T-Minus 10 days

and counting for the release of this much anticipated debut of the YA fantasy novel, Grey, by my fabulous friend Christi J. Whitney.  Didn’t the designers at HarperVoyager do an amazing job with this cover?!   I love the yellow and the red, and the aged look of the cracked stone. When you read this story, you’ll see that the cover is just—well… perfect.

Grey

 

Not only is the cover great, but this book is full of all sorts of awesome.  Christi blows me away with her beautiful imagery and lyrical prose that reminds me of Maggie Stiefvater.  I won’t officially review it until after the April 30th release, but let me tell you it’s a great read that will keep you turning the page.

Here’s the official blurb:

Sebastian Grey always thought he was a fairly normal teenager – good friends, decent grades, and a pretty sweet job in his foster brother’s tattoo shop.

But when strangers arrive in town, Sebastian soon realizes that his world is nothing at all what it seemed. Secretive gypsies surround him, shadowy figures stalk him, and the girl he’s been dreaming about turns up at school. Now Sebastian must protect this girl at all costs, even if it means he will never be normal again.

It’s available for preorder here:

HarperCollinsUK , AmazonUK , Amazon , B&N

Find it on iTunes, or add it to your Goodreads

And be sure to visit @ChristiWhitney on Twitter, or at her home on the interweb, http://christijwhitney.com.

-TL-

Free your Mind

 

I LOVE this quote I found it on a Yogi teabag.  And how true it is.

During particularly challenging days at my non-writing job, I can just feel my creative brain cells shriveling.  When I log off of work, I usually try to take some time to decompress.  Oftentimes, I need a change of venue, to free my mind.  I’ll grab my laptop and head to another place in the house, or to Starbucks, or to the library.  Just somewhere else so my brain can escape to the DreamWorld where my characters exist.  Oh how I love that place.

Do you have any awesome quotes on creativity?  Any places you go to relax and free your mind?  Please share!!

– TL –

How Champions are Made

Today is National Student Athlete Day.  A day to recognize student-athlete achievement both on and off the playing field. 

For me, being a student-athlete was one of the best parts of my college experience.  Not only did I gain an instant family by being a part of Villanova’s track team, but it also helped me do well in school.  I was on a team of like-minded individuals all trying to do well both on and off the track.  We all shared a dream, a goal, a vision.  And the heart of champions..

Muhammed Ali

Happy National Student-Athlete Day!!

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p align=”center”>-TL-

Very Inspiring Blogger Award–AKA Stuff About Me

One of my writing buds, the awesome Christi J. Whitney, author of Grey (coming in April from HarperVoyager!!), tagged me for the “Very Inspiring Blogger” Award. You can read Christi’s post and learn about what makes her so awesome here.

The rules are simple: List seven things about yourself and then tag others to do the same.

So, let’s get this party started…

1. As much as I’d like to think I’m one of the cool kids, I’m a total nerd.  I’m the one that loved school and taking tests.  Bring on those standardized tests!!  Yup, that’s me. 

2. I was possibly Scottish or Irish in a previous life, if you believe in that kind of thing..  Smile

3. I used to be a professional athlete.  Yup – I got paid to run laps around a track. I didn’t make a whole lot of money, but I had a heck of a lot of fun traveling around the world, and still have tons of gear from my shoe and clothing sponsor.

4. I could live off of Starbucks iced coffee and Catoctin’s Dark Chocolate Drenched Caramel popcorn. Seriously, I could.

5. My husband proposed to me on top of the Eiffel Tower – and I didn’t say, “Yes!” 

6. Even though I create pictures with words, I still have trouble considering myself an artist.

7. I hate the Oxford comma, but have come to accept its place in my life.

 

blogger

I hope you enjoyed getting to know a little bit more about me.  Smile

I’m going to be a rebel and withhold nominating anyone.  But if you are so inclined to join the party, leave a comment below telling me you want in on the fun and be sure to tell us your URL.

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p align=”center”>– TL –

Some authorly wisdom on writing to trends

I hope all you beautiful people had the happiest of holidays.  Mine was spent with family and friends, eating tons of amazing food and totally spoiling my kids with gifts and attention.  Now it’s the new year and I’m feeling a renewed sense of writing energy.  One of the authors in my writing group has her debut YA coming out in the spring, another author/illustrator in my group has one of her illustrations featured in the SCBWI bulletin, and I’m working on a fun side project with another member of our group, so yeah – lots of good things are happening with me and my buds in our little corner of the writing world.

I thought this quote by Rainbow Rowell is perfect advice for the new year…

By the way, have you read Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park?  If not – you totally must read that amazing book!  It’s on my top ten list of all time favorite books and to make it onto that list – the book has to be Ah-Mazing.  Here are some of the reasons why Eleanor & Park is so Ah-Mazing..

And if you have some advice to share for the new year, post away!!

– TL –

Quotable Thursday

This one speaks for itself… Enjoy…

 

Martha Washington

Do you have any quotes about happiness or staying positive?  I’d love for you to share!!  Be happy. Smile

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p align=”center”>– TL –

Think of England

by Bear’s Den off their debut album Islands.

So I was listening to BBC Radio1 when Greg James, superbly awesome DJ extraordinaire plays this song that sounds a little like Snow Patrol and the Lumineers all wrapped into a neat little trio of British musical brilliance.

Take a listen…

 

What do you think?  Please share!!

And click the album cover below to take a listen to the entire album.

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-TL-

Graphic Organizing by this neurotic writer

I’m a visual learner.  I need colorful graphs, charts, diagrams, and mind maps.  I’m weird because I like taking notes – it’s an excuse to break out pens in a IMG_3321variety of pretty colors.  And highlighters are my best friend when trying to remember something.

When I started my first novel, I just sat down at my laptop and wrote with reckless abandon.  And then I hit a roadblock about ten chapters into the story. That’s when I realized I needed a road map to see how I was going to get from the beginning to that end scene that I could visualize so clearly in my head.  I grabbed some posterboard, colorful post-it notes and created a Story Board, aka a graphic organizer for a story.

Fast forward to November… I was asked for a synopsis and the first few chapters of subsequent books in the YA Scottish Immortals series I’m trying to find a home for.  After my initial joy of getting the request, I kinda freaked out.  I’ve gone through the plot millions of times in my head.  I even have 20K+ words of a crappy first draft of BOOK 2 and many more scenes outlined.  Not to mention 50+ pages of notes on my laptop and in my trusty “BOOK 2” spiral bound notebook.  But… a synopsis?  Nope.  Don’t have one.  I have an idea of how I want the next two books to end, but the map hasn’t been drawn yet.

So last weekend when we were travelling to South Carolina for my daughter’s cross country meet, I was fully prepared to write the synopsis on the long, monotonous seven-hour trek.  However, as the hours crept by during the initial leg of our journey, my frustration rose with each passing mile.  All the IMG_3319notes…All the ideas…  All the directions the story could go… It was like looking at a jumbled pile of puzzle pieces.  Not a fifty piece puzzle.  One of those 1000 word beasts.

So what’s a neurotic writer to do?  Separate the puzzle pieces.

Monday, I bought poster board and some fancy pens and got to work.  Here’s the blank canvas of my story board…

IMG_3311

A day later I have this…

IMG_3314
These are the overarching themes, major plot points and some facts about the story that I want to make sure are revealed in these next two books. See that stack of paper to the left? That’s a stack of notes that has to be translated to scenes.

And this…

IMG_3322

First, I’m just getting all of the scenes on post it notes and sticking them on the board. After I have all the ideas on the board, I’ll organize them in chronological order and separate into two boards – one for Book 2 and one for Book 3.

I anticipate another few days of working on this before I’m ready to start writing the outline.  The beauty of using post-it notes is that I can move scenes around as I need to without re-doing the entire board.  It’s actually quite fun.  Smile

If you are in need of some cool graphic organizers for organizing your school work or studying, do an online search for “graphic organizer” or check out some of these links:

Holt Interactive Graphic Organizers
Education Place
Education Oasis
ThinkPort

– TL –

Rambling About: I Remember Running by Darcy Wakefield

I Remember Running: The Year I Got Everything I Ever Wanted - and ALSI Remember Running: The Year I Got Everything I Ever Wanted – and ALS by Darcy Wakefield
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Let me start of by saying – ALS SUCKS.

SUCKSUCK – SUCK  – SUCKS!  (Yes, I’m yelling! It’s that bad!)

Almost three years ago, my mother-in-law lost an incredibly short battle with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). I was with her during her final days and hours and let me just say again – ALS SUCKS!!

So… I’ve had I Remember Running, and another memoir about ALS on my bookshelf for almost a year, emotionally not ready to read them.

I was certain I Remember Running would be a heart wrenching story about 33 year-old Darcy Wakefield’s struggle with this horrendous disease. I mean – the title says it all… Add to that her age and that she was super fit and athletic.  This was going to be a tough read.  Finally, I cracked it open, fully prepared to put it back on it’s shelf after a couple pages. But I read the book in two days, immediately engrossed by the beautiful writing and poignant way Ms. Wakefield approached her story of being diagnosed with ALS. I was refreshingly surprised to find the book to be a heartwarming, uplifting story of accepting the bad but appreciating the good.

My latest YA novel features a supporting character with ALS. For the better part of the first draft, I struggled with the delicate balance of accurately portraying the struggle she faces with ALS, but not having the book be a deeply depressing read. Ms. Wakefield’s memoir gives me exactly the perspective I want to show:

The gift of walking is wasted on so many able-bodied people. – Darcy Wakefield

We should be grateful for the ability to go for a run, button a shirt, brush our teeth, scratch an itch… But more than anything else – live and love your life, because despite what challenges are thrown our way, life is a gift to be cherished.

This is an exceptional book that I urge everyone to read. It will truly make you appreciate all the good in your life.

If you don’t believe me, listen to Darcy’s piece on NPR, which turned into Chapter Seven of her memoir.  It’s about Running, and the inspiration behind the title of the book…

-TL-

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Just looking at this makes me want to hurl

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Aaack!!  Why would a photo of pumpkin seeds make me want to hurl you ask?

It all stems back to 6th grade.  I remember like it was yesterday…

But before I get to the story, you have to understand something.  We didn’t celebrate holidays when I was a kid.  Yup – no Halloween, no Christmas, no birthdays, no NOTHIN’!  (I’ve blogged a little about that here)  No holidays meant any chance to do something remotely festive—I was all in with reckless abandon, or in this case – reckless stupidity…

I have Mrs. Mihalov, my all time favorite teacher (seriously – she will forever be my favorite Red heart), to thank for introducing me to pumpkin seeds.  Roasted pumpkin seeds to be exact.  Either Mrs. Mihalov or our room mom roasted up a IMG_3174batch and brought in for the class to try. To this day, I remember my apprehension of tasting that first seed. They kinda looked like a pile of dead bugs, “but what the hay,” I’d said and Oh-My-Gosh!  The salty, nutty and a tad sweet flavor.. Instantly I was in pumpkin seed love.  I went home and begged my mom to roast us up some seeds so we’d have our own supply of pumpkin seed goodness. And roast she did.

So instead of gorging myself on Halloween candy, I gorged myself on pumpkin seeds. I can’t tell you how many of those darned things I ate within a span of a couple days, but let me just say – if I don’t see or smell another pumpkin seed for the rest of my life, it will be more than okay with me.  Seriously – my stomach hurts just thinking about those crunchy little pods.  Gah!

What about carving the prized jack-o-lantern every Halloween you ask?  I answer with:  “Me carve a pumpkin and touch those seeds? Hells to the no!”  Luckily my kids have a super awesome dad who does a marvelous job with this annual tradition.  Here’s this year’s masterpiece.

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Isn’t it lovely??  Wishing you and yours a Happy Halloween!.
– TL –