Thursday, October 1, 2015

YA Scavenger Hunt 2015

Welcome to the YA Scavenger Hunt! 

My name is Deirdre Riordan Hall & I'm the author of SUGAR. I'm your host for this stop on the YA Scavenger Hunt and right now I'm playing for the ORANGE TEAM. Which is really fitting since it's the month of orange: pumpkins, cinnamon (kinda), and autumn leaves! As many of you know I love summer, but fall comes up second. It's a potent time of reflection, and I always feel like there's a crackle of magic in the air at this time of year. Which  is fitting because yesterday I finished the first draft of a YA fantasy, and yes, there's magic involved. But that should be no surprise because I really believe there's a bit of that in all of us.

So, what is the YA Scavenger Hunt? 

This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors...and a chance to win some awesome prizes! During this hunt, you'll have access to exclusive content from each participating author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize--one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt on TEAM ORANGE! 

But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours! That's from noon PST Thursday October 1 through noon PST Sunday October 4th.

How do I play? 

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are EIGHT contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all. I am a part of the ORANGE TEAM. There are seven other teams increasing your changes to win a whole different set of signed books!

If you'd like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, please visit the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

Win all these prizes!

How does the YA Scavenger Hunt work?

Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the ORANGE 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 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 4th at noon Pacific time. (Here's a time calculator to find out when that is.) Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

Okay, ready to get to the fun stuff? Here we go! 

I'm hosting the lovely Vanessa Barger 
Author of SUPER FREAK 
Release date Tuesday, October 13th.


Vanessa Barger was born in West Virginia, and through several moves ended up spending the majority of her life in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is a graduate of George Mason University and Old Dominion University, and has degrees in Graphic Design, a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, and a Masters in Technology Education. She has had articles published in Altered Arts Magazine, has had some artwork displayed in galleries in Ohio and online, and currently teaches engineering, practical physics, drafting and other technological things to high school students in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She is a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), the Virginia Writer's Club, and the Hampton Roads Writers. When not writing or teaching, she’s a bookaholic, movie fanatic, and loves to travel. She is married to a fabulous man, and has one cat, who believes Vanessa lives only to open cat food cans, and can often be found baking when she should be editing.

Find out more information by checking out the Vanessa's website and find her on social media.

About Super Freak

Thirteen-year-old Caroline is a freak. Her parents have uprooted her to a town full of Supernaturals. You'd think she'd be thrilled. But, with someone without a magical bone in her body, this daughter of tree sprites feels like even more of an outcast than she has ever before.

To make matters worse, her new home is cursed. But when Caroline takes to investigating the mysterious and strange happenings of Harridan House, her BFF goes missing. Seems someone doesn't want Caroline sticking her non-magical nose where it most certainly does not belong. Determined to prove herself, Caroline uncovers a plot to destroy her new hometown.

Undeterred, Caroline can't give up. But what's a human without magical powers to do? Caroline better figure it out fast, before she loses everything she has ever loved and the whispers she's heard all her life prove true: Caroline is a useless superfreak.

Exclusive Content

I thought for the YA Scavenger Hunt, I’d let you all in on the playlist I used while writing SUPER FREAK. My musical tastes are pretty open, just like Caro’s – her favorites range from bagpipes to rock! So check out this playlist and try to picture which song matches what scene!

1. Fix the Boat, or Swim - Abney Park
2. Anthem of the Angels - Breaking Benjamin
3. Que Sera Sera – Doris Day
4. Breath of Life – Florence and the Machine
5. Just A Cloud Away – Pharrell Williams
6. Budapest – George Ezra
7. Go The Distance – Roger Bart (From “Hercules”)
8. Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond (You knew this would be here, right?)
9. Witchcraft – Frank Sinatra
10. Geronimo – Sheppard
11. Last Midnight – Meryl Streep (from “Into the Woods”)
12. Mirror Haus – Lindsey Sterling (Most of her Shatter Me CD was played at some point!)

Here’s the link to the Spotify playlist for this too! 

How to Continue?

To continue the hunt, you need to check out the next author: Carly Anne West

And remember, you're on TEAM ORANGE right now & I've read 44 books this year (at my last guestimate ;-) 

Thank you for stopping by, participating, loving books & supporting authors! If you'd like to get your friends in on the fun, please share on TWITTER  and FACEBOOK! 

How about a bonus?

I'm hosting a bonus drawing for a chance for one lucky U.S. reader to win an audio book copy of Sugar and some other goodies! Please enter below. 

Leave a comment below sharing your progress, the books you're hoping to win, or just to say hi!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Check back tomorrow for the YA Scavenger Hunt!

Wait, what? 
Am I missing the fun? 
What's the YA Scavenger Hunt?

Learn all about YASH, how to enter, play, and the PRIZES!!!

*Here's my entry & my page from the hunt last spring.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Few of my Fall Favorite Things

Happy Autumn! I try to do a seasonal compilation of my favorites, which helps me root down to the present and really be here, ya know? I don't go for Christmas decorations already for sale in September, but I really dig pumpkins and mums and cinnamon right about now! 

Here are a few sets from past seasons. The following are a few things that get me ripe for Fall 2015.

A Few of My Favorite Things Autumn 2015

Copper Nail Polish >> It might be sock season, but this color is so subtly festive. 

Colorful Leaves >> Emily Bronte knows what she's talking about. 

Acorn Earrings >> It might sound weird, but I really like crushing acorns beneath my shoes when I'm out for a walk, but of course, not these! 

ON THE MOUNTAIN >> After Baskia escapes club life to the rural north, she doesn't expect the sharp learning curve, the friends she makes, or the love that blooms.

Plush pumpkins >> Aren't these adorable?! 

Apple Cider >> The smell of warm apple cider alone makes me so happy. 

Sweater >> When I'm writing at my desk, I like to be bundled up and warm. 

Any fall faves, please share below!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Lit Chat List

*Looks fondly into the past, recalling evenings on screened-in porches, sipping lemonade, and discussing and bonding over books.

Remember book clubs? Maybe you're still in one. Sadly, mine fell away along with dial up, the fascination with Reality TV, and time. Sigh emoji. Time, always the culprit. I miss them though. More recently, friends and I started up a virtual "book club" connecting over texts and in emails, but it just wasn't the same and inevitably—as was the case and the delight of in-person book clubs—we'd start discussing other things: travel plans, work, kids…and kids! One of the biggies that makes time management the status quo and shifted priorities. Fast forward to now…and social media!

There are loads of literary/book chats online for readers and writers. The upside: pop in whenever you want. The downside: no snacks. But still, it's super fun to connect with other word nerds the world over. Below, please find a list of literary chats, their times and any associated links.

A few points to make if you join a book chat:
  • Introduce yourself.
  • Click LIVE on the top of the Twitter page so you're not just getting the comments from people you follow.
  • Scroll through to find out the topic. If you're late, it's fine to ask the subject of the hour.
  • When answering questions it's helpful to use Q and the number. For example often times the host will start a convo by tweeting something  like: Q1. What's your favorite book? In responding to question 1, use Q1 or A1 (A for answer) and so on.
  • Always use the designated hashtag.
  • Be respectful. I haven't come across too many heated debates, but if you do, consider what you'd say if you were in the room with the person. And since you can't see them/probably don't know them, they might hold a PhD in the subject, a cop, or just a plain old human being with feelings. Conduct yourself as such. 
  • I find it helpful to use an app like Tweetdeck or have two windows open, one for the live feed and the other for comments directed to me, favorites, retweets, etc.
  • Always double check/convert to your time zone. Here's a handy converter. I did the times below in EST for consistency. 
  • Have fun! And it's cool to bring gif-cupcakes!

Now for the list: 


#TSBC with @TSBookClub 5:30-6:40 EST


#LitChat with @LitChat 4pm EST

#TBKChat with @TBKChat 1st Mondays of every month 8pm EST (Teen Book Chat)


#TipsyChat with @tipsy_writer 8:30pm EST

#bookbloggers with @BookBlogChat 2pm EST


#LitChat with @LitChat 4pm EST

#BookChat with @BookChats 2pmEST


#LitChatYa with @Kindle_YA 4pm EST

#K8Chat with @K8Tilton 8pm EST

#StoryDam with @Storydam 8pm EST

#MGLitChat with @MGLitChat  9pm EST

#NA LitChat with @Nalitchat 9pm EST



#ChocLitSaturday with @ChocLitSaturday 11am EST

I know I missed some! 

Please leave the info in the comments below 

& I'll update the list. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Life Lately

A photographic catalog of my little postage stamp when I'm not writing...

A breakfast of champions...I try to replicate this whenever possible. Some kind of green-granola fancy, right?!  I take mine minus the honey, honey.

Pinion Trees are some of my favorites.

My love.

I've been digging adding a sprinkling of crushed red pepper to my food lately. Still searching for a sugar-free sriracha/hot sauce substitute.

This photo has already had some airtime, but too adorable to resist...although on second glance, he doesn't look all that pleased with my photo set up. Sorry, Fluffy. 

When I'm not writing...Update...only the sky remains.

Spending so much time in the sun. Little Two made a UV bracelet. 

My kind of manna. 

She makes a good pillow.

I'm getting super excited. Also, heads up, Pearl is my longest ms yet! 

Sunsets, ya think I like them?

I need a regular dose of sparkle in my life. Even the flaming kind.

On Instagram? Let's connect.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Author Reflections & Insight

Hello September! When'd you get here?! It's always the tone of surprise with me when seasons change, time sifts by, or it's suddenly a holiday. Events like these shouldn't blindside me—I mean, they're written in months, years, uh, millennia(?) in advance. Still, time has this way of sneaking, and twirling, and speeding along. Which brings me to my recent realization that it's been three months since SUGAR my debut young adult novel was published by Skyscape. Three incredible, challenging, insightful, and gratitude-filled months.

(Also, psst, the Kindle/digital copy is on sale right now!) 

I've written a bit about my road to publication, first as a fledgling hopeful, querying agents who probably have my name—in red ink—on a list somewhere under the heading: persistent, (but polite—I hope! PASS!) Later, as an independently published author with the new adult series, FOLLOW YOUR BLISS, and then in a shocking twist in my personal narrative, an offer for publication from Skyscape. 


Now, here I am on the other side, sorta, whirling and wondering really, how I got here. It's true, authors tend to be doubters, though confidence rises and falls much like the hurry up, slow down, slowwww way down, quick, you’re on deadline wacky pace of the publishing world. Some days I'm like who wrote this sh!t and then others, it's like, well, not too shabby there, Hall.

Here I am now, reflecting on the last few months and looking ahead, and ready to reboot with all this new information. After a stream of consciousness kind of flow, I'm going to list out several things I wish I knew before… Or if I could hop in my Tardis (I had one imported) the leaflet I'd print out and give myself to spare any incurring hardship, hair-tugging, and spazz-outs.  

1. Be patient. I know. I say this all the time. We hear it all the time. But it comes up again and again for a reason. Several, actually. For many of us who've latched onto the lightning fast connection of the internet age, we want things now, now, and now. Maybe even yesterday. In fact, as I write this, my internet/wifi is down, and I'm all kinds of flustered. I have things to do, people. To do them I NEED the internet. Ok, not really. Um, maybe that little outburst demonstrates why I might need a tech-detox and a dose of patience.

My word processing program is accommodating me just fine for my present endeavor, but darnit I want to check my Twitter feed and my inbox and… But really, I don't need to. All I have to do right now is write this blog post and the pumpkin on top of my neck provides all the gigabytes required—just like they did it in the "old days." So, in this time of internet-instant-gratification, it's easy to forget or maybe it's just that we expect that everything else moves at the same rate. 

The publishing world, at least in my experience, consists of real humans who do things at the same pace as the rest of us. That means they read, edit, offer feedback in real time, not the pseudo-speed offered by technology. So, self, three, six, twelve months ago…be patient with publishing.

2. Be patient. Yes, I'm repeating myself. How's that saying go, "Rome wasn't built in a day." I think that's what it is. I can't cross-reference because my internet is down. (How did writers fifteen, twenty, a hundred years ago do it?!) This brings me exactly to my point. Rome wasn't built in a day, but it's still standing. Mostly. I've been there and it's pretty phenomenal despite all the influences that, over the years, routinely threaten it. If, as writers, it's our desire to evoke a lasting response, connection, and impression on readers with our body of work, it's essential we give the sauce—our manuscripts—time to develop flavor. That means, the first draft is just that, a first draft. Mine are an embarrassment. I will never, ever, not even for a real chocolate chip cookies show someone my first draft. Actually, it's not because I'm truly embarrassed…I'm a fast drafter and get down the bones of a story quickly, otherwise distractions and my own forgetfulness sieves the story line into some inaccessible part of my brain. I learned this about myself. Thank goodness. If you're a fast drafter, like me, or even if you're somewhere in the middle, or deliberate every word on the first go, the first draft is the layer, or three, just above the gold. By stepping away, we allow the novel to marinate. Then, going back, revising, and editing, we add a little, take away, refine, and perfect our recipe. 

(All this talk about Rome and food is making me hungry. Mmm. Sauce.)

Back to patience. With self-publishing and the accessibility of agents and editors, there's sometimes a sense of urgency, to get it out there before…before what I'm not sure, but it's valuable to let the writing process unfold (marinate) fully, before launching into publishing. (Insert wine or cheese metaphor since we're dabbling in Italian cuisine.) I'm just now settling into this notion, downshifting a little away from frenetic energy, but still maintaining my drive, my desire, and the fire that keeps me stoked to be in this biz.

3. Be flexible. The schedule for my forthcoming novel, PEARL, was derailed over the summer. It was one of those situations that could have been prevented, but my frustration wasn't going to get the manuscript edited and where it needed to be. I had days blocked out far in advance for revisions with my editor and when that didn't go to plan and camps, playdates, childcare was for naught…I sulked, but very quickly, I picked myself up, dusted off, and got back to work.

This tip comes with two caveats: one, guard your writing time. Don't give it up unless you have a really, really good reason. Writers NEED to write. Vitamin W or something. Two, don't let people take advantage of the patience you cultivated (see above). If a request or timeline seems unreasonable, respectfully speak up. The thing was I did my best to maintain a flexible attitude and it all worked out quite nicely.

With flexibility in mind, it's also valuable, especially after what can be hours spent at the keyboard (depending on how your writing time is blocked out) to move the body. I find occasional 5-15 minute yoga breaks throughout the day or one long session early on or in the evening is super useful in rebooting and keeping my body and buns from aching too much. If yoga isn't your thing, recharge with some form of physical movement. The bonus, this stimulates the creative juices! Folding laundry doesn't count, unless it's Thursday.

4. Be connected. I railed above about the hyper-connectivity we experience nowadays, but what I mean is, reach out or maintain connections with real humans (not just the ones we make up.) I tend toward retreating into my writing cave and happily staying there until I'm running on a food and water deficit, not to mention human interaction.

I've found it's vital for writers to get writerly support. The unique thing I wasn't necessarily expecting when I launched into the writing/publishing world, was this amazing collective of friendly and supportive fellow word nerds. Twitter, writing groups, and conferences are all great places to meet like-mindeds along with learn, discuss relevant topics, and geek out about ALL the bookish things.

And last, but not least, celebrate. That doesn't mean book spamming all the feeds from here to the satellites in the outer reaches of space, but it's important to mark small and big victories, a completed chapter, manuscript, publication! I believe the universe appreciates when we recognize our triumphs—and those of other writers. So let's remember to give a little hollah, some emojis, a glass of something bubbly, or a whatever feels festive when we cross the various writerly finish lines. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wordy Wednesday

Summer vacation is ovah 'round these parts, which means I'm getting back to writing. Don't get me wrong, I "dabbled" over the last few months, working on this and that. I also came up against a heady and unexpected deadline and somehow managed to meet it without sacrificing too much sleep, but now I'm rubbing my hands together, warming them up for the keyboard...and away I go! 

Oh, but first, I have to reflect on how super fast this summer flew by. I think I say that every year. Yep. And still, I'm amazed. Where does the time go? Seriously, if you figure out that matrix, let me know. Aside from making memories, laughing, smiling, surfing...It seems to slip through my fingers. All good stuff to be sure, but still, yew. There it was and there it went. 

A big, huggy thank you to everyone who's left Sugar a review! 

But SUGAR, has been going strong! In case you've wondered what you missed, because in the whirlwind I'm afraid I may have skipped a reading a blog post or two, here I am to catch us all up on the Sugar buzz! 

Live today, find an interview & giveaway on Book Worms & Night Owls. Don't you love the name of Lauren's blog?! 

Ooh, prizes!

And, um, a few more interviews, reviews, and the like that might be of interest.

Interview & review on Hypable.

Sugar, eating disorders & teens in the Denver Post.

An interview about Sugar, the novel, with one of my favorite authors and friends: Cheyenne Young.

An interview and more over at Icey Books.

A conversation with me on Two Women & a Book Review 

The delights & plights of writing on Land of Books.

Sweety High's choice stars cast for Sugar & Even.

10 Sweet things about Sugar on the Authorteers.

On getting Sugar with Fangirlish.

An interview with Sugar on GrownupFanGal.

Author Q&A at Book Stop Corner. 

Read about why Claudia from My Soul Called Life called Sugar a top 10 of 2015

The *blogcritics review of Sugar.

Yara from Once Upon a Twilight says, "This book is definitely a treat." Find out more here.

An interview over at Fiktshun.

The 6 things Czai over at the Blacksheep Project loved about Sugar.

5 Questions & 5 Answers over at Sassy & Dangerous. 

A day with Sugar over at Papercuts Podcast.

You can also find all these big and little, morsels of book awesomeness on the tab above labeled: Buzz & News. Huh? Huh? Did I miss any? Oh, and yeah, I'm hanging out on Marie Forleo's street by connecting, sharing, promoting proudly