Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Writer's Workshop

Last Saturday I attended a writing workshop through the writers group I belong to at the library. The venue was at a youth camp, in a neat old house. There were three presenters, w/three workshops you could choose from throughout the day. After two workshops, we broke for lunch(taco salads and peanut butter cake, yum) and then after one last workshop, listened to romance author, Anna Kristell speak. She also had some funny things to say about writing spicy romance(under Isabella Kole), which she had never expected to do. Here are a few pics from throughout the day, though please forgive the poor quality as they were taken w/my dinosaur, non-smartphone phone.

Lovely, eh?

C.S. Marks teaching about blurbs. A very entertaining lady!

Some very neat larger than life shots of her covers. 

This lady knows how to market!

Ron Collins leading his first workshop of the day, Seven Point Story Plotting. Very good!

A charming room where the fun Deborah Bowden's workshops were conducted.

And last but not least, a big thank you to Debi Hurt, who organized and hosted the workshop. She worked hard to make sure we all had a great time, and it was much appreciated!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Author Stop: Lauren Sabel

Today I'm excited to welcome Lauren Sabel to the blog, whose book combines Hollywood and Mexico. Who could not be intrigued by that combo?! 

1. Did you eat a lot of Mexican food while writing VDID?

YES!  I love Mexican food. One of my most delicious experiences during the Day of the Dead was going to a trout farm/restaurant in the mountains outside Oaxaca City. They caught the trout fresh and cooked it wrapped in foil within minutes of catching it. And wow. That was by far the best fish I’d ever eaten.

A photo of Lauren's Los Muerto's wooden toy collection.

2. Who are your top three fav Hollywood actors(new or old)? And who would you pick to play Vivian, if your movie- star character were ever to star on the silver screen?

I adore Sarah Hyland from Modern Family. I would pick her to play Vivian because she has the attitude to pull off Vivian’s spicy personality. My other three favorite actors right now are Anne Hathaway, Ellen Paige, and Emma Stone.

3. What is at the main core of your story that you hope readers will come away with?

That it is possible to save yourself. So often we wait for someone to come along and tell us our lives are meaningful. But at some point we have to wake up and realize that our lives ARE meaningful already. Once we realize it and build positive habits around it, there’s no stopping us from becoming everything we ever wanted to be or do. 

4. Cats or dogs? Snow or rain?

 Dogs. Snow. Preferably dogs playing in snow.

5. What is a fav line(s) from VDID?

“I don’t need anyone to save me anymore. I can save myself.”

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I love that pic of the wooden dolls, so moody and cool(plus a little creepy!). And I totally wish I had some chips and salsa right now... Anyhoo, one lucky commenter will win a $5 Amazon gift card, so besides your comment, please remember to follow Lauren at one or more of her social media sites below. Gracias!

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Originally from the Rocky Mountains, Lauren Sabel has returned to the cool mountain air of Boulder, Colorado after living in several wonderful cities that she will always love and continue to visit year after year.

Lauren loves her husband, her family, her friends, and stories that end happily. (Unfortunately, hers never do.) She also loves digging into her mind and revealing tiny gems she didn’t know were there.
Lauren published her first novel VIVIAN DIVINE IS DEAD in June 2014. Lauren’s next novel will be released in Fall 2015, and is entitled OUT OF MY MIND.

When a death threat arrives with teen celebrity Vivian Divine's fan mail, Vivian has no choice but to go on the run to Mexico. She soon discovers, though, that her Oscar-nominated performance killing villains on-screen did nothing to prepare her for escaping a madman in real life. Some people say he's a hero, others tremble in his presence, but one thing is clear: he won't stop until Vivian is in his grasp. Why didn't she pay more attention during those judo lessons for her role in Zombie Killer?

Vivian finds an ally in the mysterious and charming Nick. He is everything Hollywood boys are not-genuine, kind, and determined to see Vivian for who she really is. But even he seems like he can't be trusted-what could he be hiding?

Beat up, hungry, and more confused than ever about who she's running from, Vivian is living in a real-life blockbuster horror flick. But there's no option to yell "cut" like there is on set....

Lauren Sabel's
Vivian Divine Is Dead is a creepy, witty, fast-paced adventure about family, fame, and having the courage to save yourself.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Meet My Character Blog Hop

My buddy, Beth, tagged me in the Meet My Character Blog Hop. I've done several blog hops in the past, and normally when I now see them making their rounds, inside I'm all- aagh, don't tag me! - but this one I did want to participate in. Short, sweet, and you get to talk about the made-up people in your head. I'm in!
1. What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
Tam Sullivan. Yes, fictional.

2. When and where is the story set?
The Midwest, in the future after WWIII has happened.

3. What should we know about him/her?
Tam is a country girl and close to her small family: Mom, Dad, and cousin, Lo. Before tragedy struck, she was a friendly, do-anything-for-you type girl. She loves being outside and lemon pie.

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
During a trip to the city, Tam's mother was killed and she's now being held captive as a perfomer in an aerial acrobatic show. Her heart's back at the farm, but she's stuck in the Megalith, the world's tallest skyscraper where the shows are held.

5. What is the personal goal of the character?
To escape, and get herself and her cousin back to the safety of home.

6. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
Chain Gang. And no where to read more about it, though maybe one day! =)

And a few more things on this Monday:

Who doesn't love Paddington? Such a cuddly, adorable bear. I found this link through Publisher's Weekly, and at the bottom there's fun Paddington activities you can print out. If you have a few minutes, check out the movie trailer, so funny!   

Also, there's a new post up on Across the Board(the group blog I belong to) about Carrie's publishing journey. Fascinating stuff!

Have a great start to the week everyone!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A New Adventure

I am now part of a group blog! It's called Across the Board, and is made up of all types of writers. Today was our first post, so if anyone wanted to go check it out here, I'd be thrilled! Thanks! 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Author Stop: Caroline Tung Richmond

I'm a huge fan of alternate histories, so I'm hugely excited to welcome Caroline to the blog today! As always, our first question is an important one.

1. You are a professed cookie lover. Give me two of your can't-live-without favs:

Oh, tough question! Maybe this is boring but I do love the classic chocolate chip cookie—and they're even better if you sprinkle sea salt on top of them before you bake them. That little bit of saltiness makes a big difference! And when it comes to boxed cookies, you can't beat Girl Scout do-si-dos. OMG. I know thin mints get a lot of love, but have you tried do-si-dos?! Two peanut butter cookies with delicious peanut butter cream smooshed in the middle? I can eat an entire box in one sitting!

2. What was it that drew you to writing an alternate version of the outcome of WWII?

Is it okay if I have a longwinded answer? Haha.

Back in 2010, I was interested in learning more about North Korea and my husband—who spent a few years living in South Korea—recommended a memoir by a North Korean refugee called The Aquariums of PyongYang. It was a terrifying yet eye-opening read, and after I finished it I got a new idea for a book—about a girl living under a harsh regime who's determined to overthrow her country's dictator. (Oh, she also has these secret superpowers!) Originally I toyed with setting the novel in North Korea but then I let my mind wander. I've always loved alternate history and so I thought: what if I set the book in an alternate US? What if Hitler won WWII and conquered the States? I ran the idea past my agent and he gave me the thumbs up and I got crackin'!

I'd like to say that it was smooth sailing from there on out—that I banged out the draft and the book sold in days at auction—but it took me years of revising before I got this novel right. Then it was on sub for months before it finally sold. I suppose my publishing story is a lesson in Never give up! Never surrender! :)

3. Stripes or polka dots? Black or white? 

Polka dots, hands down! Funny story: just a few days ago I looked down at what I was wearing and then at what the baby was wearing and most of our clothing were covered in polka dots! Ha!

And I'll have to go with white. I love the crispness of it. It reminds me of summer too.

4. The need for diversity in kidlit has been a much talked about subject lately. Your mc, Zara, is of mixed heritage. Do you feel like THE ONLY THING TO FEAR would appeal to young adults(and the not-so-young) who are looking for more diversity in their characters?

Yes, that is my humble hope! Growing up, I yearned to find books with Asian-American characters but often came up empty. And so, I try to include diverse characters in all of my novels, like Zara in THE ONLY THING TO FEAR. I wanted her to be biracial in particular because my little daughter is biracial too. She's far too young to tackle TOTtF anytime soon but one day I'd love to hand her the book and tell her, "I wrote this for you, even before you were born."

5. What is one of your fav line(s) from TOTTF? 

I actually haven't looked at TOTtF in months because every time I peek at its pages I just want to start editing all over again but I'll look through it for you, Leandra! Aren't I a dedicated interviewee? Haha. Let's see... One line that I've always liked takes place in a scene where Zara reminisces about her mother, who died when Zara was a young girl. Zara really looked up to her mom, and she thinks to herself: "The ache of missing her never went away." This is a line that has personal meaning to me too because my sister-in-law passed away in 2011. She was the best person I knew—bright and funny and with the kindest heart—and the ache of missing her never goes away either.

* * * 

I love what Caroline plans to tell her daughter someday. What a special gift! And speaking of gifts, if you'd like to be entered to win a $5 Amazon gift card, just leave a comment and please follow Caroline at one or more of her social media links. Winner will be announced in the comments and via Twitter on 10/9.

Caroline Tung Richmond is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the BALTIMORE SUN, HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHILDREN, and, among other publications. The THE ONLY THING TO FEAR is her debut novel.

A self-proclaimed history nerd and cookie connoisseur, Caroline lives in the Washington, DC, area with her husband; their daughter; and the family dog, Otto von Bismarck named for the German chancellor (naturally).

Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest 
In a stunning reimagining of history, debut author Caroline Tung Richmond weaves an incredible story of secrets and honor in a world where Hitler won World War II.

It's been nearly 80 years since the Allies lost WWII in a crushing defeat against Hitler's genetically engineered super soldiers. America has been carved up by the victors, and 16-year-old Zara lives a life of oppression in the Eastern America Territories. Under the iron rule of the Nazis, the government strives to maintain a master race, controlling everything from jobs to genetics. Despite her mixed heritage and hopeless social standing, Zara dreams of the free America she's only read about in banned books. A revolution is growing, and a rogue rebel group is plotting a deadly coup. Zara might hold the key to taking down the Führer for good, but it also might be the very thing that destroys her. Because what she has to offer the rebels is something she's spent her entire life hiding, under threat of immediate execution by the Nazis.

In this action-packed, heart-stopping novel of a terrifying reality that could have been, Zara must decide just how far she'll go for freedom.

* * * 

Congratulations, Caroline! I hope you and THE ONLY THING TO FEAR take the book world by storm!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Guest Post: Vanessa Barger

Today we've got a special treat on the blog: Vanessa Barger, author of A WHISPERED DARKNESS, will be showing us who she imagines playing some of her characters. And as a baker, she's also pairing them w/desserts! Take it away, ma'am!

* * *


This was such a cool guest blog idea! Thanks Leandra for having me and for coming up with something so fun!

I’m thrilled to be able to give you my dream casting for A WHISPERED DARKNESS. But unlike the other casting posts you’ve seen, Leandra also told me to tell you what dessert would be matched to each character. So I’ve got a really fun post for you!

I love to bake, so if you click the link, it’ll take you to a recipe for the dessert associated with each character!

Claire - Stephanie Honoré

She looks just like I pictured Claire. ☺ As Claire enjoys the sweet stuff, but not too sweet, her dessert would be a Victoria Sponge. (And if you’ve never tried one, they’re DELICIOUS!)


Haven - Alex Pettyfer
When I first thought of Haven, this is who I “cast” him with in my head. Haven isn’t as fond of sweets, so for him, his perfect dessert would be an apple crisp.

Bryan -Chris Sheffield

He’d have to have dark hair of course, but he seems like he could go between adorable and scary pretty well. ☺ Bryan’s dessert would be something dark and decadent – a German Chocolate Cake, for instance.


Mrs. Mallory – Patricia Clarkson

She can be serious or silly, but I think she’d be the perfect actress to play Mrs. Mallory, with her decent into possession and becoming someone else. Since in the book she’s not quite herself, I’ll give you a dessert she might have liked while possessed by a Victorian – Shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate!


Grant – Thomas Brodie-Sangster

Come on, who wouldn’t want this for a little brother? He’s still a kid at heart, so he likes the sweet stuff, but he likes to almost be a grown up. He’s a fan of Panna Cotta with Strawberry Syrup. Think grown up jello and deliciousness.

Melanie – Jenna Coleman

Now you have to imagine her “gothed” up, but she can definitely do the attitude that goes with Melanie. Her dessert would be something weird and different, but not really too different. Cookie butter! (Never heard of it? You HAVE to try it.)


* * *

Cookie butter? COOKIE butter? Cookie BUTTER? How have I not heard of this?! I instantly ran to Google, folks, and it is a real thing:

Image courtesy of

Thanks, Vanessa, I am ever indebted to you(because cookie butter). And thanks for a fantastic post, it was a pleasure to learn a bit about your characters. As well as getting my taste buds all hyped up! =D 

Amazon | B&N | IndieBound
When Claire Mallory's father leaves, her mom moves them to a new town and into a dilapidated Victorian house. The old house creaks and whistles, and smells . . . well, like it's been abandoned for years. But as the nights grow longer and the shadows take on substance, Claire wonders if the strange sounds and occurrences might be more than the house showing its age. Just as things start to pick up in Claire's love life, her mother becomes possessed. 
In an attempt to save her mother and their new home, Claire enlists the help of two boys, each of whom is interested in Claire for very different reasons. As she chooses one boy over the other, something dangerous is unleashed, and the spirits make their move. They aren’t content to moan and scream inside Claire’s house, or even control her mom. They want a taste of freedom, and they'll use Claire to get it. But is Claire strong enough to fight off the evil spirits, or will they claim her and her mom before it's all over?

Vanessa Barger was born in West Virginia, and through several moves ended up spending the majority of her life in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is a graduate of George Mason University and Old Dominion University, and has degrees in Graphic Design, a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, and a Masters in Technology Education. She has had articles published in Altered Arts Magazine, has had some artwork displayed in galleries in Ohio and online, and currently teaches engineering, practical physics, drafting and other technological things to high school students in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She is a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and the Virginia Writer's Club. When not writing or teaching, she’s a bookaholic, movie fanatic, and loves to travel. She has one cat, who believes Vanessa lives only to open cat food cans, and can often be found baking when she should be editing.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

SWAG Giveaway!

I recently went through my desk drawers and found I was guilty of hoarding swag. I had lots of multiples of the same thing, so I've divided them into two piles and I'm gonna ship it out for someone else to enjoy! Just leave a comment, and two random entrants will be picked. Winners will be updated on Twitter and in the comments on 9/30.  
Here are the goods:

The larger buttons are from Kate DiCamillo's, Flora and Ulysses. 

I also picked this bookmark up at my local bookstore, and since I haven't read the book and have no particular ties to this prettiness(tho the movie trailer does make me well up), I'm giving it away, too.

Also, since I know there's not much to say in the way of comments for these types of things(besides I want, gimme!) how about you guys tell me what are some of your favorite things about fall? 
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