Thursday, March 29, 2012

Is it Worth $1 to Cure Diabetes? Join the Charity Hop and Win $20

There are two distinctly different types of diabetes. In Type I Diabetes (also commonly referred to as juvenile diabetes) the body no longer produces insulin - at all. In Type II Diabetes either your body doesn't produce enough insulin or your cells no longer know how to use the insulin you do produce.

While my giveaway is to promote the American Diabetes Association, I'm going to focus on Type I Diabetes for a very personal reason. In the general population 1 in 400 people under the age of 20 have Type I. In my house, it's 1 in 4. My youngest daughter has diabetes. She's 17.

Lexcie, age 9
She was diagnosed at age 9. In hindsight we can see all the symptoms that led up to her diagnosis, but at the time they were happening, they were all spread out just enough that we couldn't see the writing on the wall, so to speak. Over the year before she was diagnosed, these are some of the things she went through: enuresis, problems with her vision (including her vision going black), lethargic (tired) much of the time, thirsty all of the time, sores that healed slowly. Those things all seem obvious, but none of them occurred together. That added to the fact that we don't have a history of diabetes on either side of our families. It wasn't something we looked for at all. The final thing that made me wonder was when she lost 13 lbs in about 2 weeks. That's a lot for a 9 year old girl! Once that happened, and I started thinking about all the other things, it seemed clear  . . . and yet, unlikely.

When the diagnosis was confirmed, I was stunned. I cried. I raged. I cried some more. I knew that this was life-altering for all of us, but especially for her. Let me give you an idea of what her life was like as soon as she was diagnosed:

She went from eating what she wanted, when she wanted to being on a strictly controlled, carb controlled diet. She had to eat at certain times, and at those times she had to eat a certain number of carbs. She could eat a little extra if she wanted, but she couldn't eat less. Her base medication was set up for that minimum number of carbs. Didn't matter if she was full, she still had to eat. If she finished eating and was still hungry, or wanted dessert, she had to decide if it was worth taking an extra shot of insulin for.

She had to poke her finger at least 4 times a day: at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bedtime. If she was feeling like her BG (blood glucose, or blood sugar, level) was either low or high, it meant another poke to get the drop of blood needed to read her level. If she was high, it required a shot of insulin. If it was low, it required her to drink some juice and then eat some kind of protein (usually peanut butter) to stabelize her.

She had one shot she took every night at bedtime that was the slow acting insulin to sustain her throughout the day. She took another shot of the short acting insulin with each meal. That meant at least 4 shots per day.

As if that weren't enough, it required things like having someone go with her at school if she had to go to the restroom, or walk to the office, because they couldn't take the liability of her going alone. She also had kids constantly asking her about it (and she did not want to talk about it) or teachers telling her to put her phone away when it was her blood meter she was using, therefore calling attention to what she was doing.

She has to worry short term about seizures. She's had 2 because of low blood sugars: one at her friends house at a birthday party, and the other in Wal Mart. Imagine that for a teen girl. A seizure leads to her losing memory of the day of the seizure and usually 1-3 days afterward.

Long term she (and I and everyone who loves her) have to worry about blindness, kidney shut-down, nerve damage, the possibility of an early death if she doesn't take care of herself.

She now has an insulin pump, which has made life a little easier. Rather than having to give herself shots of insulin, she gives herself one "shot" every three days when she puts in a new pump site. She still has to poke her fingers multiple times a day, but it has made her eating schedule much more flexible. She still has lows and highs with her BG's but they're a little easier to take care of. So yeah, it's not perfect, but it's a little better.

She has to think about her diabetes all day, every day. There isn't ever a time when she doesn't have to. If she wants to exercise, she has to prepare differently from you and I. Going out of town, even for a couple days requires a lot of extra packing (of her supplies). Leaving the house for a short time or going to a friends house requires supplies being carried with her. Eating has consequences. Not eating has worse consequences. Stress messes with her BG's, as does euphoria. Being sick with a simple cold requires extra care to keep her BG's steady. There is no escape from her disease.

The costs can be astronomical. Our out-of-pocket for prescriptions and supplies is usually around $7,000 a year. That's with insurance, and doesn't include our insurance premiums. We always tease her that when she brings a boy home that she's serious with, rather than asking how heplans to treat her or what heplans to do with his life, we'll be asking, "What kind of health insurance do you have? Does it cover her medication and supplies? Can you afford the co-pays?"

The ADA is making progress in their studies of diabetes, and there are a few things on the horizon that would not only make her life easier, but also diminish the short and long term problems she may have to face. There's even something new that could possibly spell a cure, something we didn't ever think possible.

As a result, I'm asking for a little help. One of my friends is riding in the Tour de Cure. All money raised goes to the ADA for research. You can sponsor her here. Anything helps, even if it's only a buck.  I'm giving away a $20 Amazon gift card. You don't have to donate to enter, but you'll get extra entries if you do. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter (you mayhave to click on "more" to see it). Then hop on over to the blogs listed below that to read about their worthy causes and win more great prizes.

As they all are, this is a great cause, one that's particularly dear to my heart. In advance, I thank you!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Vampire's HAVE Arrived!

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The vampire story I wrote about before here is now available. It's the first in an anthology to be put out by Noble Publishing. You can get a copy here. Below is the blurb and a short excerpt.


Twenty-year-old Dahlia hates the life that she is forced to lead. But the time is quickly coming when she must make a decision that will shape the rest of her life. She's set her sights on Jace. He is someone her family will approve of, someone that will finally gain her acceptance among her people. Then Cam comes into her life, making her question what she assumed was her inevitable destiny, giving her hope that she might be able to lead the normal existence that she longs for. But fate has its own plan for Dahlia. Now she has to find courage she didn’t know she possessed to fight for her own future.


Cam Taylor watched, amused, as Dahlia stumbled and nearly launched her lunch tray into a table full of brainiacs. She was new—she had only been working at Grave's Community Center Hospital for a couple weeks. Cam had noticed her right away. She had a headful of curly, brown hair that fell to her waist in the back, pinned up on top with an unfashionable barrette. The barrette was studded with sparkling rhinestones, excepting the large center stone, which was missing. She wore no makeup; her pale face was clear and blemish-free. An unfortunate, brown floral pattern as outdated as a rotary-dial phone covered her lumpy, brocade dress which was at least two sizes too big for her. She was tall, gangly, awkward—the biggest klutz Cam could remember seeing—and he was smitten.

He watched as Dahlia finally slid to safety on a bench, once again nearly dropping her lunch as it clunked to the table. She laughed at herself, but the other women at the table, mostly nursing assistants, met her laughter with sneers. They exchanged meaningful glances, then stood as one, leaving without speaking a single word. Cam felt a moment's anger at the unfeeling women as he saw Dahlia's face fall. He decided to go sit with her himself, no matter how much crap he might get for it.

As Cam moved toward Dahlia's table, she turned her attention from her tray toward Jace McMahon, who sat across the lunchroom. With a wistful sigh and dreamy eyes, she propped her chin in her hands, a smile curving the corners of her mouth upward. Cam stopped in his tracks.

Jace was an orderly like Cam. He was athletic, muscular, and better looking than most of the stars in Hollywood. The most popular guy at GCC, Jace was arrogant and cruel and loved by all the women anyway. Cam suspected most of the other guys really hated him, as Cam did, but they wanted to be near him anyway, hoping his charm and luck with the women would rub off on them. If nothing else, being Jace's buddy got them girls who would do anything to get closer to Jace, even if it meant dating one of his lesser friends.

Cam and Jace had attended the same high school. At that time, they'd been best friends. Back then, no one could touch the popularity of the two tall, good-looking, enigmatic boys. Then Cam found out exactly what Jace was.

Cam had distanced himself from Jace after that, making him something of an outcast his senior year. He didn't care. Being on his own was better than being part of Jace's world. He'd hoped GCC would be different, even with Jace there, but work turned out to be nothing more than an extension of high school. Jace was still the star. Cam sometimes wondered why no one thought it strange that Jace, with his athletic prowess, was working at GCC to pay his way through school instead of attending a prestigious college on a fantastic scholarship. But Jace knew. Not only poor grades, but also the thing that created the rift between Cam and Jace had caused colleges to run the other way when it came to Jace McMahon.

Cam glanced over at Jace, jealousy and anger burning within his chest. Tabitha Heron, who now went by the ridiculous nickname of Tabby, had draped herself across Jace. Tabby was absolutely beautiful, the perfect counterpoint to Jace's good looks. Until Cam's falling out with Jace three years earlier, Tabby had been Cam's girlfriend. Then Jace pursued her relentlessly, just to prove he could take her if he wanted. And prove it he did. Jace even talked her out of accepting an admission offer from Harvard to join him at Grave's University. Even now, when Jace treated her with nothing but disdain and kept her dangling at his whim, Tabby refused to admit Cam was right about him. She hardly needed to work to pay her way, not with her wealthy family, and yet she'd even followed him here, to work a crappy job as a receptionist for crap pay.

They deserved one another.
And, now, the newest object of Cam's attention was drooling over his nemesis. Dahlia didn't have a shot with him; anyone could see that. Unless Cam managed to hook up with her—then he'd bet Jace would turn his sights on the strange, new girl. Cam would see Jace burn before he allowed him to hurt the fascinating Dahlia.
* * * * *
Dahlia stood in the freezing wind, watching as Jace McMahon climbed into his fancy, red Mustang. He turned the key, the engine growling fiercely as he peeled out of his parking spot, cutting off an old, rusty beater and nearly running over a group of interns. She knew well enough Jace was not exactly a kind, caring person, but she also knew what he could do for her. He was perfect—beautiful, graceful, popular. In other words, everything she was not.


Dahlia turned to see Cam Taylor standing next to her, smiling at her. She glanced behind her to double check, but as no one else was there, she supposed he must be speaking to her.
"Hey," she said back, wondering why someone like Cam would speak to her on purpose. Cam was every bit as good-looking as Jace. But where Jace was dark—dark hair, dark eyes, olive skin—Cam was light. His blond hair was practically white, his eyes translucent blue, his skin nearly as pale as Dahlia's. He, too, was graceful and beautiful, and popular among many of the nurses, aides, and volunteers. But he did not have the power Jace had to transform her.

"Need a ride home?" Cam asked.

"Uh . . ." Dahlia hesitated. She didn't really want anyone to know where she lived. The wind chose that moment to blow its icy fingers across her exposed legs. She shivered at the sensation, and Cam laughed.

"Come on. I can't have you freeze to death on my watch." When she still hesitated, he held his hand out toward her. "It's just a ride, Dahlia."

She looked at his extended hand, wondering vaguely how he knew her name. This was one of those socially awkward situations she had no idea how to handle. Should she take his hand?

"Okay," she said, turning toward the parking lot. As she took the first step, she managed to put her foot onto one of the few spots with a disc of ice clinging to the cement, and squealed as she felt her foot slide away. She prepared for the pain that would come with the fall.

But then Cam grabbed her by the elbow, halting her descent.

"Whoa, there," he said, steadying her. "Gotta be careful of these slippery steps."

Humiliated, Dahlia looked up at him. "Thanks," she mumbled.

"Yup," Cam answered. He kept hold of her elbow all the way to the car. Once inside the vehicle, she fastened the seat belt—one of the few devices that could guarantee her safety and that she had full control over, so used always—he turned the heat on high, directing all the vents her way. She wondered idly whether Jace would have done the same if she were seated in his Mustang rather than in Cam's Honda.

"So . . . how do you like working at GCC?" Cam asked when the silence began to stretch out uncomfortably.

"It's the same as any other job, I guess," Dahlia said.

Cam couldn't argue that point. "Oh, yeah? Is that a bad thing, or good?"

Dahlia shot him a look as if to say You're kidding, right? and Cam smiled.

"I understand," he said,but somehow Dahlia doubted he truly did understand. She doubted that Cam, with his golden looks and infectious smile, had ever been shunned, that he had ever sat at a table only to have others leave just to avoid being seen with him, that he had ever been called doggy, beastly, or nerdy. She doubted he'd ever looked around a room and known the only people who would accept him as a friend were those who completely understood all those things.

"Turn here," she said, directing him up Draper Avenue. He lifted his brows a little at the turn, but didn't say anything. When they reached the end of the street, she said, "You can stop here."

He looked out the window. With surprise in his voice, he said, "This is where you live?"

Dahlia knew how it looked. The house was the largest in the neighborhood—ostentatious, overbearing, shouting wealth at the tops of its lungs. She really wished her family knew how to blend in.


She waited for the sarcasm, the cutting remarks, but, instead, he simply said, "Nice place."

"Um, okay . . . thanks for the ride, I guess," she said, pulling on the door handle—to no avail.

"Oh, here, let me get that. It sticks sometimes." He leaned across her to grab the handle, and Dahlia flattened herself against the seat. She'd never been this close to a boy she wasn't related to . . . and definitely never this close to one who smelled so delicious. For one crazy second, she had the urge to reach up and—

"There you go," Cam said as the door swung open and a wintery blast of air drew her attention from her fantasy.

Dahlia climbed out, then looked back. "Thanks again."

He gave her a charming smile in answer. "See you tomorrow," he said as she slammed the door. With a wave, he turned his car in a wide U and drove away. Dahlia watched him go, and then, with dread, turned back toward her house—or as she'd come to think of it, the "monstrous mausoleum."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hope's Journey is a Must Read

As part of Stephanie Connelley Worlton's book blog tour for Hope's Journey, Stephanie stopped by for a casual Q&A with me. Below, you can read about the book, as well as my review of her amazing new novel.


Cindy C Bennett: Hi, Stephanie. Thanks for stopping by today. Let's begin by getting a little background about you: where you live, who you live with, what you like to do in your spare time, things of that nature.

Stephanie Connelley Worlton: Thanks for having me Cindy, I'm honored to be here. A little about me... Wow, where to start?

I guess I'll start with the basics: I live with my prince charming, our four children, and our two dogs - yes they are technically my children too - in the shadow of a mountain. Literally. We are nestled in the cove of a canyon and because of our position between mountains, our sunrises are delayed and our sunsets come early. Our quiet little neighborhood suits me perfectly because I get to enjoy nature and animals and fresh air daily. And, because I'm a "people person" and could talk my days away,the solitude actually keeps me balanced and helps me stayed focused on my projects.

I love to design and build stuff - like furniture and structures - but I'm not very crafty, as in, I don't do "cutesy" very well. Don't ask me to scrapbook or come up with a Super-Saturday craft, but if its a shed you need, I'm your girl. I don't really have "spare time" because I tend to overfill every minute of my day. If I'm not writing, building, painting, designing, or working in my yard, you'll most likely find me curled up with a book.

The highlight of my days is the time I get to be with my family. Laughter is my sanity and I've been blessed with a household of people that share my love for the silly, the sarcastic, and the outright funny. We laugh often!

CCB: That sounds like a great life. You're really blessed. You haven't always had it easy, though. Hope's Journey isn't autobiographical, but it is based on some events from your life. Did that make it easier, or harder, to fictionalize some of the things you actually lived?

SCW: I really have been blessed. My life is in such a great place now, but you're right, it hasn't always been easy. In fact, there was I time that everything was so difficult it was hard to believe that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel. Hope's Journey is based on that time in my life, and though it's not autobiographical, it brought a lot of those long buried feelings to the surface. Fictionalizing those events and feelings was easy in some aspects and hard in others. Because I've lived those tender feelings, connecting with them didn't take too much imagination, but enveloping them into fiction was at times a bit of a challenge. Honestly, it got a little emotional at times. It was tempting just to recount my personal experience, but to be true to the real message of the story I couldn't do that. I think writing Alex's character was almost cathartic in a sense. After years of thinking I understood the other side of the story, it was eye opening to realize just how much I didn't get.

CCB: I find Alex's side of the story very interesting as well. When he compares his love for her to the love he has for his dream Porsche, it was like a lightbulb went off for me. It completely makes sense that he would think that way, and that it wasn't as if he didn't love her - he just loved her differently than she might have perceived. Was it difficult to try to get inside the head of a teenage boy to understand his motives, or did it come naturally after you had time to reflect and think about just why he might do the things he does?

SCW: Haha, I don't think it's ever natural for a girl to try to get inside a guy's head. Seriously, our brains are wired so differently. But, it was fascinating and well worth the effort. I had to do a lot of question asking and a lot of digging. Every time I thought I had Alex pegged, I'd learn something new about him. To my benefit, I've had ample opportunity to observe teenage boys and a husband who was more than happy to let me dig into his mind.
CCB: Speaking of your husband, I know he was instrumental in getting you to finally take the plunge and send Hope's Journey out for publication. Tell us a little about that, and if you want to do a bit of hubby bragging here, feel free.
SCW: Cindy, you have no idea how much I love to brag about my husband. I am so proud of him and everything he is. We've known each other since we were teenagers, yet I still find myself falling for him every single day. He is the biggest cheerleader I could ever hope for! When I told him I was going to start writing I fully expected him to fall to the floor in laughter, but he didn't. Instead, he told me what a great idea it was. From the time I put the first word on the page to the time I typed the last, he was cheering me on. Honestly, I think there were days he believed in the story more than I did. Hope's Journey is in a sense his story too, so his opinion and support... and applause, mean more than anything to me. I don't know how many times I edited the manuscript, but it took well over a year, and if it wasn't for his push, I may still be editing it today. He knows my fear of rejection and my need to push for perfection better than anybody, so when he finally told me that it was time to let it go, I trusted him.

CCB: Well then we are all grateful to him for encouraging you to let it go because otherwise we'd be missing out on an amazing story! Hope's Journey is one of the most honest stories I've read in a long time. I found both Syd and Alex's reactions very natural and realistic. I also think many of the external reactions from their families, friends, and other adults were exactly spot on - even if some of them made me (as the reader) angry at them for being so narrow minded. What is your hope as far as how this story might help other teen girls who either find themselves in the same situation, or in danger of being in the same situation? And along with that, what is your hope for all readers who discover Hope's Journey?

SCW: I want girls to know that their value is not based on whether or not they have a boyfriend. My biggest hope is that they will understand their value enough not to make the little mistakes that lead to the bigger ones, because that's how it happens. Little shades of gray slowly fade to blacks and before you know it, you've gone too far.

And for the girls who've already found themselves crossing the line - or close to it - I want them to know that there is hope. They are not trash. Their past mistakes don't have to define their future. They are not destined to a life of failure and disappointment. Because we have a Savior, they can make their lives whole again. And, if they choose to change, though it won't always be easy, they will discover that the effort is well worth the reward!

My overall hope for any reader who picks up Hope's Journey is that they will see things from a different perspective. Whether they are a young woman (or even a young man), a parent, a teacher, a neighbor, or a friend, I hope that readers will take a deeper look at themselves and they way they interact with others. Everybody makes mistakes, some are just more visually apparent than others.

CCB: I second all of your comments, Stephanie. I wish there were some magic potion to help girls understand their true worth. Until then, we'll rely on amazing people like you to hopefully get the message across in good books. Thank you for stopping by on your blog tour, and for sharing all of your insights with me and my followers. I really appreciate it. Anything further you'd like to say or tell us about, this is your chance.

SCW: Thanks again for having me, Cindy. I just want to end by reiterating how amazing our youth today are. I've had the opportunity to rub shoulders with many of them and I am consistently blown away by their abilities and strengths. If we can just help our young people understand the fullness of their worth and potential, our futures will be in great hands!
 Hope's Journey
 A life-changing mistake. A soul-changing journey.

Sydney is a straight-A student heading to college on a scholarship, and Alex is a quiet jock preparing to serve an LDS mission. But their dreams are shattered on the eve of their high school graduation when they find out that Sydney is pregnant. Separated, they must both trust in God as they search for the worth they once found in each other.

My Review

Wow, this has to be one of the most honest books I've read in a long time!

Sydney and Alex are typical high school kids, preparing for graduation with big dreams of college and, for Alex, a mission. Then they discover that Syd is pregnant.

Hope's Journeyis an unflinching look at the very real consequences of such a situation. Told from alternating POV's of both Alex and Syd, you can't help but be completely drawn into their drama. Even if you want to throttle both of them at times for stupid decisions they're making, the book deals very, very realistically with them and their reasons for making said decisions.

I started reading this for an upcoming book tour for Stephanie Worlton, with plans to just read the first part and finish the rest later when I had more time. I couldn't put it down. I read the whole thing in two days, putting aside all the things I should have been doing instead. I was so drawn into the story and caught up in these characters that I couldn't let them go. That, to me, is the mark of an excellently well-written book. From Syd and Alex's feelings, to the judgements they are dealing with from friends, family, and ward members who claim to be "Christ-like", every word rings (sometimes unfortunately) true.

This is a must read for every person who has ever judged someone without knowing the whole story, or who have been in a situation where they were the one being judged, whether you are LDS or not. (FYI, there is no gospel preaching, so whether or not you're not LDS, please, please read this.)

Where you can find out more about Stephanie:

Kreating Krazy Blog ($20 Amazon gift card giveaway if Stephanie reaches 100 followers during the tour)

Hope's Journey Blog

Where you can get your own copy of Hope's Journey

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bride on a Broom? It's Not What You're Thinking

A few weeks ago I reviewed my dear friend Camelia Miron Skiba's latest release A World Apart. I love this book, and I adore Cami. You can read my review here.

Today she's back for another visit on her blog tour to grace us with a guest post. This is just a small peek into her background, and the fun person she is. So, without further adieu, here's Cami!

Bride on a Broom by Camelia Miron Skiba

How many times have you heard of a bride on a broom? I know it sounds like a mistake, but I assure you it's not. Normally we associate broom with witches and kids stories, right? And yet... I was a bride on a broom. Not that I wanted a fairytale wedding, I mean I did but not with a certain magical theme and for sure not with witches. I didn't plan using a broom or any other cleaning tool on such a memorable day. I mean, come on, it was my wedding, not my cleaning day.

Although my wedding happened eight and a half years ago, to this day people still talk about the broom dance.

Let me explain. Several hours into the wedding, long after bites stolen between dances and drinks between entertaining our guests, the only thing I really wanted to do was to take off my shoes. Either my feet increased one size or my shiny crystal shoes shrunk and I couldn't throw them any further, any faster. Cristina, my godmother (which actually would be my witness after the American tradition) said, "Suck it up. It's your wedding night and you need to look pretty." Of course I didn't bring another pair of shoes, but barefoot never seemed more appealing.

I wished I could just sit and remove my shoes, hidden by the red and white silk tablecloth, but Cristina watched me like an eagle. A friend of mine came to invite me to dance. I didn't have the heart to refuse him and so I went on the dance floor with him. I don't remember what song played, but I do remember someone breaking a glass and so the restaurant crew brought in ... a broom and a dustpan.

As the dance finished and the crew cleaned the mess, the DJ played Queen's "I Want to Break Free." This was one of my favorite song of all times, reminding me of all the amazing friends and dreams we had as teenagers to break free from a country lost to communism, poisoned by corrupt politics and ultimately destroyed by them. The restaurant exploded with applause and people singing along. I looked around the room and saw all of those dear faces, reliving past dreams, mixed with something different - hope.

And for some reason I can't explain I felt empowered. I felt I could walk on top of the world. I not only wanted to break free, I was free. I took my shoes off, took the broom from the custodian and walked on the stage singing from the top of my lungs and dancing with the broom. From across the room Cristina shook a finger at me, but laughed and sang as well. Everyone in the restaurant stood, danced and sung along. A ripple of electricity went through me seeing all that joy. We all were was Joe Cocker's "You can leave your hat on." Chris, my husband told me later after the wedding, “I didn’t know I married my own Kim Basinger. Lucky me.” No need to explain what happened during that song, but I can only say I kept my red wedding dress on. Thirty minutes later I was stolen. Yes, you read correctly--stolen. It's a Romanian wedding tradition.

I suppose we can assume Cami was returned in one piece as she's here now to entertain us with her novels. If you want to know more about Cami, her books, or where to buy them, use the links below.

Cami's Blog
Email Cami

About Cami


I’m Chris’ wife, Patrick’s mom and Bella’s owner. During the day, I’m the assistant to the Director at SESE at Arizona State University, and romance’s slave at night.

I moved to the U.S eight years ago, following my heart and the man who stole it. I love comedies, historical dramas and happily-ever-after stories. English is not my native, not my second, but my third language.

Some fun facts about me:

Each year I participate in one big event that requires me to physically train. My biggest sportive accomplishment was the 3-day 60-mile Susan G. Komen Walk.

Annually I pick a color I decree my favorite (this year it’s salmon).

I refused to text until 2010, always preferring to hear voices rather than sending emotionless messages. Politic bores me to death and I have no tolerance for arrogance.

“A World Apart” is my second book. My debut novel “Hidden Heart” came out March 2011.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why I Love March

There are many reasons March is becoming my favorite month. Here are some of them:
  • March is the beginning of the end of winter, and the beginning of spring, which means soon it will be summer, and who doesn't love summer?
  • In March of 1993 one of my four very favorite people in the world was born (for a hint, see this)
  • In March(ish) of 2010 I took the online course that introduced me to my current invaluable critique partners
  • In March of 2011 I signed my first contract with Cedar Fort for Geek Girl
  • Also in March of 2011 I sold more copies of Heart on a Chain than ever before, and felt like a real author for the first time :o)
  • This month I have several reasons so far to love the month, and here they are:
    • Being placed on Melissa Mosloski's blog "Life's Little Moment's" list for Favorite Books of 2011
    • A fantastic review from Jeanette Whitus of "Walking on Bookshelves" for Immortal Mine
    • An amazing review from Catie Vargas of "Forbidden Passions" also for Immortal Mine (Have I mentioned how very much I love and appreciate book bloggers? Without you, I would never have sold a single book.)
    • So far this month I've received over a dozen emails or messages from readers telling me how much they liked either Immortal Mine, Heart on a Chain, or Geek Girl. (Have I mentioned how much I adore my readers? Withouy you I would be nothing. You are all, seriously, the best ever!) I get the best emails and messages from my readers.
    • One of my all-time favorite readers (Courtney) emailed to let me know she'd made me something and to be expecting my late Christmas gift from her (I haven't received it yet, but can hardly wait!)
Is it any wonder that March is quickly moving up my list and will soon be taking the spot of my all-time favorite month? The Irish have nothing on one humble, grateful, lucky YA author!

Melissa Mosloski

    Sunday, March 18, 2012

    Emerald City

    Today, Alicia K. Leppert stops by with her soon to be released novel Emerald City.

    One city of 600,000 people.

    One broken girl.

    One mysterious boy.

    One fateful night,

    Two worlds collide.

    Seattle, Washington. The sprawling, industrious city set in a blanket of pine. I have never known a day that wasn’t spent inside this concrete jungle. It’s my home, and for that I love it. But it’s also the setting for the tragedy called my life, and so I loathe it.

    I live alone in a cold, empty studio apartment. The tiny square room closely resembles a cell. That’s my life: solitary confinement.

    Here, in this desolate place that perfectly reflects my soul, my story begins.

    My Review

    It's a little bit difficult to review the book without giving away too much of the story, and I don't want to do that. I want readers of the book to discover the secrets as they read rather than from my review, so I'm going to try to give as thorough a review as possible without filling it with spoilers.

    Emerald City is the story of Olivia, who lost her mother in the most tragic way a young girl possibly can. She wraps herself in her misery, isolated from humanity, barely existing from day to day. In a moment of desperation, she attempts to end her life. When she wakes, she is in the hospital, having been rescued by Jude, who claims to have seen her from his apartment across from hers. Soon, Jude is part of her life and as she heals, she falls for him. But Jude isn't what he seems. Jude and Olivia can never be together unless he's willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.

    Olivia is a strong character. Though it seems she's weak in the beginning, it doesn't take long to discover that beneath her pain is someone who has a strong will to survive, no matter what is thrown her way. I admired that very much about her. Jude is painted in an enigmatic light so that you're not exactly sure what he is, though I had a pretty good idea early on. My knowing (or thinking I knew) what he is didn't take away from their journey or from understanding the impossibility of their situation.  I still enjoyed the journey.

    This is definitely Olivia and Jude's story. There aren't a lot of secondary characters, and those that are there aren't given much definition. However, I didn't find that to be a distraction for me. I was more concerned with Olivia's growth and their story together than any secondary characters, so, again, it wasn't a big deal to me.

    I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good, clean YA romance with some intrigue and a bit of... I was going to say paranormalcy, but I don't know if that's right. It has some mystery, maybe a slight bit of a gothic feel, contemporary with touches of paranormal. Kind of hard, I guess, to really pinpoint this book, and that's okay with me. I kind of like books that I can't quite label. My only complaint would be the ending was a little abrupt and didn't answer the Big Question that needs to be answered for Jude, but I guess I can live with that. :o)

    There are some adult themes (suicide, for example) but they are dealt with realistically and without anything preachy, or graphic content that would be inappropriate for a teen. Emerald City shows a grittier side of life that is unfortunately some people's reality. Jude is charming, and Olivia is admirable. A definite recommend from me.

    Below are links to more info about Alicia, the tour, and where you can get your hands on your own copy of Emerald City.

    Alicia Leppert
    Pre-order Emerald City on Amazon
    Emerald City on Facebook
    Alicia on Twitter
    Emerald City on Goodreads

    Alicia's publisher, Cedar Fort (who also happens to be my publisher for Geek Girl) can be found at the following links:
    Cedar Fort Blog

    Thursday, March 15, 2012

    Coming Soon: Vampires

    A few months ago I ran across a post advertising a writing contest for vampire stories for Noble Young Adult. I read it and then immediately dismissed it. I mean, I don't write vampire stories, so it didn't seem to be for me. But the idea had stuck in my mind. And so, I tracked the post down again and reread it. And then thought, what the heck, the worst they can do is say no. Actually, the worst they could have done was to laugh in my face, but since it was all to be handled virtually, I figured I'd never hear the laughter.

    Just for fun, I decided to write a story and enter it. Okay, it wasn't just for fun. I decided it would be a great way to stretch my imagination and creativity, to see if I could, as a writer, step outside my normal genre and write something vaguely interesting. Imagine my surprise when I opened the email and read they'd chosen my short story, Reluctance, as one of the winners to be included in the vampire anthology Young Immortals.

    Moral of the story? Don't ever assume you can't do something without even trying. You never know just exactly what you may be capable of.

    Reluctance is about a girl named Dahlia who moves to a new town. Working at the local hospital while attending college, she meets two guys: Jace and Cam. Both are as different as night and day. She sets her sights on Jace, but begins to fall for Cam. However, things aren't always what they seem - people aren't always what they seem. Who knew that a monster moved among them?

    Below is the beautiful, amazing cover created by the talented CH Scarlett. As soon as I know a release date, I'll update you here.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    Songs of Your Life

    Wanna know what the top 20 hits were from the year you were born? Click on your birth year below. (Only works for those born between 1940-1999)
    It's sort of a "Jukebox Time Machine" of music. Each of the years below connects to the best 20 hits of that year via a Jukebox. Click on a year, wait a few seconds, and a Jukebox will appear showing you 20 hits from that year to select from. You can play all 20 hits, or click on just those that you like. Enjoy the ride!