Friday, September 25, 2015

Best Books of September

It's the last Friday of the month, which means it's time to share all of the great books I read this month.

September brought my 45th birthday, a conference, a group book signing, and my first school visits. (Two in two days!). Before and after all that chaos, I was able to work in some major reading. Here are the great books I read in September.

The first book is one I'm very excited to tell you about. I did all of the above-mentioned book events with Gail Nall earlier this month and I loved that I'd just finished her book when I got to hang out with her! Exit Stage Left is Gail's first young adult release and it's a fun one.

Full disclosure: I was a drama geek in high school. Reading this book was like being thrust back into those days of eagerly awaiting the cast list being posted, only to be (in my case) perpetually disappointed in being cast as an extra. Gail expertly captures the ups and downs of preparing for a big performance, while also covering the anxiety of teen friendships and relationships. There isn't a single dull moment in this well-written book!

My next book was actually three! The Anna Banana books are so short, they were easy to read in a few treadmill walks. This series is from my publisher, so this was my favorite type of work: reading research!


A fourth book in this series, Anna, Banana, and the Puppy Parade comes out in January. (The 4th book in my chapter book series is puppy-focused, as well!) The Anna Banana books center on a third-grade girl named Anna who has an adorable little dog named Banana. Can I just say how much I LOVE the relationship between Anna and her dog? Mostly, however, the book is about friendship and the tricky navigation that comes with having two best friends at that age. I love this series and I can't wait to read book #4! 

I also was able to work in some more grown-up reading this month, including this fantabulous book by my very own blogging buddy Ashelyn Drake!

Our Little Secret centers around the love story between Becca and Toby, who have been friends for years. The only problem is Toby's twin sister is Becca's best friend, Tori. Tori has a strict "no dating my friends" policy for her brother, and Becca knows if Tori finds out, she'll lose her as a friend forever. Ashelyn does an amazing job of setting up the conflict here, as well as making us really care about Becca and Toby. Toby is actually one of the best male characters I've read in a YA romance. He's sweet and funny and perfect! I highly recommend this one for your next YA fix.

Another awesome blogger-writer is C.D. Gallant-King. He's currently participating in an Inkshares crowdfunding campaign, but in the meantime, you can read his first book, Ten Thousand Days:

From the first page, I knew I was going to like this book. C.D. has one of those writing voices that pulls you in and carries you along. On the surface, this is a heartbreaking journey of a man who loses everything and must fight to get it back. But underneath, the story is much more than's a little sci-fi and a little adventure--with the message that we shouldn't waste a minute of precious time.

My audiobook this month was a very unique read. I read Nova Ren Suma's book Dani Noir (soon to be released in paperback as Fade Out) back in 2009 or 2010. I loved her writing so much, I emailed her to tell her and she replied to thank me. It stuck with me and when her latest book showed up on Audible, I knew it would be a good choice for my monthly credit.

Imaginary Girls is one of those books you can't quite describe. You have to experience it. However, while you're reading it, you'll want to share the experience with others. I found myself checking reviews--which I never do while reading a book--just to see how others were reacting. It's that powerful. That unique, lyrical writing style that pulled me in with Nova's first book is here in full force, but the mystery is what gets you most. There's a supernatural element to the story, but at its heart the book is about the strong bond between two sisters. Even though this book has both extremely good and extremely bad reviews, one thing is certain: everyone who read the book was strongly affected by it. I think that's the mark of some incredibly powerful writing.

Now it's your turn--what was the best book you read in September?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

4 Things Hollywood Gets Wrong About Writers

If you've ever watched a movie or TV show about a writer, you've likely noticed Hollywood has a lot to say about writers. Unfortunately, all too often they get it wrong. Which is frustrating for writers, to say the least.

Odd...since movies and TV shows are written by writers. They seem to not quite have a firm grasp on how book publishing really works.

Here are a few myths I'd like to bust wide open.

#1. We publish the first book we ever write.

For this one, I'd like to point to Mike & Molly--a great show. At the beginning of the most recent season, Molly headed off to a writer's retreat and returned, eight weeks later, with a hefty advance from a major publisher.

Okay...let's say an editor at a publishing house agreed to read the work produced at an eight-week retreat. Even if that publisher liked a writer's work, the editor would demand a full manuscript before offering a contract. Half the check would arrive when she signed the contract and the other half would arrive when she delivered the full manuscript. But then Hollywood loves to hand characters big advance checks for books they haven't written yet, which leads me to my next Hollywood myth...

#2. We're handed six-figure advances before we start writing the book.

Stephen King is guilty of this one. We get it. It's so dramatic for a writer to be under the gun to get a book finished. One way to crank up the drama is to give that writer a deadline to get the book published.

In truth, new authors turn in a complete manuscript before we get a dime. Once we're established, we turn in three chapters and a full synopsis before the publisher even agrees to buy it. Often they don't, even after you've published your first book. If they buy it, you get a portion of the advance at contract signing and the rest once the complete manuscript is turned in. Of course, if you're Stephen King, I'm sure they throw money at you to go to a cabin somewhere and look all dark and brooding.

#3. We breeze in and out of our publishing houses.

Whether authors are discussing our next work or we're turning in our manuscript, Hollywood thinks we all do it in person.

Most major publishing houses are in New York City. Few novelists are within a few hours' driving distance of New York City. Need I say more?

#4. We all drink while we write.

Okay, I get it. A writer sitting down at her laptop with a glass of wine and dim lighting sets a tone. Drinking and writing seem to be inextricably linked in movies...and history.

Some writers seem to believe the "write drunk, edit sober" mantra works. Most of us, however, live on bottled water, chocolate, and a lot of this:

What movie stereotypes have you found to be untrue?

Monday, September 21, 2015

How My Writing Process Works: A Guest Post by S.K. Anthony

Today I'm honored to be hosting one of our favorite bloggers. S.K. Anthony is a talented writer and blogger...and I can't wait to read her latest book! Today she's telling us all about her writing process. Spoiler: it involves coffee and wine! (There's also giveaway at the end that includes a $25 Amazon gift card, so be sure you enter.)


How My Writing Process Works 

by S.K. Anthony

I think it works via miracles. Seriously. I'm a pantser so when an idea hits me, I sit down to write and I wing it. If I start trying to figure out the plot, structure, or the why of things I stress out and confuse myself. Then I revise, rewrite, revise. Take a break and repeat. Then revise and rewrite some more. My writing process also works well with wine and coffee (not together—that'd be gross).

Speaking of wine and coffee, when I write, my mind loves to focus on the most ridiculous things. Like writing rituals for example. I must have things a certain way or I might as well give up on life. Okay well maybe something less dramatic. 

My writing process MUST include these:

  • Coffee when I start working, a few hours later I might switch to wine. But it must be white wine. I love red, but to write: white.
  • I must have music or background noise. 
  • I write down new ideas with black pens but revise with blue. Don't judge me!
  • I must have a few notebooks (say 3 or 10?), at least 5 pens, and different colored stickers by my side even if I don’t use them . . . they need to be there so I can concentrate, clearly.
  • I usually work in my kitchen, so when writing I like to face the window, but . . .
  • When revising I have to face the opposite wall. Why? I don’t know.  
These are just some of them, I'm sure I have more that I can't think of right now. And before you think I'm completely alone well let me tell you: I'm in good company. Mark Twain wrote while lying in bed. Shakespeare, Milton, and Chaucer recited Homer’s invocation of the Muse before typing a word. John Cheever wrote mostly in his underwear. And Dear Hemingway wrote standing . . . and naked. 

Tell me I’m not the only crazy one, is there something you do that makes a difference with you being productive? 


Kevin Pierce is a teleporter, a ladies’ man, and a loyal friend. Or so he thought.

As a genetically altered Luminary, he helps the government bring down some of the most dangerous criminals. Not very challenging if you have his special abilities. But when a group of rebel Luminaries attacks his Organization the fight for survival begins.

One shattering event after another tests the depth of his relationships, his sanity, and his powers. Emotionally torn, Kevin must choose carefully where his loyalty lies. In the middle of all the unexpected chaos he gets the biggest shock of his life when he’s faced by a betrayal he never saw coming. Angry, injured, and ready to even the score, Kevin goes Static . . .


S. K. Anthony is a writer, a reader and a make-stuff-up-er who lives in New York with her husband and toddler twins. She is a wine connoisseur, which just really means she knows she loves it, and a caffeine addict. When she isn’t busy with her family, she finds herself being transported into the world of imagination. Well, either that or running away from spiders…she is convinced they are out to get her!

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