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Double Play by Jill Shalvis Review & Random Giveaway!!!!

Today, I’d like to welcome my new gal-pal and avid-reader-extraordinaire! Her name is Danielle Hester, and she is the super-smart-funny @lush26 if you are a twitterer like myself ;) I met Danielle on twitter and have enjoyed her spunky wit for some time now and then….she offered to guest post for me, bumping her up to my most favoritest of tweeters this morning LOL! Enjoy!

Play Ball!!

This was a great contemporary romance. Since I happen to love Baseball myself, I had to read this book. Come to find out I would not be disappointed. Not only do you get the romance you get a view inside the baseball season.

Pace Martin does not need any distractions while in season. He’s the star pitcher for the Santa Barbara Pacific Heat’s baseball team. Fighting an injury that could end his career and trying to pitch the Heat to the World Series. With lots of pressure on him already, he doesn’t need Holly Hutchinson interfering in his life. Holly Hutchinson is not only good at finding secrets, but she is asked to write about them. Attraction runs deep with the two and trying to fight it because both have jobs to do and don’t want romance to get in the way. When tension runs high and trust issues come into play, you have to wonder if they are a match made in heaven.

Even before this book I wanted my own baseball player (*bats eyes at Derek Jeter*), but then after reading this I am wondering where to find one. I liked the fact that this book wasn’t predictable. You never new when they were going to take things to the next level. Laughing out loud is a great quality in this book, although my husband kept looking at me like I lost my mind, I truly enjoyed this. It was a very fun read.

I loved Pace and the whole nice guy thing he had going on. The only thing that bothered me was my feelings for Holly in the beginning while she was speaking to her boss, but she didn’t listen to him and kept trying to find out what the Heat was hiding. Way to go Holly! Holly pretty much expects everyone around her to hide things or lie, but she doesn’t come off as completely cynical or hard. On the contrary, I found her tough choices when it comes to writing her articles, the secrets, and her relationship with Pace very real. I also loved that fact that she didn’t do it to advance in her writing career. Pace being a private man whose life revolves around baseball and his career wasn’t the jerk I would have been picturing. He could have been a self-centered athlete, but instead he is a giving, kind man and lets not forget hot!

The chemistry is wow. Shalvis can write some steamy scenes and she certainly did not disappoint on those in Double Heat. Even with just the kissing scenes can fog up any mirror. I loved the sexual tension between Holly and Pace, in fact so much build up that they don’t even get together until you read half the book but it is well worth the wait. Then when they finally together, WOW!!! I also fell in love with a few of the secondary characters and crossing fingers some more book will be written about them.

This is a great year around read and a great book for any baseball fans. Well, actually for anyone who just loves romance.

Thanks Danielle! Awesome review! I know I’m ready to pick this one up and I’ve already popped over to Jill’s site to check her out.  As for Danielle, if you ask, she’ll tell you she loves to read, watch her Yankees play, and then read some more. LOL :) The best thing about all her reading is the site full of her other reviews on books we love and books we need to read! Leave a comment. Stop by her website Lush Book Reviews’s Blog,  and don’t forget to follow on Twitter too!

Giveaway! Giveaway! All my favorite things are involved here and I have the lovely Danielle to thank. Here’s what I love: YA and most especially Twilight (which reminded me how I love to write), free books, giveaways, and friends. There you go! Oh, too ambiguous? Danielle has graciously offered up copies of New Moon, Eclispe and Breaking Dawn. You so read that right. Leave a comment and consider yourself entered to win!

*Us only – Sorry international friends, shipping’s a bizoch. You understand. Instead, I send my hugs, kisses and LUV! XOXOXO (way better than books ;) – pretend.

Writer Wednesday Welcomes Cynthia Watson!!!

Today on Writer Wednesday, I can’t wait to introduce you to my newest writer pal Cynthia Watson! Cynthia is am amazing, woman, writer, mother and friend. You’re going to love her! She’s right here in the trenches with the rest of us; writing, living, parenting, working. You name it, she’s got it going. What separates her from the pack? Well, in my opinion, it’s her awesome manuscript she’s called Wind. You all know what a crazy YA nut I am and as soon as I read the premise here, I wanted the book! Imagine my sad little face when I discovered she’s looking for a publisher! So, I made lemonade. I can’t read the book, but I can get to know the brain from which it was conceived! I can get the scoop -the deets- the 4-1-1. And here they are!

Please welcome Cynthia Watson! I can’t wait to hear about Wind, so I’m jumping in with both feet here. Patience is not a virtue in my sweet patent leather hobo. So, let’s go!

Hi Cynthia! Tell me: What drew you to the YA genre? and why paranormal?
WIND started out as an adult paranormal story, but I’ve always wanted to write something my children (Matthew, 21 & Anne Marie, 17) would read.  When I started writing WIND in 2009, my kids and their friends were heavily emersed in the Twilight series.  I would walk by their rooms, and hear them dissecting it to death.  It piqued my curiousity.  My daughter suggested I read the first book, so I did, and thought it was great!  I loved the voice, and the desperate passion of the two main characters.  I could totally relate to the confusion of Bella’s long-suffering father, Charlie (the dialogue between Bella and Charlie sounded very familiar!)  Anyway, I decided to incorporate more young adult characters into WIND, and, ultimately, it totally morphed into a YA Paranormal Romance, narrated by eighteen-year-old Mary Flynn Flood (just called “Flynn” by her two best friends, openly gay, “David”, and boy-crazy “Siobhan”).   Then I added, “Kevan”, Flynn’s sixteen-year-old sister, and the YA feeling was complete.  I loved creating the dynamics between Flynn and Kevan; frustrating, but loving at the same time.  Often, they can’t stand each other (typical sisters!), but they both eventually learn, the hard way, that “blood is thicker than water.”

I’ve always been a big fan of the paranormal sub-genre.  My particular favorites are:  Philip Pulman (His Dark Materials), “Dead Until Dark” by Charlaine Harris, “Interview With The Vampire” and “The Vampire Lestat”, by Anne Rice, “Carrie” and “The Shining” by Stephen King, “Rosemary’s Baby” by Ira Levin, and, of course, “Dracula,” by Bram Stoker.  Also, I’ve have always been facsinated with John Milton’s “Paradise Lost”, and Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy”, the journey of a soul towards God, which is one of the the underlying themes of WIND.

I’m right with you. I LOVE para! Do you find it difficult to write from a teen’s point of view?
At first I wasn’t sure I could do it, but once I started, it just poured out (I was a teenager once, even if my kids don’t believe it!)  The story is told from Flynn’s point of view, and I guess she’s a bit of myself, and a lot of my daughter, who is a funny and uncommonly thoughtful person.  The first “grown up” book I remember reading was, “Once Is Not Enough” by Jacqueline Suzanne.  I fell in love with the main character, January Wayne, and decided then and there that I would write a book someday with a main character as wonderful and hopeful as January Wayne.  I hope I did.

I’m thrilled to meet a par YA character who is hopeful! Have you ever asked your own teens to listen to or give you feedback as you go?

The only bit of advice my daughter gave me was not to use the word “groovy” (hey, I grew up in the sixties!).   When I completed the final edits, both my kids read it, and thankfully, they loved it.  My daughter liked Kevan, and my son loves the dark, demon side. Score! If only we all had beloved young adults to give us some insight. And we know are kids are the surest to tell us what they really think LOL. Excellent. (I wish there was a “thumbs up” key). Dear Dell: get on that.

OK, so you rock on the YA writing. Tell me: What’s your favorite genre to read? I always wonder if we writers read what we write or if they are separate.
I tend to scoop up YA by the armload to read, but still write all over the board (I need a harness or therapy or a life coach LOL. I wanna write it ALLLLL)
I’ll read anything!  I love young adult (currently, “The Hunger Games” triology by Suzanne Collins, and Kiersten White’s “Paranormalcy”), historical fiction (Nevil Shute’s “A Town Like Alice,” and “Exodus” by Leon Uris), horror (Stephen King, naturally), mystery (anything Agatha Christie).  One of my favorite authors is Audrey Niffenegger.  I highly recommend, “Her Fearful Symmetry.”  And, of course, I love the classics such as Daphne Du Maurier’s “Rebecca” or “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy.  Also, I’m a bit of a Sherlock Holmes nut!  Currently, I’m re-reading “Gone With The Wind” by Margaret Mitchell.  I’m always trying to encourage young people to read GWTW.  It’s got one of the coolest (notice I didn’t say “grooviest”) protagonists ever – the original steel magnolia!

Tell us about Wind -
WIND is about Eighteen-year-old Mary Flynn Flood, a present-day, Boston college student whose world falls apart when her beloved father dies of the “Irish Cancer”—alcoholism.  Her once vibrant mother has become a shadow of her former self, her oldest brother, Jack, is an emotionally-distant lawyer who lives in New York City, and her other brother, Dylan (who is in serious danger of becoming the next alcoholic of the family), has high-tailed it for Europe.  To make matters worse, her sixteen-year-old sister, Kevan, whom Flynn has sworn to protect, has suddenly gone from looking like Hanna Montana to Marilyn Manson.

But when a seemingly chance encounter with an international student from Italy, Dante, drops her down a rabbit hole of angels, demons and inexplicable, mystical occurrences, Flynn quickly suspects that he is no ordinary boyfriend (if such a thing exists in any world!).  Eventually, Dante is obliged to admit he is an angel, temporarily here on a surreptitious mission which he cannot reveal—even to Flynn.  Just when things are looking up for Flynn, Dante’s eternal adversary, a rogue, dark angel, and his vacuous companion, turn up to upset the balance, with devastating results.  But, when Kevan falls for one of them, Flynn must battle to keep her kid sister’s first love from being her last! LOVE IT.

How soon can I have it????? Where are you now in the process?
Currently, I’m knee-deep in the query trenches for WIND.  I’ve just been asked for two fulls and one partial by amazing agents, (smart ones I see)so I’m hopeful for 2011.  I’m now writing SAND, the second book in the planned trilogy.  OMG there’s a trilogy people. Write this down somewhere. (The working title of the third installment is, FIRE).

What keeps you afloat in such a nutty industry as ours?

I love reading about published authors’ journeys.  Most authors went through so many ups and downs before getting published.  It gives me great comfort to know I’m not alone in riding the publishing roller coaster.  I’ve had my moments wherein I considered quitting – for about an hour – then I realized writing is a calling; you just don’t have a choice, once you start (I got my start writing for my all-girls school newspaper – my first piece was a review of an Elton John concert!).  I just couldn’t see myself doing anything else.

This is so true. If you have the writing bug, you can’t drop it. I’ve tried. I’ve dilly dallied. I’ve weighed my more realistic options, but once I opened that flood gate, it was over. All you writers understand this. Writing really does call you and it’s kind of a permanent thing. OK – enough pontification from Julie. (I struggle with focus. And bugs and monkeys. I hate monkeys.)

Thank you so much for stopping by today and telling us about your incredible title, Wind. I think I speak for all YA lovers alike when I say SQUEE! and I can not wait to get my hands on it! Please come back as soon as it’s on shelves so I can help brag promote :)
Julie, thank you so much for interviewing me on your awesome blog.  I wish you every success with your writing career!  Happy Holidays to all your readers!

Alright! What did you think? I know you’re thirsty for more. I was. Cynthia  has been featured on ShortStoryBook.net, and even guest blogged on QueryTracker.net You can keep her in your sights by making her site a favorite CynthiaWatson,and definitely start following her on Twitter @CynWatson! Thanks so much.

Don’t Dump a Good Backstory

Backstory. It’s that sneaky little devil crowding into every opening chapter (or three). I’ve struggled with this as much as anyone and I’ve seen it in my crit partner and spread throughout my crit group. It’s a phenomenon. The thing is, me being overly interested in why people do the things we do, and especially keen to rubbing my invisible beard and contemplating why groups of strangers do the same things, it hit me.

Okay, so my epiphany is likely your “duh,” but to me the lightbulb went on and I clapped internally at my new understanding. Writers write backstory -especially in the opening chapters- because we’re formulating it in our heads. We’re just sitting down to get those people out of our heads and onto paper. We’re trying our darndest and moving our fastest to get them under control and regain our heads. I know, for me, once a new MC gets my attention, they will demand I tell their story until I can’t concentrate on anything else. Writing is like an undiagnosed mental illness. We hear the voices, feel the feelings, of an entire cast if people…until we write it. Then, we breathe again.

In the beginning we’re just telling our little hearts out and in an effort to better understand what is happening and why its happening, we slip motivation (often in the form of what our MC have been through) to help readers understand. It helps us understand too. This is why we rarely see backstory dumped into chapter twenty-seven. By then, we are well into the story at hand and who cares what happened last year?

I make my argument for backstory. While, I now agree wholeheartedly that 90% of backstory doesn’t belong in the story itself, I still believe we need to write it, get it out of our heads and really tear it apart. It helps us know our characters better, really get into their heads, and knowing where they’ve been will always make them stronger characters in the story at hand.

I’m working through a story I wrote a year ago. It’s a short romance (which I normally steer clear of) but I liked it and while I’m more confident writing YA, this story wouldn’t work from a teen’s perspective. So, out my comfort zone and forging through new territory, I resolved to tell this story. In the process I wrote a crap-ton of backstory. I’ve finally pulled it all and that was tough. Until the very end I thought I needed it. Then, a beta said – plain and simple – the same advice I’ve given countless times- “you don’t need it. It slows your prgoress and doesn’t move the story forward.” That was the moment I felt like “Oooooh.” It didn’t. It rarely does and that’s why it has to go.

BUT it’s important, it betters your writing, thickens the story, unflattens the characters. You, the author, need the backsotry. Get it straight, type it out, LEARN from the process, then cut and past it into another document and call it The History of whatever. Hey, if you’re the next Stephenie Meyer, you can sell the history book later. LOL. If not, you’ve lost nothing and gained oodles.

That is why I likes me some backstory.

Thoughts?

In My Mailbox (IMM) & Mailbox Monday 12/26

This week, I got a few YAs to keep me busy :) I love my YAs! And I hit up the library for about a dozen requests, so hopefully when I pop in on Tuesday there will be at least two or three. I’ve also got plans for some blessed Amazon gift cards I was gifted yesterday! Woot! Woot!

OK. Onward. This week in my mailbox, I received:

Torment the sequel to Fallen (which I ADORED) by Lauren Kate

LOVE NEVER DIES

Lucinda is sure that she and Daniel are meant to be together forever. Now they are forced apart in a desperate bid to save Luce from the Outcasts–immortals who want her dead. As she discovers more about her past lives, Luce starts to suspect that Daniel is hiding something. What if he has lied to her about their shared past? What if Luce is really meant to be with someone else?

EVERMORE by Alyson Noel

#1 New York Times Best Seller!

The first book in Alyson Noël’s extraordinary series…

Since a horrible accident claimed the lives of her family, Ever can see auras, hear people’s thoughts, and know a person’s entire life story by touch. Going out of her way to avoid human contact and suppress her abilities has branded her as a freak at her new high school—but everything changes when she meets Damen.

Damen Auguste is gorgeous, exotic and wealthy. He’s the only one who can silence the noise and random energy in her head—wielding a magic so intense, it’s as though he can see straight into her soul. As Ever is drawn deeper into his enticing world of secrets and mystery, she’s left with more questions than answers. She has no idea just who he really is—or what he is. The only thing she knows to be true is she’s falling deeply and helplessly in love with him.

The Vampire Diaries
Stefan’s Diaries: Bloodlust by L.J Smith

When Stefan Salvatore’s first love, Katherine, turned him into a vampire, he and his brother, Damon, were forced to flee Mystic Falls. In Stefan’s Diaries: Bloodlust, Stefan tells the story of their escape to New Orleans, the gritty city where they first explored their dark and lusty nature as immortals. Explore the captivating story of Damon and Stefan’s past in this second installment of Stefan’s Diaries.


In My Mailbox is a meme from the Story Siren designed to help book lovers unite, meet, greet and follow one another in our quests to find the next most awe inspiring, tear jerking, mesmerizing or just entertaining new tome.

Mailbox Monday is a meme hosted this month at Let them Read Books. This is one more incredible way to get to know one another, build your following and find great new sites to add to your dashboard.

What was in your mailbox this week?

Are You Ready For Christmas???

It’s here. Tomorrow’s Christmas Eve. Are you ready? Are you smiling? The extra-curricular parties are behind you, only a family thing or two left. I didn’t buy many presents this year, but I know what I did buy will matter. I went personalized for grandparents this year – who are most definitely NOT on the Internet reading this. They think blogs are like putting your little locked diary online and us young people don’t value privacy. I say – welcome to our world.  Hey- I’m human and also off the subject.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Christmas. It never really hits me until today though. It has to be right on top of me for that little thrill to come. Honestly, everyday is Christmas. I’m almost always happy, but the big event, the thrill of the party, hits me on the 23rd every year.  This comes when I get to see everyone open the things I chose for them, laugh and hug and relax. I love finding gifts that matter too. I listen all year and then I nail it most of the  time. I know the things people want but won’t splurge on or don’t have time to shop for. I know the one or two things my kids truly want, as opposed to the toystore full of things they’d simply like to try out. I know hubs is a clotheshorse and is always happy with new threads. Grandparents love things with the kids’ faces on them or even something with their kids as kids made up as a keepsake. I love to give.

Christmas day,to me  is about relationships, new and old. We are to love our neighbor as ourself. The greatest gift is love. Love love love, and I am thankful to have so many people in my life whom I truly love and who I know love me in return. My life is blessed beyond measure and I feel like everyone around me “gets it” too on Christmas. Like a country full of hearts are united in the bigger picture at least for a while on that one day, and no one looks at me funny for wearing a Santa hat and singing randomly and taking jovial to a new high.

Spread love and smiles and hugs today because its one time of the year you can without people thinking you’re nuts. Speak to strangers, shake hands, drop money in the red bucket. No one turns away a kind gesture at Christmas. They may flip you off next week, but right now, everyone understands, whether they have the words for it or not. Take advantage. Now, I’m off to the store for more baking supplies and I plan to wish everyone who so much as looks my way a “Merry Christmas!!!!”

Get ready for Christmas!!!

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