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Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year Announcement!

Happy New Year everyone! 2016 was a rough year for a lot of people, but I have nothing but hope, optimism, and excitement for 2017. Why might that be?

For starters, I'm in the final stages of getting the Dream Girl sequel ready for publication. I have received editorial notes from my incredible editor. I am also working with an insanely talented graphic designer to get the cover together. (That will be coming soon and you are going to love it!) I will also being getting edits from another trusted editor. Then I'll revise based on their notes, send to my all star proofreader, and then it's off for typesetting and voila! A new book is born! This is the year!

Now that the release year is here, I thought it'd be the perfect time to finally tell you some things.

1. The book is not called Dream Girl 2. It has its own name. With the cover artwork in production as we speak, the whole endeavor has become very real to me. I know what this beauty is going to look like. It isn't final, so I can't reveal that today (soon, I promise!) but I wanted to share my excitement by announcing to you, my loyal readers, friends, and family. The sequel, and conclusion, to Dream Girl is called Dream Frequency!

2. At this point, the release date is this April. While that might sound like forever to you, it's frighteningly close for all the work that still has to happen to get it into production.

3. You may wonder why I'm talking about doing all this stuff. In case you are, the answer is this. The publisher of Dream Girl, has decided to take a hiatus from publishing fiction. (Yes, that's kind of a bummer.) However, I didn't want to leave you guys hanging. I didn't want to leave Christine and Gabriel hanging either. So I completed the book and through the magic of the modern publishing landscape, I'll be offering a print and ebook version of Dream Frequency. It will have the same availability as Dream Girl, so you'll find it at Amazon, BN.com, iBooks, etc. It's a big undertaking to self-publish a book, which is part of why I'm making this announcement today. I'm going to need your help! Dream Frequency now has an entry on Goodreads. It would be so incredibly helpful if you could add it to your Goodreads shelf and share it with your friends who might enjoy it. There is no better way to get the word out than word of mouth, so if you enjoyed Dream Girl, please tell your friends and let them know the sequel is almost here!

4. Thank you. Seriously. Thank you so very much. Dream Frequency would not exist without you. I have to admit, when I found out my publisher wasn't going to do fiction anymore, I lost all enthusiasm for writing this book. I started writing another book and figured I'd start fresh with that. But your comments and support kept coming. You kept asking what happens next? When will the sequel come out? And then Gabriel and Christine started whispering in my head again. I realized that you guys were out there, waiting for the end of the story, and I couldn't leave you hanging. I couldn't leave Gabriel and Christine hanging either! Even if I had to figure out how to publish it myself, this was something that needed to be done. You kept me going, whether you realize it or not, and I'm so grateful for that.

I hope your new year is starting out with magic and excitement too. Let's make it an incredible year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Happy Holiday Reading!

I'm not a librarian and a writer for nothing. I love books. So it's only natural that I want to share the very best books with my friends and family. (That would be you!)

As I'm looking longingly at my TBR pile as the Christmas break approaches, I thought I'd share a few titles that would make excellent last minute holiday gifts for the readers in your life, or just good ones for you to cuddle up during these snowy days and nights.

One my absolute faves
First, I see that alternate realities are having a moment in both adult and YA fiction right now. I love alternate realities but nobody captured my imagination better than Michael Lawrence and his Withern Rise trilogy, beginning with A Crack in the Line. It's only available as a Kindle ebook now, but the entire trilogy is amazing and I can't recommend it enough. It tells the story of Alaric and Naia Underwood who discover alternate realities of their own lives, accidentally. Besides being a fun concept, it provides a lot of food for thought. You'll wonder about the power of your own decisions after reading this book. Seriously, do yourself a favor and look into it! These books can easily be enjoyed by teens and adults alike.




And this cover is just GORGEOUS!

It's Christmastime, so what better time to dive into a book that takes place during Christmastime, on a Christmas tree farm? Jay Asher's brand new book, What Light is an unusual and uplifting story about love, forgiveness, growth, and healing. It's a beautifully written story with moving characters in a setting you won't soon forget. Make yourself a mug of hot chocolate and curl up with this delightful book. Definitely geared toward teens, but adults can get something out of this book as well. And that cover!






This cover grabbed me first
Wandering through Barnes and Noble spending my end of the year budget for my library, I took a walk through the poetry section and my eye landed on a pink volume called The Universe of Us by Lang Leav. I liked the look of the cover and when I turned it over to see what the back said, I found this, and only this: "He and I collided like two predestined stars and in that brief moment I felt what it was like to be immortal." I was hooked! From the cover, the introduction, to the last page, this book completely blew me away. The poems look deceptively simple, but they are rich with deep emotion and raw truth. I read the library's copy and bought my own immediately. I'm not one to select a volume of poetry for my pleasure reading, but I will be coming back to this book again and again. This is another that should appeal to both teens and adults.





Another stand out is Beyond the Red by Ava Jae. The world building in this book is phenomenal. It takes place on another planet covered by scarlet red sand. There are alien beings, humans, and half bloods. Normally, that isn't my cup of tea, but this book sucked me right in from page one. It has political intrigue, action, romance, family dynamics, betrayal, and hope. I didn't expect to get sucked into the world as much as I was, which is a testament to the skill of the author. It's also the first book in a trilogy. The second book is coming out in Fall 2017. Another great crossover for teens and adults!



Finally, a book that came out this spring, Please Pardon My Dust, I'm Under Construction by Monica R. Sholar. This book is 100% pure inspiration. It details the struggles of 25 Michigan women who faced the lowest points in their lives and worked their way up to success. I love that this book doesn't define success the way our society does - fame and fortune. These women made personal goals and worked toward their own dreams. Whether those dreams were finding a way to provide for their families, start a clothing line, open a bakery, or write a book, these women share their stories to inspire and uplift us all. This is an excellent book to read before/during the new year to help motivate you to work toward your own goals this year.


I really loved each of these books and I hope at least one of them is calling out to you too. It's always fun to share the book love. If there's a title you're dying to recommend to everyone in sight, please add it in the comments. Also, if you agree with any of these recommends I've made, please say so too. I love to bond with readers over excellent books.

Happy holidays and best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2017!


Monday, July 18, 2016

#HealTheWorld

It's not okay.

Even if you don't watch the news or read newspapers, you know that terrible things are going on in our world every day. It seems like an endless litany of shootings every time we turn around. And it's terrible, but more than these evil actions, I am seriously concerned and unnerved by the level of blatant hatred that's circulating these days. Social media is a horrifying wake up call to what's happening to our citizens. (And by "our" I mean the world's.) It seems that with all of us, with our own tiny social media platforms, we suddenly believe that our personal viewpoints are more valid than anyone else's and that it's okay to spew violence and hatred on anyone who dares to have a different opinion. It's very disturbing to me the level of cruelty that people give in to over these viewpoint clashes. God forbid a person support Hillary Clinton and another support Donald Trump. I see people actually proclaiming that the person supporting a different candidate than them does not deserve to live. Did you catch that? If people's political ideologies don't align, then the other person's life has no value. Folks, this is bone chillingly not okay.  This kind of devaluing of the lives of others seems to be rampant in modern society. And the lives of "others" are meaningless based on many criteria. Wrong religion, wrong country of origin, wrong sexual preferences, wrong sexual identity, wrong political allegiance, wrong gender, wrong dietary patterns, wrong parenting practices, wrong skin color and so on.

Anyone questioning the value of someone's life because of their skin color is so inherently wrong and ridiculous, this shouldn't even be a topic of conversation. And yet it is. The fact that it is 2016 and we have a campaign called #BlackLivesMatter is not okay.

I, like many of us, have been hearing news reports with an increasingly heavy heart. How many people have to die? How many people have to suffer violence? I know we want things to change. We don't want to hear these stories anymore. We call for gun reform. We call for mental health reform. We call for something to happen. But what is happening? It seems like just more violence. And we shake our heads and hope someone will do something to stop it. We feel powerless to do anything that can tackle these seemingly insurmountable problems in our world. I know that's how I've been feeling. And then something changed.

A friend's post showed up in my Facebook newsfeed:

"I’m working in these streets so any protesters, officers, friends, family or whoever, if you see me and need a hug or want to say a prayer. I got you.”
Officer Montrell L. Jackson, 
Facebook post 7/8/16
killed today in Baton Rouge


And that was the last straw for me. Something in me finally changed. I can't sit here and wait for something to change anymore. You know why? Because it isn't going to. Sitting around being impotently outraged behind our computer screens isn't going to change anything. I spent all morning thinking about what I can do about it. I can't make terrorists stop attacking people. I can't make people stop rioting. I can't stop crooked cops from profiling African Americans. But you know what I can do? I can actively try to spread love instead of hate. And you can too. 

St. Francis's Peace Prayer as been on my mind lately. I'd like to share it with you:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.

What strikes me about this is the selflessness. My opinion is not the center of the world. What I think is right is secondary to how I can be a blessing to someone else. That is in direct opposition to the message from today's media, where my happiness is the only thing that matters, no matter the cost. 

I've also been struck by a line from a Passenger song, Scare Away the Dark. (There are some F bombs.) "Well, sing, sing at the top of your voice / Love without fear in your heart / Feel, feel like you still have a choice / If we all light up we can scare away the dark"  

I decided the singer is right. If more of us would just light up, there would be fewer places for the darkness to hide. 

That's what spurred this uncharacteristic blog post. It's the outlet I have and I'm using it to voice how unhappy I am with the world our children are inheriting. I want kids to know that we aren't powerless. We don't have to be sad about the news and wait for someone to do something about it. We don't even have to do something huge and far-reaching. We can only do our own part, no matter how small, and at least know that we are trying to be the solution. 

So, I have a proposition for everyone. I'd like to create the hashtag #HealTheWorld to inspire each other. To invigorate people who might need a little nudge to do something different. It doesn't have to be huge, but I'd like to suggest that we all start spreading kindness and inclusion. Similar to random acts of kindness, I want to propose a different kind of "random." I'd like to replace the randomness with purpose driven kindness. I'd like for all of us to actively approach people who make us uncomfortable. Who we have prejudices toward. Who we don't agree with. Who don't look like us. And light up for that person. You don't have to spend money. You don't have to be their best friend. Heck, I think it'd be great if we just wrote out little slips of paper that said, "I'm glad you're here." Think about what that would mean to you if you're hurting. I mean it. Think about that right now. 
What if a young black man walked up to an elderly white woman and handed her a little note that says, "I'm glad you're here." 
What if a middle class white man walked up to a man in a turban and said, "Good to see you today. How's it going?" 
What if an overwhelmed mother in the grocery store was approached by a teenager with a mohawk and sincerely asked if there was anything they could help with.
What if you smiled at someone you would normally turn away from? 
What if someone stopped focusing on what annoys them or scares them about you and reached out to a part they liked?  

It might just be idealism, but I like to think it would help change hearts. Like it might just jar us out of our comfortable routine and make us really see the people around us. Not as stereotypes, not as "other" but human beings. 

So, I'm proposing this little movement. Let's challenge ourselves to do better. To interact positively with people we judge without understanding. To stop letting the hurtful and scared parts of ourselves have control. Let's do what Passenger says. "Love without fear in your heart." Let's do what St. Francis prayed, "not so much seek to be consoled as to console." We have to do something. It isn't okay to keep locking everyone out. It isn't okay to say that people who look or behave differently than us or who disagree with us don't matter. That's a lie. We're all here and we all matter. And it's time we all start acting like it.  





Monday, February 8, 2016

Susanna Leonard Hill's Valentiny Contest

I read about Susanna Leonard Hill's Valentiny Contest and it sounded like a fun challenge to write a Valentine story with a grumpy character in only 214 words! ( 2/14 for Valentine's Day off course!) So here is my humble entry in this contest. It was a lot of fun to write and difficult to keep under 214 words! Thanks for the opportunity and for the nice little writing challenge. Coming in at exactly 214 words, I submit:

Captain Salty's Valentine

Captain Salty was in a mood. Nothing could make him smile. Not stomping his peg leg. Not feeding crackers to his parrot. Not telling jokes to First Mate Moe. In fact, where was Moe? Captain Salty couldn’t make the ship run smoothly without Moe! Oh dear. It didn’t look good.

Captain Salty searched all the places he could think of: the galley, the crow’s nest. the poop deck. He even checked to make sure Moe hadn’t gone for a nap. No sign of him!

Just when Captain Salty was about to order all hands on deck, First Mate Moe appeared with a big smile on his face and his hands behind his back.

“Blimey!” Exclaimed Captain Salty. “Where has ye been?”

“I’ve been workin’ on a little something fer ye, Cap’n.” Moe replied.

“Fer me?” asked the Captain.

“Yes,” exclaimed Moe. “Tis a special day today.”

By now, the other crew members were gathered around.

“Today?” The Captain scratched his head.

“We admire the cut o’ yer jib, Cap’n,” Moe said. “And we want to wish ye a Happy Valentine’s Day.” Moe pulled a giant paper heart out from behind his back, signed by the whole crew.

The captain was so touched he made a rare declaration.

“Doubloons for all!”


“Hooray! Happy Valentine’s Day!”

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Cover Reveal! Dating on the Dork Side by Charity Tahmaseb and Darcy Vance

blog header Goddess Fish w url copy.jpg

DATING ON THE DORK SIDE
by Charity Tahmaseb and Darcy Vance



~~~~~~~~~~~~~

GENRE:  Contemporary Young Adult

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BLURB:

Stung by an epic betrayal, Camy Cavanaugh relies on the sure things: her best friend, her job as peer tutor, and her safe spot on the sidelines of life. But when she hacks into a secret, trash-talking website, it ignites a war between the sexes that won’t end until the whole school is turned upside down–and Camy’s world is turned inside out.

Now the hottest girls in school refuse to date the A-List boys. But with the Homecoming dance looming, everyone from the queen bee to the girl “most likely to” pushes Camy to hook them up with guys from the nerd herd.

And then there’s quarterback, A-lister–and former crush–Gavin Madison. He hasn’t spoken to Camy in three years … but he’s talking now, begging her to pair the guys on the football team with girls from the Honor Roll.

It’s a contest of wills and everything is on the line–even Camy’s heart. Will she retreat to the sidelines, or will she find the courage to get back in the game?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~



I’ve had eleven years to think about this (twelve if you count kindergarten) and if you ask me, the first day of school should come with a checklist:

           Your best guy friend manages to wear matching socks?

A good sign.

           Your homeroom teacher turns out to be a drama king?

Proceed with caution; hilarity may ensue-- but so may humiliation.

           You find a jock in the tutoring room?

A sign of the apocalypse.

On my last first day of school, I counted the minutes to the final bell, then took the stairs to the third floor tutoring room two at a time. I paused at the threshold and sucked in a breath.

The monitors inside the room, at least the ones that I could see, were spotless. I had new pencils sharpened to deadly points. My notebooks were filled with blank pages and promise. Everything was still first day fresh. Everything was still possible. And through the open windows, came the wondrous sounds of the Olympia High School football team warming up, “O-L-Y-M-P-I-A!”

“Switch!” Coach Cutter’s voice, amplified by the megaphone, rode the breeze through the windows. The trip seemed to soften all the hard edges, making him sound like someone you might actually want to talk to.

“O-L-Y-M-P-I-A!” the siren song came again. I loved it when jocks spelled. I loved the first day of school. I really, really loved my view of the football field from the windows of the tutoring room.

But Jason “The Ab” Abernathy was ruining all of it.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio:

Charity Tahmaseb has slung corn on the cob for Green Giant and jumped out of airplanes (but not at the same time). She spent twelve years as a Girl Scout and six in the Army; that she wore a green uniform for both may not be a coincidence. These days, she writes fiction (long and short) and works as a technical writer for a software company in St. Paul.

Her short speculative fiction has appeared in UFO Publishing’s Unidentified Funny Objects and Coffee anthologies, Flash Fiction Online and Cicada.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/charity.tahmaseb
Twitter: https://twitter.com/geekgirlx2
Blog: https://writingwrongs.wordpress.com
Mail list/newsletter: http://eepurl.com/RGffv
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/charitytahmaseb/

Darcy Vance is the slacker half of the author duo of Charity Tahmaseb and Darcy Vance. She didn’t start writing seriously until she was 40, and didn’t publish her first novel until she was 50. Even then, she needed a co-author to get the job done.

While Charity was busy slinging corn for Green Giant and jumping out of airplanes for the Army, Darcy was busy making out with boys and perfecting the art of the doodle. She only makes out with one boy now (her husband) but she still doodles wantonly.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/darcy.vance.3
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/edeevee/
Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/DarcyVance  (there is a free story there)


~~~~~~~~~~~~~
RAFFLECOPTER Giveaway!


Charity and Darcy will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to one randomly drawn winner, a print copy of "Dating on the Dork Side" to another randomly drawn winner (US/Canada only) and a print copy of "The Geek Girl's Guide to Cheerleading" to a third randomly drawn commenter (US/Canada only) via rafflecopter during the tour.





Monday, September 7, 2015

Sam Penant Reveal!

Get over to Amazon UK to get this! 
There's a book you haven't heard of unless you follow me very closely or you live in the UK and have discovered it, by some miracle, on your own. 

The book is Hero 41: Eye of the Gargoyle by Sam Penant. 
I discovered this book from connections that will be apparent later, but I heartily enjoyed it. It follows the character of Dax Daley. Here's the blurb from the back of the book:
Dax Daley is on his way to prison. But it turns out prison is actually a school - for superheroes! 40 superheroes, to be exact. But Dax - Number 41 - does not belong. He can't turn himself invisible. Or see in the dark. Or read minds. And he definitely will not fight the strange things looming around the corners of Scragmoor Prime. Because Dax Daley doesn't have any superpowers...yet!

Now, that sounds interesting, doesn't it? It really is. Between the dark setting and the reluctant, aloof, character of Dax, this book set off my reluctant reader alert in my librarian brain. Not only would reluctant readers enjoy this, but that elusive set of readers known as middle-grade boys. Of course, I don't fall into either category but I really enjoyed the book as well. And that's not just because I know something you don't. 

Do you remember when The Cuckoo's Calling came out? Written by Robert Galbraith? As I recall, the book was supposed to be secretly written by J.K. Rowling. Well, not much of a secret as that was outed on the jacket flap. But once the world got out, ol' Robert Galbraith's debut novel went straight to the top. Was it by merit? Was it merely by name recognition? I'll never know. (I'll never read it either.) But what a reveal that was! Robert Galbraith IS J.K. Rowling! Well, I'm here to announce another epic reveal. Would you like to know the secret? Here it is...


Sam Penant IS Michael Lawrence! 

Are you shocked? Are you amazed? Well, you should be. Michael is absolutely one of my all time favorite authors ever. Strike that, he is, in fact, my favorite author of all time. And now it's my great pleasure to welcome back Michael Lawrence to answer a few questions about the choice to publish Hero 41 as Sam Penant. 

The Restless Writer (RW): It's time for the big reveal. Sam Penant, author of the two Hero 41 books, is a pseudonym for none other than Michael Lawrence! Why did you decide to start a new series under a new name?

Michael Lawrence (ML): Between 1999 and 2012 I published a series of books about a boy called Jiggy McCue that was quite successful in Britain, Australia and one or two other places. Readers would write to tell me that they had read all my books, but they were only aware of the sixteen Jiggy books, and it became a bit of a pain to be identified with them alone when I’d written others that I felt (silly me) should have achieved more recognition. I wrote the two Hero 41 books under the name Sam Penant for two reasons: 1, to distance myself from the Jiggy series; 2, to see if they would be noticed in the marketplace without my name attached.


The answer to the second of these is that they haven’t been.

This is the fate of most books by unknown authors: relegation to the ‘also-ran’ enclosure. Time and again imaginative, original, well-written books escape attention, and their authors do not achieve the financial (or critical) rewards they deserve. The luck of the draw? Sometimes. Maybe. More often it’s down to publishers’ lack of vision, their unwillingness to risk a little money, and lackadaisical marketing departments. I could rail against such flaws and attitudes at length, but it wouldn’t improve things one bit. What I will say is that it’s looking very likely that these two pseudonymous books – my 43rd and 44th – will be the last that I publish for children. This isn’t because I’ve run out of ideas. I have as many stand-alone ideas and series concepts in reserve as I’ve ever had. Let’s just say that other forces (very negative forces) have come into play in today’s increasingly pedestrian and derivative children’s publishing enclosure.

RW: What have you learned from the process of writing and publishing Hero 41?
ML: Not to rely on or trust or give house room to marketing departments. I attended an editorial and marketing meeting in London before publication of the first of the Hero 41 books. All sorts of assurances and promises were made about the promotion of the books. If they have been promoted in any way I have yet to see the evidence. The sighting of just one of the two titles in a bookshop would be a start, but no such sighting has been made, by me or anyone I know.

RW: Are there any plans to continue the series? 
ML: Ha-ha. I can find other ways of wasting my time than writing books that no one will ever hear about, much less buy.


RW: What, if anything, are you currently writing?
ML: Although I might continue to write in one form or another, it’s looking doubtful that I’ll be publishing anything else. I recently finished two adult novels that I’d been working on in the background for some years while writing children’s books to commission. I’m very pleased with both of these, but no agent that I’ve approached in the US or UK has expressed the slightest interest in handling either of them – and very few publishers will even glance at a book unless it comes through an agent. This (the publishers’ attitude) is such a misguided one. Of course, it saves them the very wearisome effort of having to sift through the legendarily teetering slush pile, but to rely on people who call themselves agents to act as their gatekeepers is staggeringly unimaginative and lazy; agents whose taste for the most part is no better or more enlightened than that of any other reader, though they might be a lot more cynical and dismissive than most.


RW: It continues to be an odd time in publishing. Some self-published authors are finding incredible success while traditionally published authors are less than impressed with their results. But the opposite holds true too. What are you thoughts about publishing, in general, in this day and age?
ML: A great many good books are still being published in the traditional manner, though there’s a perception that the way for the new writer to get ahead now is to publish his or her work in ebook format. It’s true that some people have made money that way – and secured substantial offers from traditional publishers as a result – but the very great majority make nothing, or virtually nothing. I myself have made a number of books available as ebooks on Amazon in the past four years and on average I get 15 to 20 sales a month (mostly in the US), which makes the enterprise hardly worth bothering with. If some of you reading this achieve greater sales with your ebooks, I wish you’d tell me your secret.

(I'd like to know that secret too!)

Thank you very much, Michael, for allowing me to pick your brain again. Hope Hero 41 will start getting the attention it deserves, as well as the other books you've been working on and can't find homes for. 


You might as well get the 2nd book too. 
There's a second book to accompany Hero 41, so you can check that out too! Honestly, I hope you will look out for the Hero 41 books. They, as well as anything else written by Michael Lawrence, are very well done with very unique and interesting characters. Especially if you're looking for a middle grade boy, Hero 41 are great books, but so are the Jiggy McCue books. They've been around for a little while, but they're just as relevant now as ever and they definitely hit the nail on the head of young people who are straddling the line of goofy childishness and sassy teenager. 

Time to make them go viral, people! Are you with me?