This Season...



Friends! I'm taking a blogging break and signing off for the season. 

I wish you an abundant holiday 
a prosperous and healthy New Year!

I'll be back in early 2016.

Until then, 




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Holly Jolly Shelfie


Welcome to the first annual share your holiday shelfie event aka Holly Jolly Shelfie or #HJShelfie for short! 
The what: This is a contest where you post a picture of your bookshelf, decorated for the holidays, using the hashy: #HJShelfie And while you're at it be sure to follow me on social media, tell your friends, and enter to win an advance reader copy of my forthcoming young adult novel, PEARL

As seventeen-year-old Pearl Jaeger emerges from a gritty childhood, her uncle sends her to a prestigious prep school with the promise of a second chance. But haunted by her memories and reckless with grief when her mother overdoses, she turns to partying with the burnouts, including shy and sweet Grant. All too soon, she's spiraling out of control on the heels of her late mother. But between friendships that turn into sisterhoods, the salvation of art, and Grant showing her what it is to trust and forgive, Pearl must close the door on her past or lose love, along with her future.

The how #HJShelfie came about: The tree is decorated, the stockings hung, but one of my favorite places in my house is in sore neglect of festive decor, my bookshelf. But with the cover reveal for PEARL and umpteen other things on my to-do list this season, not only does my bookshelf need to be decorated, it requires organization; I'm lucky it hasn't dumped onto the floor. It's a mess. Srsly, this reader/writer/author is embarrassed at the sad state of my shelves. So this year, it's up to you to boost my holiday cheer with photos of your beautiful, bedecked shelves! I've been hanging out on Tumblr and there are some amazing bookshelves all lit up, glowing and gorgeous. I love it! Next year, I'll decorate my shelf, but for now, I'll to live vicariously through all your fabulous readers! 

Also: This holiday season, I did two giveaways for my new adult novels and one for SUGAR, so to keep things balanced, it only seemed fitting to add PEARL to the list because, guys, advanced reader copies are, like totally, burning a hole in my pocket, er, floor, since they're in a box and I can't actually fit a book in my pocket unless I were wearing a robe or something, which I'm not, but I digress...

All of my ARCs, expect one, are designated for readers and friends so I thought, why not offer one up to my social media community, right? I mean, you guys are like a writer's lifeline and it's that time of year to spread good cheer, y'know? I have so much to celebrate, but especially you readers who help me do what I love to do: write!

The how to: Usually I do a Rafflecopter and all that nonsense, but I figure you people are busy with shopping and wrapping and hiding from relatives in the bathroom and reading...( oh, is that just me?) so why not make it easy-peasy, yeah?

1. Simply snap a photo of your holiday book shelf. 

2. Post it to one of the big five socials (see below) using #HJShelfie 

3. Please be sure to follow me. I'll check to be sure we're hangin' out on the social scene you posted to, but if you aren't on the others, no biggie. (It would be sweet if you liked, followed, etc. all around though.) I linked up my accounts below to make it easy for you. 


4. Please tell your friends! I say, the more the merrier! Copy and paste the text below or make up your own, just be sure to use #HJShelfie. 


Share your holiday shelfie to win an ARC of   novel PEARL. All the details:  Use 

Want a chance to win an ARC 
of  next  novel PEARL? Share your holiday shelfie using  Deets 

You can also save and repost the badges below: 




The how long: This contest runs from now, 12/16/15, until 12/30/15 when I will pick a random winner and notify you via the social media you used to post your shelfie.

And that's it! Questions? Ask below. 

Oh, one more thing. I'm the queen of one more thing, if you didn't know that already. I'd love to know what book you're really hoping for this year!

Cheers!


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Pearl Cover Reveal

Not only is the cover of my forthcoming young adult novel, PEARL stunning, but this reveal is extra special because I didn't get to do one for for my last release, SUGAR. 

When I reached the cover design process for PEARL with my publisher Skyscape, I knew I was in great hands because, um, have ya seen SUGAR? I've had loads of reader compliments on the cover—the liquid elements, the sparkle appearing and dissolving in smooth tones—it's be-you-tiful, which is kinda the message of the book. And I can't take any credit for it, nope. Zero, zip, zilch—we should just shorten that to zeplch or something. 


Anyway how were we going to follow in the spectacular-ness footsteps of SUGAR? 


For PEARL, I was presented with three options, all beautiful—two of them were similar to the above mentioned, featuring sparkly, water elements, but when I saw the initial draft of the third rendition, the one you'll see in a just moment, I stood in front of the image for a full minute, my mouth hanging open, thinking, "Wow. Wow. Wow." Pure wow. Mega wow. A wow explosion! 


Okay, okay, I won't hold you in suspense any longer...

*
*
*




Run fast and run far, unless you’re fearless.
Unless you’re courageous.
I’m not, but I’d like to be.

Pearl Jaeger is seventeen and homeless after drugs, poverty, and addiction have unraveled the life she shared with JJ, her mother, a formerly glamorous rock star.

This moment of happiness is fleeting; someone will take it from me.

When tragedy brings a chance to start over at an elite boarding school, she doesn’t hesitate. Yet the only salvation comes from an art teacher as troubled as Pearl, and she faces the stark reality that what she thought she wanted isn’t straightforward.

I trace the outline of my reflection in a window. I am no more than a replica of my mother. This is not the self-portrait I want to paint.

Through the friendships she forms at school – especially with Grant, a boy who shows Pearl what it means to trust and forgive – she begins to see a path not defined by her past. But when confronted with the choice to be courageous or to take the easy way forged by her mother's failures, which direction will Pearl take?


Preorder on Amazon //  Add to your TBR on Goodreads 

What do you think of the cover? 

My favorite comment came from one of my favorite people, author and friend, Cheyanne Young, "I wanna cuddle that cover and drink coffee with it." Cheers to that, but be careful not to spill, contents my be hot ;-) I  know, I'm such a dork.

A big thank you to my publicists Kim & Megan, Xpresso Book Tours for hosting the cover reveal, and the many bloggers who participated! You guys hold the title: greatest! Mwah! 

Oh and a little pre-P.S. I'm giving away an advanced reader copy of PEARL to one lucky person who posts a 
HOLLY JOLLY SHELFIE! 



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Lit Related Gift Ideas



Top on my wish list are books. 
Plain and simple. 
Hardcover and soft. 
Fiction and non. 
Bestsellers and debut.
Traditional and indie. 
But...

 There's an entire world of lit related gifts I'd like to find in my stocking this year. Are you a book lover? Have a book worm to shop for? I've compiled some of my favorite bookish gift ideas that are unique, brilliant, and sure to please. 

1. Check out my Pinterest board Gifts for Book Lovers & Writers for inspiration.  

2. Want a gift that gives all year long? As tech savvy as us lit-types are, I think we're also of the breed that loves getting mail (not of the bill variety). Check out these monthly subscription services that deliver books and lit-related goodies to your snail-mailbox. 

3. And of course, there are gift cards to Amazon, your local indie bookseller, or Barnes & Noble. I wouldn't say no to a clever gift basket with a gift card, a mug, tea or cocoa, and some fuzzy socks. Perfect for a cozy afternoon doing what i love, reading.

4. You can also support your local library in the name of a friend or family member by making a donation. Often times, libraries also sell tote bags and other items with their logo to support the services they provide.

5. Last but not least, obvi, there are books, in all their bound, paper-smelling, smooth and glossy glory! But here are a ways to make the giving a little extra special:

A personalized bookmark.
Sticky tags noting your favorite passages.
A letter explaining why you loved this book and reasons why the recipient might too. 
A list of discussion questions and a promise to get together over dinner to talk about the novel later.
A list of links to the author, bonus content, etc. for a total fangirling or boy-ing bonanza!
Do you have any great lit-gifting ideas? Please share in the comments below. 

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The 12 Days of New Adult Giveaway



I'm excited to start this holiday season off with the Twelve Days of New Adult Giveaway Hop! It runs from December 1-12 and is hosted by Stuck In Books. Get all the details below, but first, some goodies for you!
(So this totally doesn't rhyme or have the right cadence, but let's just go with it, 'K?)

Source
On the first day of reading an author gave to me, new adult romantic fiction.

On the second day of reading an author gave to me, a redhead named Brighton Holmes.

On the third day of reading an author gave to me, an epic road trip in a vintage Chevelle.

On the fourth day of reading an author gave to me, a musician fallen on hard times.

On the fifth day of reading an author gave to me, lots and lots of romantic tension!

On the sixth day of reading an author gave to me, a girl searching for a place to call home.

On the seventh day of reading an author gave to me, a boy trying to escape fame.

On the eighth day of reading an author gave to me, a crazed ex-girlfriend.

On the ninth day of reading an author gave to me, sightseeing and detours.

On the tenth day of reading an author gave to me, heartache, loss, and confusion.

On the eleventh day of reading an author gave to me, two people in denial going their separate ways, leading readers to wonder will they or won't they...

(Phew!)

On the twelfth day of reading my true love gave to me...IN THE DESERT! 

That was ridiculous and fun, right? That's the spirit. But really, thank you for enduring my, um, song. Now, for the giveaway! 

Enter below to win a Kindle copy of IN THE DESERT & a $12 Amazon Gift Card! 
12 days, 12 dollars, yeah! 


Twenty-year-old fiery film student Brighton Holmes knows exactly what she wants: an epic adventure on the open road in her late father’s 1969 Chevelle, alone. Her quest is to visit all fifty states and find a place to call home. 

When a family friend asks for a favor, UK rocker in recovery, Alex Stihl, joins her on the road trip, stirring up trouble; the last thing she needs. It doesn’t help that he has a mob of fans and a crazy ex-girlfriend tailing his every move. 

Brighton and Alex clash as they cruise out of New York, she grows resigned in the rolling hills of Amish country, and he crashes hard in a hotel on the edge of the Smoky Mountains. While Brighton seeks a place to wash her mind of the past, Alex dodges reminders of heartbreak. 

They both try to escape everything they have in common: heartache, loss, and confusion about what’s next. But the magic of New Orleans unites Brighton and Alex as they fight desperately for the other until the desert leads them to discover exactly what they’re resisting and missing. 

When they reach the Oregon coast, Brighton uncovers her musical talent, bringing them closer together and helping her reconcile losing her father. But the trip comes to an end when they arrive in Los Angeles. Real life intervenes, splitting them apart; she moves into her new off-campus apartment and he has to return to his band. 

After the semester begins, Brighton tries to shake her mind loose from Alex, but the memory of his sexy voice, rainy day eyes, and the miles they shared lingers like a song stuck in her head. Six months later, when his band returns to Los Angeles for a concert, the compass of her heart finally leads her home. 

In the Desert, book three in the Follow your Bliss Series, can be read chronologically, or as a stand-alone story filled with adventure, anarchy, music, letting go, and love. 

Please enter here...

Wait! I don't want you to leave empty handed. If you'd like a FREE copy of THROUGH THE JUNGLE, the prequel AND sequel to the FOLLOW YOUR BLISS series, click here and indicate your preferred reading format. 

Wondering about the prequel-sequel series-shmeeries mumbo-jumbo is all about? 

Click here for an explanation and get ready for the winter to pass in a flurry of romantic excitement while you read, read, read the FOLLOW YOUR BLISS series!

To continue the hop, check out all the stops listed below:








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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. 
AND...
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. 




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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!

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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. 





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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. 


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NaNoWriMo 2015


Yes, I'm at it again. 

Writing.


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

Nope.

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? 

Kinda? 

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. 

Blam! 


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



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