Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The 25th Annual ANWA Writers Conference

* Current Giveaways*

Over the weekend I had the best time at the ANWA (American Night Writers Assoc.) Writers Conference in Arizona. If you are a writer you need to attend conferences! RWA, SCBWI, etc... Writing is such a solitary endeavour, and when you go to a writing conference you put wind in your sails and find a tribe to belong too. Of course, it is also a way to pitch to editors and agents.

Conference included three days of fun. On Thursday, we started off with a motivational speech from Joshua Perkey. He had the entire room standing up and shouting "I am a creator!" Then we had the most amazing session with Shadow Mountain senior editor, Lisa Mangum. She actually went through first pages and then edited them live on the big screen.  Wow, what a peek into the mind of an editor!
Later on we had writing sprints, first page critique groups, and then a pitch session demonstration from Agents Lisa Rodgers (JABerwocky) and Catie Flum (Liza Dawson Associates).

Friday and Saturday were full of classes and intensives, with a keynote address from author Julie
Berry.  Friday night was the big conference gala, where I won a prize for best Haiku about writing! (see picture)Which was awesome, because I kind of wimped out and didn't wear a costume when everyone else did.(See next picture.) Saturday for me was the highlight of the conference. Why? Because I had two pitches scheduled, one with an agent and the other an editor. All writers get nervous before a pitch, no matter how many times you do it.
 I began feeling the pressure before my last pitch, and left class early to take deep breaths before waiting for my turn. I'm so glad I made it, because my full manuscript was requested! Then, I went to my room and lay down, lol.

It was such a wonderful experience. I'll be highlighting advice from the editors and agents that spoke during the next several "Into the Publishing World Wednesdays". Tomorrow, I'll be spotlighting Shadow Mountain editor, Lisa Mangum, who I interviewed during a book signing. (next pic)

For now, enjoy some pictures of all the fun.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Invisible Cat Activities by Cate Anevski

* Current Giveaways*


Hey all! Something a little different today for Middle-Grade Monday! I am looking at an activity book that looks to me like something elementary kids would love. It is called Invisible Cat Activities by Cate Anevski.

So, inside the book are illustrations of cats engaged in invisible pastimes and activities, just waiting for a child to complete the picture and finish each scene. It looks adorable to me. Now, I know this isn't a novel, but it is something that will help children develop creativity and skill. Plus, Chronicle Books is hosting a GIVEAWAY HERE!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Review and Giveaway! Freefall by Joshua David Bellin

Welcome to YA Friday! Today I have a new teen sci-fi thriller release, Freefall, by Joshua David Bellin. The author is giving away one hard copy of his book to one lucky follower in the US. To enter, fill in the rafflecopter form below. If you don't see it, click 'read more'. The book will be released Sept. 26th by Simon and Schuester.

The Story-
The earth has come to its end and people must now leave the planet or die. The Upperworld people have built a large spaceship, but it will only hold 1% of the population. Cam is one of the lucky ones that gets to leave and have a new life. However, one day he watches an illegal broadcast about the people that live in the Lowerworld and his heart flips over Sophie, a young leader of her people.

He risks everything to find her and join her cause, equal treatment for Lowerworlders and inclusion into the space program. With his help, Sophie and others are able to have another ship, the Freefall, retrofitted and filled with their own people.

The two ships are meant never to meet, but 1,000 years in the future, Cam wakes up on a strange planet, not the one his ship was meant to find. There, strange metal creatures hunt his people at night and a blazing sun burns people to a crisp during the day. All seems lost, until the Freefall appears, also crashing into the dark planet. With hope, Cam desires to find Sophie, but a warped Commander will do anything to keep Lowerworlders from existing, and plans to use them as fodder.

My Thoughts-
This book is told in alternating chapters reflecting the past, when Cam is training for the space program and meets Sophie, and the future, where he is struggling to survive on a hostile planet and rescue Sophie. I found the future to be where all the action lie. I eagerly wanted to read the chapters describing this new world and the horrors present. These creatures that the author creates are horrific and when I found out the truth behind what they really were, holy smokes! I couldn't believe it. Only a truly warped mind could have done that, and the author relates the dealings with the Commander so well, that I had no problem connecting him to the evil. It was chilling.

Now, the chapters about the past are important, but they felt a little heavy to me. I just wanted to get to the good stuff in the future. However, there is a twist ending which I would not have understood if I hadn't read the chapters in the past. So, though I feel like these chapters didn't have to be every other one and could have been more condensed, you do need to read them to understand the ending and Cam and Sophie's relationship.

There is great tension and action in the future chapters that will pull a reader into the journey. Solving the mysteries of what happened to the ships, what the creatures are, and if the people can survive are great plot lines and make this book worth the read. I'm giving it 4 stars!


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

#MSWL Manuscript Wishlist recap 9/13

*Don't forget to enter the Monster High Giveaway HERE*

Yesterday was #MSWL day on twitter. Here is a huge list of what was tweeted by agents and editors. I definitely will have missed something, so be sure to check it out.

Roseanne Wells‏ @RivetingRosie
 #MSWL have a strong voice start to sound the same. Don't write in the "proper" voice for kidlit/literary/fantasy/whatevs. Go deeper.

Meg LaTorre-Snyder‏ @MegLaTorre
#MSWL: Fantasy stories that are surprising & break from genre tropes/rework them in a unique way.
I'd love to see more diversity & unique topics in children's PB (in addition to the typical fun adventure stories). #MSWL

Dorian Maffei‏ @DorianMaffei
 #MSWL Want to see more speculative fiction from diverse writers in my inbox & literary science fiction with non-white MC

Natascha Morris‏ @SoCalledYALife
 I want a quirky, hilarious MG with a fantastic voice. #MSWL
 I've been dying for historical fiction. Ann Rinaldi and Ruta Sepetys are two of my favorites. #MSWL
 Cults. #MSWL

Jennie Goloboy‏ @JennieGoloboy
 I never get enough hard science fiction, especially written by experts.  #MSWL

Kaitlyn Johnson‏ @kaitylynne13
 #MSWL Anyone have any Atlantis stories? Have a craving (especially for the whole disaster disappearance storyline of it!)

Samantha Wekstein‏ @SWekstein
 High fantasy YA with a unique magic system #MSWL
YA with female gangs, guilds, or adventure squads #MSWL
 Middle grade book about a kid from a big family #MSWL

Elana Roth Parker‏ @ElanaRoth
Basically, don’t give me European fairy tale princesses. I want the fantasy of being a princess livened up and pushed ahead. #MSWL
 I hesitate to say this, but I’d be up for ambitious and imaginative retellings of some cool, deep-dive Bible source material. (1/2) #MSWL

Eliza Swift‏  @elizaswift
A YA about a weird, immersive summer job & all the relationships that come out of it. Adventureland for teens. #MSWL
A complicated, messy, heartbreaking, hysterical, ultimately loving story about female friendship in YA. #MSWL

Laura Zats‏ @LZats
More ace/aro characters, please #MSWL
 Uproariously funny YA that also breaks my heart #MSWL
 Straight romance where the hero and heroine occupy traditionally female and male spaces, respectively #MSWL
 Non-Greek, non-Roman, non-Norse, non-Egyptian, non-Celtic mythologies #MSWL

Becky LeJeune‏ @BeckyLeJeune
 #MSWL teen detectives a la V Mars 🙂 again, diverse MC a plus!

Stephanie Stein‏ @stephlystein
 Dragons. That is all. #MSWL
 I talk a lot about wanting LGBTQ YA—but lately I'm really dying for an LGBTQ middle grade! Self-discovery, first crushes, family! #MSWL

Becky LeJeune‏ @BeckyLeJeune
 #MSWL horror, horror, horror! Adult, YA, & MG.

Claire Harris‏ @cmharris53
 Looking for thrillers-- specifically ones involving serial killers. The darker it is, the more I'll love it. #MSWL (DM with questions)

Michael R. @MikeRUnderwood
I'd love to see more community-oriented post-apoc/disaster fiction that avoids the misogynistic libertarian fantasy mode. #MSWL

Brianne Johnson‏ @SecretAgentBri
 Seriously, WHERE is my beach witch book

Justin Wells‏ @Justin_941
 Query me with your 14-15th century European historical fiction (MG, YA, and Adult). 😊 #MSWL
Would love to see a F/F YA Fantasy w/ a troubled/threatened relationship. Think Aladdin meets The Winner's Curse. #MSWL #OwnVoices

Ashley Hearn‏ @AshleyHearn
 A YA Western with a touch of magic! #MSWL

Claire Draper‏ @draper_claire
 Always want to see more mental health #YA with more than just the mental health storyline #MSWL

Pam Victorio‏ @NerdyPam
Also I would like a gay retelling of Mulan pls. #MSWL

Sarah Guan‏ @Sarah_Guan
#MSWL: Diversity in all forms, always. Diversity of people, setting, culture, morality. Diversity as a feature—not a bug. Challenge me. #SFF

Diana M. Pho‏ @writersyndrome
I want hard science fiction society that explores the boundaries of what we can do now, 50 years from now, 100 years from now #MSWL

Blair Wilson‏ @blair_e_wilson
 Send your lyrical, atmospheric, ✨lightly magical ✨ YA my way! #mswl

Saba Sulaiman‏ @agentsaba
Honest/witty/messy/hilarious/heartfelt stories about the madness/exhilaration/exhaustion/joy/frustration of modern parenthood. #MSWL
I’m your agent for anything and everything Bollywood-related. My passion is personal and deep-rooted, perhaps second only to books. #MSWL

Chelsey Emmelhainz‏ @CKEmmelhainz
 Some #MSWL favorites (for mystery, suspense, crime fic): serial killer POVs, serial killers in general, female serial killers

Nicole Payne‏ @tnicolepayne
 #mswl Seeking Adult Contemp. I need men or women in uniforms dealing with life, work and love.

Mary C. Moore‏ @Mary_C_Moore   Science fiction, explorers on a new planet. Scientists not warriors. Lush world-building a must. #MSWL #scifi

Annie Bomke‏ @ABLiterary
 I like all things gothic: Southern gothic, gothic horror, gothic mysteries, goths. #MSWL

Kate Brauning‏ @KateBrauning
YA featuring horses--animal bonds are so key to young adults.  I want more of them! Family stable, local races, 4H to national level #MSWL
YA that gets out of the school and into work settings--internships, emergency responder training, summers working dangerous jobs #MSWL

Jennifer Herrera‏ @JennyMHerrera
 A historical look at badass female warriors? The answer is always yes. #MSWL

Rena Bunder Rossner‏  @renarossner
I'm always looking for Jewish stories, but what I really want are Jewish stories of resistance that are not Holocaust related.  #MSWL

Jill Corcoran‏ @JillCorcoran
 Highly illustrated chapter book series and middle grade by author/illustrators. #MSWL
 PB, MG, YA that makes my heart whole. Fills my soul in a way I didn't realize I needed. Ur story+voice envelopes me in peace & love #MSWL
 On the hunt for Grounded SciFi: on earth but something is different. Must have unique concept+authentic characters+emotional core #MSWL
For now, NO dystopia, paranormal, PB or GN authors that do not also illustrate #MSWL

Dorian Maffei‏ @DorianMaffei
 #MSWL Upmarket, historical, SF, or speculative featuring a florist, botanist, or any flower/plant oddity

Stefanie Lieberman‏ @hellegilly
 Is your voice full of hard-edges and relentlessly hilarious (e.g. VEEP)?  Write me a ms!  #MSWL
 PostWWII/50s hist fic set on a train (when train travel was glamorous) making comment on class &/or race #MSWL

Tera Cuskaden‏ @TeraCus
Would love to see erotic menage paranormal and sci-fi romance. Think breeders, fated mates and/or a woman bonded to multiple men. #MSWL

Rena Bunder Rossner‏ @renarossner
 Super interested in books about religion, especially in YA and MG. These are the years in which kids form religious identity. #MSWL

Julie Dinneen‏ @JulieDinneen
 #MSWL A beautifully-written family saga set in the Wild West. #fantasyelementsoptional

Peter Knapp‏ @petejknapp
 #MSWL - fun, high concept MG adventure series! I love adventure, puzzle-y stories, and bonus points for humor
 #MSWL - standout YA fantasy. I'm looking for jaw-dropping, cool world building and a new, exciting hook.

Lauren Spieller‏ @laurenspieller
Clarifying earlier tweet--I want anything and everything Middle Grade. Contemp, fantasy, sci-fi...you name it, I want to read it. #MSWL

Gemma Cooper‏ @gemma_cooper
Random things I like - Hitchhikers Guide, unicorns, Heathers, Murder She Wrote, kissing, Project Runway, animal POV, Hot Fuzz, history #MSWL

Caitie Flum‏ @caitief
❤️ 💛 💚 💙 💜  all genres - YA contemp, YA SFF, book club, romance, thrillers, historical fiction, ALL OF IT. Especially #ownvoices #MSWL MG too

Monday, September 11, 2017

Back to School Monster High Giveaway!

Welcome to Middle Grade Monday! Today, in celebration of kids returning to school, I am giving away 3 Monster High books- Ghoulfriends 'til the End, Frights, Camera, Action, and Pretty Scary Parties. To enter just fill in the rafflecopter form below. Rules are on the form, but FYI, open only to US and Canada.

Ghoulfriends 'til the End (Ghoulfriends #4)
by Gitty Daneshvari-

The ghoulfriends' new GFF, Wydowna Spider, starts to clear the cobwebs about the mysterious threat to Monster High. The previous generation of monsters formed a secret society that seems bent on turning the school into something that's more like a prison! But when Rochelle Goyle, Robecca Steam, and Venus McFlytrap uncover a second ancient group of monsters...the fate of the student disembody is in their hands!

Monster High: Frights, Camera, Action! The Junior Novel 
by Perdita Finn-

When Draculaura is led to believe she s heir to the vampire throne she and her ghoulfriends are whisked away to Transylvania for a royal coronation to die for But they soon learn the hunt for the queen is not over yet Includes an eight page full color insert of images from the animated special When Draculaura is led to believe she s the rightful heir to the vampire throne she and her best ghoulfriends are whisked away to Transylvania for a royal coronation to die for But they soon discover the hunt for the queen is not over yet The Ghouls must locate an ancient artifact known as the Vampire s Heart in order to discover the identity of the true Vampire Queen It s a fangtastic adventure that will lead them from the Tower of Londoom to a haunted river boat in New Goreleans and finally to the glamorous boo vie lots of Hauntlywood Could this be the moment when Draculaura finally receives her vampire powers and discovers screams really can come true This novelization of the Monster High animated special includes an eight page full color insert of fangtastic images.

Monster High: Pretty Scary Parties
by Pollygeist Danescary -

Celebrate a howliday or any day with spooktacular party and costume ideas, fill-in activities and journal prompts for Monster High fans to write their own scary cute stories! Inside, you'll find defrightful party planning tips, clawesome games, scariffic recipes, and journal pages that provide ghouls with hours of pretty, scary fun! So howl about it? It's time to party until the full moon comes up!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Labyrinth Wall by Emilyann Girdner

YA Friday! And the end of the first week of school out here in Washington. Yahoo! Today I have a review of The Labyrinth Wall by Emilyann Girdner. It is book one in the Obsidian Series.

The Story-
Araina's entire life consists of turning in pieces of Obsidian for food and staying alive within the deadly labyrinth where she and the other Mahk live. Her only joy is her pet bird Blue. One day Blue leads her through a wall of vines to a beautiful new place, the gardens of the castle, where the Creators live.

 There Araina sees something unbelievable, a man shimmer through the wall of the Labyrinth. Suddenly she has knowledge, knowledge that there is more to life than where she lives and that it is possible to escape, but her knowledge comes at a cost. When the Creators discover her, she is forced to flee back into the maze, one that has now been turned into an even deadlier death trap, to kill all Mahk, especially her.

Araina teams up with a rag-tag group of other Mahk to escape the maze and find the hole in the wall.

My Thoughts-
This is a good sci-fi fantasy read. Our heroine is different from other Mahk, she has a good soul. As the story evolves, so does she. Araina learns that it is okay to leave her lonely existence and depend on others. She learns to exist within a group and put the good of the group at the head.

I enjoyed the story for the mysteries it brought to life and continued reading for the answers. Who are the Creators? Who are the Mahk (they seem to be brought to life mid life span or perhaps just their old memories are wiped and they think they have been created?) What is this labyrinth that turns out to be one maze inside another?

There is action and adventure, plus some intriguing magical elements like the ability to heal another. I got to the end of the book, and unfortunately none of my questions were answered. :( This is a series, so I know there is more to come, but I always like it if at least one of the mysteries is solved in a book, that way I feel like there is a reward for reading the whole book. At some points, I felt like there was something missing in the story, but could not put my finger on it. You'll have to read it for  yourself. I'm giving this book 4 stars! There is a Goodreads giveaway for a copy of this book-

The second book, The Haunted Realm, is now out from Macmillan.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Cover Love- Jed and Junkyard War

Found this book in my local library and fell in love with the cover! 
Cover Illustration- Allen Douglas
Cover Design- Maria Elias

My imagination immediately took flight with this cover. Look at the daring rescue of a boy hanging on for dear life on the bottom rung of a ladder over piles of junk. The airship the ladder is attached to hovers amongst the clouds, its patchwork bronze metal very steam punk, but showing a rag tag construction. What is happening? Why does this boy need rescuing from a junk yard? And what type of world is this where there are floating steam airships with housing on top? LOVE IT!