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Monday, May 11, 2015

First Impressions

Beginning June 1st, I will be joining Dianne K. Salerni and Marcy Hatch with their First Impressions critiques. This is where we (kindly and constructively) critique the first page of your work on the first Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of every month. 

Have a book that you're interested in submitting? We still have one spot open in June.

To submit a first page, send an email to Dianne at dksalerni@gmail.com with First Impressions in the subject line and your first page pasted in the email (not attached, please). Please don't forget to identify yourself, so we know it's not spam.

FAQs -- 
1. How many words is "a page?" ~ 350-400
2. Should I send my prologue or first chapter? ~ Send whatever you would query an agent or editor with
3. Will you rip my work apart? ~ No way. We are nice people and we try really hard to be helpful and kind! :)
4. Can I send you the first page of the book I'm promoting? ~ This service is really intended for authors who are currently revising a manuscript. If you'd like to promote a published or soon-to-be-published, finished work, contact Marcy's other blog, The Unicorn Bell.

I look forward to reading your work!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

YA Scavenger Hunt - Team Purple


Hi, everyone! Welcome to the YA Scavenger Hunt! Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are EIGHT contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all to win sets of signed books! I am a part of the PURPLE TEAM.

If you'd like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE

Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the purple team, and then add them up (don't worry, you can use a calculator!).

Entry Form: Once you've added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

Now for the fun stuff!

I'm hosting Stephanie Keyes, and today she is sharing a deleted scene from her novel THE STAR CATCHER.

Kellen and Cali will battle bewitched armies and unknown foes as they fight to stay together. Will Kellen embrace his immortal destiny? Or will his world, and the man he is fated to become, be destroyed by The Star Catcher?




Deleted Scene

In an instant, I'd left Alistair's and arrived in the rear of a pub in Boston. Ironically, the place was only a couple blocks from Gabe's Law School, but it wasn't Gabe that I'd come to meet. Walking around the side of the building, I straightened the collar on the coat I didn't need and shoved my hands into my pockets.

The moment I stepped into the pub, a warm blast of air rushed me. Pushing through it, I surveyed the joint. License plates from all fifty states hung in neat rows on the walls, interspersed with random car parts and the unmistakable odor of fried food. I didn't see him. I must be early.

“How many today?” the hostess asked.

My eyes darted to her blue ones. She was petite, some might even say pretty.

Another pair of blue eyes haunted me, though and I needed to get this meeting over with so I could get back to them.

"Just two.”

"Sure,” she said, her Bostonian dialect making the word sound more like shore.

She directed me to a table next to the fire. Warmth licked up my left arm as I took a seat.

Old sports awards with minuscule patches of rust on them, pennants from local teams, and framed newspaper clippings reign in this are of the restaurant.

My fingers grew numb then, a tingling running up my arm. He'd arrived. Roger stood at the door, appearing uncertain, so much less the bully he'd once been. Covered in Arawn's magick, my senses screamed warnings at me. I pushed my concerns down.

Arawn was dead.

I’d killed him.

And this time I knew it would stick.

"Kell," Roger said, as he made his way over to me a nervous smile on his face. He held out his hand.

I took it. "How've you been?” I shook his hand. It took a second for the rush of magick to leave me and blast into Roger. The magick that would purge him of Arawn's power, yet still leave him oblivious to the horrors that he'd endured at the Lord of the Underworld’s hand.

His eyes flashed out of focus for a moment, his hand squeezing mine for just an instant before he let go. He blinked, an empty expression crossing his face. In a millisecond he appeared healthier, stronger, without the influence of Arawn on him. It worked. Just like Calienta said it would.

“Why don’t we grab a chair?” I drop back into my seat by the fire.

“Sure.” Roger snaps out of it, pulling out his wooden chair, which squeals in protest against the rough, brick floor.

A waitress showed up at our table, then, a wide smile plastered on her face. "Can I get you gentleman something to drink?"

"A Pepsi," I said, more out of habit then interest. I’d never need to drink anything again. Of course, some traditions are too amazing to end entirely.

"Same for me." Roger leans back in his chair and rests his hands on his gut. "I was surprised that you wanted to meet today. I didn't know you were back in town."

“It’s just for today. I have to drive to Yale to pick up some paperwork. I’m flying back on the afternoon flight out of Logan.” It was so bizarre to be sitting there having a normal conversation with Roger. It’s possible we’d never actually had a conversation that didn’t involve insulting one another. Beyond that, what would he think if he knew the truth about me, about what I’d become? How would Rog react if he knew I’d just teleported from London in the bat of an eye?

Probably not well.

“Flying where?”

A sudden stab of pity for Roger swamped my veins. “Back to Ireland. I live there now. Remember? Since Gran died?"

“Yeah. I forgot about that for some reason.” Roger shuffled in his seat. "The thing is, that I feel like I've done something really terrible to you and I-I can't remember it."

I let out a slow breath. If only he knew how he'd tormented me as a kid. Yet, that had been the influence of the Changeling blood in his body. He probably never would have done those things otherwise—at least if the Roger sitting before me was any indication. Who was to say, though?

"It's cool." I tried to answer the way Gabe would. “We all make mistakes.”

Roger sighed, still appearing worried. "I read the letters from Mom."

"Oh." I guess I’d understood that sooner or later Roger would read the letters. The letters our mother had written when she'd been Stephen's prisoner at the mental institution in Scotland. It wouldn't have been easy for Roger to find out that Mom hadn't died when we'd been told, but instead suffered for eleven long years. I got that. Hadn’t I done through the same thing?

Still...when I sent those to him, I never imagined we’d actually discuss them.

Honestly, I’d never expected to meet up with my brother again.

"I didn't know. All those years...I thought I knew him," Roger said.

That makes one of us.

"I can't believe he's gone. That they’re both gone," Roger said. He wiped his eyes on the heel of his hand.

I couldn’t, no didn’t, respond, and we sat in silence for a while, our own memories taking up ghostly chairs at the table until our waitress returned to take our orders.

"I have to go away for a while, Rog."

"Yeah?" Roger sat up straighter. “Why? That’s a shame. I mean...it’s been ages.”

He frowned. “Hasn’t it?”

I’ll really have to get used to him being...nice. "It has. I'll give you my number, okay?”

Part of me wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep in touch with Roger, but he was my brother. Maybe I didn't want my mortal contacts to lapse, the way Cali's had with Rowan? Although the circumstances were different, it would have been easy to forget about mortal time.

"That’s cool. Where are you going?" He asked. “I mean, technically, you don’t need to tell me.” He frowned, as if sensing how off our relationship was.

"Well, the thing is, I got married."

Surprised crossed Roger's face. "What? You're only..."

I knew he's been about to say seventeen, yet I no longer looked seventeen—probably more like in my early twenties. Although becoming immortal had healed my body from the damage that the amulet had caused me, not everything returned to normal. There was nothing for it. Reaching out with my mind, I planted a memory of my wedding in Roger's mind.

Roger shook his head. "I'm sorry, I should have realized that you'd be going on your honeymoon soon. Where's Cali?" He looked around, his face appearing confused.

And no wonder? I'd given him the barest hint of information.

"Meeting me at the airport," I said. “She’s visiting a friend right now, otherwise she would have come with me.”

The waitress arrived, setting a plate down in front of me. She placed another before Roger. We'd both ordered the same thing: Bacon Cheeseburgers.

"Why do I feel like I'm not going to see you for a long time, Kell?" Roger asked, before taking a bite of his sandwich. "I don't want you to disappear on me or anything, the way some guys do when they get married."

I stared at my brother. What if we could be brothers? Real brothers who hung out and got along and fought... Maybe he didn't have to be someone I detested? After all, he didn’t know what he'd done. He would never have to.

"Nah. It’s just a trip.”

Roger nodded, taking another bit of his sandwich. I did the same, enjoying the taste, though I didn't need to eat. "So tell me about school," I said, between bites. Roger’s face lit up as he described the course he’d started taking that term. He had a lot of make-up work, but the school had understood with Stephen’s death and all. As he spoke, I realized something. Maybe I didn't have to say goodbye to my mortal life,
entirely?

Perhaps there were a few things still worth salvaging.

More than a few.

© 2015 Stephanie Keyes and Inkspell Publishing

***


Stephanie Keyes grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and spent years traveling and working as a Corporate Trainer before she made the decision to pen her first novel. As a teen, her family always accused her of having an “overactive imagination.” Now, she’s encouraged to keep her head in the clouds and share her world with readers.

Keyes is the author of the YA Fantasy series, The Star Child, which currently includes The Star Child, After Faerie, The Fallen Stars, The Star Catcher, and The Last Protector, all from by Inkspell Publishing. The Star Child has topped the Amazon best-seller list several times since its 2012 release. The Fallen Stars was a 2013 semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Awards. The Star Catcher was just listed as a finalist in the 2014 Dante Rossetti Young Adult Novel Awards. Steph writes YA novels because she’s a hopeless romantic who lives to believe that Magick truly does exist. She is hard at work on a new YA novel.

***
Purchase links for her wonderful books are located here. I hope she writes at least 9 more of them.
http://www.stephaniekeyes.com/the-star-child-series/the-star-catcher-3/

And make sure to check out her website here.
http://www.stephaniekeyes.com/

***

For the next step in the scavenger hunt, check out http://eeholmes.com/yash

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Life ... Paused

February 2015. It was one of those months when life forced me to just take a break.

It started off pretty well. I left my job and applied to be a substitute teacher. This would give me more time to write as well as the chance to help out at Small Child's school. The group that hires substitutes told me it would take a maximum of two weeks to get everything done. Great! I settled down for a week of writing, and I finished a draft I had been working on for a year!

I was proud of myself. I was Accomplishing Things!

Then, on February 6th, I went to the Coastal Magic Convention in Daytona. I had a wonderful time at the first panels that morning. I had a great lunch with some author friends.



I went for a walk on the beach. And then this happened.


I missed two steps behind the hotel and fell. I broke my left arm, sprained my right wrist, pulled a bunch of muscles in my ribs, and busted up my left leg. The convention was lovely. The souvenir was not.

I was useless for the next week or so, but soon began to heal. One day, I woke up and my ribs no longer hurt. While my arms still hurt, I was able to open doors and drive. I was ready to rejoin the human race.

And then, on February 25th, I got a call from my husband's work that he had fallen from an 8 foot ladder. He fractured his skull in two places and sprained his right wrist (yes, the same one that I sprained). His left eyelid looked like someone had glued a large purple grape on top of it. He spent 6 days in the hospital, so I spent 6 days in the hospital. Thankfully, no surgery was required, and he is expected to make a full recovery. But there are doctor appointments ahead for both him and me. There is medication to administer, both during the day and at all hours of the night. There is a long road ahead of us.

I've thought about writing. I've thought about my Bookish Delights vlog that I have started, but is not ready to upload. I've thought about them, but that's it. Life needed me to take a break, so that's what I've done. I've rested. I've recharged my batteries. I've read (Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater and 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson). This is what I have needed to do.

The Drown family will be back and kicking soon. But for now, we are paused.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Bookish Delights

Back in October, I had this idea that I would love to open a cupcake shop/used bookstore called Book Delights. However, I have no idea how to run a business like that, nor do I have the time to invest in such an endeavor. So, I decided to do it online instead.

Here's the deal. I will create a book-themed cupcake, make a You Tube tutorial showing how I did it, then upload process pictures here.

I plan on having the first episode, themed around Alice in Wonderland, up this week. But for now, here are a few cakes that I've made in the past for Small Child's birthday. For these cakes, I used store bought icing. For the cupcakes, I plan to use a combination of homemade sculptable frosting and other items.


This was my first attempt in 2012.


This was my most recent attempt last year.



Monday, December 29, 2014

I'm Dreaming of a Humid Christmas

Let it Snow 
White Christmas 
Jingle Bells 
Sleigh Ride 
The Christmas Song 

All of these songs bring to mind an image of a cold, snowy Christmas. It's become the ideal that people wish for, but it's something that so few people ever get. Living in Florida, I know that I am far more likely to get a humid, sticky Christmas rather than a white one, and hearing the songs year after year makes me a little sad that I will never achieve the ideal. Sure, people try. A plastic "ice skating" rink pops up in Celebration every year. You can find "snow" (soap bubbles) falling at Celebration, Disney, Universal, and a host of other places around here. But it's just not the same in shorts and flip flops.

And if you think about it, you know that a white Christmas is not the norm. Heck, half the world celebrates Christmas in the summer time. This makes me wonder where the idea came from in the first place. Did it come from songs? Paintings like those done by Norman Rockwell? A Visit From St. Nicholas? A Christmas Carol? Who was the person who got everyone dreaming of a white Christmas? Any thoughts?

___
Photo

Friday, February 21, 2014

Locally Grown Words Book Fair


Back in December, my critique partner, Amy Christine Parker, and I got to participate in the Locally Grown Words Book Fair. It was held in an absolutely adorable little place called the East End Market that features locally grown food.

And here's the best part, next month a bookstore is going to open up in the East End Market, expanding the idea to local authors. It's called Bookmark It, and Kim, the lovely and gracious owner will have my books in stock. If you're in the Winter Park area, check it out.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Polk Authors and Illustrators Festival

Earlier this month, I got to participate in the Polk Authors and Illustrators Festival. Small Child joined me.

It was a blast, because it was also a Halloween fest. The zombie makeup table was right beside me. Plus, there was a dog show, so I got to see all of the adorable little dogs in costumes running around.

Of course, the event carried with it the inevitable learning lesson. I set up my table and was smiling at the passersby. My husband took Small Child off in his stroller to find some food. They hadn't been gone five minutes when my first customer approached and wanted to buy a copy of Spirit World. She had a $20. I had change. In my wallet. In the stroller.

Head desk.

Ah well. It was still an enjoyable experience, and next time, I will make sure to have my change in the same box as my books so this does not happen again.

What about you? Do any of you have learning experiences from events that you'd like to share?