Friday, July 3, 2015

Book Blitz: Pixelated by L.S. Murphy


It's here! Another Bloomsbury Spark Young Adult release with small town secrets, art, and romance.

Pixelated
Release Date: 06/30/15
Bloomsbury Spark

Summary from Goodreads:

Senior Year. 

Middle of nowhere. 

What's the new girl to do?

For Piper Marks, the answer is simple. She’s determined to have her photography rock the cover of National Geographic someday, and moving to Clarkton, Iowa for her last year of high school is not going to stop her. Even if her usual subjects have changed from bright lights and skyscrapers to fields, cows…and more fields. 

But when photographer at the local paper quits in a huff, she steps into his spot. Her new job keeps Piper busy capturing tackles, and zooming in on first downs and end zone dances, not to mention putting her directly in the path of varsity football star Les Williams IV. Her new friends warn her off, but she can’t resist the pull she feels toward this mysterious country boy. But this small town is keeping a secret, and it’s one that could destroy any chance they have to be together. 

It’s up to Piper to decide what to do with the distorted truth. Can she risk exposing her heart? It might be worth it, 'cause Les is about to change her world from black and white to fully saturated color.  

Buy Links:

Praise for Pixelated:
"In Pixelated, L.S. Murphy weaves a complex web of secrets and lies with a ‘will they or won’t they’ romance that kept me turning pages and holding my breath!" ~ Julie Reece, author of The Artisans and Crux

"Beautifully written, with a full spectrum of emotion and complex characters, Pixelated will tug at all your heartstrings. I easily lost myself in the world L.S. Murphy created and couldn't stop reading because I needed to see how the story ended." ~ Kelly Oram, author of Cinder & Ella

"L.S. Murphy brings something for every reader with Pixelated: romance, secrets, mystery, and a main character torn between two choices. Murphy's writing is sharp and steeped in emotions, deftly hooking her readers from the first sentence to the last." ~ Sarah Bromley, author of A Murder Of Magpies 


About the Author:
L.S. Murphy obsesses about St. Louis Cardinals baseball, fangirls over her favorite authors, and watches every episode of Doctor Who like it's the first time. When she's not doing those time-consuming things, the former farm-girl turned city slicker turned suburbanite writes sweet romances for teens and adults.

Author Links:


GIVEAWAY:


Book Blitz Organized by:



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Insecure Writers Support Group IWSG (July 1)


Welcome to Insecure Writer's Support Group, where we all confess we don't have the biz figured out and commiserate together. For more mental support, check out the IWSG Facebook page.

I follow and support #WeNeedDiverseBooks, an initiative to promote and encourage more diversity in childrens's literature (and beyond). As I'm currently struggling with questions of authenticity in writing diverse characters different from myself, these recent tweets struck me:

I agree. Writers who are themselves diverse, whether that's a non-majority race, sexual orientation, or disability, should not be pigeonholed into writing only characters who are like themselves.

For me, being white, hetero, able-bodied, I also do not want to write only characters who are like me. But what does that mean? 


 (by the way Sona Charaipotra's book Tiny Pretty Things is a fabulous YA spin on Black Swan at an elite ballet academy.)

I wrote a manuscript with a character of a different heritage than myself already, but I'm currently working on a young adult story where the lead character is biracial, half-Korean. She spends part of her summer with nearby Korean grandparents. It's a point of stress and worry that I get the details right. So far, interviewing and having readers with the same or similar heritage has been invaluable. Google can only get you so far. And even then, I still have doubts. 

Because there's no checklist to complete your diverse content. There's no stamp of approval a reader or diversity expert or resource can give you to "approve" your content. Experiences will differ. 


Creating layered characters should always be a focus, but I think even more so with books targeting diversity. A fellow Bloomsbury Spark author Valerie Tejeda often discusses how she wrote the upcoming Hollywood Witch Hunter because she always wanted to read about a Latina urban fantasy heroine who looked like her. If readers are looking to see themselves in your story featuring a character like them, only to find stereotypes and lazy writing, that's a huge disappointment. 

There's no one right way to do this. And ultimately, me as a white writer am not doing anything groundbreaking by writing a non-white character. So while I may worry, I also aim to be an ally by purchasing and promoting books by diverse authors. I request their books for my library. I give money to We Need Diverse Books, a non-profit, to support programs that give visibility to authors and scholarships to bring interns into publishing who view diversity as necessary.

How do you support diversity in books? Have you written characters that required interviewing or searching for readers outside of your race, religion, or beyond? If not, what stops you? Please share in the comments! 

Don't forget to stop by the other IWSG linked blogs or visit twitter #IWSG.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Ready. Set. Write! Check-in June 29



Ready. Set. Write! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing.  This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and Katy Upperman. All the details are HERE

Also check out #RSWrite on twitter.

Now it's time for GOALS and CHECK IN!



1.  How I did on last week’s goals:
  • More specific planning for new project. Character worksheet filled out, more notes.
    • YES! I'm doing Camp NaNoWriMo starting July 1, so in lieu of diving in, I spent time doing prep work. I wrote first person journal type brainstorming in each of the main character's point of view. SUPER helpful. 
  • Finish polishing WIP and send to either reader or agent.
    • YES! I sent 2 chapters to a reader and waiting on that. We chatted via email and I made some changes. Soon to the agent :)
  • Attend RWA meeting about crafting characters. Get ideas!
    • YES! This was such a fun class taught by an instructor from Story Studio Chicago. One cool exercise we did was to describe 5 characteristics of a person we know, then we assigned a physical attribute to that quality. So an impatient woman might wear sloppy clothes. This was really fun and gave me ideas for my new story.
    • I also met up at coffee shops twice this week with writers from my chapter. Yes, we spent time talking, but story questions and plot problems found resolution! 
  • Finish reading current book and start another.
    • YES! Finished P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han, and now onto Tiny, Pretty, Things all about an elite ballet academy and backstabbing. Very Black Swan.
  • Work in fitness classes 3-4 days this week (I've been slacking last 2 weeks) And back to using My Fitness Pal tracking.
    • I did 2 classes at the gym and 1 night I met with a group of women to walk a 3 mile circuit on a wonderful park path by me. That was great because I got to catch up, some I haven't seen in a few years! I also tracked fitness/calories for all of the weekdays, but I usually end up trailing off on weekends.
2.  My goal(s) for this week:
  • Start Camp NaNoWrimo! Very pumped to get this new story going. My code name title is YA Road Trip Story. My wordcount goal for July is 30k. This week I'd like to get 5-8k written (factoring in Friday day off from work, no planned meetings this week, and I already have notes that may add to my wordcount).
  • Submit entry (completed WIP) to RWA chapter contest; deadline June 30
  • Host the first #YARWAChat on twitter, Tuesday 6/30 9 pm EST. All of you reading are invited to jump in! Our first topic is romance in YA since we are a chapter from Romance Writers of America.
  • Attend 3 classes at gym and/or 1-2 days of walking, biking, fitness video. Use My Fitness Pal for tracking during the week.
3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised:

  • A factor in my mostly-finished WIP I discovered is somewhat inaccurate after chatting with a reader/ subject matter expert. Finding a variety of readers is so important!
4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week:
  • Not starting my new project! I resisted diving into the story to get more planning down.
5.  Something I love about my WiP:
  • The one I'm finishing is heartfelt and has a lot of potential. Even better it's basically done. ;)

Please share what you've been writing, reading, or plan to do for the next week. Don't forget to check the other blogs linked above and provide support!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday Fun: Ebook Deals, Summer TV, YouTube

Happy Friday everyone. How was your week?

First, before the fun stuff, I want to recognize the nine people whose lives were taken in a Charleston church last week. It's a horrible tragedy, but I sadly can't say it's unthinkable. The U.S. is politically divided with deeply entrenched racism that threatens the daily lives of African Americans. We need to work as a nation to address this toxic racism. I urge you to be an ally and support the voices who need to be heard.

If you feel led to support the Charleston AME church, they have a donation button on their website. You can also donate to Charleston Public Library. One of the victims of the massacre was a librarian. Libraries are cornerstones of communities that do far more than supply books.

Ebook Deals Round-up:

So you might already know about BookBub and Read Cheaply (and if you don't, what are you waiting for? Get customized ebook deal alerts emailed to your liking!), but did you know some bloggers do the work for you by gathering deals too?

The Book Vixen: Kindle Deals and Freebies These are $2.99 or lower deals on romance and all subgenres, and some YA and mainstream non-genre fiction. Updated once a week.

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books: Books on Sale (archive)I think these are compiled at least weekly. You can also sign up for the weekly deal alert newsletter. These are romance and related subgenre and some YA.

Summer TV:

I watched two new summer shows this week:


Another Period on Comedy Central is like Downton Abbey meets Real Housewives with a cast of seasoned comedians and up-and-comers. Fans of The State and Drunk History will see familiar faces. Bonus: Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome who star as spoiled rotten wealthy sisters also create, write, and produce. Go women!


Mr. Robot on USA, Hulu: the hubz saw this early on Hulu and sort of freaked out. It's basically Chosen One wish fulfillment for the Reddit crowd, where a socially inept hacker is discovered and offered the opportunity to start a revolution. Bonus: person of color lead, artistic filmmaking, and a show that takes its time with a highly introverted main character.

YouTube:

Do you know about the Whiskey, Wine, & Writing videos? I will probably get the origins wrong, but I first found out about this last year as part of Pitch Wars. Writers/bloggers use this format to chat about publishing, writing, and you know, sometimes alcoholic beverages. Here's a recent ep featuring author Rachel Caine:



Watch adorably snarky puppets celebrate 10 years of YouTube:



Have a wonderful weekend everyone. Please leave a comment, I love to hear from you!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Ready. Set. Write! Update



Ready. Set. Write! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing.  This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and Katy Upperman. All the details are HERE

Also check out #RSWrite on twitter.

Now it's time for GOALS and CHECK IN!



1.  How I did on last week’s goals:
  • Complete critique group reading. Implement changes to chapter sent for review.
    • YES all complete! And critique group really helped. Plus, a member of my group just had a manuscript final in a prestigious RWA chapter contest, The Maggies! 
  • More brainstorming, outlining, planning/prep for Shiny New Project.  
    • YES! More notes and brainstorming after reading a writing craft book.
  • Sign up for Camp Nanowrimo in July. Plan a wordcount goal for July.
    • YES! Signed up. 30k planned. Anyone else doing Camp Nano and want to put together a cabin with me?
  • Query Kombat commenting (I'm a judge for this online pitch contest going on now)
    • YES! Lots of great entries in QK. Bonus: flexing my query critiquing muscles is always helpful to my own writing.
2.  My goal(s) for this week:
  • More specific planning for new project. Character worksheet filled out, more notes.
  • Finish polishing WIP and send to either reader or agent.
  • Attend RWA meeting about crafting characters. Get ideas!
  • Finish reading current book and start another.
  • Work in fitness classes 3-4 days this week (I've been slacking last 2 weeks) And back to using My Fitness Pal tracking.
3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised:

  • This relates to a quote about not blocking the whole sky with the palm of your hand:
    • My sky is letting what needs to break, break, and to live each day, cracks and all.
4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week:
  • Getting the right rhythm to a pivotal scene.
5.  Something I love about my WiP:

  • Some scenes really come together! Proud of that even though I have mixed feelings about this manuscript (probably too close to it; overworked).
Please share what you've been writing, reading, or plan to do for the next week. Don't forget to check the other blogs linked above and provide support!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Clara Kensie's Deception So Deadly

Today I'm sharing about Clara Kensie's 2015 RITA Award nominated YA suspense series: Deception So Deadly. Originally released as a serial series beginning with Run to You, the whole series is now together into two volumes.

DECEPTION SO DEADLY (Run to You Book One)
Release Date: 05/01/15
Harlequin Teen
325 pages

Summary from Goodreads:

Deception So Deadly is the complete first novel in the two-book Run to You series, a riveting romantic thriller about a family on the run from a deadly past and a first love that will transcend secrets, lies and danger…

Sarah Spencer has a secret: her real name is Tessa Carson, and to stay alive, she can tell no one the truth about her psychically gifted family and the danger they are running from. As the new girl in the latest of countless schools, she also runs from her attraction to Tristan Walker—after all, she can't even tell him her real name. But Tristan won't be put off by a few secrets. Not even dangerous ones that might rip Tessa from his arms before they even kiss…

Run to You is Tessa and Tristan's story—two full-length books about psychic gifts, secret lives and dangerous loves. Danger. Deception. Betrayal. It must be true love.




My Review:

What I love most about this book is the pacing. The action starts from the very first page, and even with action slows down, there is always an underlying tension since the family is on the run, It's not a book that stops to explain very often, so you have to just go with it and trust that the details will be revealed as the story progresses. 
In a new town and new school once again, Tessa is conflicted about letting herself get close to a boy she meets on the running trail near her house. While her older sister flirts and dates without shame, she's seen the heartbreak it caused when their family had to flee. Tessa's identity changes frequently due to her family relocating whenever the mysterious man hunting her family gets close to finding them, all due to Tessa's family's psychic and telekinetic abilities. All abilities Tessa doesn't have herself. There are no goodbyes in their world. Only new identities, hotels and rental homes paid in cash, and fires set to their old belongings.
Only this time is different. Tristan is trustworthy--it's just Tessa can't tell her family that. Soon she discovers trusting Tristan was a huge mistake. Or, is it her own family she put her faith in who have failed her most?
So many twists here! I recommend this for a fast paced, suspenseful read. 


Buy Links:

About the Author:

Clara Kensie grew up near Chicago, reading every book she could find and using her diary to write stories about a girl with psychic powers who solved mysteries. She purposely did not hide her diary, hoping someone would read it and assume she was writing about herself. Since then, she’s swapped her diary for a computer and admits her characters are fictional, but otherwise she hasn’t changed one bit.

Today Clara is the author of dark fiction for young adults. Her debut series is the romantic thriller RUN TO YOU: Deception So Deadly and Deception So Dark.

Her favorite foods are guacamole and cookie dough. But not together. That would be gross.

Find Clara online:

Find the RUN TO YOU series at your favorite e-tailers, including:



Monday, June 15, 2015

Ready. Set. Write! Check In


Ready. Set. Write! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing.  This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and Katy Upperman. All the details are HERE

Also check out #RSWrite on twitter.

Now it's time for GOALS and CHECK IN!




1.  How I did on last week’s goals:
  • Finish last details on The Revision That Won't Die. Send it off to either another reader or to agent. It just needs to leave my sight. 
    • YES! I finished! I wrote the last scene. What I sent off so far is a key scene to my critique group who meets this week. Then, either send to agent/reader.
  • Brainstorm SHINY NEW PROJECT! It's a YA contemporary *likely* with 3 character points of view. I'd like to draft initial character goals and arcs, attempt to use the Save the Cat Beat Sheet (every project I try; every project I abandon it). Scribble in my cheapie story notebook to get ideas more fully formed.
    • I didn't get as far as character or beat sheets, but I wrote two pages of notes on the characters. Also, I determined something really cool and geeky and awesome in how I'm going to write this novel. SUPER EXCITED. 
  • Finish at least 1-2 of the 5+ books I have started.
    • YES! I finished Jane Eyre which I've been reading since April or so, and finished another book and read a graphic novel.
2.  My goal(s) for this week:

  • Complete critique group reading. Implement changes to chapter sent for review.
  • More brainstorming, outlining, planning/prep for Shiny New Project. 
  • Sign up for Camp Nanowrimo in July. Plan a wordcount goal for July.
  • Query Kombat commenting (I'm a judge for this online pitch contest going on now)
3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised:

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week:

  • Summarizing a whole novel and theme into an ending shot that feels satisfying.
5.  Something I love about my WiP:

  • I'm done writing it :) For now. So ready to be on to the next.

Please share what you've been writing, reading, or plan to do for the next week. Don't forget to check the other blogs linked above and provide support!