Thursday, December 15, 2016

Cover Reveal: Shackled by Angela Carling

     I'm pleased to host author Angela Carling today and help her reveal the new cover on her already-released novel, Shackled. Angela writes, "Shackled has an amazing story, one that pushed me to write this important and suspenseful story. Today I'm excited to share the new cover and make a big announcement! Shackled, originally written as stand-alone story will stand-alone no longer!  I've already begun work on part two of this truly emotional story inspired by my sister's own real-life struggle."
     The new book, titled RELEASED, continues the story of SHACKLED. Angela says that for those who have ever wondered what happened to Ryan, Released will change everything!
     SHACKLED is currently on sale for KINDLE through Dec. 19th

Monday, October 10, 2016

Fall, Furry Friends & a Free Book

     Leaves, pumpkin spice lattes, caramel apples, and squirrels aplenty. That's what I'm seeing here in central Illinois. A cold, wet drizzle ushered in the day when we woke up this morning. Despite the rain, the resident squirrels' spirits aren't dampened, thanks to my husband's new obsession with feeding them field corn. Two particularly-daring red squirrels sit on the back steps and wait for him to toss out a handful. They've even chewed on the door when he's not on the ball and forgets them for a day or two. I hope they don't tell their friends.
I've been trying to finish a first round of revisions on a new middle grade, but I've been covering a maternity leave since the beginning of school. Long-term sub jobs equal no mental energy at the end of the day. I wish I were more quick at this writing stuff, but it's a slog -- always has been, and nothing's bound to change in the foreseeable future.

Oh, and speaking of middle grade books, THE UPSIDE OF DOWN is a FREE download today only (10/10/16) for KINDLE. If you're in the mood for a contemporary, feel-good kind of story, you're welcome to try it. And, of course, if you like it, I'd love to hear what you think.

                                              Happy fall! 


Saturday, October 1, 2016

Painting with Words

Personages with Star, 1933
by Joan Miro 

Imagination is more important than knowledge.
-  Albert Einstein

Thursday, September 1, 2016

End-of-Summer Giveaway

Farewell to Summer

Farewell to Summer
$250 Cash Giveaway
September 1st to 22nd

     An Awesome Group of Authors & Bloggers have joined with me to bring you one fabulous prize!! We’re giving away $250 in Paypal Cash! Alternately you can choose a $250 eGift Code!

  Sponsor List Thanks to these great authors & bloggers for making this giveaway possible!

Giveaway Details $250 in Paypal Cash or a $250 eGift Card Ends 9/22/16.  Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal or gift codes via Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed, and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the authors, bloggers and publishers on the sponsor list. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Writing Outdoors & Happy Birthday, National Parks!

I've been reminiscing about past vacations these last few months as the National Park Service celebrates 100 years this summer. Our family's goal has always been to visit the national parks, battlefields, and monuments on our way to final destinations, sometimes detouring 30-40 miles off the interstate to catch an obscure landmark.

Some of the Write On! students working on the
Mindful Eating exercise with doughnuts as inspiration.
I blogged about many of the parks I've visited as part of the 2014 Blogging from A to Z Challenge in my Writer's Road Trip series. If you'd like to read them, start at the first post on Alcatraz, which leads to the others.

In other news, I'm back working on revisions after teaching another Write On! class this past week for 5th-8th graders. It's always refreshing to talk about writing with these young people, and listen to their stories. I love to watch them grow comfortable with their voices throughout the week. Monday's session is as quiet as a tomb compared to Friday when they're collaborating on stories and sharing phone numbers before they say good-bye to one another.

Finally, there's still time to enter the Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway, hosted by I Am A Reader, for a chance to win $250 Paypal cash or a $250 Amazon Giftcard. The giveaway runs until 7/26/16.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Authors Sponsor a Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway

lazy days of summer 250

Lazy Days of Summer

$250 Cash Giveaway

July 6th to 26th

An Awesome Group of Authors & Bloggers have joined with me to bring you 1 fabulous prize!! We’re giving away $250 in Paypal Cash! Or alternately you can choose a $250 Gift Code! Sponsor List – Thanks to these great authors & bloggers for making this giveaway possible! I Am A Reader Krysten Lindsay Hager author Simple Wyrdings Heather Gray, Author Bookworm Lisa B. Kristin McMichael Rachel Matthews, Author of cozy, sweet reads Kindle and Me Everly Frost, YA Author Cool Cats Mysteries Helen Smith Laurisa White Reyes, Author Dark and Dreamy with C. C. Marks Dawn Malone Author Nikki Jefford Aubrey Wynne: Romantasy Through the Ages Mary Ting/M. Clarke Confessions of a Frugal Mind AuggieTalk Darcus @ Rainy Days and Pajamas Lori's Reading Corner Glistering Bs Blog The Lovely Books J.C. Whyte, author Gigi McAllister@ The Late Bloomer's Book Blog Bonnie Blythe Faith-Based Romance Bella Street Time Travel Romance Laurie Here - Cont Fiction and More Beth M. Honeycutt Giveaway Details $250 in Paypal Cash (alternately the winner can choose a $250 Gift Code) Ends 7/26/16 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the authors, bloggers and publishers on the sponsor list. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 24, 2016

Encouraging Young Readers to Write

Today I finished teaching nine fifth- through eighth-graders about writing, meeting at a local community college in the mornings for the last five days. I was lucky this time; they were all voracious young readers, and their passion for writing seemed like a natural extension of their love for the printed page. In previous classes, I've had a least one student announce loudly, and usually right of the bat, "My mom signed me up for this class, but I hate writing!" Inwardly I cringe but know even those who would rather be in command of the Xbox controller can have fun during some of my class writing exercises.

Writing Post-It Passages 
Not all children write for pleasure for a variety of reasons. Maybe they feel it's an extension of homework. Or their stories don’t live up to their expectations. It might be that too many distractions at home get in the way of creating. Whatever their excuse, writing a story can be just as exciting as cracking open a new book. Here’s how you can help even though most reluctant of writers:

CREATE A SPECIAL WRITING PLACE. When I was younger, my writing spot was at my grandparent's dining room table. We had a hefty manual typewriter that my grandma would haul out of her closet and set it on the table so I could plunk, plunk away on the keys. Eventually she'd take over typing while I dictated, but the table was my go-to place for writing. Whether there's a desk in the study or a window seat in the living room, having a designated spot for creative work signals it's time to get writing when your child claims the special spot. 

 SIGN THEM UP FOR A CLASS. Make an investment in their writing interests by finding creative writing classes. If a community college is nearby, check out the community education catalog for youth classes. Also, the YMCA and arts centers sometimes offer creative writing for kids, too. These classes are typically small, with less than a dozen kids. The limited numbers help shy writers be more open to sharing their work. It’s always fun to see kids exchanging phone numbers at the end of the week, and connecting with kids from different grade levels. Sharing creative work with others does that. It builds confidence and breaks down barriers because writing comes from the heart.  

GO TO AUTHOR SIGNINGS. When young readers get to meet the people who write the books they love, watch out! There is no better motivator for writing than meeting an author they admire. When children meet authors, it’s easier for them to visualize themselves as writers, too. For book lovers, authors can reach celebrity status. So seeing an author in person gets them thinking, "Hey, I can be a writer, too!"

HELP THEM SHARE THEIR WORK. Encourage them to enter writing contests or submit to publications that accept young author's work. One of the advantanges of the internet is that there are so many outlets to submit to. Seeing their name in print and their work displayed fosters a sense of pride. To get started, check out the list of places that accept work from young writers on my blog, Here's the Story.

JOIN IN THE FUN. Challenge them by taking part in joint writing exercises. My daughter and I used to do timed writing sprints. We’d set an alarm for 10 minutes and see how many words we could write. You can also make a writing prompt jar together, each adding your own story starters. Set aside a certain time during the week to write about the selected prompt. Another fun activity is collaborating on a story. I've never laughed harder when my son and I co-wrote an adventure story about a treasure-seeking boy and his grandfather. Ten years later, we still talk about writing a sequel.

Help your reader find greater pleasure in writing using these suggestions and you might be the superhero who appears in their next story. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Springing Forward With New Readers and Revisions

Some of the CIR authors that I met in Indianapolis
 (and me in the front, third from the right)
   It's spring break here and it couldn't have come sooner. Since my second novel released in early February (THE UPSIDE OF DOWN), I haven't had time to give it the attention it deserves. The week it was set to debut, I was called to begin covering a long-term, substitute-teaching job, three weeks earlier than expected. I considered the last-minute effect of delaying its publication. But I had already started the ball rolling with a paid promotional ad, word of mouth,  and an already-in-progress contest. What would have been the effect if I had pushed the release date back a month? 
     The book did get some love at the Clean Indie Reads Author Fair in Indianapolis on March 4th. Readers poured into the community room at the Irvington Public Library to walk among the 20 authors' tables. It was a great audience, and I was able to finally meet some of the people I've met through conversations on Facebook. 
     An invitation to two first-ever literacy nights at a grade school and a junior high were also highlights this past month. Visiting with two different age groups was great fun. I sat inside of a tent, strung with lights, for story time with K-5th graders (camping theme), and talked about the publishing process with kids and parents at the other event (superheros theme). One of my favorite parts of getting kids together in these kinds of celebrations is asking them what they're reading, or who are their favorite authors. Of course there are the perennial favorites (Riordan, Rowling, Kinney), but also titles and authors I've never read. As an author, it's a plus to have a finger on the pulse of the readers themselves. 
     Late last month I was at a writing workshop in Austin, Texas, getting feedback on a manuscript that I worked on during NaNoWriMo. A revision is my priority this next week, with wide-open days to spend in immersion. This is my favorite part of writing, having the bones of a story already in place and waiting to be fleshed out. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

It's Release Day: The Upside of Down

Cover designed by Michael James Canales
I'm very excited to FINALLY share my new release, THE UPSIDE OF DOWN, today! This story began in 2011 in the same way most of my stories begin—with a news article and the question, 'What if?' I had read a Parade magazine story about a woman who passed an 11-year-old boy on a Manhattan street corner one day before he asked her for spare change. Instead of giving him money, she asked if he'd like to join her for a McDonald's lunch. To make this long story short, he agreed, and that one encounter started a decades-long friendship which changed both their lives. The story of their connection stuck with me until I began to play with different scenarios in my mind about how two teenagers, each with a very different background, might react in a similar situation. 

To celebrate the e-book's release, I'm hosting a giveaway for a chance to win a $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD and a PAPERBACK COPY of the book. Enter here, then share it with your friends. The more you share, the more entries you get!

E-version available at AmazonBarnes & NobleiTunes, & KOBO

Paperback will be available later this month. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 25, 2016

Within the Pages: Landry in Like (Landry's True Colors #3)

I'm happy to share author Krysten Lindsay Hager's new release, LANDRY IN LIKE, today! It's contemporary, clean-reads teen fiction, and Book 3 of the Landry's True Colors series. 
Summary: Things seem to be going well in Landry Albright’s world—she’s getting invited to be on local talk shows to talk about her modeling career, her best friends have her back, and her boyfriend Vladi has becoming someone she can truly count on…and then everything changes. Suddenly it seems like most of the girls in school are into hanging out at a new teen dance club, while Landry just wants to spend her weekends playing video games and baking cupcakes at sleepovers. Then, Yasmin McCarty, the most popular girl in school, starts to come between Landry’s friendship with Ashanti. Things take a turn when Yasmin tells Vladi that Landry is interested in another boy. Can Landry get her relationships with Ashanti and Vladi back or will she be left out and left behind?
I wanted to call my friends and tell them about being on the talk show, but Mom said we had to be at the TV station super early — even before school started. She said I could text them, but I had to turn off my phone and go to bed. 
“I’m waking you up at four a.m.,” she said. “You have to be there at five-thirty.” 
“Can I just call Peyton and Ashanti? Please?” 
“Fine, but you have five minutes and then that phone is mine and you’re in bed.” 
I dialed Peyton, but her mom said she was in the shower. I told her mom about the show tomorrow and said my mom wouldn’t let me stay up any later to call Peyton back. 
“How exciting! I will make sure Peyton knows, and I will be watching you tomorrow. Good luck, honey,” Mrs. Urich said. 
I called Ashanti next and told her. 
“Get out. Get. Out. No way. This is so exciting!” 
“I’m so nervous. My stomach is already doing cartwheels. I can’t do one, but my stomach can. Seems unfair. What if I throw up before I go on? I did that right before I went on at the statewide IngĂ©nue modeling competition in Detroit, and my mom had to give me a cough drop to cover up the smell.” 
 “I’m sure you’ll be fine, but… just in case, take a cough drop with you,” Ashanti said. “Good luck. You’ll be great and I’ll go set the DVR now.”
 I hung up and sent a text to Vladi, India, Devon, Thalia, Tori, and Ericka, so no one would be mad and feel left out. Then I shut off my phone. Mom poked her head in the door to make sure I was in bed. 
“Night, hon. Try to get some rest,” she said.
Easier said than done. I stared at my ceiling while thinking about all the things that could possibly go wrong tomorrow. Seeing as the show was on in the morning, I never got to watch it, so I had no idea what the set was like — did it have super high chairs and I’d struggle to get into them? And what if it had those higher stools that were kind of tippy and my rear overshot the seat and I fell off? Or what if the prep questions got lost and the interviewer asked me random things like my feelings on nuclear war or asked me about some foreign political leader who I had never heard of before, and I appeared stupid? Why did I say I’d do this? I tried to get comfortable and it felt like I had just dozed off when I felt my mom shaking my shoulder.
“Rise and shine, TV star,” she said.

Purchase Landry in Like here:

About the Author: Krysten Lindsay Hager is the author of the Landry’s True Colors Series, a clean reads young adult series and the new ​Star Series. Krysten writes about  friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, middle school and high school, frenemies, modeling, crushes, values, and self-image in True Colors, Best Friends…Forever? And Landry in Like, as well as in, Next Door to a Star (Star Series). Her sequel to Next Door to a Star will be out March 22 2016.
Krysten is a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and writes YA, MG, humor essays, and adult fiction. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in Portugal, South Dakota, and currently resides in southwestern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint. 

Follow Krysten at these sites on the Web:

Monday, January 18, 2016

Cover Reveal: The Upside of Down

    I'm happy to finally share with you the cover for my next middle-grade novel, THE UPSIDE OF DOWN, coming out February 9th!
   I had tremendous fun working with Michael James Canales at MJC imageworks on this cover. Seeing a designer's vision of my story is one of my favorite parts of publishing. I love the collaborative process, and Michael's final version of this cover was thrilling to witness. 
     Here's the blurb:
     Hobbs Crane doesn’t like distractions. He lives for football, rules the basketball court, and does his best to avoid the neighbor girl with the Jupiter-sized crush on him. With a new kid out to steal his starting basketball position, Hobbs needs to feel in control again. Then Hobbs finds a boy living inside a giant blue spruce on an empty city lot who becomes the biggest distraction of all. How long has he been there? Where did he come from? And why does he seem to be following Hobbs?
    The boy named Up is in survival mode. Leaving his real name and a neglectful home life behind, Up is running away to Florida to find his older sister who left home years ago. But he’s hungry and desperate, and he finds the overgrown evergreen next to the old factory the perfect hideout until he makes a plan. 
    Can Hobbs and Up help each other face their own uncertain futures while forging an unlikely friendship? Or are they too different?

     Stay tuned for the first chapter reveal and a BIG giveaway next month. Yay!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A Month of Reading

     It seems all I've been doing lately is reading. I'm not complaining. Aside from reading some of the books I bought over Christmas break, there are books I'm reading for review, manuscripts for an upcoming workshop, new content I'm writing/proofreading for the newsletter, this blog, and my new release next month. 
     At the moment, I'm in one of those gluttonous, non-stop reading sessions with a book called GARDEN SPELLS because I've found a new author I love—Sarah Addison Allen. It's magic realism at its finest. 
     Also on the subject of books, I'm taking part in another giveaway sponsored by Bookhounds. I'll be announcing the winner here at the end of the month. And sorry, international friends, I can only ship books within the U.S. this time. Make sure you visit the other blogs participating when you are finished here. Thanks for visiting!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Join me for the 
Dreaming of Books
Giveaway Hop
Sponsored by Bookhounds

Saturday, January 9, 2016

A Wish for 2016: Peace, Prosperity and Great Stories

Whoa! Where did 2015 go? Not too long ago I was marking the beginning of the last year of my fifth decade (I can hear your thinking gears humming!), shopping for wedding decorations with my daughter, and starting a school year of 'lasts' (last first day of high school, last football game, etc.)  for my youngest son.

Yet 'lasts' and the past make way for beginnings, too. That's why I love January. Even though we're deep into winter here in central Illinois (though it's been a balmy one so far), it's a time to start over,  to hang up another calendar and turn to the first page of a new year. Refresh, dream big, and take the challenges head on. You have my best wishes for a fantastic 2016!
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