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Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Four

1. I'm off to help out with another bodybuilding show this weekend, this one in Seattle. I admit, I'm hoping for a repeat scenario where I have lots of time and focus for plotting. I've been plotting three books at once lately, which is very strange for me. I'm usually very singly-focused.

2. I've been reading lots of great books lately. AMY AND ROGER'S EPIC DETOUR by Morgan Matson was full of awesome. It was a road trip story, and I don't think there have been many road trip stories that I have not enjoyed. (Another great one of these was Albert Borris's CRASH INTO ME).  I'm open to suggestions if you know of more great road trip YA books. At the moment I'm reading FIXING DELILAH by Sarah Ockler--another Contemps Challenge book and very engaging, as well as listening to WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE by Sarah Dessen on audio. Yes, I seem to like authors named Sarah. But come to think of it, aren't there an awful lot of amazing authors named Sarah? *considers name change*

3. People often ask me how many books I've written, and to be honest, I have a really hard time with this question. The more I learn about writing, the more I look back on earlier novels and realize they are far from being done. So my answer usually goes something like this: "I have written around eight novels that are in various stages of revision. Two of them are complete - one in bookstores and another is coming out next summer." But that always feels so vague. Yet, I fear if I was to give a complete picture, the explanation would be very confusing and people would regret that they'd asked. How do you answer this question? (Or do you find it a really simple one and think I'm crazy for over-analyzing it?)

4. My second book, NEVER ENOUGH, has apparently gone off to copy edits. I find this equally exciting and terrifying. I'm hoping to have a cover to show you next week!

Happy weekend to you all! I *think* we will finally have some sunshine.

Monday, July 25, 2011

GCC Presents Jennifer Echols and LOVE STORY!

From Jennifer Echols, the award-winning author of Going Too Far and Forget You, comes LOVE STORY(Gallery Books; July 19, 2011; $11.00), a provocative and powerful story of teen romance, set against the bustling world of a New York City university.

For Erin Blackwell, majoring in creative writing at the New York City college of her dreams is more than a chance to fulfill her ambitions – it’s her ticket away from the tragic memories that shadow her family’s racehorse farm in Kentucky. But when she refuses to major in business and take over the farm herself someday, her grandmother gives Erin’s college tuition and promised inheritance to their maddeningly handsome stable boy, Hunter Allen. Now Erin has to win an internship and work late nights at a local coffee shop to make her own dreams a reality. She should despise Hunter… so why does he sneak into her thoughts as the hero of her latest writing assignment? 

Then, on the day she’s sharing that assignment with her class, Hunter walks in. He’s joining her class. And after he reads about himself in her story, her private fantasies about him must be painfully clear. She only hopes to persuade him not to reveal her secret to everyone else. But Hunter devises his own creative revenge, writing sexy stories that drive the whole class wild with curiosity and fill Erin’s heart with longing. Now she’s not just imagining what might have been. She’s writing a whole new ending for her romance with Hunter… except this story could come true.

“A tremendously talented writer with a real gift for developing relationships.”
– Romantic Times Magazine

JENNIFER ECHOLS is the author of teen romantic dramas for MTV Books and teen romantic comedies for Simon Pulse. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her family. Please visit her online at

Congratulations, Jennifer! She stopped by for a short interview:
Tell me about your book in seven words or less.
Erin writes about Hunter. He finds out!

Other than your main character, who's a favorite character of yours in your novel and why?
I love Erin’s best friend and roommate, Summer. Sometimes I like to create tension between the heroine and her best girlfriend, but this time I had fun writing this girl who is wholly supportive of Erin and has a pure, innocent spirit.

What's one piece of writing advice you would give to aspiring authors?
Write the book you want to read.

What did you write when you were a teen? Did you journal? Write poetry? Write overly literary or emotional stories? Or avoid writing altogether?
My ninth grade English teacher made us keep a journal. I wrote stories, poems, and (I thought) funny entries about my life, and I credit that experience with getting me started as a writer. It is one thing to talk about writing and a totally different thing to actually do it.

What's the last book you read that you really loved?
CHARLIE ALL NIGHT by Jennifer Crusie. I have not read all Crusie’s adult romantic comedies, but I have read a lot of them. This was not anywhere near my favorite of her books, but it is STILL one of my all-time favorite romances. I love being a fangirl of an author whose books I KNOW will be terrific, and I’m so glad I have more of her books left to read.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Four

1. I just got back from Sunny Sacramento...sunny being the key word there. Where IS our sunshine, by the way? I had a great time away. Spent one very long day tabulating a bodybuilding competition (my husband was a judge). In between categories, I replotted my current WIP, so it was also a useful day! Besides that, I toured San Francisco and spent lots of time relaxing by the pool. It was exactly what I needed.

2. I had a birthday yesterday...a little sad, since it's my first birthday without my dad. But I was seriously completely overwhelmed by all the birthday messages yesterday. They did make me feel very loved, so thank you all!

3. My family gave me an enormous set of cutlery (you should see my mish-mashed selection, sans teaspoons!) and also some money toward an e-reader. I've been asking on Twitter for e-reader recommendations, but I also wanted to ask here. Do you have a favorite? And why do you love the one you love? I definitely want a black and white one with e-ink, since I really need something easy on the eyes, but I'm not sure what else is important to me yet. What is important to you in an e-reader?

4. I may have mentioned this last week, but this coming Sunday I'll be in Snohomish, WA. If you're in the area, I hope you'll stop by the KlaHaYa Days festival and say hi to me and Mindi Scott (We'll both be hanging around chatting and signing books from 3-4 PM).

I can't believe it's the weekend! Coming back from holidays on a Wednesday night and then having a birthday is totally where it's at! This has felt like one very, very long weekend!! What are you up to this weekend?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

GCC Presents Melissa Walker and SMALL TOWN SINNERS!


 “A devilishly good read.” —Lauren Myracle, NY Times bestselling author of Shine


Small Town Sinners is the story of Lacey Anne, daughter of the pastor and perennial good girl, who is eligible for a lead role in the season’s Hell House production—a role she’s been coveting for years. But when Ty moves to town as casting begins, a new perspective is added to Lacey Anne’s world and she starts to see her tight-knit, Evangelical community in a different light. With the help of her two best friends Starla Joy and Dean, and her potential first love Ty, Lacey Anne begins exploring her own thoughts and feelings about her religion, her community, and her place within both. While this novel deals with provocative issues like religion, teen pregnancy and underage drinking, it is not an “issue” book; the topics are masterfully interwoven into this story of friendship and family.

Early readers agree:
“Small Town Sinners shines a light on the fascinating world of the teenage Hell House. Sit back and let Melissa Walker be your guide. She writes without a shred of judgment and plenty of heart.” —Dana Reinhardt, author of A Brief Chapter of My Impossible Life

“Walker is sympathetic and respectful of her characters’ faith, while putting on display the shocking extremist scare tactics that make Hell Houses, well, hellish.” —Donna Freitas, author of This Gorgeous Game and The Possibilities of Sainthood.

“A non-judgmental, nuanced, fascinating look at the teenage religious right… Walker writes an outstanding contemporary novel with a cast of characters who, far from being portrayed as hateful zealots, are relatable for readers of all faiths. The extremism of Hell House is tempered by the perfectly understandable attitudes and intentions of Lacey Anne, who struggles with what it means to grow up, to question and to think for herself.” –Romantic Times

“Both tender and provocative… Walker creates an astutely balanced portrait of a conservative congregation’s in-your-face response to perennial issues of domestic abuse, teen pregnancy, and suicide, as well as of those who struggle to fit the prescribed Christian mold.” –Publishers Weekly
“This secular story about religious people could easily devolve into camp mockery, but because Walker takes her character’s crisis of faith seriously and sensitively, readers will, too.” –Kirkus Reviews

MELISSA WALKER: Melissa has worked as ELLEgirl Features Editor and Seventeen Prom Editor. She is the author of the Violet on the Runway series as well as Lovestruck Summer. Melissa manages I Heart Daily, an e-newsletter and blogs for ReaderGirlz, an online community for teens.


1. Tell me about your book in seven words or less.
Religious small town girl meets curious boy.

2. Other than your main character, who's a favorite character of yours in your novel and why?
I really like Tessa, the older sister of my main character's best friend. She radiates positivity and confidence, and whenever I wrote about her I could picture her inner glow.

3. What's one piece of writing advice you would give to aspiring authors?
Read everything, good and bad! The good will give you something to aspire to; the bad will make you think, "Hey, maybe I can do this too!" (At least it did for me.)

4. What did you write when you were a teen? Did you journal? Write poetry? Write overly literary or emotional stories? Or avoid writing altogether?
I wrote articles for my yearbook and school newspaper, but I also kept a journal that was FILLED with angst and emotion. I still love to reread it (even when it makes me cringe).

5. What's the last book you read that you really loved?
I adored Tara Altebrando's DREAMLAND SOCIAL CLUB. I got so lost in the characters' world that I would be disoriented when I looked up from the book (I love it when that happens).

Melissa also holds regular contests on her blog. Check out July's contest here. Congratulations to Melissa and SMALL TOWN SINNERS!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Four

1. For those of you haven't heard me shouting from the rooftops (aka: Twitter/Facebook) my new novel finally has a title, and I'm absolutely in love with it. It will be called:


and it is tentatively slated to release July 10th, 2012. YAY!!! More to come soon in the way of summary and cover art...

2. I'll be signing books and hanging out to talk with people at the KlaHaYa Days Festival in Snohomish Washington. The festival takes place July 22-23rd, and Uppercase Books will have a booth showcasing different authors during the event. I'll be there (along with the fabulous Mindi Scott) from 3-4 PM on Sunday, July 23rd. If you're around the area, I hope you'll stop by and say hi.

3. I think I need to take a tutorial on iTunes. I love my iPhone, I really do. And I love audiobooks. But often putting the two together is just one big recipe for crazy-making. What if each CD of an audiobook is simply labeled Track 1 - Track 10? All the track 1's from each CD get mish-mashed together. I know there must be a smart way to get around this. But obviously that would take a smarter person than I.

4. I'm getting ready to head down to Sacramento for a few days to visit friends and help out with their bodybuilding competition (my husband and I used to run bodybuilding competitions). I'm really looking forward to seeing my friends, but also? I'm very-much looking forward to seeing the sun. Summer in B.C., so far hasn't been terribly dry or warm.

Happy weekend to all of you! Hope where ever you are that there is sunshine to brighten your day!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday Recommendation: INCONVENIENT by Margie Gelbwasser

I don't have an author interview for this Tuesday, so instead I've been thinking about a book I can highlight. Tara Kelly recently started a Realistic Revolution on her blog, where she asked her readers for suggestions of contemporary realistic fiction, with a focus on books that have been overlooked, or may not have gotten the attention they deserve.

I've recently read lots of books I've really loved, but one in particular that I think falls into this category. I'm not a book reviewer, but just want to throw this out as suggestions, if you're looking for something contemporary to read.

Inconvenient by Margie Gelbwasser. Here's the summary from GoodReads:

In fifteen-year-old Alyssa Bondar's Russian-Jewish culture, having a few drinks is as traditional as blinchiki and piroshki. So when her mom's midday cocktails turn into an all-day happy hour, it seems like Alyssa's the only one who notices—or cares. Her dad is steeped in the nightly news—and denial—and her best friend Lana is too busy trashing their shared Russian heritage so she can be popular.

Alyssa would rather focus on cross-country meets and her first kiss with her running partner, Keith, but someone has to clean up her mom's mess. But who will be there to catch Alyssa when her mom's next fall off the wagon threatens to drag her down, too?

I finished reading this book in a few short days. The characters drew me in and the writing was wonderful. I know people usually want to rush out and read The Next Popular Book, but I encourage you to take time to look for some lesser-known gems as well.

Do you have any lesser-known gems you want to recommend?

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Couple of Friday Things...

First, Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian friends!!!

Secondly, because I have strong doubts about being back on the blog before Monday, Happy 4th of July to all my American friends!!!

Thirdly, I'm super-busy trying to get these revisions done, but I hope to have some exciting things to share about this new book by next week!

And lastly, I wanted to share a special book with you that came out this week. If you are a fan of contemporary fiction (as I am), if there's one book you should buy this year, it should be this one:

And I'll tell you why...

First of all, if you haven't read a verse novel by Lisa Schroeder, you're missing out. But besides that, Lisa has done an incredible job this year of giving contemporary YA fiction a solid place in the book market through spearheading The Contemps.

I want more great contemporary fiction to get published and I want to thank Lisa for everything she's done to bring contemporary fiction into the spotlight. What better way to thank an author than by buying their latest book? So I'll be picking up a copy of this as soon as can get my hands on it. And I hope you will too! Thanks Lisa!!

Happy holiday weekend to you all!!