Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Black Friday Book Bonanza Giveaway

Black Friday Book Bonanza

Welcome to my stop on the 5th Annual Black Friday Book Bonanza Giveaway Hop. 

What is the BFBBGH? 

Organized by 
Kimberly at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer and Jennifer at the Bookshelfery, readers simply follow the links in the list to visit the sites of numerous authors and bloggers and enter for a chance to win great prizes including books, swag, gift cards, and more! 

The bonus: you get to stay home in your jammies, eat leftovers, and check out cool blogs and books instead of going out and braving the shopping madness. 

Note: This giveaway will run from 12:01am on November 27 through 12:01am November 30 (basically the entire Thanksgiving weekend).

An aside... 
For readers not familiar with Black Friday and for those outside of the US, Black Friday as ominous as it sounds (though diehard shoppers can get cutthroat), is the day after the Thanksgiving holiday when stores offer insane deals and subsequently turn a profit—get back in the black. 

Confession time...
Although I live in the United States, I didn't know what this phenomenon was until a handful of years ago. How it flew over my radar, I'll never know. But there you have it. One year I tried shopping the sales, but staying home, cozy with a book and a cup of chai is way more my thing. I'll survive without the discounted electronics, but a life without books...not so much. Thankfully, we have the 
BFBBGH to help with that.

To keep spreading the Thanksgiving gratitude vibes, I'm giving away three prizes! Enter to win a Kindle copy of the new adult novels:

On the Mountain Modeling contract? Check. Drinking and dancing at the hottest NYC clubs? Check. An unsettled feeling about the future? Um, check. Pressure to begin college and an epic blowout with her best friend, turns Baskia Benedict’s party life toxic, resulting in an escape to the family cabin in the mountains. An unexpected visitor appears, seeking refuge from his own problems. All Baskia needs are a few days to get her head clear, but she's distracted by his seductive charm. As weeks turn into months, Baskia stubbornly remains and discovers the simple life might just save her from herself. *There's a very sweet Thanksgiving scene in On the Mountain. 

 Kindled After a car accident rips the Carter family apart, Wes struggles through the loss and his sister's coma. After she recovers, he learns she’s vanishing into the void of grief. On Christmas Eve, the girl Wes would like to call his sweetheart visits, but his sister’s presence is a reminder of how broken the Carter siblings are. Then an unexpected guest shakes things up. But Christmas morning brings a renewed perspective for Wes. He presents a special gift, hoping to win Mellie's heart, mend his relationship with his sister, and find his way back to bliss. 
A $10 Amazon Gift card!

Please enter below  

And continue on the hop. Follow the links below for more great prizes! 

I'd love if you shared the giveaway to your socials and tell me your favorite seasonal drink in the comments below, how you're recovering from Thanksgiving, and what you're reading this weekend. 

Giving Thanks 2015

Thank you for reading, for writing, dreaming, connecting, for bridging. 
Thank you for cheerleading, reminding, supporting, believing. 
Thank you for tweeting, liking, favoriting, and boosting, 
Thank you for hope, trust, kindness, and bliss. 
Thank you for being you, beautiful.

P.S. Don't forget to check back Friday, 11/27 for the Black Friday Book Giveaway Bonanza!!! It's going to be huge!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Writer Health

For many of us creatives, it might be argued that when it comes to our chosen art form, there actually is very little in the way of choice. It isn't that we can't put down the pen, the paintbrush, or the sheet music. Rather, we know that if we do, there will be a significant hole in our lives. One so big we make our creative pursuits (writing, art, dance, music, sculpture, knitting, beadwork, photography etc.) of greater priority than things like, watching TV (though sometimes we do that too), surfing the internet for no particular reason other than distraction (well, guilty sometimes), or doing things like bathing...(ahem.)

It could also be said the pleasure from doing our art outweighs all these other interests, (ahem, ahem essentials) sometimes to our detriment.

So we make, we braid, we string words together, cut, paste, play, practice, get messy, mess up, and sometimes forget important things like eating, drinking, exercising, connecting with the outside world...

At the moment, I'm participating in NaNoWriMo, a fun and intense writing adventure. Confession: I haven't gotten dressed in weeks. Kidding. I have, sort of. My yoga pants are putting in a lot of stationary miles. And that's okay, mostly, but there are times when I find my hygiene lacking, my mind distracted (still trying to figure out that scene), and my shoulders hunched and aching along with my butt, elbows, my eyelids... 

Sound familiar? If you're driven by your art, staying up late, getting up early, forgetting what day it is...

Remember this, you have to take care of your instrument: YOU!

Here are a few obvious tips to keep ourselves in top ass-kicking, art-making form. Yes, they may be obvious, but the world needs you and the beautiful, moving, powerful art you make and it's up to you to take good care of yourself. Tie a string around your finger, set a phone alert, ask your neighbor to bang on the wall every other hour... Do what you have to do so you don't forget to come up for air and look after yourself. 

I'm going to use writing in the following examples, but these suggestions can be applied to however you create your art. 

Food It can go one of two ways: We're so invested in what we're doing we forget to eat and hydrate... We come back from a ten page sprint and realize we haven't eaten since breakfast...nine hours previous. 

Or we can't find our flow. Go to the fridge. Snack. Nope, it's still not there. Scrounge up some chips and guac. Trying to get this character's name right...I could really go for some onion rings. But I'm so not feeling this dude's interest in escargot. It doesn't fit. And gross. But mmm... some chocolate sure would be tasty. Something baked with pumpkin... And so on. 

By the end of our session, we've eaten our way through the kitchen, but haven't nourished ourselves or our project. (*Though professionals do say chocolate has some health benefits.) 

The solution: Don't forget to eat, but don't forget to write either...If I find myself particularly absorbed and I'm not listening to my stomach calling, I set a timer to go off around breakfast/lunch/dinner time. I also keep a water bottle by my side (refilling it is a good excuse to stretch!) In the case of incessant snacking, the next day I plan out what I'm going to eat (each meal and snacks and when) and work it into my schedule so I stick to my tasks. 

Fitness I exercise because movement is one of the quickest ways I know to boost my mood and get my creative juices flowing. Whether I take a walk, stretch, do yoga, or cardio, I make movement part of my daily writing program because it motivates, stimulates, and keeps my body from aching before or after sitting so long while drafting. After I'd spent one too many nights cursing lower back pain, I decided I wasn't going to let it stop me from doing what I love so I routinely make my muscles stronger. 

Solution: Traditional exercise appeals to some, not so much to others, so what I recommend is to do what you like. It could be a 3-minute chair stretch between chapters. A walk or hike at dusk after a long stretch of writing is a great excuse to see the sunset. Join an adult sports team, go to a yoga class once or twice a week. Play with your dog, kid, dragon...Whatever you do, move a little or a lot to protect those peaches.

Fuel Sometimes as creatives we're sucked into our art full-on, day and night, not coming up for air until we're feeling depleted by the very thing which ordinarily fuels us. It's dangerously easy to become so deeply absorbed in our writing we start to feel drained, leading to a lack of inspiration or straight up burnout. Don't let what you love get you down. I already mentioned food, but the refueling I mean has two parts. 

Solution: One, connect. Don't forget to unplug, power down, and step away from the keyboard to live outside the awesome world you're creating. Hang out with friends, visit family, call someone you haven't spoken to in a while, read in your hammock, whatever you do step away from your work from time-to-time and charge up with the people and activities that make your spirit soar. 

Two: sleep! My friends...Sleep is one of the greatest things we have going and it's free! When you've been working, living, creating hard...your bones, neurons, (partner, coworkers, even the postal carrier!) will thank you if you get some rest. It's essential. Next time you're reading the same sentence over and over, take a nap or go to sleep early that night. When you sit down on your writing throne, replenished from a solid snooze, you're sure to feel alert and sparking with new ideas and directions.

*There are other, more serious states and situations creatives find themselves in such as depression...if you suspect you or someone you care about is in it deep with their mental or physical health, please seek professional advice. 

How do you keep on top of your health as a writer or creative? Please share below. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

10 Writing Tips

This is my quick and to the point list of writing tips. There's a common belief that you have to know the rules to break them, yadda, yadda, yadda. But not all of them. However, there's a universal threshold for good storytelling and grammar in fiction. It doesn't involve getting your and you're mixed up. It isn't using the same adjective nine times in a paragraph that stretches over two pages. It cannot support the misspelling of proper nouns. Yes, voice and style, along with colloquialisms and slang, all come into play. There's a time and place for incomplete sentences and even, sometimes, exclamation points.

There's a magazine I enjoy that regularly contains grievous, obvious errors. It's like they don't even try. Please, for the love of the English language reread sentences, read passages aloud to your dog, use spell check for goodness sake! Sorry/not sorry for getting carried away, but seriously, sometimes I come across bad writing. Sometimes it's my own. I do things like forget or misplace commas all the time. When that happens, I use this list to shore up my word-smithery foundation, dot my i's and cross my t's, and get to a-writin' some gold.

1. Show don't tell. As Anton Chechov said, "Don't tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass." Not only does this paint an image, but I get *feels* from reading this sentence.

2. Find your "clutter words." I tend to overuse the word just in my writing. I'll do a search/find and delete, delete, delete. Other examples are very, probably, well, see, look, etc.

3. Add layers to your story. Even if you don't include it  in the final draft or any draft, daydream about back story, what your characters do when they're not inhabiting your imagination, and the the kinds of choices they'd make, which builds their character (the other definition of character.)

4. Create windows. Not everything has to be spelled out. Trust your reader. Avoid the bog of including every single detail of a scene from the character entering a room to sitting, to moving, to leaving. Leave clues crucial to the story. But trust the reader to know how the basic mechanics work. If it was morning and in the next scene the birds are still chirping then it's still morning.

5. Watch and listen in real life. Observe body language and the natural flow of conversation: replicate it in your writing.

6. Avoid filler verbs such as feel, seem, wonder, noticed. Show your characters doing these actions or their reactions, instead.

7. Write actively. That means make the subject of the sentence the star instead of giving the recipient of the action center stage. Aiders and abettors include: is/are prior to a verb often in the past tense.

8. Read, widely. Sometimes wear your editing goggles. Other times be keen on style and craft. Also, read for the fun of it.

9. Unless you're writing a period piece with formal language, contractions are okay. We don't often hear modern conversation spoken/written stiffly. The exception being one of my favorite literary characters: Celeste from the Flat out Series by Jessica Park. But that was intentional.

10. Write a lot. Write crappy drafts, delete (but always save) passages, be persistent, be fearless. Write some more.

What are your best tips? I'll add them to my list. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015

Yes, I'm at it again. 


But not just any old fingers to keyboard, smooshing random letters together to make words. 


It's NaNoWriMo.

No really, I'm not just smooshing random letters together to make words. 

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.

Get it? 


Here are some more details: 

"National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. 
On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.
Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel."
How does it work? Follow this link if you're curious, but be warned NaNoWriMo is an outstanding and supportive community that encourages, instructs, and cheers along aspiring and established writers... There are community forums, help for when you're stuck, badges to track progress...
The thing is, after thirty days you might just find yourself having written a book. No kidding. I did it last year. Yup. 

And I'm doing it again! It's YA. It's sweet contemporary romance. It takes place along the northern coast of Massachusetts. There's ice-skating, hockey, and friendships that span generations. It's all about my love affair with words and there's kissing—not words. I mean, I use words to describe the kissing, but no one kisses words. Gah! At least, not yet. 

...and I'm plotting a sequel at least—taking readers on an adventure into the cave of their heart and maybe abroad too. 


Are you NaNoWriMo-ing? Let's connect. My NaNoWriMo user name is: deirdrespark

Thursday, October 29, 2015

NA Scavenger Hunt

Welcome to the New Adult Scavenger Hunt


The NA Scavenger Hunt is similar to YASH (if you've been hanging around the blog you'll remember it from a couple weeks ago). NewASH is a biannual event to give readers a chance to receive bonus material from their favorite authors, find new books, and have the opportunity to win great prizes, including what else? 


It works like this: there are two teams (right now you're on TEAM GREEN). Each participating author leaves a numerical clue. Add up the clues and enter to win the grand prize! 

Find the complete details, rules, and frequently asked questions here

Remember, the game goes lightning fast: 72 hours to be exact. 

What are you waiting for? 
Go! Go! Go.  

I'm hosting Kate Thomas, author of the


Kate Thomas, is the author of the Equilibrium Series, a five-book supernatural new adult series & Resounding, an eight-book supernatural adult series scheduled to release starting the fall of 2015.

She is a full time author entrepreneur, writing under multiple pen names and ghost writing on occasion. With more ideas than one person should be allowed, she is blessed to have a muse that doesn’t seem to take a vacation and more energy that one might consider healthy.

She writes under L.A. Starkey for her Young Adult and Middle Grade books. 

Find out more at Kate's Website.

And connect with her here:

There’s something strange about David, something that goes beyond the way he makes Ellie feel. He’s wealthy, poised, and a complete enigma. With nothing to lose but her heart, Ellie goes in search of the truth—a search that leads her down an eye-opening path that reveals secrets about the world she thought she knew.

The world’s order is held in careful balance, the essence of good and evil tilting the scale. When the fabric of reality is stripped away, Ellie is forced to make a decision to follow the path David’s constructed before her or simply walk away. The Core is missing and someone must step up and stand between the light and darkness, holding each back and maintaining equilibrium. 


To continue the hunt, you need to visit the next author: 

And remember, you're on TEAM GREEN right now & my 

lucky book number is 74.

Thank you for stopping by, participating, loving books & 

supporting authors! If you'd like to get your friends in on the 

fun, please copy, paste & share:

 Twitter: Trick-or-treat for books & exclusive content on 

the @NAScavengerHunt Going on now! #NewASH


Facebook: Want a chance to win some new adult novels and 

other goodies? The New Adult Scavenger Hunt is going on 

NOW! Check out exclusive content from loads of authors, 

add up the secret numbers, and enter to win!

And how about a treat while you're here...

I'm offering a bonus drawing for a chance for one lucky US 

reader to win a copy of SURFACED, the companion novella 

for To the Sea & a cute tote bag! Please enter below. 

Hang on, no one walks away empty handed. Even if you don't win the NewASH grand prize or the bonuses above, you can still get a free book! YES! 

THROUGH THE JUNGLE is a prequel-sequel novelette to the Follow your Bliss series & is a quick, must read! Simply sign up for my enewsletter, specify your preferred format (whether you read on Kindle (mobi), Nook (epub), or if  you'd like a PDF), and I'll send you a copy for free!

Thanks again and please leave a comment below sharing the books you'd like to win, your favorite Halloween treat, or just to say hi. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Some More Scavenging...

I'm participating in the New Adult Scavenger Hunt, starting tomorrow, Thursday, October 29. 

What is the NA Scavenger Hunt?

For one, it's fun!
Also, a way to find new authors and books.
A chance to read exclusive content from some of your favorite books.
A contest to win signed copies of books and other prizes!

Check out all the details here...and get ready to NASH!