Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reading Challenge

What am I reading now?  The Sharpest Blade (Sandy Williams, Shadow Reader #3)
Annnd . . . what do I think so far?  I am so sad to see this series ending. I know--I'd never want the war to go on and on just for the sake of my entertainment, but I've enjoyed it so much! Great urban fantasy.
          McKenzie was recruited to work for the King in a fight against rebels, that was 10 years ago, and from the moment she started, she had to leave her normal human life behind. When she was captured by the rebels, she found the lines between good and evil in the war were blurry at best and nonexistent the rest of the time. Who should she believe? Who could she trust with her life? Or the lives of her friends? Or the fate of the Realm?
          All the books are out now and the story ends with this book. Enjoy!

Reading Challenge
Ring out the old year and ring in the new!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

6 Essential Resources

What am I reading now? Awakening (Christy Dorrity)

Annd . . . what do I think so far?  McCayla thinks magic's not real, outside of books that is, until her Aunt Avril visits while on a business trip (she's a psychic for the FBI) and pulls her into the hunt for supernatural killer, awakening McCayla's own magical abilities. On the night she has a solo in her ballet recital, she wanders down a school hallway, finding a dance competition. Excited about the energy the dancers bring to their steps and curious to learn more about it, McKayla approaches the school's janitor, mute and crippled, to teach her Irish dance.
          I love the mix of Celtic mythology, a geis (curse), Irish dancing and relatable characters--oh, and throw in some high school drama and teenage romance. You'll enjoy this book!

6 Books for Writer Wannabes
When you're starting work on a novel, your first novel, you don't know how much you don't know--at least Deanna and I didn't. We just took off writing! The story evolved from a character we felt like we knew. It was a thrilling ride to write a chapter and share that with our family or friends and get their feedback--of course it was all positive. Then when the last chapter was written, it was ready to be sent out for publication--or so we thought. Again, we didn't know what we didn't know.

A few years and several novels later, we are starting to get it. Writing is part heart and part head. Our first attempts were all heart. Since then we've been on a journey to collect the knowledge we need to make our books interesting to more than our close relatives.

A few months ago, a friend of mine told me she had a great idea for a novel (I didn't even know she wanted to write novels.) and wondered how to start writing it. When she told me her concept, I wanted to read it--I hope she writes that story. She asked some questions about structure and scenes. So I started looking over my book case to determine which books I went to most often when stuck while writing. What would I recommend to a new writer?
Here's the list:
Story Engineering by Larry Brooks on story structure
Character Emotion & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress
Make a Scene by Jordan E Rosenfeld
Sin and Syntax by Constance Hale on words, sentences and beautiful writing
45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt
20 Master Plots and How to Build Them by Ronald B. Tobias
It's like having college classes in your lap.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"My Books are Water"

What am I reading now?  Copied (S.M. Anderson)
Annnd . . . what do I think so far?
Adopted off the black market, Alexander Mitchell, has no idea his DNA is copyrighted and property of military weapons giant Texacom Defense. Nor that his DNA is being used to develop an army of clones. 
          When the company discovers he was not properly disposed of 17 years ago, they send an assassin copy, BETA23, to terminate Xan and cover it up.
Narrowly escaping BETA23’s first attempt, Xan teams up with Lacey, a genetically engineered genius, he’s surprised to find common ground with— only they’re awkward together. Half of the time she stares at Xan like the science project he is and the other half...let’s just say Xan can’t keep his eyes off her lips.
"My Books are Water"
WOW! Mark Twain considered his own books water in comparison with other works. Maybe Shakespeare did as well as he wrote for audiences filled with common people. 

The best books I've read, the ones that touch my heart and stay with me long after the last page is turned are the books that opened a new understanding about myself, others or the world. Some of them are masterpieces--I fell in love with Shakespeare and Poe in high school. Others have been well loved for more than a century--Jane Eyer and Persuasion. Some rocked the literary world--Book Thief. Or the pop culture world--Harry Potter. Still other favorites were popular within a genre--Shopaholic, Mystic and Rider, Divergent.

My daughters love to read too! (Yes, I did one right as a mom.) And their list of what is great is different from mine or from each other's. So that's the thing. What might be water to me is wine to someone else and vice versa.
Are you a writer? Write the book! Don't worry if it is water or wine. Tell the story as honestly as you can and it will find a heart that can love it.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

HTML Cheat Sheet

What am I reading now?  The Seven Year King (Kiki Hamilton, The Faerie Ring #3)

Annd . . . what do I think so far?  The UnSeelie kingdom has to make a sacrifice to the Seelie kingdom, of which Tiki is the queen, to remain separate. This is the year and the UnSeelie King Donogal has chosen Fiona's love interest. To make it worst the Lithe wants to eat Fiona's heart and kill Tiki.

The tension is amping up in this book. There is a little more to do with the Princes of England, bringing them in from the first book too. Book three is great.

Learn HTML and get a great Cheat Sheet

I've started learning HTML and CSS to be able to fix things on my website and blog--and generally because I just like to keep learning things. I ran across two resources that are WONDERFUL. Check them out:

Codecademy: What would you like to learn about computers?  You can find it here! The lessons are sequenced well and I can always go back and review anything in past lessons I need a refresher on. Oh, and it's free!

Webmonkey also had a great post on an HTML cheat sheet. It keeps all the basics at my fingertips while I'm learning.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

2013 Debut Author Giveaway Hop

What am I reading now? Altered (Jennifer Rush)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far? I really enjoyed devoured this book. Great new author to watch! I was so intrigued by the "what ifs" in this book that I read it straight through, ignoring everything around me. And the best part?
Book #2 in this series, Erased, comes out next month! Can't wait.

You can win this book in the Hop this week.

To enter, all you need to do is:
1. Become a follower of my blog. (click on the blue "Join this Site" button and follow directions. You must appear in the blog followers to be eligible in the drawing. The button is in the right side-bar, about half-way down.)

2. Leave a comment on this post and tell me your reading resolution for this year. 
If your e-mail address isn't visible through your Blogger profile, please also leave it with the comment so I can notify you if you win. You can enter from now until midnight Mountain Time on December 10, 2013.

That's it! You are now entered. Now please visit all my friends on their blogs to sign up for more give-aways in the 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

What am I reading now?  United We Spy (Ally Carter)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far?  Oh, I LOVE this series! I am so sad that this is the last book. It's done and the girls are graduating. But the good news is--if you haven't started it yet, they are all out now and you won't have to wait for a year between each release date. As with most series, I can't say much about this book without ruining the best parts of the other books. But I can say, this book (and this author BTW) doesn't disappoint in this conclusion. It's a great ending.

Here's my official recipe for roasting a perfect, moist and delish turkey!

Roasting a turkey

1 c. salt
½ c sugar
½ c brown sugar
1 Tablespoon peppercorns
1 T ground ginger
1 T dried rosemary
1 T ground sage
1 T dry basil
1 large onion, cut up
5 celery sticks, chopped
5 carrots, sliced
1 gallon chicken broth

Bring to a boil to dissolve the sugars and soften the vegetables
Remove from heat and add 1 gallon ice water
Cool completely
Submerge turkey in brine and add enough ice to bring the level of the brine over the turkey
Brine up to 24 hours, keeping ice in the tank

To bake, remove the bird and wipe off everything that sticks to it
Combine 1 softened stick of butter with 2 T Montreal Chicken seasoning
Loosen the skin on the breast and thighs.
Push butter into these areas
Preheat oven to 500 degrees
Roast the bird for 30 minutes then reduce heat to 350 degrees until done.
I remove it at 170 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh but not touching the bone (the little red buttons they put on birds are always wrong) and let it sit for 10 minutes before I carve it. I also spoon some of the drippings from the pan over the carved pieces.

I don’t bag it or it will boil the turkey--not good. You can tent the breast with foil for some of the time, but pull it off to let it brown.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pen Names

What am I reading now?  Enchanted and Hero (Alethea Kontis, Woodcutter Sisters)
Annnd. . . what do I think so far?  I love that this series is based on a fairy tale and has other fairy tales twisted into the retelling. Each of the sisters in the family are named for days of the week (a little confusing at first) and each has a gift--Sunday's is that she's a writer. Sounds innocent until you consider that what she writes tends to come true.

Pen Names

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose

      By any other name would smell as sweet;"

Who Is…
Howard Allen O'Brien?
Judith Rumelt?
Daniel Handler?
Madeleine Wickham?
Dean Koontz? (Okay, so you know this one.)

Their Pen Names Are...
Anne Rice
Cassandra Clare
Lemony Snicket
Sophie Kinsella (and she writes as Madeleine Wickham too.)
Aaron Woolfe, Anthony North, David Axton, Brian Coffey

And I noticed that some of their pen names have pen names!

Deanna and I have chosen our pen name:

***BiG ReVeAL***

Jo Noelle

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Register Now!
iWriteNetwork writer's retreat this spring
March 27-29th 2014, in Heber, Utah.
3 days to write, write, write

There will be classes about all things INDIE as well as classes on writing techniques and tips. 
Classes are optional & held in a location that won't disturb writers who are in the zone!

How to sign up for this retreat: 
FYI: there are only 19 spots. All meals are included AND there will be mini-workshops on self-publishing during the retreat so that if you choose to go to all the workshops, you will have all the tools you need to self-publish your own books.  See pics of the awesome accommodations for the retreat here.

1. Pick which bed type/price you would like (see below)

2. Send an email to 
iWriteNetwork@gmail.com with your first and second (if you have one) preference.

3. We will send you a confirmation email and a link to pay-through Paypal- (you may choose to split your payment into three and send one third immediately, on third on Dec. 10th and the last third on Jan. 10th. You must pay in full by Jan. 10th.)  We must have your payment within one hour of receiving your confirmation email or your spot will be given to the next person in line.

NO REFUNDS-thank you. (you can, however transfer your bed to someone else if you discover you are unable to attend)

The bed options:  (if you are planning to choose a queen or a king bed, you might want to find someone to be your roomie if you care who is in the bed with you.)

Bedroom 6: 3 bunk beds               2 lower bunks @ $175 each
                                                  3 upper bunks @ $150 each

Bedroom 5: Queen and a Bunk   2 spots in the queen @  $175
                                                       1 upper bunk @ $150
                                                       1 lower bunk @ $175

Bedroom 4: 2 Queens                   4 spots @ $175

Bedroom 3: 1 Queen                    2 spots @ $200 each

Bedroom 2: 1 Queen                           2 spots at $200 each

Blow up bed in two of the              2 Spots at $150 each
Rooms (You bring it)

We are So excited to have you join us. 
Have question? 

To register Email us-
 Please state your 1st and 2nd choices for bed arrangements

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Happy Halloween & Birthday!

What am I reading now? The Chaos of Stars (Kiersten White)
Annnd . . . what do I think so far?  Isadora is 17 and thinks her family is messed up--don't all teens think that at one time or another? But Isadora is right. Her aunt seduced her dad, her mom married (in name only) her brother. Her dad was murdered and her mother brought him back to life.
     Oh, they're Egyptian gods. That should explain it.
     Isadora isn't a god and has to deal with not being immortal and eventually losing her life and family while they all dysfunctionally continue their chaotic lives throughout eternity.
     Win this book (it's really a $15 Amazon US gift card)! Leave a comment about birthdays or Halloween, and your email address so I can let you know if you've won.

On October 30th in 2010 was my first blog post! Happy third birthday to my journey to learn about writing. I've learned so much and I hope I've share a little to help someone else in their journey too.

And a Happy Halloween to all of you. This is one of my favorite holidays of the year--when all things fiction are celebrated! Here's a preview of our family's costumes this year...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ripple Effect Novella Series--Can't Wait

The Ripple Effect Romance Novella Series 
Enjoy this exciting new series of clean novellas by six critically-acclaimed authors.

"Like a pebble tossed into calm water, a simple act can ripple outward and have a far-reaching effect on those we meet, perhaps setting a life on a different course—one filled with excitement, adventure, and sometimes even love."

Book 1: Home Matters by Julie N. Ford
Book 2: Silver Linings by Kaylee Baldwin
Book 3: Righting A Wrong by Rachael Anderson
Book 4: Lost and Found by Karey White
Book 5: Second Chances 101 by Donna K. Weaver
Book 6: Immersed in Love by Jennifer Griffith

Home Matters by Julie N. Ford

According to her mother, Olivia Pembroke was born to be a star. But how is she supposed to be famous when she can't even get a decent acting gig? Her lucky break comes when she lands an audition for a wildly popular home improvement show. Even though she has no design training and has never even held a power tool, she refuses to let that stop her. She's confident that her destiny is finally within reach.

When her affections are torn between her heartthrob co-host and the irritating, yet somehow endearing lead contractor, does she continue to reach for the stars? Or does she design a new happily ever after? One that leads not to the fading lights of fame and fortune, but to a love that will burn forever.

Silver Linings by Kaylee Baldwin

Drew Westfall wants nothing more than to forget what he had to do in the name of "smart" business. Cutting off all ties with his parents—including handing over the entire contents of his trust fund to a charity—he takes off for Bridger, Colorado where his best friend has an extra room for him. It doesn't take long for him to realize that his business degree won’t do him much good in a town as small as Bridger, but he's broke and has nowhere else to go.

Eden Torresi has every reason to wallow. Not only did she lose her mother, but she had to drop out of nursing school and is in a relationship with a guy unwilling to commit. But Eden isn't the wallowing type. Instead, she chooses to spend most of her time taking care of the seniors at Silver Linings Nursing home. When she learns that her boyfriend's new roommate is down on his luck, her caring nature makes her want to reach out to him and offer what help she can. But the more time they spend together, the more complicated things get, especially when the seniors of Silver Linings decide to play matchmaker.

Righting a Wrong by Rachael Anderson

Seven years ago, Cambri Blaine fled her small hometown of Bridger, Colorado after her senior year ended in a fiasco. Only Jace Sutton knew the real reason why—that she was a spineless coward. Now, seven years later, her father's been in an accident and needs help, and Cambr has no choice but to return home. So with trepidation, she takes a leave of absence from the landscape architecture firm where she works and boards a plane, hoping against hope that Jace is no longer around and that the past can stay where it belongs—in the past.

If only life worked that way.

Jace never expected to see Cambri again. After she’d led him on, bruised his heart, and left town without a backward glance, he was forced to pick up the pieces and try not to hate her for it. Eventually, he put it behind him and moved on, creating a life for himself in his beloved hometown. But now that Cambri is back and looking more beautiful and sophisticated than ever, some of those old feelings resurface, and Jake instinctively knows, for the sake of his heart, that he needs to avoid her at all costs.

If only it were that easy.

Lost and Found by Karey White

Lydia was supposed to have an adventurous and exciting summer. Instead she's done nothing more than read and eat takeout. Now it's time to go home, and what does she have to show for it? A big fat nothing. Unless, of course, her trip to the airport somehow turns into something more than just a flight home.

Blake feels like he's been sent on a wild goose chase. While work is piling up back in Denver, he's on the other side of the country, hunting for some mysterious box that his grandfather left him. Well, no more. Nothing inside that box could possibly be more important than the opportunity to make it as the youngest partner at his firm. So he's going home, and that's that. But that's before he discovers his flight has been cancelled.

When these two strangers meet at the airport, they make a split-second decision to search for the box together. Maybe with both of them on the hunt, Lydia can have her adventure and Blake can find the box. And maybe, if they’re lucky, they’ll even find some romance.

Second Chances 101 by Donna K. Weaver

Thirty seven year old Francie Davis, a recent widow and empty nester, gets to attend college at last. She’s sure her luck has changed when she also lands a job on campus that will pay her tuition, as administrative assistant to a history professor. When her handsome new boss yells at her on the first day of work, Francie worries she will never be good enough.

For Professor Alex Diederik, life is going downhill fast. Not only is his bitter ex-wife trying to poison their only daughter against him, but now his one place of solace—his work environment—is being complicated by his attractive new administrative assistant. She drives home his feelings of failure as a husband and father, and Alex wonders if hiring her was the right thing to do.

Francie will have to put aside her hurt and insecurities or risk her dreams, while Alex must look outside himself if he’s to mend the breach with his daughter. And, perhaps, find someone who can help heal his pain.

Immersed in Love by Jennifer Griffith

Lisette Pannebaker speaks five languages and has a brilliant business plan—personal language immersion. Clients can hire her to shadow them and speak all day in any language they need to learn for business or travel—whatever.

But there’s a major hitch: she’s far too pretty. Clients with less than honorable intentions sign up just have Lisette at their side. Solution? A make-under. Way under.It works like a charm. None of her male clients show her the least bit of interest.

Until… Erik.

Erik Gunnarsson is charming, kind, and smart—everything she’s ever looked for. Even though he seems to have a secret and she swore she'd never date a client, Lisette is tempted to shed her disguise—even if it means jeopardizing her career.

Giveaway Details
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 10/31/13

Bloggers who put up a spotlight post about these books on their blog can enter to win an additional $25 gift card or paypal cash.  See details in the Rafflecopter.

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Getting to Know Myself as a Writer

What am I reading now?  The Reluctant Bachelorette (Rachael Anderson)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far? 
Taycee a small town girl. (Me too!)
She grew up in a Colorado community dependent on farming. (Me too!)
She loves the small town life. (Agree to disagree)

It's been 10 years since she's seen Luke. He was her older brother's best friend, and she thought hers too. But when he moved away, and never looked back, or called or wrote it shattered her heart. It isn't bad enough that he's here, but they are both tangled into a scheme the town has to earn money for a farmers' co-op, by staging a Reality Internet Series of The Bachelorette, staring Taycee.

Getting to Know Myself as a Writer
I'm learning a lot about my own writing style. Here are a few of my recent ah-ha's:
I have to consciously write sentences with varying lengths and complexity.
I have to deliberately add in reactions, sequels and emotion. I have a tendency to skip to the next bit of action.
I have to put a novel aside for a while to forget about how it was written to look at it with fresh perspective for revision.
I way over use the word "that"; like 827 times in one book, 731 times in another and 325 times in the latest finished book. Each time I could wipe out about 2/3 of them during editing.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Private Editor

What am I reading now?  Just Ella (Annette K. Larsen)
Annnd . . . what do I think so far?  Just Ella is a clean YA romance novel that I recommend as a great book to shelve in your home or your classroom library. 

The Princess is a delightful character, who I could love and admire from the first scene of the book. I like that although she has a difficult decisions and some high penalties for breaking the rules of her station, she continues to struggle to follow her heart in her friendship and love with Gavin, a gardner. Here's a snippet:

"I watched in helpless horror as two guards hauled Gavin to his feet and dragged him from the room. My voice was frozen, unable to protest as another guard took hold of my arm, leading me upstairs. From the confines of my room, I stared into the darkness beyond my window, hoping to catch one more glimpse of Gavin. He was gone, and I wondered if he would have been better off if he had never met me."

Working with an Editor

Deanna and I have started working with Kat Brendel, a private editor and love the experience of working with her, as well as the feedback we are receiving on our story. If you are looking for this next step in your quest for publication, check out her website:

She's just opened to accepting new clients and has a great party on her site with some fun prizes!

1. Partial Edit: I will be giving away a partial edit of your first 7,500 words. This is the usual amount agents/publishers ask for so this edit will ensure the pages they first see hook them. If you are planning to self-publish, ensuring your first pages entice readers to buy the book is essential! For more detail as to what a partial edit entails, see the description on my Services page.

2. Sub/Pub package: I will be giving away a submission or a publication package, depending on if you plan to traditionally or self-publish. For a more detailed description of what this package entails, see my Services page.

3. 25% off coupon: The name says it all! Valid for one year from the end of the contest, you will receive 25% off the service of your choosing.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Accidental Marriage & Reading Goal


Nina Rushforth was born with a silver spoon caught in her throat. She and her father have mapped out a future that includes a brilliant legal career, a marriage to an equally stellar attorney or Wall Street whiz kid, and eventually the production of three perfect children. A semester at St. Andrew's University in Scotland, was part of the plan, but falling in love with a handsome missionary was not.

Six months later, after Elliot returns from his mission and after a tumultuous courtship, Nina finds herself teaching at a junior high school, learning to keep house in a minuscule apartment, and living with a man who doesn't know any more about being married than she does. Intimacy, cooking, laundry, lesson plans, and a tug-of-war with a possessive mother-in-law prove to be more overwhelming than Nina can successfully manage. The newlyweds awaken to realize the head on the adjacent pillow belongs to a stranger.

This novel captures the heartbreak of young love caught in the turbulent social crosscurrents of the 70's, at a time when brave women struggled to find dignity and equality in the workplace, as well as peace at home.

Publication Date: December 10, 2013
ISBN: 9781462113743
Publisher: Cedar Fort Publishing

Preorder this book at...
Buy links:


“A thoughtful, heartbreaking, and often laugh-out-loud romp… Annette Haws explores the interesting question: What keeps a marriage together?”
--Terrell Dougan, a columnist for the Huffington Post and the author of That Went Well: Adventures in Caring for my Sister

“Haws delivers a story that makes you want to rush to the end to find out what happens and prose that makes you want to slow down and savor it.”
--Karey White, author of For What It’s Worth, Gifted, and My Own Mr. Darcy

“If you want a story with plot, character and real, deep meaning that will leave you thinking long after you’re done, this is the book for you.”
--Shannon Guymon, author of Do Over

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