Friday, April 1, 2016


I know, I know. It's been a while. Things in my world have as they always are--with periods of slowness and periods of activity. I've been in sort of a book slump lately finding I'm having a hard time falling in love with anything. I've started and stopped too many books to admit. And what's worse, sequels I've been waiting on have had a hard time keeping my interest as well. Crazy, right?! But I did complete THE WINNER'S CRIME the other day (the second of the series) so maybe things are starting to look up. And I've also managed to finish my first Sarah Dessen book, SAINT ANYTHING (don't hate me for not having read her until now!!) and I loved it! A couple of months ago I read DANGEROUS GIRLS by Abigail Haas and let me tell you, I was blown away! It totally shocked me and left me thinking about it long after the last page. 

Now I have to admit to something I'm sure many of you are guilty of--binge watching a show on Netflix. Years ago, when the show Prison Break was on air, I often heard great things about it. I wanted to watch it but had too many other shows I was watching, not to mention two young girls. Lately, I'd been seeing it listed as something I might like on Netflix so one day, as spring break started for my kiddos, I decided to just play the first episode and see if I liked it. Fast forward a week later and I was done with all four seasons and left DYING. That show was so good!! I mean literally it was heart-pumping episode after episode. My blood pressure (and stomach) were on the fritz the entire week :) And then I saw news that they're going to bring it back for 10 more episodes. What?! YESSSSSSS!! Binge watching a show, like reading a good book or book series back to back, can really leave you with a hangover. I'm still recovering from Prison Break and it's been two weeks!

As for my writing career, I've done a bit of a transition. My agent contacted me to let me know she was no longer going to be representing YA. As we were in a bit of an in-between period with my book and deciding what to do next, she suggested one of her other agents represent me. I agreed and am pleased to say that Rachel Burkot is now representing me. I'm very happy about this and know Rachel will be amazing.

Oh yeah, and I also finished another contemporary/realistic YA a few months ago. This one, along with all my other manuscripts, can be found to your right of your screen in the "My Writing" section of my blog. All my books are listed in the order I've written them.

Well that's all! Hope you, my readers, are doing well. Take care!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Book Review: Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Hey friends!

So recently YA author Courtney Summers started the hashtag #ToTheGirls. If you haven't checked it out yet, do so now. It was a HUGE movement and was even mentioned on the Today show! What it boiled down to was this: On April 14th people took to social media to tell girls across the world that they are seen, heard, and loved. They shared advice, offered encouragement, and told those who'd made a difference in their lives, thanks. It was AWESOME! 

Needless to say, I was inspired to read some of Courtney Summers' books. She writes dark, gritty YA stories that deal with topics such as rape, bullying, and grief. I headed to my local library and checked out SOME GIRLS ARE and FALL FOR ANYTHING. Her newest book ALL THE RAGE just came out and I can't wait to read it.

SOME GIRLS ARE is about a girl named Regina who is a part of the popular group at her small town high school. Regina's a follower, letting herself be led around and told what to do by the leader of her clique, Anna. And Anna is a bitch. She bullies people for no good reason other than that she can. 

Over the years, Regina and Anna and the others in their group have hurt and isolated several kids at their school, including the new boy Michael, the sweet girl, Liz, and the overweight girl, Kara. Kara is the girls who is always on the outside looking in, begging to be part of the in-crowd. She despises Regina more than anyone for always doing Anna's dirty work and never letting her hang out with them.

One night when Regina's boyfriend Josh throws one of his typical blowout parties, Regina is assigned to be designated driver. She spends the night taking care of Josh and wishing she too can be drunk so she can just get through another night of the same old shit. As it is, she already has a hard time eating because she hates herself so much for being too weak to stand up to Anna and too ashamed to apologize to the people she's wronged. 

When all her friends disappear for the night and Josh and Anna pass out, Anna's boyfriend, Donnie, forces himself onto Regina, trying to rape her. She manages to get away and ends up at Kara's house. Kara, who she doesn't like. Who doesn't like her back. But Kara is totally nice, offering kind words and hearing her out. Regina tells Kara what happened with Donnie and Kara convinces Regina to keep her mouth shut about it. It will just cause too many problems, Kara says. But then the next day at school, Regina learns that Kara told everyone she slept with Donnie. And just like that, Regina is out of the group and Kara is in. And the whole schools knows it. They revel in it--one of the mean girls finally getting exactly what she gave to everyone else. And Kara...well, she's finally gotten what she always wanted and she isn't about to let Regina off easy. And so the bullying begins.

Regina spends months being the brunt of everyone's joke, constantly humiliated and shoved around and harassed. The girls and guys will stop at nothing to make her pay for what Kara says she did--and all because Anna tells them to. 

No matter how she responds or what she says, Regina can't get them off her back. So she takes solace in hanging out with Michael, who doesn't like her because she bullied him on Anna's demands, but who miraculously takes pity on her and lets her sit with him at lunch. Meanwhile, Liz makes sure to let Regina know that this is how it feels to be on Anna's bad side. This is exactly what Anna and Regina did to Liz not so long ago, driving her to near suicide. And no apology Regina gives now will matter to Liz because it couldn't possibly be genuine. But Regina tries anyway.

As each day passes, the bullying gets worse and worse. Regina isn't the kind to just hunch her shoulders and let it happen though. She pushes back, serving up her own versions of revenge. But they're small hits compared to what her old friends serve up. 

And all the while, Regina and Michael get closer and start liking one another. It's tough because Michael is unsure of Regina and who she really is. Can he truly like someone who used to make his life hell? And Regina is doubtful that Michael could ever really like her if he knew how low she wanted to stoop to get her old friends back for what they've done. Things come to a startling head when the girls drive Regina to the outskirts of town and beat her up. Surprisingly, Liz comes to Regina's defense and threatens Anna with going to the principal and police for all that she's done. Anna gets scared and offers Regina a truce.

And that's where the story ends. Yeah, I kind of told you a lot of the details, but I couldn't help it. If you don't have time to read this book but you do have time to read my post, I want to get across to you how important the issue of bullying is and how so many people out there are doing really great things (whether that be to start a hashtag, write a book, or use their voices) to spread the word that bullying needs to be stopped. Bullying comes in so many forms and happens at younger and younger ages these days, especially now that we have phones and social media in the palms of our hands. They're just more tools to hurt each other with. 

I love how Summers isn't afraid to broach such tough topics. This plot constantly moves forward and her characters were very well drawn out. The details and dialogue were spot-on realistic. SOME GIRLS ARE does not have a nicely tied up, happy ending. Like what usually happens in real life, everything just sort of calms down. Also like in real life, the bad guys sometimes get away with being bad and the good guys don't always get justice. Maybe Regina wasn't the greatest girl (I mean we're all guilty of something bad at one time or another), but she didn't deserve what happened to her. 

I think it's time we ladies come together and stand united against being mean to each other. How can we expect equal and better treatment from men when we can't do the same for our fellow women? Let's keep in mind that we are all human, we all make mistakes, and we all deserve second chances and apologies. Being mean IS NOT cool! Talk to a grown up, girls. Tell them when you're being bullied. Use your voice to stand up for yourself and for others. Be friends with everyone, not just one small group. Apologize when you make a mistake. Encourage and lift up other girls up. When #GirlsUnite anything is possible :)

Thanks for stopping by. Feel free to comment below.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Hey there!

Whew! This blog is dusty!

It's been a while since I've posted anything--I've been working on polishing DEFENSIVE GUN nice and pretty for my agent. It's funny how you read your MS a hundred times and every time you do, you find more ways to fix it. I hadn't looked at DG since a few months before I signed with Holloway Literary and I strongly believed it was as good as it was going to get. Fast forward to January of this year and I decide to give it one last read through and low and behold, I find all these great ways to make it even better and even added 2k in word count! Then, a few days after I send my agent an updated version, I get this crazy, wonderful idea to write two more books in the world of DG...companion novels I guess you could call them. I'm working on the first one right now--it's in its early stages so I don't want to say too much in case it doesn't pan out, but I'm having a great time writing it. And if it doesn't work out that's ok. It's still a great way for me to improve my craft.

As for reading, I've been doing some of that, too. I'm on book five in the OUTLANDER novels and I recently finished SOME BOYS by Patty Blount as well as an adult novel by Diane Chamberlain called THE SILENT SISTER. I just checked out KALAHARI by Jessica Khoury and I can't wait to dive into that! 

So, what's been going on with you, reader? Read anything good lately? 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I have an agent!!

So here it is--the post that every writer wants to write. The post that makes it all official, that makes all the hard work worth it. It's the one that says, "Yay! I wrote a book and someone likes it enough to fight for it so that it can go forth into the world for others to read and enjoy!" Well, here it is--my story:

The Short Version

For those of you who just want the basics, I recently signed with, and am now represented by, Holloway Literary. I'm super excited to be working with them and thrilled they loved DEFENSIVE GUN.

The Long Version (it's epic)

If you've been to my blog before or read my About page then you know how much I love to read. This probably isn't surprising since, duh, I'm a writer and in order to write and create, you kind of have to read. But I never really considered writing, being an author that is, as something I could do until about 7 years ago. 

I'd spent several years after college rarely picking up a book. I got married, started a full time job, and had my first kid all in the first year I was out of college. I was burnt out on reading and pretty much had forgotten the joy of reading for pleasure. Years of forced reading for education had done that to me. So when my sister repeatedly insisted I read this great series of books called TWILIGHT, I gave in and bought the books and tried them out. I was hooked! I read them all in like 3 days. Those books helped me re-discover my love for reading and what was more, they re-introduced me to YA. (I'm a former SWEET VALLEY HIGH addict). Soon after, I devoured everything in YA that even remotely interested me and after another conversation with my sister about an idea I had that I thought would make a great story (that idea evolved into my first MS, I AM CARAWAY) she said, "You know, you should try your hand at writing." 

And that my friends, is where it all began.

I spent about four months writing I AM CARAWAY and another couple of years learning my craft and revising and editing my MS. (That thing was a monster, clocking in at the end of the first draft at 157k words). I queried CARAWAY for about six months and in the meantime, wrote and polished DEFENSIVE GUN. 

**And that's what you really want to hear about, right? The book that got me the agent... 

ok, ok, here it is:

The idea for DEFENSIVE GUN came to me when I decided I wanted to write a contemporary YA. That was what all the agents and editors were looking for so that was the kind of book I wanted to write. It was a challenge for me because my ideas were always fantastical in nature so I had no idea how I would find an idea or write something contemporary. I knew I wanted my story to have a hook (like 13 REASONS WHY's cassette tapes) and to be intense, realistic, and emotional. Somehow the idea to tell the story of a girl who'd been kidnapped just popped into my head. 

I wanted the girl's story to be a reflection on what she'd been through and I wanted the hook, the way she reflected, to be a TV interview. I mean, we've all watched some sort of Barbara Walters-like interview at some point so that was the feeling I was going for. I wanted my MC Amanda to be the girl everyone felt like they knew just because they'd seen her on TV--like Elizabeth Smart, JonBenet Ramsey, Laci Peterson and countless other victims whose faces and stories took over the airwaves when they went missing. I wanted that attention to play into how Amanda was handling everything she'd been through now that she was back home. 

Through the course of the interview, Amanda relays the events leading up to, and all that happened during, the two years she was held prisoner. And in the meantime, she has to deal with having survived those things and being thrown back into not only her life, but the public eye as well. And I didn't want this to be just any kidnapping. I wanted Amanda to be the victim of an attempt at human trafficking. I also wanted her to be a fighter. I wanted her to fight for her life no matter what the cost. Here's my inspiration for that.

Finally, because kidnapping and human trafficking happen primarily to young adult women, it was a no-brainer for Amanda to be a teen. There really isn't a better place to tell her story than the YA universe. 

**side note** I've done tons of research on kidnapping. I also have some personal experience with it as well. In the past four years, two members of my husband's extended family in Mexico have been kidnapped and ransomed. One of them was returned and the other one was, unfortunately, ransomed and killed. So I REALLY wanted to do Amanda, and others like her, justice.

Amanda's story poured out of me. I wrote it in about a month and then spent several months revising it. Then I started querying. I got a lot of interest with DEFENSIVE GUN. I even had three R&Rs which I was really hopeful over and which made my MS even stronger. Those R&Rs eventually turned into complimentary passes with an invitation to submit future work. I was bummed; I'm not going to lie. The full requests and ultimate rejections kept coming in after that so I took a break from querying for a bit while I figured out what to do about DEFENSIVE GUN and while I decided what to write next. 

After a few months, I decided to give DEFENSIVE GUN one final go-round of queries. I saw a Writer's Digest tweet about Nikki and Holloway Literary and after combing through the website, I took the plunge and submitted. I was thrilled when my query and sample pages turned into a partial request and then a full request and then a request for a bio and inquiry about future works. I didn't want to get my hopes up so I sent what was requested and patiently waited. Then one day I was getting ready to leave work and decided to sneak a quick peek at my phone to see if I'd missed any texts or calls. I saw I had an email so I did a cursory screen pull-down to see who it was from. I saw Nikki's name and the word "pleased" and I about lost it! I opened the email and started grinning like a fool as I read her kind words over and over again. This was it! This was the moment I had been hoping for. 

I spent the next week emailing all the agents with my query and full and got a few more requests and some interest to represent me. In the end, I decided Nikki and Holloway Literary were the best fit for me. I am so happy to start the next phase of this journey and I can't wait to see where it all leads. Inspired by all the good feels, I started a new WIP that I am so excited about and wish I could spend day and night writing. (Which of course is impossible because unlike with my first two MSs, I now have a part-time job which makes finding the time to write soooo much harder than it was when I was a stay-at-home mom). Well, obviously there are other reasons I can't spend 24/7 writing, like adult responsibilities and you know, sleeping and eating.

There you have it--the very long and detailed version of my journey to get an agent. Now if you will bear with me for just a moment longer while I thank every person I can think of who in some way, either big or small, has helped me reach this moment. Yes, it reads like an Emmy win speech for what's probably a minor milestone in the grand scheme of things but I always like it when people say thank you to me so I am going to do the same for them. Most of these people don't know me and may only recognize me by my Twitter pic but I felt the need to name them nonetheless. Here it goes:

The Obvious

  • God
  • My parents who always bought me books to read
  • My sister for always listening to me rave about the books I love, for always encouraging me, and for reading that monstrous first draft of CARAWAY
  • My husband and kids for putting up with my face stuck in my laptop all the time
  • My brother-in-law Chris Spisak--a fellow writer and an amazeballs director who will always talk shop with me and who inspires me with his creativity
  • My CPs: Courtney Gilfillian (who Google chats with me about all things writing which I love), Susan Gray Foster, Laekan Kemp, and my new CP, Amabel Daniels (who I am sure will be reading my next WIP). These ladies helped make DG what it is today and for that I am grateful.

And a handful of writers I follow on Twitter whose contests, interviews, websites, and support of fellow writers, as well as their generous sharing of their own journeys, has helped me tremendously: 

Whew! Ok, you've made it to the end. I'll stop now :) Thanks you so much for reading all the way through. I can't wait to tell you more as this journey for me continues!


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Outlander!! (A sort of book review)

**Let me just preface this by saying that these books are not YA books and while I have been keeping this blog strictly YA, I decided to break that rule just this once with this post. These are adult books with adult content so if you are alright with that and want to hear me gush about how much I love these books, then by all means, read on!

If you haven't read the books or started watching the show on Starz, you are missing out! This wonderful story written by Diana Gabaldon is epic and adventurous and soooo good! I watched the first episode when it aired and was immediately hooked and when I learned it was based on a series of books I jumped in my car and went to my library and checked out the first one, OUTLANDER. Holy smokes! I couldn't put that thing down! I fell in love with the characters and the story and Scotland (the majority of the setting) and dove right in to the second book and the third book and the fourth book...

Let's just say I have spent the past month and a half immersed in the world Gabaldon created (getting little else accomplished in my life) and I have no regrets! These books are long and chocked full of one adventure after another and I love how you get to live in Claire and Jamie's and all the other characters' worlds for so long before one book ends and the next begins. I will be truly bereft when I get to the last book and have to wait for the next one to be published. If you like history, beautiful, rich settings, fully drawn out and unique characters and epic love and even more epic journeys, then these books are for you!

Go get them now! :)

Oh, and comment away. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Several months ago I was on Twitter reading through people's tweets and I found a tweet from Julie Plec (the mastermind behind The Vampire Diaries, among other things). She tweeted that she had just read We Were Liars and it was so awesome and everyone needed to read it. Well, if Julie Plec says so then that's enough for me! Fast forward to a few weeks ago and I see that my library has finally ordered this book. I quickly put a hold on it to be the first to check it out when it came in. Well, that day was yesterday and holy crap! it was as good as everyone (and sooooo many people on Twitter and elsewhere) said it was. I started it at 11pm and stayed up 'til 2am to finish. Yup. It was that good.

We Were Liars is told from the first person perspective of one of four "Liars," Cadence Sinclair Eastman. Cadence starts by telling us she is, first and foremost, a Sinclair. This means she has money and is expected to act the way a Sinclair would act. She then tells us how that is, and basically, it's how you would imagine a old-money, rich family on the East coast would be expected to act. 

Every summer Cadence and her mother go to the family's private island near Martha's Vineyard. Cadence's two aunts and cousins also go, as do her grandparents, the Heads of the Sinclair family. The aunts spend their time fighting over money and belongings and real estate and Grandfather eggs them on, picking favorites and pitting them against one another. The cousins are constantly thrown into these fights, forced to plead to Grandfather to give THEIR family more than the others. Each family has their own house on the island and every summer Cadence's cousin Johnny brings his best friend, Gat, along with him to the island. As you would expect, Cadence falls in love with Gat and at some point before their fifteenth summer, Cadence, her other cousin Mirren, Gat, and Johnny all become the Liars. They don't keep in touch during the school year but every summer the magic of the island brings them all together and they are the best of friends. 

Early on in the book we learn that at some point during their fifteenth summer, Cadence had an accident on the island. She was found half submerged on the beach and it was deduced that she had taken a late night swim and hit her head on the rocks. She suffered a brain injury and spent some time in the hospital. Cadence doesn't remember everything from that summer, like the days leading up to or immediately following the accident. She suffers severe and excruciating headaches and fails the following school year. For her sixteenth summer, her dad takes her on a trip through Europe rather than letting her go back to the island. 

All Cadence wants is just to remember what happened to her. So, come seventeenth summer, that is what she is determined to find out. None of the Liars have ever responded to her emails or letters or mailed gifts and so she begs her mom to let her go to the island for the summer. Her mom finally relents, hoping Cadence will remember things on her own and start to heal. By the books end, Cadence has remembered everything that happened to her and the Liars that fifteenth summer--and what she learns will break your heart.

**I so, so loved this book! Cadence is such a likeable and relatable character. She loves deeply and feels strongly about everything. Her story is at times happy but also incredibly tragic. The Sinclair family is THAT family; that one we imagine every East-coast-rich, beautiful, mysterious family to be. The setting of the story was almost a character in itself and Lockhart did a beautiful job making it so with minimal description. This book has that great summer feel to it when you read it. I highly recommend it!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment below :)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014



I guess I don't I don't really blog as much as I used to or even as much as I would like. Since the start of the new year, my life has been crazy busy! I started a new job (I work for my city at our rec center and I LOVE it!!) and we moved into our new house (which I also love but is impossible to keep clean because of it's size and the fact that my two kids are MESSY!). Now that summer is fully under way, just keeping the kids occupied and going to work are eating up all my time. I write when I can (I'm working on an old MS that I gave up on long ago and I'm falling in love with it all over again!) and I read only when something REALLY good comes out or is recommended. I used to read practically anything and everything that came my way but alas, those were the days of a stay-at-home mom who had a little more free time on her hands :)  

So, here's how things are looking for me:

I am still querying DEFENSIVE GUN. I know, STILL, you say? I think I am about ready to shelve it though. I'm still waiting to hear from some agents who have the full and a handful who have the query. I love this story but I just think it's time to move on.

I probably will only blog from now on with really good reviews of books and/or personal updates. I just can't seem to juggle it all...  ):

So thanks to all of you who stop by and read my posts! You are AWESOME!!