Halloween Madness: Little Dead Riding Hood

31 10 2014

Because it’s Halloween, I wanted to showcase something scary and literature-related. What could be better than announcing a friend’s new book called –yep, LITTLE DEAD RIDING HOOD? So welcome to Amie and Bethanie Borst, who agreed to talk about the book and share some of their secrets about how they came up with such a creative idea for their SCARY EVER LAUGHTER series, which also includes CINDERSKELLER and SNOW FRIGHT.

Oh, and be sure to read all the way to the end for a chance to win a free copy. Just enter your info in the Rafflecopter and maybe it’ll conjure up an autographed book just for you.

So take it away, Amie & Bethanie…

Thanks so much for inviting us to your blog, Laurie, as part of our tour for LITTLE DEAD RIDING HOOD! We’re glad to be here!

You know things are going to suck when you’re the new kid. But when you’re the new kid and a vampire… well, it bites!

Unlike most kids, Scarlet Small’s problems go far beyond just trying to fit in. She would settle for a normal life, but being twelve years old for an entire century is a real pain in the neck. Plus, her appetite for security guards, house pets and bloody toms (tomato juice) is out of control. So in order to keep their vampire-secret, her parents, Mort and Drac, resort to moving for the hundredth time, despite Scarlet being dead-set against it. Things couldn’t be worse at her new school, either. Not only does she have a strange skeleton-girl as a classmate, but a smelly werewolf is intent on revealing her secret. When she meets Granny—who fills her with cookies, goodies, and treats, and seems to understand her more than anyone—she’s sure things will be different. But with a fork-stabbing incident, a cherry pie massacre, and a town full of crazy people, Scarlet’s O-positive she’ll never live to see another undead day.
Not even her Vampire Rule Book can save her from the mess she’s in. Why can’t she ever just follow the rules?
Add Little Dead Riding Hood to your Goodreads to-read list here Purchase LDRH at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite Indie bookstore!
***
Bethanie was only 9 when she came up with the idea for our first book, CINDERSKELLA. She had written the title on a packet of paper and drawn a skeleton in a casket. I knew immediately that she was combining the Cinderella story with a skeleton. Images of Tim Burton’s THE CORPSE BRIDE came to mind, and it only felt natural to write the story as she intended it.
But that was the hard part. There weren’t a lot of monster stories in middle-grade novels. There were plenty of fairy tale retellings, but finding other comparable books was difficult. We knew that the story needed to have this paranormal element for it to work properly, so we went with it despite the odds!
Coming up with the series was easy at that point. We brainstormed cool monsters, our favorite fairy tales, and then tried to come up with ways to change their titles to reflect the monster element. LITTLE DEAD RIDING HOOD with her red cape just had to be a vampire.
Currently we’re working on book three, SNOW FRIGHT, where Snow White will be a zombie!
We hope middle-grade readers will love our paranormal/monster stories as much as we do. Hopefully they’ll find a laugh or two, as well!
About us:
Amie Borst is a PAL member of SCBWI. She believes in Unicorns, uses glitter whenever the opportunity arises, accessorizes in pink, and eats too much chocolate. 
Bethanie Borst is a spunky 14 year old who loves archery, long bike rides, and studying edible plant-life. She was only 9 when she came up with the idea for Cinderskella!
Little Dead Riding Hood is their second book in the Scarily Ever Laughter series. Their first book, Cinderskella, released in October 2013.
You can find them on facebook. Amie can be found on twitter, pinterest, and her blog***

We’re having two great giveaways as part of our blog tour! The first is for a copy of LITTLE DEAD RIDING HOOD! So be sure to enter the giveaway by following the steps on the rafflecopter form below.a Rafflecopter giveaway
THEN – as soon as you finish that, be sure to stop by my blog for a second contest! I’m having a SCAVENGER HUNT that you won’t want to miss with lots of extra great prizes! All you have to do is make sure you enter the contest below first then hopping over to my blog and filling out the rafflecopter form there! Super easy! Here’s the rafflecopter form for my blog just in case you missed it!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

See you soon!

Fingers crossed that YOU are the lucky winner.
And thanks so much, Amie and Bethanie




Painting on the Canvas of Your Life

21 10 2014

I’ve been reading Panache Desai’s Discovering Your Soul Signature and wanted to share one of the meditations from the book:

Imagine that your life can be portrayed on a canvas….When you look at this canvas, you’ll see see everything that’s been placed there. And most of it doesn’t originate from you…. As you’ve moved on through life, external labels have been superimposed on the canvas…. People have told us who we are, and this fills the canvas too.

Now start pulling off those labels…. Peel away those limitations. Remove all of those different words that are getting in the way of being a blank canvas…. As you do this, experience the freedom (or perhaps the terror) of the blank canvas.

When an artist approaches a blank canvas, all that is possible is a single brushstroke at a time….
What splashes, splatters, or messes did you erase?

Now what will YOU choose to paint?
soul signature

(excerpt taken from p. 179-180, 182)





Writing Process Blog Tour

7 04 2014

Module One cover

Texas writer and illustrator Mark Mitchell, known for his wonderful watercolors and many picture books, invited me to join this writing process blog tour. I’ve been lucky to be part of his online class Make your Splashes – Make your Marks. Mark wrote about his own process on his blog.

I’m also fascinated by the history of this blog tour, which spans continents, so I traced my invitation back a few links. Akiko White, the winner of the 2014 Tomie dePaola award for her illustrations made out of cake (yes, they’re awesome and delicious), tagged Mark. And she had been tagged by Australian award-winning author Christopher Cheng, who put together the wonderful PAL slide show for SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, and I appreciated the opportunity to participate in that.

Now after that lengthy introduction, I’m ready to answer the questions they posed:

1.) What are you working on?

WANTED: Book 4

WANTED: Book 4

At the moment, I’m finishing two books to turn in to editors this week. I’m working on the final chapters of Grace Avenged, Book 4 in the WANTED series, which will be coming out in December 2014 in the UK. Book 1, Grace and the Guiltless, released in February in the UK. (Books 3 and 4 will be coming out there in May and August.) The series will also release in the US with different covers beginning in August under Capstone’s new Switch Press imprint.

Final edits are also due this week on Cyber Self-Defense, a book I’m cowriting with international cybercrime expert Alexis Moore. That will be coming out in October 2014 from Lyon’s Press.

Cyber Self Defense book cover

October 2014

I’m also editing a picture book to turn in to my agent as well as developing a chapter book series while taking a class with Hillary Homzie and Mira Reisberg. And Alexis Moore and I are working on two more nonfiction books together along with a picture books series.

Of course, all these projects are only the tip of the iceberg. I also have a quite a few other projects in various stages of completion and many more submerged underwater in my subconscious. And that doesn’t count all the books I’m editing for others.

2.) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write in so many different genres that it’s hard to compare my work to others’. I have picture books (fiction and nonfiction), chapter books, middle grade novels, YA novels and nonfiction, NA nonfiction, adult nonfiction and fiction, along with short stories and articles for both children and adults. I’ve also had a few illustration projects and hope to do more of those. I’m in my 3rd year in Hollins University’s Picture Book Writing & Illustrating MFA.

Book 1 ~ US edition

Book 1 ~ US edition

3.) Why do I write what I do?

The main reason I write is because I love to learn and explore new things. I get excited about sharing my knowledge with others, and writing is a wonderful way to do that. When I come across a new idea, I ask: Who would be interested in this? The answer is almost always a different age group, which is why I’ve written for so many age levels.

I also believe that writing is a form of self-discovery; it helps us understand not only ourselves, but also others. It keeps us from taking things for granted, teaches us to look beneath the surface, and reveals the beauty in everything.

Writing also keeps alive the wonder and awe of childhood. To me, there’s something magical about creating new worlds and peopling them with characters I’ve imagined. Children still believe in that magic, so I’m most drawn to writing for them.

4.) How does my writing (or writing with pictures/illustrating) process work?

I used to wait for the muse to strike, but now I’ve learned that if you sit down expecting to write, the words will come. With all my deadlines (5 books in the past 7 months), I don’t have the luxury of waiting for words to come, so right before I go to bed, I read over the notes of what I plan to write the next day or I pose a problem if I’m not sure what should come next. Then I go to sleep and let my mind arrange the words or solve the problem. When I wake up, I write. My best writing is usually done right after waking or late at night (from 1-3 a.m. is my sweet spot).

I’ve trained myself that the minute I sit down to write, my mind is ready. I don’t need rituals or to spend time agonizing over what I should write, I just do it. Not everything that goes down on the page is good writing, but you can’t revise what isn’t there.

I’m halfway between a pantser and a plotter. I need more of an outline for nonfiction, but when I write fiction, my process almost always begins with a vision of a story opening and a dramatic ending. I usually also see key scenes in my head. I jot them down or just remember them. I use those as mile markers along the way. Then when I write, I record whatever scene is most vivid in my mind. I don’t think I’ve ever written a book linearly. I write bits and pieces here and there.

Once I have all the key scenes down, I work on tying them together. I usually dread this part of the process because I always go in thinking I’ll have to put in boring transitions, but almost always my characters surprise me by doing something unexpected, so it ends up being more fun than I anticipated.

Another important piece of my process is running my work by my critique groups. I find letting others read my work and offer their opinions and suggestions greatly improves anything I write.

I’ve tagged three awesome writers who will share their processes on their blogs next Monday:

Joan Holub‘s new trucky, constructiony picture book is Mighty Dads (illustrated by James Dean, creator of Pete the Cat). Her picture book Little Red Writing (illustrated by Melissa Sweet) garnered 3 starred reviews and spots on many Best Of lists. She co-authors 3 series with Suzanne Williams: Goddess Girls, Grimmtastic Girls, and Heroes In Training. Find out more about Joan and all her other fantastic books at her website and on Facebook and Twitter.

Mighty Dads book trailer

 

Judith Tewes resides in small town Alberta and is a commercial writer writing under several pen names. MY SOON-TO-BE SEX LIFE launches with Bloomsbury Spark in June. As Judith Graves she has a recent release cowritten with Dawn Dalton, KILLER’S INSTINCT, a monster-hunter tale with loads of action.

 
 

 

Army wife, author, and new mom Tracy E. Banghart has an MA in Publishing and an obsession with cupcakes. She has written and published three novels for young adults; her latest, SHATTERED VEIL, a sci-fi adventure, just received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and 4.5 stars from IndieReader.

 

shattered veil front





Spells & Spies

10 03 2014

photo PatriceI love it when I see authors using creativity to hook readers. Had to smile at Patrice Lyle’s preparations for her Skype visit with a school.

With her Spells & Spies sign in the background and crystal ball in hand, she was ready to discuss her tween mystery in the Poison Ivy series, The Case of the Invisible Witch. Other props included items from her paranormal collection (the figure she used to inspire the series) and surprise visits from two of her three cats.

She also gave the schools a pdf with discussion questions (authored by Mary Helen Sheriff, along with some great Common Core activities)and writing prompts as well as tidbits of interesting information about herself, such as the fact that her father was a detective and she used to snoop in his files. That’s how she learned so much about solving mysteries.

And just to clarify, the pink room is her writing room, not her daughter’s bedroom, as one student guessed.

Interested in a Skype visit with Patrice? You can contact her through her website. Learn more about her at her Leap Books author page or Twitter (@Patrice_Lyle).

Poison Ivy Cover

Poison Ivy Cover

ABOUT THE BOOK

Thirteen-year-old Tulip Bonnaire, Witch PI, runs Spells & Spies out of her dorm room at Poison Ivy Charm School, a school for polite witches and warlocks. She has only 72 hours to figure out her latest case, or her classmate, Missy, will never be seen again. Literally.

When Missy shows up in Tulip’s dorm room around midnight, she’s invisible. As in not even x-ray vision could spot her. The mean triplets who call themselves The Belles have cast an invisibility spell on poor Missy. But if Tulip can’t break the spell in 72 hours, Missy will remain invisible forever.

It’s a case Tulip can’t resist — between her mom’s annoying new boyfriend and her own secret crush at school, Tulip understands how much it stinks to feel invisible. Luckily for Tulip, her two best friends and her cute, techy guy friend help dig up clues on a case that turns out to be her freakiest one ever.





Little Dead Riding Hood Cover Reveal

3 03 2014

Little Dead Riding Hood cover

BLURB

You know things are going to suck when you’re the new kid. But when you’re the new kid and a vampire… well, it bites!

Unlike most kids, Scarlet Small’s problems go far beyond just trying to fit in. She would settle for a normal life, but being twelve years old for an entire century is a real pain in the neck. Plus, her appetite for security guards, house pets and bloody toms (tomato juice) is out of control. So in order to keep their vampire-secret, her parents, Mort and Drac, resort to moving for the hundredth time, despite Scarlet being dead-set against it. Things couldn’t be worse at her new school, either. Not only does she have a strange skeleton-girl as a classmate, but a smelly werewolf is intent on revealing her secret. When she meets Granny—who fills her with cookies, goodies, and treats, and seems to understand her more than anyone—she’s sure things will be different. But with a fork-stabbing incident, a cherry pie massacre, and a town full of crazy people, Scarlet’s O-positive she’ll never live to see another undead day.

Not even her Vampire Rule Book can save her from the mess she’s in. Why can’t she ever just follow the rules?

Add Little Dead Riding Hood to your Goodreads to-read list here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20860725-little-dead-riding-hood

GIVEAWAY –

To celebrate the cover for Little Dead Riding Hood, Amie is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. The more ways you share, the more points you earn!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

BIO –Borst Family (7)

Amie Borst is a PAL member of SCBWI. She believes in Unicorns, uses glitter whenever the opportunity arises, accessories in pink and eats too much chocolate.

Bethanie Borst is a spunky 13 year old who loves archery, long bike rides and studying edible plant-life.

Little Dead Riding Hood is their second book in the Scarily Ever Laughter series. Their first book, Cinderskella, released in October 2013 and has been nominated for three awards.

You can find Amie on Twitter, Pinterest, From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors, and blog. Together they can be found on Facebook.





Are Facebook Friends Real?

27 02 2014

It’s always wondhearterful to make online connections, especially when you discover kindred spirits. And I’ve been doing that a lot lately. In fact sometimes I feel closer to my virtual friends than I do to some of my real ones. I wonder what that says about our culture when we feel a sense of genuine connection with people we’ve never met.

Many people talk about being addicted to Facebook or Twitter. But it’s not truly an addiction to social media; it’s the connection we crave. Meeting online, reading about others’ triumphs or sadnesses, and having others congratulate or commiserate with us is a large part of our daily lives. For those of us who are introverts, it’s the perfect amount of contact. We can seek out people when we need a bit of closeness, but don’t have to stay for extended lengths of time in awkward social situations. We can take the time to form our thoughts before we post, or if we blurt out something we wish we hadn’t, we can delete it or hope it rapidly will be replaced by another post of greater interest.

We don’t have to listen to bores or braggarts or people whose views we disagree with; we can ignore their posts or even unfriend them. And we can expand our social circles to include people who interest us. We can eavesdrop on conversations, or even offer an opinion on a stranger’s life. In fact, it’s easy to make friends by offering advice or comments on posts by people you’ve never met. It’s also much easier to stay friends when you have time to think or react to someone’s provoking comments. You can gather your thoughts, plan your response, and write a meaningful response. No face-to-face confrontations, angry words, or hurt feelings.

Online you can be ten or eighty, but no one knows unless you post a picture. Even that can be of your best self or a Photoshopped glamour shot. It’s even possible to post a picture of a random stranger. No one meeting you online will know. You can be any race or gender, any size or shape, any socioeconomic group. You can hide handicaps, blemishes, or personality flaws. It’s the perfect place to be the ideal self you always dreamed of, or to try out new personas. To be brave when you’re normally cowardly, to be a jokster if you’re normally sober, to be wild if you’re normally staid, or even to show your true self if you usually hide it. The possibilities are endless.

In fact I’m wondering if we’ll eventually stop meeting in person anymore. Everything from work to schooling to banking to grocery shopping can all be done online. We can order anything we need and have it delivered. The only thing we need now is a way to give 3-D hugs. Hmmm… maybe one of those new 3-D printers will solve that problem.





Fearless Writing

12 01 2014

susan gabriel bookA new book from Susan Gabriel, Fearless Writing, may be just the encouragement you need. Susan’s mission is to “encourage and inspire people to follow their dreams, tell their stories and keep two feet on the ground while they do it.”  She’s collected writing wisdom for the past 17 years. And she knows “Writing is the hardest job you’ll ever love.” According to Susan, “Women, especially, struggle with claiming their voices and getting their work out into the world. (Like I did, initially.) Or they struggle with simply starting to live a more creative life. This book is dedicated to them.” Whether you are new to writing or an experienced veteran, when the going gets tough, Fearless Writing can provide “inspiration, writing tips and encouragement to get going again and keep going.” Peppered with inspiring quotes from famous people, the essays are guaranteed to inspire you to develop your creativity. Thoughts from great writers such as Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Willa Cather, Sue Monk Kidd, Alice Walker, Nora Ephron, Jane Austen, Maya Angelou, and Alice Munro will help to jumpstart your writing. Susan also offers Fearless Writing Workshops and coaches authors in person as well as providing editorial services. SusanGabrielABOUT THE AUTHOR Susan Gabriel grew up in the archetypal American South, playing in the shade of mimosa trees and catching lightning bugs as the heat waned on long summer evenings. She lived on banana popsicles and when not in school, spent most days exploring the woods around her home or on her red Schwinn bicycle. In Charleston, SC Susan was a professional flutist playing at the famous Piccolo Spoleto festival, as well as many private gigs in historic homes and sailboats. Susan completed a degree in counseling, in part to understand the wide array of characters in her Appalachian gene pool, and became a marriage and family therapist. She was the founder of the Women’s Center in Charleston, South Carolina, which still provides services to women over twenty years after its inception. In 1994, Susan answered the long-time call to writing, closed her successful counseling practice, and moved with her daughters to Asheville, North Carolina. She simplified her life and took part-time jobs to focus the main portion of her day on writing. She worked at a copy shop, made gourmet dog biscuits, cashiered at a home-improvement mega store, and did freelance editing. Susan’s first novel, Seeking Sara Summers, the transformative story of a mid-life woman, was published in 2008. Her second novel, The Secret Sense of Wildflower, the story of a precocious adolescent grieving for her father in 1941 Tennessee, was published in 2012 and earned a starred review from Kirkus Reviews.





Believe in Yourself

3 11 2013

Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right. ~ Henry Ford





Confidence, Love, and Dreams

3 10 2013

Be the person you were meant to be. Succeed beyond your wildest dreams. Walk into your future with confidence. Follow your heart. Believe you can do it, and you can.

 

“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” ~Van Gogh





Creating the Life You Want

3 09 2013

Open your heart and mind to looking at life in a new way: