Countdown to The Secret Ingredient of Wishes: 2 Months to go

The Secret Ingredient of Wishes Giveaway

Guys, my book comes out in two months. TWO! MONTHS! How amazing is that?

I am beyond excited to have this book out in the world come September. (A little freaked out too, but we’re not going to talk about that now. Now is for celebrating and getting other people as excited as I am. Okay, maybe not that excited but I’ll settle for somewhere close to it.) So to celebrate, I’m giving away a signed ARC! For those of you who don’t know what THE SECRET INGREDIENT OF WISHES is about, read on…

26-year-old Rachel Monroe has spent her whole life trying to keep a very unusual secret: she can make wishes come true. And sometimes the consequences are disastrous. So when Rachel accidentally grants an outlandish wish for the first time in years, she decides it’s time to leave her hometown—and her past—behind for good.

Rachel isn’t on the road long before she runs out of gas in a town that’s not on her map: Nowhere, North Carolina—also known as the town of “Lost and Found.” In Nowhere, Rachel is taken in by a spit-fire old woman, Catch, who possesses a strange gift of her own: she can bind secrets by baking them into pies. Rachel also meets Catch’s neighbor, Ashe, a Southern gentleman with a complicated past, who makes her want to believe in happily-ever-after for the first time in her life.

As she settles into the small town, Rachel hopes her own secrets will stay hidden, but wishes start piling up everywhere Rachel goes. When the consequences threaten to ruin everything she’s begun to build in Nowhere, Rachel must come to terms with who she is and what she can do, or risk losing the people she’s starting to love—and her chance at happiness—all over again.

Sound like something you want to read? If so, enter the Rafflecopter giveaway! (You can also pre-order it online or from your local favorite indie store if you’re so inclined. Pre-order links are on my website.)

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Writers, Have You Rocked The Vault?

As we write, we can become consumed by the plot, by the story events that sizzle with conflict, tension, and intrigue. But what often holds readers in thrall are our characters and how they grow and change. Who they evolve into, what fears they push past, how they take on pain to reach fulfillment regardless of the challenges—all of these steps in the character’s journey, combined with the plot, can create a fascinating trek through the pages of a novel.

And yet there’s another element that’s needed to meld the story and character arc together: the setting. Choosing the right one for each scene is critical to give deeper meaning to the character’s inner and outer journeys. The right setting can symbolize our protagonists’ goals, remind them of their past, steer their choices through emotional triggers, and lend them the strength to soldier on, no matter what opposition stands in their way. But what if “the right setting choice” is one we haven’t experienced ourselves first hand? How do we describe it?

The Setting Thesaurus DuoWell, there’s some good news on that front. Two new books have released this week that may change the description game for writers. The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to City Spaces and The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Personal and Natural Spaces look at the sights, smells, tastes, textures, and sounds that a character might experience within 225 different contemporary settings. And this is only the start of what these books offer writers.

In fact, swing by and check out this hidden entry, HOUSE PARTY, a location from the Rural Setting Thesaurus volume.

And there’s one more thing you might want to know more about….

Rock_The_Vault_WHW1Becca and Angela, authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, are celebrating their double release with a fun event going on from June 13-20th called ROCK THE VAULT. At the heart of Writers Helping Writers is a tremendous vault, and these two ladies have been hoarding prizes of epic writerly proportions.

A safe full of prizes, ripe for the taking…if the writing community can work together to unlock it, of course.

Ready to do your part? Stop by Writers Helping Writers to find out more!

How She Lived (a magical story of life…and death)

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I just spent the most amazing week with some of my best friends at a reunion retreat at Djerassi Resident Artists Program in Woodside, California. It was a week of writing and laughter and being inspired and sharing stories over glasses of wine. On the first night, sparked by one of the writers being instructed not to get murdered while away, we decided to write a short anthology in which we all die while on the retreat. A little twisted, I know. But trust me, it was one of the best decisions we made all week.

The order in which we died was randomly selected. I died first. (That’s a heck of a lot of pressure, by the way.) I spent days trying to figure how I would die. And then halfway through the week, I got inspired by Djerassi itself–the art, the mist, the magical feeling of just being there–and I really kinda love what I wrote. So I thought I’d share it. Don’t worry, it’s short.

The girl had been waiting, waiting, waiting. Waiting so long she thought her chance to be real, to be flesh and blood and laughter and thought, might never come. Big green eyes. Pert red lips. Bare feet perfect for sneaking around unheard. She’d tied her hair back to keep it out of her eyes, but wisps of it pulled free anyway to tickle her cheeks while she kept watch in the dark.

With the way the human girl liked to dream up fantastical—unbelievable—things, she worried she’d somehow be found out. That she wasn’t just ink and near-perfect lines tattooed onto skin. That she stole pieces of the human girl’s soul, siphoning a little bit more every day, making her stronger and the human girl less and less herself.

The other humans here knew her well enough to notice something wasn’t quite right.

“Susan looks tired,” they had said.

“Maybe she’s had too much wine.”

“Maybe the mist is messing with her head. It can do that you know. Make you go a little crazy.”

“The mist. That’s how we all die,” Susan had said.

Then they laughed and laughed. And they forgot they were ever even worried.

But they were right to suspect the mist. To fear it. The chilly shroud of dancing water droplets and slowly swirling air held a secret of the mountain. Creative souls could be taken here, and given to art to grant it life.

The girl held her hands behind her back, the look of innocence frozen on her face. The human girl never even questioned what she was hiding. Her fingers caressed the warm ball of energy nestled in her palms. It pulsed like a heart, and the girl could feel her own growing, growing, growing. Coming to life as she teased the last blue-white tendrils of soul from flesh. She peeled away from the human girl’s arm tangled in the bed sheets. She became whole and vibrant and alive—just as she was always meant to be—and the human girl’s breaths slowed, slowed, then ceased altogether.

No one would know until morning. By then the girl would be deep in the redwoods, discovering what other secrets the mountain had to offer.

Looking down at the human girl’s lifeless body, all she could do was laugh.

And it was the most exquisite sound she’d ever heard.

Giveaway: Paper Hearts Vol. One

In November, I was lucky enough to get to go to the first Wordsmith writing retreat/workshop with Beth Revis and Cristin Terrill.  I learned a lot and laughed a lot, and came away with so many new ideas for how to fix the issues in my current WIP that were holding me back. (Side note: my novel imploded thanks to the character motivation exercises we did one afternoon, and because of that I was forced to take a hard look at why the story wasn’t working. I used the techniques they’d taught us–and the advice in Beth’s book Paper Hearts–to rework the bulk of the plot and made it into a MUCH stronger book!)

When we arrived, Beth gave us all copies of her new writing advice book, Paper Hearts Vol. One. I had already pre-ordered it from Malaprop’s, which left me with an extra copy! So, I’m giving away the signed pre-ordered copy and the additional writing advice booklet from some amazing YA authors. Believe me writers, you want this book. Not only is it so damn helpful, but it’s a seriously fun read.

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Ready. Set. Write! Final Post

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First off, I want to say thank you to the amazing Ready. Set. Write! hosts, Alison MillerKaty UppermanErin Funk, Elodie Nowodazkij, and Jaime Morrow! I can’t believe the summer is already over. But thanks to you and the other bloggers, I had such a productive few months. So here’s my final update…

How I did on last week’s goals:

  • Write 2,500 words in new YA book (and surpass my goal of 25,000 for the summer): I ended my writing session with a total of 25,152 words today.  Woo hoo!
  • Read/Revise the first 5,000 words of my WIP to submit for the writer’s retreat: I received enthusiastic and incredibly helpful notes from five of the six CPs/betareaders who offered to read. And I’ve incorporated them into my revisions. All in all, the beginning is in good shape, it just needs some better grounding for the magic and a few other tweaks to really make these pages shine.

How I did on my overall goals:

  • Complete edits to WISHES TO NOWHERE: Done! I not only completed my edits, but my editor sent the manuscript out for blurbs. I already have two and I hope to get a few more within the next month or so. *Fingers crossed*
  • Write a minimum of 25,000 words on sparkly new YA idea: Done! I am so in love with where this book is going. And thanks to some amazing CPs and betareaders, I think I’m on the right track. Now only another 50-60k left to go.
  • Take time to read for fun: Done! I’m so happy I made this a goal. I read 10 books this summer, plus a novella and a short story. What a fun way to spend my summer.

A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised:

Since it’s the last update, I’m giving a little longer excerpt:

I had the overwhelming urge to kiss him then and there. No matter that a dozen people were watching us or that I had promised Maggie I would take my time making a decision. I leaned toward him, my heart going into overdrive, urging me closer until the only thing between us was a few millimeters of exhaled breaths.

Isaac pulled away at the last second and my lips grazed his jaw instead of their intended target.

I didn’t move right away, thinking—hoping—this was one of those cute, clumsy first-kisses you see in Rom-Coms where we’d both laugh and try again and have that magical, nothing-can-ever-top-the-perfection-of-this-kiss moment. But he didn’t laugh. He didn’t try again.

And the weight of my feelings for him threatened to crush me. I let out a shaky breath and remembered, too late, that I was practically standing on top of him. He shivered, but didn’t move away from me.

Without taking his eyes off the top of the falls, he said, “Remy, listen.”

But I had zero interest in whatever excuse he was going to use on me. I needed to get as far away from him as possible before everyone here realized I’d just been rejected. Before Maggie could say I told you so. Before some other guy thought he could take Isaac’s place as if they were interchangeable.

The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write):

This week was busier than normal socially. I only had a few nights free to write, which made me stress out when I just needed to focus so I’d get like 180 words a day until the weekend when I could finally knock out the bulk of the words.

Something I love about my WIP:

I love that one of the “Then” characters is quickly becoming one of my favorites, though I didn’t plan for him to be as wonderful as he is. It might actually cause I problem later, but for now, I’m just going to enjoy him.

Ready. Set. Write! Week 12

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For details on Ready. Set. Write!, hosted by Alison MillerKaty UppermanErin Funk, Elodie Nowodazkij, and Jaime Morrow, read this.

How I did on last week’s goals:

  • Write 2,500 words in new YA book: I got just over 2,500 words this week. Seriously like 8 whole words over. Again, I should’ve written more, but goal achieved, so I’m feeling good.
  • Finish BLOOD AND SALT and order a cool giveaway to go on my blog to help Kim celebrate release next month: I finished BLOOD AND SALT in two days. I could not put it down. I loved, loved, loved this book. And I found a gorgeous black silk wrap bracelet to giveaway on my blog (so check back in a week or two when it launches so you can enter!).
  • Bonus Book: I also read THE WINNER’S CURSE. And wow, what an amazing YA fantasy. I’m dying to read book 2 but then I will have to wait for book 3 to release and I’m not sure my heart can handle that wait.

My goal(s) for this week:

  • Write 2,500 words in new YA book (and surpass my goal of 25,000 for the summer, even if only by a few hundred words!)
  • Read/Revise the first 5,000 words of my WIP to submit for the writer’s retreat I’m going to this fall. Beth Revis and Cristin Terrill will be reading/critiquing the pages for the workshop, so I’m super nervous and want to make sure it’s worthy of their time. This might stretch into next week since I have a few wonderful writer friends who have offered to critique for me before my submission is due the first week of Sept.

A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised:

When I stay quiet, he continues, “So, are things weird with Isaac because he’s one of your summer conquests?” His voice is low, playful, and carries the hint of a laugh, but the tension in his jaw and the way he leans toward me just slightly say the answer is more important than he wants to admit.

I want to laugh and say something like “Do I look like the kind of girl who kisses and tells?” but my mouth refuses to comply. Instead, I press my fingers to my lips to keep the truth from slipping out.

The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write):

Two-thirds of my words this week were in one scene. It’s getting unruly. But I like what’s happening and what the characters are saying so I just keep letting it stretch on and on. (It’s over 2,200 words and it’s still not done.) And I can’t quite wrap my head around how to tie it up and move on.

Something I love about my WIP:

I got some really excited feedback from a blogger friend who offered to read the opening for me. She had lots of positive things to say and she wants to read more, so I think I’m doing something right. I know it still needs a lot of work, but it’s nice to know it’s not total crap. 🙂