Join my Mailing List for Free Books!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween Haunted #Giveaway!

Last weekend I was at the Surrey International Writers' Conference. By chance (or perhaps careful scheming) I was able to sit beside author Judith Graves at the Book Fair. She is part of an anthology of 12 Haunted Tales, and when I saw it on her table, I said, "Oooh, I want to give one of those away on my blog for Halloween!"

Here's a little bit more about the book:

Haunted houses. Haunted hearts. And a past that refuses to die...

Leap Books summoned best-selling paranormal and dreadfully talented debut authors to conjure up Spirited, a haunting collection of 13 tales guaranteed to keep you up all night.
Get entombed in stories of Egyptian treasures, shudder at tales of malevolent spirits, and become enthralled with the adventures of witch-hunters, ghost seekers, and lost souls. From steampunk to cyberpunk, our collection spans past, present, and future hauntings. One story actually leaps off the page with 3-D augmented reality.

With this celebration of things that go bump in the night, Spirited authors hope to slay the specter of illiteracy that plague our youth. All proceeds from Spirited will be donated to 826 National, a non-profit organization that offers free after-school tutoring, workshops, and in-school programs because "strong writing skills are fundamental to future success." Go ahead. Turn the pages if you dare. We won't tell if you sleep with the lights on. Because after all, there's no rest for the wicked. 

Anthology edited by Kat O'Shea Contributing authors include: Maria V. Snyder, Candace Havens, Shannon Delany, Jill Williamson, Linda Joy Singleton, Heather Kenealy, Judith Graves, Kitty Keswick, Dawn Dalton, Carmen Tudor, John W. Otte, Halli Dee Lilburn, and Mark Finnemore Augmented Reality by Karl Gee

It's super-easy to enter. Just tell me what you're going as for Halloween, or if you're not dressing up, tell me what your kid or best friend or neighbor is going as. Also tell me what country you're from. I can only mail this anthology out within the U.S., but I have some special prizes put aside for international winners, including ebooks, swag, and critiques! This contest is open until the end of the weekend. I'll randomly draw a winner (or two) next week!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Highlights From #SIWC13

As many of you know, I had the good fortune of attending the Surrey International Writers' Conference this past weekend. If you've never been to a writer's conference (or even if you have), I'm telling you, this is the conference to go to. The workshops are varied and informative, no matter what you write, the opportunity to pitch and get feedback from professionals is superior to any other conference I've heard of, and above all, the friendly camaraderie among writers at all levels and industry professionals is nothing short of incredible.

I wasn't the crazy note-taker that I sometimes am at conferences, but I wanted to pass along a few of my personal highlights:

1. The guy that came up to me in the hallway and told me his kids are my fans.

2. The writers (you know who you are!) who I was able to encourage by sharing some of my personal failures and successes.

3. The three new workshops I was able to book while chatting with teachers and writing groups at the conference.

4. The self-publishing workshops with author Jodi McIsaac and the detailed and highly informative chat I had about self-publishing with author Elena Aitkin. I will be adding some info on this topic to the AuthorStarts website soon!

5. The hands-on training in Presentation Skills with author and presenter Anthony Dalton. I had to get up and do a cold-reading from his book (a book I had never read) while he was pretending he had fainted during a presentation. I had to take over and read until he relieved me. A good challenge!

6. Author Janet Gurtler gave a great talk on cliches in YA, and I came home with a huge list of things that I have done and ideas of how to make them more unique.

7. Great list of things to keep in mind when Writing Heroines, a workshop by Susanna Kearsley. She mentioned how most of these things come naturally to us when writing men, but we have to pay special attention not to skip over them while writing female characters.

8. The awesomely inspiring keynote speeches, especially by Jane Porter and Bruce Hale.

9. The theme! This year's theme was heroes and villains, and here is a little pic of me and a few of my friends:

The weekend was jam-packed with learning and networking and fun, so I could probably go on for pages here, but these are a few things off the top of my head. All I can say is make it a point to be there next year--third weekend in October. You will not regret it!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Tips for WINNING #NaNoWriMo

A lot of people join NaNoWriMo. Not many accomplish the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel in a month, though. I think it's something like 15%. My first novel, LOSING FAITH, was written in 21 days during NaNoWriMo 2007, and I've completed the challenge every year since (and several of those books are going on to be published). I get asked all the time how I do it. Most people who write think it would be impossible to reach such a lofty goal. Plus, my new book, FAST FICTION (which will be out in February) focuses on the topic. So I wanted to offer a few tips of how I have been able to win the Nano challenge year after year.

1. Always write forward. Don't look back at ANY of your story until you reach the end. Your subconscious mind will bring back any details you need to work in as you need them. Each day you sit down to write, scroll to the end of yesterday's writing and start there (or on a new page below there). This helps keep your inner critic at bay so you can come up with lots of new and creative ideas for your story.

2. Write every day. No matter what. Write. Every. Single. Day.

3. Start first thing in the morning. Even if you only have five minutes, try to spit out a hundred words in that five minutes. Then if, by chance, you can't get back to your writing at all that day, at least you have that hundred words under your belt. At least you've kept your mind in your story and kept the momentum of writing it going. (But I'll bet that after writing five minutes, you'll want, and feel capable, to write more that day).

4. There are no bad ideas. A thirty-day challenge is for trying anything and everything. When you have an idea for an obstacle, throw it at your main character and see what happens. I come up with a very loose outline ahead of time, but many times I have strayed from that plan and worked my way back to it later in the story. The result has always given me something new and great for my story (even if it's just a nugget of greatness within a bunch of rubble) but more importantly, it has rejuvenated my enthusiasm for writing and for my story.

5. Set a goal and stay accountable with it. Find at least one person who will hold you accountable throughout the month. Check in with them every day. If you're stuck for someone, ask on Twitter or Facebook. My best accountability writing friends hang out under the hashtag #wipmadness on Twitter and you're welcome to join us.

What are your best writing tips for NaNoWriMo? I'd love to hear them!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Hey, It's Friday!

Wow, life has gotten away on me again. It's been a while since I've blogged, and even longer since I've felt like I had time to blog. Anyway, here's a quick Friday Four to let you know what I've been up to...

1. Just added another Awesome Book to my 12 Awesome Books in the sidebar. This one is THE BOOK OF BROKEN HEARTS by Sarah Ockler. I love everything by her (it must be in the name--I like A LOT of books by Sarahs!) but this one hit me in just the right way at just the right time. A very tender story about a girl and her dad. And a hot boy, of course. Can't forget about him. Anyway, I highly recommend it!

2. If you follow me on Facebook, you may have heard about all my excitement filming a movie last week. A few of the Polynesian dance troupe I work with were hired to be part of a big luau scene for the Nickelodeon movie, A FAIRLY ODD SUMMER. It doesn't come out until next August, but we had a fun, cold, exhausting time filming it (did I mention this was filmed in Vancouver in October in the middle of the night?) Here's our group at 3 a.m. (I'm on the far right, but please, please, don't look too closely!)

3. I'm very excited about several events coming up, and I'll probably do an Events Post soon to highlight all of them, but for now I'll just highlight the next one. Next weekend I'll be at the Surrey International Writers' Conference in Surrey, B.C. I'll be signing copies of all my books (except for Fast Fiction, because it's not out yet, but I do have bookmarks!) during their book fair on Saturday night. More information is at 

4. And here's something I'm really excited about...I've been working for a while on a secret new website. I have to have it ready for next week for the official launch, but I'll just call this a soft launch and let you, my awesome blog readers, know ahead of time. It's called Author Starts, and you can stop by to see a bit more of what it's about. If you have any comments, I would LOVE to hear them--good or bad. I'd love to get it running as smoothly as possible, with as much useful information as possible, before next week.

Happy weekend, everyone! My son is competing in a judo tournament, so I'm a very nervous Mom...

Monday, October 7, 2013

GCC Presents Kelly Parra and SUPERNATURAL HUNTERS!

I'm excited to welcome another author from Girlfriends Cyber Circuit who is releasing a novella this week. Kelly Parra's latest teen kick-butt romance hits the shelves from Buzz Books this month!

"Just the right combination of butt-kicking and romance to keep you on the edge of your seat."
- Allison van Diepen, The Vampire Stalker

Supernatural teen hunters and kick-butt couple Jaz and Blake get trouble in their own backyard, the graveyard, when a ghoul is on the loose and looking for fresh meat. When a teen hunter on the verge of death arrives at their doorstep, they realize a much greater evil is upon them.

Jaz is satisfied with their makeshift foster family and fighting monsters, but Blake yearns for adventure and the truth about his biological family. Will Blake leave Jaz to search for something more...and to fend for herself? Can a relationship survive when death is lurking just beyond the gravestones?

SUPERNATURAL HUNTERS (Buzz Books, Oct 2013) is the first novella to follow Jaz and Blake's whirlwind, action-packed romance started in PROM DATES TO DIE FOR and SOMETHING WICKED. With an eye for great dialogue and fight scenes, SUPERNATURAL HUNTERS is a fast-paced, fun read.


1. Tell me about your book in seven words or less.
Kelly: Teen Supernatural hunters must battle a Necromancer!

2. Other than your main character, who's a favorite character of yours in your novel and why?
Kelly: That would have to be Oz. He’s a warlock sworn by an oath to protect and train Supernatural Hunters. He wears glasses, has red hair and freckles, and loves Asian culture! A very fun character to write.

3. What's one piece of writing advice you would give to aspiring authors?
Kelly: Learn to adapt. When I first was published ebooks weren’t as popular, and the first kindle had just been introduced. Now look how ebooks have caught on! I have had to learn to adapt to marketing digitally, not just with blog tours and interviews. It’s been a learning experience and I’m still learning.

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?
Kelly: I wrote angst filled poetry and some short fiction. It was the reading I avoided, now you can’t stop me.

5. What's the last book you read that you really loved?
Kelly: STUPID CUPID by Tina Ferraro


Author website:


Like Kelly Parra’s author page ( during the month of October (and the giveaway post) for a chance to win the SUPERNATURAL HUNTERS SWAG giveaway on Halloween!


Kelly Parra debuted into young adult fiction in 2007 with her Latina novel Graffiti Girl, which garnered attention as a double nominee for the Romance Writers of America RITA award, a Latinidad YA top pick, as well as chosen for the California High School Reading Collection and National Book Foundation "BookUpNYC" program. Her novel Invisible Touch hailed fresh praise from bestselling author Lauria Faria Stolarz, and given the Gold Award of Excellence from TeensReadToo. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and co-author of the popular young adult blog, YA Fresh. Kelly resides in her agricultural hometown in Central Coast California with her husband and two beautiful children, where she continues to write entertaining novels for teens. Learn more at website

Friday, October 4, 2013

Friday Four!

It's been a crazy-busy time for me lately (I keep saying that, don't I?) Anyway, lots of fun stuff going on in my life these days.

1. It looks like I'm going to be in a movie! I auditioned with my Polynesian dance group last week and several of us were cast for a luau scene. Not sure how much else I can share, but the filming is really soon, and I'm sure I'll be able to tell you more about it after that. Getting prepared for this and organizing the details has been taking up a lot of my time lately.

2. I've been balancing copyedits for Fast Fiction, and tying up revisions on two other books in the last few weeks. The good news is, copyedits are done, and one of my revised manuscripts is now with my agent! The bad news? I don't think there is any bad news. Yay!!

3. Speaking of Fast Fiction, I got a peek at the typeset pages and how the guts of the book will look the other day! I LOVE them. Seriously. Lots of people say it feels like a real book when you see the cover or when you hold the galley in your hands. For me it felt like a real book when I saw the typeset pages. Remember how I mentioned some of the differences between self-publishing, small-house publishing, and big-house publishing? Well, I've been pleasantly surprised all along the way with New World Library. They have asked for my feedback at every turn along the way, and I can really tell they're putting a lot of effort into this book, which is really gratifying.

4. I'm still teaching a homeschool writing class on Fridays, and it has been going really well. When I set the kids loose for some free-writing, I've also been doing some free-writing myself on my upcoming NaNoWriMo project. I'm starting to get really excited for these characters!

Anyone else getting ready to participate in NaNo? Any teachers out there who have advice on taking a class of kids through it?

Have a great weekend! I think we're getting a little bit of sunshine back!