Sunday, September 30, 2012


This is it. The Spencer Hill Press Summer Blog Run is finished, and I'm pooped. It's been a great run with visits from awesome authors, not to mention the great prizes.

Thank you all for stopping by and leaving comments.

So, here we are, the grand prize announcement. By the way, my hand is stiff from writing all the names down.

*swishes pieces of paper around in the magic hat of names*

The second prize winner of a $10 Amazon GC is....

karla @ bookaddict

Woot! Grats Karla.

And now for the Grand Prize winner of the $100 GC...

*drum roll and trumpets blaring*

Sarah Negovetich


Grats Sarah!!!

Thanks again to everyone for all the fun. Now I'm taking a break.  :)

Monday, September 24, 2012


I had a lot of fun hosting the blog run for all the authors at Spencer Hill Press. It was a long run with lots of great prizes.

Now, to top it all off, all the authors and I are giving away a Grand Prize of ....

*drum roll*

$100 gift card from either B&N or Amazon gift card (your choice). 

Second place prize is a $10 gift card from Amazon.

Just in time for Christmas, because nothing says I love you than a present of books...for yourself.

Here are the directions...

First, if you are a previous commenter on any of the other blog posts during The Spencer Hill Press Summer Blog Run, you don't have to do anything. You are already entered.

But, if you have not entered previously, don't fret, we have a way for you to enter, too. Just fill out the rafflecopter form below.

That's it. Easy peasy.

The contest starts now, and ends Saturday. The winner will be announced Sunday, September 30th. 

If you have any questions, please leave in comments, and I will answer them to the best of my ability.

   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please note: I am using the Rafflecopter for you to enter; I will not be using it to pick the winner. The reason is because of all the people who have previously entered by commenting on a blog post during the summer run.

Thanks for participating. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Winner of Mary Gray's Goodies


I want to thank each and everyone of you for commenting and participating in The Spencer Hill Press Summer Blog Run. I've learned so much about all the awesome authors, and a little about the readers, too. It was rather quite fun.

I, also, want to send a special thanks to all the authors, who participated. Especially for letting me pick their brains with a jillion (of course, that is an exaggeration) questions.


*swishes names around in magic hat of tricks*

The winner of the final prize is...drum roll please, 

*rat-a-tat-tat*  <--that's my drum roll

Elizabeth Prats!!!!

Grats Elizabeth. Thank you so much for commenting. And thank you, Mary, for the prize.

Now, some more awesome news....

The authors of Spencer Hill Press who participated in the run and I want to extend a GRAND PRIZE of $100 GC from either B&N or Amazon (you get to choose).  Pretty awesome addition to the wonderful prizes each had donated already.

AND, just in time for know, to buy presents for yourself.

More about the grand prize will be posted tomorrow, so be sure to come back then.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Spencer Hill Press Summer Blog Run Finale--Mary Gray

The SPENCER HILL PRESS SUMMER BLOG RUN is coming to a close and gearing up toward the grand-prize, which is an extremely generous B&N Gift Card from all of the Spencer Hill Press authors, who have participated. 
More information for the grand prize will be on Monday, September 24th.

I am ever so pleased for my last author of the run to be, Mary Gray. 
Not to be confused with Mary Gary (it’s so painful when people do that!)

Once again, because I am thinking of my readers, I am providing all the links for you. Go checkout Mary on her webpage, Goodreads, and twitter. 
And the website is brand new with an integrated blog, and I finally got the Goodreads librarians to clear out all the extra books I had supposedly written. I’ve only written one book!

Mary, also, has a brand-spanking new facebook page, so please go over there and give her a like. 

Mary's debut novel, THE DOLLHOUSE ASYLUM, won't be released until Oct. 2013. I'm sure that seems like a lifetime from now, but we are going to give you a little bit here to keep her novel on your mind until release date.
What’s more, the cover will be released the week of October 8th of THIS year, so only a few weeks until I can share something!

The title of your debut sounds really creepy.  I like that. A lot! 
Thank you! I owe the brilliance to my awesome editor, Danielle Ellison, and her former roommate, Nate. It used to be called my fragility but we wanted the title to be something more concrete, while still relaying the connotation of fragile and creepy. It is a creepy read. J

Thank you so much for visiting and helping me wrap up the Spencer Hill Summer Blog Run, Mary.
And thank you so much for having me! I haven’t been interviewed in such a very long time!

*laser-beam show with the Trans Siberian Orchestra playing kickbutt music*
 Mary considers pitching a few aerials, but decides that probably wouldn’t be a good idea.

Throughout the different stages of life, share with us your favorite books.
Child: TEN LITTLE MONKEYS JUMPING ON THE BED (My mom used to always act that one out)
Young adult: THE SNEECHES by Dr. Seuss (I used to perform that one over and over in competition)
Adult: Neal Shusterman’s UNWIND, Carrie Ryan’s THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, R.L. LaFever’s GRAVE MERCY, and Lucy Christopher’s STOLEN.

What book is on your nightstand, now?
AMAROK by Angela J. Townsend. A twitter buddy said she loved it so I can’t wait!

I'm reading that one, too, right now. YAY for Angela!

What author inspired you most?
Stephanie Meyer. It seems to be the popular thing to belittle her writing and her books, but it was only after reading her stories that I started writing my own. I always loved writing and English in school, but she showed me what it was like to get swept up in another world again.

Who is your number-one fan, and how does he/she support you?
My little sister. She always reads whatever I need her to look at and always has so many kind words. She gets what I’m trying to do—she’s not a writer herself, but we love all the same movies and books.

When did your love for writing sprout and why?
We were living in Virginia and I really wanted to move to Texas. My husband I were fighting about it constantly, and when I could see that we weren’t going to move anytime soon, I started writing in the afternoons and evenings when the kids were down. It helped me keep my mind off the fact that I wanted to move to Texas and I soon saw how fun it was to get swept up in my own worlds.

Can you tell us a bit about the first story you ever wrote?
It was called THE ETHOS and was actually picked up by a small press, though I halted the editing process when I could see that I didn’t want it to be my debut (it needed too much work, and I didn’t think my editor and I were a good fit). But it was about the descendants of Aristotle and how they embodied his ethos, logos, and pathos (ethics, logic, and persuasion) and used these persuasive tactics as super powers.

I see you're a stay-at-home mom, one of the hardest jobs in the world (I speak from experience). Do your children inspire your characters in your books.
I did have a character based off my daughter but ended up having to take her out in editing, but eventually I’m sure one will stick!

What steps do you take when writing?
My best writing takes place when I’m all alone and everything is quiet. I love to write in my car when there’s no internet access (when the weather cooperates) or else the library in a private study room. Sometimes I listen to music, but lately, not so much. I also work in spurts where I’ll read, read, read, or watch lots and lots of shows on Netflix, and then the writing bug will hit and I’ll do nothing but write.

How do you form your characters from thought to actually entities living within your words?
It’s been a very long process for me getting to know my characters. At first, they’re actually quite trite. But one idea at a time comes along and I’m able to see that side of their personality. At least, that’s how DOLLHOUSE has been (my characters were easier for me to see in my first book). But now they leap from the page and I owe a huge thanks to my editor for helping it happen. She had me do these character exercises where I had a day in the life of each character and identified aspects of their personalities (i.e. greatest weakness, what they want) and it helped so much. I will always use this process for future books.

Tell us a little about your world building.
I do best with one foot in the world and one out. (That’s why I always loved paranormal books.) For THE DOLLHOUSE ASYLUM though, my fantasy is mostly made up by the fear and otherworldly environment of an ordinary subdivision in the middle of nowhere. Lots and lots of fear. But for this story, I’ve learned to draw pictures of the scenes to help with the setting, and think about the props in the scenes like a play. This is something my editor has also helped me to do. I’m usually a directionless person, so the drawing bit helps. A lot.

Tell us some other hobbies you enjoy while not clacking away on a keyboard or running after kids.
Right now I’m obsessed with the show Supernatural (I get so much inspiration from TV shows and books). I also enjoy baking, basketball, and spending time with my husband, but honestly, since my kids are all so little I get very little time for myself, so I use the majority of that time immersed in other worlds.

Do you have a favorite recipe you would like to share with us?
Chicken and Dumplings (EASY crockpot recipe great for the fall)

1 lb. frozen chicken tenders
2 cans cream of chicken soup
¼ cup water
¼ cup onion
½ cup diced carrots
1 can Pillsbury biscuits

Dump everything but the biscuits in the crockpot and cook on high 3-5 hrs. Add the biscuits 30 min. before eating. Enjoy! (I love this recipe because it’s like a comfort food—so warm—but so easy when you have such little time.)

First thing to pop into your head….
Chocolate or vanilla? 
Vamps or werewolves or zombies?
Depends on the story. I love them all. I love the vampires in Vampire Diaries and the werewolves in Supernatural, and I absolutely fell in love with the zombies in THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH.
Shorts or slacks?
SHORTS! I live in Texas, after all!
Cupcakes or cookies?
If I make them, cookies. If Georgetown Cupcake makes them, cupcakes.
Hugh Jackman or Zac Efron?
Hugh Jackman! I love beardy men.


Most embarrassing moment in your life? (Unfortunately for you, you have to make this extremely good since you are the one closing the blog run...mua ha ha  *curls mustache with finger tips*)
When I eight months pregnant, I ran into the bathroom in Walmart once. But as I was taking care of business, I looked down to see this hairy foot. At first, I couldn’t makes sense of it. Why was there so much hair? And then I realized it was a man’s foot and I could just feel the tendrils of crimson running down my cheeks as I bolted past the five or so men outside the stall. It was only then that I noticed the urinals and realized there had only been two stalls.

Tell us a little about The Dollhouse Asylum:

This is the Publishers Marketplace listing:
Mary Gray’s THE DOLLHOUSE ASYLUM, in which a group of teenagers are granted asylum from the apocalypse–and then assigned new identities as famous, tragic literary couples and forced to reenact their stories… or die, to Kate Kaynak at Spencer Hill Press, in a nice deal, for publication in October 2013, by Kat Salazar at Larsen/Pomada Literary Agents (World English).

Where did the idea come from?
Again, I was living in Virginia at the time and kept dreaming of moving to Texas, and all I kept seeing was this terrified girl trapped in this perfect subdivision in the middle of nowhere. The love interest/villain had always been there, too (her captor, if you will). I knew she both loved and feared him and I wanted to explore their world.

How did you form the complexity of the plot?
Larry Brooks’ Story Structure helped A LOT. I also attended David Farland’s Professional Novel Writers Workshop before writing the plot that got me my agent (formerly, Kat Salazar). But the plotting has changed a fair amount as I’ve worked with Danielle to bring out the romance further (which is always good!) and better flesh out the relationship between my main character and the antagonist.

What do you like most about writing young adult?
It just resonates with me! I love how the young adult age is on the brink of everything. They’re not married yet (usually) and are in the throng of so many choices and yet so many things are holding them back (or so they feel). Like parents are usually a thorn in a young adult’s side. The choices they make then impact the rest of their lives and I feel like the young adult genre in literature is so vibrant and embraces trying new things. The emotions are so raw and real and I love the emphasis on romance. I need romance in my books. I love how young adults are so smart—they’re pretty much on par with adults (sometimes smarter!) and yet everything they feel is so intense, even heightened. I live to relive that when I write.

The Dollhouse Asylum blurb:
I’m not supposed to share that yet! But it will be available October 13th along with the cover, so just a few weeks!

Time for the Tantalizing Teaser Temptation ... .
Without going into too many specifics, allow me to just share why this story is so important to me. So many women are in love with someone that is so bad for them. This story is in large part for these women. For them to see that the emotions are very real, that the trauma isn’t all in your head, that it tears your heart out to figure it out.

Be sure to check out more information with the cover reveal and blurb during October on Mary's website! Here's the link, again.

For all the lucky people who stopped by, Mary is kind enough to give away...
A $25 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble—winner’s pick.

Just two things to enter:

1)  You have to follow my blog.  Need directions---scroll back up closer to the top, right hand side and click follow
2)  Since all the authors have shared an embarrassing moment, I thought it would be fun if the readers shared one of theirs.  Bwahaha!

Contest ends Saturday, Sept. 22nd.
Winners will be announced Sunday, Sept. 23rd.

Oh, and don’t forget, everyone who comments is automatically entered to win the grand prize of a Barnes and Noble gift card at the end of whole summer run. 

Thank you all for stopping by.  Please leave Mary a comment thanking her for her time and for the ultra-cool prize.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Winner of Darby Karchut's Goodies

Thanks to all who participated!  And of course, a special thanks goes to Darby for letting me pick her brain.

The Spencer Hill Press Summer Blog Run is coming to a close. Only one more author to visit, then the announcement of the Grand Prize. Don't forget if you already had left a comment on any of the blog posts, you are automatically entered.

So, without further ado....

The winner of both GRIFFIN RISING and GRIFFIN'S FIRE is...

*everyone sitting on the edge of their seats*



Thanks all.

Tomorrow, the last author will be visiting.  So, be sure to stop by!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Spencer Hill Press Summer Blog Run--Darby Karchut

The SPENCER HILL PRESS SUMMER BLOG RUN will be coming to a close soon. Only a couple more awesome authors to meet. Remember everyone who has left a comment on any of the blog posts is automatically entered to win the grand prize--a very generous B&N gift card from all the authors who have participated in the blog run.

You know, because we were thinking of you and your love of books. So, we wanted you to go buy some.

The next writer on The Spencer Hill Press Summer Blog Run is Darby Karchut, who has won some extremely impressive awards for Griffin's Rising and Griffin's Fire: 2012 Bronze Readers Favorite YA Novel, 2011 Sharp Writ Book of the Year, and 2011 Reader's Favorite Honor Book.

Awww, I’m blushing!

Pretty cool! I'm pretty excited to learn a bit more about Darby.

I’m not that interesting, as my students could testify.  LOL!

Darby is the author of Finn Finnegan due to be released March 12, 2013, and the next in the series, Gideon's Spear. Wow! Grats to all your success. 

Thanks, Judy. And I can’t wait for Perfection to come out, too!

Not only is Darby an awesome writer, but she is also a teacher and likes to wake up at the butt-crack of dawn.

You can keep up-to-date with Darby on facebook, her webpage, Goodreads, and her blog.

Welcome, Darby, to my little blog. Thank you so much for visiting.

*Jugglers and flamethrowers gallivanting about*

Thanks, Judy, for having me here today. *dodges the flamethrowers*

So, Darby, the word on the street is you're a teacher. Can you tell us what you teach?

I teach social studies at Cheyenne Mountain Junior High School in Colorado Springs, CO. (Go Thunderbirds!) Our school was recently awarded the Colorado Middle School of the Year and was the runner up for the Middle School of the Year for the entire nation. We have an awesome faculty and even more awesome students!

Do you use your love of reading and writing to inspire your students?

I try to. I embed non-fiction reading and writing strategies into the social studies curriculum.  But we also explore the literature from other countries into our studies. Plus, I help our librarian run a weekly book club that meets during lunch. About forty members strong, it is a mix of boys and girls. We read about eight books a year. We are beginning this school year with Griffin Rising and Griffin’s Fire. Then, this spring, we’ll finish the year with Finn Finnegan.

Do you use any classroom antidotes between the pages of your books?

In Griffin’s Fire, much of the plot is set in a public school. Several of our teachers were actually portrayed, as well as our vice-principal.  And, in Finn Finnegan, Finn’s best friends’ dad is a science teacher.

When did your love for reading take root?

I grew up in a family that venerates books. We always had loads of books and my mom always bought us books as Christmas and birthday gifts.

Please tell us the very first book you remember reading.

Little Black, A Pony.

Please tell us your favorite books as you grew up. 

The Lord of the Rings by J. R.R. Tolkien and The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander.  In fact, I have dedicated Finn Finnegan to the memory of Lloyd Alexander.

What are you reading now?

The Ranger’s Apprentice series and the Brotherband Chronicles, both by John Flanagan

What author do you idolize?

Thomas Cahill for his non-fiction series, The Hinges of History and J.R.R. Tolkien, for giving fantasy the gravitas it needed to be taken seriously.

What is your favorite genre to read?

Fantasy (either high or urban) with a male protagonist.

Who influenced your writing?
J.R.R. Tolkien, the most, but there are loads of others.

Tell us your interest in mythology.

I’ve always been fascinated by myths from around the world and their power on people. Because of that, I earned my undergraduate degree in anthropology (my master degree is in education). I have continued to explore myths and folktales in my novels. In the back of my books, I always write an author’s note about the cultures I “borrow” from.

Besides writing and reading, do you have any other hobbies?

I enjoy running, mountain biking, skiing (downhill and cross country), mountaineering, and hiking. Also, my husband and I have spent the last five years building a vacation cabin in the mountains. I am the biggest tomboy in the world. I also grew up riding and showing Arabian horses, both Western and English. In fact, my horse, Beau Bar-Drift, was the reserve horse the 1980 U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team. Of course, the U.S. boycotted the Olympics that year. (Stupid Cold War.)

How do you manage your time between teaching, writing award-winning novels, and your hobbies?

I never watch television. I work every minute of every day. But I know this pace will ease up in the spring of 2014, when I officially retire from teaching.

Do you have a favorite recipe you would like to share with us?

No. I hate to cook. Since it’s just my husband and me, we usually just have a salad for dinner. Or maybe some cheese and fruit.

First thing to pop into your head….

Coke or Pepsi? Neither. I loathe carbonated drinks.

Jogging or relaxing on the couch?  Jogging. Duh.

Sweats or a dress?  Running tights under my skirt.

Abs or eyes?  Actually, voice. I love a deep voice in a man. Especially if he has an accent. Irish or British, of course.

Most embarrassing moment in your life? (Like everyone else, you have to share...mua ha ha)
So, so many to choose from, but one of my favorite was when I interviewed for my first teaching job and found out afterwards I had food stuck in my teeth. Good times. Good times.

Tell us a little about the Griffin's Rising and Griffin's Fire:

They are the first two in a four book series about the coming of age of a guardian angel and the stalwart mentor who saves him. The books are based on a myth from the Middle Ages about a low caste of guardian angels who are said to control the ancient elements of Earth, Fire, Wind, and Water. It is set in modern-day Colorado Springs. In Griffin’s Fire, one of the characters from Finn Finnegan makes a cameo, and in Finn Finnegan, Griffin makes a cameo. Lots of fun to have my two boys meet each other.

How do you build your characters?

I wish I could say I have some formula, but they always seem to appear to me fully formed. I do pay close attention to speech cadence and nervous tics to help round them out. And I always give them an internal struggle: with Griffin, it is rising above an abuse childhood. With Finn, it is dealing with an out-of-control temper. 

Also, names are extremely important to me. Griffin means Strong in Faith - appropriate for a guardian angel. Finn MacCullen is actually my Anglicized version of the ancient hero from Celtic mythology: Fionn mac Cumhail.

What methods do you use to create a believable world?

With urban fantasy, a great deal of my worlds are already built. But I try to infuse a wash of magic and wonderment throughout the stories.

What intrigues you about young adult?
Like most YA/middle grade authors, I enjoy the power of the storytelling and how we can address the Big Questions, especially for boys as they take their first steps into manhood. Writing for boys is my passion.

Tell us about Finn Finnegan and Gideon's Spear.

Finn Finnegan is the first book in The Adventures of Finn MacCullen. Here’s the blurb from book one:
Finn (not bleedin' Finnegan) MacCullen is eager to begin his apprenticeship. He soon discovers the ups and downs of hunting monsters in a suburban neighborhood under the demanding tutelage of the Knight, Gideon Lir. Both master and apprentice are descendents of the Tuatha De Danaan, a magical race of warriors from Ireland. Scattered long ago to the four corners of the world, the De Danaan wage a two thousand year old clandestine battle with their ancient enemy, the Amandán, a breed of goblin-like creatures.

Now with the beasts concentrating their attacks on Finn, he and his master must race to locate the lost Spear of the Tuatha De Danaan, the only weapon that can destroy the Amandán, all the while hiding his true identity from his new friends, Rafe and Savannah, twins whose South African roots may hold a key to Finn's survival. Armed with a bronze dagger, some ancient Celtic magic, and a hair-trigger temper, Finn is about to show his enemies the true meaning of "fighting Irish."

Gideon’s Spear will continue the adventures. In that book, we’ll learn more about Gideon’s past.

Time for the Tantalizing Teaser Temptation.

Thanks for letting me add this, Judy. This is one of my favorite scenes – Finn’s first day as an apprentice to his no-nonsense master (who cannot resist teasing his thirteen-year-old apprentice:

“C’mon! Do I have to?” Finn grimaced when Gideon handed him several pairs of folded jeans of various sizes.

“Aye, ye do.” Gideon pointed to a nearby dressing room. “Spending an afternoon at Wal-Mart is not the way I planned to celebrate both the ceremony and yer birthday, but ye’re woefully lacking.” He checked the price tag on one of the jeans, then pulled out a wallet and thumbed through the bills. “We can afford two, plus a few shirts.” And another pair of shoes, he thought, glancing down at the boy’s feet. Although he’ll most likely outgrow them before he outwears them. “And what about…?” Gideon’s voice trailed off as he gestured vaguely toward Finn’s middle region

            Finn glanced down in confusion. “What about…what?”


            “You mean, like…like…am I wearing any?” Finn’s voice cracked with thirteen year old boy indignation.

            Gideon fought a smile. And lost. “No, ye dolt. Do ye need more?”

“I guess,” Finn mumbled, blushing as red as his hair. He ducked inside the dressing room. With one last glare, he pulled the door closed with a snick. 

Laughing softly under his breath, the Knight pressed against a rack of shirts as he attempted to stay out of the way of the other shoppers packing the aisles. He watched as Finn emerged a few minutes later and stood in front of the full-length mirror, tugging at the waistband of the jeans.

            “And just what are ye doing?”

            “Getting them right. They don’t sag enough.” Finn pulled up his tee shirt to check the fit.

            “I can see the top of yer boxers.” Gideon stepped closer to shield Finn as two teenage girls walked past. “As can everyone else.”

            “Yeah, that’s the point.” Finn examined himself in the mirror, then looked up. “What?”


            “No? Why? Gideon, this is how everyone dresses. We’re supposed to fit in human society, right?”

            “Mine are not on display, and I’ve manage to blend in,” Gideon declared. “For quite some time, now.”

 For all the lucky people who stopped by, Darby is kind enough to give away...

 a signed copy of both Griffin Rising and Griffin’s Fire, as well as signed Finn Finnegan bookmarks.


  Would it be strange if the host won the prize. HMMM? *Strokes chin*

Just two things to enter:

1)  You have to follow my blog.  Need directions---scroll back up closer to the top, right hand side and click follow
2) Tell us your favorite epic or urban fantasy and why.

Contest ends Saturday, Sept. 15th.
Winners will be announced Sunday, Sept. 16th.

Oh, and don’t forget, everyone who comments is automatically entered to win the grand prize of a Barnes and Noble gift card at the end of whole summer run. 

Thank you all for stopping by.  Please leave Darby a comment thanking her for her time and for the ultra-cool prizes.