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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I have 200 Followers!!!

I am very excited to report I now have 200 followers on Networked Blogs for this blog. I remember when I first started it and began meeting bloggers from all over the world. I have enjoyed meeting so many wonderful people and believe it or not it has been almost 3 years that I have been sending out my meanderings to all of you.

I am going to have a contest to commemorate this amazing number so be prepared to win great prizes. For now I am sending out a great big Thank You to all who continue to enjoy hearing about my life and meeting new writers.:)


My next guest author is Jo Linsdell who is an author who also gives so much back to other authors. If you are an author, then you might know about Promo Day where Jo lets everyone come on her Facebook page and promote themselves and their work. The last time I had Jo on my blog it turned out to be the most popular post I ever had!! So you won't want to miss her. Come back on June 1st to read all about Jo Linsdell.




Sunday, May 27, 2012

Summer Teen Reading Party Continues with Natalie Wright Guest Author Blog Switch



They opened the pool where I live and now I can hear all of these happy people gathered around the pool with their kids splashing and having a good time right outside my window!! I hope to be at that pool soon, but with my husband's health still needing to be addressed, this Memorial Day I might only be watching or listening to the joyful noise. However, I am very pleased to bring you another wonderful author who is part of the outstanding Summer Teen Reading Party thrown by all of us YA authors in the hopes you will fill up your Kindles and your children's Kindles with the array of excellent reading we have provided for you. All of the ebooks on the Summer Teen Reading Party website are on sale until the end of May. So grab them while you can!!

Today I am happy to present Natalie Wright as my guest author and fellow Summer Teen Reading Party sponsor. Let's learn more about Natalie and her book, Emily's House. Since Natalie is on vacation she left us a few words.

Natalie Wright's Thoughts



I hope you’re all enjoying the fabulous Summer Teen Reading Party where fun reads abound at summer sale prices with great prizes thrown in for good measure. I’ve picked up some great reads that I’ll be enjoying on my vacation. How about you? Leave a comment about your favorite Summer Teen Reading Party find.

My one-word mantra for this summer is Adventure. As a creative person, nothing feeds my muse like Adventure. Okay, Adventure and chocolate. Preferably chocolate while on a grand adventure.
I think there’s something about new experiences that fires up the synapses and stokes the fires of the boiler. Adventure inspires.
We can find adventure in books of course. I get my daily dose of adventure through the eyes of the characters I meet in story. What’s your favorite adventure ever taken through story?
But this summer, I embark on an adventure in the real world. My grand adventure? A cruise to the Bahamas. I’ve never been on a cruise before. I’m a bit scared. Pent up in a stateroom with my daughter and husband – I have visions of Jack Nicholson in the Shining! My fair skin in the intense tropical environment – I could end up looking like a lobsterfied zombie, all red and peeling. And crowds of people. My semi-hermit, writer self, thrown into almost two weeks of being surrounded constantly by people. Oh, the horror!!
But these fears pale in comparison to the positive expectation of snorkeling amongst exotic rainbow colored fishes. Boogie boarding in the warm tropical waters. Exploring Nassau on two wheels. Food made to order and delivered to me (no cooking or cleaning for mama!). And most of all, quality time with the people I love the most.
                                                              
                                                     Photo by Hisham F. Ibrahim/Getty Images
I agree Natalie, I would love to be on this beach soaking up the sun near that incredibly blue water of the Caribbean. I still remember the trip we took to Curacao. The air there is magical and fragrant. So enjoy yourself and your vacation while we tell people all about you and your book!



I’ll meet new people. I’ll meet new fish. I’ll see things I’ve never seen before. And I’ll carry a small notebook and pen with me at all times, ready to capture an observation of a person, object, conversation or even a color that I find fascinating.


I’ll come back from my adventure, exhausted and exhilarated. I’ll come back with a fire burning in my belly to get back to work, pouring it all out onto the page.

What about you? What adventures await you this summer? 




Bio:

Natalie Wright spent her formative years growing up on a farm in Ohio. It was a fertile environment for an active imagination and inquisitive mind. She is, however, a city girl at heart and now finds inspiration in her travels and in the desert environment of her home in Tucson, Arizona, where she lives with her husband, daughter and her dog Molly.

                                                    

Blurb:


From Kirkus Reviews

With her two best friends by her side and her mother’s memory in her heart, a teenager undertakes a journey to save the world from an ancient evil.


Emily Adams has always known she’s special. Throughout her whole life she’s had visions of things that haven’t happened yet and she could always read her mother’s mind. At least, she could until her mother died. Emily thinks her abilities are just about gone, but the arrival of a strange creature in her backyard one night proves otherwise. Emily discovers she is the last of the Order of Brighid, an ancient society of women sworn to protect the portal to the Netherworld. Now, with the portal under attack, it’s up to Emily and her two loyal, wisecracking friends to stop a villainous man before his actions destroy the world.

Excerpt:
                                                      Prologue

 The whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of that infernal machine. Its bellows pumping up and down as black, tarry goo is sucked up the tube and into the holding tank.


She’s lying there on the bed like a robot corpse, tubes and lines going in and out of her body. Her once rosy lips now pale, tinged slightly green. Her once vibrant emerald green eyes are closed, sunken slightly into the eye sockets. Her once strong body lies still and shrunken. Only her hair looks the same, flowing like a red wave across the white shore of the pillow.

Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.
I’m standing at the door, gingerly peeking in. I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to see this. I don’t want the putrid odor of people dying stuck in my nostrils.
I don’t want to go in but I’m sucked into the room anyway, my legs powerless against the invisible force drawing me in. I feel myself flailing with my arms and trying hard to command my body to obey me—to allow me to turn and run from this horrid scene.
But I’m in the room anyway, drawing ever closer to the bed.
Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.
What is that tarry black stuff? Is it being sucked out of her body? Or put in?
I’m now close enough to touch her, but I don’t want to. The last time I touched her I saw a vision of her taking her last breath. The last time I touched her, I saw her die. I don’t want that to come true. And I don’t want to see her die again. The first time I saw her die I ran and ran, trying to escape the vision. I don’t want to touch anyone ever again.
But my hand reaches anyway, a mind of its own. I’m powerless to stop it. I feel my mouth opening to scream but nothing comes out, my lips locked in a soundless “O.”
My hand quivers as it reaches, in slow motion, toward the sleeping body that bears a minor resemblance to my mother. Is she still in there? Or has the cancer stolen the last of her?
My fingertips shake now as they touch her hand.
Her eyes pop open in a look of terror. Her mouth is open in a scream but instead of a human scream it’s the loud whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of that tar-sucking machine.
Suddenly, she sits up. The long, wavy red hair flying about her head is the same but the face is no longer my mother. It looks at me with large, solid black eyes, devoid of light or emotion, staring out of a bare skull. Her hand is now skeleton and grips me hard.
I pull and pull to get free of this monster, but it has me. I’m caught in its grip.
Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.
I finally wake, dripping in sweat, my mouth still open in an “O,” the scream still caught in my throat.
I awake once again from the same bad dream I’ve had for the last seven years, only to find myself in a house of nightmares.
Natalie, I have to put this on my TBR list, which now needs its own space! Sounds like a really exciting read. Thank you for being my guest author and I hope you are enjoying your vacation!!

Here are places you can find out about Natalie:






You can Purchase Emily’s House Here:


Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/vlrnjp

Until the next time, Natalie's post will be up for a few days, so don't worry if you are partying and didn't have a chance to stop. Also, please stop by Natalie's blog and read her post about me. I am giving away a free book at every stop on this party tour. If you haven't gotten a copy yet of my YA book, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor at the insanely low price of $1.99 at Amazon and The Muse Bookstore, please go and check it out. 

Thank you to my new followers. When I hit 200 followers I will be having a celebration. I don't know what, but I will be doing something fun!! Summer is almost here and believe it or not I have still not sent out my second novel. What am I waiting for? I ask that all the time. I have had several people and kids ask me when my next novel is coming out. So I better send it soon!! When you comment here, please give me the courage to do it. It's like in Peter Pan when everyone had to clap so Tinkerbell could have her magic.  Anyway, have fun this Memorial Day if you are in the US. If you aren't have fun this weekend. Summer is here!!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Meet Guest Author, Meradeth Houston on Her Colors Like Memories Blog Tour


 During the whole month of May I have been hosting YA authors for Summer Teen Reading Party. Today I am happy to host Meradeth Houston, who is stopping by on her Colors Like Memories blog tour.
More Summer Teen Reading Party authors will be here later in the month and into June, but for now let's learn more about Meradeth and her new book, Colors Like Memories.

Welcome Meradeth. Please tell us more about you.

Meradeth Houston's Bio:


Meradeth’s never been a big fan of talking about herself, but if you really want to know, here are some random tidbits about her:

She’s a Northern California girl. This generally means she talks too fast and uses "like" a lot.
When she’s not writing, she’s sequencing dead people’s DNA. For fun!
She’s been writing since she was 11 years old. It's her hobby, her passion, and she’s so happy to get to share her work! If she could have a super-power, it would totally be flying. Which is a little strange, because she’s terrified of heights.

I'm fascinated about why you sequence dead people's DNA for fun! Maybe you could answer that in the comments.:)

Meradeth has brought a post about a subject that is not explored enough, in my opinion, teen depression. 

What Do You Know About Teen Depression?

Thanks a million for hosting me today, Barbara! Also, before I forget, I have a contest running for my blog tour—all commenter’s are entered into a drawing for two copies of my book, and one person will win a $25 giftcard to Amazon or Barnes & Noble. There are more details on my home blog, if you want to check it out!

Okay, so today I thought I’d touch on a topic that’s pretty central to Colors Like Memories, my debut novel published by MuseItUp Publishing: teenage depression and suicide. I am in no way an expert, so if you’re looking for more information, I’ll add some links below, and there’s always the 24-hour counseling and suicide prevention hotline (1-800-273-TALK).

This theme works in Colors Like Memories through the Sary—beings who are charged with helping people thinking about taking their own life. The main character of my novel, Julia, is trying to help out her friend Marcy, who’s facing some pretty rough times. In order to try and get this part of Marcy’s character “right” I spent some time reading about how depression affects teens. The statistics are pretty sobering: about 8% of teens ages 12-17 experience a major depressive episode. Only 20% of these will get help. Almost all of these teens will have their depression effect their relationships, school, and personal life. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young adults ages 15-24. Third! That’s crazy!

Okay, so there are certainly some things that friends, family members, and teachers can pick up on in teens that might be indicative of depression (from http://www.teen-depression.info/overview/teen-suicide-rate/):
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling bored all the time
  • Feelings of shame, guilt or worthlessness
  • Insomnia or excessive sleepiness
  • Irritation and crankiness
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Moving and talking slowly
  • Problems with concentration, memory and decision making
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Sadness, unhappiness, crying fits and feeling “blue”
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.
That’s quite a list, isn’t it? Of course, depression doesn’t always lead to suicide, but there are certain things that might indicate that suicide is on a teen’s thoughts, such as a sudden change in appearance/personality, giving away cherished belongings, saying goodbyes to friends and families, sudden cheerfulness after being really depressed, and talking about death both directly and indirectly. 

Seeing these kinds of things in a friend, peer, family member, or a student (something that runs through my mind a lot with the college kids I see every day), should send up warning flags. Of course, noting these attributes in someone, and knowing what to do about it are two totally different things, and really, figuring out how to help someone can be the hardest part. 

Some suggestions that I’ve found are (from http://helpguide.org/mental/depression_teen.htm) offering to listen to them, and listening without offering guidance, along with validating the feelings of the person. Also, being persistent but not overbearing in reaching out. All of these are possible means of trying to help someone. Sometimes just having someone else know what they’re going through can really help a person deal with their depression.

I hope you’ve found this interesting! It certainly is something that I’ve kept in mind while creating characters facing these kinds of difficulties and decisions. If you have questions, I recommend the websites I’ve cited, and google gave me a list a mile long of other spots on the web for information and guidance!

Colors Like Memories:


Julia has a secret: she killed the guy she loved. It was an accident—sort of. 

Julia is a Sary, the soul of a child who died before taking her first breath. Without this 'breath of life' she and others like her must help those on the verge of suicide. It's a job Julia used to enjoy, until the accident that claimed her boyfriend’s life—an accident she knows was her fault. If living with the guilt weren't enough, she's now assigned to help a girl dealing with the loss of her mother, something Julia's not exactly the best role model for. If she can't figure out a way to help her, Julia's going to lose her position in the Sary, something she swore to her boyfriend would never happen.

Release date: May 11th 2012 from MuseItUp Publishing. 


Excerpt:
I greeted his tombstone the way I always did—with a swift kick. The release of frustration was more than worth the sharp pain in my toes. The polished marble tilted to the left because of all my visits; a crooked tooth in the rows of pearly white graves.
I folded my legs under me, shuddering as the chill of the damp grass seeped through my clothes. “I keep hoping one of these days you’ll be here waiting for me.” The words were tradition. Some small part of me still clung to the hope I’d come over the hill to find him leaning over his grave, wearing a sly smile. He died so very long ago, but I couldn’t stop wishing.
Leaning forward, I rested my forehead against my knees and closed my eyes, longing for a few minutes of rest. A few minutes to pretend it was someone else buried beneath me. I tried to explain this to him, but tonight I didn’t have the will to pretend it was more than starlight that listened.
It took a long time to notice, building imperceptibly until I finally looked over my shoulder. Someone was there, watching me. It hadn’t been a sound that alerted me so much as the feel of their gaze, heavy in the darkness. After so many nights spent here, I could tell the difference.
For just a second, I thought I saw Frederick’s tall form step from the shadows. My heart stopped, and I started to scramble to my feet before the breeze scattered my wishful thinking. Scanning the rest of the cemetery, it was clear no one else was around. The sprinklers were hissing their rhythmic beat in the next section over, and it was better to leave before they started watering the grass over his grave. It had to be just my imagination—no one was watching me. It was for the better. If anyone saw me here, there would be problems I couldn’t face.
I kissed my fingertips and touched the top of the smooth white stone, anxious now to leave, alert to any movement in the cemetery. “I’ll be seeing you,” I whispered, wishing it were true. I wound through the sea of identical marble markers, making for the swell of ground at the far end of the cemetery where it was easiest to catch an updraft.
The small knoll overlooked the freeway, which was a little too close for comfort, but at this hour there were no headlights streaking past. I stretched out my wings, their emerald color turned inky black in the moonlight. Each feather ached to catch a hint of breeze. Leaping from the ground, I thrust down hard and was airborne. I circled up, straining, until I reached an altitude where no one would see me from below.
Tilting my wings to swing north, my thoughts wandered to my destination. A silent prayer to whoever might be listening filled my heart, hoping the lonely girl I was supposed to be guarding was safe in her bed. Visiting Frederick—Derek as I’d always called him—was the only thing that kept me sane some nights, but it did nothing to dispel the churning worry over Marcy. In the year since I was assigned to her, it had become obvious she deserved a Sary better suited to helping her. Instead, she was stuck with me, and somehow I was supposed to find a way to ensure she didn’t commit suicide.
Saving Marcy was my reward, and my price, for dying before I was born, before taking one miserable breath of life. I still wondered if my choice to join the Sary was worth it.
Three blocks from Marcy’s house, an alley cut between several houses. It was nothing more than a walking path, windows shuttered against neighbors’ prying eyes. My perfect landing spot. Tucking my wings in, I dropped into the narrow space.
My toes tingled as blood seeped back into them after the chill of higher altitudes. My fingers brushed against the smooth ridges of my wings, saying a silent farewell as I closed my eyes. A brief moment of blissful numb nothingness, gone far too fast, and I was back to being able to blend in at school and work.
The morning was cold, and I’d worked up a sweat racing back from the cemetery. Rubbing my hands against my bare arms, I cursed myself for forgetting my sweater again. Shoes would have been smart, too. I hadn’t been thinking about my wardrobe before I changed my form, and I was stuck in what I’d been wearing beforehand. Picking my way around snail shells and sharp stones I made it to the street.
A light in a window here and there was the only indication anyone was stirring in the pre-fab neighborhood Marcy lived in. Soon the men who commuted into the city would be leaving. I needed to be finished and gone before that happened.
Every crack in the sidewalk was familiar as I raced toward Marcy’s, keeping to the shadows and out of the direct line of sight from windows.
Marcy’s house was the only one on the block where the Christmas lights were already up. That was how she described it, at least. She didn’t take them down last year. Or the year before. Last Christmas, I’d helped her replace the busted bulbs so the strands would work over the holidays, but neither of us was up to the job of removing them. Neither was her father.
The front of her house looked just like the one across the street. The faded sign on the door, proclaiming a cheerful welcome to all who entered, was the only thing that distinguished it. Marcy left the sign up, even though it had obviously seen better days, because her mother put it there two days before she was killed.


Meradeth's Links:


Thank you so much for coming by and I hope people will enter the contest for the $25 gift card and two free copies of your book. I know it's going on my TBR list!!

Until the next time, I hope everyone is enjoying my new blog format. I know I am, because it loads so much faster, but the sidebar isn't loading as fast. Please be patient while I work on the problem. If there are any computer geeks out there who can let me know what to do I would appreciate it.:) 

My next guest author this month is Natalie Wright on May 27th. She is part of the Summer Teen Reading Party. By the way, I hope many of you are taking advantage of the month long sale on all the books for the authors participating in the Summer Teen Reading Party. I'll bet your Kindles are getting filled up with the great books offered here. Of course, I can't help hoping you picked up my book, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor too!! Hurry, because at the end of May this sale ends and all of these wonderful books go back to regular price!!

Don't forget to leave a comment to be in Meradeth's contest!!




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