Monday, November 3, 2014

Finding Home Again

You remember when you moved away from home? Like for that very last time? Maybe you got your first job and moved into your own apartment. Or maybe you got married. Or maybe you left mom and dad and moved into a commune to grow special herbs. And then you went back home to visit, and you were like . . . Oh.


This place is, like, familiar and stuff. But. It doesn’t fit anymore.

I’ve felt this way a lot in my life. Maybe we all do. That whole growing thing, and all. But in particular, the last couple-three years, my life has experienced a tremendous amount of change. Like WHOA NELLY change. Truth is, I did not see myself here five years ago. I thought I’d have a book out by now, maybe more. I thought I’d still be a full time writer, like I was then, maybe editing some for extra cash, but I imagined that I’d spend most of my free non-writing time either with my kids or baking or preparing for the next holiday or birthday, as I’d done for probably forever.

I did not imagine that I’d be tired all the time, my eyes so grainy and strained, they constantly ache.

I did not imagine that I’d go nearly two years having read only like 1.25 books.

I did not imagine that I’d be working twelve to sixteen hours a day, every day, editing other people’s writing.

I did not imagine I'd experience X, Y, Z, and other traumatic things.

And I certainly did not imagine that I’d go nearly two years without writing anything new.

But I also didn’t imagine that I’d be happy.

For a while there, I was afraid I might not make it to today. Loss became this truly palpable thing. And I came to understand helplessness at its absolute most terrifying worst. Sometimes I had to make the conscious choice to just not let go.

And then I made a new choice, and I started stepping. As in, out of bed. I started stepping, as in, to get dressed. I started stepping, as in, to apply for jobs. And I kept stepping and stepping, in part because I had some pretty amazing people in my life who loved me and climbed down to hell beside me and encouraged me to keep stepping some more, thank god. Thank them. And it got better. And better some more. And even better.

Then one day, even though I knew things still could be better in a lot of ways, it dawned on me that I could not be much happier. I did not know happiness could feel this good. And I began to feel whole again, settling into myself. I was home.

And then something happened. I received an email informing me that I had been given a reading slot at the upcoming World Fantasy Convention.

And I was like . . . Oh . . .


I’m not a writer, people. I haven’t been a writer for a long time. This world is familiar, but I don’t fit anymore.

Yet again, I have returned to a place that I once called home. And there's such a longing to stay. But. Fear. Inadequacy. FEAR. I can't do this.

Except. My friends Brad Beaulieu and Derek Silver have graciously, kindly, lovingly agreed to read with me, so that I don't have to read alone.

We're there for you, Brad said. We'll fill the room with happy faces.

So. Okay then. Okay. Deep breath.

We're calling it: Sloshed and Sexy.

Because at least one of us will be downing a shot right before. In fact, all of you are invited to join us, drinks in hand. We'll be reading sex scenes so people will come. To the reading. We can all share a cigarette afterward.

So if you'll be at World Fantasy this year or in the vicinity, hope to see you there.

Friday, November 7, 10 PM, Arlington room.

And thus, I keep stepping and stepping. Finding home again.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Out Came Random Tolkien References and a Fabulous New Cover

So the response to my last post was kind of ... overwhelming. You know how when it's gray and rainy out for days and months and forever in a row, and it's the middle of December in the middle of hell and the sun will never come out again for as long as you live, and you will never, ever smile again because the world is a flame-retardant poopbag that has actually managed to catch fire and blaze like the deepest depths of Orodruin because of course? Well. You all extinguished the flame on the fiery poopbag, my friends--with your super offers for edit samples, and your tweets, and posts, and emails, and remarkable displays of kindness. Many thanks for that. I will soon track you all down individually and give you air kisses and virtual cheek squeezes.

*waves away the fading smoke to see you better*

The amazing thing about receiving kindness is that it sort of forces you to pause and wipe the ashes and dust from your lenses so you can view the world more clearly--and see that even though it's a fiery bag of crap sometimes, you don't have to look all that far to find a Samwise Gamgee cooking up some sausages and taters for you in the midst of the flaming shite. Besides the obvious benefits of receiving such help, the kindness is rejuvenating and utterly inspiring. And it makes me want to keep blogging. Weird, yeah?


I''ll take a tentative step towards blogging more regularly the easy way: with an announcement of a fabulous YA Mystery Romance and its gorrrrrgeous book cover, which happens to belong to my BFF and partner in crime and critiques and occasional glasses of Grey Goose (and sometimes sausages and taters). BEHOLD! I BRING YOU BEAUTY!

SCATTER by Michele Shaw

When you spend your whole life being invisible, being seen by the right person is worth giving up a few secrets ...

Ten. That’s the number of years seventeen-year-old CJ has been running from her father after witnessing her mother’s murder. And while she’s never been allowed out on Halloween, she’s good at being a ghost. With her real identity erased and no hope of staying put for long, she’s listed her chances for friendship, a first kiss, and college under “never gonna happen.”  

One. The number of people CJ can trust. That is until she and her aunt flee to yet another safe house where they find nothing is what they expected. Saddled with a nosy housemate she doesn’t want, entrance into a private school she can’t afford, and unexplained hostility from gorgeous classmate Boone, CJ is ready to move on. But she finds it isn’t so bad when her first-ever prospects for friendship and love slowly tempt her to step out of her secrets.

Zero. The probability that CJ can stay. With her father’s relentless drive to find her endangering anyone who dares to protect her, CJ must choose between her new life and doing what’s right, because the only thing worse than letting people go, is watching them die.

About the author: 
Michele Shaw is a young adult author, short story writer, poet, and editor who lives in the Midwest of the USA. She eats way too much candy while writing and snapping pictures of sunsets and has never met a dog she didn’t love. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter (@veertothewrite), and her website


How's that for a rad cover? Isn't it enticing? And I gotta tell you: I've read this book--read it actually when it was just a wee babe coming to life, and I loved it even back then. It's now a beautiful and fast-paced page-turner from Muse It Up Publishing. It's mystery. Love. Growing up. Thrills. And OMG OMG OMG I-CAN'T-READ-FAST-ENOUGH-BUT-DON'T-END-YET! Look it up, check it out, and put in your pre-order now on the Muse It Up website. (Seriously, it's an amazing price, too). And then find Michele on Twitter and Facebook and tell her I sent you (just be friendly though, not like super stalky or anything. Don't make it weird.)

So excited about this book. So so so excited. Can you tell?

*To those of you who have e-mailed about edit samples and haven't yet heard from me or are waiting for an additional response from me: my most sincere apologies. That overwhelming-ness is rather huge, and it's taking some time to get through e-mails while also editing and continuing to look for work, yadda yadda. But I promise I will respond! Thanks again! And I'm still hoping to see something kind of academic come in, too. Are you a college student? A writer for an online journal? Hit me up! I CAN HELP YOU. 

Also, thank you thank you thank you again and again.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Free Editing Services

Will Edit for Food

For real.

Now, don't start throwing stuff at me. I'm looking to edit specific stuff. I've got standards, man.

First, the rub:

I lost my job. I know--who hasn't lately? Unfortunately, I'm not in a position where I can wait it out, looking for just the right thing. There's no fallback plan to provide me with insurance or, you know, roofs. Writing fiction is now a luxury for me, one that doesn't come often. It's all about the job hunt now. And income. And omg-there's-a-penny! Because children. And eating.

It's tough, though. For years, I opted to do the stay-at-home-mom thing over building a career. I was fortunate to be able to do it and figured a career would come later. But we live in a society that seems to say, "Hell yeah, women can have it all," with its fingers crossed. Forget the stellar education in English and Creative Writing or the honors and academic awesomeness. Forget the freelance work I've done, the serious volunteer work, or the years of developing a (spectacularly unsuccessful) fiction writing career. Employers want to see someone my age with unbroken years of experience and no blank spaces filled up with children. It's disheartening, to say the least. But I'm not a quitter. And I've got skills, yo. One of those skills happens to be bartering and negotiating. (Once, I talked a grizzly dude on the streets of New York into selling me a $20 knock-off Hard Rock sweatshirt for $3 and a smile.)

I'm also a really good editor. Seems to me I can come up with something to keep moving forward (and feeding children).

But this post isn't to pimp my services in exchange for money (yet). Right now, I'm offering free editing and proofreading in order to build up a fresh portfolio. That is, I need fresh editing samples to use professionally (to get work--I don't intend to use it publicly, like on my blog, unless you contractually allow me to).* So, if you have something that needs edited, and you happen to think, based on our witty exchanges and nonverbal communications, my blog posts, my reputation, my Facebook posts and tweets, and/or my sparkling personality that I might do a good job, (or even if you're unsure, but could use free editing anyway), we may be able to work out a special arrangement.

I'm looking to edit and/or proof (FOR FREE):

  • First three-five pages of a work of fiction (any genre)
  • First three-five pages of a work of nonfiction
  • Articles for online and print submission (I'm looking for both editorial and informative)
  • Academic article/document (something super geeky and sciencey and/or just above my capability to understand what the bazooka you're talking about is totally cool with me)
  • Marketing Copy
  • Cover/flap copy
  • Miscellaneous (Not gonna lie--I'd like to see something really weird need editing)

There's seriously no catch here. I need samples to get work.** You need editing. We'll trade back scratches. If you're interested, shoot me an email: cvaldezmiller (at) gmail (dot) com. We can discuss your project/document and determine if: 1. It's something that would be useful for my portfolio and, thus, able to be edited by me; and 2. How pleased you're going to be. Please indicate:

  1. What your document/project is (please don't send it yet) 
  2. What you intend to do with it
  3. What type of editing you are needing
  4. Your bank account and login info (just kidding, unless, you know, you're really generous).
That's it, folks. Thanks for visiting. Come again. Don't forget to tip your server. 

(Because children. And eating.)

P.S. I generally use Chicago Manual of Style as my go-to style, but if you really, really need something else, contact me anyway.

P.P.S. If you are in need of written copy (online or print, marketing, editorial or informative or whatever), I also happen to be a writer. Most of the time. You can contact me, too.

P.P.P.S. I use Word, Track Changes, and Oxford commas. The end.

*I would obviously never pass your work off as my own, but I'd like to state it anyway, since you don't know me and might be freaked out. I would use the edited (Track Changes) versions to prove what a stellar editor I am, and I would never post online or in any other public location without your permission. If your work contains any confidential material or material that can't be reproduced, um, yeah...I can't really use it in my portfolio.

**I offer freelance clients a free sample of my work specifically for them, but employers often want to see portfolio samples. Most of what I currently have is either irrelevant, confidential, or contractually unusable.

Friday, July 11, 2014

#TBF: LOVE in the Pages of a Diary

December 28, 1996

Dear Baby,

I went into labor today. Doctor sent me home and told me to return when the labor pains get closer. I don't know what I'm doing. Presumably they do. See you soon.

December 30, 1996

Dear Baby,

We've returned to the hospital. Labor pains have gotten stronger, but not much closer. Doctors won't induce or break my water until your actual due date of January 2. They gave me Demerol instead. It doesn't help. So far I've only seen two of the three doctors in my group practice. They are both stupid, old men. "I've done this many times, little girl." That's what the white-haired one said. Here's hoping the woman doctor will be in soon.

If I don't die first, see you soon.

January 1, 1997

Dear Baby,

The doctor gave me morphine. It doesn't seem to help.

I wish my mom were here. She would know what to do. I feel very alone. And scared. And OW.

Please hurry.

January 2, 1997

Dear Baby Girl,

Today you made me a mom, way sooner than I ever expected to be. I'm not sure yet how I feel about things.

You are so much tinier than I expected.

And so fragile. So, so breakable.

And this world is so big and heavy. It weighs on me so hard I am all but flattened by it. And I am so much bigger than you. But small yet. I worry I'm too small to protect you from it.

Nobody told me about the worry. How it will begin to consume you the moment you look into your newborn's eyes. For the first time ever, it's not a worry for yourself, but for another being, and that makes it somehow far more terrifying. You check the fingers and toes. The creases in the neck and the space behind the ears. You touch the bottoms of the feet and watch the toes curl. You slide fingers into the fists and feel the grasp of tiny hugs and never-letting-go. And then you think about germs and skinned knees and drowning water and betrayal and bullies and gossip and lies and people that hurt.

I want to believe I'm big enough, smart enough, wise enough to keep you safe. But I know better. I'm just a stupid kid. Everybody has let me know it, just in case I didn't already.

So there's this fear. As in, FEAR.

The nurse has left me to rest. Your dad went home to sleep. We're alone now. Just you and me, and you're sleeping in my arm, breathing softly, your tiny lips moving just slightly, just lying here totally trusting me, because you don't know better.

Just you and me, alone.

So, yeah FEAR.

But there's something else, something immense, and I'm only just starting to really figure it out. The thing is, I've felt love before. So many happy moments, where love seems to have filled me up. And it's made me weep when my heart has broken. When my dad left. When Johnny **** smashed the baby pumpkins in my mom's garden during my 13th birthday party. When my mom lost her job. When Dave **** broke up with me right before my Biology class with Mrs. ********, possibly the worst teacher in the history of ever, who told me to stop crying or she'd send me to the office.

In all the moments of joy and all the broken heart moments, I thought I knew what love was.

But now you. And now I know the truth.

This is love. LOVE. It is bigger than my swollen heart, bigger than me. Bigger than this awful world. Bigger than fear. You don't love me, yet or maybe never, but I love you.

I. Love. You.

I'm just a stupid kid, but I'm capable of LOVE. That makes me feel really strong. Maybe not smart enough. Or wise enough. But damn it, it makes me big enough.

January 4, 1997

My Dearest Girl,

I was nursing you today, just you and me on the daybed in your nursery. We finally seem to have gotten a hang of this feeding thing. You wrapped your little fist around my finger and looked up at me wide-eyed over my breast, with little droplets of tears at the corner of your eyes, and something broke inside me. Just shattered. You don't care how old I am or how much I don't know. In your eyes, I saw that you know how much I love you. You feel it. I know you do. And I realized today I am wholly and unconditionally yours. I made a promise to you in that moment. I swear to you I will never break it. I will love you as if our lives depended on it.

July 11, 2014

I still love you as if our lives depended on it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Video: On My Haiti Experience and Brokenness

I had a different post ready to go today on writing a bannable book and decided (for the umpteenth time) not to publish it, despite this being Banned Books Week. Go me.

Instead I've decided, after much debate, to post the video of a presentation I gave over the weekend on my experience in Haiti last year. If you've followed my blog for a while, you know I went to Haiti last year with Mission Haiti Medical and a medical team comprised of (about) thirty people from all over Indiana, and that I kind of fell apart afterwards and hesitated to really discuss this trip with many.

But I was asked recently to talk about my experience at my church. They gave me a great amount of support last year, so, yeah. I couldn't put it off any longer. It was time to give back, if you want to call this presentation that. There were several remarkable presentations that day, but I went last, which, thank goodness because I turned into a blubbering mess all of the four times I spoke. I got so much support from so many of you, too, but I had come to the conclusion that posting this video would make me feel too vulnerable. The Internet is just so...huge. But then I received a card in the mail from a lady who was overwhelmed by my talk, moved to such a degree she took the time to send me a letter. And that was that. I was reminded of my own call to action despite vulnerability. If you watch this through to the end, you'll see what I mean. Sometimes things are really hard, but you do them anyway.

It's kind of long, though. You don't have to watch it. But it's here. Because I got a card in the mail.

Thank you to Joe and Bill and the amazing crew who made this video and to the missions team who invited me to speak.

Also? Thank you.

Friday, September 13, 2013

When Publishing Sucks You Dry, Have a Cupcake

Here's the thing about traditional publishing.

There is no way to predict when or if it will happen for you.

I know, right? Sucks. Because you can work and work--sometimes years--and never see any results from all your hard labor.

All right, so, you have some options.

1. You can quit. Easy peasy. Maybe this isn't for you. Eh, whatever. You can find another passion. I mean, seriously. You like to write; it's a part of your identity. But it's not who you are. You're a writer, but you are not your writing.* No need to get all emo and shit just because this crazy stupid, super-reliant on all-the-stars-aligning-just-right BS isn't happening for you. You must write to publish, but you don't have to publish to be a writer. Let's be honest: you've read so much crap, you know publishing doesn't necessarily mean you're a good writer, yeah? It stands to reason that not publishing doesn't mean you're a bad writer either. So, go. Do something else. Come back to this when the wanting far outweighs the pain of trying to get it.

2. You can self publish. A lot harder than quitting. No way to predict if you'll actually be any good at it either. Or make any money. But odds are if you self publish you'll make more money than leaving your manuscript sitting inside the desert wasteland that is your laptop. Might only be pennies. And you may end up spending all your pennies on marketing and booze to ease the sting of not becoming the next H.M. Ward, but whatever. Dude, you're totally published. Also, maybe you will become the next H.M. Ward.

3. You can keep writing. And keep querying. Keep submitting. Slowly go insane. Become an alcoholic. Destroy all your relationships. Shave your head, sell off all your possessions and join a nudist doomsday cult. Good luck with that.

4. You can keep writing. And keep querying. Keep submitting. And bake cupcakes. Lots and lots of cupcakes. And by cupcakes, I also mean garden. Or maybe build model trains. Or knit. Or have babies. Or mow geometric patterns into your lawn.

Basically? Keep living your life. Do things you can control, things that will be fruitful and multiply and ooze results.

This summer I started a garden for the first time. It was glorious.

I made loads of cupcakes and ate them all.

I experimented with pictures. Of feet.

I got a new tattoo. Sorry. Won't be showing you that one. Love you guys, but. Yeah. It's kind of privaty.

Also, I had a baby.

Just kidding. That's my friend's new baby. Crazy cute, huh?

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that you can't let yourself get too caught up in the misery of not making it...yet. That yet can take a freakishly long time. So in the meantime, if you're not going to quit, and you're not going to self publish, do something that makes you feel good about yourself, something that makes you feel like you're the most accomplished accomplisher OF ALL TIME. There is so much out of your control with this publishing dream, but there are so many other dreams and projects and really cool things you can control. Life is cool, man. There is so much else besides writing that can make you feel totally okay with yourself while you're trying to make the writing thing take off. I mean, okay, all my broccoli and my cauliflower went to crap, but I have a ton of tomatoes and onions. And so. many. cupcakes. And feet.

No babies though. Nope. No babies.


*Elizabeth of Liz Writes Books wrote a brilliant post on this concept: "Writing is not Breathing." Check it out. Please. It's time we stop treating writing like it's the end-all and be-all of who we are. That's an unhealthy attitude that creates the cynical, emotionally-drained writer on the cusp of a nervous breakdown contemplating the most dramatic, stranger-than-fiction ways to end it all. Do not be that kind of writer. You are more creative than that. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Balls to the Wall Courage and an Excerpt of My Latest Work OMG

It's come to my attention that I'm a bit of chicken-shit. Not to say that I don't do brave things. I'm an anxious nelly, and doing normal things like talking to humans outside of my own house (totally sober) can take a fair amount of courage. When I was younger, I couldn't order a pizza without first writing down exactly what I was going to say beginning with, "Hello, I'd like to order a pizza." Thankfully, I don't (often) get palpitations at such exchanges anymore, but there are certain things which have become more difficult over time. Like posting on my blog. Which might explain why I have no fewer than a hundred unpublished blog posts. After some serious therapy soul searching, I've realized that I have an intense fear of vulnerability. This fear manifests itself in manifold ways.

1. When my phone rings, I rarely answer.
2. When my doorbell rings, I rarely answer.
3. Unless you're someone who loves me (preferably unconditionally), I probably will never call you on the phone. Yeah, no probably. I won't. I'll text. Better yet, give me your email.
4. If I run into you somewhere I'm not expecting to run into you, I'll usually pretend not to see you unless you say hello first, in which case, awesome. So in the future, do that. And pretend to be excited to see me. If you don't I'll assume you hate me and wish I were never born.
5. I have only a select, very small group of critique partners and beta readers for my work.
6. I will put off showing my writing or talking about it for as long as humanly possible. If you do read my work, assume I came close to pissing my knickers before I sent it to you.
7. Heights freak me out. Also, bugs. And rejection. And germs. And crowds. And people on stilts. And people. Did I say rejection?

One of the few things that makes the above easier is alcohol. And maybe also my BFFs who threaten to boil my laptop if I don't cut that shit out (this probably puts my BFFs on the list at #7). Aside from the normal(?) cynicism and paranoia, fear is probably the foremost reason for holding back when I could otherwise act. I have this painful awareness of ALL THE THINGS THAT COULD GO WRONG OMG. So. Yeah. I don't post my writing anywhere.

But I'm exhausted with fear. Publishing is a tough business in which you have to be audacious. There's no point in writing a ballsy manuscript if I don't have the cojones to take it to the next level. So I'm going to do something I've never done. I'm gonna be a nervy little badass and let you read a snippet of this ballsy book of mine. Just a paragraph. Baby steps.


Pretty much it's like I'm posting a naked picture of me. If you're assuming I've wet myself, well, you could be right.


He pulls me into him, and we become a mesh of limbs and skin, a tangle of arms and legs wilting into sleep. In this moment we are the purest version of us, undiluted like uncut heroin and just as intoxicating and addictive. But when his breathing evens and his heartbeat against my back steadies and slows, I remember the right thing. I remember it's only in the dark, secret places that we belong to one another, unscattered, unbroken, undenied. It's only here in the dark we won't destroy us.

In the event you're curious, the ms is a YA with subtle supernatural elements. Magical realism, maybe? Think If I Stay with jagged edges and a seriously unreliable narrator.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


It's Bookanista Thursday. YAHOO!

(In case you didn't know... GWUCER= Giveaway, Winners, Update, Cover [Eggs] Reveal)

UPDATE: So, I'm nearly finished with this new book I'm writing. It's pretty much consumed every spare moment and all my thoughts since forever. All my conversations now go like this:

Friend: I couldn't believe my husband did that. I wanted to kill him. Gawd.
Me: Yeah, but you've got to admit it's kind of funny. Sort of reminds me of this thing Henry did when he saw Lacy in that bar, you know, when her hand was in--
Friend: Henry? As in your fictional character?
Me: ....

I'm pretty sure I'm having a love affair with this thing. It's an obsession that made me think I wouldn't post again until after I was done with Henry* and Lacy.* But then I got the opportunity to be a part of this really awesome cover reveal for Stasia Ward Kehoe's upcoming YA, THE SOUND OF LETTING GO. And oh my gawd. LOOK.


Lord, but that's gorgeous. There's something just a little risqué about it, something so sensual about a woman's neck and naked collar bone. And then there's that dandelion, so full of promise and wishes that could, maybe, possibly come true, and on the tippy-tips of her fingers it's being extended to--her lover? Or you? As in, "Blow." But with that bubble filter the dandelion almost looks like it could also be a flower with one last petal. He loves me, he loves me not. All's I can say is if this cover is at all indicative of what's within those pages? Gangnam style YES.

The Sound of Letting Go

by Stasia Ward Kehoe 
For sixteen years, Daisy has been good. A good daughter, helping out with her autistic younger brother uncomplainingly. A good friend, even when her best friend makes her feel like a third wheel. When her parents announce they’re sending her brother to an institution—without consulting her—Daisy’s furious, and decides the best way to be a good sister is to start being bad. She quits jazz band and orchestra, slacks in school, and falls for bad-boy Dave.

But one person won’t let Daisy forget who she used to be: Irish exchange student and brilliant musician Cal. Does she want the bad boy or the prodigy? Should she side with her parents or protect her brother? How do you know when to hold on and when—and how—to let go?

Okay, so I read Stasia's last book, AUDITION, and loved every inch of it. Truly spectacular. TRULY. YES. (My Review of AUDITION, P.S.) So basically I will read anything Stasia publishes, no question. But even if I didn't know Stasia had written this, I'd definitely want to pick this one up. Really looking forward to it. Check it out on Goodreads!

GIVEAWAY: Guess what, chicos! Stasia is holding a super giveaway. You can win:

  • A Signed Hardcover of AUDITION by Stasia
  • Swag package from authors Gretchen McNeil, Carrie Harris, Elana Johnson, & Jessi Kirby

Awesome, right? But you only have a week to enter, so hurry!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, be sure to check out what the other Bookanistas are highlighting today:

Lenore Appelhans  wonders at ALL YOU NEVER WANTED by Adele Griffin

Shari Arnold loves SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL by Trish Doller

Tracy Banghart embraces IMPOSTOR by Susanne Winnacker

Shelli Johannes-Wells  delights in Cory Doctorow’s LITTLE BROTHER and HOMELAND

Nikki Katz gets the shivers for 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

Stasia Ward Kehoe, Carolina Valdez Miller & Debra Driza  sing out for the cover of THE SOUND OF LETTING GO

Jessica Love raves about ROAD TO TATER HILL by Edith M. Hemingway

Katy Upperman celebrates THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY by Katja Millay – with giveaway!


WINNERS of the Bookanistas Big Relaunch Giveaway:

Winner of the Signed Bookanista Books:
Kim Aleman

Winner of package number two of Bookanista favorite reads:
Chandler Baker

Congratulations Kim and Chandler! Both winners have been contacted. Huge thank you to all who entered and promoted. Keep an eye out for more giveaways!


*Names have been changed to protect the innocent

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Bookanistas rec: 17 & GONE by Nova Ren Suma

I always feel a little giddy when I actually manage to get a blog post written up. Even more so when it's over something so delicious and enticing as Nova Ren Suma's 17 & GONE--and this the first real review I've written in nearly a year, and for our newly relaunched Bookanistas site at that. Giddy does not begin to cover it. More like delirious and flailing and strangely hyperbolic.

Seriously, though. 17 & GONE has blown my mind. Stick around and see why.

17 & Gone

From Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common—they are 17 and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these waking nightmares, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? And… is she next? As Lauren searches for clues, everything begins to unravel, and when a brush with death lands her in the hospital, a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.
With complexity and richness, Nova Ren Suma serves up a beautiful, visual, fresh interpretation of what it means to be lost.

My Review

So. This book was not about what I thought it was about. I mean, YES, there are seventeen-year-old girls and they've gone missing and they're talking to seventeen-year-old Lauren. But this isn't a paranormal, per se. Well, it could be. But it's so much more than that with it's tangled web of genres and directional possibilities. This is, in fact, my very favorite kind of book. And 17 & GONE is officially one of my favorite books ever.

Let me backtrack a minute. Think about all those paranormal/supernatural books you've read (or at least heard about). Now imagine, if you will, what would happen if the freaky things that happened in those books happened in real life. You'd probably be freaking out, and you may never fully recover from those experiences, right? Say word got out that you claimed to be dating a vegetarian vampire. Maybe you'd be dragged off in a straightjacket, yeah? At the very least people might cross the street when they saw you coming, because you, my dear, would be considered certifiable. And on top of that, you might start wondering if maybe you weren't, in fact, losing your mind.

Well, that's the realistic sort of path 17 & GONE takes us on while treading on the edges of a very magical one. 17 & GONE is part psychological, part magic, and in every way a mystery you simply must unravel, no matter how unnerving it is. And it is at times ridiculously unnerving. Nova Ren Suma immerses you so completely into Lauren's character that you begin to forget she's not real--and that you're not her. You get turned upside down, seeing and feeling the world as she's seeing and feeling it, so that when she's certain she's inside the magic, you're certain of it, and when she questions her own sanity, you begin to question it.  When she's curious, no matter how scary the situation might be to an outsider, you feel curiosity more than fear. When she's terrified, no matter how normal a situation might seem to an outsider, you feel the prickle of goosebumps and the intense need to turn the page to find a way out. And when she's with her boyfriend...ah well, you doubt, you wish, you push away, you want

And while you're feeling so much through Lauren, you're just as invested in all of Lauren's lost girls as she is, and you begin to want desperately for them to be found. All of these girls with their distinct personalities and stories worm under your skin and make you feel so much, and draw you to the pleas of other lost girls. And when the danger turns on Lauren and it becomes clear she may also disappear, you find yourself completely incapable of setting down the book until you know exactly what's to become of her.

17 & GONE takes you on a remarkable journey through magic and psychosis and fearful possibility; through desperate longings and the twists and turns our brains will take to find fulfillment of those longings. A work of consummate skill, 17 & GONE is a beautiful, chilling story filled with evocative imagery and thought-provoking, often rhythmic prose. Its arrestive voice and masterful use of dialogue captures the complexity of human interaction and need and leaves no doubt you're entirely inside the mind of a seventeen-year-old girl who's experiencing something truly extraordinary and terrifying. Altogether, 17 & GONE redefines what it means to be lost and will leave you questioning what it means to be found.

If you can't tell, I'm recommending you read this. So, yeah.

PSA Truth in Advertising Reviewer's Credo et cetera: No one sent me this book for review. Nor was I paid. I just totally dig it and think you might too.

Check out what the other Bookanistas are recommending this week:

Carolina Valdez Miller celebrates 17 & GONE by Nova Ren Suma [YOU ARE HERE, so, don't click this one]

Carrie Harris awakens you to INSOMNIA by Jenn Johansson…with giveaway

Christine Fonseca praises THE PLEDGE by Kimberly Derting

Corrine Jackson is wild for WHEN IT HAPPENS by  Susane Colasanti

 Elana Johson invites you to her ABANDON release par-tay!

Katy Upperman is bewitched by NANTUCKET BLUE by Leila Howland

Lenore Appelhans  swoons for STAR CURSED by Jessica Spotswood…with an annotated snippet

Stasia Ward Kehoe is wild for THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by Stephen Chbosky

Tracey Neithercott  highlights WHERE THE STARS STILL SHINE by Trish Doller

Tracy E. Banghart  raves over JUMP WHEN READY by David Pandolfe

And don't forget to enter our HUGE Bookanistas Relaunch Giveaway before it ends!

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Out of the Dark and Into A Celebratory Giveaway

You thought I'd never post again, didn't you? Well, as I'm finishing up a new book (Eeeeeep!!) and doing other important somethings...yeah. But there's some pretty cool stuff happening right now with the Bookanistas. I know, I KNOW--it's been ages since I posted a real review, and who are the Bookanistas again?? Bear with me, I'm starting up the reviews again, but also the Bookanistas are all fresh and new and Relaunched! ZOOOOOM!

Check us out. We're all fancy.
Okay, a refresher:
Way back in 2010, reader-bloggers Lisa & Laura Roecker and Elana Johnson, and some bookish friends including Kirsten Hubbard, Shannon Messenger and Scott Tracy, formed a group called The Bookanistas--and for some reason they invited me to join (like the week before we launched--while I was on vacation finishing up Ally Condie's MATCHED--so of course I said YES and after a long day at the beach I cranked out a review-post in the middle of the night before the big day). Anyway, the notion was to share their love of books, celebrate the good in YA and MG literature and to encourage reading. Between 2010 and 2013, some amazing things happened. Two Bookanistas became NYT best-sellers: Beth Revis (ACROSS THE UNIVERSE) and Veronica Roth (DIVERGENT). Many others published novels, had babies, moved into new homes, changed jobs, got married...the Bookanista roster changed. Life. You get it. Through it all, that founding passion for reading and sharing favorite books never lagged.

Today, we are relaunching our site with a BIG BOOKANISTA GIVEAWAY of signed copies of Bookanista publications, favorite books, and some fun swag. SEE BELOW. But first:

Across our membership, we are sharing tips for reading and summer fun. Surf along to our bookish blogs:
Carolina Valdez Miller (*YOU ARE HERE!)Carrie Harris,  Christine FonsecaCorrine JacksonDebra DrizaElana JohsonJessica LoveKaty UppermanKimberly SabatiniNikki KatzRebecca BehrensShannon Messenger , Stasia Ward KehoeTracey Neithercott , Tracy Banghart , S.R. Johannes

Now, for the giveaway? Here are the prizes:


Signed copies of these Bookanista-authored books…

LET THE SKY FALL by Shannon Messenger
BY BLOOD by Tracy Banghart
TOUCHING THE SURFACE by Kimberly Sabatini (plus a swag surprise)
BAD TASTE IN BOYS by Carrie Harris
AUDITION by Stasia Ward Kehoe
THE GIRL GUIDE by Christine Fonseca (plus sweet swag)
MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza
LEVEL 2 by Lenore Appelhans



Bookanista-beloved reads including: WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON (signed!) by John Green & David Levithan, DITCHED by Robin Mellom, JELLICO ROAD by Melina Marchetta, TAKEN by Erin Bowman, CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare, MONSTROUS BEAUTY by Elizabeth Fama & SPARROW ROAD by Sheila O’Connor

Oh my gawd. I know, right? Hurry & enter (way below). Then grab our button and tweet this thing:

The #Bookanistas are celebrating their relaunch w/ a major giveaway of signed books & swag. Check it out!

Okay, now I want to tell you about the books I'm dying to read this summer. There are loads, actually. I'm currently reading Nova Ren Suma's 17 & Gone, which is fantastic so far, but here's my TBR list (for starters), in no particular order:

(All descriptions taken from Goodreads)
A heart-stopping story of love, death, technology, and art set amid the tropics of a futuristic Brazil.
The lush city of Palmares Três shimmers with tech and tradition, with screaming gossip casters and practiced politicians. In the midst of this vibrant metropolis, June Costa creates art that’s sure to make her legendary. But her dreams of fame become something more when she meets Enki, the bold new Summer King. The whole city falls in love with him (including June’s best friend, Gil). But June sees more to Enki than amber eyes and a lethal samba. She sees a fellow artist.

Together, June and Enki will stage explosive, dramatic projects that Palmares Três will never forget. They will add fuel to a growing rebellion against the government’s strict limits on new tech. And June will fall deeply, unfortunately in love with Enki. Because like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die.
Holy smokes, I'm excited for this one. I had the opportunity to meet the author last weekend, and after hearing her talk about her book, I'm totally stoked.


Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.
I love everything Andrew Smith, so it's a given I'll be reading this, and soon. It sounds amazemazemazing.

Sex & Violence

Sex has always come without consequences for seventeen-year-old Evan Carter. He has a strategy--knows the profile of The Girl Who Would Say Yes. In each new town, each new school, he can count on plenty of action before he and his father move again. Getting down is never a problem. Until he hooks up with the wrong girl and finds himself in the wrong place at very much the wrong time.


After an assault that leaves Evan bleeding and broken, his father takes him to the family cabin in rural Pearl Lake, Minnesota, so Evan's body can heal. But what about his mind?


Nothing seems natural to Evan anymore. Nothing seems safe. The fear--and the guilt--are inescapable. He can't sort out how he feels about anyone, least of all himself. Evan's really never known another person well, and Pearl Lake is the kind of place where people know everything about each other--where there might be other reasons to talk to a girl. It's annoying as hell. It might also be Evan's best shot to untangle sex and violence.

This one came highly recommended to me by Matthew MacNish whose opinion I take most seriously. So, yes. I will be reading this ASAP. Also, it gave me shivers just to read the summary. CAN'T. WAIT.

*And a special mention, even though it's not technically YA:

The Lives of Tao

When out-of-shape IT technician Roen woke up and started hearing voices in his head, he naturally assumed he was losing it.

He wasn’t.

He now has a passenger in his brain – an ancient alien life-form called Tao, whose race crash-landed on Earth before the first fish crawled out of the oceans. Now split into two opposing factions – the peace-loving, but under-represented Prophus, and the savage, powerful Genjix – the aliens have been in a state of civil war for centuries. Both sides are searching for a way off-planet, and the Genjix will sacrifice the entire human race, if that’s what it takes.

Meanwhile, Roen is having to train to be the ultimate secret agent. Like that’s going to end up well…
I heard Wesley read a snippet from this book last weekend, and I fell in love. So funny and memorable and such a great voice. Dying to read it, folks.

Alright lovelies, that's the start of my TBR list for your perusing pleasure. Coming up next on my blog? A review and a rundown of what I've been up to. More sizzling details anyway.

Now enter our giveaway:
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