Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Which Cover? YOU CHOOSE!!!

So my amazing new writing BFF, A.E. Murphy, is redesigning the covers for her first series and it came down to two covers that she couldn't make up her mind about. And I was like, Alex, why don't we let the fans decide? Her response: Super cool idea! So here we are, for your voting pleasure!

And for your trouble A.E. Murphy is also giving away TEN copies of ALL OF HER BOOKS (that's SIX BOOKS, including her Amazon Top 100 Ranked BROKEN series).

Have you read the Broken series, because oh my gosh, these books are amazing. So amazing, that's how I met Alex in the first place, I just contacted her on Twitter out of the blue and was like, I'm in love with your books, I'd love to blurb you!!!!! The first one in her Broken serious, BROKEN, is FREE on Amazon, iTunes, Smashwords, Kobo, so even if you don't win the giveaway, go grab it now!

So here are the options of cover for the first book of her previous series, A Little Bit of Crazy. And make sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below the poll!

Here's the summary of the book:

An arranged marriage. Unconventional? Hell yeah. A little medieval? Sure. 

But when it's my dying father's last wish for me to marry his right hand man, someone he knows will treat me well, what's a girl to do? Well... I'll say yes obviously. I've always had a little bit of crazy in me. Everyone who knows me knows this fact.

Sure I don't love James, but love was never part of the bargain and we both knew that going into this. I think. He's a little bit charming and completely gorgeous, and I'm a little bit selfish, self-centered and definitely shallow. It's doomed to fail, but that's never stopped me before.

This is our story, it has: a Channing Tatum poster, a long lost brother, a bony blonde and a promiscuous female friend, plus a hot shot star and the one and only sinus blocker Sylvia. Now throw in a crazy lady and a man who would do anything for her (meaning myself and James) and you have our story. Or the first part of it. 

Part one of two. Part two is now released. A Little Bit of Us. 

Little Bits is a character series. After book two you will be introduced to a new character and story.

So, without further ado, 
which cover do you think best fits this story? 
Help Alex choose!

Which Is Your Favorite Cover?
pollcode.com free polls 

Here are the SIX E-Books of A.E. Murphy's we're giving away today!

(Amazon Top 100 Ranked Series!)


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Monday, May 5, 2014

Fly A Little Higher Blog Tour

This post is part of the Fly a Little Higher Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with hundreds of bloggers raising awareness and giving hope to those with cancer.

To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE!

Hi all, I’m reposting a blog I wrote last March, because I think it says the most about how I connected personally to Zach and his story and the light that was shining through him and just the difficulty of finding meaning in suffering. I’ll post a review of Laura’s amazing book soon, because I was immeasurably moved by reading it, but for the blog tour I thought this was appropriate.

--- Post from March 6, 2013 ----

It’s hard to read about sad things. I’ve been sick for twelve years, and lately, life has ground to a halt as the illness hits a new all-time low. Yet while I lie here struggling so much with being too sick to even be on the computer or watch TV, spending weeks doing nothing else except lying quietly in bed listening to audiobooks in the dark or simply lying still without anything to distract me for hours, I think often of my friend’s daughter’s best friend, Zach Sobiech, who is dying of cancer with only a few months left to live (his amazing song Clouds has gone viral in recent months).

I’ve never met Zach personally, so maybe it’s not my place to talk about him, but I’ll say a little anyway. When I’m this sick, it’s all a little groggy and the days pass in a kind of fog, which feels like a blessing. Then I think, these months which I want to pass quickly so I can start feeling better again, Zach must want so badly to pass slowly.

Through this protracted downturn in my own illness, I’ve come back to God after half a decade away. It’s a fairly quiet affair, coming back to faith. I’m tender-stepped and unsure. I’m not sure if I can believe that there is purpose in this, in my being bedbound or Zach dying. I’m sure there will be lots of people trying to come up with suggestions of how there is God’s purpose in it all. I have no clue if there is purpose in suffering or if that it is simply the way life works—some prospering and others sick and dying, apparently with no direction or design. I get mad at least when people talk confidently about God’s purpose in situations of suffering not their own.

So being with God in these long months of enforced quietness and solitude is less about finding any purpose in it all, and more about feeling the blanket of peace that comes occasionally in spite of all the hurt and anger and pain. Over and over in the Bible, God promises that, “I am with you.” I also like that Jesus’ path on earth was one of great suffering. It makes him more relatable. It makes me think that even down here in the shadows and depths, there is hope. For me at least, being with God is that joy that comes sometimes in the silence. Seemingly out of nowhere, when by all accounts I should be miserable, comes peace and even more strange, a strong sense of thanksgiving. No clear voice or sense of divine interaction or direction, just peace and joy where, according to circumstances, there should be none.

In Buddhism, there is a practice where, instead of breathing in peace and breathing out all the negative feelings to cleanse yourself, you do the opposite. You breathe in all the pain and suffering, both your own and that of others, holding it in for a moment, and then breathing out peace and loving-kindness to all who are connected by suffering. Sometimes when you hold it all inside, it’s such an overwhelming flood of hurt you think you can’t bear it. But then breathing out grace and peace and loving-kindness to the afflicted, to others and myself, feels like it changes something. Even if it’s only me that’s transformed. It’s where compassion is born.

I think this is the same principle when praying for others. I don’t know if prayers for others do anything other than help us grow in compassion and connect to God. I don’t know if they change anything externally, or actually affect the person we are praying for. Still, I think of Zach and everyone who loves him and I pray for them. I pray they have long moments of peace amid everything else in the upcoming months, and afterwards.

I think of the angels supposedly in heaven who do nothing but pray and praise God all day long without ceasing. I think of the centuries of monks and nuns from many faiths spending their lives in silence and prayer, and then I think, maybe that is the purpose of my own sickness— so that I can live a life of prayer and meditation. I remember I used to think that sounded terribly BORING, but now it begins to make more sense to me. Because as much as I might get angry of other people trying to deduce God’s purpose in suffering, I guess deep inside, I still want there to be one.

Anyway, listen to this amazing song by Zach and my friend’s daughter, Sammy. Every time I watch it, compassion wells up and spills over into tears.

Sometimes the video doesn't show up, so here's the link directly to YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvSYZHmhIAM

Fly a Little Higher is written by Laura Sobiech, the mother of Zach Sobiech. Laura spent the last three years walking the road of cancer with her teenage son, Zach, and blogging about their battle with the disease. Zach wrote the song “Clouds” which hit #1 on iTunes the same week he passed away in May 2013.
Grab your copy HERE.          

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Heather's Got Her Mother Effing ZING Back

Babes, I've got the ZING back.
ZING, I tell you. Mother EFFING ZING.

Ahem. Let me tell you where the zing went. The zing went down the rabbit hole of crazy ass migraine associated vertigo-ville of foggy fogs-land where I lived for a couple years until, like Alice, I took some magic effing pills (in my case, migraine medicine), and suddenly, like mother EFFING MAGIC---

------MAGIC, I'm telling you my babies, MAGIC, I feel like my old self again.

See the thing I hadn't realized down in rabbit hole fogsville was that in addition to the crazy ass vertigo and then oh yeah the crazy ass migraines that were a new addition this year was that there was some side effects of cognitive funk going on that was fogging up me old brain space so that I was this foggy narrow ass shell of the cool punk chick I used to be.

I mean, sure, I was still occasionally hella cool, but the ZING, the sparky creative kick, the up all night dreamin' of wicked, wicked things I wanted to do to my characters, all the happy sparkly dreaming in the shower and THINKING about stuff and nothing in particular, the letting my mind day-dream and niggle over thoughts and catty-wompus over this and that and all the things in between and back and forth to my characters and their situations and then back again to the wicked, heart-breaking things I wanted to put them through---that had been gone. And it's back. Oh my God, it's back. I didn't even realize it was gone and now it's back! And it's not just the writing, kids. It's life I feel the ZING for again. Oh God, it's like a rush of fresh air breathing back into my lungs again. It's like I'm back in my own skin again.

Um, moral of this story? Praise the heavens for a good neurologist.

And look forward, my babies, because I've got one freaking good mother effin' book in the burners for ya'll!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Love Affair

I'm sorry YA lit, I've been cheating on you. It's been going on for awhile now. Almost six months. You know I love you, but then I spent a few nights with this book:

The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
And it blew my socks off. I can think of few other books that have rocked me as much as this did--a book that's so unique you are immediately inspired to think and write in a new way, to tell new kinds of stories. It's historical fiction, but it's based around a heart-rending romance, without descending quite into the 'historical romance' genre of bodice ripping and so forth. It was a romance that felt real instead of idealized and the author let bad things happen to the characters and the ending feels fought for (it's a trilogy, so it takes awhile to get there, but it's there all the same!).

Which then led me to dally with another series I heard was awesome in similar ways and I'm shocked that I never read until now:

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
More giantly epic romance, and horrible things happening to the characters, and intense struggles and love that both surprises and redeems. I'm so stoked to hear this is being made into a TV series, because, YES. Seeing Jaime Fraser for hours and hours on the small screen spells out a whole lot of YAY. Cannot wait. So then after I read a few of these books I was in the mood to just devour absolutely every amazing book like this I could find.
Which led me to the fabulous Jennifer Donnelly and the trilogy below. I'd read her YA books, but I really enjoyed these.


And then I couldn't find any more perfect books like these melding historical struggle, love stories (the kind that may involve tragedy but don't leave you there), and realism. I'm still looking. Please, if you know any, send them my way because I WANT MORE. Which of course leads to the next logical decision, well, if you're a writer anyway--to write my own epic historical saga. I'm about halfway through an ugly first draft right now

People ask me where inspiration for stories comes from, and here it is--the question that starts my process:

What am I currently absolutely obsessed with?

Sometimes it's been the storytelling of Doctor Who. Or Jane Eyre. Usually it's books or TV shows that I can't stop thinking about, that get me obsessive, that make me feel intensely. And then I take that buzzing bug of inspiration as a catalyst and start plot, plot, plotting away. Halfway through the draft, I'm still obsessed with the story, which is always a good sign. It takes over like a fever. I'm thinking about the story almost non-stop all throughout the day and it keeps me up a night. Sometimes I think the key to writing (at least the kind of writing you love) is obsession.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Year of Obsessive Reading

My son was reading some Guinness book world records to me from a book he got at the library (complete with showing disgusting pictures of the guy who can pull his eyelids out the furthest and the woman who has grown her nails so long they curl over and over).

And I think: I totally get weird personal obsessions like that. Other people look at you and go, dude, that’s weird to be so committed to something so random, and wow-ee, look at you getting recognition for your weird random sh**. But to the person with the weird random sh**, it feels very significant. For me this year, it’s been books. Okay, books and obsessive amounts of writing.

I’ve read over 200 books this year so far since January. This month, September, I’ve read a book every single day of the month. I realized I was doing it by about September 15th, and the I was like, well hell, why don’t I keep it up and read a book every day for the whole month. I chart it all on an excel spreadsheet. I get excited when I pass big barriers like 100, 150, 200. Nobody in the world could care less about my weird obsessive reading compulsion, but it brings me an inordinate amount of glee, on top of the usual book loving glee I get by reading the actual book ;)

It takes me about 4-5 hours to read a 300-400 page book. I've read NA, Christian Fiction, Historical Romance, Historical Fiction, research books about Romania, lol, basically everything except YA. And I’ve written about a thousand pages this year (on 7 different projects). Both of these weird obsessions this year are highly unusual (most years I read about 60-80 bks and write only one 300 pager). Basically, lately all I do is write, read books, and binge on Project Runway. Oh and eat dinner with my family. That’s it. I hear other people talk about, you know, the things they do in their lives, and I'm like...um, I read this really good book and am learning how to better control narrative distance better in my own writing...

This probably all makes more sense if I put it in context—I’ve been basically couch-bound all year because of my chronic illness. Nobody does sedentary busy-body like me. I should hold the Guinness world record for best couch-bound overachiever ;) Mainly I just feel like this year has been weird, really, really weird. I've actually been really happy throughout it, but yeah. Weird! I doubt I'll ever read this many books in a year ever again, but since I'm in it, like the lady with the crazy unwieldly nails, I'm committed. Lets see how many books I can break before December 31st!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

LETTERS TO NOWHERE by Julie Cross - Review & Excerpt!

Author: Julie Cross
Title: Letters To Nowhere
Pages: 360
Publication Date: August 1st 2013
Publisher: Julie Cross
Genre: Mature Young Adult Contemporary
Her family may be shattered, but her dreams aren't...
From the International Bestselling Author of the Tempest series
A Mature YA contemporary set in the tough world of Elite Gymnastics. Grief, love and pursuing dreams are at the forefront of this emotionally powerful coming-of-age story.
Seventeen year old Karen Campbell has just lost both her parents in a tragic car accident. Grief stricken and alone, her gymnastics coach opens his home to Karen, providing her a place to live while she continues to train, working toward a spot on the world championship team.
Coach Bentley’s only child, seventeen year old Jordan is good-looking and charming enough to scare away a girl like Karen—someone who has spent ten times more hours on balance beams and uneven bars than talking or even thinking about boys. But the two teens share a special connection almost immediately. It turns out Jordan has a tragic past of his own, grief buried for years.
As Karen’s gymnastics career soars, her nightmares and visions of the horrible accident grow in strength. She can only avoid facing her grief for so long before it begins to surface and ultimately spin out of control in a very dangerous way. Can discovering love and lust (simultaneously) help with the grieving process or will it only provide a temporary distraction while waiting for reality to hit full force.
Karen’s world has just collapsed with her parents’ sudden death in a car crash. Left reeling and attempting to pick up the pieces, Karen moves into her gymnastic coach’s house since, other than an absentee grandmother, he’s the closest thing to family Karen has left. Everything Karen though was important—training with complete discipline, competing as an elite gymnast, getting into the college she wants—suddenly all pales into comparison of the realities a fickle world where some people live and other people die.
And then Karen meets Jordan, Coach Bennet’s son. Jordan is the complete opposite of Karen—formerly an elite gymnast himself, he’s left the sport. He’s rebellious, gets into trouble, and shockingly, he understands Karen at this vulnerable point in her life in a way that no one else does.
Living under the same roof creates some hilarious situations as the two get to know each other and spend more and more time in each other’s company. In a world that no longer makes sense, suddenly something doesJordan, and what Karen feels when she’s with him.
The characters are all so perfectly drawn. Jordan feels like such a teenage guy. Karen’s path through the cycles of grief are pitch perfect. The backdrop of the world of gymnastics is absolutely fascinating, and I just loved everything about this book.
Sweepingly romantic, raw, and completely real, Letters to Nowhere is a must read of 2013.

“So,” one of the girls said to me, “you must be a freshman, right? I thought you looked familiar.
I downed about two-thirds of my drink and placed it on a table. That would be just enough alcohol to loosen my tongue, but not enough to tip off Bentley when we got back home.
“How do you know Jordan?” the other girl asked.
“Well . . . we’re . . . uh,” I stammered.
They both nodded, looking impressed. “That’s so great you guys are together,” one girl said, holding her hand to her heart as if Jordan was a close relative or something. “I’ve been telling Jordan forever that he needed to get a girlfriend and quit messing around.”
I coughed loudly, nearly choking on the alcohol still burning my throat from thirty seconds ago.
“Right . . . well, it’s only been two dates. It’s not like we’re living together.”
“Two dates is progress for him,” the girl on my left said, rolling her eyes. “Trust me on that.”
“Thanks, guys,” I heard Jordan say. He moved right behind me, resting his hands lightly on my shoulders. “Why don’t you just tell Karen everything you know about me?”
“Whatever,” they said together.
Jordan steered me in the other direction, where Tony and a couple other guys were standing. “Sorry about that.”
“This is our second date, by the way.”
“So our first date was buying tampons? That kind
of sucks.”



I live in central Illinois with my wonderful husband and three kids currently between the ages of 7 and 12 (the kids not the husband). My writing journey began in May, 2009 with a short story in a notebook.
 Within a year, I had written seven (some good some God-awful) young adult novels. Not being a college graduate and having spent the previous fifteen years teaching gymnastics and working as a YMCA Program Director for Recreational Gymnastics, professional writing wasn't in my plans. Not even close. But ever since the day I started that short story, I haven't been able to stop. It was love at first sight.
 After about a year of writing, I had a three book deal with St. Martin's Press, and a film option with Summit Entertainment. Crazy, right? I know. It wasn't until August of 2011 that I quit working full time in order to be at home with my kids more and of course, write more. My young adult time travel debut novel, Tempest, released on January 17, 2012. The rest of my personal story remains unwritten.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Video Q&A From the Shutdown Release Party!

Want so see what I'm like IRL? Wish you could come to a signing but don't live in Minneapolis? Voila, problem solved: at my most recent signing, I had the hubby tape the Q&A session, for your viewing pleasure extraordinaire!