Lots o' links on how to support your favorite authors

You know that feeling you get as you read the last few words of a favorite book... that feeling where your brain is still absorbing what you've just read, but you already know you want to shout from the rooftops (or yell across the interwebs) that everyone needs to read it right now?

Or maybe you know of a certain author who writes pretty good stuff, but you've never really been sure about how to tell other people about it.

Either way, you will never have to deal with a how-on-earth-to-I-tell-people-about-this-book problem ever again, because I have the solutions below!

See, I thought about writing my own post on how to review and/or rate books online, but then I realized that the internet is already full of helpful posts about spreading author/book love around and figured, why not share those? The best book recommendations I've ever received were the ones that made me jealous to have the same great reading experience as the person who told me about it.

And... viola! Here are a smidgeon of the many helpful posts I've come across, all in one place for future reference. :)

by Chuck Sambuchino (@ChuckSambuchino) on Writer Unboxed

by Jody Hedlund (@JodyHedlund) at Author, Jody Hedlund

*neat for someone who could use a step-by-step example to navigating Amazon.com
by D. M. Andrews at Creative Conflict 

by John Kremer (@JohnKremer) at Bookmarketing Bestsellers

How to Write a Book Review on Amazon 
*this is actually helpful for a review on any site 
by Katherine Lowry Logan (@KathyLLogan) at kathrinelowrylogan.com

by agent Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner) on Books & Such

**For people who have just boarded the Goodreads train 
on Goodreads (@goodreads)


The Runaway King

The Runaway King (The Ascendance Trilogy, #2)

It's here! I thought it wasn't coming for another week, but guess what showed up in my mailbox yesterday? THE RUNAWAY KING by Jennifer A. Nieson! (Naturally, I abandoned all household chores and holed myself in my room in order to read it today.) You can check out my review at Afterglow Book Reviews here.

Also, if you're looking for a freebie read, today's the last day my ebook, PITY ISN'T AN OPTION, is available on Goodreads for free. (My whoopsie-daisy announcement is here. I really need to learn how to work this stuff better.)

Be blessed, and HAPPY READING!


Get PITY ISN'T AN OPTION ***FREE*** on Goodreads

...because I was trying to set it to allow a readable excerpt and didn't realize I'd uploaded the entire book!  (Duh.)

So... let's just do a freebie thing for the rest of the week!!! YAY!!!!

**throws confetti**  

**and coffee beans**

Sometime over the weekend I'll fix it to where it can only be *purchased* on Goodreads (like it is everywhere else), so take advantage of this (accidental and yet quite convenient) offer before it ends! 

To read PITY ISN'T AN OPTION, CLICK HERETo read an excerpt ON Goodreads, click on the read book tab underneath the cover photo. To download the entire book, click on download ebook beneath the description. (And be sure to add it to your "want to read", "reading now" or "read" shelves, as well)!!!! 


**throws more coffee**

**and a few chocolate kisses**


DELETE: the power one button can give

A couple of years ago, I read a blog post about how the delete button can actually strengthen your story. The way the writer spoke about it (and how much it appeared they'd decided to delete), I thought they must have been one crayon short of a full box. But now... some four years later? I get it. And man does that delete button make a difference.

I think, as writers (no matter what stage of the game you're in--just starting out, writing for years, hoping to get that one agent to like your work finally, whatever), we have to remember that each story is that ever-present, smelly, sometimes (but more often not) enjoyable onion. There are layers that only time can grow. There are parts that only days and months of thought and revision and different perceptions of life in general can inspire. (I don't mean that in a slave-ish way, I just mean no one can turn out a wonderfully written full piece of work in say, two months. Time really does make a difference.)

I didn't used to believe that. When I first started, I really didn't. I think it's kind of like driving (don't ask Lovemuffin what he thinks about mine, and this example will work out just fine). You think, at sixteen, seventeen years old, you're an awesome and alert driver who is God's gift to the road. By the time you hit twenty-five or so, however, you realize you probably shouldn't have done half the things you did behind the wheel in high school.

Case in point: Senior year. I was barely seventeen, and the radio in my Buick LaSabre was broken. Broken as in, the power button would not stay pushed in. I drove around town with my finger ON the button, folks. Because I just had to have music playing. (Because only Lovemuffin had the brains to suggest jamming a toothpick in there soon after. Duh.) What on earth made me think driving with one hand was a good thing to do???

Looking back on my writing, I can see how much time has changed things; how much reading has benefitted me. How silly it was to be so upset that nothing went anywhere three years ago--how could it have? I was so not ready. We try to rush things and let go of drafts that are not yet ready to be released because we feel this crazy, sky-is-falling push every time we pick up a magazine or get on the internet.

Yesterday morning, Lovemuffin up and announced that we were cleaning out the backyard. This was not a welcomed notion in the Brooks household, let me tell you, especially since he said it way too early (yes... 8:30 is early. So is 11:00. But back to the story...). After a year of needing to "take this or that to the dump", we'd accumulated quite an array of junk, and we all knew it was something that had to be done. There was one particular item going to the dump that made me a little sad. Here's a picture I took as Lovemuffin carried it to the front yard with the bobcat:

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When you look at that picnic bench hanging out of the bucket, you most likely see a collapsed piece of junk--wood and metal that doesn't really look like anything special. But when I look at it, I see my grandma and grandpa's back yard when I was little. I see their patio and the ivy everywhere all around it and the funky stone man-face thing that hung by a thick piece of string from the top of the lattice and the California poppies Grandpa always had planted beyond this picnic bench, in front of the back fence. I see hide-and-go seek with my grandparents' neighbor's kids, I see my ten year-old self trying to sneak behind the side of the house and through the gate with my friends.

And then, I see the same picnic bench in my backyard after my grandparents had passed away. I see the original brick-red color fading and peeling; I see the four of us--me, and my three girls--painting the top of it white so it would last for years to come in our own backyard.

The picnic bench was an eyesore. But it had a story. It had an innumerable amount of words connected to it. When we came home from our family vacation last summer, the whole thing had collapsed. I don't know how it happened, but we decided that trying to get it fixed was more trouble than we wanted to deal with. I'm fine with it, I was ready to let it go I guess, but seeing it go in the trailer to go to the dump yesterday still stung a little.

This is also how we feel about our work. We spend so much time with it that we don't want to let it go. We have this kinship with the emotions we felt as it was written, and deleting it means getting rid of the result of all that time and effort.

But sometimes, deleting things actually make a scene or the dialogue even stronger. Like I said, I never used to believe this. Then, I went through the very last revision process before PITY ISN'T AN OPTION was released, and I saw words and sentences that no longer belonged. I saw adjectives that, instead of making the writing stronger, make it not as good. And I was that person; the one I read about. I was the one who was empowered and excited and happy to use that delete button. I took them off, re-read the scenes, and knew without a doubt in my mind that it had helped.

Something being gone doesn't necessarily mean something has been lost. You may know deep down that some parts need revision, but can't bring yourself to let go of them. In that case, keep the deleted parts somewhere, if it'll make you feel better. Store them in a file next to your writing journals, save them on your comp, shoot them to yourself in an email. Do whatever feels best if you don't want to let go of them completely. I know I'm going to look out the sunroom window for a while and feel a pang when I see the empty spot where the bench used to be. But guess what? I have a picture of it before we painted it white. (Right after my oldest and her friend had a royal paint-splatter fight and it was brick-red, peeling, and rainbow colored on one side.) So I'm fine. I'm not going to lie: the patio looks better without it. As time passes and you go back to that next onion layer and re-read your work, you're going to see that deleting here and there was the right thing to do, and you'll be fine, too.

Be blessed,


Unravel Me review

Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2)

Yup. Two in one week. (I'm getting the hang of this.)

And let me tell you... well, I'd better not. That would kind of ruin things. But Warner... Oh man.

Check out my review of Tahereh Mafi's UNRAVEL ME at Afterglow Book Reviews!


The Soundtrack to Your Heart

No, this isn't a late Valentine's Day post. Last night I realized I'd never mentioned the two specific and incredibly talented people who inspired so much of Wanless and Jonas and Hattie, and their story. And I thought, why not talk about their music, and how well they conveyed moods and storylines without using a single word?

I'm not sure if any of you have ever seen the movies Keith or Remember Me (both for the older YA or adult crowd, for my younger readers out there--Ugh, Keith just... ugh. Jesse McCartney was so great), but the original score soundtracks blew me away. If there was ever, EVER an opportunity for anything to do with Jonas and Hattie's story, I would be absolutely head-over-heels crazy-amazed to have Tree Adams (Keith) and/or Marcelo Zarvos (Remember Me) be a part of it. Their music really moved PITY along. Talk about talent!

I wasn't sure how to share anything on here without dealing with copyright issues, so I decided to give you links to preview the score soundtracks yourself. Take your time to listen and get a feel of the emotional state of the settings and/or characters!


Remember Me

So, what do you think? For me, it was as though Hattie and Jonas' hearts were speaking through those songs; as though their emotions and feelings and the way they saw things were came right through the notes and latched onto my own heart.  :)

How about you? Are there any instrumental songs that have inspired you?

Have a great three-day weekend, guys!

Be blessed,


Code Name Verity (book review)

Remember how I posted about being the newest member of Afterglow Book Reviews last week? Well, I have officially posted my first review! And it's on the roller coaster of an awesomely emotional World War II/secret agent/flight-oriented book, CODE NAME VERITY! (Have you read this? Ugh! Let me just say that my review is very... wordy!)

Code Name Verity

You can check the review out here!

Be blessed,


Writing, owl love you forever!!!

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For Valentine's Day, I decided to share what I love about writing and/or reading (both of which "owl love forever").

I love telling stories with my heart.

I love that I can share the things that happen in my head with others, who will probably not only *get* it, but experience it just as much as I have and love it, too.

I love to meet new people--new characters, I mean--and learn all about them. I love how they come to me and tell me about themselves throughout the day, how they wake me up and whisper their worst character traits in my ear so I can share them with the world.

I love how writing brings both readers AND writers together. The camaraderie that goes with loving the world of words in general is absolutely amazing; you may not have a single thing in common with someone, but if you both love the same book, it's enough.

I love the fact that, no matter what, the more you write, the stronger your writing grows.

love the universal truth that books, whether enjoyed or not, evoke emotions. You hated it, you loved it, it drove you crazy, it was your favorite, you bawled your eyes out, you would have changed this and this--what was the author thinking?!?!?!  (Sometimes it's less important how much you liked it and more important that the author's words struck you--however they did.)

Last, I love knowing that, regardless of publishers and formatting and stuff like that changing all the time, writing isn't going anywhere. It will always be here for us to share and enjoy.

What do you love about writing and/or reading? Feel free to share it in the comments!
Be blessed,


This week's news, plus a little visual inspiration

Just a little update on where I'm at with things...

1) It's official... PITY ISN'T AN OPTION is now available for purchase on Smashwords!!! YAY! Smashwords has the following formats available: epub, HTML (online reading format), PDF, RTF, LRF, Palm Doc, and Plain Text. It should also be arriving in Apple and Barnes & Noble's ebook "catalogs" soon--I will let you know when they're available! In the meantime, feel free to check it (and the free sample) out on Smashwords, and spread the word. :)

2) My facebook author page is officially up and running. This week I'll be posting a few excerpts from PITY ISN'T AN OPTION, from both Hattie and Jonas' point of view.

You can find me here.

If you have an author page, feel free to direct me to it in the comments!

3) Starting next week, I'll be posting a 3-part series on the story behind PITY's cover, in which I will share my experience with the whole ebook cover process. The end result turned out great, but there were a few kinks at first (and one of them was quite costly)!

4) I've added tabs to my blog. Haven't figured out how to remove the sidebar stuff yet, so that's the next step. It'll be fixed soon. But if you're interested in an excerpt, I have one up on the "book" tab. :)

And now for the visual inspiration: In PITY, Jonas talks about birds, and Hattie deals with cotton. I love visuals when I'm reading about something I don't know much about, so I thought I'd share my Pinterest PITY ISN'T AN OPTION board with you guys. :) Enjoy!

Be blessed,


Mailbox bliss (or, reading awesomeness)

Between receiving gift cards at Christmas and the Barnes & Noble coupons I've received in my inbox since the new year started, I've been acquiring quite a bit of reading awesomeness lately!!! Guess what I get to start reading this weekend, guys?!?!?!

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Aren't they just perfect for the month of February??? :D  (And this isn't counting the ones I'm waiting on that haven't been released yet!)

Last night it rained. We weren't expecting it (or at least I wasn't--I don't pay much attention to the weather forecast, to be honest) and even this morning the air was misty and gray (reminded me of the coast--Monterrey, for you local readers) and I had to turn my windshield wipers on. But as the afternoon ticks on, the sun is sticking his shiny little self out more and more. I love this weather. It's *so* reading weather. And I've decided today is the perfect day to start FALLING FOR YOU by Lisa Schroeder

Wahoo! And since two of my three daughters will be off doing school dance-y stuff tonight for a couple of hours, you know what that means... (Silent) reading BLISS! 

Have a blessed weekend, everyone! (What are you reading now?)


Pity Isn't An Option cover reveal

I'm so excited to get to share the cover of PITY ISN'T AN OPTION here first on my blog... it's not on Goodreads just yet (hoping in the next couple of days) but this has been such a long time coming that I had to share :) Update: It's on Goodreads! Click the link add to Goodreads on the sidebar! :)

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And here's the blurb:

Seventeen year-old Jonas Norton is trying to come to terms with what his blood disorder has robbed from him, including his two most favorite things: basketball, and competing in Hatchet Racket, Wanless’ annual hatchet-throwing contest. The facts that his father works constantly to pay for his blood tests and Jonas can actually see the disappointment in his eyes for being such a failure only make matters worse. And even worse than all of that? Jonas' own twin brother, Micah, is perfectly healthy, and becoming quite the basketball player himself. Also, Hattie, the girl Jonas has loved for forever? She has no idea how he feels.

Sixteen year-old Hattie Akerman lives down the hill from Jonas. Though her father, Heath, tries to hide his lack of mental clarity behind the bottle and she's pretty much given up on having any kind of relationship with him, she would still rather her younger sister, Lucy, not have to deal with the consequences of his behavior. Hattie helps her mother by baking food to sell at Market and looking out for Lucy. No matter what the rest of the town says about her crazy father, Jonas sticks up for them. He is, by far, her very best friend.

As if things aren’t complicated enough already, Heath and Micah are unexpectedly drafted into President Kendrick's army (an army from which no one ever returns) just days before Thanksgiving. When Heath disappears instead of arriving at the Meeting Place to check in, Hattie and Jonas decide they’ve had enough, and take matters into their own hands. And though nothing could have prepared them for what happens next, Hattie and Jonas learn that hope can be seen in every situation. You just have to know where to look. 

Yayyyy! I'm so excited! I'll post more about the process soon and let everyone know when it's available on Goodreads and whatnot.

Be blessed,


Your thighs are going to love me: Choco chip cookie in a mug

Well hello there, folks! Seeing as a lot of us are sitting around at home reading and writing while the game is on watching football, I figured today would be the perfect day to share YOUR THIGHS ARE GOING TO LOVE ME SO MUCH installment number two: Chocolate chip cookies in a mug!!! :)

photo courtesy of no. 2 pencil

Doesn't this look perfect?

Now, unlike the first installment of YOUR THIGHS ARE GOING TO LOVE ME SO MUCH (coffee cake in a cup), we haven't tried this one yet (though the ratings look excellent). So I guess we get to try it out together!

I chose this recipe in particular because it only requires a few ingredients, and most of us already have these sitting in our pantry (who wants to go to the store right now, right?).

So, without further ado, here's the recipe from no. 2 pencil:


If you like Melissa's recipes, check her out on Pinterest! And if you would like to find more #mugdesserts, check me out on Pinterest (the food board in particular)! Enjoy, my lovelies!

Be blessed,


We all see things through different eyes

I was reading a book review a bit ago (for a book I've yet to read because, though it has gotten good reviews, it just doesn't seem like my kind of book and I'd rather lighten up the TBR load a little before adding ones I'm not sure about to it), and it made me think. So many things are subjective when it comes to entertainment... movies, TV shows, and yes, books go in that category, too. I remember reading a lot of comments/blog posts/articles over the past four years about how you had to write for the market if you wanted to get anywhere in the whole publishing biz (and then a whole bunch saying to ignore that, and write from your heart), and, as I've said on here before, that makes things difficult because most times the story that etches itself into your heart has nothing to do with the market or perfect contemporary or sci-fi or fantasy plot, or whatever.

And then I thought about how readers in general can read one book and love it and someone else will think the exact opposite. And how, as a writer, you can look at someone else's work and compare it to yours and wonder how this window was opened up and things fell perfectly into place for them and now they're "famous" (whatever you deem as famous--everyone has a slightly different idea of the definition of that word), and you can get into the whole "but-why-not-yous" of hurt and jealousy, which can eat you up from the inside out. (Long version of this in my What Jealousy Really Means post).

And, as I was sitting there reading the review, I realized something. The reason most of us write is because things come to us that are near and dear to our hearts and, no matter what we do, they will not go away. (Some writers probably do write for the market only, and hey, if they get published, good for them... but I'm not talking about those writers right now.)

So, when I see something that doesn't really resonate with me, that's okay. Because guess what? It came from someone's heart. It came from that place that meant time and sweat and tears and a whole lot of editing and words and possible research and time alone in front of a notebook or journal or computer or all of those, and therefore, that makes it something. That makes it WORTH something, too. And if it's worth something, then there's no need to worry about anything else. Because it'll speak to who it's meant to speak to, and that's that. And mine will be worth something to whomever it speaks to, and that's that. And, bottom line, all of us were able to put something down on a page that continued and went and moved and breathed and swirled into a story of life and love and characters and places that will forever mean more than if we'd never taken that chance.

What I'm trying to say is, just because one book doesn't jump out at you or seem as though it's all that great, that doesn't mean it's any less important. And it also doesn't mean that yours is less or more important than someone else's, either.

We all have a different story to tell. We all see things through different eyes. We all have our own language, our own voice. And because of that, we all want to share our story with the world. That's what makes writing so special.

Be blessed,