Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye 2015!

Hi everyone!

I'm seeing a lot of year-end posts and thought I'd send out a quick post with a few of my favorite discoveries from the year. More to come in 2016 with my debut book (!!) and likely a new website. Next week, some friends of mine have book releases, so stay tuned for posts on their books!


The boom mic strikes again! Photo: Previously.TV

I wrote a post about podcasts earlier this year, and I have a bunch of favorites. But one major fave is Previously.TV's Again With This: 90210 edition. That's the original Beverly Hills, 90210 dissected in discussion WITH VISUAL AIDS. Thanks to NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour for pointing this one out. A friend of mine and I are hooked. I never knew Brandon Walsh was such a kooz.

Photo: @StephScottYA

I've had this app for years, but only recently connected with the wonderful book and reader community there. On work breaks, I love to scroll through pretty book pics or fashion and photography. I did a December photo challenge hosted by a few bloggers that gave me all sorts of photo ideas. It's such a fun way to connect.

Check out a few favorite accounts below! @thereaderbee  @halfbl00dprincess  @kindredvintage  @bookvibes
I'm @StephScottYA come follow me!

Cheese Plates

I feel super fancy when I bring these to parties. This one is Star Wars themed. You know, all those actual Star Wars cheeses ... or cheeses I made up names for to match Star Wars like Han's Havarti and BB-8s Black Pepper Bellavitano.


This the year I sort of gave up being on top of everything. Too many movies, TV shows, streaming options, not to mention books and OH YEAH WRITING BOOKS TOO. Yeah, I can't keep up. One show I totally loved was season two of Fargo on FX. It's dark, moodly, pitch black in humor, and so well casted and acted. Each episode is like a short film.

And for as many people who die (it's about Midwest gangsters), there is a sweetness threaded through each season with a few good people to root for.

That's my very short list! Just short enough so you can all get on your merry way to celebrate an event we have no control over--time passing. May your time pass with loved ones and good food. See you in 2016!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake

Thief of Lies is coming! I'm so happy to be part of this tour to support author Brenda Drake! She's given so much to the writing community with her blog contests like Pitch Madness and Pitch Wars. The twitter pitch event #PitMad was her idea!

Check out the excerpt below and details on the book.  

Thief of Lies (Library Jumpers, #1)
Release date:  1/5/16
Author: Brenda Drake

About the book:

Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum, suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels—magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books—rescue them from a demonic hound.

Jumping into some of the world's most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting her heart or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik's world and her own, before both are destroyed.

Where to Pre-Order:


I pressed the screen, and it went dark. “How do we know he’s not being forced to say this?”
                “The password, May Agnes guide you,” Lei replied. “She’s the patron saint of Asile.”
                Agnes? That was the silver woman’s name that formed from my globe. Did the saints have something to do with the Chiavi?
                I faced Ricardo. “How did you know I was here?”
                “The werehounds tracked your scent from a shirt Katy…excuse me, your nana…gave us.”
                “Can your pack help us save Couve?” Arik asked him.
                “They will, but Gia must go with me.” He noticed the protest forming on my lips. “Merlin said no exceptions. I’m to get you to the shelter.”
                From the corridor came yells, scuffles, and the continual wail of the warning siren.
                “I can’t go with you,” I said. “I have to fight with them.”
                “She can’t fight with us,” Lei said, glancing at the door. “She almost killed Kale.”
                I turned to Sinead. “You know what I can do.”
                Sinead gave me a pity smile. “Yes, but you have no control over it. Let Ricardo take you to your father and friends.”
                I thought of Kale lying motionless, near death, and I hated that she was right. As much as I wanted to stay, I might be more hindrance than help. I caved. “Okay,” I said, defeated. Lei flew out of the room with the Laniars on her heels.
                Sinead hugged me, then rushed after them. Arik moved over to me and cupped my face gently in his hands. His eyes held the intensity that always drew me to him.
                I swallowed my breath in anticipation. All the sounds around us went silent.
                He bent and lightly brushed my lips with a kiss. His lips were soft and oh, so tender. Butterflies swooped and curled inside me, and it felt like the ground disappeared from beneath my feet. He pulled back a little and said, “Regardless of the fact that you’re a royal pain in the arse, I fancy you. Listen to Ricardo and don’t do anything rash.”
                He gave me another kiss and rushed out the door. My heart twisted in my chest as he disappeared. I touched my mouth and exhaled. He liked me. It was against the laws, but he told me he fancied me. Maybe we had no future, but we had now.
                “What a sweet display,” Ricardo said, dragging me out of my haze. “I’m not one for rules or laws, but I’d be careful there. The punishment would be much worse for him than you.”
                “Why?” I stared at the door as if I’d see Arik there.
                “He’s a leader. He knows better.” Ricardo headed to the window. “Are you ready to fly?”
                “Did you say fly?”

Brenda Drake, the youngest of three children, grew up an Air Force brat and the continual new kid at school. Her fondest memories growing up is of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write stories with a bend toward the fantastical. When Brenda’s not writing or doing the social media thing, she’s haunting libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops or reading someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).

Friday, December 11, 2015

Fall Reading Challenge Wrap-Up!

Technically, it's still fall for a few more days, so I'm going to wrap up my personal fall reading challenge! Here are some mini reviews of what I read November and December:

21893566Author I know:

Dating Down by Stefanie Lyons. I met Stefanie when we sat next to each other in a Story Studio Chicago class. She had just finished her MFA and had written this very book, but it was not yet published. This is a book told in verse, which stretched me a little since I don't read a lot of poetry. I liked the variety of poems, and how each word mattered to the tone of the page.

Book by a Favorite Author

Indecent Proposal by Molly O'Keefe. This author writes consistently deep and engaging characters. The heat level in her books (meaning the degree of explicit sexy-times) is about my max, which is probably tame for some, but just a word there if you're new to her or romance books. She is an author who uses the romance wholly in the development and conflict with her characters. Her characters are always interesting and never one-note. Every book of hers I read seems better than the last. She takes a trope and destroys it. Or jumps on board and makes it work. This is a marriage of convenience book, and it's contemporary. And it works. Molly O'Keefe is awesome, ya'll.

Something New

22875451The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. These are the authors behind the Fug Girls fashion blog, where the snark is focused on the outfit and not the wearer (take that, junky tabloids!). I've been following their blog for close to ten*cough* years,which seems crazy, but yeah. I trekked to Chicago's Printers' Row Lit Fest this summer to see them! The signing line was verrrry long, so I bought my copy later and now finally read it. Imagine Wills and Kate in England are Nick and Bex and Bex is American. This is a saga-of-sorts that follows their relationship from college, where Rebecca "Bex" Porter is an exchange student, through their royal wedding. The same feeling I had when I read Lauren Weisbergers' books (The Devil Wears Prada, and Everyone Worth Knowing) cropped up when reading this. Call it chick lit with pop culture savvy. I want these ladies to keep writing books. They also wrote two YAs which are fantastic!)

A Holiday or Seasonal Book

Unwrapping Her Perfect Match by Kat Latham. I sneaked in this freebie by a writer at my same lit agency. This is set in England and part of her rugby romance series, but it's a stand-alone novella that doesn't require reading the rest of the books. But you should, obviously! I remember when she was putting this book together, she asked readers to vote on her blog between different covers. I love feeling a part of things!

These next two don't fit any of my reading challenge categories, but I read them so they count! 

Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older. I listened to the audiobook version, which I highly recommend. the narrator is fantastic and brought the characters to life. This is urban fantasy YA with beautiful imagery of shadowy spirits using New York City's art and murals and music to communicate. It's a super cool concept told through the eyes of teen Sierra and her group of friends in Brooklyn. And it's a series! I am so on board. It's funny, creepy, haunting, and a lot of fun.


Magnolia by Kristi Cook. I've had this on my To Read list for awhile and found it on a library trip (where I was supposed to be returning books, but you get how that goes). A sweet but not shallow YA romance that's like reverse Romeo & Juliet--two southern families bound by generations are ecstatic to join up a son and daughter who are "meant to be" ... to everyone but the two who are pressured to get together. When a hurricane rolls through their small town, the two must rely on each other to stay safe and take care of the family farm.

A few more: How to Lose a Bachelor by Anna Banks, a sweeter and funny romance from Entangled related to a reality show competition, and What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick, a YA contemporary about a sleepy beach town and the help vs. the wealthy. This took me awhile to get through (I think I started it over the summer), but it's a lovely book with some beautiful characterization.

That sounds like a lot of books! A few I started months ago and only now finished, and I also had ten whole days off in November to get caught up with reading and writing projects.

What have you read lately? Are you planning any reading challenges for 2016?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Insecure Writers Support Group IWSG December

Welcome to the last IWSG post of 2015! The purpose of Insecure Writers Support Group is to share and encourage. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! 

Head here to Insecure Writers Support Group and visit a few new blogs. Pick your favorite number, click on the corresponding blog, and make sure to leave a comment. This is a great, supportive community for writers. There's also a Facebook group!

Today I want to talk about the opposite of writer's block. The reverse of procrastination, when you're so fueled to write you kept going, and going, and going. Maybe you have deadlines and projects other people are counting on. Maybe writing is your job and it pays your bills. Sometimes writing takes over, but after awhile, that constant mining for creativity can take its toll.

I'm taking an online course about organizing life to enhance creativity, which brought up how our creative minds need a break. The same way we need to get up from the chair and physically stretch, our writer brains need to defrag and do something else. Or? Burn out. Nobody wants that.

And then the instructor went ahead and listed some alternate activities. Including....


I did a double take. Right there with scrapbooking and gardening and going for a walk was the suggestion to play video games.

My Writing Instructor Told Me Video Games Enhance Creativity!

Do you know how long I've been waiting for someone to say this? It's especially timely for me since my favorite game franchise released a new edition: Fallout 4 last month. I may or may not have coordinated time off work with my husband over the release of this game. (Hey, us adults can do that and not just call in to work for a "sick day.") Fallout has everything; epic world-building, hundreds of quests, excellent writing (bonus!), great voice acting, doses of humor. It's so, so fun. 

And I felt like I needed permission to play. I've drilled it in my consciousness that I won't be a multi-published author if I don't multi-finish books (true). I also know, my brain gets fried if I don't take breaks.

We writers are hard on ourselves. I wrote two rough drafts in four months. I have projects in the works. I love it, but I also need to give my story-crafting brain some downtime.

And I need to build a not-up-to-code shanty in the irradiated wastelands for my settlements. Yup.

poorly constructed settelment Fallout 4

Have you ever had a time where you felt like you needed permission to take a break? What's your outlet from writing? 

Make sure to stop by the IWSG blogs!