Black Flowers, White Lies

4 10 2016

bfwl_releaseblitz
Today we’re celebrating the release of Yvonne Ventresca’s latest novel with a special giveaway. Be sure to enter in the Rafflecopter below to win. Doesn’t this look intriguing? Be sure to read about Yvonne’s path to publication. Sometimes stories take a long time and a lot of rejections before the magic happens. Kudos to Yvonne for being willing to revise and rewrite.

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The Evolution of Black Flowers, White Lies

By Yvonne Ventresca

Black Flowers, White Lies started as a middle grade mystery about a daughter searching for her mother who recently disappeared. The story was set in Hoboken, New Jersey, where Emma lived and worked in their family-owned bookstore. The premise: Emma was reluctantly psychic, but she needed to use her abilities to rescue her mother, even if she didn’t quite believe in the supernatural.

Over the years, I submitted versions of the story without success, writing a nonfiction biography in the interim. I continued to revise the novel based on feedback from my critique group and from workshopping the story at multiple conferences. I eventually abandoned the psychic angle, making it more of a haunting instead, and I made the cause of the mother’s disappearance less obvious. But despite the many improvements, it still didn’t sell. Some editors questioned the plot. Some questioned the voice. “While the voice is clearly teen, the adventure is middle grade,” one editor said.

After 60+ rejections, I didn’t know how to fix the novel and lost the enthusiasm to try. I put it aside and started something new. With Pandemic, I moved more definitively into the young adult world, in voice, in concept, and in length. After I finished and submitted it, I reread the previous story and realized it was not meant to be a middle grade mystery. Creating Pandemic allowed me to see the novel’s potential as a YA thriller.

Sky Pony Press acquired Pandemic, and the sale bolstered my confidence. I opened a new document and started from scratch. The story remained set in Hoboken, and her mother still owned a bookstore, but Emma got a fresh beginning as Ella. I decided that instead of being reluctant, Ella adamantly believes in ghosts. The mother is no longer missing or divorced—I started earlier in time so that she remarries and goes on her honeymoon, leaving Ella with her new stepsibling. One of my original characters, a charismatic stepsister, became a stepbrother instead. This resulted in another major rewrite, but sparked some creative changes.

In this new version, I focused on the relationship between Ella and her stepbrother, a belief in her father’s spirit, and unexplainable events that make Ella question her perception of reality. I finally found her voice and the heart of the story. Instead of rescuing her mother, the way I originally planned, Ella needs to rescue herself. Over nine years, Black Flowers, White Lies transformed into a journey of strength and self-belief, for Ella as a character and for me as a writer.

 

blackflowerswhitelies_finalcoverABOUT BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES

Her father died before she was born, but Ella Benton knows they have a supernatural connection. Since her mother discourages these beliefs, Ella keeps her cemetery visits secret. But she may not be the only one with secrets. Ella’s mother might be lying about how Dad died sixteen years ago. Newfound evidence points to his death in a psychiatric hospital, not as a result of a tragic car accident as her mother always claimed. After a lifetime of just the two of them, Mom suddenly feels like a stranger.

When a handprint much like the one Ella left on her father’s tombstone mysteriously appears on the bathroom mirror, at first she wonders if Dad is warning her of danger as he did once before. If it’s not a warning, could her new too-good-to-be-true boyfriend be responsible for the strange occurrences? Or maybe it’s the grieving building superintendent whose dead daughter strongly resembles Ella? As the unexplained events become more frequent and more sinister, Ella becomes terrified about who—or what—might harm her.

Soon the evidence points to someone else entirely: Ella herself. What if, like her father, she’s suffering from a breakdown? In this second novel from award-winning author Yvonne Ventresca, Ella desperately needs to find answers, no matter how disturbing the truth might be.

BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

yvonne-ventresca-photo-for-downloadABOUT YVONNE VENTRESCA:

Yvonne Ventresca’s latest young adult novel, BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES will be published by Sky Pony Press in October 2016.

Her debut YA novel, PANDEMIC, won a 2015 Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. In PANDEMIC, a teen struggles to survive not only a deadly outbreak and its real-life consequences, but also her own personal demons. Ventresca’s other works include the short story “Escape to Orange Blossom,” which was selected for the dystopian anthology PREP FOR DOOM, along with two nonfiction books, PUBLISHING (Careers for the 21st Century) and AVRIL LAVIGNE (People in the News).

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

GIVEAWAY

Prize pack includes a three panel rustic chalkboard with a $25 Amex gift card, a $25 Sephora gift card, and a signed copy of Black Flowers, White Lies.

Click on the link to enter:  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to Jen Halligan for hosting the book tour:

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Late to the Party

18 02 2015

Teeny Tiny WomanLife has been moving quickly since the beginning of 2015. Lots of great news to share, including finishing final revisions on the picture book app, THE TEENY TINY WOMAN (pic on left), I’m illustrating for ustyme, coming out in March 2015, and completing the last of the three YA nonfiction books, ANCIENT EGYPT, due out later this year. It will be part of the UXL World Eras series, along with the other two, IMPERIAL CHINA and WEST AFRICAN KINGDOMS, which are in the edits/copy edit stage.

I’m also excited to announce that I signed with agent Mary Sue Seymour of the Seymour Agency for my adult Amish novel, CHANGE OF HEART.

Seymour Agency

bom-cover-love-profanityIn other news, I received hardcover copies of LOVE & PROFANITY, coming out from Capstone in March. I’m excited to have a story in this anthology, along with this year’s Newbery winner, Kwame Alexander.

And the cover for Book 2 in the WANTED series also arrived. ARCs will follow later this month. Her Cold Revenge 9781630790073 webFor those of you who are eager to read the next installment of Grace’s story begun in Grace and the Guiltless, the saga continues in HER COLD REVENGE, coming out in August 2015. If you can’t wait that long to see what happens, I’ll be posting chapters on Wattpad, starting next week and leading up to the release date.

I also spent time at Kindling Words East, an awesome time of bonding with other authors, illustrators, and editors, followed by a writing retreat. As a follow-up to Kindling Words, I may have some thrilling news to announce later in the spring. And, lest you think my whole life revolves around books and book-related projects, I’m off to San Diego now for a week of sun and fun.

But the truth of it is… My life does revolve around books for the most part, and I love it.

This month is always a favorite for me because the Brown Bookshelf puts out an awesome list of authors. I usually try to give them a shout-out at the beginning of February (hence, the blog title). If you haven’t already been doing so, why not play catch-up and read the fabulous authors they have listed? It’s exciting to see so many friends’ names (and favorite authors) on the list. So while you’re snowed in, here’s a wonderful selection to choose from. 28dayslogoThe only thing that disappoints me is that this list only comes out once a year. Why confine celebrating all these excellent books to one month? Keep reading them all year long. And if these 28 aren’t enough, check out the lists from previous years. Enjoy!





Dreaming of a special romance?

9 02 2015

heartHere’s THE PERFECT ONE. From February 9 to 14, fourteen writers will embark on a heart-stopping blog tour that will hook readers up with great romantic reads and cool SWAG.

Grand Prize GIVEAWAY: one lucky winner will receive a free Kindle, as well as a $20 Amazon gift card. That’s a ton of heartbreaking reads… 😉

Who can resist a heartbreaker?

2015 TOUR ROSTER

Participating Authors:

Eileen Cook: Remember (Simon Pulse, 2015)
D.G. DriverPassing Notes (Fire and Ice, 2015)
Laurie J. Edwards: writing as Erin Johnson. WANTED series: Grace and the Guiltless (Switch Press, 2014); Her Cold Revenge (2015)
Janet Gurtler: The Truth About Us (Sourcebooks Fire, 2015)
Sara Hantz: Will The Real Abi Saunders Please Stand Up (Entangled Teen, 2014)
Brenda HiattStarfall (Dolphin Star Press, 2015)
Denise JadenForeign Exchange (Evernight Teen, 2014)
Jen McConnelHer Secret Inheritance (Bloomsbury Spark, 2014)
Judith TewesMy Soon to be Sex Life (Bloomsbury Spark, 2014)
Ashley PostonThe Sound of Us (Bloomsbury Spark, 2014)
Dawn IusAnne and Henry (Simon Pulse, 2015)
Shari GreenFollowing Chelsea (Evernight Teen, 2014)
Vanessa BarneveldThis is Your Afterlife (Bloomsbury Spark, 2014)
LS MurphyReaper (J Taylor Publishing, 2013), Pixelated (Bloomsbury Spark, 2015

Participating Bloggers:

Reading is My Treasure
YA Yeah! Yeah!
A Glass of Wine
Little Library Muse
Jennzah.dot.net
Tales of Yesterday
The Reader Bee
Words of Mystery

Click here for the THE GIVEAWAY!





A Trip to the Maine Coast

1 11 2014

marcia-promo-final-close-upTo celebrate the start of a new month, I’m welcoming another friend with a book release, Marcia Strykowski. Marcia’s second book, AMY’S CHOICE, debuts today, so I invited her to tell a bit about herself and give some tips to aspiring as well as experienced writers.

So glad you could join us, Marcia. I have plenty of questions, so I hope you’ll settle back with a cup of tea and enjoy a long visit.
amychoice_front-smaller
Where are you from and how has that and/or where you have lived/visited influenced your work? I grew up in Massachusetts, but often traveled to Maine and New Hampshire. Most of my stories reflect my love for New England. Amy’s Choice definitely shows your love of the coastline. 🙂

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Many things…from a ballerina to a puppeteer.

Marcia at 6

Marcia at age 6

When did you start writing? As a kid, I was always drawing little comic strips and making storybooks. And then in high school I was thrilled when they offered a new class called Children’s Literature. I also took creative writing classes whenever I could in college.

What advice do you wish you could give to your younger self? Don’t worry about the future, everything will fall into place. Or, as the old saying goes: Most of what you worry about will never happen. So very true!

What hobbies and interests do you have? I dabble in many things—mostly art, music, and crafts. For example, I love paper-cutting, such as wycinanki and scherenschnitte as the craft is called in Poland and Germany. Beautiful!
wycinankiRed - Copy

What made you write your novel? For Call Me Amy, strong memories of my grandparents’ home on the coast of Maine gave me a setting that needed a story. After that book was accepted for publication, there were still ideas I wanted to wrap up, so I continued to write her story in Amy’s Choice.

What is one thing you hope readers will take away from your book? To stand proud and be that special you and to know that everyone has a voice worth hearing.

Can you give us an idea of your writing process? Rather than outlining, I usually have a small story with a beginning and an end. From there I plump up all the middle chapters. I repeatedly polish until it’s a full-size manuscript. Unfortunately, I am not at all consistent with my writing schedule, rather, it comes in spurts with great gaps in between.

workspace 2 - Copy

Marcia’s writing space

Which authors have influenced your work? A collection of my favorite authors would include Harper Lee, L. M. Montgomery, Richard Peck, Katherine Paterson, M. M. Kaye, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Willa Cather.

Any tips for new writers? There is no one way to write. Many authors are long-winded and later they have to chop a lot of words. Others, like myself, write first drafts sparingly and then have go back in and plump everything up. Do what works for you.

Any tips for more experienced writers? Don’t give up and try not to submit your work until it’s as good as your favorite book.

Do you have any secrets/advice for dealing with rejection? It’s important not to take rejections personally. Writing is subjective and is really, after all, just ink on paper. Because someone doesn’t like your writing, it doesn’t mean they don’t like you.

What are you working on now? I’m working on a YA novel about a boy, Mateo, who lives in a big city and has a unique hobby. Hmm…can’t wait to find out what that hobby is!

If you had three wishes, what would you wish for? World peace, health, and food for all. 🙂

What super power do you wish you had? The ability to slow down time. Now that sounds like one I could use too.

Have you ever climbed into or out of a window? Definitely. Both. Both, huh? I won’t embarrass you by asking about the circumstances, but I must admit, I’m definitely curious.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you choose to go and why? Probably Scandinavia to find my roots. Ah, so that’s where your love of the sea came from as well. Will you find you’re descended from the Vikings, I wonder.

Did you experience anything new while researching your book? I attended a seal release at the University of New England. They have a Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center where they nurture orphaned baby harbor seals back to health and then when they’re strong enough, release them back to the ocean. Five pups who started out at about 15 pounds and now averaged 50 pounds were set free on a mild day in August. How wonderful to see the healthy pups swimming out to sea as nature intended.

seal four pic

Seals heading out to sea

Where can readers find out more about you?

Website/blog = http://www.marciastrykowski.com

Facebook = Marcia Strykowski

Twitter = MarciaStry

And here’s a blurb about Marcia’s latest book, Amy’s Choice, a sweet story that takes you back to the early ’70s,  followed by her booktrailer:

Amy’s freshman year starts with a new best friend, Cat, and a newfound confidence. But she misses her crush, Craig, who has gone to live with his aunt in Boston. Craig has promised to write, and Amy checks the mail daily, but to no avail. There are new adventures, even so. Cat’s brother, Ricky, seems interested in Amy, but is she interested in him? And a new friendship with Finn, the lighthouse keeper, who Amy discovers is a talented artist, keeps Amy and Cat busy as they arrange for him to exhibit his work. But things get complicated when Craig returns from Boston and Finn is accused of arson. There are more questions than answers for Amy as life becomes as turbulent as the cold and stormy ocean of her coastal Maine town. Ideal for preteens, this novel is the sequel to the critically acclaimed Call Me Amy and touches upon issues of friendship, boyfriend troubles, and the power of believing in oneself.

“Well-drawn, sympathetic characters and the developing spark between Amy and Craig combine to create a pleasant, satisfying read.”—Kirkus for Call Me Amy.





Hot Author, Cool Deal

13 08 2014
Judith Tewes Author

Judith Tewes

Jumping for joy that one of my friends has a new book out under her pen name, Judith Tewes. And she’s doing a Rafflecopter giveaway (scroll down for details). To celebrate, I invited her to my blog. I was planning to serve a cool glass of sweet tea to cool us off in the summer heat, but as you’ll see, Judith prefers the frigid weather of the north, so hot chocolate may be her beverage of choice. In spite of her preference for cold, Judith’s writing remains HOT, HOT, HOT. If you pick up her latest release from Bloomsbury, you’ll see what I mean (details below).

But first, I’ve asked Judith to tell us a little bit about herself so you can get to know her better.

How has where you’re from and/or where you have lived (or visited) influenced your work?

I’m the daughter of an army brat, so my family moved around quite a bit. We’ve lived across Canada, from coast to coast – Summerside, Prince Edward Island to Nanaimo, British Columbia. But I’ve spent most of my adult life in Alberta. We currently live in a small northern Alberta town…lots of forest, lakes, and wildlife, cold temperatures…and lots of snow.

I think that’s been the major influence on my writing. The cold. The snow. Every book I have published thus far is set in the late fall / winter. I even have a feature film project set in the dead of winter. Lol Fall and Winter are perfect seasons for paranormal stories or contemporary tales of finding yourself. Maybe it’s the added sense of isolation, or quiet, the extra challenge of trying to get the simplest task completed when your fingers are frozen, or the comfort of a hot mug of coffee on a cold afternoon – or – I just like to make my characters suffer on as many levels as possible. 😉

What sensory details do you surround yourself with while writing?

I always have music cranked or a movie playing in the background while I write. I respond to the tones, moods of the music or scene playing. My typing speed even picks up with faster paced songs. I’ve tried to write in absolute silence, and it just doesn’t work.

I do have playlists for certain projects – dark/ haunting tunes for my paranormal and lighter/ romantic/ angsty ballads for my contemporary.

However, the fact that I get up super early in the morning to write means I always have my earbuds in, so my blasting music doesn’t wake the entire house.

You manage to wear many different hats (screenwriting, asst. publisher, author with multiple pseudonyms, library tech, musician/ songwriter, etc. How do you balance your various roles and why/how are each of them important to you?

Balance is a constant struggle. Sometimes there are deadlines that take precedence, and everything else has to be put on hold until “mission accomplished,” but I’m usually able to divide up projects/ promotional tasks by day of the week or focus on a few things in the morning and others in the afternoon. The beauty of my day job (elementary school library technician) is that it relates to my publishing efforts.

My background as an author comes into play at the school where I’m often asked to do writing workshops for classes and makes it very easy for me to present to schools during author visits. I can switch hats – talk as an author, share tips with the teachers, talk shop with the library staff – and am familiar with most of the titles the students are reading, from picture books to young adult fiction. I’m lucky to have a career that compliments my passion and my art.

Oh, and I’m a firm believer in to-do lists.

How is your Judith Tewes’ release different from your other books?

Judith Tewes is the pen name for my edgy contemporary young adult and new adult fiction. Judith Graves is the name I use for my paranormals, so genre is the main difference and is the main reason I chose to write under different personas. All the better to market with. 😉

How are they similar?

Well, there’s winter. Lol. But also, across the board my characters are quirky and sarcastic. I love to write strong female lead characters with snarky attitudes that mask their vulnerability. And I can’t seem to resist throwing in some serious heat/ romance.

I know you’re a dog lover. Can you tell us what you like best about dogs? (Feel free to share pics & talk about how they came into your life & what they mean to you.)

Follow me on any social media site, and you’ll soon meet my crazy pups. I’m one of those fur-moms. lol My husband and I have three labs. Here they are below. Willow is our sweet yellow-lab female, and the boys are Higgins (chocolate), and Grimm (silver).dogs

Aww…

You know your question about balance? I’d say our dogs provide that the most for me. When I’m sitting too long at the computer, they’re nudging my elbow to be walked. When I’m mulling over a plot hole, they’re game for a round of fetch at the lake. When I’m celebrating the sale of a new project, they dance around the house along with me.

They keep me grounded, and my clothing accessorized with tri-coloured dog hair. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thanks so much for visiting, Judith and for sharing a bit of your life! It’s been great to have you.

And here are the details of Judith’s latest release from Bloomsbury Spark:

About My Soon-To-Be Sex Life: Charlie is down to her absolute. Total. Last. Resort.

Judith 500x500

Despite a thoroughly comprehensive list of potential cherry poppers, er…suitors, and careful plotting, Charlie is three weeks into her devirginzation campaign, still untouched, and getting desperate. In the movie of her life, this aspiring screenwriter is giving herself a PG, for please, get some.

Her project goes into freeze frame when her mom checks herself into rehab and packs Charlie off to live with her estranged, or just plain strange, grandfather, Monty. How is she supposed to get a date when she has to go pick up his Depends?

Enter Eric, a hot rehab grad on the road to redemption, and the only one who can make Charlie rethink her strategy. The more she gets to know him, the more convinced she becomes that is the one, and not just another to add to the list of people who will abandon her.

In this hilarious and heartbreaking story of one girl’s detoured road to womanhood, Charlie’s list develops a life of its own – right when she realizes there’s so much more to lose.
MSTBSL Final Cover

Book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21462279-my-soon-to-be-sex-life

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/My-Soon—Be-Sex-Life-ebook/dp/B00LL2VNBG/

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/my-soon-to-be-sex-life-judith-tewes/1119856111?ean=9781619635388

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/my-soon-to-be-sex-life/id894192283?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/my-soon-to-be-sex-life

Books-A-Million: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/My-Soon-Be-Sex-Life/Judith-Tewes/Q244464221?id=6059783024487

Here’s the book trailer:

Click on this link for

a Rafflecopter Giveaway

 

About Judith Tewes: Multi-published, award-winning author, screenwriter, and playwright, Judith Tewes resides in small town Alberta, where she: writes, sings, plays bass guitar in an all-woman band, walks her three crazy labs, and suspects she’s living the life of a superhero’s alias. A commercial writer writing under several pen names, Judith’s work includes: paranormal, steampunk, and contemporary young adult fiction, as well as thriller, horror, and dramatic comedies for the stage and screen.

 

Visit Judith here:

WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

Author Page

TWITTER

TUMBLR

PINTEREST

GOODREADS





Today’s Release Day for Grace Alone

8 05 2014
WANTED: Book 2 (UK edition)

I WANTED: Book 2 (UK edition)

I’m celebrating a book birthday today!

Grace Alone, Book 2 in the WANTED series, that I wrote as Erin Johnson released today in the UK. It’s available in the US on Amazon or from the publisher’s website, Curious Fox.

BLURB

To help track down the Guiltless Gang, Grace decides to become a bounty hunter, despite it being ‘no life for a woman’. Her first test is a criminal known as the Black Coat, who’s been preying on vulnerable women. She’s about to put a dangerous plan into action when Joe comes into her life again, showing her what life could be like if she let go of revenge. Then, as she struggles with her feelings, the Guiltless Gang appear tantalizingly close…

 

THE SERIES

YA series set in the Wild West…

After her family is slaughtered by outlaws, sixteen-year-old Grace Milton goes on a vendetta to capture the gang who did it. But once she meets a rugged range rider, she’s torn between revenge and love.

WANTED: Book 1 (UK edition)

WANTED: Book 1 (UK edition)

WANTED: Book 3 (UK edition)

WANTED: Book 3 (UK edition)

WANTED: Book 4 (UK edition)

WANTED: Book 4 (UK edition)

 

 

 

 

 
 

I’ll be signing copies of Book 1, Grace and the Guiltless (US edition with the cover below), at BEA on Friday, May 30 at 2 pm at the Capstone booth. Hope to see you there!

Grace and the Guiltless (US)

Book 1 WANTED (US edition)

 

 

 





New Release: Grace Alone

30 04 2014
WANTED: Book 2 (UK edition)

I WANTED: Book 2 (UK edition)

I’m celebrating a book birthday today!

Grace Alone, Book 2 in the WANTED series, that I wrote as Erin Johnson released today in the UK. It’s available in the US on Amazon or from the publisher’s website, Curious Fox.

BLURB

To help track down the Guiltless Gang, Grace decides to become a bounty hunter, despite it being ‘no life for a woman’. Her first test is a criminal known as the Black Coat, who’s been preying on vulnerable women. She’s about to put a dangerous plan into action when Joe comes into her life again, showing her what life could be like if she let go of revenge. Then, as she struggles with her feelings, the Guiltless Gang appear tantalizingly close…

 

THE SERIES

YA series set in the Wild West…

After her family is slaughtered by outlaws, sixteen-year-old Grace Milton goes on a vendetta to capture the gang who did it. But once she meets a rugged range rider, she’s torn between revenge and love.

WANTED: Book 1 (UK edition)

WANTED: Book 1 (UK edition)

WANTED: Book 3 (UK edition)

WANTED: Book 3 (UK edition)

WANTED: Book 4 (UK edition)

WANTED: Book 4 (UK edition)

 

 

 

 

I’ll be signing copies of Book 1, Grace and the Guiltless (US edition with the cover below), at BEA on Friday, May 30 at 2 pm at the Capstone booth. Hope to see you there!

Grace and the Guiltless (US)

Book 1 WANTED (US edition)