ARC Winners!!

So I woke up this morning feeling like crap. It might have something to do with the fact that I got about twenty minutes of sleep.

You know what always makes me feel better? Doing nice things.

So even though I didn’t get 75 entries, I’m still going to give away two ARCs!

Thanks to the powers of the random number generator, the winners are…

Drum roll, please…

Beth Scharwath and Martha Pao!!

I hope I am not butchering your names. I am not currently at my best.

Please email your mailing address to, and I’ll ship them out tomorrow.


And everyone else, stay tuned…we’ll be doing another giveaway in February…

Crits for Water: The Elemental brothers would approve

So who’s looking for a critique? Who’s looking to help people on the other side of the world?

Guess what? You can do BOTH.

Kat Bauer, who is an amazing person to begin with, is running a series on her blog to raise money for Charity: Water.

For everyone who donates $10, we’re doing a random drawing to win a 5,000 word critique from me (and I’m thorough, people). If you don’t win my critique, Kat is still giving away a 2,500 word critique to everyone who makes a donation. So either way, you win. Win win. Or, as Michael Scott would say, win win win.

Now that I’ve typed “win” so many times, it’s starting to look misspelled.

Here’s the link to enter the drawing:

Here’s a link to an interview that awesome blogger Mary Kaley did on my critique style.

In case you don’t know anything about Elemental, it features four brothers who can control the elements of water, fire, earth, and air. (Each brother controls a different element.) Christopher Merrick, the youngest brother, controls water. He’s the star of Elemental.

Chris would totally be down with this drawing.

Even if you don’t want a critique, consider making a donation. It’s ten dollars. Ten dollars will provide clean water for one person for TEN YEARS.

Go. Click. Donate. If nothing else, you’ll feel better about yourself for doing something right.

Contest Results!

Okay, we ended up with 34 comments, and all these books sound awesome. Seriously awesome, guys. I want to read ALL the books you talked about, especially the ones that got numerous mentions.

But since my husband would kill me if I handed out 34 prizes, I finally decided to use a random number generator to select the two winners.

And so, without further delay, here’s who won:

Tom and Kulsama!

Congratulations, guys! Let me know if you’d prefer a $15 Amazon gift certificate, or an actual book. Just drop me an email to and I’ll hook you up.

For everyone else, I hope to have many more contests in the near future, so stick around!

So I need a book recommendation

Yeah, I need something to read. (If you’re just here for the contest, skip all this crap and scroll to the bottom of the post.)

But the problem is, I’m pretty picky. I always cringe when people buy me a book as a gift, because … well, it’s just weird. It’s like getting lingerie from a casual acquaintance. A book is going to be intimate. I’m going to spend long hours of the night engrossed in it. It’s going to speak to something inside of me. I need to have a connection to read a book.

My husband learned this the hard way. He once bought me a book, before we were married. I still haven’t read it.

Someone gave me A Million Little Pieces or whatever it’s called, the James Frey book, for Christmas a few years ago, because they thought I would like an Oprah book. (I have never in my life watched one minute of the Oprah Winfrey show. I have nothing against it, at all. It’s just that my mother never watched, and I’ve been working full time since I was 18.)

Suffice it to say, Oprah’s stamp on a book means nothing to me. (Though I really did like The Deep End of the Ocean. Oh, and that other one, Where the Heart Is. But for both of them, I saw the movie, then read the book.)

Anyway, I need something to read. I do listen to book recommendations, and I do read reviews. So help me out here, guys.

Here’s what I like:

Right now I’m reading a lot of YA. I love YA books about boys — but if the author is a woman, the voice has to be right on. I read the book Beautiful Creatures, and though the writing was great (there’s a reason it’s a bestseller, and you should check it out), I just kept thinking that it was written the way a middle aged woman thought her son would think/speak, not the way he actually would.

(So, hi, I’m clearly addicted to italics in this blog post.)

Yeah, like I said, I love YA books about boys and how they interrelate with each other, with girls, with adults, with authority figures. I loved The Things a Brother Knows (a guy comes home from the military, and is nothing like the charismatic idol his younger brother remembers), and Right Behind You (an eight-year-old boy sets his next door neighbor on fire and spends seven years in a juvenile facility, only to be released into the real world in time to start high school), and Breathing Underwater (told in the first person POV of an abusive boyfriend).

I’m also a fan of paranormal YA, but I’ve gotten really picky here. I can’t think of the last truly amazing paranormal YA I’ve read, which is saying something. Wait, yes I can. Hex Hall. Here’s the funny thing about Hex Hall. I picked it up at the library. For me to check something out of the library, I basically have to be pretty sure I’m not going to like it — because I buy a metric ton of crap on my Kindle. I was kind of over the witch boarding school thing, but so many people kept liking this book that I was like, “OMFG, FINE. I will try it.”

And I loved it. Read it.

Wait, I keep recommending books. I need you guys to recommend some to me.

I love dark books, but it can’t be hopeless from the get-go. You know what worked about Living Dead Girl? (A book about a girl who was kidnapped by a pedophile when she was ten, and kept by him for years. The book opens when she’s 15.) The book starts when she sees a glimmer of hope at escape. The book doesn’t start with the kidnapping, when she’s got years of despair and hopelessness ahead of her. It opens when there’s the bare hope for escape. That’s what makes this deeply moving book so un-put-down-able. I read the entire thing in almost one sitting because I had to know if she was going to succeed in getting away from the most horrifying situation ever.

I’ve discovered I love romantic suspense, like Pamela Clare’s stuff. (I’ve loved every book of hers I’ve read.) I need more of that. Any recs?

I love adult urban fantasy, but seriously, if there’s a half naked girl with a weapon on the cover, I’m going to be hard pressed to pick it up.  I need a little femininity. (This is not a bash to the genre. Like I said, I love it. I think I own every Laurell K Hamilton and Kim Harrison book ever written. This is just me explaining what I’m looking for now.)

Paranormalcy Like Paranormalcy. You know what I love about the Paranormalcy cover? It’s perfectly feminine. You can tell she’s going to be a girl. But in the first chapter, she’s bagging a vampire with a taser. I mean, come on. That’s awesome.

I’m a little over dystopian. I have nothing against it in general, but I’ve read about four dystopian books back-to-back over the last few weeks, and I’m kind of done for a while.

Look, I said I was picky.

That’s what I’ve got. Any recommendations?

Hey, let’s make this a contest! If you can convincingly recommend a book to me and I choose to buy it, I’ll buy you one book I’ve mentioned in this blog post, or any other book of your choice, up to $15. 

You have until midnight Friday, and I’ll pick two winners. You have to convince me to buy it from your comment — no cheating and giving me a link to the Amazon page. It doesn’t need to be a full review either. Something like, “Two hot brothers are in a fight for the crown. The dialogue is awesome. No girls say the F word.” And I’m likely sold.

Ready, set, recommend!

All right, it’s close enough to 8pm

Our winner is Becky, with the injured child, bed full of something that shouldn’t be in a bed, and the case of pinkeye. (Not to mention the indignity of facing the hot orthopaedic doc, either!)

Becky, I’m not sure congratulations is the right thing to say, but I sure hope your week gets better.

The Amazon gift card is yours!

Thanks to everyone for playing!!

Worst Valentine’s Day contest — Come and vote for the best!!

Okay, guys, you seriously have had some bad Valentine’s Days. I received entries by email and on the blog. I said to my husband last night, “I don’t know how I’m going to pick the best three!”

He, in his usual charming way, said, “You made your bed…”


Oh, wait, before we get to the official entries, this was my husband’s entry:

I have one. My wife, who is wonderful btw, decided to hold a contest on her blog. The best story about valentine’s day would win a prize. Did she write about how I proposed to her or how romantic I could be at times? Nope, she wrote about yet another encounter with a strange man. Feel the love. 😛

No, he can’t win.

What he doesn’t realize is that talking about wonderful husbands is boring for other people. I’m a writer. I know these things. If I rambled on and on about how amazing and supportive my husband is, I wouldn’t have any followers at all.

Hey! I see your eyes glazing over already!

On to the entries!

Worst Valentine’s Day #1
I can honestly say this is my worst Valentine’s Day ever. My little girl fell out of her bed at 2:30 a.m. yesterday and broke her collarbone (which just happened to be her third birthday).

Something STINKY woke me up at 2:30 a.m. today. Because it hurt to push herself up on the toilet, she wouldn’t go potty. Apparently she could only hold it so long, pulled the No. 2 out, wiped it on her bed and then tried to go back to sleep.

So that’s how the day started.

When I REALLY woke up for the day, I realized that we both have pink eye. Great right? Which would be fine if we could just hang out at home. No dice.

We had to visit the orthopaedic surgeon this afternoon who a) didn’t do anything for her but pin her sling shut and b) happened to be totally gorgeous.

Now I’m waiting for a call from the pediatrician and baking the cake she didn’t get to have yesterday.

No love story here. Just real life.

Worst Valentine’s Day #2
My worst Valentine’s day happened when I was 20. It’s the only year I’ve ever been in a relationship on Feb. 14, and I was SUPER jazzed about it. The problem was that my boyfriend wasn’t all that SUPER jazzed. At first, he said that he wasn’t going to go out with me, so I got a group of friends together to go out. We all got dressed up in black (there’s just something about being anti-pink that makes me feel like I’m sticking it to the man) and planned to meet at Macaroni Grill then see the movie HITCH. My BF was fine with that until he saw how smokin’ I looked and how glowing my smile was. So while we were at Macaroni Grill, he called several times, and talked himself into meeting us for the movie.

Problem: He decided to get completely wasted while he waited for us to finish eating.

When he met up with us, he smelled pretty horrible. We found our seats, and he pulled a flask out and continued to smell horrible. Finally, he snuck out for a bathroom break and got kicked out of the theater.

What I learned: being single is preferable to being left alone by a drunken man – no matter how gorgeous and charming the man 🙁

Worst Valentine’s Day #3
My wife and I attempted to celebrate Valentine’s Day while we were dating and it never worked out. We always ended up in a fight or something bad always happened. When we got married and moved to Boston, we decided that we would no longer celebrate the holiday since it always ended badly. Instead, we decided we would go to Pizza Hut every year on Valentine’s Day because it was our daughter’s favorite place, and because there are very few places less romantic than the Hut. Of course, that year we moved to Southborough, Mass, home of absolutely nothing. We finally found a Pizza Hut several miles away in Framingham, MA and decided to go there for Valentine’s Day. As we drove into the parking lot, we were actually discussing the fact that nothing could go wrong since we were doing the least romantic thing in the world when suddenly there was a loud bang and a fiery explosion next to our car. As we drove into the parking lot, a transformer blew and knocked out power to most of Framingham, Massachusetts. Our bad luck had never affected an entire city before. For the safety of humanity, that was the last time we celebrated Valentine’s Day!

As yesterday, vote in the comments, or shoot me an email to, or write it on a paper airplane and throw it at me, or…you get the gist. I’ll post the winner at 8pm tonight.

The Valentine’s Day I wanted to stab a guy with a plastic fork

If you’re just here for the free goods the contest, scroll to the bottom. You totally don’t need to read my tale of woe to enter. You just need to have your own. 

First off, if you missed the post about  my trip to the firehouse, keep reading past this one. (If you want. That’s not really a command. I just posted it late in the day on a Sunday, so it was outside my regular schedule.)

Ha! I just said “regular schedule.”


I’m going to stretch the memory banks for this one, guys, because it was over ten years ago, and my description of the guy might be an amalgamation of several random guys from my early twenties.

But you won’t know the difference, so here we go.

So imagine Valentine’s Day 1999. I was single, young, a free spirit. Just like everyone else who was single on Valentine’s Day, I was not exactly feeling the love, if you catch my drift. So I did my two favorite things, alone.

I went to the movies, and afterward, I went to the bookstore.

There used to be this huge Borders bookstore in Towson, just north of Baltimore, and boy, that place was my stomping ground in the years following high school. It was three stories high, full of books and couches and even a cafe on the top floor.

So I found my book, and I went up to the cafe to have a coffee and a snack.

I’m sitting at the table, reading my book, eating, pretty content really. Yeah, I was single on Valentine’s Day, but life didn’t suck. It was okay.

Then a guy stopped by the table and said, “May I join you?”

I tend to remember things like they happened in a movie.  Kind of like: His hand would fall on the edge of the table, and I would look up slowly from my book to find this movie-star cute boy standing there, all blue eyes and dark hair (yeah, I have a type). End scene.

Now, in reality, he wasn’t movie-star cute. He was okay. I remember he had long hair (Hey, it was the nineties. Thank the grunge movement for that.), and a nice smile, and I think he was wearing glasses. I was just so startled that a guy was asking if he could join me. It’s not like there weren’t a dozen empty tables around. Bookstores aren’t what you’d call “hopping” on Valentine’s Day.

But I told him yes, he could sit down, and he did. Then he struck up a conversation.

Now I don’t remember everything we talked about. Our books, I’m sure. I think he was reading something completely outside my wheel house, like a biography or a book on migrant farmers or maybe something by John Steinbeck.

I do remember that he led of with a statement like, “I saw you were alone on Valentine’s Day, and I am too, and nobody should be alone on Valentine’s Day.”

I ate it up. Come on. You would too.

I remember he was in school, and very kind, and he kept leaning in against the table and making conspiratorial comments about the other people in the cafe. He was cute. Funny. Engaging. I was having a nice time.

Inside, I kept screaming to myself, “This could be fate! We’ll tell people we met on Valentine’s Day! What a cute story to tell our children one day!”

And then he took his last bite of pie, set down his fork, and said, “Well, it was really nice talking to you.”

And with that, he stood up and left.

Now, we didn’t have all these nifty acronyms when I was twenty-one. The only one we had was LOL, and I sure as hell wasn’t doing that.

My expression was more likely a combination of OMG and WTF.

I mean, seriously, he just stood up and left. It was like a complete 180. He’d been sitting there bantering, chatting, being flirty, the whole nine yards. And then he stood up and left.

More than ten years later, I’m still not sure what that was. A Valentine’s Day hit-and-run? Did he think he was being kind to the poor dorky girl? Because I’m sure I would have enjoyed another thirty minutes with my novel a lot more.

That’s my story. I’m sure you guys have some. Let’s hear ’em.

Wait! Let’s do a contest! I’ve never done a blog contest before.

In the comments section, tell me your worst Valentine’s Day story. I’ll pick the best three and post them on the blog tomorrow, and everyone can vote. 

Anna and the French KissWinner gets a $15 Amazon gift certificate. Use it to buy a copy of the incredible book Anna and the French Kiss. Or anything you want, really.

Deadline is whenever I wake up tomorrow! (Psst. That’s 5am EST Feb. 15, 2011) 

Let’s hear the anti-love! 

(I know some employers/schools block blog comments, so if you can’t comment on the blog from where you are, just send me an email at, or post it on my Facebook “Like” page, or write it on a Post-it and stick it to my windshield, or hire a plane to skywrite it…)

Please promote!