Monday, September 23, 2013

Time After Time Playlist: Anna's Pick - Best of What's around by DMB and an INT GIVEAWAY!

This post will be one of the rare times this month I come out of hiding from studying for boards to say hello and do a promised post for a beloved author friend. It seems only fitting that I do this because I absolutely love Tamara Ireland Stone both as a person and as a writer and have been a long time fan of Dave Matthews Band. This way I get to combine my love of his music with my love for YA!

Time After Time (Time Between Us, #2)Goodreads Book description: Calling Anna and Bennett’s romance long distance is an understatement: she’s from 1995 Chicago and he’s a time traveler from 2012 San Francisco. The two of them never should have met, but they did. They fell in love, even though they knew they shouldn't. And they found a way to stay together, against all odds.

It’s not a perfect arrangement, though, with Bennett unable to stay in the past for more than brief visits, skipping out on big chunks of his present in order to be with Anna in hers. They each are confident that they’ll find a way to make things work...until Bennett witnesses a single event he never should have seen (and certainly never expected to). Will the decisions he makes from that point on cement a future he doesn't want?

Told from Bennett’s point of view, Time After Time will satisfy readers looking for a fresh, exciting, and beautifully-written love story, both those who are eager to find out what’s next for Time Between Us's Anna and Bennett and those discovering their story for the first time.

My thoughts on this book: I've actually already read this wonderful book (thanks, Netgalley!) and will just say fans of the first book won't be disappointed!

I have to once again post a wonderful picture of both Tamara and me at a book event :-)

Now to the song. It's been a while since I've read the lyrics to this particular song, but they really do fit Anna perfectly. Bennett and Anna are stuck in an impossible situation, separated by space and time, but they are such a great match for each other in every other way. Tamara told me the other day that she got the shivers when she reread the lyrics "Turns out not where but who you're with that really matters." It's so true.

And then the end of the song is so perfect, because it brings both Anna and Bennett full circle, and I can totally see her saying this to him: "Turns out not where, but what you think/ that really matters/ We'll make the best of what's around."

Sigh. YA book boyfriend anyone? OK, I admit it, I have a bit of a crush on Anna too :-)
"Best of What's Around" - DMB

Hey, my friend
It seems your eyes are troubled
Care to share your time with me
Would you say you're feeling low and so
A good idea would be to get it off your mind

See you and me
Have a better time than most can dream
Have it better than the best
So we can pull on through
Whatever tears at us
Whatever holds us down
And if nothing can be done
We'll make the best of what's around

Turns out not where but who you're with
That really matters
And hurts not much when you're around
And if you hold on tight
To what you think is your thing
You may find you're missing all the rest

Well she ran up into the light surprised
Her arms are open
Her mind's eye is

Seeing things from a
Better side than most can dream
On a clearer road I feel
Oh you could say she's safe
Whatever tears at her
Whatever holds her down
And if nothing can be done
She'll make the best of what's around

Turns out not where, but what you think
That really matters
We'll make the best of what's around!

Spotify links:  Time After Time: Anna's Shelf (1991-1995) and Time After Time: Bennett's Playlist (1995-2012)

I hope you enjoyed this stop of the blog hop! Don't forget to see the other stops too and also enter the giveaway!

Here's the link to the entire blog hop :-)

Now, enter this awesome INT giveaway to win a hardbound book set of Time Between Us and Time After Time OR an autographed copy of Time Between Us!
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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Review of Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans and US giveaway of one of his books SIGNED!

I'm so excited to introduce the next book! I literally just finished it an hour before writing this post. Before I get to the book, I'd like to take a few moments and gush about how awesome Left Bank books, our local bookstore, and the library system are in St. Louis! The reason I know about this book is because I'm an affiliate of Left Bank Books, and they asked if I wanted to publicize this book and author since Richard Paul Evans is going to be in St. Louis IN PERSON for a signing on Monday, September 23rd at 7pm at the St. Louis Public Library, Central Library, 1301 Olive St. Yup, guys and gals, that's TOMORROW!

Anyway, because Left Bank Books is just that amazing, they told me they'd be willing to do a giveaway for a signed copy of one of his books. In response, I was like, welllll, I've never read any of Richard Paul Evans' books so why don't I go to the St. Louis County Library and see if they'll get me a copy. While they didn't have a copy in their library, I requested it, and 24 hours later, the book was ready for me to pick up! That's what I call service!

Then for the double win, I read the book, and it's terrific!

The Prisoner of Cell 25 (Michael Vey, #1) Goodreads Book Description: My name is Michael Vey, and the story I’m about to tell you is strange. Very strange. It’s my story.

To everyone at Meridian High School, Michael Vey is an ordinary fourteen-year-old. In fact, the only thing that seems to set him apart is the fact that he has Tourette’s syndrome. But Michael is anything but ordinary. Michael has special powers. Electric powers.

Michael thinks he's unique until he discovers that a cheerleader named Taylor also has special powers. With the help of Michael’s friend, Ostin, the three of them set out to discover how Michael and Taylor ended up this way, but their investigation brings them to the attention of a powerful group who wants to control the electric children – and through them the world. Michael will have to rely on his wits, powers, and friends if he’s to survive.

My Rating: Somewhere between 4 and 4.5

My Review:  As mentioned above, I was asked by Left Bank Books to check out this book. Man, I'm glad they pointed it out to me. Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 was an unexpectedly good read for me. I actually didn't know too much about the book before reading it, so all I knew going in was that it vaguely had to do with super powers.

Michael Vey seems to be an ordinary 14 year old, but we find out in the first chapter that he has a hidden power. To make matters worse, he has Tourette's, which gets him in trouble since he says the wrong thing at the wrong time because of it. His powers are a secret, however, so he is forced to suffer in silence. When the prettiest girl in school approaches him, Michael realizes that maybe it's not so bad being him after all. The two of them and Michael's best friend Ostin (yes, his mother mispelled the name of the Texas capital) band together to try to figure out the mysterious origin of their powers. They discover deeply buried and explosive secrets (pun completely intended), and Michael has to decide between what is right and what is easy.

Okay, so I totally ripped off a promo for a movie or something. Not sure which one that phrase came from (maybe Spiderman?), but just let it suffice to say that I totally didn't make that up by myself. Anyway, what makes this book is the characters. We've all read books about kids with secret powers-- it's been overdone. How many books similar to the X-men have we all read?  But Michael is hysterically funny and has a unique voice, which completely makes this book succeed. Add a feisty, cute love interest and a hilarious, sidekick best friend who is smarter than everyone else combined (including the adults), and you get a terrific, fast paced read. 

This book doesn't reinvent the wheel, and I'd like to see more growth in the main character, which is why it didn't get a perfect score, but this is only the first book, and it sets up the next two in style. 

Overall, a terrific and fun read, and I can't wait to pick up the next book in the series. 

Now, enter to win a book from the Michael Vey series signed by Richard Paul Evans (US only)! Winner gets to choose which book!

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Character interview with Roemi from Tag Along by Tom Ryan and US/CAN giveaway of a signed copy of his book!

I'm so excited to introduce Roemi, my favorite character from Tag Along by Tom Ryan!

Tag AlongGoodreads Book Description: It’s junior prom night. Andrea is grounded, Paul is having panic attacks, Roemi has been stood up, and Candace is trying to avoid one particular cop. Over the course of eight eventful hours, paths are crossed, plans are changed, messages are mixed, and four near-strangers form some unlikely bonds.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Blurb about the Author:
Tom Ryan was born and raised in Inverness, on Cape Breton Island. He spent his childhood reading, wandering the countryside, making up stories and bossing around his younger brothers. After high school, he studied English at Mount Allison University and then moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he studied film production. He currently lives in Ottawa, Ontario, with his partner and dog. In the future, he would like to write more books, travel the world, direct a feature film and eventually move back to beautiful Nova Scotia.

Character Interview with Roemi
Thanks for visiting my blog, Roemi! Can you tell us a little about your family and where you grew up?
My parents are both doctors who grew up in India. They emigrated to Canada before I was born, and so I’ve spent my entire fabulous life in not so fabulous Granite Ridge. They’re always telling me that they came to Canada so that their kids (i.e. yours truly, I’m flying solo here) would have more opportunities than they had, and I’m sure that’s true, but there are moments in January when I would kill to be chilling with my cousins back in my Mom’s hometown instead of staring out the window of a snowstorm, feeling totally tragic.

What is your favorite TV show? 
Omigod, where to begin? I was into True Blood for a loooong time, for obvious reasons, but now it’s just kind of ridic, so it’s not must-see-TV for me anymore. I just TIVO it and save up the episodes for sick or lazy days. I’m totally over Honey Boo-Boo, that kid got on my last nerve pretty quick. I’d have to say that at this point, the show I love the most is Breaking Bad, because that shizz is thirty-three million percent cray. Also, Jesse Pinkman is totally hot. Sorry, not sorry.

Who would you say your best friend is and why?
I’m not into the besties thing, although I let some of my friends at school think they’re the most important thing that’s ever happened to me. It’s just too much effort to spell it out for them. I like to think of myself as a lone wolf, a dazzlingly, dramatically, effortlessly, suave lone wolf with killer moves.

What's your favorite quote?
“I am a star. I am a bright big shining star.” Marky Mark in Boogie Nights 

Coffee or hot chocolate?
If I had sunglasses right now, I’d push them to the tip of my nose and give you a withering stare. Do you really need to ask? Chocolate beats rock, paper, and scissors, every time.

Would you rather-- get $1000 or receive a trip to the Caribbean that is double that amount?
A thousand bucks, any day. If I had a thousand bucks, I’d blow it on one incredible night with my friends. It’d be the kind of night that people talk about decades down the road. Legen – wait for it – dary.

Describe your perfect date.
Oh, it would have to start with a killer outfit. Skinny jeans, white belt, popped collar, you get the idea. I’d want to be a full on swag-demon, and it goes without saying that mister lucky had better show up looking pretty slick himself. Then we’d go for a romantic walk at the beach or some park or something like that before hitting up a fancy restaurant in the city. After that, we’d get milkshakes from Bizzby’s, and he’d take me for a fast drive on the highway. To finish it all off, a lingering kiss in the driveway before he drops me off. I’m swooning already.

Thanks, Roemi! It's been so awesome having your unique commentary on my blog :-) Hope you guys enjoyed it as much as I did! Now enter to win a signed copy of Tag Along!
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Friday, September 20, 2013

Interview with Tom Ryan, author of Tag Along and US/CAN giveaway of signed copy of his book!

Tag AlongI'm so excited to introduce Tom Ryan, the author of the wonderful Tag Along, which totally took me by surprise! (In a good way, of course!)

Goodreads Book Description: It’s junior prom night. Andrea is grounded, Paul is having panic attacks, Roemi has been stood up, and Candace is trying to avoid one particular cop. Over the course of eight eventful hours, paths are crossed, plans are changed, messages are mixed, and four near-strangers form some unlikely bonds.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Blurb about the Author:
Tom Ryan was born and raised in Inverness, on Cape Breton Island. He spent his childhood reading, wandering the countryside, making up stories and bossing around his younger brothers. After high school, he studied English at Mount Allison University and then moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he studied film production. He currently lives in Ottawa, Ontario, with his partner and dog. In the future, he would like to write more books, travel the world, direct a feature film and eventually move back to beautiful Nova Scotia.

Author Interview
1. I always love hearing about how authors got started. Can you regale us with your story?
I’ve been making up stories since as long as I can remember. I lived in a really rural part of the world – in an old farmhouse on a dirt road surrounded by fields and forests and the low lying mountains of the Cape Breton highlands – so I spent a lot of time by myself, wandering around and imagining myself getting caught up in adventures. 

I also read books constantly. I grew up in the 80s, pre-internet, and we didn’t have cable, just a couple of local Canadian channels with very little to watch, so books were my world. I’m so happy that I was pretty much forced into that corner, because I’m still not sure if I would have become the reader I am today if I’d had access the distractions of today’s world!

I loved books so much, in fact, that I ended up studying English literature at university. One of the courses I took was a creative writing workshop. It was my final year, and every Friday afternoon ten of us would meet with our amazing professor in a wood paneled room high in the rafters of the old stone humanities building. That course totally changed the way I looked at myself as a writer. Having the opportunity to discuss my work with other fledgling writers under the guidance of a creative and enthusiastic teacher, really lit a fire under my butt. I kept writing after I graduated, and eventually that lead to the opportunity to publish my first YA novel, WAY TO GO. 

2. My favorite part of your story is how amazingly real all of your characters seem. Did you have a personal favorite? (I did). Did any of them surprise you?
I’m really happy to hear you say that! One of the things I remember most clearly and fondly about high school is how so many crazy combinations of friends were able to develop in unusual but organic ways. I wanted to write a book that followed a few different characters through the same night, and it was really important to me that each of the four main characters – Paul, Andrea, Candace and Roemi – have distinct voices.

I did a lot of planning before I wrote, since I had to weave together four different plotlines, and so I had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen with each character, but I have to say that at the end of everything, Candace really surprised me. Her story took me in a different direction than I’d originally expected, and her outcome was maybe the most satisfying for me. 

As for favorite character, that’s like asking someone about their favorite kid! I will say that the idea for the book came to me when Roemi burst into my mind, fully formed. It’s a special thing as an author to have a character show up ready to roll. I just had to sit back and let him do all of the work, so I definitely have a special fondness for him.

 3. In three words, how would you describe Tag Along?
Good question! Hmmmm…. I’m going to go with “unexpected friendships develop.”

 4. Did you come up with the title Tag Along? If so, how did you come up with it?
Yep, it’s my title. The funny thing is, I just stuck it onto the manuscript when I submitted it, because I couldn’t think of anything better. I always figured I’d change it, but as the book went through several rounds of editing, it became clearer and clearer that it had a nice ring to it and it really does fit the story.

 5. What is a book you wish you could read again for the first time?
Oh man, this is a tough one. There are so many. I’m going to go with “The Secret History,” by Donna Tartt, because I absolutely love that book. I read it on vacation about five years ago – we were renting a little cottage on the South Shore of Nova Scotia and I sat on the beach and devoured it. Now whenever I see a copy for sale at a yard sale or secondhand bookstore, I grab it and give it to the next friend who admits they haven’t read it.

I also love her second book “The Little Friend,” and I’m super excited for her third book, “The Goldfinch,” which comes out in October!

6. What person have you always wanted to meet?
Oprah. Don’t judge me.

7. What do you have on the horizon? Will we ever see the characters from Tag Along again?
I have a couple of middle grade novels coming out, one in October, at the same time as TAG ALONG, and one in the spring. They’re called TOTALLY UNRELATED and BIG TIME, and they are both part of a new line of books Orca Book Publishers is releasing about young teens in the performing arts. They were a lot of fun to write.
At the moment I’m working exclusively on a manuscript that I hope to use to find an agent. I was lucky enough to get into the publishing biz without even querying, but I’m at a point now where I could really use some advice and help developing my career. As for what the book is about, I’ll just say that it’s book one in a trilogy, and I’ve been working on it for over a year and hoping to wrap it up over the next couple of months. It’s been a departure for me, since it’s my first non-contemporary, but I’ve loved every second of writing it!
Thanks so much for joining us, Tom, and enter to win his awesome book! Also, stick around for tomorrow's interview with the fabulous Roemi, my favorite character in Tag Along!
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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review of Tag Along by Tom Ryan and US/CAN giveaway of Signed copy of his book!

Tag AlongGoodreads Book Description: It’s junior prom night. Andrea is grounded, Paul is having panic attacks, Roemi has been stood up, and Candace is trying to avoid one particular cop. Over the course of eight eventful hours, paths are crossed, plans are changed, messages are mixed, and four near-strangers form some unlikely bonds.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: 
I received an ARC of Tag Along by Tom Ryan from the Librarything Early Reviewers program in exchange for an honest review.

Tag Along is a book about four very different teenagers who are almost strangers even though three of them go to the same school. The night of their prom, they're thrown together unexpectedly, and hilarity and a surprising depth ensue. There's Andrea, a good girl who always obeys the rules until now. There's Paul, who is dating the hottest and most popular girl at school but has a panic attack prior to prom. There's Candace who is an artist, with a penchant for breaking the law by vandalism, and last but hardly least, Roemi, an adorable gay Indian guy who has more balls than most straight guys I've known.

Don't get me wrong-- I had some questions about the book. I was wondering about Roemi's very liberal Indian family, which was extremely surprising to me. I also had some doubts that things would really happen so clean cut at the end of the book with all the stories tied up into a bow.

But you know what? I don't care. I loved the characters-- so much, that I was either laughing out loud, harder than I have in a long time, or almost moved to tears. I stayed up late at night reading this book until the wee hours in the morning because I couldn't put that down. So questions or not, I was willing to put them aside because there was so much heart to this story.

Tom Ryan has a gift-- and it shines in the wonderful characters that he's created. I'm so glad this was a standalone, but these characters could easily live on in other books, they are that quirky and unique.

Tag Along is a must read, and the most fun book I've read in a while. Pick up this book! And I'll be definitely following Tom Ryan's career from here on out.

Enter to win this awesome book signed from Tom Ryan or some great swag! Also, tune in for Tom's interview and Roemi's interview! :-)

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Writing Interview: My Work in Progress and my writing process and INT giveaway!

The awesome Jamie Krakover tagged me to answer these four questions about my WIP (work in progress) and my writing process! I was excited to answer these since as some of you know, I'm in the midst of writing my first novel.

1.      What are you working on right now? 
I'm currently working on my first novel, a contemporary coming of age story about a first year medical student struggling to find her place in her highly competitive school as well as to navigate her turbulent love life. My goals with this novel were to introduce readers to the world of medical school and what a career in medicine might be like as well as develop characters that people would root for. 

2. How does it differ from other works in its genre?
I think that all coming of age contemporaries have a thread in common-- the growth of the main character over the course of a novel. That said, I think that because of my background in medicine, I can introduce readers to a unique viewpoint on what training for a medical background would be like and what struggles people in this track go through. A lot of what happens in my novel is inspired by real life situations-- either in my life or the lives of other people I know. 

3. Why do you write what you do? 
I'm actually a bit surprised that I started with a contemporary that isn't even a YA book. I hope to expand to some of my favorite genres, which include dystopian, science fiction, and fantasy/paranormal. I figured that I should write what I know for my first book to get it written, and I find that I'm thoroughly enjoying myself. I already have ideas for three other contemporaries (companion books to my current novel) in the pipeline. 

4. How does your writing process work?
I'm still figuring this out, but I started off just writing an idea I've been tossing around for years. This is a book that my sister has been begging me to write for a long time, but I don't think I had either the time or the confidence to start it until now. I originally was planning to cover the four years of medical school in a single novel, but I quickly realized how difficult it is to write over that span of time. At that point, I cut down the time scale to one year, and in addition, I wrote out an outline. I don't always follow it, but it's really important for me to have a sense where I'm going at all times. I go back to the outline and revise when my characters dictate a different direction. 
I also spend a lot of time thinking about each of my characters-- what are their backgrounds? What are their motives? I detest one dimensional characters, so for example, the "mean girl" Chelsea, ends up being probably my favorite character. When I figure out their personalities, I go back and edit scenes and conversations to fit them. 
My sister is serving as a huge sounding board. I send her a chapter every few days, and she gives me broad comments as I write. She's one of my toughest critics, so I know she'll always be honest even if it may hurt my feelings. Furthermore, her constant involvement forces me to reach my own self denoted deadlines because I know she's always waiting for another chapter.

Every morning, I write for an hour without fail. It may be only 500 words, but it's 500 words down on paper. It adds up!
Lastly, I've set up several crit partners and beta readers in four to five different editing stages so that this manuscript will be the best it can be before I try to get an agent. I have to give a shout out to the wonderful Antony John, author of Elemental and Five Flavors of Dumb, and Fiona Paul (AKA Paula Stokes), who wrote the Venom trilogy. They have been instrumental in getting me to write this novel, and have already given me the most wonderful advice.
I hope you've enjoyed this interview, and can't wait to reveal more about my book in the coming months! 

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Review of Fire and Ash, the final book in the Rot and Ruin series by Jonathan Mayberry

13424356Goodreads Book Description: Benny Imura and his friends have made it to Sanctuary, they've found the jet and they've discovered that civilization is struggling to regain its foothold in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. Scientists are on the verge of finding a cure for the zombie plague. It should be time for celebration, but it's not. Benny's best friend, Chong, has been infected by an arrow dipped in the flesh of a zombie and he hovers between life and death and Dr McReady, a researcher who may have the critical formula for a cure, has gone missing. So Benny convinces Captain Ledger to mount a search and rescue mission to find the doctor and help Chong. But with the Reapers still pursuing their plan to turn all zombies into super-fast shock troops even if they can save Chong, can they save themselves? In the fourth book of the thrilling and emotionally charged Rot & Ruin series, the battle to end all battles is about to begin...

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

My Review:  I've been waiting on pins and needles for Fire and Ash, the conclusion of the series by Jonathan Mayberry that started with the wonderful Rot and Ruin. I was not disappointed. I award this book 4.5 stars.

Fire and Ash takes place a bit after Flesh and Bone, the third book in the series. Chong is in dire straits, while Benny, Nix, and Lila are at Sanctuary, finally, but with more questions than answers. The legendary Joe Ledger is also there, who stars in his own books in the adult fiction world. Together, this ragtag band strives to save Chong and the same time, save the world from the Reapers and the completely creepy Saint John.

I was thrilled to see Benny finally get his day in the sun. I've been waiting for this last part in his growth (apparently, Nix was too), and while I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for Tom Imura, Benny is a pretty cool samurai himself. The pacing was as good as the previous novels. I've been struggling to get through novels recently, and this wasn't one of them. It's a good size, the size of a Harry Potter book, but I blazed through it just as fast. We also get to see some old friends, and this comes to a wonderfully satisfying finish.

It's not a perfect novel-- I'm a little sketchy on some of the details of the science, and it almost seems to wrap up too easily at the end. But that said, that didn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying myself from start to finish. There were some great twists that took my mind away from these small details.

Overall, a worthy ending to a phenomenal series. If you haven't read these yet, get them NOW. They'll stand the test of time. I guess I'd better start picking up some of the books on Ledger until Mayberry writes another YA novel. I hope it's soon.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Guest Post by Sandra Miller: Make the self-editing process easier through 8 tips

Everyone, welcome Sandra Miller, a freelance writer, to Ensconced in YA! I think these are great tips that will help any writer.

If you are a writer who skips the self-editing process, you should know that editing is the key factor that separates good writers from mediocre ones. If you are writing for a publishing house or a magazine, you certainly have a professional editor to do this job for you, but if you are an aspiring writer and you’re working all by yourself, then you will need to do the editing on your own. 

Editing other people’s work is a challenge; editing your own writing goes beyond your imagination of hard work. However, our simple tips will help you go through the process more easily and successfully. 

1. Just write first. Editing comes later.
The most important thing to remember is to finish your writing before you start editing it. If you stop to edit while you are writing, you will never finish the piece. You can make a break and correct a typo you noticed in the previous sentence, and it is fine to restart a sentence when you know it doesn’t sound well. However, you mustn’t keep making one step forward and two steps back. If writing without editing is a real struggle for you, you should try using Write or Die by Dr Wicked – an application that will force you to continue writing by punishing you every time you become distracted. 

2. Step away from your work
It is very important to let your work sit and step away from it before you start with the self-editing process. If you are a blogger, you can give a few hours or a day for the short piece to sit. However, if you have just finished writing an entire novel, you need to put it aside for a week or two and, if possible, stop thinking about it. This will allow you to have a fresh impression when you come back to the writing. You will easily spot the parts that don’t fit, as well as the inconsistent characterization and minor holes in the plot.   

3. Change the format
If you turn your words into another format, you will spot the mistakes or problems more easily. Printing out a blog post or transferring your novel onto an e-reader will let you see your work with a reader’s eyes. If you only take a look at your writing in its published form, everything will become clearer and easier to fix. 

4. Start with the content and structure
One of the worst self-editing mistakes you could make is starting by polishing up each sentence, every phrase and word, and cut out the unnecessary parts of the material later. Editing the big picture first is much more efficient. You should start by cutting out unnecessary sections or chapters, adding the missing information and revising the sections or scenes that require radical improvements. You can start digging down into the individual words and sentences after that. 

5. Lower the word count by 10%
It’s no secret that writers tend to over-write. This is why it’s important that you cut out 10% of the word count once you are happy with the big picture. Unnecessary words only weaken the story and your argument, which is why you need to get rid of them. If you find that the same point has been repeated several times throughout the piece – it’s probably unnecessary and your reader would be annoyed by the repetitiveness. Cut out all unnecessary adjectives and wishy-washy phrases and you’ll end up having a much cleaner piece that will be easier to read. 

6. The spell check is great, but it’s not all-mighty
You should never forget to run your work through a spelling and grammar checker. However, you should not rely on this tool completely because it can’t catch every mistake. For example, homophones often go through this process unnoticed, but your readers will surely notice them. You need to use your eyes too. 

7. Read the piece backwards
This is a strange technique, but it makes the tough self-editing process easier. It is a trick that will help you notice the small mistakes that were sliding past you. If you’re not used to this way of proofreading, you can read the piece really slowly. This can be done by increasing the font size, which will prevent you from seeing too many words on your screen at a time. 

8. Know when you are finished
When you start editing and perfecting your own work, you could fall into a never-ending cycle of rewriting some parts and then changing them back. You should know when you are done and stop the process at some point. You cannot achieve perfection, so remember that a published piece is always better than a manuscript that sits on your computer forever.     

Sandra Miller is freelance short story author and graduate of Literature from the NYU, where she wrote for the students journal and tutored students in writing. She recommends authors use professional editing services Help.Plagtracker. Now she is writing her first YA novel.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Cover Reveal of SEQUEL to "The Stereotypical Freaks" by Howard Shapiro with TONS OF PRIZES!!!

ANNOUNCEMENT FROM HOWARD SHAPIRO, AUTHOR: On September 10th (my birthday), I'm holding an event online on Facebook to do a Reveal of my next Graphic Novel, the sequel to "The Stereotypical Freaks."

During the day, I'll be posting some pages from the book, drop a few chapter titles and the recommended listening songs (this was a well received part from "Freaks") to those chapters as well as posting some bio info on the team I've assembled to bring the story to life!

All that will lead up to 9:00 PM EST when I'll be revealing the title, cover, a synopsis of the story and the release date of the book. Please join me then! There will be a bunch of prize giveaways during the day also!

The Giveaways are as follows - at 10 AM, 2:00 PM, 5:00 PM and 9:30 PM (all EST) we will be picking names from the event attendees and the winners will receive the following:

The 10:00 AM Winner - A Signed (by Rocky Braat and Steve Hoover (Rocky is the subject of the "Blood Brother" documentary and Steve is the Director) "Blood Brother" Movie poster

The 2:00 PM EST Winner will receive a 3 pack of my books... "Hockey Days", "Hockey Player For Life" and "The Stereotypical Freaks"... all will be signed and include bonus items

The 5:00 PM EST Winner will receive a signed "The Stereotypical Freaks" Ltd edition (1 of 40) poster

The 9:30 PM EST Winner will receive a $50 iTunes Gift Card

Thanks and pls email me with questions or for more info! or go to or
RSVP here to be in the running for these great prizes! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

WAVECROSSED Blog tour: Review of Wavecrossed by Andrea Colt

Andrea Colt wrote the wonderful Torched, which was in my top favorite indie reads of last year. She recently came out with the YA paranormal, Wavecrossed!

Book Description:

To Cassandra Kelleher, trust is a dirty word. A teenage selkie who grew up on land, all she wants is to free her family from the man who stole their sealskins long ago. With her twin brother Brennan losing hope and her window of opportunity disappearing like the beach at high tide, she’ll try anything.

Before long, however, Cassandra can’t tell whether her biggest threat is the man holding her family captive, a classmate who’s discovered her secret, or her own paranoia. Battling broken friendships and alarming romantic entanglements, Cassandra finds that trust could be the key to winning her family’s freedom … or losing her own.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

My Review: I received a copy of Wavecrossed from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was very excited about this book because Torched was one of my favorite indie reads of the past year. I award this book 3.5 stars.

Wavecrossed is a very different novel than Torched, which was a YA contemporary. I want to mention that I love that these books are totally different, because Colt takes a risk, and this is highly important for writers to be brave enough to do. This book stars Cassandra, a selkie, and her twin brother, Brennan two teenagers who are the only ones in their family who have their sealskins. Their parents and older brother Declan are still enslaved. To what lengths will each of them go to rescue them?

There is no doubt in my mind that Andrea Colt can write. Although I had some issues with how the story unfolds, I still got through the entire book in a few hours. The supporting cast is wonderful-- I loved Leisel and especially Ashlyn, the hated ex-best friend/girlfriend and queen bee of the school. I could imagine all of the scenes really well, and Brennan gives a nice balance to Cassandra, who is often hard to take. I loved the turn that everything takes in the end of the story, which I won't talk about, but you'll have to read it to find out!

As for my issues. I'm not sure that I agree with how the book starts. I dislike prologues as a general rule, but it might have been used effectively here. Instead of opening the story with the two of them swimming around, I think it would have been nice to see a scene of them trying and failing to save their parents. We are told most of this backstory through Cassandra's thoughts and dialogue between characters. Second, Cassandra is a very difficult character to like. I understand why she has to be that way, but often, I (and the characters as well) were begging to take a break from her continually negative and paranoid mind. Finally, as more of a personal preference than anything else, I think I've realized I'm not really into selkie stories. However, I did like how Colt makes the twins a bit different than "other" selkies.

Overall, a richly described novel that is fast paced with a terrific supporting cast. The way the plot unfolded and the main character weren't always my cup of tea, but no one can deny that Colt is a talented writer. I'll continue to pick up every book she writes.

About Andrea: Andrea Colt grew up reading and squabbling with her identical twin. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia with her husband, a fridge full of cheese, and two feline muses. Visit to get to know her better.

Visit the rest of the blog tour!