Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly writing check in. See Jaime Morrow's or Erin Funk's blogs for details.

What I've Been Reading

Definitely Maybe by Ophelia London: a contemporary New Adult which spins Pride & Prejudice into a modern college setting pitting an environmental sustainability student against a rich boy with his sights on big biz land development.

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen: a sweet companion novel to her magical realism cozy debut Garden Spells

Now reading Always Emily by Michaela MacColl about the Bronte sisters as teens solving a mystery!

Also listening to Amy Poehler's Yes Please which is fantastic.

What I've Been Writing

Does staring at screen shuffling words around count? That's about where I'm at. I have organizational issues to sort out before I can finish. This is not NaNoWriMo so I'm not bulldozing through the draft to get it done. Hopefully in the next few days I can get through this hiccup.

What Helps Me

Goals! Reading other people's books! Critique Group! I surround myself with motivating factors and hope something sticks.

What Else I've Been Up To

#PitchMadness is going on right now, and I'm reading through entries with my team over on fizzygirl's blog. The entries will post next week March 2-3, so it's a fast turnaround! If you didn't enter, it can still be helpful to see which pitches and first pages made the final cut.

Check out my post today on author Kai Strand's blog for one of her Three Times a Charm posts.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Book Blitz: The Apollo Academy by Kimberly P. Chase + Giveaway

Hey everybody! 

I'm part of the book blitz for Kimberly P. Chase's debut with Harlequin Australia. I've "known" Kimberly from the blogging world and twitter for a few years now. I even remember this manuscript in a contest! The premise stuck with me. It's so cool to see that her story has made it into publication.

The Apollo Academy by Kimberly P. Chase

(The Apollo Academy #1)
Published by: Harlequin
Publication date: February 22nd 2015
Genres: New Adult, Science Fiction


Welcome to the exclusive Apollo Academy, where Aurora is about to discover that achieving her dream is only the first step towards her future.

As the heiress to Titon Technologies, eighteen-year-old Aurora Titon can have whatever she wants—clothes, expensive gadgets, anything money can buy. But all she really wants is to escape her pampered, paparazzi-infested life for the stars. Becoming the first female pilot to train as an astronaut for the exclusive Apollo Academy is exactly the chance for which she has been waiting.
Flying is everything she ever dreamed, her best friend also got into the Academy, and the paparazzi is banned from campus. Everything would be perfect, but for her unreciprocated crush on a fellow student, the sexy astronaut bent on making her life hell, and the fact that someone keeps trying to kill her.

The most important education doesn’t happen in the classroom…

Early Praise:
"I am obsessed with this book! Suspenseful, sexy, and just a great read!" - Cora Carmack, New York Times Bestselling author of LOSING IT.

And a YouTube book trailer:

Add to your TO READ list here: Goodreads

Purchase: Amazon B&N iTunes Kobo 

Kimberly P. Chase holds a Bachelor's Degree in Aeronautical Science from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, which basically means she's kind of a geek and loves flying airplanes. Naturally, her books tend to include aviation, hot flight instructors, aviator glasses, and—let's not forget—kissing! When Kimberly's not writing or reading, she's hanging out with her husband, five-year-old son, and two dogs in Charleston, SC.

Author links:


Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL) 
  • $50 Amazon Gift Card

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Pitch Madness and YARWA Contest

If you're looking for a literary agent, here are two upcoming opportunities:

Pitch Madness

Brenda Drak'e's Pitch Madness
Contest Queen-extraordinaire Brenda Drake has her Pitch Madness blog contest open for entries Friday February 20. Entries are open to submit through 2/23 with no limit on entries! There is no entry fee.

The entry includes a max 35-word pitch and the first 250 words of a completed novel-length manuscript.

Brenda's pre-selected readers will sort through entries in three rounds, and then will post the finalists to the blog for the agent round. Agents will "bid" on page requests up to Full manuscript.

Yours Truly will be one of the many readers to determine the agent round as part of Summer Heacock's aka fizzygrrl's team!



A separate #PitMad twitter pitch party March 11, 2015. This is where you pitch your book, all genres and age groups, in a twitter-length blurb, and agents (and everybody) scans the tag on twitter. It's kind of a free-for-all, but writers DO get requests. I'm one of them! MORE DETAILS HERE.

YARWA's Rosemary Contest

YA and New Adult writers: The Rosemary contest opens for entries March 1. This is a contest where you submit a partial of your completed manuscript to be peer-judged. Final round entries go to a fantastic panel of judges: 1 lit agent and 2 editors per category.

Entries do not need to have romance as a main theme. There is an entry fee.

For full details and to enter (beginning March 1) click here: YARWA/contest.
Questions, contact:

Check out the list of final round judges!
YA Contemporary:
Agent: Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary
Editor: Aubrey Poole, Sourcebooks
Editor: Elizabeth Tingue, Penguin/RH
YA Historical:
Agent: Kathleen Rushall, Marsal Lyon Literary
Editor: Jessica MacLeish, Harper Teen
Editor: Robin Haseltine, Entangled Publishing
YA Paranormal:
Agent: Holly Root, Waxman Leavell Literary
Editor: Kristin Daly Rens, Balzer & Bray
Editor: Natashya Wilson, Harlequin Teen
YA Speculative:
Agent: Nicole Resciniti, The Seymour Agency
Editor: Meredith Rich, Bloomsbury Spark
Editor: Vicki Lame, St. Martin’s Press
New Adult:
Agent: Cate Hart, Corvisiero Literary
Editor: Amy Stapp, Tor Forge
Editor: Angela James, Carina Press
Paranormal has been split into two categories this year: speculative includes sci-fi, fantasy, and stories that encompass other-worldly elements that may not fit into Paranormal. For questions on genre, see the full details on the site, or contact the contest coordinator. 

Have you found contests useful? Any others upcoming you want to add to the list?
(Let me know if you have any Q's on these two contests and I'll either answer or direct you!)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Book Review: Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Keanneally

image: Goodreads
Breathe, Annie, Breathe
Miranda Keanneally
YA Contemporary
Published: July 2014

I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads. From page one, Annie has a goal: complete training to run a marathon in the fall. The marathon her boyfriend was supposed to run before he suddenly passed away.

Annie's journey is not an easy one. First, she doesn't have a lot of money, and the author does a wonderful job of showing just how hard it is when even a $25 entrance fee for a 5k race can be a drain on a family who doesn't have much. Second, Annie does not like running. It doesn't come easy to her, so each leg of her training is a struggle. Even once she improves her conditioning, minor injuries and pains evolve into painful setbacks that threaten her ability to finish the race. If it were just for herself, that's one thing, but she's running in honor of someone else--and everyone knows it. People are counting on her.

The grief Annie experiences is also portrayed heartbreakingly honest without becoming schmaltzy. It's easy to forget Annie is still young given she's going through so much. When Annie meets fellow runner Jeremiah in her training group, she's protective of herself--she's still mourning her boyfriend and not ready to move on, despite how cute and friendly he is. Beyond that, Jeremiah is a daredevil who throws himself into extreme sports with little regard to his own safety. Exactly the type of guy Annie wants to steer clear from. Which makes this a great set-up for a romance :)

I consider this the author's best book since her debut Catching Jordan.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday, started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funkis a weekly blog hop for readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up.


I've been on a reading craze lately! I most recently finished Lisa Brown Roberts' debut contemporary How Not to Fall in Love. Recommended for fans of Morgan Matson, Jessi Kirby, and Sarah Dessen. I'll post a review soon!

My library came through with a bunch of holds all at once: Rick Yancey's The Infinite Sea, book two of The 5th Wave. It was a little disorienting at first, and sort of oddly structured, but so much action! It reminds me of The Walking Dead only with an alien threat instead of zombies.

I also read Neil Patrick Harris' Choose Your Own Autobiography, a fun read with the Go to Page X theme for a customized adventure :), and I'm Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil, a debut YA book by a former songwriter writing about a fictionalized 1960s record company and a teen girl trying to make it as a songwriter.

Now I have Sarah Addison Allen's First Frost. I'm so glad I got myself on the hold list at the library early since the book just came out.


I finished a rather quick revision in record time, which made me feel all kinds of awesome. Now I'm back to the other WIP I'm pulling apart where my progress is far more slow. I've never gutted an entire story and changed the plot before. I'm essentially rewriting the whole thing. My goal is to get 5k more written in the next week. 


Group bloggers The Ruby Slippered Sisterhood have their winter writing accountability fest going on now, which has helped with motivation. 


New hair! It's hard to get a good angle, but the panel of color is VERY purple.

I signed up for the RWA National conference in NYC. One thousand people registered the first day! I'm glad I booked early since the initial block of rooms are all booked and they're already working with waiting lists and an overflow hotel. I've had a few people contact me about potentially going 3-4 in the room, so this could get interesting! :)

I binged through all of Scandal and I'm mostly caught up. Just in time to be geeked for the next Scandal-inspired clothing collection at The Limited. Too bad I work from home now or I'd buy mysel an Olivia Pope wardrobe. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Hidden Deep by Amy Patrick Cover Reveal

Today, I'm glad to be part of author and YARWA member Amy Patrick's latest cover reveal! Here's the scoop on her upcoming Young Adult release:

Hidden Deep (Book 1 of the Hidden Trilogy)
Release Date: 03/23/15
Summary from Goodreads:

Give in to the Glamour…

Sixteen-year-old Ryann Carroll has just run into the guy who saved her life ten years ago. You might think she'd be happy to see him again. Not exactly. She's a bit underdressed (as in skinny-dipping) and he's not supposed to exist.

After her father's affair, all Ryann wants is to escape the family implosion fallout and find a little peace. She also wouldn't mind a first date that didn't suck, but she's determined not to end up like her mom: vulnerable, betrayed, destroyed. Ryann's recently moved back to her childhood home in rural Mississippi, the same place where ten years earlier she became lost in the woods overnight and nearly died.

She's still irresistibly drawn to those woods. There she encounters the boy who kept her from freezing to death that long ago winter night and was nowhere to be seen when rescuers arrived. He's still mysterious, but now all grown-up and gorgeous, too. And the more she's with him, the greater the threat he poses to Ryann's strict policy-- never want someone more than he wants you.

Seventeen-year-old Lad knows the law of his people all too well: Don't get careless and Don't get caught. It's allowed his race to live undetected in this world for thousands of years, mentioned only in flawed and fading folklore…

Lad's never been able to forget about Ryann since that night ten years ago. When he sees her again, his fascination re-ignites and becomes a growing desire that tempts him to break all the rules. He's not even supposed to talk to a human, much less fall in love with one.

And the timing is atrocious. The Assemblage is coming, the rift between the Light and Dark is widening, and mysterious celebrity fan pods are becoming more and more widespread and influential. Lad may have to trade his own chance at happiness to keep the humans, especially Ryann, blissfully unaware and safe.

And here is the cover:

About the Author:

Amy Patrick is a two-time Golden Heart finalist (2013 and 2014) who writes Contemporary Romance and Young Adult fantasy/paranormal. Her books have won and finaled in many RWA chapter contests, and she is the author of the 20 SOMETHING series. She lives in Rhode Island with her husband and two sons and actually craves the heat and humidity of Mississippi, where she grew up. She's been a professional singer and news anchor and currently narrates audio books as well as working as a station host for a Boston TV station.

Author Links:

Friday, February 6, 2015

Book Review: The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

image: Goodreads
The Infinite Sea (The Fifth Wave #2)
Rick Yancey
YA Sci-Fi
Published: September 2014

The second volume of this young adult sci-fi series starts off with immediate action following a group of teenagers who survived the fifth wave of the current alien invasion. Highly recommended to read the first book or you'll be a bit lost. Also, The Fifth Wave has a film release set for 2016, so read now to be in the know!

The strengths in this series is almost non-stop action, which still manages to show depth of characters. Though one drawback, is the action starts so immediately in this book, I had a little trouble remembering all the characters. After events from the last book, Cassie, Ringer and the others have separated from Evan, the mysterious boy who took Cassie in when her survivor's camp was destroyed.

Trust is a huge theme in this book. No one is safe, as aliens have "occupied" human forms. This post-apocalyptic type environment conjures images of the wastelands from The Walking Dead and other disaster movies and TV shows. Each chapter, which are short for maximum page turning, is a challenge in survival over the harsh Midwestern winter elements. This is a world changed, and not only are they surviving day to day, but there is no one left to trust. Perhaps not even each other.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Insecure Writers Support Group: Critique Partners

From the official IWSG site: It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Please also try to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

In addition, IWSG paired with another group and started the IWSG Critique Circle. This group is dedicated to matching people up with the best critique partners possible. If you’re looking for partners or will be in the near future, please join this Facebook group as well. 

Critique Partners 

I highly recommend finding someone to critique your work. The IWSG is a good start. I've networked with writers on twitter and in blogging communities to find them. If you've never shared your writing before, it's scary at first! But if you're planning to publish a book, you'll be sharing your writing with the world. Better first to share with someone who can help you along and offer feedback.

Critique Partners vs. Beta Readers

Critique partners: writers who will work with you fairly closely throughout the development and polishing of a manuscript. Your call on how involved, but typically they will read a chapter revision a few times, or read through pieces of a manuscript to help you along the way. You can do this in person or as an online partnership.

Beta readers: As in beta testing for a new product. Beta readers do not need to be writers; they may just love books, or have a particular expertise. For example you're writing a story set in Miami and you have only been there to board a cruise (the case for me), so having someone who lives in Miami read through the manuscript can highlight inconsistencies or opportunities.

Me and my critique group @Spring Fling 2014
While I have a few writers I continue to work with online, the in-person group I'm a part of is invaluable! We put our group together from my local Romance Writers chapter. We're all at roughly the same place in our writing--not total beginners, but just starting out with agents, self-pub, and publishing contracts. The benefits of meeting once a month in person are:

  1. Accountability: I can't get lazy because I need to share work monthly
  2. Consistency: You get to know your writer friends' "voice" and can pinpoint more easily what they are trying to say but what might not be coming across on the page.
  3. Brainstorming: This is the absolute best. You know each other's work and career goals. This is time you can use to work through plot problems, come up with new ideas, deepen characters, etc. You have the talent and experience of other writers to help you along
If you have critique partners, where did you find them?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Book Review: Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography

image: Goodreads

Choose Your Own Autobiography
Neil Patrick Harris
Published: October 2014

The book is written the second person you since yes--this is your adventure, and you get to choose how you partake in the life and times of actor Neil Patrick Harris. A clever concept.

I started out reading this with the same reaction I vaguely remember from a Choose Your Own Adventure book I took out from the library as a kid. "Will you run, or stay behind? To run, go HERE, to stay behind, GO HERE." What if I don't like the outcome, do I go back? But what's on the next page? What if I miss something?

Turns out, reading an autobiography this way is a lot of fun. Plus, it's kind of like living in the future on an e-reader--you can literally skip ahead with the touch of a button! Maybe you don't care to read about a party on Elton John's boat (but you should, because it's surreal), or you'd rather spend your lunchbreak reading about How I Met Your Mother's casting over a more serious topic like how NPH's sexuality was outed by Perez Hilton (though Perez makes a nice statement in the book about his actions).

Most memoir readers probably want the scoop on other celebrities. He only says a few unfavorable things, and not even accusatory, so if you're looking for dirt, this probably isn't the place. Saved by the Bell's Screech is called out for how the actor (Dustin Diamond) defamed NPH in his own autobio. NPH mainly dispels Diamond's tales of him and makes a light barb that's almost so light you'll miss it. And then he's off, recounting the exhilarating experience of  filming Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog, being a kid actor on a terrible movie with Little Richard, escapades with Harold and Kumar, 1990s made-for-TV movies. partying with Katy Perry's entourage, and some genuinely moving snippets about falling in love and raising a family. This is a fun read, with the added bonus of being able to read the adventure exactly as you want to.