Saturday, December 26, 2015

Post Christmas Day

Hi everyone,

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. I certainly did. It's nice to have a weekend now to "continue to relax" (which I can do, since I didn't host Christmas or Christmas Eve haha).

I'm quite excited to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens tomorrow with my family. It's a late birthday present for my brother, who just turned 28 (what a youngster! haha). Even though I was never a huge fan of Star Wars, it will be fun to see the original actors reprising their roles. Plus, it's been a little while since I've been to the theater (I saw Jurassic World over the summer, and before that I can't even remember the last time I went - I think to see Life of Pi?), though I usually enjoy the experience.

On the writing front, I've finished the rough draft of Picket Town, so I'm pretty stoked about that. It took pretty much exactly six months to do that, and as you know, I'm a slow revise-as-I-write kind of writer. If you're curious, the draft clocked in at just shy of 48K words, which is in the sweet spot for middle-grade. The next phase is to leave it alone for a month, then reread/revise it on my own, followed by retrieving feedback from beta readers and critique partners. So there are still a few phases before this puppy gets sent out into the cold, dark publishing world haha. In the meantime I'm compiling a list of literary agents, and working on my query letter, log-line, and synopsis, so I'm certainly staying busy.

Happy holidays, all!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Project Update: Picket Town Blurb

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

So I'm closing in on 40K words of the first draft of my middle-grade science fiction book currently titled Picket Town. I probably mentioned this before, but it's going to be a short one. I would be surprised if it got to 45K words, though we'll see. I'm past the "climax" of the story and into the "aftermath," so it won't be long until I wrap up the draft. Then it's time for...[dun dun dun]...the dreaded revisions. Er, revisions, I mean.

But yeah, after writing such a long book before this one (that one clocked in at around 80K words - a long one for me!), it's refreshing to write a short one. Not to mention one that's both of a totally different tone and age category than the last one (which was a humorous superhero fantasy). I do find that I miss the whimsical humorous nature of the last book, though that's probably partly because it was of the polar opposite nature. Some of us writers like to hop around from one type of story to another. I was so revved up for a more serious, sci-fi adventure (like Picket Town) after I wrote my last book, after all.

In any case, for those interested, below is a working blurb of Picket Town. It's more of the back-cover copy variety rather than query pitch, since I find it more fun to write that type (I tend to enjoy a little mystery in a book description versus it being more fact-based, so to speak). Anyway, without further adieu, here's the [current] blurb:

Amanda lives in the most boring town in the world—New Pines. She calls it Picket Town, though, because every single house is identical with the same dull, white picket fence. The only thing remotely interesting—and kind of creepy—about New Pines is the never-before-seen bacterium that broke out in it a month ago. The mysterious disease only infects kids, and apparently nobody who’s come down with it has recovered from it yet.

But after an inspiring Social Studies lesson on famous explorers, Amanda investigates the forbidden woods by her house, yanking her friend Sam along for the mission. Much to their surprise, they discover what appears to be a giant spaceship in the forest’s clearing. But what they secretly witness fly out of the ship is the last thing they could possibly expect, and is a million times more terrifying. And it’s something that poses a major threat to not only New Pines, but the entire world.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Over on Karen King's blog

Veteran author Karen King has been gracious enough to interview me over on her blog today. Ya know, some fun author questions. Thanks, Karen!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Hi everyone,

Please welcome veteran author Karen King to the blog today, along with her latest book, a middle-grade fantasy called Witch Angel: The Sceptre of Truth. It's now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. But before we get into all the nitty-gritty details about this exciting new book, let's ask Karen a few questions (rubs hands manically together like a mad scientist; not really sure why, though).

How did you get started writing?
I've always written. I had my first poem published when I was 11. I started my writing career with Jackie magazine, writing articles and photo stories.

Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?
It depends whether I'm writing to a commission or not. If I'm commissioned I have to plot as I have to send a synopsis and the first couple of chapters to my editor. If I'm not writing to a commission I work out the basic outline of my story then write 'by the seat of my pants.'

Are you most productive in the morning or evening?

Morning. Often I get out of bed and start writing straight away. I'm full of ideas in the morning.

Thanks, Karen! And without further ado, Witch Angel: The Sceptre of Truth...

Should Aluna betray her father to save the world?

Aluna’s father is the Master Wizard of the Katalan. On her thirteenth birthday she is initiated into the coven and swears allegiance to her clan. Then she has a vision about the mother she has never known and a gold sceptre with an eagle’s head handle.

She discovers that the mysterious new girl, Raffie, who appeared out of nowhere is looking for the same sceptre. Aluna hopes the sceptre will lead her to her mother so swears an oath of friendship with Raffie, pledging to find it together only to discover that Raffie is Angleyt. They are sworn enemies.

Aluna’s father is looking for the sceptre too, as are the evil Bygnorim.  Will Aluna really betray her father? What dreadful secret is he hiding about her mother? Aluna and Raffie face terrible danger in their quest. Are their combined powers strong enough or will Darke Magyck win?


Outside, the moon shone brightly in an almost starless sky. The incense was already burning, and a cauldron of herbs was bubbling away near the altar. Aluna could smell the bitter aroma of the mudreef. The circle hadn’t been drawn yet, her father wouldn’t do that until the coven were all standing together. Witches, dressed in black, and wizards with their brightly coloured gowns of purple, red, and blue were already gathering for the ceremony. Sometimes, two or more would be initiated at the same time, but tonight there was only Aluna. The daughter of the Master Wizard had to have her own ceremony.

Aluna recited the oath and spells under her breath as everyone gathered together and held hands, forming a circle around her. Mirassa, the head witch, dipped a goblet in the bubbling liquid, leaving it on the altar stone to cool.

Aluna’s father picked up the white chalk and drew a circle around them all before stepping inside and closing it. 

“A circle around us to bind us together,
Let no one break it or be banished forever.” 

They all repeated the oath. Her father said a loyalty spell over the goblet, took a sip of the herbal drink and passed it to Aluna. She braced herself for the sour taste of the mudreef and swallowed quickly. Her throat burned and she wished she’d been able to find the sweeter tasting fissleshoot.  
The goblet was passed around the rest of the group so they could all take a sip. The ritual bound them all together. If anyone left or betrayed the coven, then no Katalan would ever speak to them again. 

When you joined, you joined for life.

Aluna’s father called her forward to test her on her spells. First, the three most important spells: the protection, the prevention, and the returning spell—spells to protect you from harm, to stop bad magic, and to help you get back home. Other spells followed: the lost and found spell, the vanishing spell, and the shrinking spell. Aluna remembered them all. Although her father’s face was solemn, she knew from the look in his eyes that she had pleased him. 

Now, it was time for the oath. The coven fell silent as Aluna’s father held out his left hand. Aluna linked the little finger on her left hand with his as she repeated the oath:  

“Earth, water, air, and fire,
This oath I solemnly swear,
Joining this coven is my desire
I never will its secrets share.” 

Mirassa stepped forward, holding a red cushion. Nestled on the cushion was a clear crystal sphere on a silver chain–the symbol of the Katalan coven. All the crystals were clear to begin with then changed colour according to the aura of the witch. What colour would Aluna’s become?

Her father lifted the pendant off the chain and put it around her neck, reciting the ancient blessing. As the sphere touched her skin, Aluna felt her body tingle. Was her special power coming to her already? 

The crystal started to glow, changing colour. Aluna watched as it went through a rainbow of colours before settling into a silvery blue.

There was a gasp from the coven. Aluna looked over at her father and saw that he was staring at her, his eyes narrowed. What was wrong?

“It’s blue,” said Milav, one of the older witches. “We haven’t had a blue crystal for many years.”

“Not since Kristen,” someone else whispered.

Kristen. That was her mother’s name. Aluna shot a look at her father’s rigid face and steely eyes. He was angry, she realised, her stomach tightening. Was it because she had the same colour crystal as her mother? Maybe she had the same power as well.

Although she had no idea what her mother’s power was. Or anything about her mother at all. Neither her father or Sariah would talk about her. The power could manifest almost immediately, though it often took several days. 

Oh, I hope I get it soon! 

Author Bio

Karen King has had over one hundred and twenty children’s books published by mainstream publishers such as Walker, Scholastic, Harper Collins and Macmillan. She’s written for many children's magazines too including Sindy, Barbie, Winnie the Pooh and Thomas the Tank Engine. She writes for all ages and in all genres; story books, picture books, plays, joke books, non-fiction and YA. 


Twitter: @karen_king

Friday, October 23, 2015

New Release! TAKING A CHANCE ON LOVE by Rachel Jones

Hi everyone,

It's my pleasure to announce the release of fellow Clean Reads author Rachel Jones's contemporary romance novel, TAKING A CHANCE ON LOVE, available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

Back Cover Blurb:
From childhood, Virginia Manning has planned for a career as a concert clarinetist. Blindsided by family circumstances, her plans are interrupted, taking her down a path she would never have chosen. As a music teacher, Virginia’s relationship with the football coach goes from problematic to romantic. After Blake’s brush with death, a scared Virginia runs away looking for the contentment music has always brought to her life.
Because Blake Oliver has experienced disappointment and pain, he opts for a fresh start in a small New England town. Accepting the position of football coach, he isn’t looking for love when it finds him. But when Virginia leaves to pursue a performance career, Blake realizes it’s not where you live but having someone to love that matters. His only problem is making her understand that as well.


She pulled her arms across her chest in an attempt to calm her shivering. Bright lights reflected from her rearview mirror, the only headlights she had seen since she had stopped on the side of the ride. Releasing a sigh of relief, she waited for flashing blue lights to interrupt the blackness surrounding the car. No blue lights. Her heart began racing at hearing a car door slam. She was alone, on a deserted highway. Checking the locks on her doors, she thought about driving away, but how far could she go with a flat tire?
A tap on the passenger window made her jump. “Hey.”
The dark night made it impossible to see the face outside the passenger window. Fear made it impossible to move.
“Come on, Gin. It’s wet out here.”
No one else called her Gin. She hit the automatic button releasing the lock and Blake pulled the door open. Relief flooded her body and was replaced by anger.         
“Blake — you nearly scared me to death.”
“Not the best time for a flat tire. You’re soaked.”
“You’re not so very dry yourself.”
“Where are you headed?”
“I was on my way home. I had an early dinner with my family before they left for the weekend. Staying to play my piano wasn’t a bad idea — I just got caught up in my music.” She loved how her music could take her away from everything, but the downside was eventually she had to come back to reality. “Anyway, I was going through my options when you drove up.”
“Your spare is lying in the mud.”
“I was going to try changing it, but when the lightning started, I chickened out.”
“Well, you can’t drive all the way to Boston soaked to the skin. And I really don’t want to change a tire in this downpour.”
“So what do you suggest I do?”
“Let me take you back to your sister’s house. You can stay the night and deal with the tire in the morning.”
Virginia didn’t respond, didn’t want this moment to end. He was here, beside her and the intensity of how much she had missed him came crashing down upon her like tumultuous waves hitting a jagged rock wall along the seashore.
She looked up. “That sounds good.”
As he leaned over and pulled the keys from the ignition, it took all Virginia’s willpower to keep from pulling him close.

Author Bio:
It was thoughts of what she would do after retirement from a twenty-eight-year career in healthcare that spurred Rachel to begin writing her first manuscript in March of 2012. Needing guidance and support with her new endeavor, she joined local and national writing groups.
Rachel signed her first contract in 2013 and her debut novel, To Dance One More Day was released in June of 2014. She is eagerly awaiting retirement to write full time.
A music enthusiast for decades, Rachel resides in Kennesaw, Georgia with her husband of thirty-seven years and a spoiled Labrador retriever. She is a member of Georgia Writers Association, Georgia Romance Writers and is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America.

Social Media Links:

Places to Purchase the Book:


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Cover Reveal! GRUDGING by Michelle Hauck

Today awesome author Michelle Hauck, who runs the excellent blog Michelle4Laughs and co-hosts a few fantastic writing contests (see below in her bio), and Rockstar Book Tours are revealing the cover for Michelle's novel GRUDGING. It's Book One in the series Birth of Saints and releases November 17, 2015! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to win a copy of the eBook!

Author: Michelle Hauck
Pub. Date: November 17, 2015
Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse
Format: eBook

A world of chivalry and witchcraft…and the invaders who would destroy everything.

The North has invaded, bringing a cruel religion and no mercy. The ciudades-estados who have stood in their way have been razed to nothing, and now the horde is before the gates of Colina Hermosa…demanding blood.

On a mission of desperation, a small group escapes the besieged city in search of the one thing that might stem the tide of Northerners: the witches of the southern swamps.

The Women of the Song.

But when tragedy strikes their negotiations, all that is left is a single untried knight and a witch who has never given voice to her power.  And time is running out.

A lyrical tale of honor and magic, Grudging is the opening salvo in the Book of Saints trilogy.

About Michelle: 

Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two teenagers. Two papillons help balance out the teenage drama. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. A book worm, she passes up the darker vices in favor of chocolate and looks for any excuse to reward herself. Bio finished? Time for a sweet snack.

She is a co-host of the yearly contests Query Kombat and Nightmare on Query Street, and Sun versus Snow.

Her epic fantasy, Kindar's Cure, is published by Divertir Publishing. Her short story, Frost and Fog, is published by The Elephant's Bookshelf Press in their anthology, Summer's Double Edge. She's repped by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary.

Giveaway Details:
3 winners will receive an eBook of GRUDGING. International

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Friday, October 9, 2015

Project Update: Picket Town

So I've been busy at work on the new manuscript, a middle-grade science fiction novel currently called Picket Town. Ever since The Fourth Generation released about two months ago (has it been that long already??), I've been splitting my time evenly between promoting that book and writing the next one.

So, not surprisingly, Picket Town has been coming along a lot more slowly than my other books. Which is fine, but it's funny how it used to feel like it was taking forever while I was writing the others. Now I really know the definition of forever from writing Picket Town.

Anyway, I just hit the 25K-word mark on Picket Town.  It took a few months (maybe even more?) to do that. That's a pretty long time, but I'm not a bang-out-a-draft-real-quick kind of writer. I'm more of a let's-slow-roast-this-baby-real-slow type. As in, before I move on to the next page while I'm writing, I have to have polished the last one to a pretty decent degree in order to feel comfortable doing that. And now that I've been doing this writing thing for a while now (a "mumble mumble" amount of time, actually), I feel okay doing that. Plus, this book isn't going to be that long (at least I don't think so). I'd be surprised if it got to 50K all said and done, but perhaps I've just doomed myself by saying that and it'll now turn into some 185K opus, or maybe somehow even drop down to a measly 5K (I highly doubt either of those outcomes, however).

In any case, remember before how said I plucked the idea for Picket Town from some ancient page in my old, trusty "Story Idea" doc, and how the idea instantly grabbed me and my mind immediately filled in all the other as-of-then unmapped parts of the plot? Well, that was a lie. Just kidding. That was true. But because of that I thought this book would be a pretty straightforward one to write, since I already knew most of the plot (hearing myself write that makes me laugh like a squirrel on laughing gas; when was any sort of book of mine "straightforward to write?"). But no - I've already found myself bumbling into all sorts of issues - plot-related only being one type. And I've had to do some serious brainstorming and re-hauling to find my way out of it all.

But that's fine. It's part of the process, after all. Always has been. And I'm finding that despite the fact I've already had to heavily revise parts of the book and even remove an entire chapter because it no longer applied to the story, the original plot I envisioned is still more or less hanging together. So it's really no biggie. But it's funny how expectations can be so misleading.

Anyway, that's it for this project update. I'm sure I'll have more down the line. This book is turning into quite a finicky book indeed, but I'm sure it'll be all the more rewarding when it's done because of that.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Over on Mindy McGinnis's blog

Hi everyone,

A couple days ago I popped on over to fellow post-apocalyptic author Mindy McGinnis's blog Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire to talk about my personal writing process and the publishing biz. Hope you stop on by and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Guest Post on Janice Hardy's Blog - World-building: The Bigger Picture

I'm over on the legendary Janice Hardy's blog today discussing world-building tips on writing science fiction/fantasy. Come on by!

Saturday, September 19, 2015


Today I have J. Andersen on the blog to discuss her new novel, THE BREEDING TREE, set to release September 21. But before we get into all the fun, nitty-gritty details about the book, let's rack her brain first about the craft of writing and her personal writing journey.

1.      Tell us a bit about your writing background. When did you first start to write?

Well, I recently found an assignment from third grade where I said I wanted to be famous for writing a book. So, I guess it started then. I wrote a bit in high school. Short stories mostly. Won a few high school level writing contests. But when college came around, creative writing was laid aside in lieu of term papers. Then, when I started teaching, the desire to write resurfaced. I was reading what my students were reading and kept thinking, I could do this. Now I’m doing it full time.

2.      Do you have other genres of interest?

I love YA the best. It’s what I like to read and write. I’ll occasionally pick up women’s fiction, but I always come back to YA. There’s something about it that draws you in like no other type of book can. I think we all think back to our youth, no matter how far away that was, and can relate to the characters trying to figure out who they are. There’s something attractive about that.

3.      I find it interesting to know what environment people write in. Do they use a pen and paper, laptop? Quiet room, music or what? Dog at their feet? Cat on the desk? Just whatever makes it comfortable to be productive. 

My environment changes. For the most part, I write at a huge desk in my kitchen. Right now, it’s covered in papers and books and about 37 pens lying all over the place. In all that, I can never find my reading glasses.  I’ll also do the front or back porch, depending on if The Bug wants me to watch her play or is willing to play on her own.

Cafes are also great places to write. I’ve given up Starbucks for local shops. I’ve decided to try to support the local businesses as much as possible. There are a lot of cool coffee shops and breakfasts cafes around here that I never knew existed. Each place has a slightly different feel and helps me to get into creativity mode. Also, I have a friend who goes with me and keeps me accountable. I always find myself more productive when I can bounce ideas off someone in the process of writing. So, a special thanks goes out to Beth Hadley for keeping my mojo flowing.

I also write on the go. Soccer games, guitar lessons, waiting at the doctor’s office. I try to have a little notebook to get some ideas down as they come.  

Most of the time I write on the computer, but I do find that if I’m stuck or if I can’t bring my laptop where I’m going, a notebook and pen work just as well. I plan out all of my novels using a large paper and a rising/falling action triangular diagram. (You know, the kind your middle school English teachers used to torture you with.—Remember, I was a middle school English teacher.) I don’t always stick to the outline exactly, but at least I know where my major plot points are.

4.      What is best writing advice you can give?

I think the best advice is to write…no matter who tells you you can or can’t. Keep writing. Keep growing. Be willing to take critiques and learn from them. Read everything you can on writing. Test out the styles or advice those books/people give and find what works for you. That’s the key. Not all the advice you get is going to work for you, but you’ll never know if it does or doesn’t unless you give it a try. And lastly, READ!

Back Cover Blurb: 

Is the opportunity to create the next generation of life a dream come true or a deadly nightmare? 

When seventeen year old Katherine Dennard is selected to become a "Creation Specialist" in Sector 4, the opportunity sounds like a dream come true. But Kate soon discovers the darker side of her profession - the disposal of fetal organs and destruction of human life. It makes sense, really. In a society where disease and malformations don't exist, human perfection demands that no genetic "mutants" be allowed to live. For Sector 4, "survival of the fittest" is not just a theory - it's The Institute's main mission. 

When Kate discovers that The Institute is using her DNA to create new life, her work gets personal. In order to save her unviable son, she'll have to trust Micah and his band of underground Natural Born Rebels. The problem is, if The Institute discovers her betrayal, the next body being disposed of could be hers.

Author Bio: 

There’s not much to do growing up in a small town in Western, NY, so J. Andersen wrote stories and won high school writing contests. But in college her writing was limited to term papers. While teaching middle school she began to read young adult books and got serious about writing. She now writes full time, volunteers at the town library, helps to run a School of the Arts at her church, and sings in the church band. She enjoys good coffee—read: home roasted by her husband—crafts, baking, and chasing after her children. You’ll rarely see J. without a book in her hands, and that’s the way she’d like to keep it.

Social Media Links:

Snapchat ID: jvdlandersen

Buy THE BREEDING TREE: Amazon pre-order:

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

NEXT DOOR TO A STAR by Krysten Lindsay Hager... New Release!


Title: Next Door to a Star

Author: Krysten Lindsay Hager

Back Cover Blurb: 

Hadley Daniels is tired of feeling invisible.

After Hadley’s best friend moves away and she gets on the bad side of some girls at school, she goes to spend the summer with her grandparents in the Lake Michigan resort town of Grand Haven. Her next door neighbor is none other than teen TV star Simone Hendrickson, who is everything Hadley longs to be—pretty, popular, and famous—and she’s thrilled when Simone treats her like a friend.
Being popular is a lot harder than it looks.

It’s fun and flattering when Simone includes her in her circle, though Hadley is puzzled about why her new friend refuses to discuss her former Hollywood life. Caught up with Simone, Hadley finds herself ignoring her quiet, steadfast friend, Charlotte.

To make things even more complicated, along comes Nick Jenkins…

He’s sweet, good-looking, and Hadley can be herself around him without all the fake drama. However, the mean girls have other ideas and they fill Nick’s head with lies about Hadley, sending him running back to his ex-girlfriend and leaving Hadley heartbroken.

So when her parents decide to relocate to Grand Haven, Hadley hopes things will change when school starts…only to be disappointed once again.

Cliques. Back-stabbing. Love gone bad.

Is this really what it’s like to live…Next Door To A Star?


The school year should end right after spring break, because all anyone can focus on is summer vacation. You can’t learn anything new, because all you can think about is all the fun stuff you’re going to do once you don’t have to get up at the butt crack of dawn. Summer always seems full of possibilities.

Nothing exciting ever happens during the school year, but maybe, during summer vacation, you could run into a hot celebrity and he’d decide to put you in his next music video. Okay, it wasn’t like I knew anybody that happened to, but my grandparents did live next door to a former TV star, Simone Hendrickson, and Simone was discovered in an ice cream parlor one summer. Of course, she lived in L.A. at the time and was already doing plays and commercials, so the guy who discovered her had already seen her perform. But hey, it was summer, she got discovered, and that was all that mattered.

Amazing stuff didn’t happen to me. You know what happened to me last summer? I stepped on a bee and had to go to the emergency room. They’re not going to make an E! True Hollywood Story out of my life. I didn’t go on exotic vacations—like today, I was being dragged along with my parents to my cousin’s graduation party. Most people waited until at least the end of May before having a grad party, but Charisma was having hers early because she was leaving on a trip to Spain. I was dreading this party because I didn’t want to listen to everybody talk about how smart and talented Charisma was—making me feel like a blob in comparison—but my mom RSVP’d even though I said I’d rather die than go. My death threats meant nothing. But still, for some strange reason, I had a feeling this summer was going to be different.

Author Bio:


Krysten Lindsay Hager

Krysten Lindsay Hager is an obsessive reader and has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and humor essayist, and writes for teens, tweens, and adults. She is the author of the Landry’s True Colors Series and her work has been featured in USA Today and named as Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Teen & Young Adult Values and Virtues Fiction and Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Children’s Books on Values. She’s originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and southwestern Ohio. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.