Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday

Did everyone have a wonderful Thanksgiving? Our Thanksgiving was a little different this year because we're visiting family in Florida, but it was still so much fun. I know my kids had a blast singing karaoke, playing flag football, and swimming in the pool with their cousins. I mean, where else can you swim outside when it's almost December?

Despite being on vacation, this week it was my turn to host for Unicorn Bell. Here are the highlights if you want to stop by and take a look. (By the way, I know it's hard to tell, but all you have to do is click on the day and it will take you to that post. The link never stands out for some reason.)

Monday—Choosing an Unforgettable Book Title: Do you ever have trouble coming up the right book title for your novel? Then this is a post you don't want to miss. I give you some tips and tricks to choosing a book title you can be proud of.

Wednesday—Choosing an Unforgettable Book Cover: Are you an Indie publisher? Do you know all the amazing book designers out there? I've included a list of my favorite designers along with sample covers.

Friday—Choosing a Reputable Publisher: Are you looking for a small to medium-sized publisher? I've highlighted several reputable publishers and included a sample cover so you can see their work. I've also given you a website with an all inclusive publisher list. As always, be sure to do your homework before submitting to ANY publisher.

Well, that about wraps up my week on Unicorn Bell. Be sure to pop in if any of these topics interest you. Enjoy all the Black Friday sales! Anyone going shopping?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Cenote by Chelsea Dyreng

I am thrilled to be able to celebrate the release of my dear friend, Chelsea Dyreng's debut novel, THE CENOTE. I met Chelsea a little over a year ago at the Carolinas SCBWI Conference. When I found out that she is also the mother of five children, we immediately hit it off. And now, she has an incredible book with an amazing cover. Don't you love it?

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

THE CENOTE is a work of fiction told in alternating viewpoints between Sandpiper, a girl who has lived on an island her entire life, and Lark, the son of a chief whose village is in the heart of the jungle. When Lark and his father, the chief, show up on the tiny island that Sandpiper and her people inhabit, Sandpiper's future is uncertain and somewhat bleak. A disgrace to her family, Sandpiper goes along with the plan to obtain the favor of the chief's son, despite her utter disgust towards him. When chosen to be his bride, she must move away from the only home she's ever known and embark on a journey to a new land to live amongst a different culture, people, and family. And no one must know the secret she carries.

This journey of a new life also begins Sandpiper's journey to understanding what true love really means. Lark is nothing Sandpiper ever wanted, but he turns out to be exactly what she needs. 

But when strange things keep happening to the men of their village, Sandpiper must put aside her feelings of betrayal to save the one man who has ever truly loved her. 

I absolutely fell in love with this book. It was such a touching story, written in beautiful language and full of heart. It's a story about love, forgiveness, hope, and the strength of family. The author was able to vividly capture the time period, culture, and habitat of these Mayan people living in the Yucatan. The story behind the cenote, their source of water, was creepy and kept me turning the pages, wanting to know what was happening to the men in the village. For me, this was a book I didn't want to put down, so I read it in a day. And it was worth every minute! 

I give this book 5 stars! And I recommend it to anyone who likes a great story with a hint of mystery and a ton of heart. Happy Reading!

And now, I'm excited to have Chelsea here to answer a few questions about her book and herself. 

Interview with Chelsea Dyreng:

What inspired you to write The Cenote?

I always wanted to write a novel, but I thought that I should at least wait until my kids were all in school. When I told this to my grandma she laughed at me and told me that if I waited until my kids were gone I would lose all my inspiration. She was right! The idea of this story came from a game my daughters were playing upstairs. I was washing the dishes and I could hear them say, “Let’s pretend that this group of people can hear something, but this other group of people can’t.” And that was the spark that started it all.

Now that I’m so invested in Sandpiper and Lark’s story, I’m dying to know if there will be another book or is this a standalone novel?

Hmm….I don’t know. Lark is so fun to write about. :) There is a lot more to the story of Jade and Stone that I had to delete, so maybe I’ll pick up their story. I have another book that is set in the same area, but it is set when the Mayan cities were in their hay-day, and it is about a young girl who must choose to lose her virtue and keep her life, or stay virtuous and be sacrificed to the gods. It is a YA and I’m still waiting to see if my publisher wants to publish it. I think they are waiting to see how well The Cenote does. :)

I'm sure it will do very well! :) The details to the time period, culture, and location were incredible. How much research did you have to do to write this novel?

I checked out a lot of books on the Maya people and studied a lot about the Yucatan on the internet. But I knew my story wouldn’t feel really authentic unless I went there and saw and smelled and touched everything myself. Miraculously, at the same time I was writing the book my aunt needed someone to join her in Merida, Mexico. So my sister and I stayed with her for a week and I got to research to my heart’s content. I even swam in a cenote!

That is so cool! What are you currently working on?

A story about a boy who grows up on a pirate ship.

Ooh, I love that premise! As a mother of several small children, when do you find the time to write?

I only write during naptime or early morning (like 5 am). I have to be writing for at least an hour before I really “sink in” to the world I am forming. I can’t write in 15 minute spurts.

Yeah, the 15 minute spurts don't work for me, either. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Snap my fingers and have the house clean!

That's a great one! Would you rather sing in the rain or dance in the streets?

Sing in the rain

What is your biggest pet peeve? this moment it is Halloween candy. Five kids brings in a heck of a lot of candy. And now they are getting better at keeping track of what they have so it is harder for it to “accidentally” go missing.

The wrappers all over the floor is what gets me! :) Favorite pizza toppings?

I love it all.

If someone were to make a movie of your life, what would it be called?

Chalk Full of Ideas

Lol. Love it! Thanks so much, Chelsea! It was a pleasure to read your book and have you on here today! :)

About the Author:

Chelsea Bagley Dyreng is the daughter of a fireworks salesman and Miss Malibu. She grew up in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Rigby, Idaho. She studied English and music at Brigham Young University. After graduating she worked as a librarian until she married and started family life with a bang by having twins! She now lives in Hillsborough, NC with her husband and five kids. She loves writing, being outside, and eating Mexican food.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

IWSG November: You Don't Give Up

I can't believe it's already NOVEMBER! That means Christmas is right around the corner—yikes!

And since it's the first Wednesday of the month, that means it's time for another group posting of the IWSG! A big thank you to the creator of this wonderful group, Alex Cavanaugh. And for anyone who wants to join us, it's never too late. Go HERE to sign up or learn more about the group. And, as always, thank you to the co-hosts for the month!

So, there isn't much to report. The agent I did the R&R for decided to pass on that project, but good news—she invited me to send her anything I thought might be a good fit. I decided to send her a little blurb about one of my adult contemporary romances and she responded that she'd love to read it! I sent it off to her and now I'm waiting to hear back. In the meantime, I've decided to send out more queries for Middle of Knowhere, and when I've exhausted all my query options, I'll start submitting to any publishers who accept work from unagented authors. So, if you know of a publisher who accepts YA, let me know! :)

 I'm happy to have a game plan, but I'm still feeling a little overwhelmed. Inspiration for another book hasn't struck yet (or, I guess I should say, stuck yet), and I keep hoping there will be something that triggers that desire to write again. Oh well, I don't want to focus only on the negatives. And now that I've given you the update on what's going on, let's have some fun!

I figured this is appropriate since Thanksgiving is just around the corner...

This is how I feel about this awesome IWSG group:

This is what I tell myself when I start to feel overwhelmed with the whole querying/publishing process:

*I will BE so relaxed*

And this is what I keep telling myself in spite of it all (and this is what you should tell yourself too):

Even though things aren't necessarily falling into place the way I want them too, I'm still not giving up. And neither should you.