Monday, February 27, 2012

Harry Potter and Blog Tour Link #7

Last night was an epic reading night for me and my kids. We finished reading the last Harry Potter book. Now, I've read them quite a lot--I started reading them before Goblet of Fire was released, before I even had kids--and I've explained to them how I had to wait years in between the last books to see what happened. I started reading them to my kids at bedtime almost a year ago. When we were packing up all of our things to move from Ohio back to Tennessee, I kept out the book we were on so that we could keep reading and know where the book was during the move.

And now we're done. It was so much fun to share with my kids something that I had so much fun with, and to see the things they thought and enjoyed.

(Next, they want me to read them one of my books, which was totally their idea, and kind of weird for son ran over to the bookshelf yesterday and grabbed it off of there.)

Is there a book/series that you've loved reading over and over, or sharing with others?


Today's Rising blog tour link is over at the fantabulous Tara Tyler's blog.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Blog Tour Link #6 and Once Upon A Time.

Today, Rising Book 1: Resistance is featured over on the awesome Kate Johnston's blog. She posted about what it was like to see this book get written.

Today is also the last day to enter Laura's contest to win a paperback copy of Rising.

It's Sunday, and usually there's a new episode of Once Upon A Time on, though not tonight. I know quite a lot of people have been talking about it in blogs lately, but I'm curious: Do any of you watch the show Once Upon A Time, and if so, what do you think of it? What do you think of the way the stories interweave and how characters aren't always "good" and "bad," but far more layered and ambiguous? I'm loving it, and my kids are watching it with me--it's the first show they've watched me with me as it aired, so that's been fun. Of course, I'm a sucker for fairy tales anyway.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Blog Tour Link #5 - The Importance of Being Part of A Writing Group. Also, music.

First, today's Rising blog tour link is over at the lovely Faith King's blog. (She is also my co-author on the YA inspirational fantasy Restoration series. :D) She talks about the importance of being part of a writing group, so go check that out if you have a minute!

I have a gigantic playlist that I listened to while writing this book, but there was one particular song was on repeat for a lot of the time I wrote Rising Book 1. It was the theme song for my character Mairwyn (pronounced mire-win), who was one of my two narrators. It's called "Roadside" by Rise Against.

Hope you all have a fantabulous day!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Finding a balance and blog tour #4 link

Yesterday, I withdrew from this year's A-Z blog challenge. I did the challenge last year and had a blast and met some awesome people, but after having some long conversations and doing a lot of thinking yesterday, I realized I need to take a step or ten back in some things. Between family and homeschooling and editing and writing and blogging, I realized I have barely had any time to actually write. I'm on a deadline to finish Rising Book 2--I need a complete first draft by April, which shouldn't be a problem if I can actually sit down and do it. I know what needs to happen and I already have lots of the book written. But as April is the A-Z challenge...yeah. You see my conundrum. Even though I already had decided on my A-Z blog topics and even jotted down some ideas, I knew how the month of April and part of March would end up some bizarre blogging time-vacuum.

Plus, my kids' birthday are March and April, and one or two days for each birthday will be taken up with cake-making. Every year, I design and make the cakes for their birthdays. Last year, I made Appa from Avatar: The Last Airbender for my son:



and Wall-E for my daughter:



(Appa had, I kid you not, 22 cups of powdered sugar. It was a HUGE cake with so. much. frosting.)

This year, my son wants Lightning McQueen. My daughter just told me she wants a Hello Kitty cake.

I think all writers need to find a balance in what to do and what's too much and what they need to do in order to still be able to write. I have a lot of thoughts on this, but I'm still thinking over them, so I'll leave it at that.

How do you balance your writing with everything else you do?


Today's Rising blog tour is a review of the book over at the incredible Donna Weaver's blog.

The paperback giveaway at Laura's blog still has a few more days. (I'd posted it ended Saturday, but it ends Sunday.)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Blog Tour #3 Link

Thank you all for your wonderful comments on my blog the past couple of days. Aside from continuing to put together blog tour stuff, I've been spending most of the past couple of days writing Rising Book 2: Rebellion (which is the only other book in this series) and homeschooling and trying to keep up on housework.

Today's Rising Book 1: Resistance blog tour link is a guest post over on the fantabulous Laura Pauling's blog, in which I talk about the differences between writing my speculative fiction book versus my contemporary fiction book.

Laura (a different Laura—yes, there are a lot of Lauras out there) still has the giveaway for the signed paperback of Rising going on here: paperback giveaway. It's super easy to enter.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"Write Like You're the Only Person in the Room." Also, links to blog tour stop #2 and a giveaway.

Aside from the release of Rising Book 1, this week has been full of awesome stuff. First, I was hired as a freelance editor for Whiskey Creek Press, which I'm super excited about. I get the opportunity to combine three things I love: editing, reading fiction, and helping other writers with their books. I'm really looking forward to working with this publishing company and being a part of the process of helping authors get their books ready for publication.

Second, my son (who is turning nine in a few weeks) passed his most recent belt test in Taekwondo. He's a green belt now, so he starts advanced classes, and I have to get him sparring gear. My husband and I passed our tests as well and got our yellow belts. The helpful thing about having a son who's more advanced than us is that when we get stuck on a new pattern, we can be like, "Um, help, please?"

I did a post before on how Taekwondo is like writing. I've learned another thing about writing from Taekwondo, which ties in a lot with the Darth Vader/Comfort Zone stuff I was talking about recently. I've never done well when I have to perform in front of people. When I took gymnastics years ago, I was always super self-conscious about the fact that even mothers were watching. Well, when my son and I went to take our belt tests the week before last, there were like three hundred people there. About a third of them were testing, and about two thirds were watching, and there I was, a beginner student, expected to get up in front of judges and the whole room and show what I'd learned. Granted, they did have us test in groups of three or four, but I was so nervous when we walked into that room. I was self-conscious about even practicing in front of all those people. I leaned toward my son and told him, "I am so nervous. I'm going to forget my patterns or something. There are all these people watching!"

My son looked at me very earnestly and said, "Mommy, you just have to imagine you're the only person in the room."

My husband (who couldn't make it to that testing) told me pretty much the same thing when I frantically texted him before testing started.

So I took a deep breath and did just that. And I did fine. Then I used the same analogy recently in discussions with a fellow writer, because it's completely relatable to writing. Those scenes that make me nervous, I will remind myself to write as if I'm the only person there. I mean, I'm the only person looking at these scenes as I type, but I write them knowing that soon they'll be going to family and friends, and eventually, they'll be released into the world.

Those invisible eyes can be daunting. If you find yourself questioning what you're writing or worrying what other people are going to think, my advice to you is this: Write like you're the only person in the room.

Do the invisible eyes get to you or do you already write like you're the only person in the room?


And finally, today's Rising Book 1: Resistance links and information:

1. Yesterday there were people who participated in the release event for the book. I had been going to give away several e-copies of the books and announce the winners today, so here it is: everyone who participated in the Rising Release Event will receive an e-copy of the book. If you signed up and participated in that yesterday (or had told me you'd be doing it Monday or today), you should have received an email from me; if I somehow missed you, please email me at the address under "contact" at the top of my blog and let me know. Thank you all so much for your help in spreading the news!

2. Rachel Morgan is hosting today's blog tour. She's an incredibly generous and wonderful person and I'm thrilled to be featured on her blog. If you're not already following her, you totally should be. To check out my interview on her blog, go here: Blog Tour Stop #2

3. Laura, whom I met through Twitter some months ago, is giving away a paperback copy of Rising Book 1. She did this entirely on her own—she asked me about signing a copy of the book, but she put the whole thing together because she loved the book and wanted to share it. (Thank you, Laura!!) Her giveaway runs through this Sunday, the 26th, and you can check out the contest and enter it here on her blog: Rising Paperback Giveaway.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rising Book 1: Resistance is Now Available!

Today is the release event for my latest novel, Rising Book 1: Resistance! I'm so excited to finally get to share this with everyone. :D It's also the start of the blog tour--you can visit the awesome Barbara Kloss's blog to check that the first stop on the tour.

All Alphonse wants is a quiet summer at home before his final months at university. What he gets is a half-dead stranger on his doorstep and the task of delivering a package to the leader of his home country. Not long after he boards a train toward the capital, he's attacked by knights, elite soldiers of the neighboring king.

Alphonse is temporarily rescued by Mairwyn, a mechanic with a haunted past and a deep hatred of knights. Together, they attempt to carry out Alphonse's urgent errand, only to learn that if they fail, countless people will die.

And even if they succeed, they may not be able to prevent the war that lurks on the horizon.


Rising Book 1: Resistance is now available in:
Ebook format:

Amazon (Kindle)

Barnes and Noble (Nook)

Smashwords (everything else)



To see the book on Goodreads, you can go here: Rising Book 1 on Goodreads

And finally, you can still read the beginning of the book here.


Thanks to all of you for your encouragement and support through my process of working on this book. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it!! You are all awesome! I hope you have a fantabulous day. ^_^

Friday, February 17, 2012

Of Mermaid Inspiration

So, I was going to do a post today about writing scenes of hope/healing, as a follow up to my Darth Vader/Breaking out of your comfort zone post. However, I have been sick the past couple of days, and instead of writing the post on hopeful, healing scenes, I spent the day in bed, drinking tea and sucking on tootsie pops. (Okay, I did eat actual healthy food, too; I even managed to cook eggs this morning, despite my Nyquil-and-illness-induced-morning-haze.) While being sick in bed, I watched a bunch of episodes of a pre-teen/teenage show about girls who turn into mermaids if they get wet. Yup. Mermaids. (This now gives me the perfect excuse to draw a stick figure mermaid. I cannot resist.)

And you know what? I enjoyed it. Watching this TV show, that is, though I enjoyed drawing the mermaid, too. Most of my regular TV shows are "adult" and intense and sometimes silly, but still adult--and it was a lot of fun to watch this and see how the writers wove the character interactions and friendships--so far, I think they've done it really well, in a way that has kept me clicking to watch the next episode.

Sometimes, if I'm feeling worn out with my writing and I need inspiration, I'll pause and read a book, or watch some movies, or play some video games. Depending on my mood, any of these things can get my imagination going, or help me work through a plot problem, or whatever. Seeing different worlds and stories and characters that have been created by other people is a very powerful thing. Such is the case with me at the moment; taking a break and watching something different has really helped my creativity. When my head doesn't feel like it's stuffed full of cotton, I feel I'll be even more ready to dive back into my current novel. (Which, for the record, has absolutely nothing to do with mermaids.)

What helps you get your creative juices going? Has this winter been as insane for weather and illnesses for you as it has for me? How many licks DOES it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop??

Monday, February 13, 2012

Origins Blogfest

Today is the Origins Blogfest, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, Matthew McNish, DL Hammons, and Katie Mills. (Thank you all!)

The story of how my writing dreams began isn't really anything huge or profound. I've been writing since I could even attempt to spell words. I used to write stories for my first grade class and bring them in to read them. In third grade, I was working on a story about a planet made from candy. (I had an illustration of this concept in one of my first blog posts...let me see if I can dredge it up...)

Aha, here it is!

(The Twizzler grass was my favorite part of this story.)

I loved reading; I read any book I could get my hands on. My third grade teacher made my whole class learn how to read in the cafeteria when everyone was being loud, so we could learn to focus. I probably didn't need a lot of help in blocking things out when getting sucked into another world, and it sure didn't serve me well in fourth grade, when my next teacher was constantly trying to get my attention before class started. One time, I was so sucked into a book that it wasn't until my fourth grade teacher was like, "LAURA!" that I looked up and realized everyone was standing up for the pledge of allegiance.

I had a really hard time finishing stories, though--child and then teenage me had a difficult time with the concept that stories had to be finished when they got boring. There were so many shiny new plot bunnies to explore! And when I did come close to finishing, I suffered The Great Computer Crashes™ and didn't bother going back and rewriting everything. This attitude has, obviously, changed in the years since.

I finished my first "novel" at age fifteen. It took me two years to write it. I laugh a lot now, because it was about 90 pages long, and that seemed sooooo long to me. It was probably a novella, not a novel.

I've loved words for as long as I can remember. I love the idea that words can suck us in and spur the imagination onward; I love stories that can touch the heart and make me think about them for years afterward. I write because that's the story I want to tell: one that will make a mark on someone, that might leave an imprint. This dream didn't really ever have a definitive beginning--it's kind of just grown with me my whole life.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone - AKA The Darth Vader Scene

The other day, I wrote possibly the most horrible, torturous scene I have ever written. It was the Darth Vader of scenes.

I could have said it was the Darth Sidious of scenes, because that dude was just pure evil, but just like Darth Vader had some redeeming qualities, I suppose this scene, the only redeeming quality is that it helped me understand a lot better what one of my characters had been through.

I didn't want to write it, but the stupid thing was right there, poking me obnoxiously, threatening to slice me up with the lightsaber if I didn't write it. (Translation: when I need something expelled from my brain, it's best to write it, because then it's out and free and it leaves me alone.)

This scene isn't even going to be in my book. The effects of that scene and the aftermath of it, yes. This is pretty normal--I write things all the time not knowing if they'll ever be used, just because I need to get the scene out. Sometimes I'll write it at full-blast intensity and then pick what I need from it and figure out how to tweak it for the tone of that particular book.

As I said, it helped me understand the suffering of this character. It also helped me figure out what some steps toward healing will be. I'm big on moving toward hope and healing--but I sometimes break characters quite a bit before that comes.

I kind of wonder, what does it say about me that this could have come from my head? Then I go, I think it means I'm a writer.

I can't bring myself to actually look at this scene. I can't bear to see those words. I'm not even sure how I wrote them; they just poured out, and then they were done.

It's okay if I can't look back at it, because it's over and I don't have to think about it anymore. And after I wrote it, I went straight into writing a different scene of future help/healing/happiness, because I couldn't leave that awful moment suspended there.

My writing has taken me to some very dark, uncomfortable places. It has also taken me to some very happy, but still uncomfortable places. (And it's taken me to some flat out happy places, but that's not the point of today's post.) I've had to learn a lot about breaking outside of my bubbles. There have been times my beta readers/CPs have nudged me outside of my comfort zones and pushed me to do better, to give more, for the sake of the stories and the characters. I've found that when this happens, I tend to dive full-in. It's kind of all or nothing. (Which is why the next beta readers then have to go, "Um, Laura, this is a bit too much." And then I rewrite more and find a balance.)

It all comes down to the characters. If I'm not willing to let them be themselves, to explore their pain and their joy, even if I cringe at it, how am I going to be able to to do justice to their story? But it can be very hard, and exhausting, and take a lot out of a writer to portray that pain.

How do you deal with writing your characters' agony? Has a character ever pulled a scene out of you that you couldn't stand to look at afterward because the thought of what was suffered was too terrible? *waves hand* This is not the run-on sentence you're looking for....

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Three Blog Giveaways

Sparkling Reviews is graciously and generously holding two giveaways. The 2000 followers giveaway ends today and can be found here: 2000 followers giveaway and the Valentine's giveaway can be found Valentine's Giveaway. They're both huge giveaways, so check them out!

Five minutes after I posted this, I found another giveaway here: Kindle Touch