Monday, September 30, 2013

Kara Leigh Miller Blog Stop #6 on the Hush Puppy Tour

Raindrops on Roses

Today I'm at Kara Leigh Miller's blog talking about my writing process and how I came to be a writer.

I hope you'll come on over and say hi.  Kara's about to launch a new book of her own, so you'll want to check that out~

As you may already know, my young adult novel Hush Puppy involves an interracial relationship.  The main character, Corrine, is a black girl.  This book is my first attempt at writing characters that are "outside my race" if you will.

Since the release of Hush Puppy, I've met several writers of color through the blog tour and on Twitter/Goodreads, who have really encouraged my efforts to at least try to portray characters of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds.  One blogger asked if I would create a quick guide to "writing multicultural".  I'm sure I'm no expert, but here's what I try to do~

1)      Get out of your comfort zone – don’t tell yourself you can’t do something just because you’ve never tried it. Don’t limit your imagination.

2)      Focus on the same, not the different. Inside, we’re all the same.

3)      Look around you. You already know a lot of people with a variety of experiences you can draw from. If you don’t, go meet some.

4)      Remember respect. Always respect your characters, no matter what their background. Represent them clearly and honestly. Don’t make them into cardboard cutout stereotypes.

5)      Tell a good story. It really doesn’t matter what your characters look like if the story’s no good. No one will care and as writers, we want readers to care more than anything.

I hope this inspires you to give your characters diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds when you write. Enjoy~

Friday, September 27, 2013

You Pick the Cover!! Rachel Schieffelbein Cover Reveal

Run for the Roses
Release Date: 11/2013
by Swoon Romance

Summary from Goodreads:
Abigail Conrad has spent her whole life training for one goal: to win the roses at the Arabian Youth Nationals. She’s given up friends, a social life, and doesn’t have time to even think about guys -- much less date!

Now that she’s headed off to college in the fall, it’s her last chance to be a Youth National Champion, and she won’t let anything distract her from that dream.

Except maybe Chase, the older brother of Abigail's biggest rival. He’s charming, funny, and possibly Abigail's biggest problem. How can she focus on riding when her mind keeps wandering to Chase’s green eyes and confident smile?

With her dream on the line, Abigail had better learn to fight her growing attraction to Chase, or she might end up losing the roses and the guy.

Please help Swoon Romance decide which cover to use by voting below:

About the Author
Rachel grew up in a tiny town in Minnesota. She still lives there, with her husband and their four kids. She coaches high school speech and theater, rides Arabian horses, reads as much as she can, and writes stories.

Author Links:

Cover Reveal Organized by:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Getting to Write "The End"

UPDATE: The entire Storyteller series is now available on Amazon. It would make a lovely Christmas present for your favorite reader~

I just had the pleasure of writing “The End” on another rough draft this week.  This one is the final installment of the Storyteller Trilogy, so it’s been a lot of fun. Writing about fanciful creatures and magic is always fun, right?  This was probably the fastest first draft I’ve ever written.  Having a well-planned outline made it super smooth, lemme tell ya.  It was twenty chapters and I told myself I would shoot to write a chapter a week.  I was able to stick to it and actually exceed the goal some weeks. In less than twenty weeks, voila! A rough draft! Having a weekly goal with a date attached to it was a real motivator for me. I’m going to do it every time I start a book now.

So that was exciting!  I had a beer, patted myself on the back, and took a few nights off. So what now? Now I have to start editing.  Well actually, in my case, I have to finish typing the manuscript because I’m a hand writer. Then I can start editing. I think I’ll use the weekly goal technique to plan the editing work as well.  I’d like to self-publish the book by Thanksgiving, so that gives me about eight weeks to get it ship shape.

What about you? What tricks have you found that help speed your writing along? What do you struggle with?

Just for fun, here's an excerpt from Book III The Last Page~ 

Lily could count the spells she knew by heart on one hand – not many. How can I save the True World like this? she wondered. From the back of the dragon, Ironclaw, she could see the towns far below them, teeming with Fomorians.  Their flickering fires lit up the twilight, twinkling like fireflies, but now Lily knew how much more sinister those lights were. Each one represented a hand against them. Lily felt hopelessly outnumbered.  How many trolls can Edan gather? A troll might best four, maybe five Formorians?

Lily took a deep breath of cold air. The night was growing frosty and she shivered. She was thankful for Gran leaning against her back to keep her warm. Jude and Heather rode silently behind Gran, each one lost in their own thoughts.

“Dragon! Look there!” shouted Jude, pointing to a thick cloud bank ahead.
“I see it,” said Ironclaw. “It’s one of Kane’s storms, no doubt. Hang on tight.”
“You can go around?” asked Lily.

“Knell Castle is directly below us. The only way is through.”

Ironclaw’s head dipped lower and she seemed to flatten her wings against her sides, launching into a steep dive. Once in the clouds, a cold stinging ice hit Lily in the face. Lightning flashed, illuminating the gray clouds for a split second. They were not alone.

“Harpies!” cried Heather, as the dragon dodged one of the hideous bird women suddenly swirling around them.

“They’ll tell Kane,” said Gwendolyn.

“Ironclaw, don’t let them get away,” said Lily. The dragon nodded.

“I don’t intend to.”

Ironclaw changed course faster than Lily thought possible, spinning around to seize the closest harpy in her jaws. Its scream became a gurgle, turning Lily’s stomach. The dragon dropped its prey and went for the other harpy, which was flapping as fast as it could in fear. They were no match for a dragon. It was easily dispatched as well. Lily closed her eyes, cringing at the screams and the howling of the wind whipping her face.

A crash of thunder so loud and so close Lily’s hair stood up caused the dragon to dive again, so suddenly Lily thought Ironclaw must have been hit.  Heather screamed somewhere behind her. Lily dug her heels into the dragon’s shoulder, her nails into her neck, and fought her own panic.
“Oh mother, protect me,” she wished, wondering if they might actually die.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hush Puppy Blog Tour Stop #5 ~ Laura James

Today I'm over at Laura James' blog doing an interview about Hush Puppy and my writing habits. She asks some pretty entertaining questions, so you should check it out!


Hush Puppy has been receiving some of the most lovely kudos here lately. I just wanted to share a bit of a review on Amazon

Hush Puppy starts out simple and sweet: a 17-year-old black girl in North Carolina meets a white boy her age and starts a friendship. Corrine's life is difficult, but it's not stereotypically tragic. It's something that many readers can relate to, as is Jamie's. Corrine handles it well, though. She tackles racism, poverty, absent parents, and peer pressure with admirable grace, usually taking the high road. She's not a Mary Sue character, though: she has moments when that decision is so hard to make. In the end, she serves as a role model for real girls.

Jamie isn't quite as strong as Corrine, taking his trials but blaming others for them. At this point, he doesn't have high hopes for the future. Jamie is right in the middle of the toughest part of his life, and he's well aware of it. There were a couple of moments in the book where I felt Jamie wasn't worth the trouble he caused, but apparently the heroine of the book had more faith in him than I did.

Hope you've gotten your copy and will review soon too!  And if you haven't gotten a copy yet, I'll be signing print books at the Barnes and Noble in Twin Falls, Idaho, on October 19, 2013 starting at 11 am.  I'll stay till they kick me out :)  Come see me if you can!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Welcome #UNCommonYA author Julie Anne Lindsey~


What you don't know can kill you . . .
Ever since she could remember, Elle has had to hop from town to town to keep up with her dad's demanding career as a corporate insurance agent. Each time, a reoccurring nightmare followed her wherever she went--until the day that the frightening figures haunting her at night became all too real. When news of a serial killer spreads throughout her new school, Elle worries that the Reaper has been leaving her his calling card in the form of cigarette butts on her doormat and an unusual ribbon in her locker. With the help of Brian, a boy she meets at a flea market, she discovers that this isn't her first encounter with the murderer and that her father has been concealing her true identity for the past twelve years. But despite her father's desperate attempts to protect her, Elle still comes face to face with the darkness she has been running from her whole life. Trapped in the woods and with help hundreds of miles away, will Elle be able to confront the Reaper and reclaim the life she lost?
Barnes & Noble"Ms. Lindsey crafts an exquisite tale that kicked my adrenaline up with every turn of the page. Deceived is stunning and more than a little scary. From the first page, I had to know what happens next, while at the same time, I had to know what happened before. As Elle's life unravels, the reader will feel just as raw and betrayed as she does." --Gwen Hayes, author of Falling Under

To read more and learn about the author visit ~ Enjoy!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hush Puppy Blog Tour Stop #4 at Rachel Schieffelbein's

jalapeno hushpuppies
Hi Everyone!  I’m so glad Rachel invited me to visit with you on her blog as part of my book release blog tour.  If you don't already know, I’ve just published a young adult contemporary novel titled Hush Puppy.  It's had some lovely reviews, such as~
  Hush Puppy is a sweet, sweet story of conquering prejudices, forgiveness and family, and a reminder that positive perspective, determination, and the support of one special person are enough to overcome whatever trauma life may deal.
So far, I’ve done lots of author interviews and talked plenty about myself. Today I want to switch gears a little. I’d like to talk with you about the themes in the book and what I was striving for when I wrote it.  I’m a huge fan of themes in writing. Hop on over to Rachel's blog and see what's new! And if you just want to look at pretty pictures that illustrate the themes in the book, go HERE. Peace~

Sunday, September 15, 2013

YA Romance Novel Hush Puppy by Lisa T. Cresswell

Hush Puppy is the story of Corrine Lamb, a seventeen year old black girl, and Jamie Armstrong, a poor white boy, living in a backwater North Carolina town. Intelligent Corrine, abandoned by her mother, and artsy Jamie, forced to play football by a redneck father, both dream of leaving their podunk town and never looking back.   
Their shared love of literature and a dream of a better life brings them together and a romance blossoms between them in a secret place of their own in the steamy North Carolina woods. When Jamie is involved in the accidental death of a white girl, he's terrified of his abusive father. Corrine takes the blame to protect Jaime, with dire consequences for herself and her dreams of the future. Her life in danger, Corrine's left wondering if Jamie ever cared about her at all.

The events surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin underscore how prevalent fear and hate still is in our country. Sadly, many of the themes explored in Hush Puppy are extremely relevant to today's youth. It's my hope that Hush Puppy is a story not only about poverty and race, but about hope, friendship, and the power of love.  Enjoy~


                           Amazon  Barnes & Noble

Early reviews have been overwhelmingly positive:

With a lot of emotion and skill, Cresswell weaves together a story that promotes the power of friendship and the importance of being true to oneself.

Hush Puppy is a sweet, sweet story of conquering prejudices, forgiveness and family, and a reminder that positive perspective, determination, and the support of one special person are enough to overcome whatever trauma life may deal.

To read an excerpt and more about the author, click on over to

Friday, September 13, 2013

Welcome #UnCommonYA Author Elisa Nader

Broken Boys in Young Adult and New Adult
Escape from Eden by Elisa Nader
Escape from Eden by Elisa Nader
Today's guest author is Elisa Nader, whose Escape from Eden features the “rebellious and sexy” Gabriel, who helps the heroine in her journey. Gabriel, like all of the boys Elisa lists below, is broken in some way, and she's here to talk about why she finds these boys so alluring. Thanks, Elisa!
I’m a sucker for broken boys in books, especially in Young and New Adult titles. I’d call them “tortured heroes,” but that feels a little off to me. Broken boys are struggling, like tortured heroes, but they’re not quite adult enough, or not quite mature enough, to make us completely aggravated with them. Sure, we get frustrated, but their occasional bouts of self-pity, brooding, and assholery are, most times, understandable. They’re young, and trying to find their place in the world. Even when you guess they must be acting out, you suspect there’s a very good reason.
I set out to write a broken boy in my YA book Escape from Eden. Gabriel’s broken, but covers his pain with sardonic quips and *sigh* a bad attitude. Why did I want to write a broken boy? Because they compel me to keep reading, keep discovering what makes them who they are and why they act as they do.
Here they are, in no particular order, some of my favorite Broken Boys in YA and NA:
• Jace in The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare: Abused, arrogant, angsty.
“I don't want to be a man,“ said Jace. ”I want to be an angst-ridden teenager who can't confront his own inner demons and takes it out verbally on other people instead.“ —Jace, City of Ashes
• We should probably add Will Herondale to this list, too, from Clare’s Infernal Devices series, because talk about broken! Cursed not to love! Drawn to a Downworlder! Trying everything to save his best friend from certain death! Love. Love. Love.
• Josh in The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay: Emancipated, somewhat nihilistic teen woodworker who interacts with practically no one. Meow-za!
• Four in Divergent by Veronica Roth: He’s called Four for a reason, folks. A reason that makes him all mysterious and—yum—broken.
“I’m not sadistic.” [Four] doesn’t yell. I wish he would yell. It would scare me me less. He leans his face close to mine… And says, “If I wanted to hurt you, Don’t you think I would have done that already?”—Four, Divergent
• Warner in the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi: You think he’s psycho, but is he psycho or broken? And, in book 2 we meet his dad, who seems to be a full-fledged jackhole. (I’m team Warner, obvi).
• Gabriel and Nick in Brigid Kemmerer’s Elemental Series (Hot twins!): One thinks that everyone blames him for his parents’ death (and deals with it by being an arrogant ass), the other is harboring a secret. (Did I mention Hot? And Twins?)
She glanced between him and Gabriel. “You do his homework?”
“Just the math. It’s a miracle he can count to ten.”
“I can count to one.” Gabriel gave him the finger.
• Lucas in Easy by Tammara Webber: Tattooed, artistic, mysterious bad-boy. And he’s all glance-y. Which means plenty o’ charged eye contact between our heroine and Lucas! Oh, and he’s got a secret, too.
• Lazar in the Otherkin series by Nina Berry: A whack-a-doodle dad + isolated, strict upbringing + tortured soul + needs love = broken boy hotness personified.
“Pain wrote lines on his face, but he made it and stood, swaying. He was a murdering bastard, but he had guts. With his high cheekbones, broad shoulders, and tousled blond hair, he looked like a bloody, vengeful angel. Only his eyes gave away the poison inside.” About Lazar, Otherkin
• All three Fuentes Brothers in the Perfect Chemistry novels by Simone Elkeles. That’s right. I said ALL THREE!
“Makin' mistakes ain't a crime, you know. What's the use of having a reputation if you can't ruin it every now and then?”—Alex, Perfect Chemistry
• Matt and Finn (more brothers!) in Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park: One is awkward and nerdy, the other hot and perfect. Both broken, one well-beyond repair, the other still able to be saved by Julie, our fair heroine.
“I put my pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else. It's the way I take them OFF that makes me better than you.”—Finn, Flat-Out Love
• Sam in The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater: Uh, yeah. I mean, damn. If your parents did what his parents did you him, you’d be pretty broken, too.
• Daemon in Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Lux series: Hot and arrogant? YES! Alien? DING, DING! Total douche? Maybe not entirely. Humans are dangerous to him and his family? Yeah-ya. Is there so much sexual tension in this series you can bounce a coin off it? Oh damn, yes.
”You jerk.“
Grinning, he backed down the steps. ”I'll see you at noon, Kitten.“
”I hate you,“ I hissed.
”The feeling's mutual.“ He glanced over his shoulder. ”Twenty bucks says you wear a one-piece swimsuit.“—Daemon, Obsidian
• Travis in Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire: Anyone who acts like that—jackassiness and all—has to have some issues lurking behind his eyes. Right?
• The Darkling in Leigh Bardugo’s The Grisha series: I like to think he’s not totally evil. *squeezes eyes shut* *crosses fingers* *repeats to self, He’s not evil, he’s not evil, he’s not evil.*
“The problem with wanting,” he whispered, his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, "is that it makes us weak.” —The Darkling, Shadow and Bone
• Henry in the Luxe series by Anna Godbersen: Not your typical party boy from 1899. He falls in love with the wrong girl while he’s forced to be with another girl he can’t stand (She’s totally evil, BTW).
“You love her,” Teddy observed quietly.
Henry replied with an uncharacteristic lack of irony: “Yes.”
Teddy’s eyes shifted to the plaster interlacing that decorated the ceiling in curlicues. “Lord, you never make anything easy, do you.”
“No.”—Rumors, Anna Godbersen
Help me with my list! What broken boys in YA and NA books do you love?


Monday, September 9, 2013

Morgan Shamy - Stop #3 on the Hush Puppy blog tour

Lexington Style North Carolina BBQ

Good Monday peeps!  This week is the third stop on the Hush Puppy Release blog tour.  Today, I'm over at Morgan Shamy's blog. Morgan was one of the very first people to read the original draft of Hush Puppy when we met at a Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators revision retreat. She's an amazing writer and her advice helped make the story what it is today. 


Today I'm blogging about what inspired me to write Hush Puppy. I hope you'll visit Morgan's blog and read all about it~

Saturday, September 7, 2013

My favorite romances~

Redoute and Mary Rose | A1 Pictures

Happy Saturday peeps! 

If you've read Hush Puppy already, you'll know there's a bit of romance involved.  Someone asked me to name five favorite romance books recently.

 I have to admit, I did a bit of an uh-oh.  While I love romantic elements in books, I haven’t read any true romance novels in awhile. So, here are five (not necessarily romance) novels with romances that I loved reading.

Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Anne of Green Gables series  by L.M. Montgomery
Bridge to Tarabithia by Katherine Paterson
I think these books appeal to me because they’re about first love and all the crazy, mixed up feelings that come with that. They aren’t muddied up with baggage.  For the most part, they’re full on, head over heels, I’ll die without you-type love stories. I guess I like it complicated and messy, as you can see from my writing.  Many of these stories inspired the romance in Hush Puppy.
It's the story of Corrine Lamb, a seventeen year old, black girl, and Jamie Armstrong, a poor white boy, living in a backwater North Carolina town.  Intelligent Corrine, abandoned by her mother, and artsy Jamie, forced to play football by a redneck father, both dream of leaving their podunk town and never looking back. 
Their shared love of literature and a dream of a better life brings them together and a romance blossoms between them in a secret place of their own in the steamy North Carolina woods.  When Jamie is involved in the accidental death of a white girl, he’s terrified of his abusive father.  Corrine takes the blame to protect Jaime, with dire consequences for herself and her dreams of the future.  Her life in danger, Corrine’s left wondering if Jamie ever cared about her at all.
There's a certain Romeo and Juliet theme to the story because Corrine and Jamie keep their relationship secret from the rest of the world, although at one point, Corrine tells Jamie, "I'm not killing myself for you."  I love that "what happens when you fall in love with the wrong person?" question.
And of course, Bridge to Tarabithia was major influence on the story, mainly for it's themes of friendship and loss. It's a beautiful story everyone should read at least once.  What are your favorite romances? Let me know~

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

William Hazelgrove introduces you to THE PITCHER's main character!

Please welcome another UncommonYA Author today ~ William Hargrove

In the novel The Pitcher, Ricky Hernandez is a Mexican American boy with a golden arm but no money for lessons. He is dyslexic and the victim of domestic abuse as his father comes back and steals money and hits him and his mother. A broken down World Series Pitcher, Jack Langford, who lives across the street, sits in his garage and drinks beer.
Ricky's mother Maria is sick with Lupus and desperate to get his son lessons to make the high school team.  The Pitcher is a man who is in mourning over his wife and cannot move on.

Maria convinces him to coach her son and they make progress but then he goes on a binge like Ricky's father did, and doesn't show up. Maria steadily gets sicker and is nervous about her immigration status. A Tea Party mom reveals that Maria is an illegal immigrant and bars her son from trying out for the team. The Pitcher finds out she has no medical insurance and pays for her hospital bills.

In a turnabout he and Maria date and then fall out. It comes down to the final game and a tryout where Ricky is barred. The Pitcher has a decision to make.

Find out more about William Hazelgrove and his books: The Pitcher (Koehler Books, August, 2013)
One Up (Merit Press, March, 2014)
  The View From Hemingway's Attic
  Cell Lit
NPR Interview with Robert Siegel
Sixty Second Stories for your phone
Rocket Man Book Trailer
Reading Rocket Man from Hemingway's Attic

Buy William's books:
Amazon US, Amazon Canada, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Few Things Nobody Told me about Publishing

Good Monday to you~

So Hush Puppy has been out a couple weeks now and it's been a real roller-coaster of ups and downs, highs and lows, and just plain general confusion. Being newly published, I've been excited and elated and at times, discouraged by it all.  I'm doing my best to just go with the flow and not get too worked up by any of it.  Here's some of the things I'm discovering that I never thought about or learned about before.

1)  Publishing is just as glacially slow after the book comes out as it is before. I am eager to know what readers think, but it takes time for them to find and read a book. Even longer to review it. I know all that in my rational mind, but I'm still dying to know what readers think.  Receiving copies of the book and arranging signings with bookstores is also equally slow, which leads to the second thing I didn't know.

2) I have to ask local bookstores to carry my book and they must give their blessing. I guess I just assumed bookstores would be willing to carry books of all kinds. I've also learned that some book stores don't like print on demand books because they can't return them if they don't sell.  Call me crazy, but I thought only printing the books you need would help save some trees. I look at it as a good thing. I hope to learn more about how this end of the business works and I will keep asking questions.

3) Looking at some ridiculous sales rank squiggles on Amazon Author Central will drive you batty. Here's the roller coaster part. The lines go up and down like a theme park ride designed to make you puke.  I've decided it's probably best not to look at them, but it's like a train wreck that's hard not to see. Even Amazon admits their figures can't take into account all sales of your book, so it's really just a snapshot of what's happening on the Amazon website at that moment, nothing more. Right? Right!

4) I also realize now I haven't got the foggiest notion how to reach school and public librarians, the true gatekeepers of young readers in all of this. If my readers are high school age, the best way for them to find my book is in their school library, no?  This is a puzzle piece I really need to find out more about.

None of this is to say it isn't worth it.  My book is being read (and hopefully enjoyed) by people I don't even know and that's very exciting. I just hope I get the hang of this marketing thing. If any of you have some helpful hints or ideas for me, I'd love to hear them~