Monday, December 30, 2013

Why I Don't Do the Resolution Thing

Happy New Year's Adam.

Around my place, that's what we call the day before any holiday that ends with the word 'eve,' so there you go. Since tomorrow is New Year's Eve, today is New Year's Adam. Pretty sure my girlies got that from their fairy godmother, the lovely and talented Erinannie. I kind of love how she's rubbed off on them even from the other side of the country.

So...resolutions.

I don't make them.

I used to. I had high ideas and tons of motivation, and every year I was going to make my life better, lose enough weight to land on the cover of some magazine (hey, I'd settle for the cover of Mad Magazine--I'm not picky! Having a magazine cover is what counted, and I think we can all admit I won't be on anyone's swimsuit edition.) You know how it goes. We all make those goals, forget them, and move on with life by Martin Luther King Day.

I have long term goals and short term goals. I make them all the time. I just need to get better about focusing on the short term and making more measurable progress toward the long term. Big&hairy and I have plenty of long term goals that we're working toward together, but when the end goal is so far ahead sometimes it's hard to realize the little bit we're doing today will mean something in ten years. Sometimes I wonder what I'd do without him. He's seriously the greatest guy ever in the history of guys. He works his tail off for his girls (all three of us!) and I absolutely adore him.

So...do you make any resolutions? And more importantly, do you accomplish them?

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Rare Moment of Reflection

Yes, it's been a while since I blogged. I'm on facebook sabbatical, something that will shock everyone familiar with my compulsive posting habits, and I'm hanging out with my daughters. I LOVE IT. Seriously, I love my kids, and as an added bonus, I really like them. We had so much fun this morning, shopping for a single mom and her little boy. We found out this morning that she doesn't have much to give him this Christmas, and when we heard he needed some clothes and a coat (the poor kid has been wearing a sweat shirt in 20 degree (F) weather!) we were so on it. Snarky was ticked I woke her up before noon--such a stinking teen-- but within 5 minutes we were laughing and having a great time despite awful traffic and overcrowded malls. Who else but my kids and I would spend time discussing what happens to a mime if he has to belch?

I don't usually go all warm fuzzy and spiritual and stuff, so if that's not your thing, feel free to stop reading here and have a happy new year!

I just can't believe how very blessed I am. I have a life I never would have dreamed possible, when I was the fat kid who was afraid of leaving her room. I love my husband and his generosity toward a family we hardly know, and my kids ROCK. I also have absolutely no doubt that I have a Savior who loves me and came to this earth to live a life of perfect example, take my sins on Himself, and die so I don't have to pay the ultimate price for all the stoopid things I do. (Yes, I do mean stoopid. It's like advanced placement stupidity.) Every day I'm thankful for this life I've been given; I can only hope to be kind and gracious, and in some way live in a way to thank Him for everything He's blessed me with. Have a beautiful holiday, no matter which one you celebrate (of, if you're one of my Jewish friends, the one you already celebrated) and I'll see you in 2014.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

DreamStone Review

Please welcome my little partner in crime, known here on the blog as Sparky. She's 10 years old (soon to be 11, she likes to remind me) and in 6th grade. She's the ideal audience for Mikey Brook's Dream Keeper series, so he graciously sent us a copy of Dream Keeper as well as his new release DreamStone for an honest review.

My take: Solid writing, good plot, great action. The characters are well developed and the dream world is vividly painted.  The scene that struck me most is when Tiffany is "dreaming" and her worst nightmare plays out. Kaelyn tries to convince her it was all a dream and make her feel better. We get a glimpse of what makes the bully so mean. Instead of using the tired mean girl trope we see over and over, Brooks makes what could easily be a stereotypical character suddenly very real, with room to grow as a person. The characters all have a spark of that in them, something that makes the books more than just an action-fantasy-adventure. DreamStone is a 'don't miss it' book which will make a great gift for the teens and tweens on your shopping list this holiday. 

Now in her own words, here's Sparky's review:


Me and my cute girl Sparky
"I really like both books. My favorite person is Kaelyn. She's a lot like Lucy (from the Narnia books) because she always believes and never gives up. I don't like Tiffany at all! She's a bully and always mean. My favorite part of Dreamstone is the dragon battle because it was awesome!"


You can by paperbacks, hard covers, or ebooks, and Brooks is celebrating by having a huge getaway! Enter to win HERE. He's giving away ebooks and paperbacks from several authors, and tons of swag.

Congratulations, Mikey! You have a new fan. Little miss Sparky can't wait to get her hands on book 3!

Dream Big!

Welcome to the blog tour for Dreamstone! I'm so excited for the release of Mikey Brook's second in the Dream Keeper series. I have a soft spot for mid-grade books, and this is something Brooks does well, writing a book boys and girls from 8 on up will enjoy. My daughter and I will be posting reviews soon!

Welcome to the Official Blog Tour of:
THE DREAMSTONE,
Book Two in The Dream Keeper Chronicles
A thrilling fantasy-adventure series for middle-grade readers!
_______________________________________________________________ 

Don't forget to check out the GIVEAWAY
at the bottom of this page for a chance
to win one of over 30 prizes! 

_______________________________________________________________
DREAMS: 

Dorothy called it Oz, 
Alice called it Wonderland, 
but Nightmares call it HOME. 

When Parker’s mom is dreamnapped by the wicked Mab, it is up to him and Kaelyn to save her. When they return to Dreams, they discover Mab isn’t their only problem. Gladamyr has lost his powers and the only way to get them back is to become what he fears the most—a nightmare.

SYNOPSIS:
In Book 1, The Dream Keeper, Parker and Kaelyn discovered that Dreams was a real place that everyone visits while they sleep. An evil nightmare named Fyren took control of the gateway to that world. Parker and Kaelyn teamed up with Gladamyr, the only dream keeper to escape capture by Fyren, and together they save Dreams from Fyren’s rule. After the defeat of Fyren the children return to Awake to find Mab, Fyren’s next in command, has dreamnapped Parker’s mom. 

The story continues in Book 2, The Dreamstone, as the children return to Dreams to save Parker’s mom. Finding her, however, is not their only problem. Mab has waged a war on the Crossing and has sent an army of dragons to bring it down, nightmares have been released from prison, and Gladamyr has lost his powers to shape-shift. Parker, Kaelyn, and Gladamyr must once again defy all odds to set things right and save Parker’s mom before it’s too late.    

In Praise of THE DREAMSTONE:
“The Dreamstone, by Mikey Brooks, is a wild stallion of a story: fast, thrilling, and unpredictable. I was hooked in chapter one. If he can snare the attention of an old reader like me, he’ll have kids sneaking this one into class underneath their text books…If this one isn’t a kid-pleaser, I don’t know what is.” –Michelle Isenhoff, author of the Divided Decade Trilogy and the Taylor Davis Series.

“This really is a cracking novel. Action-packed and spellbinding!”—Cas Peace, author of The Artisans of Albia series.

"If you like the Percy Jackson, Fablehaven, or the Harry Potter series, you'll love this!" –An Amazon Reviewer.

AUTHOR BIO:
Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of several books including the best-selling ABC ADVENTURES: MAGICAL CREATURES and BEAN’S DRAGONS as well as the middle-grade fantasy-adventure series THE DREAM KEEPER CHRONICLES. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works full-time as a freelance illustrator and cover designer. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’. He is also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast. You can find more about him and his books at: www.insidemikeysworld.com
Now Available in Audiobook!

BOOK LINKS:


 
Excerpt from: THE DREAMSTONE:
Parker watched as the ambulance with his mother inside drove away. He had expected the medics to barrel down the street with sirens blaring and lights flashing, but instead they drove calmly. The cold night air hurt his throat, at least, he told himself it was the air. Whenever Parker tried to hold back his emotions he got a pain way back in his throat. Kaelyn held his hand, but it didn’t really help. All he could think about was Mab and how she’d taken his mom.
The former ruler of Dreams was vicious and cruel. He had seen what she was capable of when she cut the arm off Mentia, the psychotic clown that chased him and Kaelyn through the vaults. The only thing that guy did was laugh at her. Parker could only imagine the things Mab could do to his mom. Now that Fyren was gone, Mab had a host of nightmares at her command. He shuddered, thinking about the creatures he had seen during the battle in √Čadrom.
“Parker, we’ll find her,” Kaelyn said, trying to comfort him.
“How are we supposed to do that?” he snapped. Kaelyn pulled back, and immediately he felt bad. Heck, she had just lost everything she had ever owned—another gift from the nightmares of Dreams. They had burnt down her house and almost burnt the two of them in the process. Kaelyn had nothing. Not even a picture to remind herself of her dead parents. Yet here she was, the one comforting him. It wasn’t as if his mom was dead, she was just kidnapped, or dreamnapped. “Look, I’m sorry.”
She gave a smile. “It’s okay. Really. I understand.”
“Parker,” his dad called from the car. Parker turned to see his dad was ready to leave. What a jerk! Parker glared at him.
His dad lowered his cell phone for a second. “Look, I’ve talked it over with Zelda and I want you to come and stay with me for a while—at least until your mom is better.”
“No thanks.” Parker turned his back.
“Parker, I don’t have time to argue. Remember—I’m still your father.”
“You sure act like it.”
“I’m acting like it now.”
“You can’t even get out of your car!” Parker shouted. “You can’t even put down your freaking phone. Mom just went off in an ambulance, and you’re more concerned with your stupid work. I’m staying here! I’m not going with you!”
“You’ve got ten minutes to get a bag.” His dad went back to his phone, not giving a sign he had heard a word Parker said.
Parker turned on Zelda. “Did you say I would go with him?”
Kaelyn’s aunt stepped back, worry crossing her face. “Parker, he’s your dad, and who else is there?”
“You can stay with me. Where else are you going to go?” The second he said it Parker wished he hadn’t; or at least tried to sound more tactful. He knew that Kaelyn was handling the fire okay, but Zelda was on the brink of tears anytime someone mentioned the fire or what she lost in it. “I’m sorry . . . really . . . .”
“Parker, I understand, so please, don’t apologize.” Zelda tried to reassure him with a smile. It didn’t really work. Her face was still smudged with black soot, and there were visible tear lines down her cheeks. He at least had a place to go, but Kaelyn and Zelda were homeless. “Your place is with your dad, our place is . . . .”
“Where are we going, Zelly?” Kaelyn asked. They waited for an answer but Zelda only shrugged.
“Look, if I have to go to my dad’s there’s no reason you can’t stay here. Really, my mom wouldn’t mind. Anyway, it doesn’t matter where I sleep. I have to get back to Dreams.”
Zelda looked concerned. “Are you sure, Parker?”
“Dead sure! My mom may be a cold hearted person in the courtroom, but she’s at least human at home—well, when she’s not turning off my video games.”
“Can you call your house when you’re ready to go back?” Kaelyn asked.
“You can count on it, Kae. We’ve got to talk to Gladamyr—I need to find my mom.”
“I know.” Kaelyn gave him a hug.
Parker looked at both Kaelyn and Zelda. He could tell having a place to stay tonight brought them a little comfort, but he still wished he could stay. He thought of his friend and physiatrist, Dr. Gates. He was like the father his own would never be. He wished right now Dr. Gates were here. “Can you explain to Gates what’s going on when he decides to get his butt over here?”
Kaelyn smiled. “You can count on it.”
“Come inside and I’ll show you around. Apparently I’ve got ten minutes.”
_______________________________________________________________


10 winners will receive a gift bag with numerous signed books marks, 
collector cards, wrists bands, and a handmade dream key necklace.


Paperback Books:

Can You Survive? Treasure Island, by Blake Hoena

The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer, by Lisa Cole Orchard

Color of Freedom, by Michelle Athearn Isenhoff

Explorer X-Alpha, by Lm Preston

Gangsterland, by Ansha Kotyk

Cycles, by Lois Brown
Andy Smithson: Blast of the Dragon’s Fury, by L.R.W Lee
Princess Kandake, by Stephanie Jefferson
Weight of the Crown, by Stephanie Jefferson
Arrow of the Mist, by Christina Mercer
Cassidy Jones, by Elise Stokes
The Seventh Attendant, by Elise Stokes
Curse at Zala Manor, by BBH McChiller
The Curse of the Double Digits, by Lynn Kelley
Into the Forest and Down the Tower, by Ann T. Bugg
Off to Camp and Discovering Art, by Ann T. Bugg
Agency, by Shantal Hiatt
Psyched, by Juli Caldwell
Ragesong, by J.R. Simmons

EBooks:
Secret Sisters Club, by Monique Bucheger
Trouble Blows West, by Monique Bucheger
The Alien Mind, by Virginia Jennings
The Last Time Keepers, by Sharon Ledwith
Frogs & Toads, by Stacy Lynn Carroll
Nexus Point, by Jaleta Clegg
Warrior Beautiful, by Wendy Knight
Shahira and the Flying Elfs, by Anna del C Dye (PDF)
 



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Lucky Charms

You know what we all need as the weather gets cold? A nice, cozy fireplace and good books to read. I recommend Stolen Luck. Author Jaclyn Weist has a new book out, and I'm down with checking it out as I snuggle under a blankie with my dog as my toe warmer. I was lucky enough to get her to answer a few questions about her new release! Here you go:


In ten words or less, tell me about your book. 
Megan is lucky until Louie the Leprechaun enters her life.

Who is this book for?
Young adults, but it's great for everyone.

Where did you get the idea? What inspired you to write it?
I had a writing group where the writing prompt was about our worst day ever. I wondered what would happen if we never had bad days. Then suddenly Louie entered into the story. It was meant as a short story but the group was upset when it ended so quickly. I wanted to see where the story would take me, and away I went!

Do you have a favorite character?
That's a tough one. I really like Megan, but I think I'll have to go with Jared.
Which character was hardest for you to write? Why?
I think Beth was, because she's not very much like me at all. 

If your book were made into a movie, which actors would play the main parts?
Ross Lynch - Jared
Kate Todd - Megan
Debby Ryan - Beth
Logan Lerman - Adam

What can we expect from you in the future? Any fun projects or new works in progress?
I have two more books in this leprechaun series. One is Twist of Luck, coming out March 2014. Book three will be submitted soon and it's titled Best of Luck. I also have a time travel/princess book based loosely on Sleeping Beauty, and I'm working on a series with a group of friends about adventures in trying to save the magic by defeating the evil in Atlantis.

Thanks, Jacklyn. Enter here for a chance to win your copy! The author is giving away 3 ecopies of Stolen Luck. Wouldn't that be a great way to start the month?  Happy December!

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Writing Process



Ever curious about how writers and authors write? What inspires them? How do they hone their stories? What drives them?

Friend and fellow author CameliaMiron Skiba invited me to join the Writing Process Blog Tour, and while I don’t normally participate in things like this, I simply had to for Cami. She’s a little scary when you tick her off. (Just kidding! Love you, girl!) Below are the questions I was asked to answer, and now I get to tag other writers to keep it going. It’s like a chain letter for writers only, and what’s not to love about that? 

What are you working on? 

I have a few works in progress right now, which works well for my unfocused, disorganized brain. 


  •  Freaked, the sequel to Psyched. Sequels do not work well for my unfocused, disorganized brain, so I have to prioritize the things I want to happen, decide what works best with Freaked, and what brings satisfying conclusion for the people who love Aisi Turay as much as I do. Easy peasy, right? Or not... 
  •  I’m revising a romance for grown-up types I wrote years ago. I shelved it after it was rejected. After I pulled it out and dusted it off, with a few years between then and now, I realized how truly terrible it was. After working on ArmsWide Open  and falling in love with my heroine Lauren Brooks, I decided to resurrect the reject and combine it with another idea I had for a romance—it’s Jane Austen’s Persuasion meets a singles cruise. Hijinks will ensue.  
  •  This third project...it makes me happy dance. I’m working with five other authors to put together a mid-grade (upper elementary and junior high through high school) urban fantasy series, with each of us contributing one book. The common thread will be the magic of Atlantis, with each other contributing our own characters and story lines. Characters from the other books will make cameo appearances in mine. I’m really excited with how this one is coming together and the characters I’m creating. We’re planning a release for next summer! 

How does your work differ from others of its genre? 

This is a tough question. I know my writing definitely falls within a few genres. Juvenile, paranormal, YA, romance, fantasy. I want to try writing everything and see which voice feels most authentic, see which people like to read the most. Maybe at some point I’ll stick with one.
I guess this biggest difference is I try hard not to be influenced by the next big thing in any genre. I just read what sounds interesting and if an element in that book sticks out to me, I might experiment with it in my own writing.

Why do you write what you do?

I write the stories that come to me. They come on their own and the stories aren’t necessarily connected or geared to any particular age group. I have ideas for children’s picture books, romances, and everything in between in this world and beyond. I write what I do because the stories demand that I tell them. Bossy little things, aren’t’ they?

How does your writing process work?

I write when I can, and when inspiration strikes. I don't write in acts or segments or follow any established "rules" for writing, because who even came up with those? I wish I could say I was one of those motivated and disciplined writers who outlines everything and writes on a schedule, but I’m a realist...and I’m a mom first, above all else. I haven’t written anything for a couple of weeks because my daughter on year-round school is off track, so I’ve been spending time doing things with her. That won’t write or sell any books for me, but she’s kind of awesome and way more fun to hang out with than a computer. 

All done. Okay, now Shantal Hiatt and Conni Byron, tag! You’re it!