07/28/14
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LIES I TOLD ARC Winners!

Goodreads_CoverBig congrats to Hazehra D. and Lori C. who won the LIES I TOLD ARC giveaway. Check your email, guys!

Thanks so much to everyone who participated and helped to spread the word about the book. Your support means the world to me. I’ll be doing tons more giveaways in the future, so stay tuned!

<3

07/24/14
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Don’t Forget to Look Up

Love this reminder to live in the moment instead of via our screens (even though I adore you guys — you know I do!).

<3

 

07/21/14
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Focus Creates Expansion

Focus_Expansion_QuoteSometimes the Universe is so quiet. Other times, it speaks so loudly we can’t ignore it. A couple of weeks ago I read an article written by a man about to divorce his wife. The article was centered around things he wished he’d known earlier in his marriage. The fact that I clicked through at all is a bit strange; I don’t read many relationship-related articles (I haven’t been in one for six years) nor divorce-related ones (mine is well behind me, as is any angst related to it). But for some reason I found myself reading anyway. It was all kind of basic stuff about appreciating someone and not sweating the small stuff. Then I came to this (I’m paraphrasing, because I don’t remember where I saw it);

That which you focus on expands.

I felt the beginnings of an epiphany, but I didn’t realize how much it affected me until I realized, two weeks later, that I was still thinking about it. About how true it is, in relationships, yes, but in life, too. Then a few days ago, I saw this  on the Abraham-Hicks page;

“Continuing to tell stories of shortage only continues to contradict your desire for abundance, and you cannot have it both ways: You cannot focus upon unwanted and receive wanted… ”

And I immediately thought; “expansion.”

It’s kind of crazy that I never thought about this before now. But of course, it makes sense. It’s like looking out the window and seeing dew on the grass, then being surprised when it’s wet and cold on your bare feet. Of course, the things we focus on expand — in relationship, careers, love and life. Of course, we contradict our desire for abundance when we focus on shortage. We don’t necessarily feel like we’re focusing on the negative, but if we’re thinking about the things we don’t have, about what everyone else has, in terms of money or love or recognition or freedom or health, the energy we need to manifest those things for ourselves is diverted into the unproductive task of dissatisfaction. And dissatisfaction, my friends, is a full time job.

It all keys into something I deeply believe; that the universe has everything we need in abundance. There is no shortage of love or money or recognition, no finite “pot” that must be split 7 billion ways (although we can certainly make the argument that the current distribution doesn’t always seem fair, but that’s a different discussion). The trick, then, is to live it. To expand not just our thoughts, but ourselves. I almost typed “Easier said than done” here, but that’s not really true. It’s actually easier to focus on the things that are available to us. Which is everything. I truly believe that! Do you?

07/13/14
62

LIES I TOLD ARC Giveaway

Goodreads_CoverLast week I revealed the awesome cover for my next book, LIES I TOLD (HarperCollins April 2015). There are precious few advance copies of this baby in the world right now, but to celebrate, I’m going to give out TWO of them here. Also, the ending has been tweaked slightly in the finished version, so you’ll be getting my first ending, pre-tweak.

;)

 

There are tons of ways to gain entries — from adding the book to your Goodreads TBR list to tweeting a link to this contest to following me on Facebook. The list goes on! Do as many or as few things as you like. Winner will be chosen by Random Number Generator after contest ends on July 28th. Contest open to US and Canadian residents or anyone with a US or Canadian mailing address.

So excited to share it with you!

What if, after spending a lifetime deceiving everyone around you, you discovered the biggest lies were the ones you’ve told yourself?

Grace Fontaine has everything: beauty, money, confidence, and the perfect family.

But it’s all a lie.

Grace has been adopted into a family of thieves who con affluent people out of money, jewelry, art, and anything else of value. Grace has never had any difficulty pulling off a job, but when things start to go wrong on the Fontaines’ biggest heist yet, Grace finds herself breaking more and more of the rules designed to keep her from getting caught…including the most important one of all: never fall for your mark.

Perfect for fans of Ally Carter, Cecily von Ziegesar, and Gail Carriger, this thrilling, high-stakes novel deftly explores the roles of identity and loyalty while offering a window into the world of the rich and fabulous.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

07/9/14
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Building a Reservoir of Calm Through Meditation

I am quite often asked about my meditation practice. I tell myself it’s because I talk about it a lot (and Share stuff about meditation quite frequently), but it might also be because all the people who knew me Before Meditation wonder what happened to the high-strung, neurotic, moody, bag of stress that used to be me.

I’m not super proud when I look back on the way I used to be and the way I used to handle things. The combination of Type-A personality and mild Bi-Polar Disorder certainly didn’t do me any favors, but neither did I have any real coping mechanism for dealing with runaway feelings, stress, anxiety, or anything other than the smooth sailing that is only about 1% of real life. Anything out of the norm hit me like a wave, either in a set that seemed never-ending, or one at a time, out of the blue, a giant wall of rogue emotion. I was knocked down, “spin-cycled”, as we used to say in Southern California where I grew up. It could take me days, weeks, months, to touch solid ground again, and I’d be left flailing in the water, panicking and gasping for breath, expecting to drown at any minute.

I can’t even remember how I became interested in meditation. It might have been through a friend (a practicing Buddhist) who had a lovely, calm demeanor and a meditation corner in her home, but the turning point, the point at which it became more than just an abstract idea, was the summer I decided to take advantage of the free “Open Sit” at a local Buddhist center on Thursday nights. Every Thursday at 7pm I’d take the kids to the center where we would sit for a half an hour (they gave us a brief introduction to meditation, sitting postures, etc. prior to our first time), do calming exercises similar to Tai Chi (or take a silent walk through the grounds), and then listen to a “Dharma Talk”, a half hour presentation on some tenet of Buddhism. At the end, we’d sit for another ten minutes. I left feeling refreshed, calm, cleansed.

At first, I wanted to climb out of my own skin. I didn’t LIKE sitting alone with myself. It was scary and dark, and sometimes I’d even feel the clutch of panic. But little by little, I began to relish those silent moments with myself. Sometimes, I would even end my session feeling like it wasn’t enough, like I needed more time. At one of our earliest sessions, one of the other participants, a mother from New Jersey who drove up every Thursday for the Open Sit, said to me, “It’s wonderful that you’re here. You’ll be surprised how much will change in your family because of this one thing you are doing.” She was so, so right. By the end of the summer, I was hooked, and even my kids seemed to mellow.

I can’t really explain why meditation makes such a difference. One metaphor I like is that water must be still to have clarity. Throw in a rock, and all you see are ripples. Let it settle, and you can finally see what’s really there. With the mind, we can’t really think clearly or see things as they are when life conspires to make ripples 24/7. Meditation is a way to calm the waters so we can see and think clearly. The really amazing thing is how this sense of calm seeped into my life even when I wasn’t meditating. Now I understand that we all have this reservoir inside us that we draw upon in times of stress or worry or fear or hurt. When the reservoir is dry, we’re just clawing at the dirt, looking for something that isn’t there to get us through. Meditation fills the reservoir, so that even when I’m not meditating, my reactions to everything are calmer. I’m drawing from the reservoir of stillness that builds up through meditating, and it makes all the difference.

Since I get so many emails asking how to meditate, I wanted to share some basic guidelines for those of you who are curious, because meditation is sometimes seen as a mystery, and often those who are curious are embarrassed to ask what seems like a very basic question; how do I DO it? The truth is, the mechanics are easy! It’s something anyone can do anywhere. It requires no special equipment (although a good cushion is helpful), is completely free of charge, and requires no special knowledge (though you may find yourself seeking out knowledge as meditation becomes a bigger part of your life).

The first thing you need is a place to sit. Any quiet place will do, although it is helpful to have a wall to face, especially in the beginning. It may feel strange at first to face a wall, but it begins to feel a bit symbolic, a way to turn your back on worldly cares while you allow yourself some silent space in your own mind. You’ll get used to it! And you can can always make exceptions to sit outside, in a group of people, etc. It doesn’t have to be fancy. This is where I sit;

My_Meditation_Corner

I use the towel under one of my knees for comfort, but some forms of meditation recommend draping it over one’s lap. This is nice to do in the winter if it’s chilly (optimal temperature for meditating is 60-62 degrees, so some meditation centers keep their rooms cool — you can bring a shall or blanket if you like!).

 

 

 

 

Next, you need something to sit on. I use a zafu, which is a standard meditation cushion and platform combo that looks like this;

zafu

 

 

 

 

 

Basically, you sit on the round part and fold your legs, resting your knees on the platform like so;

Zafu_Sitting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alternatively, some people find this position more comfortable;

Zafu_Sitting_2

It doesn’t really matter. You can sit any way that you feel comfortable, as long as your spine is straight (critical to good breathing). If you have bad knees or a bad back, you can even sit upright in a chair. Whatever works! If you find that you aren’t comfortable, FIND ANOTHER CUSHION OR ANOTHER PLACE TO SIT. Nothing will make you avoid meditation like being physically uncomfortable. I love my zafu because the round cushion is filled with buckwheat that can be altered (by removing some of it) according to preference. I like mine very full. I have bad knees, and the firm zafu helps keep me up off the platform high enough that my knees don’t bother me. You can also stack more than one cushion if that’s what you need to sit comfortably.

Once you’re sitting, you can place your hands in any number of positions. A common hand position is with the backs of the hand resting on the knees, palms turned upright, thumb and index finger touching, like this;

meditation_position1

 

 

 

 

 

Chan meditation advocates this hand position;

meditation_Position_chan

You can also simply rest your palms facedown, so they are kind of “cupping” your knees. Again, what matters is that you are comfortable.

Once you are seated comfortably, you want to set some kind of timer. Anything will do, but I use an app called Insight Timer on my phone. It allows me to customize the settings, and even allows me to split up my sit into sections (in case you want to take a break partway through or change your meditation from, say, a mindfulness meditation to a compassion meditation). I have mine set to ring three gentle bells at the beginning of my sit and three gentle bells at the end.

I started with five minutes, expanded to eight, then ten, then fifteen, etc. Five minutes isn’t long, but even that much was a challenge in the beginning. We’re not accustomed to silence, and we’re REALLY not accustomed to being alone in our own minds. Your mind may rebel. Beginning slowly will allow you to build up to more time. You can sit once a day or three times a day. It’s totally up to you, but I found attaching my meditation time to a daily event helped me make it a habit, so I meditate every morning before I shower, and I build that time into my “getting ready time”. Sometimes I add a session or two during the day or before bed if I feel that I need or want it. Leaving my cushion out and ready at all times makes it easy to sit spontaneously.

A few basic tips; 1) breathe in and out only through your nose, and 2) don’t worry about “emptying” your mind. This last one is virtually impossible, and it will only frustrate you if you try. I’m going to give you a couple backs techniques to get started.

The most common meditation technique, and the cornerstone to any meditation practice (and to LIFE), is MINDFULNESS MEDITATION. Mindfulness refers to being completely present in the current moment, and this is often achieved in meditation by focusing on one’s breath. A good way to begin is to be conscious of the feel of your breath entering and leaving your nose, the cool air under your nostrils when you inhale, the warm air when you exhale. Eventually you may be able to enter a state of mindfulness, of being full present in your physical body, without focusing on breath, but that’s a good place to start. Your mind will probably wander. That’s okay. Acknowledge your thoughts and let them go. This is sometimes facilitated by a conscious “letting go thought” such as, “I am thinking about work. I am letting go.” I use the very simple, gentle phrase, “Bring it back” when my mind wanders. It’s a cue to myself to bring my attention back to my breath (or my compassion meditation or whatever else I’m doing that day). Whatever happens, don’t punish yourself or force anything. Just sit, gently bringing your focus back to your breathing when it wanders (it will).

One thing I’ve used in MINDFULNESS MEDITATION is to imagine I’m a tree on the bank of a large river. I can feel the wind in my branches and see things drifting by in the water (sometimes these things take on the form of my troubles), but I am calm and unmoving as they pass me by. Another technique is to imagine your chest as a hollow stalk of bamboo. When you breathe, the air moves unencumbered from your nose to your stomach and back out again. In, out. Choose a technique that works for you and feel free to mix it up. It might take a little trial and error to find the things you like best, and that’s okay.

GUIDED MEDITATION is a good way to get started if you aren’t comfortable sitting in absolute silence. In GUIDED MEDITATION, you listen as someone guides you through healing or positive or reflective thoughts, often by using nature scenes as a visual. You can find GUIDED MEDITATIONS for everything (healing, calm, creativity, etc.) on iTunes and pretty much everywhere else. I think guided meditations are a good place to begin meditating, but I encourage you not to rely on them too long. Mindfulness is the goal.

FOCUSED MEDITATION refers to an infinite number of methods which focus your attention on a certain thing. COMPASSION MEDITATION is a form of meditation in which you breathe in through the nose (some practitioners actually tell you to visualize breathing with your heart when doing COMPASSION MEDITATION), and exhale compassionate thoughts. Your compassion might be directed at an individual or individuals, or it might be directed toward animals or the world at large. Studies have proven that there are tangible health benefits for people who practice COMPASSION MEDITATION for fifteen minutes a day. I think it’s lovely that sending good thoughts out into the universe can actually make YOU healthier, don’t you?

FOCUSED MEDITATION can take on almost any form. Sometimes if I’m feeling blocked creatively, I’ll inhale all the creative, positive energy of the universe and imagine exhaling all the doubt and fear that make writing hard. If I’m worried about something like money or my kids, I’ll inhale peace and calm and exhale my worry. If I’m feeling ill, I’ll inhale health and healing and exhale whatever is making me sick. Sometimes visualizing helps, and I’ll imagine all the good things as a gold light and all the things I’m trying to get rid of as icky gray smoke. If you’re not in the mood to do MINDFULNESS MEDITATION (or if your mind is particularly jumpy due to a specific problem), just inhale what you need (the Universe has it in abundance) and exhale what is harming you or holding you back.

When your time is up, take a few minutes to breathe and bring yourself back to the real world. At our meditation center they say, “First move mind, then move body.” You can rub you neck or rotate your body to loosen up before finishing if you want. Then bring your hands together like you’re praying and give a little bow. This is a kind of “thank you” or “Namaste” to the Universe.

That’s really all there is to it. I wish I’d found it sooner. I think back to all the hours of my life I spent worried or stressed or anxious and all the times I reacted in a negative or defensive way to someone, and I wish I could have a Do Over. But regret is a wasted emotion, so I focus instead on being grateful that I found it when I did, and that I’ve been able to introduce my kids (and others) to it in a way that may save them some suffering. Now when a waves comes along, threatening to bowl me over, I know the secret to getting through it is as simple as letting go and floating on the surface. It may carry me a few feet left or right, but when it passes, I’m still there. And the shore is always in site.

07/7/14
7

Lies I Told Cover!

Here it is!!! The cover for LIES I TOLD, which releases in April 2015.

Goodreads_Cover

I absolutely love it. It has all of the mystery and feeling I wanted in the cover, and it sets the mood perfectly for Grace Fontaine, her many secrets, and Playa Hermosa, the seaside town where all of Grace’s marker come due.

This book marks a new chapter in my writing career; it’s the first YA book I’ve published that has no elements of the supernatural or paranormal. Those of you who read the Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy know that I’m fascinated with the psychological underpinnings of identity, relationships, and the things we believe about ourselves and others. This book (and it’s sequel PROMISES I MADE) is no exception, and I hope you’ll be as fascinated as I am with Grace and the other residents of Playa Hermosa. I’ll be giving away a couple of my precious ARCS very, very soon, so stay tuned. In the meantime, here’s the summary for LIES I TOLD.

What if, after spending a lifetime deceiving everyone around you, you discovered the biggest lies were the ones you’ve told yourself?

Grace Fontaine has everything: beauty, money, confidence, and the perfect family.

But it’s all a lie.

Grace has been adopted into a family of thieves who con affluent people out of money, jewelry, art, and anything else of value. Grace has never had any difficulty pulling off a job, but when things start to go wrong on the Fontaines’ biggest heist yet, Grace finds herself breaking more and more of the rules designed to keep her from getting caught…including the most important one of all: never fall for your mark.

Perfect for fans of Ally Carter, Cecily von Ziegesar, and Gail Carriger, this thrilling, high-stakes novel deftly explores the roles of identity and loyalty while offering a window into the world of the rich and fabulous.

06/19/14
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Vegetarian Curried Potatoes with Green Beans and Chickpeas

Curried_PotatoesTweaked this recipe from from Vegetarian Times to make my own Curried Potatoes with Green Beans and Chickpeas, and it was AH-mazing! It was also cheap, fast, and easy, and can easily be adjusted for the vegetables you have on hand.

Here’s the original recipe and the changes I made;

Curried Potatoes with Cauliflower and Peas

Serves 6

30 minutes or fewer

To make a vegan version of this vegetable curry, substitute vegetable oil for the ghee. Serve with rice and Cucumber Raita.
  • 2 tsp. ghee or melted butter
  • 1 10-oz. pkg. diced onions, or 1 large onion, chopped (2 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (4 tsp.)
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 ½ tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. brown mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp. ground turmeric
  • 6 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into ½-inch pieces (1½ lb.)
  • 1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces (1½ lb.)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed

1. Heat ghee in pressure cooker over medium heat. Add onions, and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until softened. Stir in garlic, ginger, curry powder, cumin, mustard seeds, and turmeric, and sauté 2 minutes. Add potatoes, cauliflower, sugar, and ½ cup water.

2. Close pressure cooker, and bring up to high pressure. Cook 5 minutes.

3. Release pressure with quick-release button, or transfer pressure cooker to sink, and run cool water over rim to release pressure.

4. Stir peas into cauliflower mixture, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Changes as follows;

I don’t have a pressure cooker, so I cooked everything in a big skillet, including the potatoes. They took a little longer than five minutes to cook through, but it was fine.

I doubled the amount of curry powder (I like a strong curry flavor) and water (to account for the cooking of the potatoes).

I used green peans in place of the peas (didn’t have any!) and cauliflower (which doesn’t have a lot of nutritional value) and added chickpeas at the end for added protein. I also used Russet potatoes since that’s what I had on hand.

I salted liberally at the end, adding a little at a time until it tasted right.

Other than these changes, the dish was wonderful. I agree that it would be good served cold, too, as a kind of Curried Potato Salad, and I also think the spice mixture would be good as a sauté for vegetables to serve over rice or quinoa.

A winner! Teenagers loved it, too.

06/17/14
4

Write Like a Motherfucker

Those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter probably know that I’ve been reading Tiny Beautiful Things, a collection of letters and advice from the Dear Sugar column on Rumpus.com. I came to hear about the book after reading WILD by Cheryl Strayed. It was one of my very favorite books in 2012, and when I went hunting for more of Cheryl’s work, I came across this little gem. Apparently, Cheryl was the anonymous advisor called Dear Sugar, and her heartfelt, shockingly honest and authentic responses to letters about everything from love to infidelity to cross-dressing to forgiveness  have struck a chord with readers everywhere.

I didn’t buy the book until recently. I just didn’t really see myself as the advice-column-reading type, and especially not in book form, where I feared all the advice would blur together as a homogenous, trite instruction manual for life that would only work for people who were secretly robots without real feelings.

But the buzz continued to grow around the book (and a Kickstarter campaign to create an animated short), and I finally gave in and bought it. And you know what? Everyone is right. It’s lovely and beautiful and raw and real and frightening in its honesty.

One of my favorite letters came from a writer who couldn’t write. The person in question was so hung up on the writer she wanted to be — a writer who spoke to the deeply personal issues of women — that she wasn’t writing. Like, at all. And Sugar’s advice was pretty simple;

“So write, Elissa Bassist. Not like a girl. Not like a boy. Write like a motherfucker.”

Unbeknownst to me (am I the only one who still writes “unbeknownst”?), the “Write like a motherfucker” refrain is a bit of a rallying cry for ink slingers everywhere (I have no idea if it originated here or somewhere else — perhaps a reader can enlighten me). There’s even a coffee mug (which I intend to purchase for myself asap).

See?

write_like_a_mofo_mugAnyway, It struck a chord, but at first, I wasn’t sure why. And it got me thinking; what does it mean to write like a motherfucker?

The phrase conjured something vicseral in me. A feeling that nothing but the words mattered. That you put your head down and you don’t think too much about it and you don’t talk too much about it either. You just write. You get the words down and then you just keep going.

Why does this seem like an epiphany? Isn’t that what we writers do? The answer (at least for me, it seems) is a lot less clear.

I used to write like a motherfucker. I didn’t have an agent or an editor. My then-husband wouldn’t even read my stuff. I wrote from 9pm to 3am every night and then got up at 6am to get my kids to school. I thought about my book in the shower, when I was trying to sleep, when I was driving. I didn’t know anything about genre, about trend, about brand. I needed an escape. Writing was my heroin. I shot up every chance I got and fell into my chair in front of the computer in a glassy-eyed stupor with nothing but tea, coffee and Dove dark chocolate to sustain me. And I didn’t care. I was happy. Because I was writing like a motherfucker.

Things have been different since I sold the Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy in 2007. Not only for me, but for the industry as a whole. Once seen as a fringe element to the children’s section, YA has come into its own as a publishing juggernaut, capable of selling millions of books and raking in hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office on film adaptations. Adult writers are proudly trying their hand at YA, and everyone from your grandmother to your co-workers are reading it.

But frankly, that all makes to harder to write like a motherfucker.

Advice abounds; write the book you want to read (great, except that doesn’t mean it will sell), don’t write to the market (great, except if editors really aren’t looking at fantasy, they really aren’t looking at fantasy, and while you may be the one in a million who gets through, it’s a gamble), don’t worry about genre (great, except every writer I know has a book that didn’t sell, not because the book wasn’t good, but because publishers didn’t know how to market it). It all sounds good. Hell, it all is good. But if you’re like me and you’re earning your living writing, if you’re like me and you are a single mother and the sole breadwinner for your family, you don’t have the luxury to take all of that advice. Sometimes you just have to SELL A BOOK. That’s the reality in an industry that still clings to its roots as a gentleman’s business, where only the wealthy or happily destitute could afford to write as a vocation. No one wants to say it, but for many of us, it’s a cold, hard fact that our choices about what to write next are informed by the fact that we need to sell another book, and not every book will sell, even after you’ve been published (unless you’re Stephen King or JK Rowling or Neil Gaiman or James Patterson).

All of which is hard to reconcile with the inspiring advice to write like a motherfucker. Even while I was trying to figure out what, precisely, the phrase means, I was energized.

“Write like a motherfucker?”

“Yes! That sounds awesome! I want to write like a motherfucker! Writing like a motherfucker is what’s been missing in my life!”

I can almost hear the Rocky theme playing in the background now. Or maybe Lose Yourself by Eminem.

But how to blend the practical parts of writing as a profession, as a long term career, with the single-minded focus necessary to write like a motherfucker? Is it possible to do both? To make choices based on your short- and long-term career goals and still write with the kind of passion and immersion and dedication and discipline that is writing like a motherfucker?

Yes. After a lot of thought, that’s my conclusion. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

To me, writing like a motherfucker means to be wholly focused and determined to write. Not just to write RIGHT NOW, but to keep writing. To write a hundred books, poems, essays, articles. Whatever it takes. To keep the act of writing and thinking about writing and loving writing and being determined TO WRITE as a focus, above fear and self-doubt and all of the other voices in our heads that keep us from writing like a motherfucker. Those voices don’t serve us in our quest. They only limit us, paralyze us.

Of course, decisions have to be made. Priorities have to be set. But most of the writers I know aren’t short on ideas — just the time to execute them, and sometimes, the knowledge that it’s the RIGHT idea at the right time. There will be front end brain work. This is when you aren’t writing like a motherfucker. You’re thinking like a human being, weighing your options, deciding whether to write the book of your heart NOW (you almost always should, if you’re lucky enough to have one at the moment) or put it off in favor of something your agent tells you had a better chance of selling. And for the record, a great agent is almost always right about these things (mine has been anyway).

But once you’ve let the wheels turn, once the dust has settled and you’ve decided, “THIS is what I’m going to write next!”, THEN it’s time to write like a motherfucker. Then there is no room for second guessing. No room for comparing your WIP to another book you love and/or hope to emulate. No room to agonize over every word, every comma.

Then it’s time to WRITE. Get the words down without censoring yourself. Trust yourself enough to believe that the words that flow from the truest part of yourself will resonate with readers. That they come from a place of such honesty and such authenticity that THEY ARE THE WORDS THAT ARE MEANT TO TAKE UP PRECIOUS SPACE ON THE PAPER. Stop thinking so hard about it. You can do that in revisions. Instead, let the story manifest without thought to the future, to who will be reading it, to whether your grandmother will be offended that you used “fuck” twenty-four times or your teenagers will be embarrassed that you wrote a smoking’ sex scene.

THAT is writing like a motherfucker. I need to do it more often. How about you?  Continue reading

04/4/14
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VOYA Loves THIS WICKED GAME

Big thanks to VOYA (one of my favorites) for the starred review of THIS WICKED GAME;

4Q 5P M J S
Zink, Michelle. This Wicked Game. Dial/Penguin, 2013. 368p. $17.99. 978-0-8037-3774-7.

Even though Claire Kincaid is a descendent of the notorious New Orleans voodoo queen Marie Laveau, she has no real interest in practicing the craft. Yet when strangers begin requesting ingredients known for their sinister properties from her parent’s voodoo shop, Claire becomes suspicious. With the help of other firstborns from eight historically powerful “Guild” families, Claire uncovers a plot that threatens to destroy them all.
Zink skillfully merges the mystique of old-world New Orleans with Claire’s present-day city—where a secretive network of families keeps the art of voodoo alive. This legendary setting provides a heavy tension and romance that is amplified by the secretive relationship between Claire and Alexandre Toussaint, another Guild firstborn. Claire loves Alex but insists on secrecy; she knows that Alex’s family will find her wanting since she does not practice the craft, something she avoids largely because she believes that, despite her lineage, she has no real inherent power. But when a group of rogue voodoo practitioners seeks to work the deadly “Cold Spell” and Guild elders refuse to take a stand, the torch must pass to Claire’s generation. Readers will root for the firstborns and for Claire as she discovers that she may be the key to saving the Guild, and they will relate to her feelings of inadequacy as she fights to garner enough self-confidence to overcome her doubts. Those who avoid historical works but are fans of paranormal mystery with some historical references, like Garcia and Stohl’s The Caster Chronicles, will enjoy Zink’s latest offering.—Erin E. Forson.

Woo-hoo!

03/21/14
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Wicked Tainted Winners!

And now to announce the winners of the Wicked Tainted Giveaway…

Amy O. and Missy B., come on down!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Amy is our first place winner and Missy is our second place winner. I’ll be sending an email to each of you along with my congratulations on winning some awesome prizes.

Thanks to everyone who entered!