Waiting on Wednesday: Loop

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.  
  This week's can't-wait-to-read pre-publication book is Loop


by Karen Akins
Publication date: October 21, 2014

From Goodreads:

At a school where Quantum Paradox 101 is a required course and history field trips are literal, sixteen year-old time traveler Bree Bennis excels…at screwing up.

After Bree botches a solo midterm to the 21st century by accidentally taking a boy hostage (a teensy snafu), she stands to lose her scholarship. But when Bree sneaks back to talk the kid into keeping his yap shut, she doesn’t go back far enough. The boy, Finn, now three years older and hot as a solar flare, is convinced he’s in love with Bree, or rather, a future version of her that doesn’t think he’s a complete pain in the arse. To make matters worse, she inadvertently transports him back to the 23rd century with her.

Once home, Bree discovers that a recent rash of accidents at her school are anything but accidental. Someone is attacking time travelers. As Bree and her temporal tagalong uncover seemingly unconnected clues—a broken bracelet, a missing data file, the art heist of the millennium—that lead to the person responsible, she alone has the knowledge to piece the puzzle together. Knowledge only one other person has. Her future self.

But when those closest to her become the next victims, Bree realizes the attacker is willing to do anything to stop her. In the past, present, or future.

Being a Beta Reader: Is beta reading for you?

Beta reading... not at all like walking a tight rope!
I'm not sure why, but for the past couple of days I've been feeling that I should do a post on beta readers. After seeing two separate posts on it today, I've gotten the hint, so here goes. For those of you who don't know what beta reading is, it's basically reading a manuscript before it's ready to be published. Authors use betas for plot feedback, to get ideas on what works and what doesn't with characters, and much more. A lot of times, beta readers who've read the author's previous work are great at pointing out series inconsistencies that we authors tend to gloss over after reading a 70+ thousand word MS fifty times already (like, But two books ago you said her eyes were orange, not yellow, or whatever).

Betas are our friends. At least, my betas are. When I send stuff to them, I know they're going to point things out that readers will notice. I expect suggestions, knowing I might not use them all (but better to conteplate now rather than later, once the book is out and changes can't be made, right?). I expect my betas to tell me things politely, but they do have the right to disagree with my decisions, as long as they're tactful about it. It's important to remember that all beta readers are different, and that, if you choose to beta read for someone, it's okay for your personality to shine through. Some betas send back two pages of notes. Some have detailed suggestions on every page. Some only point out their favorite and not-so-favorite things. Some don't say much other than "yay" and "I'm so excited for ____" (thanks, guys). The point is, reading it and saying, "It seems decent" isn't going to help anyone, nor is sending twenty negative comments per page. 

Last, betas, a lot of times, end up being your core team of fans. And by fans I don't mean crazy fangirls who squee over you and stalk you online and get confused and think they ARE you (although, I could deal with that); I mean people who are your advocates. Who spread the word about your work, because they get it. Who you can count on in a pinch to read that novella or ask about a character list and if you missed something before sending something off to print. I don't know where I'd be without my beta readers. (You guys know who you are. Coffee hugs.) 

Oh, and authors, if you DO use betas? Please please please make sure to thank them in your acknowledgements!

Now that I've explained what betas do, here are some great articles on beta reading that I've come across, as well as a great recent #k8chat regarding beta readers (lots of tips from readers and authors). I'd like to point out that most of these are written for the writer, not the beta reader, but they're still great and will also potentially give you ideas as to what to request as a beta reader (like knowing what format you'd prefer the document in, for instance). 

Another point real quick: it's important to remember that betas are not editors. It is not their job to point out the technicalities of punctuation (though, if that is your forte, you are more than welcome to mention that to an author before beta-ing... they might appreciate catching that stuff before their MS goes to the editor). I think of betas as the person you go to and say, "Hey, do these shoes go with this outfit?" To which they respond, "Well, last month you wore them with this dress, and it kind of goes but you seem to do better wearing these with pants. Oh and those earrings you had on last week would go great with it! That eyeshadow is not working for me at all, though." (Bad example? Oh well.)

Without further ado, here are some great tips on beta reading: 

* What is a Beta Reader and Where Do I Find One? via Casey McCormick (@Casey_McCormick) ***make sure to read the comments in this post!

* The "Art" of Beta Reading via Kati Brown

* Copy-editing and Beta Readers via Joanna Penn (@thecreativepenn)

* An important tip to keep in mind while BETA READING via Monica B.W. (@Monica_BW)

* Beta Reading Etiquette via Trisha Leaver (@Tleaver)

* Beta Reading Etiquette: How to Give a Critique via Misti Wolanski

* Five Things You Should Know About Working With Beta Readers via Corina Koch MacLeod and Carla Douglas of Beyond Paper Editing

* Beta-Readers and Beta-Reading: #K8chat on Twitter with Kate Tilton (@K8Tilton)

* Beta-Reading Community at Pub Hub (@PubHub_blog)

If you have any experiences, suggestions, or questions, feel free to share them in the comments!

This week's writerly news, smores, and smore < --- pun... ha ha

So... I have a lot to say this week. Considering I don't have much time and I know you guys don't want to read for ten years, I'm going to break it down as quickly as possible. (Because I care.) But first, a quick FYI... I have some kinda cool news at the end of this post. (*wink wink*) Okay, here goes:

1) Last week I totally forgot to share our neat-o, homemade fire pit that we made while on vacation. We didn't want to go down to the beach for smores (although we ended up doing just that the last two nights we were there, anyway), so we bought a clay pot and well, I'll let the pictures tell the story. :D*

 YUM!!!! And also...

Our first itty bitty bonfire AT Oceano.

*Note: wanting to go to bed but wary of leaving the charcoal burning away in the alley behind the home we rented, we poured a bottle of water over the charcoal. BAD IDEA! The amount of smoke was enough for someone suspect the worst and call the fire department! So make sure you let it go out on its own.

2) The other day I asked for help on Twitter and my Facebook page and BOY did ya'll come through! If you missed the six character names chosen from your suggestions, check it out HERE.

3) I'm excited to announce that I'm participating in I HEART YA 2014! Yay!

I'll be doing two separate features, one being a character interview (which is cool because I'll be doing a *different* character interview a few weeks later for the Open Thy Heart release blog tour)! The feature will be right around when By Sun and Candlelight comes out (August), so I'm excited. It's so awesome of Annabell and Bridget to do this for us authors!

4) I've officially joined the Goodreads Ask the Author feature. You can ask questions HERE

5) I'm looking for a few teen readers to interview. I have one more lined up (and one so busy, they can't participate right now, hence the lack of one this month), and then I'm going to need a few more peeps. If you're interested or know someone who is, email me at coffeelvnmom (at) gmail (dot) net!

6) Don't forget both the She's the Man #JLBgivesawayaDVD giveaway AND the Open Thy Heart cover reveal giveaway end SOON! 

7) Last, as you may or may not know, I try to give those subscribed to my Let Me Tell You A Story e-newsletter a heads-up on things before I announce them officially online. (It's only fair, you know?) In keeping with that idea, I've decided to share a rather long excerpt of By Sun and Candlelight with my pals via the Let Me Tell You A Story e-newsletter a few days before it's available to the public on August 15th. So... if you're itching to read a bit of Rowan's perspective, but aren't a subscriber yet, well, PLEASE let me tell you a story!!! (I only send out one to two emails a month, so no worries about spam or anything.) You can subscribe right over there ----- >

WHEW! I believe that was about 9 1/2 years! Coffee, anybody?

HAVE A BLESSED WEEKEND, and read SMORE books, my friends! ;D

Waiting on Wednesday -- I'm Glad I Did

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.  
  This week's can't-wait-to-read pre-publication book is I'm Glad I Did
I’m Glad I Did

I'm Glad I Did

by Cynthia Weil
Publication date: January 27, 2015

From Goodreads:

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and songwriting legend Cynthia Weil's extraordinary YA debut opens the secretive doors of the Brill Building-the hit factory that changed history. Part Mad Men, part Grace of my Heart, part murder mystery, I'm Glad I Did is a coming-of-age story at an unforgettable cultural tipping point: the summer of 1963.

JJ Greene, a gifted 16-year-old songwriter, defies her lawyer parents by secretly applying for a job in the famed Brill Building-the epicenter of songwriting for a new genre called rock-n-roll. But their warnings about the evils of the music industry prove far darker than she imagined when she finds herself at the heart of a cover-up that involves hidden identity, theft, and possibly murder.

Story Locale: New York, NY.

This week's writerly news: Writing Inspiration while on vacation

Hey, guys! Last week our family went on our annual summer vacation. I try not to post things about being away from my home while I'm gone, so even though I took a ton of pictures that I wanted so badly to share, I did not. And yes, this might have meant a bit of angst on my part, but guess what? It means more pics right now for you! Yay! (Didn't that work out swell?) 

We went to the beach, more specifically, where pretty much everyone from the valley goes... Pismo. (But if you go to Pismo Beach you basically always also go to Avila Beach, Oceano, Grover Beach, and the nearby San Luis Obispo, because they're so close.) 

As usual, we writers are always a few steps ahead of the game, so while the second Flora book is coming out soon, I'm already over here working on book three and the second Cozenage book (after Pity Isn't An Option). And sure, blogs and Pinterest boards are great to capture ideas and whatnot (oh hey, here are mine, by the way...) I love coming across visual inspiration the natural way. So here you go... a few photos I took recently that will most definitely end up in my books in the not-so-distant future. 

Do I even need to explain this one?

On the beach. Loved the sunset coloring and
how very dark that one low cloud was.

Looking up from inside a
eucalyptus grove.

Another beautiful sunset.

A house even worse than the Pulman residence!

Took this whilst driving down a lonely road.
It has the Cozenage series written all over it.

Through the passenger window. Soooo
someplace Jonas would come across! 

I actually filmed this. It was evening, and these
birds flew by in a continual line for almost FIVE
minutes. They were all heading south, further out
to sea. (To feed, maybe?) It was CRAZY.

Trying to look through the eucalyptus. 

The grove again -- wanted to show the
dense foliage on the grove floor and
also how dark it was inside even in
the early afternoon.

Have a blessed weekend! 

Waiting on Wednesday -- The Young Elites

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.  
  This week's can't-wait-to-read pre-publication book is The Young Elites
The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)

The Young Elites

by Marie Lu
Publication date: October 7, 2014

From Goodreads:

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

Open Thy Heart -- It's Cover Time!!!

You guys you guys you GUYS it's HERE! It's finally HERE! 

Hafsah is an amazing designer and you MUST go to her BLOG RIGHT NOW (yes click that link there) and check out OPEN THY HEART and tell her just how much she rocks!

(Oh, and enter the giveaway, too, if you'd like.)



The bookmarks Hafsah made. No, the cover doesn't look like
this. It's on the other side, actually. Aren't they marvelous?

So... what do you think of the dahlia? Are you curious now? (What do you mean you haven't looked yet? WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?) 

Excuse me while I go dance and celebrate with heaps of chocolate. As Eva would say, hasta luego! 

This week's writerly news

Happy Friday! This week I've been hunkered down getting OPEN THY HEART ready for betas. (The cover reveal is Monday. Squee.) And... as I write this post, I'm just not done yet. *hangs head* It's frustrating, because, I kid you not, I've been sitting at my computer for pretty much seven days straight. I'm at that point where my legs are mad at me and my eyes don't want to focus on anything and every single thing I read is so dumb that I should just delete it allllll and hide for a couple of weeks. (It's not a fun phase.) 

Author pals, I know you totally get this, and I just want to spread my slightly-tanned, jiggly arms out and hug you, because this part is so time-consuming that it's hard to remember how awesome it's going to be in a few (long) days. We have to stick together, yes? *grabs duct tape*

Reader friends, you probably kind of get this, and to be honest, that's enough for me. I guess basically what I'm doing is trying to be more honest about the process. (Not that I usually lie about it, but there is only so much time in a day. I do choose what to and not to share. And don't even get me going about the novella that's due to come out before OPEN THY HEART in uh, August, I guess? Hold on, I need tissues...)  

Anyway. I didn't mean to type out a ranty blog post. (I don't know what I meant to do.) This is so not my usual Friday post, so sorry about that. 

As for music (haven't shared any in a couple weeks), two songs I've been listening to on repeat whilst editing (deleting, screaming, bashing my head against my desk, and ingesting insane levels of caffeine--thanks Lovemuffin...) are

1) Breath of Life by Florence + the Machine


2) Hello Rain by Poor Man's Poison

Food-wise, I have nothing addictive to share, because for the past week I've been stuck--wait... we've been over this. (I've been eating salads and mini-candy bars and whatever I can get my hands on that takes two minutes or less to prepare.) Oh, and quick shout out to Kaitlin and Eugenia for the amazing virtual sweets to keep me going. 

Book-wise, right before hunkering (there's that word I never use again and then use twice in one post) down on OTH, I read a few books in a row. I'm not going to share the traditional ones because they have pretty great visibility already, but my indie pal Cheyanne's Somewhere Only We Know blew me away. Not because the writing was phenomenal (it's great, of course, Cheyanne if you're reading this, I don't mean it that way *bites fingernails*), but because the storyline was really good. Imagine a YA version of 50 First Dates, make the guy the one with the memory issue, add a supernatural element, and you have yourself Somewhere Only We Know. Oh, and pizza. If you like pizza (or sandwiches) you'll appreciate this. Wait wait wait I forgot to mention romance! (A touch of it.) I know I seem like I plug Cheyanne a lot, but I do it because I enjoy her work. (Note: I'd say this book is upper YA due to underage drinking and language.) If you'd like to check it out, go HERE.

Giveaway-wise, come back Monday or go straight to Hafsah's blog, IceyBooks, to see the OPEN THY HEART cover reveal, and enter to win swag and an e-advanced readers copy. (If you won the BY SUN AND CANDLELIGHT one, it's coming in a couple of weeks, I swear.)

And if you missed the She's the Man giveaway I've got going on, click over HERE ASAP because this is a fun movie and my pals Tabitha and Mandie (we're the #nerdherd crew on Twitter) and I are going to watch it very soon as our #nerdherdmovienight and you have to have seen it at least once before then! (More details coming soon.)

Last but not least, this month's #30daysofbookstagrams on Instagram is going strong (though I haven't gotten to do many posts). It's a fun way to connect with fellow book lovers (YA especially), so go HERE if you want to learn more about it. :)

Okay. I think I've probably procrastinated enough. Time to go pay bills work on OTH some more. 


Have a blessed weekend.

P.S. Sorry no pictures this week. If you actually made it through this entire post I'll send you book swag (and not just mine, either). Not kidding. Let me know in the comments. 

Waiting on Wednesday -- The Hit List

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.  
  This week's can't-wait-to-read pre-publication book is The Hit List
The Hit List

The Hit List

by Nikki Urang
Publication date: November 11th, 2014

From Goodreads:

The Los Angeles Conservatory for the Arts is supposed to be a new beginning for Sadie Bryant. Moving across the country is exactly what she needs to escape the gossip surrounding her injury, the devastating betrayal of her ex-partner, and to rebuild her career as a solo dancer.

When the school announces that the annual Fall Showcase, a performance that secures a spot studying in London, will now require each dancer to have a partner, Sadie’s fresh start is a nightmare. Now she has to dance with Luke Morrison, the school womanizer with a big ego. Sadie doesn’t know how to trust Luke enough to dance with him after her last partner left her broken, but Luke is determined to change that.

Then, The Hit List comes out. A game of sexual conquest where guys get points for all the girls they hook up with—and it seems like every guy at the school is playing.

The girl worth the most points? Sadie.

July's #JLBgivesawayaDVD: She's the Man

YOU GUYS. I am so excited about this month's giveaway. SOOOOO excited. (Thanks to those of you who voted on Facebook!)

If you were born under a rock and HAVE NOT seen this movie, here's the trailer:

There are so, so many things about this movie that I wanted to share, but my post would be SO long that I'm just going to break it down like this:

1) The lines. They're gold, guys. 

2) The spider scene.

3) You'll never look at gouda the same way again. Or the point of high heels.

4) There's a proper gif from She's the Man to suit every single situation in your entire life. I do not kid. (Especially the funny ones.)

5) She's the Man is actually a retelling of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (the main character names and a few other things even stay true to the play). 

6) Channing Tatum and Robert Hoffman star in this movie with Amanda Bynes... 

like my horrible screen shot?

but they *also* BOTH starred in Step Up 2: The Streets. (SEE? That's Robert, aka Justin, from She's the Man, below, on the left, too.) Not that they really have any scenes together (well one kinda is, although they don't interact), but STILL. (Think on this as you watch She's the Man. You'll appreciate Robert Hoffman even more now.)

Hmmmm maybe this should
be the next giveaway!

7) If you love behind the scenes info and stuff like me (and have ALREADY seen the movie), here's a fun look at continuity issues (I love this stuff) you may or may not have noticed.

Anyhoo. Here's the movie poster (you gotta read the blurb):

And here's the Rafflecopter. Feel free to come back often to enter! :D I can't WAIT to see who wins!!! 

Quick note: as a mom of three (now older) girls, I'm saying upfront that this movie is NOT for younger audiences who might be influenced by the characters' actions. There are a few things they do/say that you wouldn't want to condone little ones (or anyone, really) doing, especially if they act out what they see. I'm keeping this contest at 13+ but requiring permission from parent/legal guardian from anyone under sixteen years old so as not to offend anyone.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Waiting on Wednesday -- Overpowered

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.  
  This week's can't-wait-to-read pre-publication book is Overpowered


by Cheyanne Young
Publication date: August 1st, 2014

From Goodreads:

After rescuing Nova from a life of evil, Maci fears she's made a huge mistake. As if she didn't have enough trouble fitting in with her fellow Supers, Nova outshines Maci in personality and power.

In the midst of this one-sided sibling rivalry, humans are dropping dead from a powerful drug that originates in the underground tunnels of King City. Someone is a traitor and Maci wants to capture the villain before anyone else—especially Nova.

With Nova in the spotlight, Maci needs to set aside her jealousy before more humans die and the future of King City is changed forever.