Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Importance of Writers' Conferences

This week I'm teaching a class and directing a table at Boot Camp at Storymakers writers' conference. (Thursday-Saturday) It's going to be better than chocolate cake. Seriously!

 This is the conference that taught me how to be an author. I've been going for six years now and I still say it's the best writers' conference around.

I get asked all the time for advice about what aspiring authors should do to become a great writer and I always tell them to go to writers' conferences. It is the most effective way to learn the skills you need to become a successful author and you get to meet a ton of published and aspiring authors. You'll love it. Give it a try.

In the meantime, come see me at a mass signing at 4:15 this Saturday at the Davis Conference Center near Target in Layton. There will be hundreds of authors for you to meet. Can't get better than that.

And guess what? There's still time to enter to win an audiobook 
of Watched or Adrenaline Rush. Go enter. The contest ends tonight.

Also- I'm blogging over at iWriteNetwork today. Go check it out!

What writers' conferences have you attended?
What did you think? What did you learn?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

News and Giveaways!

Ok, I've got a BUNCH of News for you!
AND fun giveaways!

It's... kind of crazy. Check out all the goodies below...

Did you know Confessions of a 16-Year-Old Virgin Lips (year one) is complete!! 
I hope you laugh and cry with Brooklyn as she navigates her first year dating

the everyday deal

Episode one through five are always only .99 cents each

SECOND- here it is...all 5 episodes in one big book!

The today and tomorrow-only deal
Get the whole shebang (Episodes 1-5) for only
$2.99 as an eBook (Kindle, Nook, iBooks)
And only $13.29 as a paperback (reg. $14.99)


Enter here to win this audiobook

Review any of my books and
enter to win the
Adrenaline Rush audiobook when it's completed

I finally got a name for one of the next Christy spy books: 
Fatal Exchange
It is set in Paris and I hope you love it!
Hotwire is the other one and is set in Brooklyn, NY 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Hangover and the Gym

How was your corned beef and cabbage?
Thanks for the pic, Laura Howard. :)

Mine? I didn't have either, but I did wear green and celebrate with everyone else online and around town.

(Just a little side note here, I did survive my second vein surgery. It's been a few days and while it still aches and looks awful, I only have another week and a half of these hose and I'll be free of them and hopefully the pain. Thanks for all the well wishes and questions about it)

Let's talk the GYM today. I guess I'm feeling a bit of withdrawal for exercising. I can finally go again tomorrow. Yay!

I love going to the gym in the winter when it's too treacherous to walk outside due to ice and snow.  And St. Paddy's Day is about the time that I can head back out to walk the neighborhoods. (I can't wait) What do I love most about the gym? I love watching TV while I work out. Yep! I'm a TV-aholic. To curb my appetite, we don't have cable and believe me that's a good thing.

What do I like to watch? I love the shows on HGTV about renovating and buying houses and do-it-yourself stuff as well as Biography and the History channels. I could watch that mess all day long. And I would, if I had cable. Good thing we don't or you guys would never get books from me.

That brings me to the downside of the gym. Besides the fact that I really hate wiping the machines down--I mean really, how many times can you use the same rag and expect the equipment to be clean--Yucky!--what about the smells and I'm not talking B.O? With everyone breathing so hard and expelling other smells on the sly, I find myself working out without breathing. Not a good thing, by the way.

But, the worst thing about having to workout in the gym is not getting to brainstorm like I do walking around my city. At the gym my mind is being occupied with all the fantastic TV shows, how am I supposed to create at the same time? And, I like to talk while I brainstorm and create...I don't think the people around me working their butts off would understand. I might even be labeled as the crazy treadmill lady. Hmm. That does have a ring to it.

It's incredible how walking and talking opens my creative mind and put me into my stories. My neighbors don't even whisper about me anymore. LOL. I'm that crazy writer girl that talks to herself all the time. I don't mind. A girl has to do what a girl has to do.

I was able to finish my paris novel (still not named) and I'm almost done with Hotwire-but most of the brainstorming was done before I was relegated to the gym and my TV obsession. I can't wait for you to get your hands on them.

By the way, have you picked up Gravediggers and Confessions of a 16-Year-Old Virgin Lips yet? If not-run, don't walk.

And those of you that already have...they could really use  some review love. (You don't have to write a novel about them, just a sentence or two. It's weird that I've sold so many and yet there still are hardly any reviews for them-I'll love you forever.) From this link, you can get to all my books and review them super fast.  Thanks a ton.

Do you love the gym or do you exercise outside?

What do you do to get your creative side going?

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Party-All Day Today

Join your favorite YA and NA authors as we celebrate being Irish for a day and play on Pinterest. There will be over 45 e-book giveaways! 

You can join the Facebook party HERE!

You won't want to miss it!

Participating Authors:

Lila Felix   A. W. Exley  Melissa Pearl   
Jessica Gibson  Cindy M. Hogan  Sarah Ashley Jones  
Marie Landry  Rachel Morgan  Jennifer Snyder 

Monday, March 03, 2014

Are you an Eater or a Sleeper? And win some cold hard cash

I'm a curious kind of person and was wondering...

Which do you value more--eating or sleeping?
I have an easy test for you to know...keep reading to take the test

I watched one morning as my husband rushed around getting ready for work one morning and realized that he is different from me in many ways (and I love them all) but he is especially different in this way--

He would rather sleep than eat.

sleeping person photo:  FirstTwoDays026.jpg
Random person sleeping
people eating photo: Eating_chicken Eating_chicken.jpg
Random person eating

sleeping person photo:  CIMG7769.jpg
Random person sleeping
To me, that is incomprehensible. Seriously. After a shower, the very next thing I do is eat and then prepare what I will be eating the rest of the day.

My hubby, however, is like these two random people. He sleeps until the last minute or perhaps past that last minute and then doesn't have time to eat breakfast or make a lunch (I've tried to make lunches for him and occasionally, I succeed in making something he will actually eat-what can he say--he likes what he likes on the days he likes them...figure that one out)

sleeping person photo: brother sleeping... gotta love when a person falls asleep and people get  pics of it 29649_107617025952810_100001135399062_61859_1530847_n.jpg

Me? I sleep about six hours and can't stand staying in bed. I have lots of time to plan to eat and to eat. Lucky me. Bring it on. In fact, if I sleep longer than that, I get hit with headaches and am tired the whole day. It's true. I'm an eater.

people eating photo: Apple Eating Girl BrunetteEatingApple-1.jpgpeople eating photo: Cereal healthy_eating_01.jpg

So, here's the test ARE YOU AN EATER OR A SLEEPER?

Do you get up early enough to have a good breakfast? IF NOT then you're an Eater too.

And for giggles-tell me what you are, an eater or sleeper.

Here's a giveaway for you. Help Text Me rock the world and win some cold-hard cash.

Have Spring Break on the brain? Need a new bikini or some dough for sunscreen? How about a $500 gift card from the retailer of your choice? You're just in luck. The authors of Text Me are offering a deal you don't want to miss. Help Text Me hit the bestsellers lists and earn a chance to win BIG! As of now, we will give away a $50 gift card after midnight on March 25th.

If Text Me hits the top 1000 on Amazon the prize jumps to $100!

If Text Me hits the top 500 on Amazon the prize jumps to $250!

If Text Me hits the top 100 of Amazon the prize jumps to $500!

What do you have to do to get in on the money? Blog, tweet, post... Get the word out, and keep track on the rafflecopter entry below! One lucky winner will have a wonderful Spring!

From Curses to Crushes, Angels to Witches, Mysteries to Puberty ; Traveling through Time to Swimming Under the Sea--- Text Me: 8 Novels of First Love brings 8 teens in awkward situations who are about to find out more about themselves. These 8 authors bring novels that will make you laugh out loud.

Special sale price of only $0.99
Regular price for all these stories is $21.92 -- you save $20.93!

I couldn't figure out how to get the giveaway on here. so click here to enter.
Here  Yeah, I'm lame that way. LOL

This is the link to share so others can get the code. Go to this link and click to embed on your facebook page. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I Just Don't Want to Know!

This may be a bit of TMI, but I thought you might like a look into vein surgery. I'll start off with this-

veins photo: veins veins.jpg
All veins are not created equally
Almost a year ago I went in to get my nice, inherited varicose veins looked at because they'd started bothering me a lot. It used to be that they'd only ache during peak canning season when I stood a ton for long periods of time.

It turned out that my insurance required me to wear compression hose for six months before they would even consider paying for anything. They wouldn't, of course, cover the cost of those hose-a hefty $65 bucks, nor did I have a clue at how nice they would look on. Through the heat of the summer, I wore those babies with pride. *snickers along with everyone else*

Then the doc tells me I have to have a long ultrasound to find which veins were the problems. Happy to oblige, I made the appointment and returned with bells on. Once they got annoying, I took them off, however. I got to wear these ultra cool fake material shorts. Then I got to stand there for a good 45 minutes while the technician gelled and then pushed and pushed that little ultrasound device all up and down my legs.

It was not pretty.

And truth be told, I had to sit several times because all that pushing on my veins made me feel faint and totally sick. It was a terribly long 45 mins. And she found six veins to be the culprits. The insurance would cover the surgeries. Yay!

veins photo: varicose veins 002.jpg
Aren't varicose veins pretty?
I wanted to know how much I would be paying out of pocket for this little venture and they said they'd call me with the figures. Two months passed and I called to find out what the hold up was. Well, he hadn't run the numbers yet and would get back to me. I scheduled the appointment for about 6 months later. Two months before the surgery, I called the dude back and he called me right back with the numbers- I would have to pay 1800 bucks. No joke. Whaaaa?  The surgery was scheduled to take 1 hour and I would have to pay that much? Crazy. How much was insurance paying anyway?

A week before the surgery, I kept waiting for a letter or a call telling me what to expect and the all important question...what should I wear. It never came. I got to wondering if I really was getting the surgery after all. I gave up on waiting for them and called to complain that I hadn't received a letter. I was informed that they don't send out letters and that I was scheduled to get a call tomorrow-the day before the surgery to confirm my appointment.  Whaa? 

This appointment was almost 2 years in the making and they want me to remember everything I was told 2 years prior. Not happening. I have a hard time remembering stuff from 2 days ago let alone 2 years. The lady gave me the scoop and I showed up with my hubby so that he could take me home.

The doc then goes through the procedure with me-like a dry run-and then surprisingly, he whips out the ultrasound and starts showing me all the veins he's going to cauterize from the inside of my veins. Yeah, not what I wanted to see or hear about.

So, I take my defensive posture and start talking like crazy. I even started talking to the cute little girl that appeared to be completely out of place, not knowing what to do. What do I ask her? What kind of school did she have to go to in order to get such a fascinating job. She says, "I didn't." Whaaaa? I try again. "So you finished high school and then..." She answers, eyes flicking to the floor and the doc. "I didn't go to medical assisting school." Then the doc says, "She's getting on the job training." 

veins photo: Veins TreeFace.jpg
This is how I felt during this conversation
I bet I was her first. No kidding.

Then the doc says the magic words to her. "Do you have the checklist?"

"What checklist?"

"Didn't so and so give you a checklist?"


"Go get the checklist from her, would ya?"

I could see he was bit upset with that little revelation.

A minute later, both girls enter the room. "Don't you have a checklist for her?" he asks the new girl.

"No. I never got around to it after what happened, happened."

Uh, what happened?

"Well, it's not really fair to send her in here with no idea what to do."

Seriously, they are having this conversation in front of me. 

Luckily, I guess, the 2nd girl stayed and helped.

The doc put his music on his player and I put my headphone in one ear to listen to a book. That's when I realize I will be sitting up with a full view of the surgery. I'm strong. I can take this. I can do it. No problem. Until, he brings out the long shots and the long thin catheters-skinny metal rods--and explains to me what he is going to do with those things. I want to turn my ears off, but it's not possible. The antiseptic is rubbed all over my exposed leg and then he covers the area all around it with lots of surgery material that left only my leg exposed.

He rambles on about how he's going to numb the area of the insertion and then and then. I'm sick. Totally, my head is spinning, Unearthy is blasting in one ear and his music and voice are filling the other. I get hot. I feel nauseous. I text my hubby in the lobby to get me some hard candy to suck on ASAP. I didn't even care if he bought it at the way over-priced pharmacy. Just get it and get her fast. To his credit, he did.

The young girl picked up on my distress and asked if I was okay. Score!  Uh, I think I might faint or get sick. 

This is where I thought I should be
the surgery
"Oh, that's normal for some people," the doc says. "When we start prodding and poking around veins, it makes some of us sick." He then addressed the young girl, "Get her a cold compress, that usually does the trick."  And while it did help, I still was right on the edge. And you won't believe it, when my hubby arrived, he came without hard candy. Close, but not quite. Skittles, chewy gobstoppers and mentos. I took a Gobstopper and the ultra sweet taste almost sent me over the edge. While the doc and the helper were getting a new catheter because the other one "would never fit in my tiny vein and it had to bend over a curve", I tossed the round candy back to my husband and I focused all my strength on tuning everything out except my tapping fingers.

I worried that the tapping might bother the doc, but it was either that throw up all over the sanitized surgical area. So, I tapped away, counting each tap. Once I got to 100, I started over. I couldn't concentrate enough to count how many 100's I tapped out, but it was a lot. And did I mention the doc no longer sang along to the songs or told me what was going on once the tapping started? Yeah, I think it bugged him...

The good news? Two hours after I arrived, I had two veins done. Yep. Only 2. I have to go back. No joke. 

I'll be prepared with some Ricolas and bottled water and make sure to tell him I just don't want to know.

Oh, and did I tell you that I have to wear those hideous hose with some other wraps for 2 full weeks. Yep. Pretty and lucky me.

Did you know Confessions of a 16-Year-Old Virgin Lips is now available as a complete ebook?

By Friday, it will also be available in print.

eBook- Kindle  Nook

Print-coming soon

What's the worst doc experience you've ever had?

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Bard's Gift by Meredith Mansfield and a Giveaway

Meredith Mansfield is commandeering my blog today to shout out about her fun new book, The Bard's Gift. 
And hop down to the bottom of the post to enter to win cool stuff!

Where do story ideas come from? Many of the seeds of my stories go so far back that I can't put a finger on just how they started. THE BARD'S GIFT is not one of those stories. I can trace its development very clearly. Here's how it happened.

Back in February of 2010, a writing challenge was issued on one of the writers' forums to which I belong (Hatrack River Writers' Workshop). This isn't uncommon. We have several challenges a year. I've only entered a few because they're almost all for short fiction--often very short--and, well, I don't write short well. The last thing I started that was intended to be a short story or maybe a novella is now almost 90,000 words long. However, if an idea comes to me, I will give one of these challenges a try, mostly just to stretch myself.

Some of these challenges have a trigger or writing prompt. The trigger for this one was "Slave to the flame" and I came up with a story about the first dragon to learn to breathe fire, initially titled "First Flame." It was written as a fable.
My story didn't do very well in the challenge, partly because I killed off the main character (a dragon). There was nothing else I could do in the word-count allowed for the challenge (3,000 words). The voters also didn't think he was really a slave to the flame.
Freed from the constraints of the challenge, I added some more to the ending which allowed the main character to survive, although badly wounded. But, it was still a fable. So, I created a framing story, about a girl with the gift of telling the exactly right story at the exactly right time. I put her in a desperate situation and let her tell the fable. This version was 5,000 words long, 4,600 of which was the fable.
But, it left me with a lot of questions. How had the girl come by this ability? How had they gotten into this desperate situation? And, of course, what would happen next?

Some of the things in that framing story made me think it was meant to be in a Norse setting, but not in the Norse homeland. So, I did some research and eventually, in 2012, I wrote it as a young adult novel. That original story is still there. It makes up Chapter 36. Here's a taste:


Astrid drew a deep breath. "Some dragons can breathe fire. Did you know that? They couldn't always breathe fire, though. And while some dragons, like Fafnir, are known to be smart, they weren't at one time.

"It all goes back to the time of Wyreth the Wise. Now Wyreth was small for a dragon. He could do well enough on his own, but he only survived the dragons' mating season because he was quick and because he was smarter than the other dragons. And maybe because he was stubborn, too.

"When there were many dragons together he was always last for everything. Dragon society is built entirely on who can bully everybody else. If you're bigger or stronger than the others, you eat first, you get the best and sunniest sleeping spots, and, if you're a male, you get most of the females come mating season." She stole a quick look at Torolf under her lashes, here. "Wyreth was the smallest dragon. So he always ate last, had the worst and coldest sleeping spot, and none of the females even looked at him."

"Whenever Wyreth killed a deer or a pig--cattle were entirely too big for him--one of the other dragons swooped in and stole it from him. The worst offender was Zilthss, Wyreth's egg brother and the bane of his existence. Zilthss was big and strong, more than strong enough to kill his own prey, but he preferred stealing Wyreth's whenever he could.

Because he was big and well-fed, Zilthss slept in one of the best spots and his scales were a beautiful burnished copper. All the females turned their heads when Zilthss flew by, even out of mating season. Wyreth's scales were an unremarkable dull metallic red."

Several of the children stole a glance at the shiny red scales behind Astrid.

"Because he was quick and smart, Wyreth usually dragged his kill into the dense brush, where the other dragons wouldn't easily fit and gulped down as much as he could before they powered their way through to steal his meat. Bolting his food like that gave Wyreth indigestion, but it was better than starving.

"Now, at the time of this story, Wyreth had had a particularly bad week. Mating season was about to begin and the male dragons were more than usually belligerent. Zilthss had trailed Wyreth around like a hound on a scent and stolen everything he killed--even the pitiful little rabbit--before Wyreth could get so much as a bite.

"After losing the rabbit, Wyreth flapped off feeling sorry for himself. He had learned long ago that if he flew up the steep slopes of the cone-shaped mountain, the others wouldn't follow him. There was nothing of interest there, certainly no game to hunt.

These dragons were creatures of mountain forests and no trees grew on the glassy slopes of that mountain, but at the top there was a round, rocky valley where the stones themselves were warm, even at night. Since Wyreth couldn't get any of the warm, sunny sleeping spots in the rookery, he'd taken to coming up here. The sun was strong, but the heat from the ground was stronger still and comforting.

"That is, it was usually comforting, but not today, because Wyreth's stomach was so empty. Even the warm rocks and the sun on his spread-out wings couldn't ease Wyreth to sleep when his stomach growled so loudly. In desperation, Wyreth chewed on the yellow rocks. The yellow ones were much softer than the shiny black ones; a dragon could break his teeth on those. Some pieces of the yellow rock were small enough to swallow. Not exactly nourishing, but at least it filled up that hollow feeling inside for a while, though Wyreth suspected that they would be the very devil to pass. Well, that was tomorrow's problem. Wyreth stretched himself out on the heated rocks and slept.

"He woke with a mighty belch. That wasn't unusual for Wyreth. What was unusual was the gout of blue flame that leapt from his mouth along with the burp. Wyreth back-winged in surprise."

Several of the older boys laughed at this. The younger ones giggled uncertainly. The oldest boy essayed a burp of his own and that sent the little ones into gales of laughter. Astrid glanced up from the children. Several of the men had looked over at the sound of laughter. Torolf was watching her. Astrid smiled and went on with her story.

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