Thursday, December 13, 2012

Happy Birthday to Embrace! (by Cherie Colyer)

It’s Embrace’s Book Birthday and to celebrate the success of her debut novel Cherie Colyer is giving away a copy of her book plus swag. Before we get to that, here is a brief excerpt and some information about Embrace.

“I’m beginning to realize I’d do whatever it took to keep someone I care about safe—expose what I am, harness my anger, let my darker side take over. That’s one promise I know I can make without regret.”
I was about to protest when he then asked, “What about you? Just what are your feelings toward me?” I must have hesitated because he laughed, light and warm, yet there was a bitter edge to it. “I just told you I’d embrace the dark to protect you, and you still can’t open up to me?”

by Cherie Colyer

How far would you go to save the people you love?

Madison is familiar enough with change, and she hates everything about it. Change took her long-term boyfriend away from her. It caused one of her friends to suddenly hate her. It’s responsible for the death of a local along with a host of other mysterious happenings. But when Madison meets a hot new guy, she thinks her luck is about to improve.

Madison is instantly drawn to the handsome and intriguing Isaac Addington. She quickly realizes he’s a guy harboring a secret, but she’s willing to risk the unknown to be with him.

Her world really spins out of control, however, when her best friend becomes delusional, seeing things that aren’t there and desperately trying to escape their evil. When the doctors can’t find the answers, Madison seeks her own.

Nothing can prepare her for what she is about to discover.


To add Embrace to your Goodreads’ lists click here and to view the book trailer click here. If you’d like to curl up with Embrace today you can download the eBook on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

To win a copy of Embrace or swag, hop over to Cherie’s blog and fill out the form. 

Find Cherie: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

*The Liebster Blog Award*

Last month, I received the excellent news that I was the recipient of the Liebster Blog Award!  This award is given to bloggers with less than 200 followers. Thank you to my Twitter follower Christine (@SunflowerScribe) for nominating me! Please visit her blog The Sunflower Scribe! I am proud to display the award graphic on my blog.

The Rules of the Award:
1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
2. Answer the questions the tagger has set for you and create 11 new questions for the people you've tagged.
3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
4. Go to their page and tell them.
5. Remember, no tag backs!

Christine's 11 Questions/My Answers

1. What is your favorite book?
Wow. This is a difficult question. There are SO many I could choose! However, the first thing that always comes to mind is Snow in August by Pete Hamill. I read this book in AP English one year in high school, and the story has never left me! I read it often just to remember how I felt the first time I read it.

2. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?
For me, this is a two-part answer. If I could go anywhere tomorrow, I would go straight to Salzburg, Austria where I studied abroad when I was in college. It was the most amazing, phenomenal experience of my life and I would love to visit my host family and see Mozart's birthplace again.  As far as a place I've never been to, I'd love to go to Spain! 

3. What technology do you think you will never adopt? 
I can't say there is anything in particular that I would not adopt, however, I am one of the select people that doesn't own a Blu-Ray player. (Does that count?) My DVD player works just fine and I don't want to have to start my DVD collection over again! 

4. What is your favorite comfort food?
Again, there could be many answers to this one! But if I had to choose, probably hummus! I could eat A LOT of this and still feel okay since it's pretty healthy for you! (Blue cheese stuffed olives might be right up there with hummus!)

5. What was your most embarrassing hairstyle?
It wasn't so much the hairstyle that I look back on and cringe, but rather this suede green headband that I religiously wore with everything. I had no shame when I was 10! But hey, I was being an individual, right?

6. What was your favorite childhood candy?
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. And that hasn't changed a bit!

7. What is the prettiest city you have ever been to?
See answer to # 2. Salzburg, Austria, hands down!

8. If you had 10 minutes on a popular TV talk show, what would you talk about?
I guess it would all depend on whose talk show I was on, but I'd probably either talk about my writing and passion for children's books or encourage more college students to look into studying abroad. It's such an incredible and rewarding experience! 

9. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Definitely a night owl!

10. What is your favorite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon?
Watch the Chicago Bears, of course!!

11. Is there such a thing as too much chocolate?

Questions for the people I tagged below:
1. What's a guilty pleasure of yours that you're embarrassed to admit around your friends or family?
2. What's the last thing you accomplished that made you incredibly proud?
3. What's your biggest fear?
4. Have you or do you think you will ever overcome your fear?
5. Have you ever broken a bone? If so, how?
6. Do you have to eat breakfast in the morning in order to function? 
7. What's your favorite movie and why?
8. If animals could talk, what would ask you them?
9. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
10. What is your favorite type of cookie?
11. Would you ever go sky diving?

People I Tagged (3 instead of 11):

Sunday, August 26, 2012

"Dear Lucky Agent" Middle Grade Novel Contest

Writer's Digest is offering an amazing opportunity for all middle grade authors! From August 13th - 27th, writers can submit the first 150-200 words of their unpublished novel for a chance to have their work critiqued by Full Circle Literary's agent, Sara Sciuto!

Click here for more information!

Good luck!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A *Groovy* SCBWI Summer Conference - 2012

Tonight marks a week since my first day back from the 2012 SCBWI LA Conference. For the fifth time in a row, I attended the national children's writer's conference, and man, was it a blast!

My fellow critique partners and friends from home, Cherie and Jen (roomies!) and I arrived early Thursday to take advantage of the LA weather and get some relaxation in before the really grueling (but exciting!) agenda arrived the following day. (And of course, we couldn't forget to include Kym!)

Cherie, Kym and Me on the plane to LA!

To welcome ourselves to the west coast, we treated ourselves to a delicious late lunch at Pink Taco. Yum!

Thankfully, when it comes to the LA conference, time flies and before you know it, you are back in the hotel basement, laptop opened, ears attuned. With a Starbucks in hand, I was home. Friday morning, the conference kicked off at 8:30am with the usual (and sometimes humorous) introductions and warm welcomes.

One of the most exciting features of the conference was debut author Cherie Colyer's first-time signing at the PAL book sale, or as I have dubbed it, The Wine & Cheese Party. It's one of my favorite events of the conference, and I was thrilled to be a part of Cherie's wonderful experience. Congrats Cherie!

Embrace by Cherie Colyer -- Read it!!

Friday through Monday consisted of some excellent, gut-wrenchingly funny, and sometimes tear-inducing keynotes. Among my favorite were Arthur Levine, Gary Schmidt, Dan Gutman and Tony Diterlizzi. The Golden Kite and Sid Fleischman Award winners also gave spectacular speeches and truly deserved the honors awarded to them. (Quotes to come later!)

Many of the break-out sessions really hit home as well including presenters author Jay Asher (13 Reasons Why), agent Jill Corcoran (won a book at the raffle!) and Tim Ditlow from Amazon Publishing, as well as the agent/editor panel on finding your unique voice.

And then, it was time to get ready for....

Cherie, Matt, Me and Jen
Cherie, author Michael Reisman, Jen and Me

Meg and Me

                              The Hippie Hop Gala!!
Excitingly enough, we even had the chance to steal the spotlight from one of the hotel's events that night and walk the red carpet.  Check out our glamorous ten minutes of fame photos:

So even though we close the chapter on #LA12SCBWI and another conference comes to an end, the inspiration continues. I'm excited to have met several more wonderful friends, made invaluable connections, workshopped my writing, as well as gained insightful knowledge and tips that will carry me into next year's conference.

    As they said in the 60s, peace out!

Monday, July 30, 2012

2012 SCBWI Summer Conference LA

This Thursday, August 2nd, I’ll be hopping on a plane to Los Angeles for my sixth SCBWI Summer Conference.  (Yikes! Sixth!? Where has the time gone??) With a myriad of stellar workshops, seminars, keynotes, lunch and dinner dates, and crazy dancing under my belt, I thought I’d share some information to get you breezing through the four days.

Whether you’re a first time conference attendee or veteran, hopefully my vast knowledge on one of the most informative, beneficial and enjoyable writer’s conferences will help you feel more at ease:

For the past few years, I’ve arrived early Thursday to get ahead of the game. This allows a few of us to grab our hotel room and settle in as well as gives us the opportunity to really *see* Los Angeles. With a jam-packed four-day schedule, there’s not much time later on to jet out on the town.

For more information, definitely say hello to the fellow concierge folks – they are EXCELLENT for recommending places and restaurants in the surrounding LA area, calling in reservations or get a taxi.  The computers in front of the concierge allow you to check-in for your flight and print off your ticket as well.

Los Angeles Area
I recommend Don Antonio’s for an excellent Mexican meal complete with tangy salsa and margaritas!

Toast is a great breakfast café and Ketchup has a great classy ambiance to its red and white dinner theme. 

Santa Monica Pier is great for walking along the beach, taking a dip or checking out the local farmer’s market.

Rodeo Drive is walking distance (but definitely a hike!) from our hotel but if you do, make sure you have plenty of time to get there and back as well as shop!

STK is a classy downtown bar where I ran into actor Chad Michael Murray the first year I went to the conference!

All are within a taxi ride from the hotel.

Take part in the Wine & Cheese Party/Book Signing – it’s an excellent way to meet new authors who recently published a book as well as mingle with other attendees.  (Fellow SCBWI –IL member Cherie Colyer will be there signing copies of her novel, Embrace!)

After you rise and shine, you have the option to wither away in the long snake-like line to grab a delicious latte at the hotel Starbucks or opt for the hotel coffee in the basement.  Words of advice: if you go for the Starbucks each morning like I do, plan to get up at least 20 minutes earlier to stand in line or hopefully, beat the crowd.  (You’ll also get a better seat in the main auditorium.)  HOWEVER, a few of us have discovered it’s quicker to go to the Starbucks right outside of the hotel (to the left) across the street.

The Hyatt Regency Century Plaza shopping mall next door provides a plethora of lunch and dinner options ranging from The Bread Bar (think Corner Baker or Panera) to Pink Taco to Rock Sugar (thai/sushi), as well as many other smaller eateries.  Not far from The Bread Bar is Gelsons, a seemingly underground grocery store that comes in handy when you need snacks or beverages for your hotel room or to munch on during the conference. (And is also where some people ran into Paula Abdul last year!)

The corporate building across the street (use the underground tunnel to safely get there) is only open during the work week, so on Friday and Monday, you may want to venture over there for some delicious cuisine and outdoor seating. 

Sandwiches and beverages are also offered for a small fee on the lunch cart in the hotel.

The X-bar at the hotel is perfect for networking with others, getting a drink to wind down or to taste the delicious appetizers such as the Tuna Tar Tar – a staple each time I attend.   The restaurant café, though I have only eaten there twice, has great sushi featuring their own sous chef.

What To Bring (Aside from the Norm)
*A light jacket or sweater for the cold rooms
*Your laptop – inspiration could strike at any moment and you may want to take notes or whip out your manuscript (and don’t forget the charger!)
*A notebook and pen
*Any business/writer/illustrator cards you may have
*A jump drive in case you need to save something (or you can always e-mail it to yourself)
*For us Illinoisans, bring a penny to place in your name tag to distinguish us from the rest!
*Print off your schedule ahead of time so you can figure out which workshops to attend (or download the iPhone app).  I usually go over this with friends during the four hour flight to Cali  – then if there are ones you want to attend but cannot, someone else may be attending that can swap notes with you.
* Don’t forget your swimsuit for some R & R out back in the pool or hot tub!
*Your Saturday night party costume! You’ll be surprised at how creative people can be!

Helpful Last Minute Tips
*Forgot to print something? Want to make a copy? The floor just above the main basement has a small printing shop for you to print, make copies, or use the Internet for a small fee. (Internet access is not free for conference attendees except when in the basement area).

*Bring lots of cash – the SCBWI bookstore sells a bunch of SCBWI affiliated gear (bags, jackets, coffee cups, DVDs, etc.) as well as keynote speaker and author books. If you use cash to purchase any items, you will receive a lovely discount. If you use a credit card, you still receive a discount but a smaller one.  So save room in your suitcase for some awesome reads!

Veterans, if I forgot anything, please feel free to add! 

Have fun, and I hope to meet many of you there! :-)


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wacky What-If-A-Thon Wednesday

As my new project (and on my blog), I will be starting the Wacky What -If-A-Thon Wednesday; thanks to Brittney Breakey for the idea! This is a great way to spark some new ideas for stories. Please feel free to share your own What-If thoughts! I will start us off. 

*What if everyone was forced to tell the truth?*

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Workshop: Ulimate Picture Book Editing

Picture courtesy of (Jodell Sadler)
I have fantastic news!

Beginning today, I will be participating in an incredible writer's workshop geared toward picture book editing. Hosted by the wonderful Jodell Sadler (SCBWI-IL!), participants will spend three weeks actively learning 20 great pacing techniques to strenghten their picture book stories, such as rhyme, rhythm, repeptition, word choice, etc.

As many writers (specifically picture book writers) are well aware of, writing picture books is not easy. In fact, it's pretty difficult. If you have a computer-full of picture book manuscripts just awaiting your red pen, I highly encourage you to check out this workshop. If you want to make a difference in your stories, this is the place to start!

For more information, please check out:

Best writing wishes to all!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Live Twitter Chat with Author Cherie Colyer


Tonight, YA Bound will be hosting a *live* Twitter chat with debut author, Cherie Colyer, using hashtag #EmbraceNovels. She'd love to hear from fans and readers! The chat starts at 7pm EST, and she will be announcing the winners of the giveaways and Grand Prize. Join us with questions or come just to follow! You don't want to miss out!

Check out Cherie's website, blog and Twitter!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

*Random Spark -- Thursday, March 29, 2012

"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."
~English humorist and science fiction novelist, Douglas Adams

While following hundreds of authors, agents, editors and a plethora of other literary professionals on Twitter, Blogger and Facebook, I came to the realization that I was missing something all of these above people have: deadlines. As a published author, you're given various deadlines: drafts, revisions #1 thru #1,303,439, proofs, and more. Agents and editors have to meet deadlines in order to stay abreast of the current market and publish books target audiences are eager to read RIGHT NOW, as well as deadlines relating to copyeditor, printer expectations and publicity/marketing departments.

Since most of those deadlines are part of someone's part- or full time job, I came to the conclusion that I needed to set goals and deadlines for myself. Using my iCalendar, I mapped out when I needed to have my first and second drafts done, certain revisions completed after receiving valuable feedback from my critique groups or making sure I simply wrote 500 words by nightfall. I also pinpointed what days I needed to work on specific chapters of my MG novel, or the first part of my current WIP picture book. Having these reminders keeps me informed of what needs work and what doesn't.

Creating personal deadlines for yourself also helps when contests rise. If the deadline to submit your entry is down the road, set a goal to finish your first draft by the end of the week or month. If it's shorter than that, try completing it by the evening. Why not choose a unique time to finish it by: "I must finish this part by 4:44pm." Spice it up! No need to be boring.

Professional deadlines have consequences when they aren't met, but by setting your own personal ones now, it will keep you on track, motivate you to write every single day, and help you avoid the evil procrastination. 

Good luck!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

* Random Spark * -- Tuesday, March 27, 2012 is an excellent site to spark your writing skills and get your creative juices flowing! Jumping into your manuscript where you left off the day before can work well if that is your style, however, like athletes I prefer to warm-up.  Hence, Figment.

Recently, I tweeted that I would take on the challenge to enter each and every writing contest Figment posted. While I haven't succeeded in ALL of them, I do find myself at the very least, attempting to enter each one. Now I receive an email every day with a different type of writing prompt; sometimes from Judy Blume, other times from Figment or from journalist Douglas McGray (@dougmcgray).  Some of these daily writing prompts really hit home and I can explore my writing capabilities, crossing boundaries and taking risks unknown to me. Simply put, it expands my writing circle far beyond the children's arena that I'm so comfortable in. Other times, they are more challenging, but the outcome is always something unique.

And gets me in the zone. Perfect.

Now I'm warmed up, and ready to roll!

While you can find (and follow) me on Figment, feel free to stop by here as I will be posting my Daily Figment Themes as much as possible. Comments are always welcome!  For writers of any genre that have not yet joined, I highly recommend it!

News: recently welcomed the members of to the Figment community.  Founded by HarperCollins and similar to Figment, InkPop encourages members to comment on other writer's short stories, poems, etc.  According to Figment, HarperCollins will also continue to its search for great stories and host contests for publication consideration.  Exciting things to come!

Lucky 7 Meme

A couple of weeks ago, my good friend Cherie Colyer, debut author of Embrace, tagged me in a really neat manuscript post called The Lucky 7 Meme.  See how it works below:

1) Go to page 77 of your manuscript (in this case, my middle-grade novel)
2) Go to line 7
3) Copy and paste the next 7 lines -- sentences or paragraphs -- and post them as they are written. No cheating!

And without further manuscript...

     “Huh?” I asked.
     “Prepared and professional.” Casey smiled. “I think that’s going to be my motto if I win.”
     She has a motto?! “I would have changed, but I didn’t have time,” I said. At least this was the truth. After Mom picked me up from school, she dropped the twins off at a play date, ran to the bank and then took me straight here. 
     Casey couldn’t have cared less. “Whatever. Let’s go in the basement. It’s all ready.” Boy, was she prepared.  In the middle of the room sat a round table with a striped cloth and a bowl of flowers. 

**They actually appear as 7 lines in my manuscript. Pretty neat, huh?

Friday, January 6, 2012

My "Re-Vision" Vision

Over the past few days, I've been diligently working on my middle grade novel's revisions. After 30 pages of non-stop redmarks, cross-outs, rewrites and A-Ha moments, I realized something:

I was actually enjoying the revision process. (Wahoo!)

Now as an avid writer, you'd think I'd love every single part of the writing process. And in theory, you're right, but to an extent. I love the moment an idea pops into my head and I just have to get the details written down before I forget the magic in those thoughts; I love when I type The End or click save on my latest draft; I even have come to love (and rely) on the constructive criticism of my critique group members, knowing they have my story's best interest at heart.

The parts I don't like are few, far and between -- but still they exist.  For me, the one thing that stands out the most, is writer's block.  The moment I feel that I am not in the mood for writing, or the moment that I feel what I wrote down is no good, I find myself frustrated.  What other options do we have then to blame it on writer's block, or your cold that isn't making your head feel right, or that hostile conversation you just had with a friend.  Yeah, sure we could blame it on anything; use every excuse in the book.  We've all been there.

However, it's the beginning of a brand new year: 2012. Why not focus some of these pitfall in our writing career and see them as our own personal bumps in the road.  If writing came easy to us all the time, where would our excitement be?  Some of my BEST writing came at the moment where I talked myself out writer's block and put my BIC. (butt-in-chair as Jane Yolen says!) That's all I had to do and lo and behold, some great scenes were created.

What about the challenges?  Another writer once told me "When you revise, shoot your darlings."  I had mentioned to him how challenging my revision was and how one of my best chapters seemed in the way. He explained that while we may not want to, we may whine, complain, groan and moan, sometimes you have "shoot your darlings" and get rid of some of your favorite lines, chapters, scenes.  Heck, I know some writers who have omitted characters because their voice was just not working. And start over. (No!!!) Of course, make sure you save whatever you "shoot" in a separate file just in case you can use it at a separate time in the book.  But his advice was stellar; don't let one or two good moments hold your story back from having five or six (or more!)

Don't we feel even more accomplished when we overcome something difficult?  Sure, if an agent or editor accepted our manuscript after the first time we tried we'd be thrilled.  But think about it.  How much more will it mean to us if after 239 rejections, you finally get that "Yes!"  Wouldn't you be that much more excited versus 238 chances ago?

But I digress.

Back to my middle grade novel. As my first novel, I didn't have any expectations going into the revision process.  I grabbed a red pen, printed out my novel and sat down to read my own story beginning to end.  Boy was I surprised!  Why?  It allowed me to see all of the gaps:

1) My Main Character development needed some work.  i.e. Why would my MC say/do this in Chapter 2 and not again in Chapter 8? Would she really say that? Would she really do that?  What actions or thoughts of hers am I missing when a scene explodes? Why not push the envelope and see what happens if she doesn't hold back here, there, etc.

2) Who are my MC's friends? Why do they fit into this story and how?

3) Tying the beginning, middle and end together so they fit like a puzzle

Along the way I also checked my grammar, sentence structure, spelling and of course, word choice. Tackling these revisions have made my story so much stronger, and with every chapter I edit, I get more excited to share it with readers.  Maybe revision is such an important part of writing because it encapsulates what it means to be a writer: Re-Vision.  There's a reason the latter part of the word is as such.  Writers have a vision.  For some it's to share their story, or their passion with someone else.  Others it's to make an impact or difference in a reader's life.  Or maybe it's all of the above.  To share a story that will crack a smile, elicit a laugh or change one's outlook on life quite possibly is one of the best goals one can aim to reach.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on your revision process.  What do you enjoy most about it? Least like about it? Are there tips you want to share with other writers when revising?