Monday, February 25, 2013

Guest Post - Brenda Maxfield!

Brenda Maxfield just released her novel, The Lance Temptation, with Astraea Press and was sweet enough to come hang out at my blog and tell us about it. Check it out!

Blurb for The Lance Temptation by Brenda Maxfield:

Sophomore Emili Jones has had it with being a boring, straight-A student. Itching for excitement, she sees plenty of it in classmate Farah Menin’s life of frequent dates and edgy adventure. Hoping the popularity will rub off, Emili latches onto Farah and manipulates herself into best friend status. The connection helps her land the hot new guy, Lance Jankins, but there’s a catch. Now a pawn in Farah’s dating games, Emili is on a crash course to betrayal. Will she realize it in time to save herself?

Interview with Emili Jones, the main character of The Lance Temptation:

Give us a few brief facts about yourself.

My name is Emili Jones. I’m sixteen years old and a sophomore at Bates Academy.

Is Bates a private school?

Yes. I’ve gone there forever. All my friends are there.

Who’s your best friend?

Right now, my best friend is Farah Menins. She’s gorgeous and all the guys like her.

And how about you? Are you popular with the guys?

Not so much. I figured if I hung out with Farah, it might help me get more popular.

Did it work?

I managed to snag one guy all on my own. His name is Marc and he’s really nice. You know, a sweet guy. But there’s this new guy at school named Lance, and I start sweating the minute I look at him. He’s fine. But I don’t think he’d ever look twice at me.

What’s your favorite thing to do?

I make perfume. It can get kind of spendy though.

What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done?

Is it okay if I don’t really answer that? It’s embarrassing and I’m still mad at myself. I will say this—it had to do with Marc.

What do you wish you could do over?

Wow. There are a couple major things. I dumped my friend Jeannie, and sometimes I regret it. Especially because of the reason why I dumped her. The other thing is the same as the last question you asked. It’s about Marc.

What’s hardest about being a teen in today’s world?

The pressure on you to be hot and smart and beautiful and popular. It’s impossible. Who could live up to that? Well, maybe Farah.  But the pressure makes you do stupid things. Even when you try not to be an idiot, you end up doing things you know you shouldn’t.

What are your future plans?

Hmmm, I’m only a sophomore so I’m not sure. I want to graduate from Bates and go to university. I’m worried, though, because something’s going on with my dad.  He has some big announcement, and I can tell by the look on his face I’m not going to like it.

I hope the announcement isn’t too awful. It was nice talking with you today, Emili. All of us can read about your story in The Lance Temptation, correct.

Yep. Thanks for talking with me. It was nice to be here.

Emilis' Diary Entry

Tuesday, August 28
I wish I could take a fat eraser to my brain. You know how some things stick to your mind no matter how much you hate them? I guess a shrink would diagnose me as wounded.
Maybe that’s a bit overboard. But the thing is, I can’t forget what happened. No, it wasn’t death or abuse or anything so awful.
Except to me.
I was in eighth grade.  Skinny as a stick — well, that part hasn’t changed. I was growing my hair out so it was kinda jagged with split ends. I was at the mall minding my own sweet business when two guys came up to me.
One of them tapped me on the shoulder, which was weird because I didn’t know him. But he was cute and in that quick second, I could feel my face grow hot and hope bubble up in my heart.
He was laughing. At first, I thought he was just a happy person, but then I realized he was laughing at me.
“You’re ugly,” he said.
He turned to his just-as-cute friend, gave him a swift jab in the side with his elbow, and they both cracked up.
My mouth froze up in shock and I couldn’t have talked if someone paid me. The second guy gawked at me and tried to bite back his grin. “Don’t listen to him. You’re not ugly. He’s being stupid.”
Then he laughed, and they both sauntered off.
I pivoted to the right and caught my reflection in the glass window of Gracie’s Boutique. I had no curves, my chin was too pointy, and my clothes hung on me like an orphan child. I was ugly.
Later, I told Jeannie what the guy said. She got mad and told me guys were idiots and not to listen.
But how do you turn your ears off?
Anyway, I knew he was right.

Thursday, August 30
School starts next week. Tenth grade. I can hardly believe it. NOW FOR THE BEST NEWS EVER! I have a boyfriend: Marc Rounder. He’s cute and tall and nice. And he likes me.
I got him without Farah. She was my ticket to getting a guy, but I got Marc all by myself. I wish he was more popular, but it’s okay. I’m not popular, so I guess we’re even.
It sounds shallow, but I want to be popular like Farah. All the guys like her. I wonder what it’d be like to walk down the hall and know all the guys were staring at you. Farah laughs about it.
I’m not laughing. I just want to know what it feels like. I want to know so bad I can taste it.
Jeannie doesn’t like Farah. She doesn’t like me much anymore either. Which is sad. Sometimes I miss Jeannie. But with Farah, it’s exciting. There’s always something going on. I never had that with Jeannie.
I wonder what my classes will be like this year. Maybe Marc will walk the hall with me.  Wow, that’d be so cool.

Sept. 1
Farah slept over last night.  She spent about two hours griping about Marc. He’s too nice, too calm, too BORING. Why can’t she like him? I like all her boyfriends. I defended him, but I wanted to scream.
Farah major sucked-up to my mom. And Mom went right along with it. Made me mad because my mom came off looking stupid.
Later when we went to bed, Farah did her teacher impressions and we cracked up so hard I thought we’d pee our pants. Turned into a fun night after all.

Sept. 4
Yesterday was the first day of school. Jeannie barely said hi. I tried to talk with her and goof around, but she wouldn’t have it. Marcella had her nose so high in the air I’m surprised she didn’t get frostbite.
Marc walked me to class! Score!
He’s so nice. I wish he’d kiss me already.
I think I saw Jeannie watching us, but I’m not sure. Maybe she likes him, too. Hey, maybe Marc is popular.

Sept. 6
There’s a new guy at school. Not sure what his name is because I don’t have classes with him. I snooped, so I know he’s a sophomore like me.
He’s drop-dead gorgeous. My hands go clammy when I look at him. This morning in the hallway, he glanced my way and I think he winked. I hope I’m right. But then I was walking with Farah, so maybe he was winking at her.
I didn’t dare say a thing. First of all, I have a boyfriend. Second of all, if Farah found out I thought he was hot she’d bug me till I’d want to strangle her. She’s always after me to do something even when I don’t want to do it. She usually gets her way.
I wonder if I’m cute enough for a guy like him? I think my hair is good. But guys don’t think I’m cute. Proof One: Those two jerks in the mall.  Proof Two: Never had a boyfriend until now. Proof Three: I have eyeballs and every time I look in the mirror I see myself as that stick 8th grade girl.

Find out what happens when Emili gets suckered into a new, daring relationship. Order The Lance Temptation now! 

Astraea Press:  

Barnes and Noble:

Author Bio:

Brenda Maxfield loves writing novels for young adults. She explores teens’ heartaches and triumphs—and always with a bit of romance thrown in to complicate matters. Brenda is a high school teacher and spends most of her waking hours with teens. She loves hearing their views on love and life, and is honored to be part of their lives.

Brenda has lived in Honduras, Grand Cayman, and Costa Rica. Presently, she lives in Indiana with her husband. They have two adult children and are grandparents to one precious little guy, special delivery from Africa.

When not writing or teaching, Brenda can be found at her lake cabin with a book in her hand and her dog Lucy on her lap. If you’re looking for good, clean teen reads, check out Brenda’s books! She loves getting to know her readers better, so stop by and say hello at:


Tuesday, February 19, 2013


SOOO Today is February 19. Feudlings comes out March 19. ONE MORE MONTH! I thought I would do something special today to celebrate (I like to celebrate. It makes me happy. Who knew?). 

So there's no acknowledgement section in Feudlings, but I wrote one, because I get confused's a long story. ANYWAY, there are a ton of people that helped me so much while I was chasing my dreams, and I wanted to share it. So here you go :)

There are so many people who held my hand on this journey, so many loved ones to thank. First and foremost, my husband, for putting up with my strange habits, letting me write instead of work, not letting me quit, and most importantly, always, always believing in me. I would have quit before I started if not for him. I love you, Blair!

My parents, who put up with so much from me through all the years. They deserve a reward for not killing me or selling me to the circus – and they say they are proud of me. Thank you for being so wonderful!

For my sisters and brother and their families, thank you for reminding me that I’m related to you, and therefore am always awesome. Thank you for reading my stories and being proud of me. And sweet Crystal, thank you for reading it over and over again and begging for more. What would I have done without all of you? And by the way, Heinz 57, baby!

And my friends, for encouraging me, for reading and critiquing, for brainstorming with me, for being my battle guru and answering my hundred questions, for sprinting with me and kicking me into gear when I don’t feel like writing. I am so grateful for all of you!

And Stephanie, for taking a chance on me and giving me hope! And the Astraea family, for being so welcoming and helpful and kind.

Finally, my kids. Thank you, sweet babies! They keep me young and alive. They remind me that we have dreams for a reason, and we should never give them up. I cannot look into their great big eyes and say I quit. I could never have told them to chase their dreams if they hadn’t given me the courage to chase mine.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Guest Post - Mercedes Murdock Yardley!

So. You’ve heard of soul mates, right? Or even soul sisters (I know you have. We all love Train). Well, I have one. Mercedes Murdock Yardley is, like, the long lost sister I stumbled upon thanks to Facebook. Looking at us, you might never guess. She is definitely the cool sister. But we have a freakish amount of THINGS in common. Anyway, she is one of my writing gurus (If you know me well, you know I have gurus for everything –electrician gurus – thanks hubs! Battle gurus, fishing gurus, you get the idea). She is also my makeup guru and fashion guru. She plays many roles.

One of the things that makes Mercedes so unique is her skill at writing horror. She is also an editor for Shock Totem magazine, and this girl knows her stuff. And since it’s Women in Horror Month, what a perfect time to beg her to tell us all her secrets!(Plus, I'm starting a horror story, so I've been pestering her for help. Bwahahhaa)

So, horror huh? What got you into that?
MMY:  I’ve always been a somewhat dark little girl.
I never thought that I could write horror. I didn’t have an understanding of what it was. I thought that it was blood, guts, and gore, and I’m not into that scene. But horror is so much more than that! It’s about dread. Emotion. A friend actually dared me to write a horror story for a magazine, and I found that I really liked the genre. It just fit.  Like a puzzle piece clicking into place. I think my writing also works nicely outside of genre, as well. But if we’re talking genre, horror is a wonderful one.

Do you ever give yourself nightmares?
MMY: That’s backwards. I have nightmares, and they come out in stories. Some of the more nightmarish scenes in some of my novels (that haven’t seen the light of day, as yet) come directly from my dreams. Screaming starfish jumping out of a bloody aquarium, for example, or monsters that swim under the floor.

When I think horror, I think Stephen King or Dean Koontz (weird older-ish men). Is that a typical reaction when you tell people what you write?
MMY: Ha! Mostly people are surprised that I’m so nice and I write horror. I’ll be discussing decapitations while feeding my baby graham crackers. That’s what blows most people’s minds.  That you can write something dark and still have a normal life. We don’t all live in haunted mansions! Mostly because we can’t afford it. But still!

Do you think there are obstacles to writing in the horror genre that you wouldn’t encounter in other genres?
MMY: There’s still a stigma, I think. People tend to write horror off immediately. They’ll say, “Oh, I’m just not into that,” without knowing what horror really is. Or sometimes somebody will assume that all horror writers are scary, sick twists. I honestly have found horror writers to be some of the happiest, healthiest, well-adjusted people that I know. We put all of our sickness on the page and exorcise it from or souls.

I think writing horror takes a completely different mindset than writing other genres. Do you think that’s true?
MMY: Maybe. I have gallows humor, so things that are scary to other people are kind of funny to me. I think Hannibal Lector and Clarice Starling are a wonderful, romantic couple. So…maybe yes? :D

What tips do you have for someone just venturing into the world of horror? Any suggestions?

MMY: Read! Watch horror on TV! Be proud to get your fingers bloody! By TYPING, I mean. There are all types of horror. Slow burn, splatter punk, torture porn. I write whimsical horror. The genre is alive and well. Don’t be afraid to immerse yourself in it. It’s quite a lovely place to be.

And now it’s time for the obligatory plug for my new short story collection, Beautiful Sorrows!  Here’s the blurb:

There is a place where sorrows pile up like snow and rest in your hair like cherry blossoms. Boys have wings, monsters fall in love, women fade into nothingness, and the bones of small children snap like twigs. Darkness will surely devour you—but it will be exquisitely lovely while doing so.

Mercedes M. Yardley’s Beautiful Sorrows is an ephemeral collection encompassing twenty-seven short tales full of devastation, death, longing, and the shining ribbon of hope that binds them all together.

You can learn more about Beautiful Sorrows at  It’s currently on sale in February to celebrate Women in Horror month!

Thanks so much for having me, Wendy! You rock!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Review of Melissa Lemon's Blue Sky

Hi! This is the first time I've ever reviewed a book on my blog, so bear with me here. I have no idea what I'm doing (big surprise, I know). 
Melissa Lemon is the author of several books. Her latest is Blue Sky, a cute story about healing, friendship, and love. She let me read it and I have to say, I went into it thinking, I'm not a contemporary romance fan. I like magic and fantasy. But I read it anyway because I'm nice like that, and it was a really cute story. I liked the hope that was present through the whole story, even when things looked their worst, there was hope, and friendship, and love. This is a must read for contemporary romance fans!

Blue Sky Synopsis:

 Sunny is bereaving the sudden death of her parents. Lewis is a homeless runaway seeking shelter in Sunny's basement from an early winter storm. When they unexpectedly meet, Sunny wants nothing more than to kill him. After a bizarre hostage situation and a poker game, Sunny realizes that Lewis isn't out to hurt her. Their initial distaste turns to friendship and love, but Sunny isn't keen on starting a relationship with a man she knows so little about. Lewis is loyal, and his patience paramount. Sunny is hesitant but her love runs deep and true. They are separated unwillingly, and must struggle and face overwhelming odds to find each other again.

 Melissa has had many imaginary friends (and enemies) since she was a child. Her vivid imagination had her writing stories and jotting down book ideas for years until she finally sat down and finished a novel. She is married to an awesome man and the proud mother of three children. Music is also an important part of her life and she shares time with her music students teaching them piano, cello or guitar. Melissa is a graduate of the University of Utah and currently resides in the Salt Lake area.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Guest Post by Ryan Hunter - YA isn't just for Children!

Ryan Hunter is a YA author who is amazing and you should all check her out. Oh, you're not a teenager, you say? Well, YA isn't just for kids. In fact, that's all I read and I am faaar from being a child, so there!

The YA Market isn’t Just for Children Anymore
Did you know that 55% of all YA books are bought by people over the age of 18? In a market designed for youth ages 12-17, that’s a serious market to consider when promoting your novel.
But why are so many age groups reading YA?
The Atlantic Wire said, “To escape our frantic adult lives, to remind us of who we were and who we want to be … and, put simply, they’re good.”
An intriguing aspect of YA is the ability to merge multiple genres, incorporating elements of the paranormal with history or fantasy with romance, and any number of other combinations.

Jacquelyn Mitchard, journalist, said that YA is becoming more popular because, “young adult is where the action is …” and that it’s a way “to remember when life was so tender …” She also said that adults who read YA better understand where their kids are coming from.
Author Maureen McGowan slated many of the same reasons and added, “There’s plenty of drama, conflict and tension. The teen years are full of heightened emotions. It’s when we experience our first loves, first heartbreaks, first huge setbacks and triumphs.”
Understanding who your readers are and what they’re craving in fiction will help you create a stronger story, to help you write something that appeals to your readers whether they’re children or adults.
While it’s important to understand why others read YA, you should also understand why you do and just as importantly, why you love to write it.
I love to read YA because it usually carries an element of hope. Adult novels often lack the optimism that youth captures and I long for that in a book. I also love to see growth in the characters I'm reading about and I feel, too often, that adults characters have no room left for growth - they're stubborn or cynical, or they get caught up in issues I'd rather forget about ... in short, I thrive on seeing a character's growth throughout a story.
I think that’s also why I also love writing YA.

Ryan Hunter is the author of inDIVISIBLE, a dystopian that’s being hailed as a modern-day 1984; and Premeditated, a YA suspense. She’s a wife and mother of five. She’s an avid runner, blogger and baker.
Twitter: @ryanhunter45