Wednesday, November 30, 2016

My next book cover reveal ~ Crawdad

I know I've been a little quiet this year, but I do have a surprise for you. I'm publishing a new novella titled Crawdad. It's a southern story, much like my first novel Hush Puppy, about a young man who goes on a cross country trek to find his dad after the woman he thought was his mom passes away.

The book is inspired a lot by what I've seen in the news over the last few years. Kids today are living in increasingly violent worlds, but many kids are not violent. They're just trying to do the best they can, you know? Full disclosure, I am a white woman of European descent, but I've always believed we are more alike than we are different and our stories are essentially the same. We are all born the same way, we grow up with hopes and dreams for our futures, and we all fall in love. We all experience pain and rejection at some point in our lives. If we're lucky, we experience great joy. As my character Recks says in my novel Vessel, "The outside doesn't matter. It's what's on the inside that counts." I truly believe that.


Crawdad is now available in print and e-book!




Book bloggers friends, if you'd like to host Crawdad during the book tour in December, sign up with 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A New Start ~ Vessel returns

I have news! My young adult, sci-fi, dystopian Vessel is returning in print. 


Call it Vessel 2.0 :)

You might recall, it was previously published as an e-book. I think that puts a book at a bit of a disadvantage, at least for young adult books. As technologically advanced as we think we are, print books are still in demand and many young readers only read print. Lesson learned!

If you haven't heard about the book before, it's the story of a slave girl and a thief who find themselves in a fight against the Reticents, a secret society that has claimed all knowledge for themselves after a solar storm wipes out all digital data on Earth.

So, now that the cover for the new edition is ready, I'd like to share it with you....











You can add Vessel to your Goodreads list now. 
The new print edition is available on Amazon


Saturday, November 19, 2016

It's happening soon! Sign up for the cover reveal :)



I'm pretty excited about this new book of mine peeps! If you blog at all, sign up with Rich in Variety to reveal the cover on Nov. 30 or join the blog tour in December.

Crawdad is a multi-cultural, contemporary story set in the South. If  you loved Hush Puppy, I think you'll love this one too.

Here's a look at some the inspiration for Crawdad.
Sign up soon!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Just a few thoughts about fear~

There's been a lot of internet noise for the last few months, maybe even years, about "The Other". You know, the people who are different, the people who come from far away, the people we know nothing about, but who seem really scary and violent. The Other.

For many Americans, The Other seems to be the other 7 billion people on the planet. Some of those 7 billion are very poor. Some of them are dying right now in terrible wars they didn't start, probably didn't even want. Some of them have awful diseases we don't see in the United States because of access to health care and vaccines. Many of them are children who have done nothing except to be unfortunate enough to have been born in places that are not as safe (relatively speaking) as the United States.

What bothers me about this noise regarding The Other is the sense that people here seem to think "I've got mine. I don't need to help anyone else." This includes The Other in their own country as anyone who is poor, looks different, and perhaps is struggling in some way - the vet with PTSD, the person living out of their car, the beggar in the Walmart parking lot.

For those that fear The Other (make no mistake it's fear), there's no urgency to help their struggling fellow Americans, and certainly no desire to help refugees from other places. I've got mine. Go away. I hear the internet noise everyday and it makes my head hurt.

Fortunately, there are also many people in this world who are kind and generous and have less fear for whatever reason. They weren't raised to believe they needed a gun to protect themselves and their stuff. No one ever taught them "it's me against them". That gives me hope.

No matter how self reliant you are, there will come a day when you need help. It happens to everyone. Not just the poor or the less fortunate. Everyone.

As my cancer-surviving friend says "We're all terminal." One day, we will all get sick or hurt, maybe when we least expect it, and we'll find ourselves at the mercy of others for help. Maybe then we'll understand that struggling doesn't make you less of a person and it doesn't make you less worthy of care. It makes you human.

I feel sorry for those who feel such fear. For all our sakes, I hope they can find peace.


Monday, November 7, 2016

Cover Reveal: Secrets of a Reluctant Princess by Casey Griffin with Giveaway

EntangledTeenComingSoon

Welcome to the Cover Reveal for
Secrets of a Reluctant Princess by Casey Griffin
presented by Entangled Teen!
Be on the lookout for this upcoming title, and be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of the post!
 
Life-Action Role Playing gamers, this one's for you!
 
Author, Casey Griffin's thoughts on the cover:
 
Talk about punch! The colors immediately grab my eye and the font is so fun and unruly. I feel like the combination of those two things makes the cover of Secrets of a Reluctant Princess striking. With the simple yet powerful design, I think it will scream out from the bookshelf "pick me!" Or maybe that's just because I love pink. And glitter? What's not to love? I'm so happy with the results.
 
soarp-1600x2400
 
At Beverly Hills High, you have to be ruthless to survive…
Adrianna Bottom always wanted to be liked. But this wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. Now, she’s in the spotlight…and out of her geeky comfort zone. She’ll do whatever it takes to turn the rumor mill in her favor—even if it means keeping secrets. So far, it’s working. Wear the right clothes. Say the right things. Be seen with the right people. Kevin, the adorable sketch artist who shares her love of all things nerd, isn’t exactly the right people. But that doesn’t stop Adrianna from crushing on him. The only way she can spend time with him is in disguise, as Princess Andy, the masked girl he’s been LARPing with. If he found out who she really was, though, he’d hate her. The rules have been set. The teams have their players. Game on.
add to goodreads
Secrets of a Reluctant Princess by Casey Griffin Publication Date: March 7, 2016 Publisher: Entangled Teen Genre: Contemporary, YA
 
About-the-Author2
casey-griffin
 
Casey Griffin can often be found at comic conventions on her days off from her day job, driving 400 ton dump trucks in Northern Alberta, Canada. As a jack of all trades with a resume boasting registered nurse, English teacher, and photographer, books are her true passion. Casey is a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel finalist, and is currently busy writing every moment she can.
 
giveaway2
Complete the Rafflecopter below for an chance to win!
 
 
Chapter-by-Chapter-blog-tour-button
 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Just a little #SampleSunday from Crawdad~

My newest young adult novel is here! It's called Crawdad and it's a little hard to describe. It's a contemporary tale with a bit of magic. It's the story of Jamil, but it's also the story of Aisha, Angel, Desi, and Sebastian. Crawdad was inspired by my love of the diverse people and places across the South, by music, and by current, terrible events I see in the news.  I made an inspiration  Pinterest page for Crawdad if you want to see.


There's some difficult topics in the book that I haven't attempted to solve because it's not meant to be a preachy book and I obviously don't have all the answers. It's meant to be a hopeful book with an uplifting message while acknowledging some of the tough situations today's teens are up against. I hope you enjoy reading it. Here's a short sample from Jamil:




It wasn’t dark yet, but it was getting there and the mosquitoes buzzed around me pretty thick. The cicadas up high in the pines drowned out everything with their constant sawing screeching noise. I went right. I had to tell someone where I was headed. Missy wasn’t the hottest girl in our school, or even the smartest, but she was pretty darn close and she understood me. I had to hurry cause her mama was pretty strict about not letting me come over past seven on a school night.

I was on her doorstep in just a few minutes. The humidity was so high now just walking felt like going for a swim. I was glad when Missy’s mama let me into their air conditioned house.

“Is Missy here?” I asked, already knowing she was.

“She’s in her room. Why’d you bring all that stuff?” asked her mama, eyeballing my backpack.
“Um, I have a homework question I need to ask her,” I mumbled. It could happen, right? Like, would you turn in my homework while I’m gone?

 “Pfft! Homework?” It was plain she didn’t believe me.

 “Yeah.”

“OK, go on back, but keep that door open. And no trumpet! I’m watching my show.”

Some nights I’d play trumpet for Missy in her room, but I didn’t mean to tonight. I walked softly down the hall and peeked into her room. Missy was stretched out on her bed reading a book.

 “Hey,” I whispered from the doorway. She looked up from her book.

“Hey,” she said. “I missed you.”

I sat down on the bed next to her, leaving my stuff on the floor. She let go of her book and sat up to give me a hug. I’d hugged a ton of people at the funeral, but none of them affected me the way she did. I could smell the flowery soap she’s just shampooed her damp hair with. She was a warm, safe place to fall into and I held her tight.

 “You OK?” I heard her say before I let her go.

 “Yeah, I think so.”

 She pulled back and looked at me to make sure I was telling the truth.

 “Audition is next week,” I said.

Missy, more than anyone after my mama, knew what trumpet meant to me.

 “Will you be ready?” she asked.

 “Gonna try. There’s something I gotta do first, but I think I can be back in time.”

“Be back? Where are you going?”

I had to think a minute how to explain it. I hadn’t told anyone about my dad yet.

 “Before my mama died, she told me something,” I started off.

“What?”

 “You know how I always thought my daddy was dead?”

 “Yeah.”

 “Well, he’s not. He’s living in Charleston right now.”

 “You mean South Carolina?”

 “Yeah. And my mama ain’t my mama. She’s my aunt,” I added, shaking my head. I still couldn’t believe it.

 “Wow,” said Missy, thinking it over.

 “All this time my mama didn’t tell me ‘cause she didn’t want me to know.”

 “Maybe she had a good reason?”

 “Maybe, but I can’t think of any good ones. How could you keep that from somebody?”

 Missy didn’t say nothing. She just twisted her lips a little the way she always did when she was thinking about stuff.

 “It’s been driving me crazy ever since she told me. I can’t concentrate on nothing else, Missy. Not even trumpet,” I said.

 Missy stayed quiet. She wasn’t like one of those girls who would talk your ear off about nail polish and stupid stuff. Or one of those people who just loved the sound of their own voice or couldn’t stand it being quiet. I liked that about her. She really listened.

 “I’m gonna go find him,” I said, staring at my trumpet and the red and white strap she made in school colors for it.

 “What? Like on the Internet?” she asked.

 “No, in Charleston.”

 “You're going to Charleston? South Carolina?” She gave me that I-think-you-crazy look.

 “Yeah, I need to at least see him for myself,” I said.

 “But how? You don’ have a car.”

 “I’ll just hitch a ride with a trucker. Should only take a day or so to get there. I can make it back by audition.”

“Jamil, you should be practicing, not hitchhiking, especially not with some drugged up truck driver.” She was frowning now.

"It’ll be fine. I done it before. And I’ll practice on the trip,” I offered.

“Let’s try to find him on the Internet first. Lots of folks find missing family that way.”

“Something tells me he’s not on there, Missy. Besides, I need to see him in person, look him in the eye.”

“Why?” She truly didn’t understand and I didn’t know how to explain it to her.

“I just do.”

“Well then, wait until after audition. You don’t want to take the chance you’ll miss it,” she said.

“If I don’t do this now, I may as well not do to the audition. I’m not gonna be able to play any good until I get this taken care of. I know it. I just know it.”

“Now you’re just being hard headed,” said Missy, frowning.

“I guess I am, but I’m right on this. I know I am.”

Missy twisted her lips again.

“Then why’d you come here?” she asked.

“I wanted you to know where I’m going. I didn’t want you to worry about me.”

“Oh, I’ll worry all right. You got any money?”

“No, but I packed some food. I’ll get by,” I told her.

“You can’t go all the way to Charleston without no money, “she said, getting up off the bed. She crossed the room to her desk an opened a drawer. She pulled out some cash and offered it to me.

“What? I can’t take that,” I said.

“You can pay me back later. It’s only seventy-two dollars.” I shook my head no, but she wasn’t listening. “You’ll starve. Take it,” she insisted, shoving the money into my hands. “Maybe you should take my cell phone too.”

“I won’t have no way to charge it.” She frowned again, knowing I was right.

“OK, but you have to find a way to call me every day and let me know you’re okay.”

“I will,” I said, smiling. She was giving her blessing, which I think was what I might have wanted all along.

“I’m sure I can find somebody to loan me a phone,” I said, standing to stuff the cash into the pocket of my jeans.

Missy grabbed me in another urgent hug.

“Just so you know, I’m not OK with this,” she said into my chest. She might have been crying, but then, I might have been too.

“It’ll be all right,” were the words that came out of my mouth automatically. Does anyone ever believe those words when they say them? Probably not. It’s almost like a gut reaction. You have to say them.

“Get home as fast as you can,” she said.

I nodded before she pulled me into a kiss so sweet and warm I forgot all about leaving for a minute. At a time like this, her mom would usually barge in and ask what was going on, but not this time. Somehow I managed to get my head back on straight and pick up my stuff.

“I’ll be back by the nineteenth,” I said.

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

That was my last night in Theodore, Alabama for a while. I stepped out into the darkness and the heat and headed toward the highway.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Checking in on 2016 Goals

Early this year I set out some goals for 2016, not knowing what this year would bring. Boy, was I surprised. I thought I'd take a minute to check over those goals and ask myself, what the heck happened??  I'm not making excuses, but I can already tell you many of these fell by the wayside in March when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I also lost three aged, beloved pets this spring. It was not a fun time.

So what were my goals for 2016?

1) Read lots of books - The first casualty was reading. It usually is the first thing to go because it's a "nice to do" not a "have to do". I did read the new Harry Potter play, which was mildly entertaining. And Mrs. Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, which I liked. (The movie totally changed the ending though.)

2) Write lots of words - Hoo boy! This I did NOT do. At all. When you're worried about your health and going to doctor appointments every week or more, you just don't feel that creative. No new projects were started this year. JuNoWriMo was skipped because of radiation therapy in June. However, I did complete edits on a middle grade manuscript I'm quite fond of called "Troll Teeth and other Bedtime Stories".

3) Travel - I was a little tied down this spring with radiation treatments every day for six and a half weeks, but after that I went to north Idaho to see family. I've also had some good day trips, some to places I've never been before. Most excitingly, I've got reservations for next spring break in St. Petersburg, Florida. I haven't been there for over twenty years.

4) Exercise and eat healthy - This really shouldn't be a goal; it should be every day life. I do mostly eat healthy, but I can't lie - when I thought I might be taking chemotherapy, I did some stress eating. I thought it might be helpful to bulk up before chemo so I had a little weight to lose anyway. Probably not what a doctor would advise, but it made sense to me at the time. I didn't end up getting chemotherapy, so I started watching my portions again. My exercise routine was interrupted by my surgery and I'm afraid I never really got back on the bandwagon. I still enjoy seeing how far I can go on my Fitbit each day, but I think weight bearing exercise is just as important as steps are. People keep saying "sitting is the new smoking". I got a standing desk at work and it's pretty cool.

5) Publish - I did the query thing, a got few nibbles, but no bites. My self-published titles are doing well on Amazon, so I decided to self-publish "Crawdad". It should be available very soon.  The rights to "Vessel" were reverted to me from the publisher this year, so I'll be self-publishing that as well. "Troll Teeth" is with a publisher for consideration, as is "Star Taker, Sky Dragon", a steampunk adventure story. If those don't work out, they're both candidates for self-publishing too.


6) Grow a garden that survives - This one I achieved!!  A new fence around the garden and a new greenhouse helped a lot, as well as a drop in the vole population spike.  I got tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, beans, onions, lettuce, and beets. I made pickles, salsa, tomato sauce, and spaghetti sauce. I've still got tomatoes, but I think I've canned just about all the stuff we can eat, so I'm not sure what I'll do with those. I also plan to make enchilada sauce when my anchos are dried. I also grew the prettiest flowers! The frost got the zinnias already, but there's still poppies and marigolds.

7) Save some money - yeah, not so much. Maybe next year?

8) Do some home improvements - other than the new greenhouse, not much of this happened either
 
9) Meditate - This helped me tremendously in March and April, which were terribly stressful months. I've meditated before with just a timer, but his year I found an app that had guided mediations for things like stress and worry. It was just what I needed. Check out the Gaiam Mediation Studio if you're interested.



10) Gratitude - If I didn't know how to do this before, I sure do now. Nothing like a life-threating illness to make you appreciate the life you have. I read an inspiring quote the other day that's going to stick with me for awhile....

We don't always know how we'll die, but we can always choose how we will live~

I chose to live life in peace, love, and gratitude.