HALL by Lois Duncan
When I was a kid, I really wanted to go to boarding school.  Reading this book will cure anyone of that desire.  It's about a girl named Kit who finds herself at a boarding school with just four students and one creepy headmistress.  The Gothic setting, the shadows around every corner, and the headmistress's nefarious intentions make this one spine-tingling read.

2.  MY SWEET AUDRINA by V.C. Andrews
Ah, V.C. Andrews, Queen of Gothic Creepiness.  No one's teenage years are complete without reading her masterpiece, FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC and its sequels and prequels.  But MY SWEET AUDRINA trumps every other Andrews novel in read-it-with-the-light-on creepiness.  It's about a girl who's always been raised in the shadow of her beautiful, talented, perfect - and dead - older sister.  Then quite a ways into the novel there is a stunning twist that will leave your jaw glued to the floor.  V.C. Andrews died many years ago, but her estate is still churning out novels under her name.  Don't be fooled.  The original books - the FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC series, most of the HEAVEN series, and this one - are the best.

1.  IN COLD BLOOD by Truman Capote
I wrote an 50-page thesis paper on Truman Capote in high school, and no study would be complete without reading his masterpiece.  Above any other book I've ever read, this book scared me the most.  It's the only one to ever give me nightmares - and very specifically, IN COLD BLOOD-themed nightmares.  I think that's because it is a true story.  In fact, it is considered the first true-crime novel.  It details the brutal murders of a Kansas farmer and his family, and the hunt for their killers.  But beyond being chillingly creepy, it is truly a masterpiece of writing, and that's why it's number one on my list.

Happy Reading and Happy Halloween! 

Nicole Maggi writes YA - paranormal, historical, and beyond.  Her debut novel WINTER FALLS will be released in 2014 from Medallion Press.  She's represented by the fabulous Irene Goodman of The Irene Goodman Literary Agency, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband Chris, their daughter Emilia (after the Shakespeare character), and two cats Sawyer & Hurley (after the LOST characters).  Yeah, she's a geek.  Check out her website and follow her on Twitter! 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tip of the Day: Follow Your Heroes

I had the pleasure of attending a Libba Bray event on the weekend. She’s one of those authors I find so inspiring and darn right funny. I’m a big fan of her books and of her as a person. She is very approachable and honest about her journey as a writer.  At the event to promote her new book, The Diviners, she did something I didn’t expect. She read a story she wrote in fifth grade. Something her mother dredged up from the past. Libba prefaced the reading by saying no one would ever guess by the writing level in the story that the girl who wrote it would ever grow up to be a famous author.

I found this pronouncement hard to believe. How could this amazing writer not show her talent at a young age? But as she read through her tale of a castle filled with a crazy cast of characters of ghosts, vampires and girls that have read way too much Nancy Drew, I realized she was right. The story to put it bluntly, sucked. It truly didn't show the genius of the writer the girl went on to be. And somehow that made me feel so much better.

I didn’t start writing until I was in college. I dabbled in angst-ridden poems and short little tomes in high school but I never had the time or the inclination to sit down and write a book. I was too busy perusing my dream of becoming a fine artist. It wasn’t until I was out of college and working full time before I got the nerve to sit down and write my first novel. It was dreck. But after listening to experienced writers like Libba Bray and their tales of learning the craft of writing, I felt I might actually be able to pursue all the stories that filled my head. I would one day be able to turn them into something someone would want to read.   

Watching Libba bare her early writing soul made me forget about the struggles I’m having with my YA fantasy second draft. A draft that sometimes makes me feel like I’m back in fifth grade. Because in the end writing is a skill and it can be mastered. Of course you need the creative spark of the story idea to turn that skill into something someone would want to read.

So thank you Libba and the other experience writers I admire. You give me the strength and hope that with hard work and passion I to will have a successful writing career.


Friday, October 19, 2012

NaNoWriMo is Approaching!

Greetings All!

You know what the month of November is, right? I mean, besides my birthday month. Right? Yep, it’s NaNoWriMo month! Woo Hoo! 

For those of you not in the know, NaNoWriMo is 30 days and 30 nights of literary abandon. You have to write a 50,000 word novel in one freaking month! Yes, that’s right, a month. You can’t edit it, or tweak it or whatever it, you just write the entire thing in one big swoop. Then in December and so on you edit, polish and edit some more to get it into shape or you shelve it and start a different one. 

I was planning on writing the third faerie novel for NaNo but I have another idea I may do instead. I like NaNo because it frees the inner editor or maybe I should say it shuts up the inner editor for a WHOLE MONTH. “Just get it down,” you tell yourself as you complete your 1,667 word count for the day. It’s fun, it’s a community of writers, there are prizes (well, no, not really) but once you do it, you are hooked. Write a novel in a month? Sure. No problem. Oh, you have a day job? Uh, yeah. Oh, you have a family/friends/pets? Tell them they will have to FEND FOR THEMSELVES for 30 days (except for the pets, stock up on kibble for them).
Stock your cupboards with snacks, give the kids and significant other microwaveable meals  or let them make dinner for a change. Do whatever you have to do to GET THE WRITING DONE. You’ll feel like you’ve accomplished a marathon, BECAUSE YOU HAVE.

So, who’s with me in the NaNo bullpen this year? Counting down to Nov. 1st commences. Twelve days, writers and then…you take off running, er, writing. Go here to register if you haven’t already.

Let the writing begin! (Keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times).

Until Next Time, Take Care,

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Change Is Not Bad

Hey all,

        Obviously, I've been out quite a while. I've taken a short hiatus on writing and also going in a different direction as well. So, my apologies to you readers. My recent work has been involving finishing my Civil War historical fiction novel as well as starting a new one. I just finished posting a new blurb and excerpt for "Enemy in the Ranks" on my website. Check it out when you can.
        The new direction is not a real shocker since I love history and there is such a rich source of story ideas, but stopping my future fantasy works for now was the difficult choice. Which brings me to this unique topic I hope will plant a positive seed of thought.
        Sometimes in life, your path is not going down the road you "expected". Regardless of your intentions, there may be other avenues waiting for you to prosper. Don't be so stubborn and pigheaded that you deny and ultimately crush a hidden opportunity because "it's not what I want to do!" *stomp, stomp, stomp*
        I did the stomp, stomp thing. I'm good at writing fantasy, but in reviewing my works, I'm also good at historical fiction. What was neat was this unseen fact; something I would not have seen if I continued fussing. What fact? I'm a good writer, a published author. What the heck am I complaining about? I needed to back up, get off my high horse and redirect. In doing so, I will continue to write quality works, and help others in the process.
        Making changes in life can prosper you beyond mere finances. It can open the doors to new friends, school/work opportunities, writing gigs, your future. Don't be afraid to make changes. We had a sermon in church once that said "in order to get to a new level, you must make a change." Picture an old country lane with deep ruts carved into the mud. A wagon stuck in the ruts will go the same way every time, unable to change direction. In order to change direction, the wagon must change position. Make sense?
        I should do better in contributing more than I have in the last many months, so for that please forgive me. But take this lesson to heart, for writing and for life. I did, and I am better for it.
Take care,
Nick Giannaras

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Revise, Revise, Repeat

Or not...

As authors, of course we have to revise our stories. It's a very rare--if even existent--talent to be able to write a flawless first draft that's publishable.

There are many different methods for revision. Some people use beta readers and critique partners to help pinpoint the problems in a story and then take that feedback as they work on each subsequent draft. Some hire freelance editors to do the same thing. Some, like me, just go it alone, using feedback on previous books as a guideline. Personally, when I revise I try to take off my author hat and put on my editor hat, and then I go through again wearing my reader hat. Not always an easy process.

The thing about being an author is sometimes we see flaws in our writing that aren't really there, or that aren't as much of a problem as we think. While it's definitely important to revise so we can submit the best possible manuscript, it's also important to know when to stop revising and just hit send.

Otherwise, we could revise until the end of time and never submit a single book.

Monday, October 15, 2012

VBT Waning Moon by P.J. Sharon

PJ  Sharon has stopped by to tell us about her new release and how she got interested in writing Dystopian novels. I asked her what sets dystopian apart from other YAs. Here's her response.
After a few years of writing adult novels, I decided my voice and style was best suited for the YA market. I liked writing in the first person narrative and had lots of teen stories buzzing in my head. I started writing strictly contemporary YA, but reading everything I could get my hands on in YA literature. That included the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, The Giver by Lois Lowry, and How I live Now by Meg Rossoff. I found it fascinating how different each story was and loved the future aspect to them. As a writer, the infinite possibilities of creating a dystopian world excited me. What will technology be like in forty-five years? How will climate change affect the planet? Will the global economy survive our current political structure or will it collapse? And what about resistant super-bugs and terrorists? These questions and more all come up when you start creating a world that does not yet exist. It’s challenging, requires a ton of research to determine the plausibility of each scenario, and details matter if you want it to be believable.
The idea for THE CHRONICLES OF LILY CARMICHAEL trilogy came about after several discussions with some friends who are survivalists and a bit radical in their thinking about where the world will be in the near future. Whether due to economic collapse, environmental catastrophe, or government conspiracy, they seem pretty certain that life as we know it is on the brink of major change. They live very simply out in the country, stock-piling goods, living as much off-grid as possible, and are prepared for just about anything. They aren’t quite as radical as the Doomsday Preppers on cable TV, but they have convinced me that we all need to be ready for whatever challenges we face in the coming age.
WANING MOON, Book One of the trilogy, takes place in the year 2057 after a plague has wiped out three quarters of the population and a global shift has created significant climate change, reshaping the planet and devastating our country. Sixteen-year-old Lily Carmichael and her thirteen-year-old brother, Zephron, were part of the EVO experiments meant to genetically alter fetuses, giving them immunity to the viral plague. As a result, Lily has the gift of healing, while Zeph has an ability that is much darker. In this first installment, Lily is forced to leave the safety of her small town to journey to the trading post in Albany in order to find a cure for her uncle’s cancer since his shared genetics make him impervious to her ability to heal him.
 Accompanied by Will Callahan, a seventeen-year-old drifter who is searching for his father, the two encounter trouble with the Industry, a rogue government agency set on capturing EVO kids and taking them to the Western Desert, never to be seen again. But Will has his own secrets to protect and Lily is finding it hard to keep her mind on her mission. There’s a budding romance, an action-packed adventure, and two loveable wolves that make the story more than just sci-fi doom and gloom. 
Writers don’t always get to make a conscious choice about which stories they write. For me, the characters in my head who shout the loudest seem to get first dibs. Lily and Will wouldn’t let me go and I knew that theirs would be a fun story to write. Dystopian fiction opens up whole new worlds for a writer. Contemporary stories deal with real life teen issues in the real world. I loved writing HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES, ON THIN ICE, and SAVAGE CINDERELLA, and felt that I had some valuable experiences to share that would leave teens feeling as if no matter how bad life got, it could always get better. Paranormal novels like Twilight that deal with vampires, werewolves, or other creatures, are fun to read, but I had no desire to write them. Writing a dystopian trilogy gave me a canvas somewhere in the middle. I could create a whole new future world and add a bit of sci-fi to my characters, without totally losing touch with the reality of teen issues. I think kids are looking for answers about an uncertain future, and they are looking for them in dystopian stories. As different as this trilogy is from anything I’ve written before, my message is the same as it’s always been. No matter how bad things get, there is always hope that they can get better.  


In the year 2057, in a post-apocalyptic world where a global shift threatens the remainder of the population with extinction, sixteen-year-old genetically enhanced Lily Charmichael has more immediate problems. Her uncle is dying of cancer and her healing abilities are ineffective against the blood ties that bind them. In order to find a cure, Lily must leave the protection of her quiet town and journey into the trading city of Albany, all while avoiding the Industry, an agency that would like nothing better than to study and exploit her abilities.

 Seventeen-year-old Will Callahan has been searching for his father since severe storms blasted through the Midwest, killing his mother and sister. When he learns that his father may be in the city, he catches a ride with Lily, a girl who has come to his rescue more than once. As the two embark on a dangerous journey, the attraction between them grows. But the secrets Will’s keeping could put her in far more danger than traveling to the city with him, and if he was any kind of man, he would have told her to run the minute she found him.


“Wait,” I said before he got far, “I bet I could find you something to eat.” I tried to appeal to what I knew would work for any hungry male. “Would you like some of this?” I asked. My bag of premium jarred honey lay across my back, and I figured it wasn’t really a meal, but I was willing to bet he’d eat whatever he could get his hands on. Or maybe he could trade Mrs. Higgins for some soup or a place to bathe. She would likely offer him something herself once she saw him. He was clearly in need of both.

The boy eyed the honey as I pulled a glass jar out of my pack, but he put his hands up and backed away. “No, I...thanks anyway…I’ll be fine…I gotta go…” He spun away and strode across the street toward an alleyway. It wasn’t like I could invite him back to the farm. Sam would kill me if I brought home a stranger. His warnings rang clear in my head even as I caught up to the boy and grabbed his arm.

“C’mon. Let me…”

The stranger whirled around, his grey eyes cold and hard. “I don’t need some girl to rescue me!”

Stunned, I took a step back. Not only did his words come as a complete surprise, but the color of his eyes rendered me speechless. I hadn’t noticed beneath his shaggy bangs before, but his eyes were a crystalline blue-grey that reminded me of an icy lake or a stormy sky. Brilliant, backlit with sunshine, and rimmed by dark, thick lashes. I sucked in a breath, confused by somehow feeling happy while being horribly offended at the same time. My brain kicked in and my heart felt the sting.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

I knew I would be a writer someday when I was a little girl sitting on my grandpa’s knee and telling him stories that he would help me put on paper. By the time I entered kindergarten I could already read and write, and I couldn’t wait to look up new words every morning in the ginormous Webster’s Dictionary that sat in the book case at the bottom of our stairs. I would get on the bus and ask my friends, “Do you know what pulchritudinous means?” Between that and challenging the boys to push-up contests at the bus stop, I mostly sat alone on those bus rides to school. But that just meant I had more time to make up stories.

I went on to many other endeavors in life, including the world of figure skating, and later, earning a black belt in martial arts. Though I was a mom at seventeen, I did manage to finish school and somehow made it through college, earning a degree as a Physical Therapy Assistant. After nineteen years, two sons, a divorce, and some fairly lean years, I found that it’s true what they say about life beginning at forty. It was about that time when I reunited with the love of my life and worked my way to owning my own business as a Massage Therapist, Personal Trainer, and Yoga Instructor—all of my favorite things. To make my bliss complete, I moved out to the Berkshires and found my muse waiting for me there amongst the lilacs and humming birds.

I now write Extraordinary Stories of an Average Teenage Life in order to share hope with others, especially teens, that no matter how tough life gets, there is always a bright spot waiting just around the corner. My published books include the award winning YA Novels, HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES, ON THIN ICE, and SAVAGE CINDERELLA, available through Amazon and B&N Booksellers.
Amazon Author Central
Good reads

PJ will be awarding an eBook copy of "Thin Ice" to one commenter at each stop and a $25 Amazon or BN GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

  The tour dates can be found here:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Writing a Gripping Thriller

Keeping tension high in thrillers can be hard to do. One of the keys is Donald Maass's mantra: Tension on every page. How do you manage that? It isn't easy, but I just enjoyed reading Jill Williamson's latest YA suspense, The New Recruit, and she's managed to keep the tension high throughout. One way she's done that is by creating an anti-hero.

Spencer Garmond is not your typical good guy. He's in trouble at home and school. Then when he ends up being forced into a group of religious kids who claim to be training as spies, he's totally out of his element. He's determined not to become one of the goody-goodies, but he is intrigued by the cool spy gadgets and the operative training. He stays in the group for all the wrong reasons: he's not interested in their mission or in being part of the Christian faith. And when he doesn't follow the rules, but heads out on his own undercover operation, he puts others in jeopardy and almost loses his own life. Throughout, though, Spencer tugs at your heartstrings because he's real, upfront, and honest about how he feels. That and his bravery make him someone you'll want to follow through all his adventures. Luckily, there are three more books to come. (And, hopefully, more after that.)

But Spencer's behavior puts him in opposition to everyone in the group. He's part of team, but his goals aren't the group goals. He bothers them; they bother him. He's not about to become one of them, yet he must work with them. So even when the spy mission isn't heating up, Spencer's still stirring up trouble. If it's not problems in the group, it's problems at school or at home. Add to that Spencer's family troubles--living with his grandmother and not knowing what happened to his parents or why--and his life is filled with constant conflict.

And conflict is the key to writing thrillers. So is having a strong villain. One of the best ways to increase tension is to make the antagonist as strong or stronger than the protagonist. Battles easily won do not make for suspense or tension, so pitting the hero against a dangerous opponent makes for the most stress, which translates into major roadblocks for the protagonist, which, in turn, increases the tension. The hero's life and success in his quest are in doubt.

One other element that draws readers through a thriller  is cliffhangers. Chapters end with the hero in danger, being chased by a criminal, facing dangerous choices, perhaps even death. Being responsible for someone else's fate increases the stakes.

Jill Williamson does all this well. The New Recruit keeps you on the edge of the seat, flipping quickly through the pages to get to the climax. The hero changes a bit throughout the book, but it's not a rapid or unbelievable change, so it feels real and is in keeping with the personality she established for her hero.

Here's the book blurb:

Forced to choose between military school and a Christian spy organization, skeptic Spencer Garmond signs on with the Bible geeks. But before he even boards the plane for Moscow, Spencer realizes this is no Bible club.

These guys mean business.

Stumbling onto a case involving a gang of homeless boys, a chilling tattoo, and the always beautiful Anya Vseveloda, Spencer struggles to find the faith needed to save the Mission League from enemy infiltration.

You can read the first chapter here.

And Jill has plenty of great info on writing, including worksheets to help you discover your characters or plot your novel.

Here's a bit about Jill:

Jill Williamson is an author of all things weird. She grew up in Alaska with no electricity, an outhouse, and a lot of mosquitoes. Her Blood of Kings trilogy won two Christy Awards, and she recently released Replication, a science fiction teen novel from Zonderkidz. The first book in her dystopian trilogy, Captives, comes out February 2013. Jill lives in Oregon with her husband and two children and a whole lot of deer. You can find out more about Jill at her website or at the series website.

If you know teens who might be interested in a fast-paced, suspenseful read, they can check it out here. And Jill is also offering an undercover scavenger hunt. Great prizes!

And here's the book trailer:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Finishing The Hat

There's a part of you always standing by
Mapping out the sky
Finishing a hat
Starting on a hat
Finishing a hat
Look I made a hat
Where there never was a hat

- "Finishing the Hat" from Sunday in the Park with George, by Stephen Sondheim

In my last post, I mentioned that I'd be sending the first fifty pages of my current WIP off to my agent, and then sitting on pins and needles until I heard back from her.  Well, I'm pleased to report that she loved the partial and encouraged me to finish up the book so we could get it out on submission.

All awesome news!  So now all I have to do is...finish the book.

Easier said than done, right?  How does one finish a book?  Well, in my experience I've found that one needs to not be so focused on finishing it in order to finish it.


I'll clarify.  It all goes back to the question of Why We Write.  We write because we love to write, not because we love to publish books.  Publishing is the whipped cream on pumpkin spice latte.  We write for the actual act of writing.  Sitting down at the computer every day and sinking into the world of our characters.  Telling a story.  Taking the journey.  Turning a corner in the plot and finding ourselves in a totally surprising place.

And so in order to finish a book, I only look ahead to the next step in the journey.  I don't think about the end of the journey.  Thinking about the end result distracts me from the present, and I have to be in the present in order to finish the book. 

Writing is all about the process, not the end result.  How many authors talk about the first books they wrote that never got published, but how writing those books taught them how to write?  I myself have one of those books (although I do still harbor a hope that it will one day be published because it's good).  If we hadn't gone through the process of writing those books, we wouldn't have learned how to write.

Today I was sitting at Starbucks, trying to write and having a tough time.  I futzed around for a bit and wrote a few sentences that felt like pulling teeth.  I was almost ready to shut my computer down and leave when I thought, "Just write another sentence."  And after that one, I told myself to write one more, and one more, and one more, until I wrote four pages.  I finished the hat, so to speak.

I started out thinking about the end result, about the day when I'd be sending the completed manuscript to my agent.  Once I put those thoughts aside, and focused on the here and now, I was able to sink into the story.  I was able to hit that groove, that sweet spot...and return to the thing that made me fall in love with writing in the first place.

And it's only in that groove that I can finish the book.

Nicole Maggi writes YA - paranormal, historical, and beyond.  Her debut novel WINTER FALLS will be released in 2014 from Medallion Press.  She's represented by the fabulous Irene Goodman of The Irene Goodman Literary Agency, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband Chris, their daughter Emilia (after the Shakespeare character), and two cats Sawyer & Hurley (after the LOST characters).  Yeah, she's a geek.  Check out her website & follow her on Twitter!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Tip of The Day: This Too Shall Pass

I’m working on the second draft of my YA manuscript and some days I want to rip my hair out. I look at the computer and say, “Why can’t you fix this mess!” Whether I’m editing on the computer or on a paper copy, sometimes the amount of work I face everyday is overwhelming. I scream at the computer, “Why can't I crank out pages that are perfect?”

Aw, the curse of the Pantster.  Multiple revisions go with the territory. So why do I get so frustrated? Revisions are a lot of work. And when you change your plot halfway through the first draft (not my smartest move) the second draft is going to be that much more daunting.    

The great thing about the writing community is I’m not alone. I can gripe to my writer friends and they understand my plight. Even if they are consummate plotters and edit as they go, multiple revisions still happen.  We all want our stories to shine.

I know I’ll make it through this draft and my story will be better for it. On my hair pulling days I tell myself, this too shall pass. Every story always has an end. Even if it takes several drafts to find it.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Writing and Teaching

Greetings All!
I am participating in the #GUTGAA small press pitch and decided to pitch my space opera instead of the YA thriller.  The comments I got were helpful in revising the query.  The problem is the plot is very complex with multiple POV’s  and I tried to put some of that into the query which wasn’t working. At all. I have since revised it and it’s better. I am still waiting to hear if I get into the final round where the editors of small presses see it.

My other news is that I am teaching at local community college, English Composition. I wish I could teach creative writing but this is fun. My students are mostly freshmen eager to learn and to better their writing. They turned in their first paper this week and I’ll be commenting on them over the weekend. I already read two and enjoyed reading them. I can’t wait to read the rest! This first assignment is an autobiographical piece or as the book calls it, “Remembering An Event.” We worked on how to revise a paper as a class, because part of the class is doing peer reviews. I brought in one of my flash fiction pieces published last year in a flash fiction eZine (Full of Crow) and showed the students the original version, the revised version and the final published version. Their next essay is a Profile Essay. For this one they have to interview a member of the community and write it up. I found some great tips on You Tube from reporters on how to interview subjects.

I am beginning to do a storyboard for WAR OF FEI in order to get ready for NaNoWriMo beginning November 1. I want to write my last Lore of Fei book during the month, well, at least rough it out. I am going to do it from the POV of one of the minor characters this time and set it fourteen years later after the last book ended. I think. LOL.

I finished editing the YA thriller and have sent it out to potential agents. A few rejects are beginning to trickle in. One request so far.

Overnight the once green trees of summer have put on their colourful coats of autumn. Bright reds, brilliant oranges, yellows that rival the sun, golds found in King Midas’ kingdom. I suppose it’s because of our dry summer and the cooler weather we now have. In any case, I like it! I love fall and Halloween!

What are your writing projects coming up?

Take Care, Until Next Time,

Monday, October 1, 2012

VBT Highland Home Series

Shari is visiting Downtown YA on her virtual book tour. Tell us,Shari, how will women identify with your heroines?
I hope women will identify with Mairin's and Kerry's strengths. These are tough, loving women who will take on the world.
Is your muse currently sitting on your shoulder or is she illusive?
Right now, she's with me, but there was a time for about a year and a half when I had to hunt her down and trap her to get her to talk to me.
Does music beckon your muse?
Music is a huge part of my writing process. I have to have music to block out the real world and open the door to where my characters live.
What type of music?
I like instrumentals when I write, though my taste often varies based on the kind of writing I'm doing. I really love the score from The Dark Knight Rises for dark writing.
What's your preference, doing dishes by hand for a week or writing a synopsis?
Are you a plotter or a pantster?
A little of both. I'll usually work out a skeletal outline before I write and then let the story go where it wants to go.


Title: Mourning Sun (Book 1, Highland Home Series)
Author: Shari Richardson
Publisher: Astral Plane Publishing
Genres: Paranormal YA


I should have known when he walked into my life that things would never be the same. Hadn't I dreamed of him and the things he'd done before I was born? If only he weren't so fascinating, so beautiful, so much more than any other guy. Maybe then I could walk away.

Mairin Cote is a magnet for weird. Her dreams come true, she can see auras and her mother is in love with an angel. Now the monsters are finding her too. Vampires, demigods and werepanthers have flocked to this small town girl who must find a way to keep her family safe, love the man of her dreams, and navigate the shark-infested waters of Highland Home High School.

~ @ ~

Title: Captured Sun (Book 2, Highland Home Series)
Author: Shari Richardson
Publisher: Astral Plane Publishing
Genres: Paranormal YA


My first kiss was going to be my last, but it was worth it. His cool lips, his sweet taste, they were my salvation. I would never regret it, no matter what happened.

Mairin Cote thought loving a vampire was hard, but losing him to others of his kind was worse. When the death toll in East Hampton points to a rampaging vampire, the vampires and werepanthers must form an uneasy alliance to stop the destruction. To save the love of her life, Mairin must decide if living life without Mathias is worth risking an eternity with him.

~ @ ~

Title: Seven Days (Book 3, Highland Home Series)
Author: Shari Richardson
Publisher: Astral Plane Publishing
Genres: Paranormal YA


The pain was sharp and deep, but it was nothing compared to the anguish in Xavier's eyes. I wanted to tell him I would be okay, but the words wouldn't come. The pain kept them at bay and even if I could have spoken, I knew the words would be a lie.

Kerry Cote has a pretty normal life for a teenager. Of course normal is a relative term. Her sister dates a vampire and her boyfriend turns furry once a month, but that's not the problem. It isn't until she meets the father of the man she loves that her whole existence narrows to a mere seven days.

~ @ ~

Title: Banished Sun (Book 4, Highland Home Series)
Author: Shari Richardson
Publisher: Astral Plane Publishing
Genres: Paranormal YA


Eternity. How many times since Mathias came into my life had I considered it? Had I not taken risks that would have left us together for eternity? What I hadn't expected was to have the choice taken from us. Vampires are independent creatures and the old ones definitely don't like being bound to a human. When an ancient vampire comes to Highland Home bent on Mairin's destruction so he can free himself from his bond to her, Mathias is forced to choose between what he is and who he wishes to be.

~ @ ~

Title: Nine Lives (Book 5, Highland Home Series)
Author: Shari Richardson
Publisher: Astral Plane Publishing
Genres: Paranormal YA



Kerry Cote's story may sound familiar, but it's not. Sure there are a lot of unmarried, pregnant teenagers in the world, but how many of them know the child they carry is a miracle? How many have a vampire body guard? How many are alone because the mother of us all and the father of all vampires has a jealous daughter who covets the baby's father? Kerry must survive to bring her child into the world, for if she fails, humanity may not survive.

Shari Richardson holds a master's degree in English Education and has spent much of her life teaching students the joy of reading and writing. Her love of writing began when she was in elementary school and has carried through her entire adult life. Shari lives in Pennsylvania with her two Chihuahuas.

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