Sunday, 31 March 2013

Fool For Books Giveaway Hop

Happy April Everyone,
It finally feels like spring is here (at least in my neck of the woods).
Welcome to my stop on the Fool For Books Giveaway Hop, generously hosted by:

I am a crazy fool for books - lately some of my favorite authors are: John Green, Neil Gaiman, and Richard Wagamese. I also tend to love anything with a mythological bent to it.

My giveaway is for a book of your choice of up to $15 CDN from The Book Depository.
It's international, so long as The Book Depository ships to you.
I am not responsible for books lost in the mail.
I will contact the winner by email and they will have 2 days to respond or I will pick a new winner.

So, fill out the rafflecopter below and then check out the other great blogs in the hop, listed below.

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Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Writing Wednesday: Baby Steps

Writing a novel, for me at least, is an exciting, fun, inspiring, arduous, frustrating, tedious process. There are so many emotions, but, ultimately, writing is something that feeds my soul. Be that as it may, it can be difficult to get motivated sometimes, especially when it comes to editing and rewriting.

Something that has worked remarkably is to set up writing times to hold space with another person. For about two years now, I call my friend Janet at around 9am and check in with her. I then hang up and set a timer for 20 minutes and I write or work on my book in some way. So does Janet. When the timer goes off, I call her again.

No matter what else happens that day, I've worked on my book, got my thoughts going, engaged my subconscious, done something that a writer would do. More often than not, I continue working after that 20 minutes, but the important thing is that I got started, which if often the hardest part. To be honest, this has changed recently due to various circumstances, but I still feel accountable to work at least 20 minutes a day. It has now become a habit.

This simple baby step has resulted in my novel, Antigone: The True Story, being edited enough to send to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards and making it to the quarter finals (even though I think it needs another part added now and am working on that...). It is nearly finished the editing stages and will be ready to send out into the great big world of agents and publishers soon. And it is thanks to baby steps taken consistently - or even mostly consistently.

And, as for my friend Janet, her book that she's been working on for nearly 7 years is almost done! She's just doing some final work to get it ready for her beta readers. Yeah for baby steps!

I would love to hear from other writers what works for them? How do you keep motivated and working, even when you don't feel like it?

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Fairy Tale Giveaway Hop

Hello everyone. This hop is a fun one, the Third Annual Fairy Tale Giveaway Hop!!! 
It is hosted by:
This giveaway is International, so long as The Book Depository ships to you. The winner will be able to pick a book of their choice of up to $15 CDN from The Book Depository so long as it has a fairy tale theme or element. 

To enter, fill out the rafflecopter by midnight on April 2. The winner will have 2 days to respond to my email when the contest is finished or I will pick a new winner. I am not responsible for books lost in the mail.

Good luck everyone and continue down the linky to check out the other great blogs participating.

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Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Writing Wednesday: Support and Gratitude

Last week I talked about my novel making it to the quarter finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition and how overwhelmed I felt just reading the reviewer's generous feedback (I'm still speechless when I think about it). But this week brought a whole new round of things to be grateful for.

In, what was to me, a bold move, I posted the link to the page where people can read the first three chapters of my book as part of the ABNA competition (you can find it here). A dear friend of mine (Hope of Hope-Full Universe, an amazing artist, you should check out her page), reposted the link. One of her friends, a reporter for our local newspaper, saw the link and immediately emailed me, asking me to call her the next day. My heart started thumping.

The next day, in what I thought was an audacious move, I actually called the reporter back. I told her that I didn't think this was particularly newsworthy because it was only the quarter finals. She asked me how many people had entered the competition. Ten thousand, I replied. And how many are in it now? she asked. Five hundred, I answered. This is newsworthy, she said. So we did a quick interview and arranged for a photographer for the next day (my first thought was EEK, my house is a mess, can we meet at Starbucks?).  I sent her the Amazon link, my synopsis, etc. Within an hour she emailed me back and asked it it was okay to print the entire first chapter in the paper because she loved it and thought her readers would too, and could we make it the Saturday Spotlight?

Ummm, okay.... My heart raced. I thought this was all good experience for when I actually publish a book, right? So I cleaned up for the photographer, who was lovely and took lots of pictures and told me I was photogenic (smile - I was so nervous).

On Friday night I was checking out the on line version of the paper and saw my article! It was such a surprise. There I was, a nice picture of me, some stuff about the competition, etc, and my first chapter. (You can find the article here.) I was thrilled. I sent my husband out to get the paper, thinking they'd changed their mind about the date, but I wasn't in the print version.

Saturday morning, my husband went and got the paper for me. You're definitely in this one, he said, and showed me the paper. On the front page, right under where it says Kamloops Daily News, was a headline blaring: "Is this the next JK Rowling? We hope so." And there was my picture beside it, saying where the article was. I was floored. JK Rowling????

I opened the paper to the Entertainment section and there I was. I mean, THERE I WAS. A picture of me, just me, taking up the whole page, again with the JK Rowling headline. I almost fell over. I turned the page, and there I was again, the picture and the article from on-line, taking up most of the second page. Wow. Needless to say, I am still stunned.

One of the most important things I've realized about all this is it so wonderful to live in such an amazingly supportive community like Kamloops. Even if I get no further in this competition, I will appreciate and treasure that. And the extraordinary friends who understood when seeing the article in print like that, with that particular headline, made me cry. Why being linked to JK Rowling was crazy enough, but why the "We hope so" after it was even more meaningful. And all of the people who have phoned and emailed to say they loved the chapter, they want more, and is there a way they can help me in this competition? I am incredibly lucky to know that I have people behind me, cheering me on - it's been declared on the front page of our paper. Most people don't get such obvious and public encouragement, especially so early on. I would like to publicly thank The Kamloops Daily News, Catherine Litt, the reporter, and Murray Mitchell, the photographer, for this.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Word on the Lake

It's coming up to the  
10th Annual Word on the Lake Festival for Readers and Writers  
in Salmon Arm, BC. 
I've been to this festival several times now and it is always amazing, well run, and fun. This year promises to be the best ever as they celebrate their 10th festival.

The organizers have listened to the attendees over the years and have booked a wide variety of presenters: a publisher, an editor, fiction, song writing, short story, young adult, poetry...the list goes on. And check out George Browning - a BC poet laureate! This festival will literally have something for everyone. You can see from the poster how much there is.

Also, each year, the Shuswap Association of Writers offers 10 x $100 bursaries to help offset the costs for people who need it. You can go to their web site for more details.

So, if you are lucky enough to be in the neighbourhood from May 24-26 and like books at all, whether reading or writing them, this will be the place to be. There is early bird registration and pricing until May 13. And the earlier you book, the better chance you have of getting your choice of blue pencil meetings.

FMI on anything to do with the festival, go to their website at

Monday, 18 March 2013

(Audio) Book Review: Poison Princess

Book: Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles #1) by Kresley Cole, 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 369 pages (11 CDs).

Purchase: Amazon | The Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads:
#1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole introduces The Arcana Chronicles, post-apocalyptic tales filled with riveting action, the dark mysticism of Tarot cards, and breathtaking romance.

She could save the world—or destroy it.

Sixteen year old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can’t do either alone.

With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally depend on Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?

As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of twenty-two teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side….

My Thoughts:
I want to start off by saying that the audiobook version of this book was presented amazingly well. Emma Galvin was fantastic as the main narrator and conveyed a real sense of Evie's character. Keith Nobbs did his part so well it was scary - he embodied creepiness itself.

I love the premise of this book and how tarot cards are used to hold it all together - it is brilliant. Evie has hallucinations and her mom thinks she's crazy, just like her grandmother. However, it turns out that Evie is one of the Major Arcana, the power cards, of a tarot deck. 

When the apocalypse comes, Evie and her mother realize that the hallucinations were actually visions. There are voices in Evie's had that speak to her. Then Jack comes along, a poor, rough, Cajun boy. Evie and Jack have to work together to try to find Evie's grandmother in the craziness that is left of the world - bagmen (zombies), soldiers, cannibals, plague, no vegetation,...

I alternately liked and disliked both Evie and Jack. There were many times I found them extremely frustrating. Evie spent a lot of time being weak and confused and even whiny. I can see why this was, and I appreciate her growth (and anticipate she will be a much stronger character in the next book), but felt it did go on a bit.

Then there is Jack, the ultimate bad boy. He and Evie clearly love each other, even if they can't stand each other. He is rude, rough, tough, can fight and survive on the land, drinks, rides a motorcycle. You get the picture. Again, I found that maybe this stereotype went a bit far.

However, I loved the parts about the visions and the tarot deck, the voices and the Arcana. And Cole's writing is beautiful. Her use of language is stunning and completely drew me in. Her descriptions are vivid and engaging.  

I think those who like dystopian novels will enjoy this different, almost paranormal, take. Despite my frustrations with the two main characters, I did like them and the book enough to eagerly anticipate the next installment.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Writing Wednesday, Lots to Celebrate

This has been a really good week for me, writing wise. First off, I made it to the quarter finalist round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award!!!!
I entered with my novel, Antigone: The True Story, and I'm so excited to have made it this far that I had to go look at the list several times just to make sure that my name was really on the list.

Two Amazon Vine reviewers read the first 5000 words and commented on it. They said that it was "flawless", "the descriptive narration was excellent and the plot line strong", and it "will fascinate most readers." The quote that I'm most floored by is: "Outstanding introduction by an extraordinarily talented author. Targeted for a 'young adult' audience, I believe that it will call out to a wide age range. I am looking forward to its release!" Honestly, I am speechless and overwhelmed, even embarrassed to post all this here (but I'm also so excited and want to share).

If anyone would like to read the excerpt, you can go to Amazon and download it (for free) by clicking on this link. The next round will be announced on April 16 when each category will be whittled down from 100 to 25. For this round, someone from Publishers Weekly will read the whole thing. Eek.

Since entering the contest, however, I have decided to add to the novel because the ending was niggling at me, so have been frantically working on Part III.  I set a goal recently to write a minimum of 1500 words a day minimum until it is done, hopefully bashing out the rest of the rough draft by March 15. So far, I've had 9 days in a row where I've met my goal, and this is despite my brain trying to sabotage me (ie, it's daylight savings and you've lost an hour, Sunday's don't count, the kids are home sick, I didn't get a good night's sleep...). I'm happy to say that having my goal has kept me going through all of that. I've been using Scrivener, and there's even a little bar graph thingy that tells you how far you need to go at any given moment. I'm really visual, so this works for me.

So, two amazing things this week: making the quarter finals and the end is in sight on my rough draft of Part III. I would love to hear from others how your creative projects are going. How do you stay on target? What have you got to celebrate?

Monday, 11 March 2013

Book Blast: To Love or Die in a Steamy-Reamy World

To Love or Die in a Steamy-Reamy World

10 Tales of Steampunk Silliness and Spookery
In the cozy seaside village of Steamville, New Hampshire, an unfaithful zombie, out of control werebots, succubi in corsets, and more wreak havoc in this short story collection from the author of Elemental.

Just .99 cents


"Well written and very fast paced. You won’t get bored or find your mind wandering. I’d love to see a sequel to this collection and see what happens next. I give this book five out of five donuts."

"This book starts off dipping its toe right into the heart of the story, not unlike Ms. White's YA novel Elemental, and the story never really slows down to a lazy pace; making it a very easy and fast read."

"Ms. White wonderfully succeeded in instilling humor into ten short stories about vampires, zombies, ghosts, and one mad scientist. Each story is brilliantly linked. The Victorian era setting delightfully adds to the humor."

"This is a wonderful mix of Steampunk and Horror written in Emily White's unmistakable brilliance and style. Does it get any better than that?"

About Author Emily White

Emily White lives in NY, wedged between two of the Great Lakes and a few feet of snow and ice. She's spent most of her life running away from the cold, and even spent a year in Iraq, but now contents herself with writing her characters into warm, exotic places in faraway galaxies. When not tapping away at her computer keys, she can be found reading, reading, and reading some more. And when she's not doing that, she's usually playing video games with her husband, peek-a-boo with her kids, or walking through her garden, wondering why the bugs insist on eating all her vegetables.

Also by Emily White

Book Blast Giveaway
$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 3/24/13

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Book Review: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Book: Pandemonium (Delirium #2) by Lauren Oliver, 2012 by HarperTeen, 375 pages.

Purchase: Amazon | The Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads:
"So what was your name before?" I say, and she freezes, her back to me. "Before you came to the Wilds, I mean."

For a moment she stands there.

Then she turns around.

"You might as well get used to it now," she says with quite intensity.

"Everything you were, the life you had, the people you knew... dust."

She shakes her head and says, a little more firmly, "There is no before. There is only now, and what comes next."

After falling in love, Lena and Alex flee their oppressive society where love is outlawed and everyone must receive the "cure" - an operation that makes them immune to the delirium of love - but Lena alone manages to find her way to a community of resistance fighters. Although she is bereft without the boy she loves, her struggles seem to be leading her toward a new love.

My Thoughts:
This second installment of the Delirium series takes place both in the wilds and in New York during a resistance movement, moving back and forth in time. The chapters are pretty clear about where you are. 

The story starts soon after Lena escapes over the fence and how she survives in the Wilds. I loved the addition of some of the new characters, especially Raven. I have to say, though, that there were a few logistics about their life in the Wilds that drove me crazy, like: Why do they wait until winter's there before they move camps? Why don't they just live somewhere warmer and set up a homestead and try to become self sufficient? Why do they have to rely on the cities for so much? Why, if there is a hardware store nearby, do they only have one shovel? OK, enough of that rant. These are not deal breaker issues, the story was still great, just things that frustrated me.

On the other hand, this time in the Wilds was compelling, the dynamics of the community, the constant peril, the heartbreak of peoples stories...

In contrast, the story alternates in a future time as part of an underground resistance movement in New York. There were some great twists in this part and, again, the addition of some new characters. I liked Julian, the son of the DFA leader, and how he grew and how the alliances and betrayals worked out.

I really love this series, though I didn't like this book as much as Delirium. Oliver's writing is brilliant and absolutely beautiful - she crafts words like an artist. And, I love the premise behind this book - that of a dystopian future where love can be "cured", along with the consequences of that. After the dramatic twist at the end, I can hardly wait to get my hands on Requiem (one of the advantages to coming to a series late!)

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Writing Wednesday

As I drove home from dropping my kids at school this morning, I thought I'd make a new meme for myself called Writing Wednesday, where I could update on progress in my writing, share writing, tips, procrastinate from writing.... It is also the day my writing group, Some Good Karma and Some Bad Writing, meets so it seemed synchronistic.
Right now, I am actually involved in two projects, finishing up a novel that I started awhile ago and writing a collaborative novel with two others from my writer's group. My priority is finishing up my novel, Antigone: The True Story (my young adult mythological fiction). It's a book that I thought was finished, that I thought would be part of a trilogy, but that idea kept niggling at me. I decided what it actually needed was another part at the end, and for it to be a stand alone book.

I started writing the final section of the book in November after I finished my Nano novel, but had to stop when I gave myself tendonitis. Yuck! Yes, tendonitis from writing too much. I ended up taking a break from writing and going to physiotherapy for my arm. Things are feeling better now, so I'm back writing. However, I had lost the flow and voice of the book, so it was hard to get back into it. I also, honestly, wasn't sure how I wanted the book to end (and am still not positive - hopefully it reveals itself soon).

I was discussing this with a friend about two weeks ago, who also happens to be an amazing life and creativity coach, and she started to ask me questions. When did I want to finish? How many words did I think were left? What needed to happen? What if I gave myself permission to write absolute crap?

Something clicked in my brain. So, I thought I needed about 20,000 more words and I wanted it done by spring break (March 15). That gave me a month, 5000 words a week, which really shouldn't have been a problem after completing Nano in November. My friend upped the ante by offering to buy me lunch if I met my goal. Nothing like accountability and motivation!

I went back to my novel and read the last few chapters I wrote to get back into the voice, fussed around a bit (a lot), but did get some writing done. Not 5000 words a week though. Now it is a week and a half left to the deadline and I still have well over 10,000 words to write. We creative types sure like to go down to the wire with our deadlines, don't we?

On Monday, I decided to chunk it out and set a daily goal of 1500 words, which should get me to my goal on time. I'm using Scrivener, so I even figured out how to set daily writing targets. So far, so good.

And now, I'll even share a brief excerpt from what I wrote yesterday that I kind of liked:
“Can’t I? Why do you always have to make things so difficult? Why don’t you ever just do as you are told. No one will fault you for doing nothing this time. The heavens know that no one else would consider defying my father in this. None of those advisers can talk him out of this, no one will protect you from him.”
“I am not defying your father, but am following the gods.”

I would love to hear from other writers (or creatives) about their processes, writing, progress... What works for you? What do you do when you lose "the flow"? How do you stay accountable? Have you written something lately that you love? Feel free to put your links in the comments and I'll check them out.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Book Review: Pretties

Book: Pretties (Uglies #2) by Scott Westerfeld, 2005 by Simon Pulse, 370 pages.

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Gorgeous. Popular. Perfect. Perfectly wrong.

Tally has finally become pretty. Now her looks are beyond perfect, her clothes are awesome, her boyfriend is totally hot, and she's completely popular. It's everything she's ever wanted.

But beneath all the fun -- the nonstop parties, the high-tech luxury, the total freedom -- is a nagging sense that something's wrong. Something important. Then a message from Tally's ugly past arrives. Reading it, Tally remembers what's wrong with pretty life, and the fun stops cold.

Now she has to choose between fighting to forget what she knows and fighting for her life -- because the authorities don't intend to let anyone with this information survive.

Purchase: Amazon | The Book Depository

My Thoughts:
This was an interesting second installment of the Uglies series. I loved Uglies and Pretties has a very different feel, taking place mostly in New Pretty with lots of "bubbly" language and mindless parties.

Tally has sacrificed herself and has become pretty so that they will have a test subject for their cure to the brain lesions. We get to know Shay better and are introduced to Zane, Tally's new love interest. I liked Zane and the way he tried so hard to keep his brain from going pretty.

Tally's character was good, though some of her indecisiveness drives me crazy, but it's probably supposed to because her ugly brain is at odds with her pretty brain.

I liked the development of the brain science and the idea of the lesions. And, again, the social commentary on the idea of pretty and ugly is terrific. Then there is the great twist at the end of the book. I love that kind of thing.

However, this book had the feel of a transition book for me. There was a lot of action and movement, but somehow, it still left me wanting something else. Hopefully, I'll find it in Specials. Maybe it's because I found the world in Uglies so much more interesting than the world in Pretties. Overall, though, it was worth the read and I'm anxious to get onto the next book.