Want To Win Some Books?

A LOT of books?

Go join the Lucky 13's New Year's Facebook Bash Giveaway page now!

Seriously. There are a bunch of books, ARCs, critiques, and swag up for grabs.

A boatload.

A swigglesworth.

Okay, I made that last word up.

An Open Letter To My Baby

Dearest, Sweetest, Loveykins,

Kindly look up at the top of this blog and read what it says. That's right! Novels During Naptime. (Mommy loves you, you little 6.5 month-old genius.) Now, let's say that again. Novels During Naptime. That nap is actually a key factor in this equation.

Let's even get a little more specific. By "nap," I mean a chunk of time in which you are asleep, say an hour or so. Conversely, I do NOT mean dozing off for twenty minutes, waking up and chatting to yourself for five minutes while you poop, and then screaming your head off.

That does not work for me. And it really doesn't work for me on a deadline.

Love,
Your very tired Mommy


A Pregnant Pause

This would be the blog post in which I acknowledge the fact that this here blog has been a giant echo chamber for about a year...or so. I've been planning this "The Return of Karen" post for months. Months, I tell you. With words! But then I was kind of "meh...why use words when you can use gif's?"

And all will be forgiven when I present you with the adorable reason for the long hiatus. I promise. (Because of the adorableness.)

So last we left things, I had gotten a book deal. For three months straight after said book deal, I was pretty much doing this. All the time:

Then I found out when my Book 2 deadline was, and...



Yes, I was a little bit freaked out, but I had my outline. I plowed through the first draft. And our only child, The Pea was about to start preschool three days a week. Everything was hunky dory.


Then I got my editorial letter. And here's the complication about revising time travel (a complication that my editor readily acknowledged, for which I was thankful): Say you've written a book about time-traveling raccoons (I have not, but just typing those words, I'm convinced that somebody should). If you decide to change the ending to said book, it means that those changes will have BIG ripple effects throughout the whole story. Those raccoons might never have been born. Or suddenly they've killed their grandfather. Or whatever.

And sometimes those big ripple effects mean that you will have to rethink huge elements of your plot and toss an entire first draft of Book 2 in the trash can.



But after brainstorming with my editor, I calmed down. Well, kind of.


I had a good direction. I was feeling good. Eating right. Getting enough sleep.

(This is the point that I should interject a little bit of personal history. We had a hard time getting preggers with The Pea. The whole process was doctor-ific. We decided we were done with the doctor-ific route after trying to have Baby #2 unsuccessfully. Doctor McEncouragement gave us a 2% chance of me ever getting pregnant on my own. Okay, back to the story....)

So later that week, after what had been a really crazy month, I realized, "No...wait. More than a month."

Yep. I was officially growing a new human being.

So those three days a week that I was going to be writing and rewriting feverishly were suddenly...


And...


And...


And...


Lots of unnecessary crying.

Just general emotional upheaval and blechiness for the first 16 weeks.

Basically, I had four functioning brain cells, and every time I tried to task them with writing and/or revising, they went...


Thankfully, I had an amazingly supportive, understanding, awesome editor. Fast forward a few difficult months, and I was almost done with my revisions! It was such a stronger story!

That's when I got an e-mail from my agent that started with, "Okay, before you cry and/or freak out..." 

So of course...


My editor was moving out of the country, which meant a delay in the release. 

(This is specifically for Editor #1 who is still awesomesauce.)

After the initial "wah," I realized that the delay would give me the chance to enjoy my new baby and the book release more. I was...


  Still a little worried. But once I met my new editor, I was...


I. Love. Her.

Now, where were we? Ahh, yes.

Had that baby.

Warning: Ridiculous amounts of cute ahead. Brace yourselves for the cute that is Boo.







That pretty much catches us up to the present.

So what am I up to now, you ask? Well, I'm finishing up initial revisions on Book 2, cuddling Boo and the Pea, waiting for copy edits on Book 1,  getting settled into our new home (Oh, yeah, bought a house in there, too),  not much sleeping, very much squeeing over cover plans and blurbs and the whole process.

Doing a lot of one-handed typing, basically.

I apologize if you prefer to read books and pretend that herds of trained kittens delivered the manuscript directly to the author's laptop. Alas, 'twas not the case for me. LOOP has had a twisty road, but I wouldn't change one step. 

Enough about me. How have you been?




And The Winner Is...

First off, I'm so sorry that this took me longer to post the winner than it should have. Like, much longer. BUT the Pea helped me pick a winner for This Is W.A.R. by Lisa and Laura Roecker, and that winner is...
Tammy!

Yay! Tosses confetti! Vacuums it up! Tosses some more!

If I don't hear back from you within 3 days, I'll select another winner.

I have around 17 blog posts swirling around in my head right now. Guess how many I've written? That's right. Zippo. I've been drowning in revisions (I have a post planned for that!) and non-sleeping babies (Well, just one baby, but I have a post for that, too).

Speaking of. Squirtlet is up from his nap. His crappy 30 minute nap. Time to finish up those revisions one-handed. 

This Is W.A.R. Blog Tour and a Giveaway!

First off, yes. I have been on a break...hiatus... Shall we say, pregnant pause? I owe you an update. And pictures of the new Squirtlet. They are forthcoming, I promise. But in the meantime...

Yay!! How excited am I to host Lisa & Laura Roecker's blog tour stop today for their recent release THIS IS W.A.R.? (Answer: Very.)

I loves me a Roecker sister story, and this one is getting great reviews.






Synopsis:

This is not a story of forgiveness...

The mystery of their best friend's murder drives four girls to destroy the Gregory family.

Everyone at Hawthorne Lake Country Club saw Willa Ames-Rowan climb into a boat with James Gregory, the Club’s heir apparent.

And everyone at Hawthorne Lake Country Club watched him return. Alone.

They all know he killed her. But none of them will say a word. The Gregory family is very, very good at making problems go away.

Enter the W.A.R.—the war to avenge Willa Ames-Rowan. Four girls. Four very different motives for justice and revenge, and only one rule: destroy the Gregory family at any cost.


One thing I love doing with my own novel is thinking about who I would cast if it were a movie. So, of course, I wanted to know who they would cast in their mind for THIS IS W.A.R. Per Lisa & Laura:

Madge Ames-Rowan is all American in that Ralph Lauren, freckles across the nose way. She’d be played by Alexis Bledel with the agreement that Alexis transforms into batsh** crazy.


Ha! Love it.

So go get it. You won't regret it. Bossypants pinky promise.

Oh, and if you want to WIN A COPY, leave a comment below sharing your favorite movie adaptation of a book. (Mine would be Anne of Green Gables because...Gilbert.)

And just in case you don't know these sassy sisters from the Internets, here's a little about them. If you haven't checked out their Liar Society series, you should do that as well.


Lisa and Laura Roecker are sisters-turned-writing partners with a passion for good books, pop culture, and Bravo programming. Not necessarily in that order. A prepubescent obsession with Lois Duncan and their mother's insistence that they read Men Are Just Desserts inspired This is WAR. The sisters live in Cleveland, Ohio, in separate residences. Their husbands wouldn't agree to a duplex. Cyberstalking is always encouraged at lisa-laura.blogspot.com and @landlroecker on Twitter.





Oh, all right. Fine. Twist my arm. A preview. Introducing Squirtlet (and the Pea).


Guest Post with Author Liz Coley

I am so excited to have fellow YA debut author Liz Coley here today! 


A little about Liz: As a preteen, Liz Coley was hooked on science fiction thanks to alien Tripods, space-time warping tesseracts, and a Martian maid named Thuvia. Her science fiction short stories appear in Cosmos Magazine and several print anthologies. While self-publishing the time travel/alternate history/Mayan end of the world novel OUT OF XIBALBA, Liz received “The Call” that all aspiring novelists dream of.



PRETTY GIRL-13, her debut novel with HarperCollins, will be published in the US and in nine translations on five continents in print, ebook, and audiobook formats.

(Bossy Karen side note: I don't use the word haunting to describe a book premise very often, but PRETTY GIRL-13? Haunting. Don't believe me? Go here and read the description. And then add it to your To-Read list. Done? Okay, come back and read the rest of this post.)

Liz lives in Cincinnati, OH with her husband, her teenaged daughter, and an elderly orange tabby by the fire. The older two boys have moved on to college and graduate school. When she isn't writing, Liz enjoys singing, photography, tennis, and cooking.


Today, Liz is sharing one of the most influential books of her life. (And it's time travel! Squeeee!):

"I have read more than 900 books in the 23 years since I started keeping a life list around mid-1989. That excludes my entire childhood (when I took piles home from the library), high school (when I read Harlequin romances faster than they could write them), college (when I took lit classes every semester), and graduate school (when I read my friend Loch’s massive sci-fi collection, five books a week). I’ve also read a few hundred books aloud to my kids over the years. For most of that time, believe it or not, I had no idea that I would become a writer.

In 1995, recently retired from hospital administration to be a stay-home mom with a three-year-old book lover and a one-year-old toddler, I first read The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. This wonderful novel had come out in 1992 and won both the Hugo and Nebula awards, sci-fi’s highest honors. The story combined alternate history and time travel, future Oxford University and the Black Death, comedy and deepest human tragedy. This is the single book that made me dedicate my efforts to becoming a writer, for real.

Up to that point, I had dabbled in short stories; I had taken a correspondence course with the Institute for Children’s Literature; I had won twelfth place in a contest with a 600-word story about a girl who pretends to be a cat; I had even completed one young-teen sci-fi novel manuscript (so that I wouldn’t waste my deathbed moments regretting not having tried). In 1995, Connie Willis inspired me to get serious, to submit my work for representation and publication, to hurry up and write another novel. How did she do this? It wasn’t that I imagined I could write an award winning novel like hers. It was that she provided a role model, a middle-aged woman like me starting a mid-life writing career. Shoot, I was only 33 and she had published her first novel at 42 and this miraculous breakout novel at 47. It wasn’t too late! I had loads of time.

As it turned out, I left 42 and 47 in the dust along the way to selling my first novel. But I kept my eye on the prize, my nose to the grindstone, and other hardworking clich├ęs driven by three ideas. (1) I had to be more than the maker of the best macaroni and cheese and apple pie to my kids. (2) I wanted to offer my kids a living example of unremitting persistence in the face of failure and rejection. (3) Connie Willis started in mid-life and has been successful beyond measure in bringing amazing stories to the world. Why not aim so high?"

You can find Liz on twitter at @LizColeyBooks and on Facebook here. And at her website.

(Bossy Karen side note: But really? Go get the book.)


Pea-isms

Four is a fun age, linguistically. I'm able to have in-depth conversations with the Pea, and he's grasping nuances of the English language while still making adorable mistakes.

For instance, instead of "I need to get dressed," he says, "I need to get my dress on." No, child, I'm actually not raising you to be a cross-dresser.

And Han Solo pilots the "Millenium Falconon." Adorbs.

My personal favorite is the way he describes how challenging an activity is. "Mommy, I need your help with this puzzle. I'm hard at it. You're easy at it." And can I just say that whoever invented lenticular puzzles should be dragged out into the street and mangled?

It's gotten me thinking, though (a dangerous past time, I know). I'm walking through a stage in my writing right now that "I'm hard at." The words aren't coming easily, and when they do finally come, I fear they're the wrong ones. No, I know many, if not most, of them are the wrong ones. It's a first draft. It's supposed to be sucktastic. I realize that. But, still, I peer around, wondering if others are "easy at this." 

Then there's this huge looming deadline floating out in front of me. Not one assigned by any agent or editor (of which I have amazing ones, thank goodness). Nope. I have a tiny human being scheduled to arrive this spring, and something tells me he is going to have slightly less than zero respect for any writing schedule I set up. And I know that I'm going to be "hard at that," too, looking around and wondering how so many mom-writers seem to make it look as if they're "easy at that."

What it boils down to is something that one of my crit partners and I have had to text each other on what seems like a bi-weekly basis lately. Hey, Karen, show yourself some grace! This writing thing is hard. This Momming thing is hard. Together? HARD.

One thing I'm totally easy at right now? Downing leftover Super Bowl Ham & Swiss sliders.

See? Everybody has a hidden gift, even if it's definitely not working those dang lenticular puzzles.