Thursday, January 15, 2015

Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop!

Welcome to the Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop, hosted by Dreaming of Books and I Am a Reader Not a Writer! I love blog hops because so many people win fabulous prizes (and I usually discover lots of new and great blogs!)

Don't know how to hop? Simply enter my Rafflecopter contest (below) and then follow along the list of Blogs in the Linky at the bottom. There will be a great new prize at every stop!

I'm offering an awesome prize for one lucky International winner:

A digital copy of my new YA novel, FOREIGN EXCHANGE


An audiobook of my YA novel, NEVER ENOUGH!

Here's a little more about these books...

Jamie Monroe has always played it safe. That is, until her live-for-the-moment best friend, Tristan, jets off to Italy on a student exchange program. Left alone with her part-time mother and her disabled brother, Jamie discovers that she is quite capable of taking her own risks, starting with her best friend’s hotter-than-hot older brother, Sawyer. Sawyer and Tristan have been neighbors for years, but as Jamie grows closer to the family she thought she knew, she discovers some pretty big secrets—not only from her, but from each other. 

As she sinks deeper into their web of pretense, she suspects that her best friend may not be on a safe exchange program at all. Jamie sets off to Europe on a class trip with plans to meet up with Tristan, but when Tristan stops all communication, suddenly no one seems trustworthy, least of all the one person she was starting to trust—Sawyer. 


From the author of Losing Faith, a novel about two sisters and the eating disorder that threatens to destroy their family.

Loann’s always wanted to be popular and pretty like her sister, Claire. So when Claire’s ex-boyfriend starts flirting with her, Loann is willing to do whatever it takes to feel special… even if that means betraying her sister.

But as Loann slips inside Claire’s world, she discovers that everything is not as it seems. Claire’s quest for perfection is all-consuming, and comes at a dangerous price. As Claire increasingly withdraws from friends and family, Loann struggles to understand her and make amends. Can she heal their relationship —and her sister—before it’s too late?

And here is a little teaser excerpt from FOREIGN EXCHANGE. (Hint: you'll have to read it to earn an extra point for the giveaway!)


“Hi,” I say when I find Sawyer at his locker. My face is beaming like someone plugged me into a wall socket.
“Jamie.” He smiles back, but his eyes are rimmed with red like he's really tired. “Have you heard from my sister again?”
Not exactly the topic of conversation I'd hoped for. I nod. “I got another email. She got to Milan fine and is settling in.”
Sawyer pulls out his phone. He looks at me, then at his phone, then back at me again.
“She's...everything's okay with the exchange program?” he asks. His words are tentative.
“Tristan's fine, Sawyer. She says the schoolwork is going to be harder than expected because of not speaking Italian, but otherwise she's great. She loves Europe.” He looks at his phone again. I put my hand out. “Here, you want me to show you the email?”
He hands me his phone. It takes me a minute to figure out how to log in through his browser, but I hope I can put his mind at rest. My email is coming up on the screen when the first bell rings. I have English first class and my teacher's a real stickler about tardiness. I glance down the hall toward my locker.
“You go,” Sawyer says, his palm open for his phone. “I'll look it over and see you in class later. Okay?”
“I—” I’m not sure what to say. Tristan’s been talking about finding my dad in her emails. It’s our big secret and she’d been adamant about not sharing it with anybody. But I think I can trust Sawyer. And, after all, it is my secret to keep. If I’m making a mistake it’ll only hurt me. “Okay,” I say, finally, passing his phone back to him. Our fingers brush against each other, but we don’t have time to let them linger.
By the time I get to English, I'm thinking of another problem. Tristan hadn't wanted me to tell anyone about her modeling over there. I’ll have to tell Sawyer not to mention it.
When I dash into class later, Sawyer’s already seated in his usual seat with his head down. He's flipping through something on his phone, and again I think about signing him into my email earlier. Instead of feeling nervous, after having some time to think about it, trusting him makes me feel closer to him. Like we share our private emails with each other all the time.
“Hey.” I sit down beside him.
He finishes typing something, and then shoves his phone away before Mr. Echols catches sight of it. “Hey,” he says finally, smiling over at me. He still looks really tired.
“Everything okay?” I ask.
He blinks a few times, looking down, and I wonder if he isn't okay. Is something really wrong? “Do you...” he trails off and seems to rethink what he's saying. “Do you think with the program... do you think everything's okay about that? I don't know what's going on, but maybe...I mean, I think maybe Tristan’s over there trying to model.”
I swallow hard. This is the moment of truth, where I have to decide how much I can trust him.
But his pause is barely long enough for me to open my mouth. “I need to get on that class trip, Jamie. I need to stop my sister from doing anything stupid.”
A host of emotions rush through me. Fear, anger, betrayal.
“Wait, what?” I ask him. “You're going to try to get on the class trip so you can interfere with Tristan's dream?” Tristan’s told me how jealous he can be. How he’s done this before.
Sawyer looks over at me with wide eyes, like he can't believe I'm calling him out on it.
Mr. Echols interrupts us, starting class, but I'm too upset to pay attention to a single word he's saying.
Sawyer passes me a note halfway through class.
I’m seriously worried about my sister, Jamie. I have to tell you more about the program. Just hear me out. Please?

I keep my eyes from Sawyer for the rest of class. I'm sure he knows I'm angry, but he doesn't try to talk to me again, at least for now. I'm even angry at myself for getting so caught up in my feelings for him and not noticing all the things that Tristan's warned me about. 

Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter below before heading on to the next blog in the Blog Hop to enter to win a digital copy of FOREIGN EXCHANGE and an audio copy of NEVER ENOUGH!

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Evernight Teen Birthday Blog Hop, Featuring Original First Pages of FOREIGN EXCHANGE!

Happy Birthday to EVERNIGHT TEEN!

EVERNIGHT TEEN turns two this month and we’re having a huge party to celebrate! It may be EVERNIGHT TEEN’s birthday, but you get the presents. So, grab a piece of cake, hop from blog-to-blog and discover EVERNIGHT TEEN!

Be sure to visit every stop on the hop and answer each question. The more blogs you hop to, the more chances to win the GRAND PRIZE of an iPad Mini sponsored by EVERNIGHT TEEN (one entry per blog). Plus, hop to each blog for a host of other fabulous prizes.

Have your TBR list handy because we have lots of new titles for you to add, including my featured book, FOREIGN EXCHANGE:

Jamie Monroe has always played it safe. That is, until her live-for-the-moment best friend, Tristan, jets off to Italy on a student exchange program. Left alone with her part-time mother and her disabled brother, Jamie discovers that she is quite capable of taking her own risks, starting with her best friend’s hotter-than-hot older brother, Sawyer. Sawyer and Tristan have been neighbors for years, but as Jamie grows closer to the family she thought she knew, she discovers some pretty big secrets.
As she sinks deeper into their web of pretense, she suspects that her best friend may not be on a safe exchange program at all. Jamie sets off to Europe on a class trip with plans to meet up with Tristan, but when Tristan stops all communication, suddenly no one seems trustworthy, least of all the one person she was starting to trust—Sawyer. 

I had a lot of fun writing about Jamie, Sawyer, and Tristan in many different situations before I found the perfect opening. As a special surprise, I've shared below my very first pages of the first draft of this book. I hope you enjoy this early excerpt!

Chapter One
             It should be illegal for girls over five-seven to wear heels. And I’m not saying that because I’m jealous. Believe me. It’s just that when you’re five-two and not a lesbian, there are better ways to spend your day than staring at forty-eight female breasts.
            And to be honest, they all look the same from this angle.
            But then, I guess that’s the point, isn’t it? To look like a herd of perfect, beautiful, tall bodies. That’s why people will come to this fashion show. To see beautiful bodies in beautiful clothing. That’s why it will pay my way to Spain.
            The actual show isn’t for two weeks, Labor Day Weekend, right before school starts up. It’s billed as a back-to-school event, but looking over the rack of outfits the stores are supplying, I’m sure our crowd will be made up of mainly skanky over-forty women and leery-eyed men.
            “Can these hemlines get any higher?” my best friend Tristan asks, spinning in front of the mirror to see if her underwear shows. If she’s wearing any, that is. If there are two things I’ve learned about models in the last six weeks they’re these:
1.      Models are not shy about their bodies. By not shy, I mean they’d walk through the mall in their own bra, or even without it, if it meant getting to the stage on time.
2.      If models wear any underwear at all, it’s usually thinner than the dental floss in my bathroom cabinet.
“Any cheek, Jamie?” Tristan is the one and only model I’ve ever met who cares at least a little bit about how much of her goods she’s showing. But she’s still ruled by the dental-floss underwear rule.
“Yeah, there’s cheek,” I tell her with a smirk. “But not under the dress.”
If Tristan’s one thing, it’s cheeky. She’s also smart, funny, beautiful, popular, and fiercely loyal. To me. Which means I’m fiercely loyal right back. 

You can read the final version of the first chapter at

Enter for a chance to win EVERNIGHT TEEN’s GRAND PRIZE of an iPad Mini and my blog prize (a digital copy of FOREIGN EXCHANGE!) by answering this question (be sure to include your email address to be eligible to win):

Have you ever had a good friend who was the opposite of you in some way? In what way was he/she different?

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Monday, December 29, 2014

The Ups and Downs of 2014

Ahhh, 2014. It's been a slice, you've held some amazing moments, but I have to say, I'm glad you're almost over.

1. 2014 was the year my son and I started working as background actors in TV and movies. Lots of fun, but this has also kept our lives very busy. We've learned to use the time to get homeschool work and writing done, so it has ended up being a very useful job for both of us. Plus, the extra money is nice.

2. Family-wise, our son turned 11, and is quickly becoming a young man. We didn't do much traveling this year, other than the odd trip to Seattle. My husband wasn't working as much as he has in the past, which left us without much money and in each other's space much more than usual. But...iron sharpens iron. My husband and I celebrated our 20-year anniversary in 2014, and we are expecting 20 more even better years. We are amazed that even after 20 years, we still continually learn new things about each other and ourselves and how to best get along in life.

3. In 2014 I released two new books--FAST FICTION for writers, and FOREIGN EXCHANGE for readers. Releasing a nonfiction book with a small press was a huge confidence-builder for me, Honestly, there are times that I still don't completely believe I did it. Working with New World Library taught me a lot about writing nonfiction, and about being a radio-show guest--all a little nerve wracking, but I came out a stronger person on the other side. As for FOREIGN EXCHANGE, this novel holds a special place in my heart, so it was with some disappointment that I saw it release with little fanfare, at least in comparison with my other books. I'm still thrilled that it is out and available in the world, of course, thrilled that I can hold a copy in my hands, but I hope it will find more of a readership in 2015.

4. I took on a couple of projects this year (a writing contest and a homeschool co-op), without thinking clearly about how I would fit them into my life. You see, I'm already a busy homeschooling mom, who tries to fit writing and book promotion somewhere into her schedule. I really didn't have time for extra big projects. But I love to be a part of things--especially writing or homeschool related things. And sometimes I just don't plan out my schedule as well as I should. So I think the biggest thing that made this year difficult for me is that I overextended myself. And once I commit to something, I won't back out of it. So I ended the year feeling a bit exhausted, but with better, more realistic plans for 2015.

5. Speaking of which...this is the first year I've taken a full month off of writing since I began writing in 2003. I've mentioned before that taking time off of writing usually leaves me feeling grumpy and unsociable, just because I'm not stoking my creative juices. But I was just so overdone about so many things that I needed the break. So I took one. I tried to be ungrumpy and sociable. I don't think I did too badly through the holidays. But now, as I feared, I'm having a hard time thinking about going back to writing. Maybe I need a longer break. Or maybe it's just the business of publishing is getting me down again (as it often does). We will see what 2015 holds in that regard.

6. In 2014 I met my teen idol! If you don't follow me on Facebook, you may have missed this story, and I didn't get a chance to go into the details, so let me share those now.

When I was 16, I watched General Hospital religiously. I would leave the beach on vacation to go back to my hotel room so I didn't miss an episode. The draw for me, specifically, was Frisco Jones, played by Jack Wagner.

I grew up, eventually, and stopped stalking Jack's appearances on prime time Melrose Place, and eventually stopped thinking about him altogether. But in mid-November, out of the blue, I had a dream that I showed up to work on set and Jack Wagner was there. I didn't think anything of it until I was booked on a locally filming show the next week and showed up to look at the call sheet. I couldn't believe it when I saw his name there! I was not scheduled to work with him at all, but fate intervened, and I ended up in a very small scene--just me and the three main actors. I just about died when Jack Wagner walked up to me, hand outstretched, and said, "Hi, I'm Jack."

I held my professionalism until filming was finished, but then I admit, my inner teen fangirl had to get out and tell him how much I worshiped him as a teen. He graciously joked with me about it and offered to take a picture with me. This day was definitely one of the highlights of my year!

Those are a few of my highlights and lowlights from 2014. Even the lowlights I wouldn't trade...they've helped me grow as a person and understand my limitations and where I want to put my energy. I'm excited for 2015, for new books to come out (I should have more info about that soon!) and I'll be performing with my Polynesian dance troupe on a cruise to Hawaii! Just a couple of things I'm looking forward to.

I hope you've had some wonderful highlights to look back on from 2014, and I wish you a 2015 filled with peace and joy and all of the best opportunities and experiences!

Blessings from our house to yours...


Sunday, December 28, 2014

My Favorite Books Read in 2014!

I read over 70 books this year, and while that may seem like an impressive amount, it's actually down quite a bit from my 2013 total. But this year I was determined to not set a reading goal (well, actually I set it at 10 books, but I knew I would read at least that many). Instead, I wanted to read when I wanted to read and what I wanted to read, not feeling a push to get more and more reading in, like I did last year.

So, because of that, I have lots of favorites this year. I'll try and give a quick sentence or two about why I loved each book here. I hope you'll check some of them out (and also I'd love to hear about your favorite books read in 2014!)

In no particular order...

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas - What a well-plotted mystery! At some point I suspected almost everyone in the book of the murder, and I was flipping pages furiously to find out.

17563833I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson - There's been so much buzz about this book, I'm not sure I need to say anything more here. But I will say that Jandy Nelson's writing is evocative and exquisite, and I aspire to write as well as her one day.

Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez - I love everything Jessica writes, but this is probably my favorite. It combines her usual literary style with a thriller-esque mystery. Very engaging!

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith - An unusually set romance, combined with a road trip and many interesting locales. Loved it!
Anywhere but Here
Just One Night by Gayle Forman - This was actually a novella, but it's exactly what was needed to complete two of my all-time favorite novels, Just One Day and Just One Year.

Anywhere But Here by Tanya Lloyd Kyi - This book deserved more notice. One of the best male point of view YA's I've read in a long time.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han - One of my favorite romances of the year, by one of my favorite romance writers. I've heard there's a sequel, which I'm super-excited for.

Don't Even Think About it by Sarah Mylnowski - I needed a few laughs this year too, and this book definitely fit the bill. It was one of those books where I kept waking my husband up with my sniggering.

Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally - Miranda always belongs on my favorite lists. Her romances are so engaging, I could easily drop everything in my life to just read for two days straight.

OCD Love StoryJust One Year by Gayle Forman - One of my all time favorite books. I love taking travels through these characters' eyes. I will read this one again and again (and I cannot wait for the movie!)

OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu - I already know Corey Ann will be one of my favorite authors for many years to come. Her sharp witty writing and engaging plots make her books un-put-down-able.

Those are a few of my favorites! Now I'd love to hear some of yours.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season and an amazing 2015!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Thorough New Resource and #Giveaway: Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents!

When I look at most publishing reference guides, my gut reaction is to think they’ll be outdated before they hit the shelves. So much in publishing changes so quickly! But I knew from the moment I scanned the table of contents from Jeff Herman’s GUIDE TO BOOK PUBLISHERS, EDITORS &LITERARY AGENTS, this would be more than just a reference book. This would be a book I would enjoy.

His Advice For Writers section includes such helpful topics as Dumb-Ass Random Questions and Answers, and Find Your Passion and Piss it Away. These give you some idea of the kind of humor Herman infuses into his writing. The how-to section is thoroughly entertaining and informative. This is a great resource for beginning writers, breaking down the job of a literary agent and the process of writing the perfect query letter, but also addresses topics for the more seasoned author, such  as dealing with Ignored Writer Syndrome and Post-Publication Depression.

If only the advice section was included in this book, it would be worth the price of admission, but moving further into the bowels of the book, I was pleasantly surprised to find amazingly up-to-date and comprehensive listings for everything from literary agents to publishers (big, independent, and university), as well as freelance editors. They even had a section listing Canadian publishers. I discovered many, many publishers that were new to me. I love the way Herman delves deep with many of the literary agents listed within the book, so writers will have a sense of who they are and where their tastes lie.

I’m not alone in finding great value in this book! Meg Cabot says, “I got my agent by using this guide!” Nicholas Sparks says, “I highly recommend Jeff Herman’s Guide. It was the most helpful book I bought about how to get published.”
When I was asked if I would like to review a copy of this book, I jumped at the chance. I was offered either a print or digital copy, and I chose print, letting the publicist know I would gladly give it away on my blog when I was done reviewing it. Boy, am I regretting that offer now! I would love to keep this baby on my shelf, and whoever receives my copy is getting a treasure that will serve you as a reference for many years to come.

Fill out the rafflecopter below to enter to win. (Sorry, this is a hefty book, and I’ll only be able to mail out within the US using media mail. But if you’re an international reader and would still like to enter, I’ll offer an ebook of my new young adult novel, FOREIGN EXCHANGE, to one international winner).

More about this book:

If you want to get published, read this book!

Jeff Herman’s Guide unmasks nonsense, clears confusion, and unlocks secret doorways to success for new and veteran writers! This highly respected resource is used by publishing insiders everywhere and has been read by millions all over the world.

Jeff Herman’s Guide is the writer’s best friend. It reveals the names, interests, and contact information of thousands of agents and editors. It presents invaluable information about more than 350 publishers and imprints (including Canadian and university presses), lists independent book editors who can help you make your work more publisher-friendly, and helps you spot scams. Jeff Herman’s Guide unseals the truth about how to outsmart the gatekeepers, break through the barriers, and decipher the hidden codes to getting your book published. 

Countless writers have achieved their highest aspirations by following Herman’s outside-the-box strategies. If you want to reach the top of your game and transform rejections into contracts, you need this book! Jeff Herman’s Guide will educate you, inspire you, and become your virtual entourage at every step along the exhilarating journey to publication. Ask anyone in the book business, and they will refer you to Jeff Herman’s Guide.

NEW for 2015: Comprehensive index listing dozens of subjects and categories to help you find the perfect publisher or agent.

“I highly recommmend Jeff Herman’s Guide. It was the most helpful book I bought about how to get published.”
— Nicholas Sparks, New York Times bestselling author of The Notebook

“I got my agent by using this guide!”
— Meg Cabot, New York Times bestselling author

“Nothing beats Jeff Herman’s Guide.”
— Jack Canfield, coauthor, Chicken Soup for the Soul series

“Jeff Herman has done a service to every writer who wants to make a living in this business. Every author should have a copy on their shelf.”
— Chip MacGregor, literary agent

“Everything you need to get started.”
— Cheryl Richardson, New York Times bestselling author

Jeff Herman’s Guide remains the Rosetta Stone of writerly success.”
— James Broderick, PhD,

About the Author

Jeff Herman, a successful literary agent, has sold more than a thousand books to dozens of publishers and, since 1990, mentored millions of writers through this guidebook

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