SURPRISE!!! Revised Edition of Stitch Available TODAY!

stitchrevisededitionannouncement

Ok Stitch fans, I have a big announcement that I’m very excited to share… I recently invested a little (a lot of) time in creating a *new and improved* revised edition of Stitch and it’s available… today!!

“Wha-wha-whhaatt…” did you say?  I know, you must have questions, considering I totally snuck this project up on you.  So I went ahead and made a little FAQ that will hopefully clarify everything – read on!

— FAQ’s About Stitch (Stitch Trilogy, Book 1) 2016 Revised Edition —

Wait a sec… aren’t you supposed to be writing Stuck??
Why, yes.  Yes I am.  But the thing is, when I release Stuck, I obviously plan to do a huge promotional push to hopefully draw more readers into the series.  And to be frank, the thought of potentially thousands of new readers reading Stitch as it was – and forming their first impressions of me as a writer based on the original version of the book – was making me cringe.  And that icky, knotted-stomach feeling was pervading my enthusiasm for Stuck and for the series as a whole.  So in order to give this trilogy its rightful end, I felt I needed to go back to the beginning and make sure that Book 1 was done to the very best of my ability.

As much affection as I have for the original version of Stitch with all its quirks and flaws, I’ve learned a lot since it was published and have grown a lot as a writer (much of which is thanks to you and all your wonderful – sometimes brutally honest! – feedback, dear readers. I told you I read all the reviews, didn’t I??), and I want the series opener to be the best it can be.  Make sense?

Ok, awesome. So what’s new?
Let’s start with what’s NOT new.  First off, the plot.  Nothing about the storyline, or the characters’ history, or the major plot points have changed.  So if you don’t feel like re-reading it before Stuck releases, that’s no problem at all – you won’t be missing any essential information for the finale and can jump right in when Stuck comes out.

What HAS changed is the storytelling.  It’s faster-paced, more intense, more engaging.  Mostly, there’s less exposition – there’s more showing and less telling, i.e. through flashbacks, conversations between characters, hints in the setting, etc.  So that means… new scenes!  You’ll find LOTS of new interactions between Isaac, Alessa, Janie and the rest of the crew, more of Isaac’s POV, more action, more ROMANCE… and a *bit* less of Alessa blathering on in her head about her feelings or describing inconsequential details of her everyday life (the number one critiques of the original version of the book, which I have to wholeheartedly agree with).

Most of the changes are in the first two thirds of the book, because, well, I pretty much wrote it in the order that it reads – so those early chapters were the first ever chapters of a novel I’d ever written, and I frankly didn’t really know what I was doing.  But as many readers commented, the book really picked up after the twist and I felt I really hit my stride by the climax, so there’s not too much different towards the end.  (And just in case you were wondering, I have NO plans to make any changes to Shudder.)

I want it!! How do I know what version I have?
Check out the copyright page (two pages after the cover). If it says “Copyright © 2012 Samantha Durante” it’s the original.  If it says “Second Edition, Revised 2016. Copyright © 2012, 2016 Samantha Durante” you’ve got the revised version!

Argh, I’ve still got the old one – how do I get my revised edition??
If you bought a Kindle copy: Log in to your account on Amazon.com and go to the Manage Your Content & Devices page – find Stitch and click the “Update Available” button.  (Note that you will lose any existing notes/highlights!!)

If you bought a paperback copy: All paperback copies have been sold through Amazon, and Amazon has a great feature where I can make a discounted Kindle version available to owners of the print version.  So guess what – I made it free!!  Just log in to your account on Amazon.com, go here, and download your free updated Kindle copy.

If you bought an e-book from B&N, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, or elsewhere: Stitch is exclusive to Amazon for the next few months (more on that in an upcoming post), so you won’t be able to get the update until around March-ish (sorry!).  And to be totally honest, I’m not really sure how updates work at these other vendors…  Worst case, if you can’t get the update from wherever you bought it (or just don’t feel like waiting), just email me and I’ll send you a copy!

If you won a free print or e-book copy, or received a free copy for review purposes: Email me and I’ll send you a free updated e-book copy!  (Honor system!!)

Ok, I’m re-reading Stitch… Now what’s up with Stuck???
FINALLY – I’m writing it!  For reals!!  Sneak peek coming soon!  And I’ve even got some super sweet revised cover art…  More on the cover reveal coming as soon as I feel confident enough to announce an official release date, hopefully in the next few months!

As always, thank you again readers for all of your support and enthusiasm, for giving me the confidence to keep writing, the courage to make hard choices, and the chutzpah to admit when I haven’t done my best.  I’m really proud of the new and improved Stitch, and I hope you love it too!

PS – Celebratory GIVEAWAY coming soon with some really awesome prizes!!!  Check back here in the next couple days for details, or sign up on the mailing list here to get a notification (I only send 1-4 emails a year tops, promise).

Finding Balance

Or: Why It’s Taking Me So Long to Finish Book 3

I know you’ve all been waiting patiently for an update on Stuck (Stitch Trilogy, Book 3).  I was really hoping I’d have a completed manuscript (or, at least, a firm release date) to share with you this fall.  But I’m just going to come right out and say it: I’m not even close.

That’s not to say I haven’t been working diligently toward that goal whenever I can – I have – or that I’m any less dedicated to getting the final installment of this trilogy into your hands as soon as possible – believe me, I’m as excited as you are!  It’s just that, I’ve had to readjust my expectations for what “whenever I can” and “as soon as possible” means during this season of my life.  And as a result, it’s looking like it’s going to be a while yet until Stuck is ready for public consumption.

And my instinct now is for the next thing out of my mouth to be “I’m sorry.”  But I have to tell you: I’m sorry, and I’m not.  Because the reason I’ve been struggling to find time to write is that my son is at a very precious and fleeting stage in his life right now, and I just can’t bring myself to miss any of it.

As you may know, I’m the work-at-home parent in my family.  And I know lots of awesome work-at-home parents who hire a regular babysitter or utilize daycare to give themselves more time to be productive (or just recuperate), and when I see them doing this, I say, “Right on! Good for you!”  And I see how they benefit, and I see how their kids benefit, and I understand where they’re coming from when they encourage me to do the same.  But the thing is, I’m just coming from a different place.

As a mother who’s had the singular and heartwrenching experience of burying my only child, I’m coming from the same place as my friend, Kelly, whose beautiful toddler son, Kevin, was tragically taken from her too soon by Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  Kelly posted this heartfelt reminder to other parents on Facebook the other day as part of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month:

“I know I only had 2 1/2 years. I know 95% was spent on a roller coaster. I know that he’s not here now. I regret every break I took, every time I picked up my phone in front of him, and it wasn’t to take his picture. I regret every time I went to the sleep room and took a nap. I regret every time I went to the bathroom, and he couldn’t come with me. Some days it eats me alive. […] Forget cellphones on Saturdays! Forget cellphones as much as you can! Set alarms if you have to. Go out! Go play! Give them your TIME. It is all they will ever need or want and it won’t last for long. […] I just urge all of you to treasure EVERY second. […] Treasure the time.”

Of course, no one would ever begrudge Kelly – or any parent, especially one dealing with something as inconceivably stressful and horrific as childhood cancer – those naps and bathroom breaks and occasional zone-outs on the phone. That’s just survival.

But I felt the same way after my daughter, Alana, was stillborn.  I regretted (regret) every moment that I spent doing anything other than soaking her in, and basking in the miracle of her pregnancy.  I thought I had the rest of her life to really pay attention to her – I never realized just how short that life would be.  And this is where my mind goes when I need to decide now where to spend my time.

Should I take a couple hours this afternoon to go upstairs and write, or should I just stay here and let him and his glorious imagination cook me yet another “gourmet meal” from his play kitchen?  Should I pull my phone out and try to sneak some work on my outline, or just marvel as he so intently and purposefully pours water back and forth between cups for the next ten minutes?  Should I get on my computer while my mom reads him his book-of-the-moment for the 8000th time today, or should I stay here and do it myself so I don’t miss it if he suddenly looks up and busts out a newly mastered word with the biggest, proudest smile on his face?  More often than not, my son wins out.

And is devoting so much of myself to my child the “right” choice, or the healthiest or most sustainable, for either me or him?  I’m the first to admit that it’s probably not.  Any of my family or friends will readily tell you that Kiran and I suffer from a (mutual) separation anxiety which is hugely inconvenient to anyone and everyone who wants to spend time with either of us.  Some days (luckily, usually only a couple days a month when my nerves are raw from hormones or lack of sleep or what have you), I am burnt out and not the mother I know I could be – and I second guess my choices then, and wish I made more time for myself, and I strongly consider hiring regular help (or depending even more heavily on my mom than I already do – thank you, Mom, I honestly don’t know what I’d do without you!) so I can finally finish this book.

But then I have weeks, like I have had most of this past month, where the days – slogging and repetitive and interminable as they may be – are somehow also just brimming with delight.  Where I watch with wonder as my toddler discovers a boundless love of merry-go-rounds and waves with pure joy at every pass around the carousel.  Where I might be overtaken at any moment by an unexpected bear hug and chubby little hands yanking me in close (by the hair!) for an open-mouthed kiss on the cheek that fills my heart to bursting.  Where I lay down each night with my son in one arm and my cat in the other (my poor husband curled up in the remaining seven inches of mattress…), exhausted to the bone, but so, so full of love.

How can I bring myself to miss any of this, when I know so viscerally that it could be over at any moment?  I just can’t.

And please, please, please, don’t mistake me – the last thing I want is to send anyone off on a guilt trip for making choices that are different than mine.  Every family and every parent is different, and this is not a critique of anyone’s choices, or the completely valid reasons and experiences behind those choices.  I’m also painfully aware of the enormous and glaring amount of privilege I’ve been blessed with to even be able to have choices in this arena.

So this is just me trying to explain where my head is at, and why I’m finding it so hard to find the time to actually write, as much as I find meaning and enjoyment for myself in doing that – and as much as I absolutely hate feeling like I’m letting anyone down or failing to accomplish something I set out to do.  It’s just that, I know I can’t get any of this time back.  And when it comes down to it, I’m just not willing to give it up.

So what that means for me – and for you, dear readers – in a real-world, practical sense, is that I pretty much only get to write when Kiran is napping.  And he’s never been a big napper.  And half the time he falls asleep while driving somewhere, and then that’s it for the day.  And I wish I could just stay up late after he goes to bed or get up early in the morning to write before he wakes, but… I am tired, people!  And just like my friend Kelly, and all parents, I need that time at the end of the day to watch some TV or zone out on my phone or just talk to my husband – regular people-stuff, you know?  So basically, that doesn’t leave me with very much time to actually write.

The good news, though – for those of you waiting for Stuck – is that I have really been putting those few hours I get each week to good use.  Truthfully, I have not made too much progress on Stuck itself just yet, but I have been working on a secret little get-myself-back-on-the-horse project, which involves a good amount of brand new content within the Stitch universe. :-D And I’m planning to release that soon (hopefully before the end of the year, though again don’t hold me to it, as you now understand that I am beholden to the fickle whims of a toddler’s erratic sleep schedule!).

So, that’s where I’m at.  Trying to find the balance, and doing my best to love my life as it is, for as long as this season may last.

Thank you, as always, for sticking with me as I work to figure it all out.  And may you also, always, treasure the time.

Quick Announcement – I’m BAACCKKK!

Hey Stitch Fans!

ImBackI am **so** excited to announce that… I am OFFICIALLY working on the series again.  !!!  :-D

No release dates or anything just yet (I’m still trying to figure out how to get back in the productivity groove now that I have a toddler running around here!!), but I just wanted you all to know that it is REALLY happening.  And it feels so good. 

Planning is underway, writing will commence shortly, and I can guarantee that there’s a conclusion to this trilogy on its way… with maybe another surprise in the works as well!  (Haha, I KNOW, I’m being very short on details here… but I just don’t want to publicly commit to any dates/projects that I’m not 100% sure I can deliver, so keeping things vague for now!)

Will post another update as soon as I’ve got some progress to report…

In the meantime, hope you’re all doing well and looking forward to getting back in touch once I can leave my writing cave!!

All the best!
Samantha

“The Catastrophe Theory” Ch13 – FREE Progressive Story from The Hunt

The Catastrophe TheoryYou may remember a few weeks back I posted about The Hunt for Tomorrow, a virtual scavenger hunt with amazing prizes, including the chance to name/theme a progressive story written collectively by 20 authors sponsoring The Hunt.

Well, ladies and gents, that story is here!  The novella-length story is called “The Catastrophe Theory” and it stars scientist Eve, prepper Jared, and their very unique daughter Cassie in a post-apocalyptic techno-disaster.  The story has been evolving spontaneously as each author takes their turn writing the next chapter each day and adding his/her own twists to the plot, and it’s been quite a suspenseful ride!

(As a side note, this has been an incredibly interesting experience as a writer, since this fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, little-to-no-planning, zero-control-over-the-storyline style is pretty much the EXACT OPPOSITE of how I normally write.  It definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, but I have to say, I’m surprisingly pleased with the results thus far…  I guess that’s what happens when you put 20 talented authors in one place and set them loose!)

A new chapter has been published every day for the past couple weeks, and yesterday, it was my turn!  So without further ado, check out Chapter 13 of The Catastrophe Theory – and if you haven’t read the first 12 chapters, start here!!

Follow along on The Hunt blog or Facebook page to read the remaining chapters as they’re published each day!  Still got about a third of the book to go… can’t wait to see what happens!!

Finding Your Voice

Finding Your VoiceAnyone can put words down on paper, but just because the words are there doesn’t mean they’re anything anyone wants to read.  That’s because the hardest thing about writing is finding your voice.  It’s the writer’s unique style – their voice – that shines through to make any writing engaging.

I see this problem all the time with my business writing clients.  They’ve certainly got plenty to say – they’re experts in their fields, business owners with decades of experience and tons of valuable information to impart.  But I find that as a communications consultant (my day job outside of writing fiction), my clients tend to fall into one of two buckets: either they’re pretty decent writers but need help organizing their writing, or – more commonly – they’re struggling with their voice.

In the case of the under-developed voice, the writing just sounds… off.  Despite making good points and imparting valuable wisdom, whatever piece my client is trying to write is just not hitting the right notes of professionalism and personality.  Instead it sounds immature, dry, flat – not at all how they come across when you speak to them, but they just aren’t as compelling on paper as they are in person. What’s missing in their writing?  Their voice.

The big secret here is that there really is no secret to bringing your own unique style to your writing. It’s simply about having confidence in what you have to say – and in the act of writing itself.

The reason many of my business clients’ writing sounds shaky is because they don’t believe they can be good writers.  They are certainly confident in the information they’re sharing – after all, they’ve spent 20+ years amassing that knowledge in the field – but for most of these individuals, they stopped getting coached on their writing back in high school, or perhaps well before then.

Think about it – when the last thing anyone told you that you could write successfully was a 4th grade book report, it kind of makes sense that you’d continue to write that way.  It’s easy for a smart person to give up on writing – and their writer’s voice – when all they’ve ever seen since is a B or C or D in red ink on their papers.  Pretty soon writing gets put in that box of “things I don’t do well” and they leave it there, because no one ever pushed them to do better.  Positive reinforcement is a powerful thing.  The thing is, positive reinforcement is also very hard to come by.

In my own case, I found my voice in high school, writing under the guidance of a few very engaged and very encouraging teachers.  I’d always been a good writer (at least according to my mom, haha) but when I look back at my early writing, I see myself falling into the very common trap of trying to write in someone else’s voice, the way I thought writing should sound since that’s how it sounded to me when I read.  Even with engaging subject matter, my early writing felt forced, awkward, unnatural – and that’s because I wasn’t writing like me.

I’m forever in debt to my high school teachers because they saw something in my writing – the potential for something more – and they took the time to push me to develop it further.  My junior year English teacher founded a two-week summer camp specifically designed to help a handful of flourishing writers from our school develop their creative writing skills and invited me to join.  She then managed to foster an environment at the camp where we felt uninhibited and free to experiment without judgment (or grades!) getting in the way.

My senior year English teacher was well-known for teaching to rigorous standards in preparation for the upcoming AP exams, but seeing my potential, he held me to even higher standards than the rest of my peers.  I still have many of my papers from that class, and his meticulous notes scrawled in the margins of the page helped me to recognize and develop stylistic traits that I’d been doing unconsciously – parallelisms and unexpected personification, playfulness with words, a love of vocabulary and a more formal tone.  He helped me to realize that I had a voice, and that it was okay to use it.

I even had a fabulous math/computer science teacher both of those years who was an admittedly terrible writer himself – but he recognized my own talents in that area, and actually asked me to help him write/edit pieces that he knew needed to come across as professional and credible, including college recommendation letters for other students.  Can you imagine at 17 years old how much confidence that gave me in my own abilities as a writer?

What these experiences all had in common was that they made it clear that not only did I have a voice, but it was one that other people were interested in hearingThat set me on the right path of knowing who I was as a writer and having the confidence to develop my own unique voice further.

But not all writers have been lucky enough to have had that kind of support early on.  So my advice?  Seek it out.  Join a writers group – whether online, in your city, or through a local college – and just write.  Get people to read your writing, listen to their feedback, and just keep writing until it feels natural.  Eventually, you should start to hear your own voice in your head when reading your writing.  Practice until it’s authentic.

And, most importantly, don’t worry about writing something perfect – after all, I still cringe reading certain parts of Stitch.  Nothing you write will ever be perfect.  The important thing is that you’re always improving, and always being real in your writing, doing what comes naturally to you even if it means breaking a few rules.  After all, writers are people too – we’re individuals, we have unique personalities and quirks, and we’re not perfect!  Our writing should reflect that.

The fact of the matter is, the sooner you believe in your abilities as a writer, the sooner your voice will ring loud and clear.  You just have to give yourself permission to be heard.

DIY Editing Tips

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because typos are the bane of my existence!  (Sponsored post.)

You may think that soaring sales numbers or rave reviews are any writer’s crowning achievements, but in my case, one of the greatest satisfactions of my writing career to date has been something far less glamorous: protestations that my writing is well-edited.

After all, one of the main reasons self-published work gets a bad rap is because it’s often known to be riddled with typos, misspellings, and incorrect grammar.  When I first set out to publish Stitch, one of my biggest fears was that mechanical errors in the text would make me come off as unprofessional and, worse, amateur.  (Granted, I was – and probably still am – an amateur… but the reader didn’t need to know this!)

DIY Editing TipsDespite lacking an agent, publisher, and editor, I wanted desperately for my book to look and feel and read like a “real” book.  To that end, I hired a talented cover designer, I spent hours tweaking the print/e-book formatting, and most importantly, I put a LOT of effort into editing my writing.

And guess what?  It worked!  Many readers and reviewers have commented on the quality of my writing, and were even surprised to learn that my books were published independently.  In fact, after publishing Stitch and Shudder, I’ve only learned of a combined 3 true typos across both books (2 of which I fixed in the Stitch update released last April).  And while I’m sure there are more hidden in there (if you know of any, I’d love to know about them!), they’re subtle enough that the vast majority of readers will never even notice – and after all, even professionally published books have a typo or two in them, so I can deal.

Given my success in this particular arena, I thought I’d take a few moments to share my top 3 tips and tricks for other writers who are editing their own work:

1. Get more eyes on it! Seriously, this is the number one tip and by far the most effective thing you can do – get at least 10 people to read your work before you publish it, and make sure they know you want to hear about any typos, misspellings, or potential grammar issues.  (Sometimes people are afraid to insult you otherwise!)  The unfortunate reality is that you just can’t see your own writing clearly – you know what it’s *supposed* to say, so your mind just reads that instead of what’s actually on the page (thanks, brain!).

The good news is that you’re already getting people to give you feedback on the story, right?  Well, why not get some free editing while you’re at it?  Some readers are excellent at picking up on mechanical errors, others less so, so it’s essential to cast a wide net.  If you have the cash, you can even hire a professional – but so far, I’ve gotten by on the generous help of friends and family.  And be sure to THANK THEM for their time and input, even if you don’t always take their advice.  (After all, as I’m constantly telling my husband, there is such thing as “writer’s license!”)

2. Read it in print.  I don’t understand why, but for some reason, typos are easier to catch in print than on-screen.  I HATE wasting paper (I guess all those “save the rainforest” PSAs from when I was a kid made an impression…), but you have to review at least one printed version of your work before you hit the publish button.

In my case, I use the print proof from Createspace to do this, but if you’re just publishing an e-book, you can print it out at home (hey, you can always use a really tiny font, small margins, and double-sided printing to save paper!).  And again, refer to #1 – if you can get other people to read it in print as well, that’s even better.

3. Pay attention to grammar check.  Okay, I’m not going to lie – automated grammar checks have proven completely useless to me 99.9% of the time.  I don’t know what it is about the English language, but computers just don’t seem to get it.  BUT whenever I do a thorough automated grammar check on my books (which usually turns up what feels like about 3000 “issues” and takes 1-2 hours to go through), I almost always find one or two actual errors that I would have overlooked.

Yes, it’s a pain in the butt, but if you want your writing to look professional, you need to catch as many issues as possible – so save this one ’til the end and do it once, but make sure to do it!  You can use the built-in Word grammar check or any number of online tools (e.g., Grammarly), but use something.  You’ll have to sift through a lot of garbage, but you just might find a gem or two.

Good luck and good grammar to all!  If you have any other tips or tricks that have worked for you, I’d love to hear them!

Guest Post: “Death to the Dreaded Second Book Syndrome” + Review & Giveaway

Cocktails and BooksHey Stitch Fans!  I’m officially back from vacation and I’ve got some great new stuff to highlight today on the Shudder Blog Tour.  :-)

First, check out yesterday’s guest post at Cocktails & Books about how to avoid the dreaded Second (Middle) Book Syndrome:

Middle books in a trilogy have gotten a bad rap, particularly in YA.  They’re often known to be bland filler, simply a bridge between the first and last books in the series, where not much of anything happens and the characters just kind of, well, stagnate, whittling away the hours while they (and the readers…) wait (im)patiently for Book 3 to come along.  Welcome to the dreaded Second Book Syndrome.

Luckily, this doesn’t have to be the case.  Here’s a simple 3-step program for breaking through this debilitating disease and crafting a middle book that shines:

1. Focus on pacing.  High tension, high action, high excitement – a solid middle book should always have some stimulating event happening or new information being revealed, and not just once, but continuously, throughout the entire book.

In Shudder, I strove to accomplish this using a combination of Alessa and Isaac’s action-packed storyline along with the incorporation of some new points of view.  While Isaac and Alessa’s narrative had most of the action, their downtime was always used for world building or character development (see #2 below), and the other POVs brought in chilling new information to provide readers with a fuller sense of the plot and give them something to think about – how this society came about, who certain characters really are, what new revelations might be a lie and which are not.  With all of this going on, the reader has plenty to keep their mind occupied and the story moves along at a pleasant clip. <continue reading>

Book Cover JusticeNext, swing by today’s stop at Book Cover Justice for an awesome review of Shudder and a new e-book giveaway!

Shudder was definitely worth the wait. Told in alternating chapters, we not only get to hear more about Alessa and Isaac but from a few other surprise characters as well. … The relationship between Alessa and Isaac is a strong one and I was thrilled to finally see real interaction between them out in the real world without the interference of The Engineers. … We also get to know The Engineers and learn a few of their shocking secrets that I just did not see coming, and to top it off we watch as Alessa starts having strange dreams about Joe, her first crush and Isaac’s brother. Even though this seems like quite a bit for Alessa to be dealing with all at once, it didn’t read like it. The author does a fantastic job of incorporating all the different parts of the story without it feeling like information overload. … Overall, Shudder was every bit as amazing as Stitch and I can’t wait to get my hands on book three. It has everything you could want in a story: mystery, action, and a little bit of romance. I can’t recommend it enough. If you enjoyed Stitch, you are going to love Shudder so don’t waste any more time and go out and read it immediately! <continue reading>

Thanks so much to Shannon and Tiffany for hosting!!

Smorgasbord of Content – 2 Guest Posts, 2 Excerpts, 3 Reviews & 3 Giveaways

Bex N BooksA whole smorgasbord of awesome new content from the past couple days of the Shudder Tour!  Check it out:

Follow the links above for the full story!  Thanks so much to Savy, Jenna, Jenna, Austine, and Bex for hosting!!

Guest Post: “Characters Behaving Badly” + Related Excerpt, Review & Giveaways

To Read or Not To ReadToday on the Shudder Blog Tour, we’re taking a look inside Alessa’s psyche (and her minor freak-out…) in Shudder with the guest post “Characters Behaving Badly” at To Read or Not to Read, along with a related excerpt at A Dream Within a Dream!  We’ve also got one amazing new 4.5 star review, and giveaways at both stops!

Here’s a snippet of the guest post over at To Read or Not to Read:

Sometimes… characters just won’t do what you want them to do. I guess this is the problem with a well-developed character – she is no longer an object under your control, she’s a living, breathing person with motivations and thoughts and feelings all her own. And sometimes, even when she’s supposed to be the big, tough heroine of your story, she just doesn’t want to be. And we – as the readers – just have to deal with it.

I know, I know. I’m the author – I’m supposed to make my characters do what I and the readers want them to do. But unfortunately, that’s just not the way the world works. <continue reading>

Next, swing by A Dream Within a Dream to see the related excerpt from Shudder, and also check out Stephanie’s fab review!

This is a truly captivating second novel in an exciting and intriguing trilogy… The plot is very well written with a fast pace and effortless flow, which makes it almost impossible to put down. The characters – especially Alessa – continue to be well rounded and realistic, which makes it easy to identify with them throughout the book. … The story is full of twists and adventure and it kept me guessing, which is something that I love in a book. … This is a fantastic second installment in what continues to be an exciting and addictive trilogy. I highly recommend it to fans of all genres – as it defies being labeled as just one. I will definitely be eagerly awaiting the final book in the series! <continue reading>

And don’t forget the e-book giveaways at both stops!!  Thanks so much to Marcie and Steph for hosting today!

Guest Post: On Music and Writing + Review, Interview, Giveaway

Comfort BooksTons of great new content available today on the Shudder Blog Tour!  First, stop by Comfort Books for a brand new guest post on why I never have a good answer when readers ask me what music would go along well with my books.  Here’s a sneak peek:

For a lot of writers, music is a huge part of their craft.  They use it as inspiration for their story, motivation for a difficult scene, a living breathing backdrop to the imaginative world they’re weaving.  And I love music as much as the next person, but for me… writing and music are like oil and water.  They just don’t mix. <continue reading>

Next up, a review, author interview, and giveaway at Lovely Reads.  Here’s a snippet from the interview:

When did you realize that you wanted to become a writer? What was the very first thing you ever wrote?

I always had an unacknowledged dream of becoming an author, but I spent the first 25+ years of my life thinking that was strictly a fantasy, something that would never really happen (as I was pursuing software engineering at the time).  It wasn’t until I started freelance writing professionally about three years ago and ghost wrote a book for a client that I realized I could write a book for myself as well!  And I have NO idea what the first thing I wrote was; I’ve been writing since I can remember.  Probably it was a scary story – I wrote a LOT of those as a kid. <continue reading>

Also don’t miss the awesome 5-star review and e-book giveaway!  Thanks so much to Paige and Serenity for hosting!!