Friday, September 27, 2013

Vote for the RUN FOR THE ROSES Final Cover!

It's cover reveal day for  RUN FOR THE ROSES and I am so excited!
A little secret:
I actually shot this cover.
The girl is my niece, the boy is one of my former speech kids,
and the horse is Chance. :)
I am so happy with what Swoon did with it and how it turned out.
And now you get to vote on the final cover!
I think it's so awesome that we're having readers choose!
I won't even try to influence your vote by telling you my favorite.
*cough* color *cough*

Run for the Roses
Release Date: 11/2013
by Swoon Romance

Summary from Goodreads:
Abigail Conrad has spent her whole life training for one goal: to win the roses at the Arabian Youth Nationals. She’s given up friends, a social life, and doesn’t have time to even think about guys -- much less date!

Now that she’s headed off to college in the fall, it’s her last chance to be a Youth National Champion, and she won’t let anything distract her from that dream.

Except maybe Chase, the older brother of Abigail's biggest rival. He’s charming, funny, and possibly Abigail's biggest problem. How can she focus on riding when her mind keeps wandering to Chase’s green eyes and confident smile?

With her dream on the line, Abigail had better learn to fight her growing attraction to Chase, or she might end up losing the roses and the guy.

Please help Swoon Romance decide which cover to use by voting below:

Cover Reveal Organized by:

PS. I will be posting winners for the Real Girls give-away on Monday. :) If you haven't entered yet, go check it out HERE!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Awesome Linda Budzinski- Meet Her Before She's Uber Famous!

Today I am very happy to welcome Linda Budzinski to my blog. Her debut novel, The Funeral Singer was released yesterday from Swoon Romance! Congratulations, Linda!

The Funeral Singer

Being a funeral singer was a dead-end job until it led her to him ...

Seventeen-year-old Melanie Martin has witnessed her share of lame eulogies and uninspired epitaphs while singing part-time at her dad's funeral home. She's determined to be more than a funeral singer, more than just someone's "beloved wife" or "loving mother." 

When Mel's impromptu rendition of "Amazing Grace" at a local rock star's graveside service goes viral on YouTube, she becomes an Internet sensation, gains thousands of fans and followers, and snags a hot rock star boyfriend--Zed Logan, bass player for The Grime. 

But instant fame isn’t easy—and neither is love. Especially when Mel realizes she’s falling for another guy—one who may just want her heart more than her voice …

I love the premise of your novel. Instant fame is a real possibility in today's world, and a very interesting topic. How do you think you'd handle suddenly becoming famous? Would you eat it up, or want to hide under your bed? ;)
What a great question! I've actually given this a lot of thought, because I'm pretty sure THE FUNERAL SINGER is going to become a major best seller, making me a household name much like J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer. And I do welcome that. You should probably tell your readers and followers to buy the book as soon as possible. That way they can say, "Oh, I read THE FUNERAL SINGER months before anyone ever even heard of Linda Budzinski."

*Shakes head.* *Wakes up.*

Seriously, though, I'm guessing I would handle fame a lot like Mel handles it in the beginning. She starts out uncomfortable with the fact that people are suddenly paying her all kinds of attention -- they want to get their pictures taken with her, be her friend of Facebook, and get her autograph -- but they don't necessarily know or care about her as a person. Eventually, though, I'm sure I'd come to terms with that and would enjoy having my hired help read me all my fan mail (while fanning me and hand-feeding me Reese's Pieces, of course).

Ha! That's awesome. :) Save some Reese's Pieces for me. :)
Melanie is a singer, (obviously) and it's her performance of Amazing Grace that brings her fame. Did you find inspiration for the novel in that song? What other songs inspired the book?

Amazing Grace is my very, very, very favorite song in the world and is an inspiration for me in life in general. It is of course a song about redemption, and this is ultimately a book about redemption, so yes, there is a strong connection there.

Another major source of inspiration was a Sara Teasdale poem, "The New Moon," which is printed at the beginning of the book. Mel and her high school chorus sing a choral adaptation of that poem, which is about a woman who has been "bruised and beaten" by her day but whose spirit is renewed when she glimpses a "maiden moon" in the evening sky. Again, it's that theme of redemption, a fresh start.

Ahh, I love that answer! This is your debut novel, what has been the most exciting part of the process so far?
Yes, it is my debut, and there have been so many exciting parts of the process.

In terms of writing, I really love it when a new twist to the story appears seemingly out of nowhere. The subconscious is an amazing and mysterious and woefully neglected thing. Those "aha" moment make the process an adventure.

In terms of publishing, I'd have to say my favorite part so far has been seeing my cover for the first time. It was nothing like I ever would have imagined or designed myself, but I fell in love with it immediately. I especially love the guy in the photo. You only get the slightest glimpse of him, but it's enough to know he's super hot. Perfect for Mel and for the book.

Thanks, Linda! Is there anything else you want to share?

Writing is a solitary activity, but that doesn't mean it happens in a vacuum. Entering the next phase of the life of this book -- as a published author whose work will be read and judged by people I know and love as well as people I'll never even meet -- is exciting but is also pretty terrifying. I am so grateful to my friends, my family, and the writing and reading communities for all of their support. There wouldn't be a book without them. So I want to send out a thousand Internet (hugs) to everyone who has made my journey possible, bearable, and even (most of the time) fun. And a special (hug) for you for hosting this stop on my "reveal tour"! Thanks, Rachel! 

Thanks for joining us today, Linda! You were a lot of fun! :)

You can find The Funeral Singer on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Nerding Out with Cassie Mae!

Today is the release day of How to Date a Nerd by Cassie Mae!! Yay! Happy Book Birthday, Cassie!

How to Date a Nerd

Zoe has a great pair of legs, perky boobs, and wears exactly what she needs to show it all off. She works hard for the easy sleazy ‘you only wish you were me’ reputation, burying who she really is—an all-out nerd.

The only time Zoe gets to be herself is when she hides under her comforter to read X-Men comics, sending jealousy stabs at everyone who attends Comic-Con. Keeping up her popular rep is too important, and she’s so damn insecure to care about the consequences. But when Zoe’s sister takes her car for a ‘crash and burn into a tree’ joyride, her parents get her a replacement. A manual. Something she doesn’t know how to operate, but her next door neighbor Zak sure as heck does.

Zak’s a geek to the core, shunned by everyone in school for playing Dungeons and Dragons at lunch and wearing “Use the Force” t-shirts. And Zoe’s got it bad for the boy. Only Zak doesn’t want Popular Zoe. He wants Geek Zoe.

She has to shove her insecurities and the fear of dropping a few rungs on the social ladder aside to prove to Zak who she really is and who she wants to be… if she can figure it out herself.

How can I tell you how much I enjoyed this book? Zoe is such a hot mess! I wanted to reach into my Nook and shake her! But she's still very likeable, despite her insecurities and the (sometimes major) mistakes she makes. And Zak is just so darn adorable. And they are so perfect for each other! 

Cassie is so good at balancing real issues with flat-out humor. I mean, many real girls deal with the same sort of insecurities as Zoe. It's hard to grow up and figure out who you are! And I really felt for Zoe. But the book was filled with tons of hilarious scenes that totally made me laugh. :)

Definitely a great book. :)

Cassie is also hosting a blog hop today where we are supposed to tell you the nerdiest thing about ourselves. Well, my husband calls me the Queen of the Nerds, so I was all excited for this one! 

I do quite a few nerdy things. I coach High School speech, and was on the team in HS. I also did math league, knowledge bowl, history day, and all the high school plays. But, the nerdiest thing I've ever done is LARPing.

Don't know what that is? Live Action Role Playing. Yeah, a live version of D&D. 

When I was a kid my aunt and uncle hosted one at my parent's house (because we had woods.) I got to be a wood nymph. Cute costume and everything. I had a tree to hide in while I waited for the players to journey to me, then I had information I could give them. . .if they asked the right questions.

It was a lot of fun! And my aunt suggested to the group that they invite the wood nymph to join them, so I got to finish out their quest with them. I have a picture somewhere of me in costume peeking around a tree, but I couldn't find it to share today. (Shucky darns.) ;)

How about you? What's the nerdiest thing about you?

And don't forget to add How to Date a Nerd to your To be Read list on Goodreads! (Seriously!) 
You can also find it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble!

And if you don't know Cassie, you should! She is made of awesome! Check out her website HERE! 

PS. My computer is back in the shop. :( I'm at the library now posting this. So I will be behind on responding to comments and checking out the other blog hop posts, but I will do it as soon as I can! Also, today is the release of The Funeral Singer, by Linda Budzinski, too! Linda will be joining me on here tomorrow. :)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Excuses, Excuses. (And a Give-away!)

My husband was gone for two weeks for training, (thank goodness he's home now!) In that two weeks he missed a lot.

The good things:
My baby's second birthday.
His own birthday.
My other daughter's first day of preschool. (Which she was thrilled about!)

The bad things:
My three-year-old got sick with a high fever, my older two kids took the wrong bus and I had to track them down and get them home, then they all got bad colds the next week, the three-year-old got an ear infection, the oldest had to come home early from school, plus we had issues with appliances not working and bills getting screwed up and having to deal with rotten customer service and so on and so forth.

Basically, it was a rough two weeks. I got very, very little sleep.

So, anyway, that's my excuse for forgetting to post my give away on release day for Real Girls Don't Rust!

I have two cards I'm giving away:

Little Red and the Wolf 64/100 - Deluxe Edition Print               Little Red Riding Hood - Blank Card

Aren't they cool? I thought they were appropriate since my story, Seeing Red, is a Little Red Riding Hood retelling.

And, of course I will give away a copy of the book. :)
Real Girls Don't Rust
Real Girls Don't Rust is a Steampunk anthology of seven short stories
ranging from reimagined folk tales to unique alternate histories.

And, if the winner is interested, I'll also give away a three chapter critique.

All you have to do it leave a comment and I'll pick a random winner. (Usually done by having my daughter draw a name out of a hat.) Tell me your favorite fairy tale, or one you'd love to see re-told. :) And I'll toss your name in again for every time you share the link to this post, whether via Twitter, Facebook, your blog, or wherever. Just let me know in the comments where you shared. Thanks you guys!!

Oh, and in other news, if you are interested in being part of my cover reveal for RUN FOR THE ROSES you can sign up HERE.

This is an extra special cover for me. (I know the people on the cover!) More about that later, though. :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Two Awesome Releases!

Today is the release of CassaStorm!
And the release of Real Girls Don't Rust,
which contains my short story, Seeing Red.
CassaStorm is by the amazing, and ever-supportive, Alex J. Cavanaugh. He is such an amazing person, and writer, I'm happy to share this release-day post with him. :)

A storm gathers across the galaxy…

Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.


After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.


Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…


“With a talent for worldbuilding and a compelling cast of characters, Alex J. Cavanaugh combines high powered space battles and the challenges of family dynamics to provide readers a space opera with heart.”
- Elizabeth S. Craig, author of the Southern Quilting and Myrtle Clover mysteries

“I thought the revelation was going to be one thing and I was completely wrong … CassaStorm pushes the limits…”
- Tyson Mauermann, Speculative Reviews

“…mesmerizing story of survival, personal sacrifice, tolerance, and compassion. It’s a rare jewel that successfully utilizes both character and plot to tell a story of such immense scope and intimate passion…” - Nancy S. Thompson, author of The Mistaken

Find CassaStorm at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and on Goodreads.

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.


You can find Alex on his blog (where all the awesome happens) and on Twitter and Goodreads.

And for one more bit of awesome, here's the trailer for CassaStorm!
Like I said, Real Girls Don't Rust also comes out today.
It's a collection of YA steampunk short stories.
I'm super excited about it for a few reasons.
One, I love steampunk and I can't wait to read the other authors' stories.
Two, this was the first YA story I ever sold.
Secondary Characters ended up getting published first,
but I sold Seeing Red first and it was an amazing moment for me.
Three, it's available in print and I can't wait to get my copy. It's so darn cute!
Real Girls Don't Rust
You can find Real Girls Don't Rust on Amazon and
And, of course, it's on Goodreads.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lisa Cresswell on Friendship

Today I'm welcoming Lisa Cresswell to my blog to talk about her book, Hush Puppy, and I'm just going to hand things right over to her. :)
Hi Everyone!  I’m so glad Rachel invited me to visit with you on her blog as part of my book release blog tour.  I’ve just published a young adult contemporary novel titled Hush Puppy.  I’ve done lots of author interviews and talked plenty about myself. You can read more about me on my blog, if you’d like.  Today I want to switch gears a little. I’d like to talk with you about the themes in the book and what I was striving for when I wrote it.  I’m a huge fan of themes in writing. Just as some background, here’s the book blurb for Hush Puppy~
Hush Puppy
Hush Puppy is the story of Corrine Lamb, a seventeen year old black girl, and Jamie Armstrong, a poor white boy, living in a backwater North Carolina town. Intelligent Corrine, abandoned by her mother, and artsy Jamie, forced to play football by a redneck father, both dream of leaving their podunk town and never looking back.

Their shared love of literature and a dream of a better life brings them together and a romance blossoms between them in a secret place of their own in the steamy North Carolina woods. When Jamie is involved in the accidental death of a white girl, he's terrified of his abusive father. Corrine takes the blame to protect Jaime, with dire consequences for herself and her dreams of the future. Her life in danger, Corrine's left wondering if Jamie ever cared about her at all.

Hush Puppy could succinctly be described as a coming of age story, but I like to think it's also about growing into one's own sense of self-esteem, something many of us don't truly achieve until later in life.  In addition to that, the book is about a funny little thing called friendship.  It's one of my very favorite themes and it crops up in my writing again and again, no matter what I write.

Friendship is a hard thing to get your metaphorical arms around. If you were to define friendship, how would you describe it? An affection between two people? Is it trust or an understanding and acceptance of another's personality, their flaws and foibles?  Is a friend a confidant, a person you can trust with your secrets?

 I myself have very definite opinions about what makes a friendship and I wanted to explore that in Hush Puppy.  What happens when the trust of a friendship is betrayed? Or when that friendship gets tangled up with feelings of love or dependence?

To me, a friend is someone you can be totally yourself with without fear of rejection or ridicule.  Even then, there's a constant push-pull between the two of boundaries, of affection and closeness. Some friends are more distant than others and we're constantly trying to gauge where we stand with them. The friends we're closest to are those that know our inner most fears, those that support us, and encourage us to grow, maybe even against our will.

What do you think makes a friendship? Have you ever had a friend betray your trust? What happened? Those are some of the questions explored in Hush Puppy. I hope you’ll get a chance to read it and let me know what you think. Peace~
You can find Lisa's book on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Cover Reveal: The Summer I Found You

I'm taking part in another cover reveal today, this time for the amazing Jolene Perry.
(If you don't know Jolene, make sure you go check out her blog by clicking on her name above, she's such an awesome person!)
Can I just say how much I love seeing a new cover for the first time? It's so cool!
And this cover is absolutely beautiful!!
The Summer I Found You
by Jolene Perry

Kate's dream boyfriend has just broken up with her and she's still reeling
her diagnosis of type1 diabetes.

Aidan planned on being a 'lifer' in the army and went to Iraq straight out of high school. Now he's a disabled young veteran struggling to embrace his new life.

When Kate and Aidan find each other neither one wants to get attached.
But could they be right for each other after all?

It's gorgeous, right? And it sounds so good! I can't wait to read it!
It's available for preorder on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
And, of course, don't forget to add it to your TBR list on Goodreads!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

SACRIFICE HER Cover Reveal!!

I am so excited to be part of Sheen-kay's cover reveal for Sacrifice Her! The cover is awesome, and Sheena-kay is amazing! She's such a wonderful, supportive blogger/writer.
Now time to check out her beautiful cover!

Sacrifice HER by Sheena-kay Graham
Goodreads: Sacrifice HER
Release Date: December 2013

When a city is at stake is the life of one sixteen-year old girl worth risking thousands? Deidra Moore goes on the run after escaping from a group of human sacrifices for Bane: God of War. She doesn't believe he exists and sees uncertainty in the scorching desert as a better alternative. But Faux City isn't finished with her and their leader Lord Brinn is ordered by Bane - through one of his maiden worshipers- to bring her back or face dire consequences. In the desert Deidra meets a wanderer named Kane and as feelings spark can they find a safe place to lead a new life before Lord Brinn and his soldiers catch up with them? Yet the question remains. Does Bane really exist and if he does what will happen if either side succeeds or fails? Told in alternating perspectives of both the runaway servant girl and the blonde strong willed leader.

Sheena-kay Graham was never meant for a traditional job behind a desk. Her childhood career plans included becoming a ballerina, actress or someone who helped people. So naturally she decided to be a writer who writes from her bed. Yes, no desk for this Jamaican book lover. No matter if it’s reading, writing or using the get the gist. The love of the written word has always been with her leading to stories, novels, poetry and way too much fan fiction. This Christian woman can be found trolling Amazon online, in local book bookstores, watching movies on the big screen, or in her bed, or reading/writing/on the laptop...again in her bed. Mainly writes YA fiction and is ready to unleash her creativity to wow the masses.

Cover Design: 

Image of woman with flowing hair (purchased): © Transfuchsian |

Cover Designer:  Langao @

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

IWSG: Feeling Low

The first Wednesday of the month means Insecure Writers Support Group. If you aren't familiar with the group, find out more HERE, including the link to sign up. And also, HUGE thank yous to Alex J. Cavanaugh for starting the group, and his co-hosts this month, Chemist Ken, SL Hennessy, Michelle Wallace, and Joylene Nowell Butler! We really appreciate what you are doing to keep this group going strong!

I had actually written a whole different post a few days. ago. I was feeling especially low, like want to crawl under the covers and cry low. Very disconnected from people, and really unmotivated. But, I ended up having some nice talks with people, reading some great posts (including this one by Theresa Paolo) about the ups and downs of being a writer, and well, I feel better now!

Going out and reading peoples' posts always picks me up. It's so comforting to know everyone feels like that sometimes. We all have moments when we doubt ourselves. And it's a lot easier to say, 'hey, but that's crazy! You rock!' when it's someone else! Seeing that people whom I admire and whom I think are crazy talented doubt themselves, too, helped me realize it really is just part of the process.

So if you're feeling down, remember that you are not alone! And this too shall pass.

Monday, September 2, 2013


 Happy Monday everyone! Today is the last day of summer vacation for us, which is sort of bitter sweet. On one hand, I don't want to see summer end. I love fall, but in Minnesota this means winter is so, so close. And winter in Minnesota goes on far too long and is far too cold.
School starting means a lot more running around for all of us, and I'll miss lazy days
 at home with my kids.
On the other hand, things can get crazy around here with all four kids running around.
Part of me is looking forward to the quiet that will come being down to two kids,
and two mornings a week, only one. I know The Plan is to get a lot more writing done during those times, but of course, I know there will be plenty of days it doesn't happen.
Some fun things happening in September: My husband's birthday, my youngest's birthday (she turns two) and a few releases I'm looking forward to.
 Real Girls Don't Rust comes out Sept. 17th, as does the last book in the Cassastar series,
by Alex J. Cavanaugh, CassaStorm.
And on September 24th, How to Date a Nerd, by Cassie Mae, comes out, and I am really looking forward to getting this one on my shelf! In celebration, Cassie is having a super nerdy blog hop!

She's going to have some awesome prizes and it's going to be a lot of fun!
So, go here to sign up!
I will be getting my nerd story ready. :)