Monday, December 22, 2014

A Writer's Life: Distraction Central!

Distraction Central- Get Focused!

So if you're anything like me, writing is a lot of attempting to stay focused while the forever tempting internet tugs at my senses. 

Wait, which YA sequel is coming out this December? 
Oh- look at that cover reveal! 
This quiz will tell me my personality in thirty seconds- I must take it six times to make sure it's correct. 

You get the picture. 

Sadly, the Internet Epidemic, (IE for short), is one that we writers are most vulnerable to. It's hard to get through those last few chapters when there are so many fascinating Pinterest boards and Instagram photos to see- yikes! The temptation alone would drive any writer mad. So, here are a few tips to stay focused on that manuscript, and have your google fun after. 

1. Close out ALL Tabs:

This one is a doozy. If you had to google-search a fact for your character, chances are a ton of other articles came up as well. So after you grab what you need, you may leave that window open. Not good. It's easy to see the little blip on the corner of your screen and go back to it, no matter how much strength and determination you have. 

2. Listen to Your iTunes, Not a Video:

Okay so sometimes music can help us relax and get in the writing zone. But don't make the mistake of you tubing your favorite video (even if your plan is to minimize it).  I recently tried this with Taylor Swift's "Blank Space," and you can bet I wound up watching that bad-boy eleven times. In a row. So instead try to turn on your iTunes and listen to video-free music. Much less distracting. 

3. And Finally Close out of Your Facebook:

This one is key. Whenever I sit down to write I automatically go to Facebook first, check all of my messages, then minimize it. It's like Facebook is directly linked to turning my computer on and it's the first thing I have to do if I want my Macbook to be balanced. Right. But here's the deal: even with Facebook minimized, you can still hear the little ding of someday messaging you, and we all know that's impossible to ignore. So do your characters a favor and exit your personal page before you start that dialogue. 

And there it is! A few good reasons that may help you when it comes to internet distractions. Yes, it is an uphill battle that we writers must face, but in the end we will come out victorious and with a stand up manuscript that we can be proud of. 

Never give up hope!

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Writer's Life: Why I Love Coffee Shops

Why I Love Coffee Shops

There's more to a good writing session than a chair and a table- I really believe that it's the setting and atmosphere that set the mood for great writing, too. That's why I'm a huge proponent of mixing up your writing space! Get out and discover new local coffee shops and book stores that you can sit and loiter in for a while. Sip some coffee, write a few chapters, then maybe even browse when you're done. Here are a few reasons why coffee shops and writing make great friends: 

1. A Change in Scenery Provides a New Outlook

When you stay in the same writing corner for weeks, your perspective tends to get a little bleak. Same walls, same chair, same people,(or lack thereof)- you get the picture. But if you stray past your normal writing world boundaries and discover a new little shop to write in, you'll have observations galore at your fingertips! And who knows- maybe that quirky barista who put a funny name on your cup may worm her way into your next chapter. 

2. New Spaces are Filled with Life

Whenever I find a new writing space that works for me, I find myself filled with way more energy than if I had just stayed at home. There's something to be said for the comfort of my own couch, but there's also something about a comfy little nook in a coffee shop that just spurs good writing. It's new, cozy, and a breath of fresh air from the norm. 

3. Food, food, food

Now this one's a given! Whenever you find a new space to write in you discover a new coffee menu, and maybe even a few delicious desserts or sandwiches. It's possible to sit in a shop for hours and much on tasty new foods, all while accomplishing a whole day's worth of work. Bonus! 

4. Coffee Shops are Stimulating

Whether it's the ear-pricking conversation going on a few tables away, or the way the couple eating their sandwiches next to you interacts, there will always be something to pay attention to in a small shop. And I've found that these distractions aren't quite so bad as my TV or internet at home- on the contrary, they tend to give me inspiration. Every little life observation counts, and strangers are perfect to draw from!

And there are a few reasons why coffee shops rock my writing world! Sometimes just packing up your computer and notes and heading off to a new place can really help stimulate  your fiction. Give it a try and comment what happens!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Writer's Life: Fun Ways to Get into Character

Getting into Character 

There are lots of great things about being a writer, what with all the fictional worlds and intriguing plot twists constantly on our minds. But sometimes the simplest things, like the inner workings of a our newest protagonist, can stump us up. So, here are a few ways you can "get into the head" of your protagonist, and gain a wealth of writing material! 

1. Have a Character Q&A

Before you get started on a new chapter, write a little interview with your protagonist. Ask her questions and get some answers, then when you're done take a second read over what you wrote. Sometimes the answers start to write themselves, and that's when your character begins to gain momentum. 

2. Create a Playlist

What would your character's favorite music be? What about music that reminds you of her? Create a play-list of about ten songs that embodies your protag and play it while you write- these might help you get a better feel for your character.

3. Journal Entries

Find a cheap spiral notebook and start a "Character Journal." Write in it from your character's POV a little each day as a sort of brainstorming exercise before you take a crack at that next chapter. If you're feeling fancy, pick out a notebook that your character would, and try to match your handwriting to their personality. 

4. Do a Little Day-Dreaming

Most of the time us writers find our heads in the clouds- and for good reason. Day-dreaming is one of the best ways to get into your character's head, because you can make up anything you want. Ideas and feelings flow freely and without constraint in your mind, so your character has space to roam. 

And there you have a few basics of character bonding! Try a few of them and see if any work for you, because one of the hardest things for a writer to do is get to know a protagonist that you're going to have to put through some crazy plot twists. Good luck!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Writer's Life: Be a Reader, Too!

Reading While you Write 

There's a wonderful way to jump start your mind and get your creativity flowing, even on those days when you feel like you can't get a single chapter written. And do you know what it is? Reading! Simply alternating between days of reading and writing can boost your word count and speed up your writing time. Here's a few reasons why: 

1. Reading helps with Vocabulary

Let's face it, sometimes we just can't find that one right word. And that's ok, it happens! But after a few hours of reading your favorite trilogy, you may recall a word used here or there that would just work perfectly. 

2. Getting Connected with Other Characters Helps your Dialogue

Reading interactions between other characters in other books can help you flesh out your own scenes. The more you read the more the dialogue comes innately to you, and before you know it your characters are writing themselves. 

3. Stepping out of your Story for a While Clears your Mind

And it's true! Sometimes you need a day to just clear your mind and take a break from your characters, because they can be exhausting. That doesn't mean you have to write off fiction, though. By reading another book, you not only get a break from your writing, but you keep up the conversation in your head in a different way. Writing is like any sport- practice makes you stronger.

4. And Finally, Reading Gives you Ideas

Not that you're going to copy them straight out of another book, but the actions and personalities of different characters can help you get to know your own. You find yourself wondering how your protagonist would react to the setting, people, and lifestyle of this other book. It's extremely beneficial, and when you're done reading you have contemplated your writing as well! 

So don't hesitate! Go write for a few hours and when you're finished, take a break and pick up a new read. It will be more than helpful and even a little fun. To get you started, here are a few links to some new YA reads that would be great for just that! 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Exclusive Cover Reveal for THE REPLACED...

But it's not here. If you want to see it, you'll have to over to  There you can check out the gorgeous new cover AND enter a giveaway for an advance copy of THE REPLACED!

So, what are you still doing here...?

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Writer's Life: Hitting that Wall?

Writer's Life: Hitting that Wall?

So if you're anything like me, I tend to get stuck on certain scenes fairly easily. One character confesses something to another, a wall comes down, and suddenly I don't know how to kick my protagonist into action. The usual. But hey- no worries! Us writers are prepared for word battle and come loaded with tons of tips to stave off that pesky writer's block. Here are a few, I hope they help! 

1. Take a Step Back

Sometimes taking a step back and not writing for a few hours is simply the easiest way to go. If you take a small break you won't be stressed to come up with the "perfect dialogue" that you need- and perhaps you might even draw some inspiration form the world around you. 

2. Ask a Friend

We all have that one hardcore reader-friend who loves to pick at ideas. Sit down with a couple cups of coffee and run your latest scene by them- perhaps they can help you sort of all of your thoughts. 

3. YA Method Acting

What better way to get into the mind of your character than to pretend to be them? Try speaking like your character for 15 minutes; to friends, family, the baristas at Starbucks. What would he/she say? Order? How would your character interact with others? All fun stuff, just don't get too carried away!

4. Just Keep Writing

Sometimes we are a little too hard on ourselves and think a little too much. Not to worry! Maybe the best dialogue isn't that difficult to master- just keep writing and something natural will come to you.

5. Go to Bed Thinking of your Scene

This is probably the best trick I've used to help myself through writer's block. If I'm stuck on a certain scene or can't get into the head of a certain character, I lay down that night and start off my own dream. I picture the setting, the dialogue, and the events, and just let my brain run wild. Sometimes I even wind up dreaming about my characters, and that can go in so many directions! 

So there you have it fellow writers, a few tips and tricks for getting past that sticky scene you just can't seem to find the words for. I'll close with a few blogs and lists with plenty of other good tips for letting your ideas flow!

* 27 Wacky Ways to Beat Writer's Block:

* The 10 Types of Writer's Block (and How to Overcome Them):

* Writer's Block 911:

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Writer's Life: Fun Products

Writer's Block? Plot Stress? Have No Fear! 

So the second week of NaNoWriMo has come to a close, and I hope all of you participating didn't drink too much coffee or stay up too late, (but let's face it, you probably did). November is always a stressful month for us writers, and in order to alleviate a little bit of that stress, I went online and searched for some hilarious products we might love! So here you have it, five fantastic finds that only a stressed writer would appreciate:

1.  This superb mug - because let's all admit, it drives us crazy.

2. This great T-shirt - I mean come on, it's the truth right?

3. This necklace, because we can never say it enough...

4. This clock, because, like the mug, it's a very important concept.

5. This bag because it's so true.

Needless to say, these five products may just be the best things ever created. Not only will they lift your mood, but maybe they'll even be a little bit helpful in helping you reach your word count goal! (Mug for coffee, bag for notes, clock for keeping time while you sit in your office and brainstorm...just some ideas). 

So, to leave you all on a positive note and a little inspiration, here are some top notch opening lines from stellar YA novels: 

Best and good luck to all writers this week! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Writer's Life: Inspiration

It's almost halfway through November and I thought I'd share some of my favorite writer-ly finds from around the web to (hopefully) inspire those of you who are NaNoWriMo-ing. And maybe some of you who aren't too!

Well said, Michael Connelly...well said...

If you're like me and sticky notes have taken over your desk, then you need Kate Forsyth's post about how to build a story out of scraps of ideas:

And every writer needs to get their inspiration from somewhere:

Now I'll leave you with this video by one of my favorite YA authors, Kami Garcia, who talks about how to start your novel:

Happy NaNoWriMo / No-Shave November . . . or whatever you happen to be into ;)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

We're Baaaaaack! The YA Scavenger Hunt, that is!!

I doubt I need to tell you about the Scavenger Hunt at this point. If you've made it this far, you know the drill: This is the biggest round-up of YA literature in town! The Scavenger Hunt runs from October 2nd through Sunday, October 5th, giving you THREE WHOLE DAYS to collect every author's favorite numbers and enter to win a ton of amazing books!

So here's THE DEAL:

Each author on the hunt is hosting another author's bonus material (mine is out there in the blogosphere somewhere, you just have to find it!), along with a link to the next step of the hunt.

At each step, you not only get access to that exclusive content, but you'll also collect another clue for hunt. Add up the clues and you can enter for our prize--one lucky winner will receive a signed book from every author on each team! But play fast--the contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) is only available for 72 hours!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt (and to see all the books you can win). There are SIX separate contests running simultaneously (no lie!), and you can enter ALL OF THEM, giving you a chance to win up to six different sets of books! I'm TEAM GOLD (aka. the best team around!). 


Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the gold team, and then add them up (don't worry, you can use a calculator). 

Entry Form: Once you've added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only the entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Sunday, October 5th at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered. 


Today, I'm hosting Rebekah L. Purdy. Rebekah is the author of THE WINTER PEOPLE. Rebekah was born and raised in Michigan where she spent many late nights armed with a good book and a flashlight. She's lived in Michigan most of her life other than the few years she spent in the U.S. Army. At which time she got a chance to experience Missouri, Kansas, South Carolina, and California. Rebekah has a business degree from University of Phoenix and currently works full time for the court system. In her free time she writes YA stories, anything from YA Fantasy to YA Contemporary Romance. Rebekah also has a big family (6 kids) she likes to consider her family as the modern day Brady Bunch complete with crazy road trips and game nights. When not hiding at her computer, Rebekah enjoys reading, singing, soccer, swimming, football, camping, playing video games, traveling, and hanging out with her family and gazillion pets.


Salome Montgomery fears winter—the cold, the snow, the ice, but most of all, the frozen pond she fell through as a child. Haunted by the voices and images of the strange beings that pulled her to safety, she hasn’t forgotten their warning to “stay away.” For eleven years, she has avoided the winter woods, the pond, and the darkness that lurks nearby. But when failing health takes her grandparents to Arizona, she is left in charge of maintaining their estate. This includes the “special gifts” that must be left at the back of the property.

Salome discovers she’s a key player in a world she’s tried for years to avoid. At the center of this world is the strange and beautiful Nevin, who she finds trespassing on her family’s property. Cursed with dark secrets and knowledge of the creatures in the woods, his interactions with Salome take her life in a new direction. A direction where she’ll have to decide between her longtime crush Colton, who could cure her fear of winter. Or Nevin who, along with an appointed bodyguard, Gareth, protects her from the darkness that swirls in the snowy backdrop. An evil that, given the chance, will kill her.

Find out more about Rebekah and THE WINTER PEOPLE here!


***This scene is from The Winter People, only it’s from the character Gareth’s point of view. This particular scene takes place outside Club Blade, after Kadie and Salome are driving away***

Screams erupted in the club as the lights went out. Shit. It was already midnight. Simeon and I pushed our way out into the crisp winter air, ignoring the cries for help as we went. With a sigh of relief, I watched Salome and Kadie pull out of the parking lot. Just in time. They never should’ve come to Club Blade. It was too dangerous. I didn’t know who I was more pissed at, Salome, for coming out tonight, or Kadie for bringing her here.
“Gareth? Are you listening to me?” Simeon nudged my arm.
“Don’t you think you’re taking this ‘keeping an eye on Salome thing’ a bit too far?”
“No—if anything I’m not taking it far enough. Or did you miss the part where Caralina almost stabbed her?” I stalked over to my truck.
Simeon chuckled, shaking his head at me. “Do you hear yourself?”
My eyes narrowed. “How about you quit leading Kadie on—she’s the reason Salome’s out here tonight—because of you.”
Simeon frowned and took a step back. “So you’re the only one who can have fun with a girl?”
Something inside me snapped and I jerked him forward by his collar then slammed him against the hood of the car. “It’s not like that with Salome. She’s a nice girl and I plan to make sure she stays that way.”
He shoved me off, glaring. “Don’t pretend that you’re only watching after her for him. I know better.”
Without another word, I climbed into my vehicle.
“Where are you going now?” he said.
“To make sure she gets home safely.”
“Like I said…”


Don't forget to enter the contest for your chance to win, but first you need to know that MY favorite number is 4. Add up all the other favorite numbers on TEAM GOLD and you'll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!!!


To keep going, you need to check out Sarah Beth Durst's website, the next author on the hunt!

And because I love giveaways, I've decided to host an ADDITIONAL giveaway (for an entirely separate prize!), giving you an extra chance to win :)

Just fill out the Rafflecopter below, and boom! you're entered for a signed copy of THE TAKING, along with a bunch of super-sweet Taking swag.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Title Reveal for The Taking #2...and a Giveaway!

I love new things...especially bookish new things. So a new title is big news in my little world. Plus, if you’ve followed me online at all, you know titles don’t always come easily for me, so having a title I love is pretty freaking cool.

The title for The Taking #2 wasn't a huge struggle, but when my editor and I finally landed on this one, the meaning fit on so many levels we knew we had a winner!

And for what it's worth...I’ve seen the early cover comps, and can I just say the Harper team is killing it? I can’t wait to show you guys what they've been working on!!!

So without further ado, I give you the title for book #2 in The Taking trilogy:


(Let me just give you a moment to let that sink in...)

And one more time, so you can savor it:


I can’t wait until April to share this book with you! You’ll get to know so many new characters, explore more of the world of the Returned, get the answers to some of the questions you all have been asking me. And maybe, just maybe, there will be some know, because I can’t help myself...

In honor of this new title-y thing, I think we should have a giveaway, so how about this: A giveaway for the very first ARC I get of THE REPLACED!

The giveaway* will be easy to enter, just check out the Rafflecopter below.

And I'd love to hear what you think of the title in the comments section below!

*There will be three winners: one for the signed ARC of THE REPLACED, one for the signed hardcover of THE TAKING, and one for the $25 gift card. Giveaway ends on 9/10/14 and is open to international residents. Good luck, you guys!

Friday, June 27, 2014

What’s New...Blog Roll Style

In case you’re wondering what’s been up, I’ve got a couple of events planned, but summer is usually when I catch my breath and spend time with my family. Have I mentioned how much I love the summer?

But if you want to see me, you can find me in the following places:

This Sunday, June 29th, I’ll be at the Clackamas (Portland, OR) Barnes & Noble at 4PM with Suzanne Young. We’re being wrangled moderated by Sara at Novel Novice, so a good time will be had by all ;)

Then in July, I’ll be at the Pacific NW Writer’s Conference on Thursday, July 17th on a Young Adult panel with Richelle Mead and Margaret Stohl (two dazzling writerly ladies!).

And the following week I’m off to San Diego Comic Con, where I’ll be appearing on Friday, July 25th with a whole slew of awesome authors, doing an incredible panel on villains! You can get all the details on my Events Page.

But for now, the fantastically awesome Alyson Noel has tagged me in a blog roll to talk about writing, and the writing process. (She talks about hers here...and I loved her answers!).

I just finished revisions on the second book in THE TAKING series, and am planning to start the third (and final) book in the trilogy.
I think one of the things I have a hard time doing is staying within the boundaries of any one particular genre. THE BODY FINDER was part mystery, part romance, and part supernatural. THE PLEDGE was dystopic, fantasy, and romance. And with THE TAKING it’s kind of a contemporary, grounded Sci-fi, with (what else?) a strong case of romance.  
I’ve always been drawn toward teen protagonists, even before there was a YA section in the bookstore. I like the rawness of their emotions and experiences. Not just that they’re experiencing “firsts,” which they are, but that their emotions are so surface-level and ready to make an appearance at a moment’s notice. Having teens myself, I know that they can have “the best day of their lives” and “the worst day,” all within the span of five minutes. I love that kind of passion.
Each book idea forms in a different way, but essentially it all plays out the same. I’m not an outliner, so I generally know the beginning, the ending, and several large scenes I want to hit along the way. Then I just sit down and write.
Because, like I said, I’m not an outliner, I often veer off my intended path along the way—the story will just...take an unexpected twist—and then I have to rework the story in my head before I can keep going.

So now I'm tagging three more authors!

Up next is Suzanne Young, because she's one of my favorite people. And she's adorable. And I heart her books, two of which, THE PROGRAM and A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL, I loved enough to blurb!

SR Johannes, whose book UNTRACEABLE I also blurbed, and who just happens to by my crit partner, and who I also <3 font="">

And CJ Omololu, who I also love, and who is also one of my favorite people (are you noticing a trend here?). 

These are all authors who, if you haven't read their books yet you definitely should!!!

Happy Summer, you guys. I hope you're all taking some time to enjoy the sun, a cold glass of lemonade, and family time!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Fancy Things Said By Fancy Folks!

                      I love this so hard, you guys!!!

Get taken by THE TAKING

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


It's official, I have my very own shelf:

THE TAKING looks pretty damn good with the other books if I do say so myself! And today it's finally available at booksellers EVERYWHERE!!!

You still have a few more days if you want to get in on the pre-order deal:

And don't forget I'll be heading out on tour this Thursday, May 1st, so if you're in (or near) any of the following cities, try to come see me--I'd LOVE to meet you (check out my EVENTS PAGE for a full listing of times and locations):

Salt Lake City - May 1st
San Diego - May 3rd
Dallas - May 6th
Oklahoma City - May 7th
Kansas City - May 8th
St. Louis - May 9th
Chicago - May 10th
New Orleans (RT Booklovers Convention) - May 14-18th