Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2016's Good Things

Y'all, we made it. 2016 was rough for a lot of people for a lot of reasons, but we stuck together and survived.

For just a few minutes, I want to ignore all of the nonsense that happened and focus on some of the good things. Because no matter how bad the year, there are still people who make you smile, events that make you cheer, and books that make you cry.

The good things from my 2016?
  • I published two books! Mark this one down in history, because I'm not sure it will ever happen again. It was a lot of work, but I'm so proud of Pieces of You and Me and All Laced Up, and so thrilled that I get to continue making my dream of being an author come true!

  • I got a new job! Same company, different position. It merges my love of writing with my teaching experience, and I love it!
  • I went to NYC again! The 2016 Writer's Digest Conference was a blast. I learned a lot, hung out with some awesome people, and solidified my love for the city.

  • I indulged my inner theater junkie. The theater is one of my favorite places, and I spent as much time there as possible! Some of the shows I saw include Curious Incident, The Lion King, Kinky Boots, Fun Home, Newsies, RENT, A Christmas Carol, and The Grinch. (AND I'M SEEING HAMILTON IN 2017 OMG.)

  • I also read some amazing books. It was impossible to choose just one "best book of 2016," so I cheated and choose several in different categories. (It's my blog; I get to make the rules, right?)
Best Overall

Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner -- This book made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think about it long after I finished reading.

Best Audiobook

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline -- This was a book that made me want to do nothing but go for long drives and walks so I had a reason to keep listening.

Best Contemporary YA

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saaed -- Unique, beautifully written, un-put-down-able.

Best SciFi YA

Purge by Kat Ellis -- This book was incredibly creatively plotted and well-executed. I adored spending time with these characters in this intense world.

There are so many other books I loved...Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown, The Bad Boy Bargain by Kendra Highley, This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp, Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson...let's just say 2017 has a lot to live up to in terms of good books, but I'm both hopeful for and optimistic about another good book year!

Are we ready for 2017? Maybe. Maybe not. But will there be good things next year? Absolutely. Let's go out and find them. Make them. We got this, y'all. See you in 2017.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Cover Reveal: Ruined in Retribution by Valia Lind

It's cover reveal day for Valia Lind's RUINED IN RETRIBUTION (Titanium Series: Book Three)!

Before I share the (awesome) cover with you, here's a little more about the book:

Gone. Gone. Gone.

For the past two months, it has taken all of Logan’s determination to just keep going.
Losing Tasia to Kallos Enterprises shattered his world, but he is not about to give up on what she had started.

Together with her family, Logan works to destroy the company that ruined their lives. The corporation is growing bigger and stronger by the minute, weaponizing the drug and selling it to the highest bidder. But that’s not the only hurdle to overcome. Logan’s past is catching up to him, and the time has come to pay. His family’s secrets are unraveling everything he has built for himself and now, Logan is fighting on multiple fronts.

Save Tasia. Destroy Kallos Enterprises. Stay alive.

Such a simple list, such an impossible mission.

Time is running out and Logan is left with one question: can he save them all?

Sounds exciting, right? Now check out the cover:

Love it! The book will be out December 7. You can pre-order it here and add it to Goodreads here.

If you haven't read the first book in the Titanium series...good news! It's FREE right now! You can get PIECES OF REVENGE here:

Happy reading!

Congratulations, Valia! Can't wait for December 7!

Friday, October 28, 2016

5 Unconventional NaNoWriMo Tips

I'm sad that I won't be a NaNoWriMo 2016 participant (more on that at the bottom of the post), but I am still a huge NaNo fan. I attempted and won three Novembers in a row. In fact, my first novel, Where You'll Find Me, started as a NaNo novel way back in 2010.

Even though I'm not participating, I wanted to share some tips that helped me in Novembers past. I'm staying away from the common-but-still-helpful tips (do word sprints, go to local write-ins, make sure the primary component of your bloodstream is coffee, etc.) and going for some unique ones. Hopefully there's something new here that will help you out!

1. Write your words as close to first thing in the morning as possible. Distractions and temptations and emergencies strike all day long. Reach your word count goal before they hit. Yes, this may involve getting up earlier than you need to or are used to. (I'm a regular participant in #5amwritersclub on Twitter if you'd like to join in!) It may involve writing on your lunch break at work. It's worth it. Still have time/motivation/energy to write at the end of the day? Bonus!

2. Have at least one 5K day by November 7. Let's be honest. There's probably going to be a day or two when you just can't write. When life gets in the way or you get stuck. If you write 5K words on at least one day before that happens, you can deal with life or recharge without worrying about your word count! I always use my first NaNo Saturday to get as far ahead as humanly possible.

3. Prepare for the mid-month slump. It happens. Usually right around November 15, when you're solidly in the 20K to 40K word range and wondering why you're doing this stupid thing anyway. Prepare for that slump now by getting yourself a mid-month treat. A new notebook or pen, a special writing snack, wine...whatever it is that you think will break you out of your slump. Get it now and hide it from yourself or give to a friend...a "break in case of emergency" kind of thing.  (And hang in there...I promise words 40K to 50K are much more fun!)

4. Keep a "to revise later" list. So you're writing chapter seven, but think of something you need to change back in chapter two. You probably know by now not to go back and change it right now. However, don't make yourself remember it, either. Chances are you'll forget about it, or you'll remember it, but it will be taking up precious brain space that could be used for coming up with new words and ideas. Instead, make yourself a "to revise later" document or notebook. Add notes to the list and keep writing. You'll know where to start with revisions in December!

5. Have a plan for Thanksgiving (and Gilmore Girls Day). If you're in the US, Thanksgiving is one of those days that can throw your NaNoWriMo progress for a loop. You might think you're going to write, but then your aunt wants to show you all 4,562 pictures form her summer vacation or you fall into a turkey coma. Make a realistic plan now. If you're taking the day off, which days are you going to up your word count to compensate? If you're going to write, when and where? Can you write on an airplane or in the car on the way to see relatives?

Similarly, have a plan for Gilmore Girls Day. (Yes, I'm assuming you're marathoning the Gilmore Girls revival. If you aren't, you should be. The writing is fantastic!) You have six full hours of Netflix to watch (and possibly some Black Friday shopping and another turkey coma to endure). If you write 417 words before each episode, you'll still meet your word count goal! Let the fast-talking girls inspire fast-typing fingers.

So why am I not doing NaNo this year? I'm currently working on the next book in the "Breakaway" series. I started it in mid-October, already have more than 10K words, and can't really take the month of November off from that to work on something else. But I will be with you in spirit and on Twitter, probably writing at least 1,667 words most days, and cheering you on from the sidelines! Happy novel writing!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

All Laced Up Release Week Roundup!

All Laced Up is out in the world! Thank you so much to everyone who has read it, shared it, reviewed it, and made me feel like the luckiest author in the world! I appreciate it!

Want to learn more about Pierce and Lia's story and maybe win a copy? Here are some links for you:

Goodreads Giveaway (ends 10/18/2016)

Blog Tour Giveaway (ends 10/21/2016)

Read the first chapter!

Read a teaser excerpt!

Read an interview with the main character, Pierce Miller!

Author Kat Ellis interviewed me about All Laced Up!

Check out my blog post about being a figure skater

And of course, you can find All Laced Up on Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, etc.!

Thank you again for all of the release week love! I hope you enjoy reading Pierce and Lia's story!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

5 Facts from a Former Figure Skater

In addition to being a writer, I'm also a former figure skater. Skating tights, hair in a bun, spandex dresses...yep. That was me! My experiences played a big part in the writing of my most recent novel, All Laced Up.

My own figure skates...all laced up!
To get in the skating mood, I thought I'd share five facts about figure skating. Stay tuned to the last one to see a clip of my synchronized skating team (yes, it's a thing) on the ice!
Me, circa 2004. (We skated to music from
Pirates of the Caribbean, so I think
I was holding a "sword.")
  1. Hockey player/figure skater romances happen in real life, too. From Kate and Doug in The Cutting Edge (toe pick!) to Pierce and Lia in All Laced Up, there are many romances featuring a hockey player and a figure skater. Truth is, those romances happen in real life, too. Skaters and hockey players share ice arenas and open skate time and sometimes even locker rooms. It's only natural. Plus, it helps that hockey boys are swoony.
  2. Skating jumps are as much fun as they look. Like Lia from All Laced Up, jumps are my favorite element. I especially love flips and loops. When you pick up speed and launch yourself into the air, it really does feel like flying. Learning and mastering a new jump is incredibly rewarding.
  3. Tip: never borrow a figure skater’s gloves. It’s cold in ice rinks. Between that and all the spinning, noses run. Skating dresses don’t have pockets for tissues. ‘Nuff said.
  4. Figure skaters do fall. A lot. Especially when learning a new jump. Landing one-footed on a sheet of ice on a 1/4-inch wide blade is a challenge. But you learn how to fall the “right” way, and it doesn’t always hurt. The one time I landed directly on my knee and had to be carried off the ice by a complete stranger? Yeah. That was the "wrong" way. That one hurt.
  5. Synchronized skating is a thing. Yes, it’s like synchronized swimming except the water is frozen. I was on my university’s team. We were relatively terrible (the highest we placed in any competition was second place…and there were only two teams), but it was a lot of fun. Here’s a video clip from one of our performances (I can't remember which one is me...I'm probably near one of the ends because that's where short people go!):

The team during the medal ceremony
Good times!

Want more figure skating, including a figure skater/hockey player romance? You can find All Laced Up on Goodreads, Amazon, and B&N, out October 10, 2016!

You can also enter to win a signed copy of all three of my books HERE!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Giveaway: Signed Copy of All Three of My Books!

This time next week, my third novel will be out in the world! (For the record, that's not a sentence I ever thought I would type. Publishing one book was a dream so big I wasn't sure it would ever happen. Publishing three? I. Am. Lucky. And excited!)

My newest book is a figure skating/hockey contemporary YA romance titled All Laced Up:

Everyone loves hockey superstar Pierce Miller. Everyone except Lia Bailey.

When the two are forced to teach a skating class to save the rink, Lia’s not sure she’ll survive the pressure of Nationals and Pierce’s ego. Not only can’t he remember her name, he signed her bottle of water like she was one of his groupies. Ugh.

But if there’s one thing Lia knows better than figure skating, it’s hockey. Hoping to take his ego down a notch—or seven—she logs into his team website under an anonymous name to give him pointers on his less-than-stellar playing.

Turns out, Pierce isn’t arrogant at all. And they have a lot in common. Too bad he’s falling for the anonymous girl online. No matter how much fun they’re starting to have in real life, she’s afraid he’s going to choose fake-Lia over the real one...

Disclaimer: This book contains a swoony hockey player (and his equally swoony friends!), one-too-many social media accounts, kisses that’ll melt ice, and a secret identity that might not be so secret after all...

As a former figure skater (who definitely crushed on a hockey player or two or seven), I had a blast writing this one!

To celebrate the release, I'm giving one person a signed copy of all three of my books: Where You'll Find Me, Pieces of You and Me, and All Laced Up!

This giveaway is US only and ends 10/9/16. Here's the Rafflecopter to enter...

Update: This giveaway is now over! Congratulations to Brookie C!

Good luck!

Friday, September 30, 2016

5 Reasons Why I Love Writing Contemporary YA Romance

Contemporary YA romance. I love reading it, and I adore writing it. Second chance romance, boy next door, friends to lovers, enemies to lovers...bring all of it on!

To celebrate Entangled Teen Crush's epic $0.99 sale, here are five reasons why I love writing contemporary YA romance!

The boys are swoony. Let's be real. You can't get away with using the word "swoony" to describe anyone much older than 21. But contemporary YA romance boys? SWOONY. And so much fun to write.

You can forget adulting (but nothing is "too adult"). I've never written an adult book, but if I did, I imagine it would be pretty boring. Taxes, blah blah blah. Paying bills, blah blah blah. Doing laundry, blah blah blah.

Teens have so many more exciting things to write about! First loves! College choices! Prom!

But I also love that no "adult" topics are off-limits. Romance, sex, heartbreak, drinking, mental health issues, etc. are all things teens deal with. Therefore, they can and should be included, just from a uniquely teenage perspective.

First kisses. Need I say more?

Teenagers. Are. Awesome. And I don't just mean characters. I mean the teens I meet when I'm speaking or doing a signing or hanging out on Twitter. They are sweet and real and make me laugh and sometimes make me cry and always give the best book recommendations. They're infinitely cooler than the grown-ups I hang out with.

The highs are really high (and the lows are really low). There's a quote from the move 17 Again that I absolutely love:

The first part of that quote is so true. Every breakup, every snub from your crush, every time he picks the other girl...it all feels like the end of the world. But while those lows are low, the highs are also high. Every kiss, every sweet text, every touch is euphoric.

Those extremes are the biggest reason why I write YA, and specifically why I write contemporary YA romance. I can't imagine writing anything else.

Looking for a new contemporary YA romance read? Check out PIECES OF YOU AND ME, on sale for $0.99 through 10/2/16!