Archive for November, 2013

For the Love of our Furry Friends Christmas Blog Tour

For the love of our Furry friends Christmas blog tour modified


Best-selling authors Sharon Kleve and Jennifer Conner adore animals. That’s why they collaborated on this blog tour together. To showcase their Christmas stories celebrating our beloved pets. They hope you enjoy reading them as much as they did writing them.

You can find all the blog stops here: and here:

Halo Wish modified


Book Title: Halo’s Wish (Book one in the Dreams Come True Series)

Author: Sharon Kleve

Publisher: Books to Go Now

Genre: Contemporary Christmas Romance

Release Date: 9.13.2013

Length: 50 pages

Heat Rating: Sweet


Book Blurb:

Halo Ann Carlyle wishes for a home, family, and a boat-load of pets. What she gets is a bruised hip, a lump on the head, a broken ankle, and her new yellow Honda Civic is demolished.

Rich McFarland, a sexy veterinarian, keeps showing up in the most unexpected places, promising everything she’s ever wanted.

Halo believes she only has time to pursue her career as a pet detective and must ignore her growing attraction to achieve her dreams.

Will Halo trust her heart, and find a way to get both for Christmas?



She’d just placed another call through to Pemsky’s office, which went straight to his voicemail, when the office door opened. Halo smiled and looked up into dreamy, gold-flecked green eyes, short sandy brown hair, a slight cleft chin, and full lips set in a hard line. Even with the stern look he had on his face, my hormones jumped into overdrive.

Mr. Dreamy cleared his throat—she must’ve been staring. In her most professional voice she said, “Good morning. How may I help you?”

He removed a piece of paper from his shirt pocket and unfolded the sheet.

“I was parked in front of the Beacon Hill Ale House and my driver’s side mirror was sideswiped by one of Pemsky’s Security’s SUV’s Friday night.”

Halo loved the Beacon Hill Ale House. Every Saturday night the Ale House allowed local bands to jam together. That’s where she’d met her last loser boyfriend. She’d had a lot of loser boyfriends. She’s currently on a hiatus from dating, but she wouldn’t mind jumping back into the dating game for this dream-boat.

He handed her the piece of paper.

“I wasn’t able to get a look at the driver, but I got the license plate number of the vehicle that hit my car and drove away.”

He emphasized the last part.

“I’m very sorry about your car. I’m sure Mr. Pemsky will be happy to cover the damage.” Halo checked the company log and Pemsky’s name popped up as the driver—she gulped.


Buy Links:


Barnes& Noble:

Brenda's_Christmas_Desire modified

Book Title: Brenda’s Christmas Desire (Book two in the Dreams Come True Series)

Author: Sharon Kleve

Publisher: Books to Go Now

Genre: Contemporary Christmas Romance

Release Date: 11.20.2013

Length: 50 pages

Heat Rating: Sweet


Book Blurb:

Like any child Brenda Howser loved Christmas until her parents were killed by a drunk driver during their annual shopping trip.

Brenda went to live with her aunt, who blamed their death on everything that represented Christmas; the gifts, the tree, and all the decorations.

The festivities’ Brenda once cherished became something she dreaded under the shadow of her parents death. She lived in fear of something happening to the people she loved during Christmas.

Christmas approaches and Brenda has to decide if she’s going to let the past hold her prisoner for another year or if she can finally enjoy what Christmas used to mean to her—love.

DEA agent, John Smith knows the significance of December fifteenth to Brenda, but when the head of the Nuevo Cartel escapes federal prison he’s forced to let her face the day without him, but not quite alone.

Can Daisy, a golden Labrador puppy, a huge sale on decorations at the hardware store, and a gift from her aunt restore her love of Christmas?



December 2013

The weather forecast for the Western Washington area, specifically North Seattle, predicted a good five-to-six inches of snow. Brenda Houser watched the flakes float like cotton balls from the sky as she dipped a tortilla chip into a bowl of thick and chunky salsa and popped the morsel into her mouth.

Her boss, Corny Myers, tapped her pencil on Brenda’s reception desk to the beat of The Little Drummer Boy, which streamed from the Green Hornet Investigations Bose speakers.

“Hey, Brenda. I have bad eating habits but I’ve never started the day with chips and salsa. What’s up?” Corny asked.

“You know how I feel about all the holiday hoopla. I’d rather stick my head in the sand and pull it back out in January.”

“Do you really think Mexican food is going to make you feel better?”

“Probably not, but a couple margaritas might help.”


Buy Links:



Author Bio:

Sharon Kleve was born and raised in Washington and currently lives on the Olympic Peninsula with her husband.

Sharon is a writer of paranormal and contemporary romance. She loves romance. She loves reading romance, living romance, and especially loves writing about romance. She gets no greater feeling than watching her characters come alive in each other’s arms. Most of all, she loves giving her characters the happily ever after they deserve—with a few bumps and bruises along the way.

One of her favorite things to do is picking up a new book and sinking into the story, immersing herself in the emotions between the characters. She hopes to inspire her readers the same way her favorite authors have inspired her.

When not writing, she can usually be found either curled up in her recliner with her cat and a good book, or in the kitchen baking sourdough bread or bagels.


Social Media Links:









Amazon Author Page:



Library Thing:

Central Bark at Christmas


Book Title: Central Bark At Christmas (Book one in the Dog Tails Series)

Author: Jennifer Conner

Publisher: Books to Go Now

Genre: Sweet Contemporary Christmas Romance

Release Date: 11.09.2013

Length: 50 pages

Heat Rating: Sweet


Book Blurb:

When Tennyson’s boyfriend left her for her best friend from high-school, all Tennyson received in the break up was her dog. She’s sworn off men and now is rebuilding her life. The only thing Par does is work. He barely has time to do anything he wants for himself other than take his dog to the dog park. When Par and Tennyson find an abandoned dog at the park named Duke. Will they find room in their hearts to take him in? And can this Christmas season weave some special magic for the two of them?

Book Excerpt:

“I’m happy this wasn’t your worst date ever, because I had a great time.” He lifted her chin with the tips of his finger. Slowly he lowered his head until she thought she would die of anticipation. He clamped his hands to her waist and gazed into her eyes. “You’re so beautiful…” There was depth and sincerity in the tone of his voice. She felt special. Desired. He dropped his head and kissed her.

Gentle at first and then deep. She couldn’t breathe. He’d sucked all the air from her lungs, but there was no way she wanted him to stop. As she brushed his firm lips to hers, she relished the feel of her blood simmering in her veins. Par slid his fingers through her long hair to cradle and position her head to kiss her even more thoroughly.

His lips pulled away from hers and he stepped back. She reached for the roof of the car to steady herself. Oh. My. God… could this man kiss.

“Not bad for a first date,” he whispered and then kissed her gently again.

Okay… so it was a date. After that kiss it turned into an ‘official date’ and she had no regrets at all.

Buy Links:

Amazon :


Christmas That Keeps Giving modified



Book Title: Christmas Gift That Keeps Wagging (Book two in the Dog Tails Series)

Author: Jennifer Conner

Publisher: Books to Go Now

Genre: Sweet Contemporary Christmas Romance

Release Date: 11.06.2013

Length: 50 pages

Heat Rating: Sweet


Book Blurb:

Julian Barrows has his hands full working full time and being a single dad to his kindergarten, special needs son, Gabe. Gabe’s teacher convinces Julian he doesn’t need to do everything on his own and introduces him to a seizure dog trainer, Hanna Acker.
Hanna and her sister grew up without any ‘Christmas Cheer’. She’s trying to get her sister through college and doesn’t have time to let anyone too close, especially the handsome single dad with a kid.
But, Christmas has a way of changing what we thought we wanted… especially when Santa and an adorable four-legged ‘elf’ are involved.


Book Excerpt:

“What’s this?” Hanna asked, as she ran a hand over the grocery bag wrapping paper. Julian took her coat and hung it by the door so she could follow Gabe into the living room.

“Daddy saw this in a store window and said that we had to get it for you. Open it!” Gabe said. “I wrapped it myself,” he added proudly.

“But it’s not Christmas.”

“No. This is a before Christmas gift. You have to open it now.”

She pulled off a half-pound of scotch tape and finally the paper fell away. Hanna stared at the gift in disbelief. “A Christmas sock… with my name on it.”

Julian came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. “You told me that you’d never had a Christmas stocking of your own when you were growing up. Gabe knew  Santa wouldn’t know where you were if you didn’t have you sock hung somewhere.” He winked. “So you needed it.”

“You can take it to your home or you can hang it here!” Gabe shouted almost tripping over Cody.

Buy Links:




Author Bio:

Jennifer Conner is a best-selling Northwest author who has over thirty short stories on ebook and three full-length books in print. She writes in Contemporary Romance, Paranormal Romance, Historical Romance, and Erotica.

Shot in the Dark hit Amazon at #1 in Romantic Suspense and Christmas Chaos was #2 in the Romance category.

Her novel Shot in the Dark was a finalist in the Emerald City Opener, Cleveland, and Toronto RWA contests.

Jennifer is an Associate Publisher for the indie e-book company Books to Go Now that resides in the Seattle area. Books to Go Now offers professional editing, cover design, multiple book format file creation, and most important–publicity. Their staff works to help make our author books a success one book at a time.

She lives in a hundred year old house that she grew up in. Her semi- small town holds an interesting mix of resident hillbillies, yuppies and Navy Seals. And of course Seattle, only a few miles away, is the birthplace of Starbucks so coffee is always on the check list. She blows glass beads with a blow torch, (which relieves a lot of stress and people don’t bother you).


Social Media Links:







Amazon Author Page:



Library Thing:



Rafflecopter Giveaway Info:


  • One (1) Winner will receive a $25 gift card to a book seller of their choice
  • One (1) Winner will receive Sharon Kleve’s Book one and two of the Dreams Come True Series.
  • One (1) Winner will receive Jennifer Conner’s Book one and two of the Dog Tails Series.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Legal Information:
– Entering this contest means you have read, understood, and agree with all rules and regulations stated.
– Entrants must be 18 or older (or age of majority in your country) to enter and to win.
– No purchase necessary.
– Void where prohibited.
– All stated rules are subject to change without notification or reason given.
– Chances of winning vary widely based on the number of entries received.
– Prize is as stated. No substitutions or exchanges.
– Contest host/organizer is not responsible to misrepresented/mis-typed email addresses, spam filters, mailer demons, and other internet wackiness that may crop up at the time of winner notification.
– Winners are final.
– Contest Starts 00:01EST September 15, 2013 and Ends 12:59EST October 16, 2013 and open to International participants.
– Winners will be notified via email, Twitter, or Facebook no later than 12:00EST October 18, 2013
-Respond by date to collect prize is 14 days from notification date.

4,254 total views, no views today

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes L.G. Smith



Every Wednesday, I feature a writer and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow writers better through their workspace and writing habits, and have them  share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome L.G. Smith author of that fun blog Bards & Prophets.

Welcome, L.G.!


Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

LG Smith


L.G. Smith

I think people would be surprised to learn I have a degree in Environment and Natural Resource Management. I worked as a naturalist for Colorado State Parks for a few years, and I’m a pretty decent identifier of birds as a result. Before that I worked in law enforcement as a deputy sheriff at a jail north of Denver, which I actually enjoyed quite a lot. These two things – nature and prisoners – however dissimilar consistently show up in my fantasy writing. But I guess they’re just part of who I am.


On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

2.  Where did you get your desk?  How did you go about arranging your work area?

3.  What are some important things on your desk?  Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

4.  What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

5. What’s your writing beverage?  What do you love to drink while you’re writing?


I do most of my writing in my head. Ha! But, seriously, I can’t sit at a desk and write. Too uncomfortable. I’ll often sit in a chair by a window or in my backyard while handwriting the initial first draft. But once I’ve got the story I move to the laptop. I’ve worn a nice butt-shaped space on my comfy couch in the den where I usually do my typing. And the things I must have within reach while writing are a dictionary, my Synonym Finder, the complete works of Shakespeare, a cup of jasmine green tea, and my notebook. And what I love best about my writing space is the fact that it has a door. I can’t stand interruptions when I’m writing and can get a little, um, testy when people ask me things like, “Are we out of toilet paper?” when I’m in the middle of a dramatic exchange of dialogue! 😛

LG Smith workspace

L.G. Smith’s Workspace

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author?  Who inspired you to write?

2. What’s your typical day as a writer like?  Do you have any writing related rituals or quirks?

3.  Do you write everyday?  How many hours a day do you spend writing?  What are some of your worst writing distractions?

4. Why do you write?

5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us?  How about a favorite writing quote?


It’s no secret I’m a fan of Shakespeare (I see the eye rolls people!). I also adore Hilary Mantel (Wolf Hall), Diana Gabaldon (Outlander), and Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice). But, oddly enough, it was Charles Frazier’s book Cold Mountain that convinced me to pick up the pen again and write a novel. I was so taken with his descriptions and emotional truths that it finally sunk in that that’s what I wanted to do with my writing. Took about three tries on different projects before I finished my first novel, a middle grade fantasy, but I finally did it, and the feeling of completion was incredible. I’ve written two other novels since then – the stories that are part of my Bards and Prophets trilogy.

And I’m not much for offering writing advice. I strongly believe in each person finding their own way and discovering what works for them. But, for me, the only technique I’ve found to get a project finished is to consistently put in the effort every day, inspired or not, internet distractions or not, and just write SOMETHING. It always amazes me how inspired I get once I start typing.


Thanks so much for including me in your blog series!





Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your writing life, L.G.!

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.


3,384 total views, no views today

Gratitude and Paying it Forward

I’m giving away a SIGNED Hardcover of Jessica Spotswood’s BORN WICKED. The contest will run until November 30th. To find out how you can win a copy click on this link.


Supertyphoon Haiyan hit the Philippines two and a half weeks ago, but news about the devastation wrought by the storm of the century continues to pour in. Every time I read a new article, or see new pictures of Tacloban City and the surrounding areas, I feel a fresh stab of pain for the survivors.

My martial arts school, Doce Pares was born in Cebu, one of the areas devastated by the storm. The roof of the Doce Pares Temple was blown away by 195 mph winds, but thankfully, most of the members back home were unharmed.


One of the many houses destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan in Guba, Cebu

Even while the temple is being repaired, Supreme Grandmaster Dionisio Canete has opened its doors to refugees who have fled from the ravaged city of Tacloban. The Eskrima temple, the Doce Pares headquarters and other facilities have been turned into makeshift relief centers.


Relief goods being packed at the Doce Pares Headquarters in Cebu

Doce Pares members from all over the world have each come up with their own fundraising events to help out. Here in Los Angeles, we’ve started Operation Payong (“umbrella”). We’re selling shirts to raise funds and gathering relief goods to send back home.

Doce pares la payong drive

In Cebu, members like Grandmaster Val use their own vehicles to deliver and distribute relief goods to villages who have yet to receive government help.

Grandmaster Val’s truck has turned into a mobile relief distribution center

Supreme Grandmaster Diony Canete, with the help of WEKAF (World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation) continues to help typhoon victims out using their own resources.


Supreme Grandmaster Diony Canete heading the relief operations

Aside from joining in the Doce Pares LA Fundraising operation here, and donating money to the typhoon relief operations via; I’m also trying to raise funds via my own nonprofit .

Story Sprouts Phillipine Ad-01 modified

We have decided to donate 50% of our sales from STORY SPROUTS: CBW-LA WRITING DAY EXERCISES & ANTHOLOGY, from November to January to help the typhoon victims back home.

Despite the fact that I am helping out in my own way, I still feel as if I haven’t done enough. The guilt is always going to be there, I suppose. It comes from knowing that I am living a good life while people back home are barely surviving.

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, I reflect on how lucky I am to be living the kind of life I have.  My job doesn’t pay well and has no benefits, but there are people out there who are unemployed and homeless. I have no health insurance, but that’s nothing compared to people who can’t even worry about they’re health because they’re too busy trying to survive.

Tragedy puts things into clear perspective.

It makes us more grateful for the things we have, and the life we lead. It strips away all our wants and desires, and makes us realize what’s really important.

And while it doesn’t make my problems go away, the tragedy back home has made my problems seem smaller.

As I worry about what to make for Thanksgiving lunch, I think about the people in Tacloban, Leyte, and Cebu who worry about where to get their next meal every day.  As I revel in the triumph of getting all my Christmas shopping done early, I think about the people back home who have triumphed over death in the face of a storm that has swept away half their loved ones.


Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. – John Milton

In light of this Thanksgiving season, I have vowed to maintain an “attitude of gratitude” every day of my life.  I will focus on all the good in my life, rejoice in every happy moment, and face each moment of despair with courage and hope.

I will strive to live my life to the fullest, and pass on this gratitude by living it in service of others however way I can.

Because the only way to truly be grateful, is to pay it forward.



*Special thanks to ladocepares for the pictures.

4,381 total views, no views today

Spotlight Week Giveaway: Born Wicked

This week the Spotlight was on Jessica Spotswood and her exciting YA Historical Fantasy BORN WICKED, Book 1 of the Cahill Witch Chronicles.

If you want to know more about BORN WICKED  you can read my book review here or watch the amazing trailer below:

Also, check out my fun interview with author Jessica Spotswood here.

It’s the end of another Spotlight Week, and today, I’m giving away a SIGNED COPY of BORN WICKED, Book 1 of The Cahill Witch Chronicles.




To win, just leave a comment below and tell me why you’d like a copy of the book.

I’ll put all your names in my magical drawing box and pick the winner.

I love encouraging people to unleash their imaginative and creative sides, so the more creative your answers are, the more chances you have of winning. If your comment/answer tickles my fancy, I’ll add another slip of paper (or two) with your name on it to my drawing box.

Also, if you tweet about this giveaway, or share it on Facebook, I’ll add more 2 slips of papers with your name on it.
AND if you FOLLOW ME on Linky OR on Facebook’s networked blogs, I’ll add 6 more entries with your name into the drawing bowl.

The contest is international and will run until November 30, 2013.


4,189 total views, no views today

Spotlight Week Author Interview: Jessica Spotswood

I met Jessica Spotswood during her Breathless Reads Tour in February of 2012.

myself with marie lu,jessica spotswood, beth revis and andrea cremer

Authors Marie Lu, Jessica Spotswood, myself, and Authors Beth Revis and Andrea Creamer


She along with fellow YA authors Marie Lu, Beth Revis, and Andrea Cremer answered questions about their stories, themselves and their writing styles.

All the writers I met that evening were sweet and gracious, and Jessica was one of the sweetest ones. I took a lot of pictures during the event and sent the links to the authors so they could download it. Jessica was so grateful, and even remembered me when I emailed her a year after to ask for an interview. :)

And here it is, an interview with one of the nicest writers around, Jessica Spotswood.



Jess-press modified

The wonderful Jessica Spotswood


Author’s Bio (from her website):


The Long Version

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I wrote a story about my grandparents’ cabin in Mrs. Eisenhart’s class in fourth grade. In fifth grade, I got in trouble for reading under my desk while the teacher was talking. Then in sixth grade I read Gone with the Wind. It changed my life. The characters of Scarlett and Rhett leapt off the page; they were flawed and clever and fascinating. In high school, I wrote three sprawling historical romance novels full of kissing and banter. In retrospect, they were dreadful (I had not been kissed myself at this point), but it didn’t matter; I fell in love with creating characters and writing into the wee hours of the morning. I also played clarinet in the marching and concert bands and tenor sax in the jazz band; edited the newspaper; was copy editor for the yearbook; and acted in a bunch of school plays. My favorite role was Beth in Little Women. I died splendidly.

I left my tiny one-stoplight hometown (Biglerville, PA) to attend Washington College. Within my first week there, I had auditioned for two plays. Writing mostly fell by the wayside because I was spending thirteen hours a day in rehearsal. The drama department at Washington College was amazing; it taught me to value creative collaboration, ask questions, and give tactful feedback (all skills that have been crazy-useful in my writing career). I directed a production of Elie Wiesel’s The Trial of God for my drama thesis and wrote a play for my English thesis. It was at WAC that I met my husband, Stephen Spotswood, and a fabulous group of friends who are still my besties.

After graduation, I moved to Washington, DC. I got my M.A. in Theatre History & Criticism at Catholic University while I interned in literary management at a few different DC theatres. Eventually I realized that I loved theatre, but not enough to make a career out of it. It was a scary thing to admit. I coped by rereading all of my favorite books from childhood. L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon books led me to reading some of the brilliant YA that’s being published now. In 2007, I started writing my own YA fantasy, Inheriting Garolass, about a portrait-painting girl who discovers her family’s link to a world where artists are considered enemies of the state. This manuscript helped me snag my awesome agent, Jim McCarthy at DGLM. Unfortunately, Garolass didn’t sell—but the next book did, in a pre-empt from Penguin for the whole trilogy.

Now I live in a hipster neighborhood in Washington, DC with my brilliant playwright husband and a very cuddly cat named Monkey, and I am a full-time author.


g2858 modified

1.      Tell us three random, unique, or weird facts about yourself.

  1. I am scared of vines. The thought of them getting caught in my hair really freaks me out.
  2. I’m a pescetarian – so, vegetarian plus fish – but loathe mushrooms. This proves inconvenient.
  3. I have a cat named Monkey.


2. What’s the most unusual job you had before you became a full time writer?

I worked as a switchboard operator at Mott’s (applesauce, apple juice, etc) the summer I was twenty. I tried to avoid paging people over the intercom because it amplified my super high voice and people teased me about sounding like Minnie Mouse.


3.      What books and movies inspired your love for Fantasy? Would you ever consider writing in another genre?

When I started writing seriously in 2007, I read lots of YA that was popular at the time, and two of my favorite series were Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy and Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely. More recent favorites run the gamut from high fantasy (all of Kristin Cashore’s books) to paranormal (Franny Billingsley’s Chime and April Genevieve Tucholke’s Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea).

I would absolutely consider writing in another genre within YA. I’d love to try my hand at higher fantasy set in a world different from ours sometime. And right now I’m working on a sort of Southern Gothic ghost story that’s really fun!

4.      When did you know you were going to be a writer?  What prompted you to take your writing seriously?

I’ve loved writing since I was a wee Jess. In fourth grade I started writing stories about the horses at the barn where I took riding lessons, and in seventh grade I started writing historical romance novels that were all basically Gone with the Wind knockoffs. In high school, I had no doubt that I was going to be a writer. But then in college my love for writing got a bit squished, and I studied theatre instead. It wasn’t until after grad school (where I got an MA in theatre history & criticism with a focus on new play dramaturgy) that I realized I was sort of miserable and really missed that creative outlet. In 2007 I started writing a YA fantasy. It wasn’t really about getting published; it was about telling the stories of the characters who showed up in my head. But then I started reading author and agent blogs, and in 2009, after lots of rewriting of that first manuscript, I decided to query. Honestly, I don’t think it was until I got my agent that I started identifying myself as A Writer.


5.      What inspired you to write BORN WICKED? Did you always know it would a series?

Born Wicked was inspired by a dream I had in which my sisters and I were fighting over a magical locket from our mom. The idea of writing about that mix of love and rivalry between sisters  – and sisters with a complicated magical inheritance – stuck. I always hoped that it would be a trilogy.


6.      In THE CAHILL WITCH CHRONICLES, three sisters are prophesied to be the power that changes the fate of the world. If you could spend one day with any of the sisters in your novel, who would it be?

I’d want to spend the day with Tess, I think. Even though I am the oldest of three sisters like Cate, I think that otherwise Tess and I have the most in common. She loves to read and write; she’s a quiet observer. We could talk about books!


7.      The world you paint in THE CAHILL WITCH CHRONICLES is a deeply patriarchal one that seems to be based on some historical events. Did you have to do a lot of research to come up with this world/setting?

I did some research into the real-life witch trials in Salem and elsewhere. But most of the research I did was into the fashion, home décor, technology, and food of the late-Victorian era. Since the Cahill Witch Chronicles are an alternate history, I was able to give everything a bit of a twist, but one of my earliest notes from my editor was to “ruffle my corsets more,” by which she meant to really instill that sumptuous, romantic sense of candlelight and corsets and carriages. My early drafts are pretty spare. It was fun to plump them up with those kind of sensuous details.


8.      Which book was the most fun to write? How about the most difficult? 

Born Wicked was probably the most fun to write, because it was still just for me, and there’s a certain magic in that. I also love that discovery phase of exploring new characters. Star Cursed was the most difficult, absolutely. It was my first book under contract and under deadline, and I only had four months to write it, and I tried to outline it with rather disastrous results. I ended up throwing out 75% of the first draft and rewriting it. I’m super proud of it now, but oh, it was a painful process! Then Sisters’ Fate fell somewhere in the middle – my editor didn’t make me outline, and I had six months instead of four, and I knew pretty exactly where it was headed. But itwas tricky because I was such a perfectionist about it; I wanted to give the characters the exact right ending. Hopefully I managed it. I’m really eager to hear what readers think!


9.      Tell us about your path to publication. What is the coolest thing about being a published author?

 In question 4 I’d just started querying that first manuscript, right? That was after about two years of writing and rewriting it, from third-past to first-present. I was very lucky in that I got four form rejections and one full request, which turned into an offer from my agent, Jim McCarthy at DGLM. He’s fantastic. And that first manuscript didn’t end up selling, which was difficult at the time – but while it was on submission, I wrote Born Wicked! Which had a very quick path to publication. It sold in a week in February 2011 and was on shelves in February 2012.

The coolest thing about being a published author is hearing from readers! It is so super happy-making to get emails or tweets or Facebook messages from someone who’s loved reading about Cate and her sisters and Finn.


 10.  What’s your typical day as a writer like? Do you have any writing-related rituals or quirks?

I don’t have much of a typical day right now. I’m actually trying to work on that, to find a better routine and be more consistent. I tend to write in spurts rather than a steady 1k a day. Some days I don’t write at all; some days I write 3000 words. I am very much a night owl. I rarely get up before 10am, and then I spend my late mornings and early afternoons doing email and reading and watching TV. I really wake up around 4pm and tend to do most of my writing after that. It’s a bit of a pain because if I’m on deadline, I have to say no to going out with friends or seeing plays because I’m on such an opposite work schedule from the rest of the world.  Really, I work best from about midnight until 4am, so when I’m on a tight deadline I become entirely nocturnal.


11.   Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Somewhere in-between. I don’t like doing detailed outlines because then I feel too constricted, but I do tend to outline the next few scenes or chapters. My favorite part of drafting is the when the characters surprise me; I like to leave room for that. And I edit a lot as I go, so I’m a fairly slow drafter. My ideal pace would be about six months for a first draft.


12.  What do you like to do when you’re not writing?  Any hobbies, sports, or crafts you like to spend time on?

I see lots of theatre with my husband, who’s a playwright. Lately I’ve discovered I kind of like watching football with him. We play board games and have game nights with friends. Most of my hobbies are writing-related, though. I read lots; I teach writing workshops to teens and tweens through an organization called Writopia; and I just started a critique service with three other YA authors!


13.   Are you currently working on any other projects?

I’m waiting for copyedits on Sisters’ Fate, Cahill book 3. But mostly I’ve turned my attention to creating a proposal for a new project – the Southern Gothic ghost story I mentioned above. I’m really excited about it! We’ll see whether it ends up being my next official book or not; there are a few other projects also marinating right now.


14.   What advice would you like to give to writers on the road to publication?

Don’t be in a hurry. Take your time to make your book the absolute best it can be. Get feedback from people you trust – friends who are voracious readers, or other writers. Ask them what they like about the manuscript and want to see more of, as well as what they don’t think works or what confuses them. Try to listen with an open heart. If several people give you the same advice, there’s probably something to it.


15.   What would you like to say to your young readers? Is there any advice that you would like to give them?

Ok, this might sound super cliché, but – follow your heart. I grew up in a tiny, one-stoplight town in rural Pennsylvania. We didn’t have authors come visit our school. I’d never met an actual author. This was in the late 90s, before the prevalence of YA, before authors were so accessible on twitter and Facebook and via their blogs. I loved to write more than anything, but no one suggested I could be an author as my actual career; I didn’t even have the temerity to dream of such a thing. I thought maybe I could be an English teacher. But now I am an author, full-time. So – don’t be afraid to dream big!


Come back this Friday for the final part of the Spotlight Week, where I give away a signed copy of BORN WICKED.




4,696 total views, 1 views today

Spotlight Week: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

This month’s Spotlight Week features BORN WICKED, Book 1 of The Cahill Witch Chronicles by YA author Jessica Spotswood.




Born Wicked: The Cahill Witch Chronicles, Book One

272 pages, Hardcover

Genre: YA, Ages 12 and up

Published on February 7, 2012 by Putnam Juvenile

ISBN-10: 9780399257452

ISBN-13: 978-0399257452



First Line:

Our mother was a witch, too, but she hid it better.



Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word…especially after she finds her mother’s diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other.


My Review:

I love witches, so this book was definitely right up my alley. A historical fantasy, Born Wicked tells the tale of three Cahill sisters who find out they are witches, at a time when witches have fallen from power and face complete annihilation.

The story starts out slow, but since the characters and their world was intriguing, I found myself completely hooked. By the time I finished Born Wicked, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Star Cursed, the second book in the series.

Set in an alternate version of New England in the 1800’s, the story features townspeople with different ethnic backgrounds. It was interesting to imagine different cultures mixing together seamlessly in that time period. What was even more interesting was that the predominant social issue of the period wasn’t race, as in our history, but gender.

In their society, women are closely monitored for signs of witchcraft. The Brotherhood propagates this misogynistic view for fear that women would once more rise to power. They use religion and societal laws to keep women subservient. Girls have to make a tough choice when they turn seventeen: either get married or join the Sisterhood.

This is the choice Cate has to face with her 17th birthday fast approaching. Left without a mother, Cate has to figure out the best course of action on her own. On top of this already difficult choice, she also has to deal with the fact she and her sisters have a terrible secret: they are all witches. As the eldest, Cate takes the promise she made to her mother very seriously. She constantly worries about her two sisters and frets about their use of magic, even if it’s in secret. Her overprotective approach causes her to constantly butt heads with her sisters, most particularly Maura, the middle child.

The story is told from Cate’s point of view and through her eyes we get a glimpse of the other characters that surround her. Her middle sister Maura is stubborn, determined and has a rebellious streak when it comes to magic. Their youngest sister Tess is sweet and intelligent, and magic flows through her naturally. The three are strong women and powerful witches in their own right and are prophesied to restore society’s power to the witches. One of the things I loved about the book was the siblings’ interactions with each other. While it is obvious that they love each other, there is no lack of tension and arguments among them.

Since this book is YA, romance is to be expected. Cate is torn between two potential suitors –Finn, their quiet, intelligent gardener and Paul, her childhood sweetheart. The subplot adds drama and suspense to the story without overpowering it.

Born Wicked is a character-driven story, so most of the action really happens in Cate’s mind. The turmoil she experiences is centered around the relationships she has with the people around her. Magic doesn’t often show up in the scenes, understandably because the sisters try to keep their powers hidden, but when it does show up, the scenes are often memorable and thrilling.

Author Jessica Spotswood uses descriptive details to set her scenes and to elevate the story in her readers’ imaginations. There are unexpected plot twists throughout which made me gasp, and the cliffhanger ending left me with a desire to follow the characters through to the end of the series. I recommend this book to all those who enjoy historical fantasy, most especially to folks who love a good witch story.



Tune in again on Wednesday for an interview with the wonderful Jessica Spotswood.

2,053 total views, no views today

Last October 19th, 2013, I had my final belt test (Brown 1) for the year. Master Nilo Baron, visiting from the Sacramento Branch of Doce Pares, took charge of testing all the Brown belts.

torrance group


Master Erwin (in red on the left) and Master Nilo (in red on the right) with the Doce Pares Torrance group

I felt unprepared for the belt test, as I had only learned about it a month and a half ago, on top of which I just had some dental implant surgery two weeks before the belt test. But I tried to do my best.


The scariest and yet most exciting part of the belt test was the multiple attackers portion. Brown belts are expected to know how to defend against many attackers, and we were tested on this knowledge. You can see me in the video below, using some empty hand techniques to defend against knife attacks.



Although we take our lessons seriously, we also know how to have fun. So after the grueling 4-hour exam, we posed for photos and shared boxes of pizza for lunch.

But the day didn’t end there.  That evening, we met up once more—in a more social setting, to celebrate the 9th anniversary of the founding of Doce Pares Los Angeles.



Past and present members, along with family members and supporters, gathered in Long Beach to join in the fun.

As with any Filipino gathering, food was in abundance.



Filipino food

They even served some roast pig, a staple in big Filipino gatherings, which they had cooked from scratch.


roast pig modified


roast pig, Filipino style

 There was lots of merry-making, including a toast led by Guro (Instructor) Gary.



And of course, no Filipino gathering is complete without some karaoke.



Karaoke sessions at Filipino parties are always a great source of entertainment. Filipinos love to sing, and they take karaoke rather seriously. They sing songs with great gusto and always give the performance of their lives. I never appreciated how true this was until I attended the party last Saturday. I was blown away by the talent in the room. Every single person who took up the microphone that night had a beautiful voice and seemed to be well practiced at the art of karaoke.

Attending the Doce Pares  anniversary party was a fun experience. It reminded me of all the gatherings I’d attended back home in the Philippines, and the get togethers I have with my family and other Filipino friends.  There’s always tons of food for you to feast on, and lots left over to take home; there’s singing and dancing and general merry-making.

That’s one of the things I love about Doce Pares—being part of this martial art group feels more like being part of a typical Filipino family. Whether the members know you personally or through a common friend they will always give you a warm welcome and will always, always make you feel at home.

Which is why the news of Super Typhoon Haiyan (aka Yolanda), has hit me hard.


Doce Pares class picture


Half of the people who see in the picture above have friends and family who were affected by the storm. Why? Because the Doce Pares martial arts system was born in Cebu, which is located in the central part of the Philippines. The part which was devastated by the strongest, most violent storm ever recorded in human history. 




My own relatives and friends are mostly in Manila and its surrounding areas, and they were thankfully not affected by the storm. But my other adopted family, the Doce Pares family, has had to deal with friends and relatives back home who have lost homes and loved ones.

News continue to pour in about the devastation wrought by the massive storm. According to some reports, some villages in the central part of the Philippines, may literally have been wiped off the map.

9.5 million people were affected by the storm. At least 600,000 were evacuated from their homes. Tacloban, a city home to more than 220,000 people was drowned  by 40 foot waves. 10,000 people are reported dead in just one area, with possibly thousands more missing.

It’s bad enough that a massive earthquake had hit the same area a few months back. Some villages remain unreachable so the full extent of Super Typhoon Haiyan’s damage is yet to be known.

Any help you can give will go a long way to helping the typhoon victims piece their lives back together.  

Here’s a list of the few organizations who take donations for those affected by the typhoon in the Philippines.


And here are some links to more organizations you can send donations to:


Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and while we give thanks for the lucky lives we lead, I hope we can also share a bit of our good fortune with the hundreds of thousands of super typhoon survivors who will not have an semblance of a holiday this year, or the next.






7,677 total views, 12 views today

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Michael Pierce



Every Wednesday, I feature a writer and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow writers better through their workspace and writing habits, and have them  share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome Michael Pierce, author of  Provex City and SUSY Asylum.



Welcome Michael!


Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

Profile1 modified

Author Michael Pierce

 I spent about 12 years working in coffee shops and the past year and a half as a project manager for a glazing subcontractor. Yeah, that was a big change! So now my day job consists of managing and coordinating the installation of the exterior skin of large commercial buildings, from full glass exteriors to framed glass exteriors and more. I knew nothing about construction going in, so it’s been quite the learning experience. I have been married for a little over five years and we have a precious 19-month-old daughter. I listen to a lot of audio books and enjoy playing guitar in my spare time, which has become increasingly sparse these days. I have self published the first two books in my Lorne Family Vault series (Provex City & SUSY Asylum), and I’m working on a new YA contemporary/dystopian novel, nicknamed Project Winter, that I plan to submit to agents when finished and thoroughly edited.


On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I do most of my writing on my work computer before the start of my day and during lunch, and on my laptop at my dining room table. When I go away for a weekend or on vacation, my laptop comes with me, allowing me to hopefully get a little writing done. Sometimes that’s easier said than done.

20130603_202911 modified

Michael’s workspace


2.  Where did you get your desk?  How did you go about arranging your work area?

I confiscated one end of the dining room table when I got my laptop, and that has been my workspace ever since. I do have an office with a real desk and desktop computer, but I haven’t used it for writing since I got my laptop.


3.  What are some important things on your desk?  Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

I typically have a few pages of notes, a writing magazine or two, a grammar book, and my headphones. I need to have my headphones on most of the time to block out everything else going on in my house while I’m trying to work. Music also helps me get into the right frame of mind and to find the tone of my story.


4.  What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

I like facing my bookcase and looking at all the books I’ve collected over the years, wanting to one day see more of my books on the shelves. I like having a copy of my books with me at my writing station for added inspiration.


5. What’s your writing beverage?  What do you love to drink while you’re writing?

I used to drink coffee religiously and would always have one while I was writing. But this year, I gave up caffeine, and amazingly, I’ve stuck to it for the past six months! As I said earlier, I worked in coffee for about 12 years and averaged about three coffees a day throughout most of that time—so going cold turkey on caffeine was a big deal. Now, I’ll have one decaf coffee…but after that, it’s mostly water. Sometimes I’ll throw in a 7-Up or Gatorade.

 Gwendolyn (40) modified

Michael and his little Gwendolyn

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author?  Who inspired you to write?

When I was in junior high and high school, I wanted to be the next Stephen King. But after high school I got away from writing for a number of years. It wasn’t until about 12 years later that I picked up writing again, inspired by the success stories of J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer. I had to give myself permission to follow a dream of one day being a full time author. I’ve held onto that dream for the past four years now, and I’m never giving it up. If you don’t give up, you can’t fail.


2. What’s your typical day as a writer like?  Do you have any writing related rituals or quirks?

I try to write a little before work and on my lunch, but there are several times a week when I’m not given that time for myself. I try to keep to a weekly word-count goal, so when I don’t get as much written during the day as I’d like, I try to make up for it in the evenings. Otherwise my evenings are reserved for promotion, social media, and blogging. A modern day author has to wear a lot of hats.


3.  Do you write everyday?  How many hours a day do you spend writing?  What are some of your worst writing distractions?

I wish I could write every day, but some days, time just doesn’t permit it. I write as much as I can, when I can, and try not to be too hard on myself on the days I can’t. My day job takes up almost 12 hours of my day and family/home obligations a few more hours. My personal time is limited, but I try to make the most of it. My biggest distraction is definitely my 19-month-old daughter. She’s completely changed my life in so many positive ways, but it’s hard to get anything accomplished while she’s awake; so much of my work is reserved for after she goes to bed.


4. Why do you write?

I write because I love stories. I love the feeling of creating a new story and all the characters, adventures, and converging plotlines that go along with it. If I stick with it, I believe I’ll be able to get to a point where I can write fulltime. And that’s the dream—to be able to do what I love and support my family while doing it. Stories can affect people’s lives, and I want to one day write one of those stories that will far outlive me.


5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us?  How about a favorite writing quote?

If you want to write, then just write. Don’t let anyone else talk you out of it. There are so many ways to get your stories out to readers these days, that your masterpieces don’t have to live and die by finding an agent. There isn’t one road leading to the city of success. There is a huge network of roads, railways, and rivers that are all capable of getting you there. Each path has its own travel time, obstacles, and peril, but with a few simple turns and adjustments, you can keep on course and get to your desired destination. Success comes to those who try “until.”


Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.
– Orson Scott Card


7,466 total views, 7 views today

Story Sprouts Interview and Moonless Release

Today, STORY SPROUTS co-editor Alana Garrigues and I are being interviewed by author and fellow blogger Dawn Malone.

Hop on over to her blog, Here’s the Story to get the scoop on the anthology Alana and I have been working on these past few months.

story sprouts book cover

Thanks to a crazy busy schedule, I’ve been MIA from one of my favorite writing groups for months now. Although I haven’t been updating my status with fellow Write ON members, I still follow their posts and make sure I catch up with their writing achievements.

Which is why today, I celebrate one of my fellow Write On member’s greatest achievements. Crystal Collier is now a published author, with the debut of her novel, MOONLESS.


With the release of her novel, Crystal is facilitating the following fun events:

*The Mystery Sentence Game
*The Truth or Lie Game
*Meeting the Characters
*Reading Excerpts
*Learning the perils of Moonless nights
*Mass quantities of cheese
*And dozens of chances to WIN


Hop on over to Crystal’s website to join in the celebration.

1,480 total views, no views today

One Word Interview with Tyrean Martinson

guest post nut 250

Today I’m at the wonderful Tyrean Martinson’s blog

for her One Word Interview Series!


1,198 total views, no views today