Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Review: Charity Moon by DeAnna Kinney

Charity Moon
Author: DeAnna Kinney
Genre: YA Paranormal, romance
Publisher: UR Published. Inc.
Released: April 12 2012
Summary from Goodreads:

Charity Bell is eighteen, beautiful, and has an unyielding chip on her shoulder. The loss of her father and betrayal of her stepfather have left her angry and confident that no man will ever win her trust, or possess her heart. She wears that declaration proudly--on her countenance, as well as her sharp tongue.

That's all tested when the enchanting Levi Drake transfers from her rival school across town. In a town divided by intense rivalry this should mean trouble, and yet the school is quickly won over by his alluring charm. When a strange encounter with the mysterious young man leaves Charity bewildered, she's convinced he's hiding something and sets out on a dangerous plot to discover his secret. What she uncovers, however, will leave her both grasping for reality and hanging onto the tattered shreds of what's left of her declaration. As she faces the demons of her past, and present, she must decide if she can live, or die, with his.

My thoughts:
Holy cow so much happened to Charity in this book that I kept asking myself when she was going to catch a break.  She starts off as a huge smart-alec who is tough as nails. She has an obsession with raspberry flavored lip balm and a habit of substituting random words for cuss words (though I am not sure why she considered “crap” a cuss word….if it is, I cuss all.the.time—whoops!). But after everything that happens to her (and believe me, it’s a bit overwhelming) she finds herself an emotional train wreck and I didn’t blame her for it one bit.

The love story between Levi and Charity was sweet though he wasn’t nearly alpha enough for my taste, but for those of you who prefer the sweet, poetry-writing guys who can still kick anybody's butt, Levi will be right up your alley.

The plot is interesting and constantly kept me on my toes and I stayed up late reading it because I wanted to know what happened next. I found myself laughing and wincing in equal measure.  Overall, it was a good read that kept me entertained from beginning to end.

Favorite quote:  “If he were really eye-candy he’d be Godiva chocolate truffle, drizzled in caramel with whipped cream, topped with a green M&M. Then multiply that times ten.”

CHARITY MOON does have a strong Christian theme intertwined with the obvious paranormal elements that I believe would especially appeal to Christian YA readers, though anyone who loves a good Shifter book would enjoy this easy and fast-paced read.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Poll It Monday (4)

Its Poll It Monday!

Thank you to those who have been participating!  We appreciate you spreading the world! But why don't you tweet about it? :)

Today I thought I would ask you about the social media Twitter. I find that I use it as a publicity tool - but does it really work?

Do you find Twitter to be useful in the blog world?

customer survey

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Interview with Komal Lewis & a Giveaway!

I have known Komal for over a year now, but we have never actually met in person. We literally live on opposite sides of the world! That is the best thing about blogging: meeting people from all over the world and forming lasting friendships.

When Komal asked me to help edit her book, I was beyond thrilled! What an honor to be trusted with another person’s book baby! This has been one of the best experiences of my life and I am so thankful for the opportunity.
Throughout this process I have become quite attached to Komal's debut novel IMPOSSIBLE. I read it in a day and I was so giddy about it that I read it a second time the very next day.
I just know you will love IMPOSSIBLE and adore Komal as much as I do.
So without further ado, please say "hello!" to Komal Lewis!
Thank you for letting me interview you, Komal!
Thank you so much for having me!
What inspired you to write IMPOSSIBLE (With Me #1)?
Impossible was the story I shouldn’t have been writing. I was actually in the revisions stage for my YA Paranormal novel, Runaway Mortal, when the idea struck me. One night my husband and I sat down to watch one of my favourite movies, Drive Me Crazy, and after it ended, I said, “I would love to write a story like that one day.” Well, “one day” turned out to be the very next day!

What is your writing routine?
It depends on what I’m writing. When it comes to writing Paranormal or Fantasy, I do a lot of world-building, so I need to plan things out in advance and keep meticulous notes on everything. When it comes to writing Contemporary, I just write. I aim to write at least 10,000 words a week over a period of 3 – 4 days. I take breaks when I need to, but I am always tough on myself.
Do you listen to music or prefer to write in silence?
I can’t concentrate when there is music playing. I usually listen to music prior to writing or when I am stuck with scenes.

You live in Australia, but IMPOSSIBLE takes place in the United States. Was it difficult writing a story based in a different country?
When I got the idea for Impossibe, I immediately knew that it would be set in the U.S. First off, one of my main characters is a cheerleader and we don’t have cheerleading in Australian high schools so that would've been a major issue. It’s difficult at times because I've never been to the U.S. and have limited knowledge about the geography and the dialect. Even though English is spoken in both countries, it’s amazing how different words and their meanings can be! My awesome critique partners, Erica and Michelle both live in the U.S. and have been my go-to girls during the writing process. Without them, I would be completely lost. I could gush endlessly about Erica’s help. I already told her that Impossible is 50% her book! Spelling was something I was comfortable with—I know I usually have to omit certain letters for some words—but there were other issues like “handbrake”, “torch” and “sunbathing”. Not to mention the in-depth discussions we had about lakes with waves, and leggings vs. tights. Don’t ask.
What made you decided to self-publish instead of the more traditional route?
Initially, I was set on taking the traditional route even if it took me years, but I was uninformed at the time about publishing in general. Once I did my research, I realised that it could take years and years for me to have a published book out and that was only IF I ever landed an agent or a publisher. I’m not saying that it’s impossible; I’m just saying that it is a very long process. I have never sent a query to an agent or a publisher. I’m a very impatient person and I didn't want to do all that waiting. On top of that, I’m a bit of a control freak/perfectionist. I realised that I wanted complete control over my work and I did not want to wait years for readers to get their hands on my books. There is also the sad truth that despite how wonderful your book may be, it might not be the current trend or publishers may not think it will sell. It’s best to do your own research before you make a decision.
What was the most challenging part of self-publishing?
The most challenging part was definitely the editing process. With the help of my critique partners, I've tried to ensure that my book is as error-free as possible, but I am sure a few mistakes have slipped me.
Stephanie Mooney was your cover designer; can you tell us a little about what that process was like?
I knew immediately that I wanted Stephanie to design my cover. She’s designed covers for a lot of my favourite authors, so she was my dream cover artist. I told Stephanie a bit about what I wanted: “Fresh, clean concept with a white background.” I didn't want the characters’ faces showing so that it would be left to the reader’s imagination. I gave her a vague (sorry, Stephanie!) description of the characters, but she must have been psychic because when she got back to me with the proofs, I was blown away. Stephanie had absolutely nailed the brief! She gave me two options which were very different and I loved them both. I finally settled on option one with a few minor tweaks. It’s really an amazing feeling when you see the cover. It makes everything real.
Have you started working on your next book yet?
The next three in fact! My next release is Runaway Mortal which I finished writing about a year ago. All it needs is to go through a grueling editing process which I will start in the next couple of months so that it will be ready for a January/February release. I start writing the second book in the With Me series, Falling for Hadie, in November for NaNoWriMo. And I have already written the first chapters for Wrong Side of Town (With Me #3) and All for Savannah (With Me #4).
And just for fun:
Dogs or cats? I have three cats and three Siberian Huskies, but I think I am more of a dog person. They’re just so loyal and goofy!
Chocolate or white milk? Lite white milk. Yes, I am a boring person!
Night owl or early bird? Both. I usually suffer from insomnia so I don’t get to sleep until 4 – 5 AM sometimes! But I have been sleeping better lately and am up at 6 AM.
Twilight or Vampire Academy? I read Twilight first, but I am a VA and Richelle Mead fan.
Coke or Pepsi? Neither! I really only drink water. I am just reinforcing that whole “boring person” thing, haha!
Chicken or Steak? Chicken!
Cake or Pie? Broccoli?

Thank you, Komal and congratulations on your debut novel!

You can find out more about Komal in the following places: Her blog, Goodreads, Amazon and Smashwords.

To enter in the giveaway, please fill out the Rafflecopter below and complete as many entries as possible. The giveaway is international and will end on November 3rd!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Cover Reveal for Impossible!

I'm so excited to reveal my cover for Impossible on A Dash of YA! You may have seen the cover around the webs, so I thought I would walk you through the design process and how creating a cover works.

The first thing I did was find someone who I knew had experience designing covers for authors who wrote in the same genre as me. Luckily, my friend Erica met Abbi Glines a while back and was recommended Stephanie Mooney who is a cover artist. Erica mentioned Stephanie to me and I went on her website to see some of her work. In all honesty, Stephanie does amazing work! She has designed covers for Abbi Glines, Tammara Webber and Liz Reinhardt to name a few. I knew right away that I wanted Stephanie to design my cover.

I sent Stephanie a message and asked for a cover that was "fresh and clean with a white background". I gave her a vague description of the characters and she came back with these two mock-ups.

I seriously loved them both and at first I had NO IDEA how I was going to pick one. Couldn't I have them both? They're so pretty!

After calming down, my eyes kept going back to the white cover. I loved the way the title was vertical--you don't see that with many covers. I loved the way the title separated the characters and the cover really stood out to me.

What happened next was a little crazy. My original title for the book had been Impossible but a week into writing it, I changed it to With Me. However, when I'd queried Stephanie, I queried with the original title. So, you know what I did? I changed the title back to the old one. Yeah, I'm a little nutty.

I asked Stephanie to make two small changes: add a tattoo on the male character's hand and change the font of the title because it was too bold. Stephanie quickly made the changes and this is what we ended up with:

I couldn't be happier with it! And here's the cover for the paperback copy!

Seeing the cover really drives home that you have written a novel and that other people are going to read it. It's such a fun process though and I can't wait to do it all over again for the next book!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Highlighting Neal Shusterman

I wanted to share with you today one of my favorite authors - Neal Shusterman. I heart Neal Shusterman. I would make a t-shirt for him.

But there is a focus besides me just rambling that I like him.

Neal Shusterman has a wonderful talent when it comes to writing. He takes multiple points-of-view (I think Unwholly he had like six). I had to pay attention to each one and keep track of them. I knew from my expereince with Shusterman that if I didn't, I would regret it.

Why you ask?

Easy, at the end of each novel that I have read by him, he always converges all of the points-of-view for one final moment - a big a-ha! It's like that phrase "All roads lead to Rome." In this moment, each POV's small details become important. Each action, conversation, thought has a driving purpose. He is not wasteful with his words. I think this is something I have worked on since reading Everlost. I have worked to make sure my conversations lead to the development of my characters, my actions lead up to a climax, my descriptions paint a picture worth seeing.

If you are looking for a writer with a wonderful craft I suggest Shusterman. Here are two of my favorite books by him.

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

Nick and Allie don't survive the car accident...

...but their souls don't exactly get where they're supposed to get either. Instead, they're caught halfway between life and death, in a sort of limbo known as Everlost: a shadow of the living world, filled with all the things and places that no onger exist. It's a magical, yet dangerous place where bands of lost children run wild and anyone who stands in the same place too long sinks to the center of the Earth.

When they find Mary, the self-proclaimed queen of lost kids, Nick feels like he he's found a home, but allie isn't satisfied spending eternity between worlds. Against all warnings, Allie begins learning the "Criminal Art" of haunting, and ventures into dangerous territory, where a monster called the McGill threatens all the souls of Everlost.

In this imaginative novel, Neal Shusterman explores questions of life, death, and what just might lie in between.

What's your favorite Neal Shusterman? What do you think about his craft? Something I missed that I should have included?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Interview with Liz Reinhardt

Over the summer when I met Abbi Glines, she recommended that I read the Brenna Blixen series. She just couldn't say enough nice things about Liz's books so of course I had to read them. I read all three in less than one week and it was at this point that I realized that my YA books didn't always have to have a paranormal element for me to enjoy them. I realized I adore YA contemporary romances, especially steamy ones. Liz Reinhardt knows how to write a steamy scene! And her male characters are swoonworthy!

Please welcome Liz Reinhardt to A Dash of YA!

Liz, I read all three books in the Brenna Blixen series in less than 3 days. I must ask, are you Team Jake or Team Saxon?

Hahaha!! Oh no! As a cop-out answer, I will say that I have plans for both guys to find long, lasting love, because they both deserve it. As far as who Brenna will end up with? That's not quite as easy...and, to tell you the truth, I have no real idea. I can remember writing *Junk Miles* and I'd get up from the laptop so frustrated, so angry at all of them. My husband would say, "Well, just change it. Just make it the way you'd like it to be." But it doesn't work like that, at least not for me. I write with no real plans. I just let the characters take me where they want me to go, and I follow, sometimes kicking and screaming! I love Jake's good heart, his resiliency and determination to make his life better. I love Saxon's hilarious wit, his growth from a cold bad-boy to a vulnerable lover, and his self-deprecating humor. But I just can't choose ;)! I know...lame!! Hahaha!

When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Was there a defining moment when you knew this was what you were meant to do?

When I was young, I did really well in English classes, but I thought I'd be an anthropologist. In high school, I was pretty sure poetry could take me far, because I was very caught up in the poetry movement in my artsy little high school. Through college, I was a double major in women's studies and art history, and I'm glad that I pursued English as a minor, because exploring other interests helped me grow. And it kept reading and writing as a love for me. It was never a chore. When I was a senior, I was supposed to be writing a bio paper, but I started writing this crazy historical romance. I did eventually finish my bio project, but that book...I grabbed on and finished. I went on to write and submit several adult romances before I finally found my true passion with Brenna's books. Those I knew were the real deal because I was absolutely in the zone, writing when I should have been sleeping and eating and hanging out. I was addicted, and it never slowed down or stopped.

When you set out to start writing a book, do you outline or just go with the flow?

I am a total, absolute go-with-the-flow kind of writer! I fall in love with my characters and really burrow deep into their heads. And once I'm way, way, way into the characters' lives, I just let them take the reins and tell me what will happen next. I trust them, even when, in the back of my head, I'm like 'What?! This will never work!' When I'm working on a book, I'm very focused until it's finished, and I absolutely live their story as it unfolds. It's a gorgeous surprise to me what will happen to them.

How do you write such incredibly sexy scenes? Every time I try I usually end up blushing!

Hahaha! That is an awesome compliment! Thank you ;)! Well, I think one big piece is that I'm still really super giddy in love with my husband. We've been together for eleven years, married for eight, and I still run out to meet him when he comes home from work everyday. I was also raised by parents who were very open and accepting of the body and sex and never made me feel like I had anything to be embarrassed about. They were super strict about contraceptives and safe sex and we always talked very openly. My husband jokes that I can't blush ;)! I think feeling open about sex and respecting what a beautiful and important thing it is in a loving relationship makes it easy for me to write about. And I very much appreciate that readers have given me such positive feedback. I love reading sexy scenes, so I love that my sexy scenes have been enjoyed.

You co-wrote LENGTHS with Steph Campbell, what was your favorite part of that process?

I loved every single part of writing with Steph, but the best part, by far, was that our friendship really grew. I always admired her as an incredibly talented writer and an awesome person, but writing is a very intimate process. We were showing each other all of our deepest secret thoughts in their roughest forms, and you need so much trust to do that. Writing together was a completely respectful, unbelievably fun, incredibly energizing exercise. I would wake up so excited to see what Steph had written and wanted to challenge myself to write something that would match her awesomeness. The strangest thing was that we didn't wind up meeting face to face until the Chicago author event this September! It was absolutely amazing and I'm so grateful to have Steph in my life. I love her as a co-worker and a close friend!

I know FALL GUY was recently released and has received fabulous reviews! Congrats! Do you have anything you are currently working on?
Thank you so much! I've been blown away by the sweet response people have had to Winch and Evan's story! I am deep in Benelli's book right now. I love it, because she's pretty much the polar opposite of her brother on every count, and her love story is so unexpected. She really drags her feet over not just love, but life. So, even though she's so different from Winch, she's also got those same Youngblood hangups. And, of course, finding love is going to help her open up to so many possibilities.


Thank you very much, Liz!
Thank you so much for interviewing me, Erica! I absolutely loved these questions and so enjoyed sharing!!


You can find Liz Reinhardt's books here and hereYou can also check out her blog Team Indie Pubbed!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Poll It Monday (3)

Ahhh - Week 3 - Time flies - technically this is the fourth week of Dash! Thank you to everyone who has been following and been participating in the polls.

This weeks question is going to let us know what types of YA sub-genres you like to read. Though we want to post about the topics we really like, we also want to make sure we are meeting your needs as viewers.

Think about this like it's a healthy relationship. :) But no, we won't be sending you flowers. :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Best Thing About Having Critique Partners

With the upcoming release of my novel, Impossible, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how I got to the end product and about everyone who helped me in some way to reach my end goal. There are so many people I want to thank, but most of all my critique partners, Erica and Michelle.

If you’re a writer, then having a great critique partner is extremely valuable. A good critique partner is someone who has a great eye, can help you find your mistakes, and will give you feedback that will improve your story.

A GREAT critique partner does all that and MORE. Wait, there’s more? There sure is! A great critique partner “gets” your writing style and what you’re trying to do with the story even if it’s not quite there yet. A great critique partner is invested in your story and believes in your characters. A great critique partner laughs at your jokes (yes, this is a requirement), shares book boyfriends with you and listens to you while you vent about your bad day.

I am lucky enough to have not one, but TWO great critique partners.

You’re probably wondering, “Where do I find myself a great critique partner?” Well, there isn’t one answer for that. Your critique partner could be a family member, a friend, another writer or someone who lives halfway across the world who you’ve never met before. It could be anyone really.

I honestly can’t remember how I met Michelle. I just remember finding her blog one day, almost two years ago, and then never leaving. Or maybe Michelle found me? Since Day One, Michelle has believed in my WIP. It took over a year before she read ANY of my work. Now that’s dedication. When I was having doubts about my story, Michelle said to me, “Get over it.” Tough love? Yes, but it made me realise that I needed to be more confident about my work. That was the best advice anyone has ever given me and I remind myself that whenever I start having doubts.

You will never believe how I found Erica. Look up at the top of the blog. See that button that says “Next Blog”? When you click on it, it will send you to a completely random blog. Every single time. Completely RANDOM. One day, I clicked it. I found a blog where a mommy of three sometimes reviewed books in between blogging about her adorable children. That’s how I found Erica. The thought scares me that I could NOT have found her if I’d never clicked that button. I email Erica every day, so I can’t imagine what it would be like not knowing her.

Guys, what I’m saying is that above everything else, a great critique partner should be your friend. Someone you can talk to you when you’re at your lowest and someone who is able to help you be the best that you can be.

So, what are you waiting for? Click that “Next Blog” button. Who knows who you could meet?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Character Development

Character Development.

Have you ever read a book and thought the lead character was two-dimensional? Or flat? Or wish they had something more to them? I think we've all been there a time or two. I think part of this is based on the reader, but the author has to give something to the reader to attach to, something they can relate too.

The big question: So how do you do develop a character a reader can latch on to?

A couple of things I do:

  1. I think about their physical attributes first - short, tall, green eyes, athletic, limp, popped hip when he/she stands, pert nose, bushy eyebrows, brown hair, highlights, shaggy, long. 
  2. I visualize them. I close my eyes and I see if everything that I have picked for my character works. - Do I like the shaggy hair? If her hip is popped, she's snotty - does that work? All my characters are tall - I want him to be short. But at this point - I have the image. The character exists. 
  3. But characters don't just "look" and become awesome. Third step - "Big Personality Trait" - Hip is still popped - so she's got some attitude. He's short - little man syndrome. Book nerd/rebel without a cause/ closet comicon/depressed and suicidal. 
  4. Crap - I'm real and I'm not only defined by my English nerdy-ness. Fourth step "Small Personality Traits". I like this part because this is where (I believe) you find the stuff you attach too.  For example: Rose from the The Vampire Academies - Bad Ass - "Big Personality Trait" (awesomeness) die to keep a promise, loves her family, will follow her heart, believes in her future - "Small Personality Traits". These are the things a person routes for. 
  5. Finishing touches - catch phrases - "Laters, Baby" mannerisms - hands through the hair when your frustrated, clothes, and pet peeves. - Not limited to these by any means - just examples. 
This is how I develop my characters. My computer screen has been deleted twice, someone has been texted if something sounds likable or unlikable, and my playlist monkeyed with. 

How do you develop your characters? How do you do it?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Review: Fate Succumbs by Tammy Blackwell

Author: Tammy Blackwell
Title: Fate Succumbs
Publisher: Self-pubbed
Released: Sept. 9th 2012

Summary from Goodreads:
Having narrowly escaped an unjust death sentence, Scout Donovan is on the run. But the more she discovers about the Alpha Pack and herself, the more she realizes she can’t run forever. Destiny is propelling her towards an unavoidable battle. Can Scout survive, or will she finally succumb to fate?

I purchased Fate Succumbs (#3 Timber Wolves)about a month ago and honestly, I was hesitant to start. Not because I wasn’t dying to read it (because trust me, I was) but because I was scared (and a little sad). I knew it was the grand finale to Scout’s journey and I just wanted to drag it out a little bit longer. I enjoyed Destiny Binds and Time Mends so much that I never wanted the story to end. What if one of my favorite characters died (again)? What if it wasn't a satisfying ending? What if I spent the rest of the week bawling my eyes out just like I did when I turned the final page of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? 

Finally, I could wait no longer.. I managed to make it last all weekend, but it still wasn’t long enough. I already miss Scout, Liam and the rest of the pack.  

Fate Succumbs picks up with Scout and Liam on the run after the big escape at the end of Time Mends. They travel all over America and end up settling down in a secluded cabin located in Canada where they remain through the winter surviving on canned food, Poptarts and whatever game they manage to kill. While snowed in they train and Scout learns more about her destiny. 
Most of the novel consists of Scout and Liam traveling and training, the action doesn't really start until the second half, but don't let that fool you in to thinking this is a boring read. It is every bit as entertaining as the first two novels. As always Scout’s wit had me smiling (and even laughing out loud) throughout the entire story.

Tammy Blackwell writes such brilliantly authentic dialogue. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love the banter between the characters and I adore Scout’s inner thoughts. She is one of my all-time favorite heroines. 
Fate Succumbs is a well-thought out, unique novel and a fantastic conclusion to this amazing trilogy. I think everyone, even those skeptical to read a Shifter book, would enjoy Scout's story. 

Tammy Blackwell Giveaway Winner!

Mira Garland you are the lucky winner of DESTINY BINDS! Email Erica at to claim your prize!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Poll It Monday (2)

 This feature is meant to let us get to know you better and to see what's going out there in the book blogging world.

If there is a question you would like to see us ask, email us or leave us a comment. :)

So this weeks question is another general one. And if you want to explain why you picked your answer - please do so! :)

survey software

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Interview with Samantha Durante & Giveaway

Samantha Durante is the author of Stitch, her debut novel which is a Paranormal Romance/Dystopian. She is an avid, lifelong reader of fiction of all sorts.

In addition to penning novels, Samantha is also a freelance business writer and communications consultant at her company. She currently lives in New York with her husband, Sudeep, and her cat, Gio.

Hello, Samantha! Thanks so much for joining me today on A Dash of YA!
Thanks so much for inviting me!

First, could you tell us a bit about Stitch?
Absolutely. Stitch is about a student, Alessa, who's struggling through her first year of college. In addition to fighting through a deep depression over suddenly losing her parents, she's started seeing a ghost in her sorority house, and despite her best instincts towards self-preservation, she can't seem to stay away from the ghost or stop thinking about him. The ghost invokes all these inexplicable feelings in her, like an overwhelming sorrow plus this burning physical draw she feels for him, and it leaves her an emotional wreck.  And then on top of that she's having these horrible nightmares about being held captive in some kind of prison, and sure enough the ghost is featured in many of those dreams. So basically, Alessa is not in good shape to begin with, and the deeper she digs into this ghost thing, the more she realizes that something is amiss around her... Until her best friend drops a bombshell that explains everything and completely rocks her world. As it turns out Alessa, her friends, and the "ghost," are in a lot more danger than any of them could have ever suspected. And I'll leave it at that because I don't want to give too much away!

What was the inspiration behind Stitch?
I wanted to write something with a knock-your-socks-off twist, so I thought about how I could combine two genres I love - paranormal romance and dystopian sci-fi - in one book in a way that would actually make sense.

Your novel reads like a Paranormal Romance/Dystopian. Was it hard to balance the two genres?
Yes, absolutely. First, it was important to me that the story made sense, so I did a lot of planning about what had happened to these characters in the past and what was going on in the world they live in. There's so much history before we hit the point the characters are at in Stitch, so I needed to make sure that everything fit together once you finally learn the twist. Plus, I was hesitant to disappoint readers who came into the book hoping for a straight-up paranormal romance - if you're looking for a simple love story between a girl and a ghost, Stitch is not it! So it was difficult to tell if I was dropping enough hints in the first half of the book to remind the reader that there's a lot more going on here than it appears at the surface.

The cover of Stitch is one of my favourites of the year! Could you briefly tell us how you chose your cover designer and what the process of having a cover designed was like?
Wow, thanks so much! What a compliment! My cover designer was Damon from, who I found through a recommendation on another author's site. I didn't know exactly what I wanted on the cover but I had some vague ideas, so I sent him a long rambling email about different elements we could incorporate, and when he came back with the first draft, I knew he understood where I was trying to go with it - that first draft was 90% of the way there! We did a bunch more rounds of tweaks and edits, and ended up with something which I think is a very good fit for the book - a good mix of sci-fi, paranormal, and romance. I actually did a long guest post as part of the Stitch Blog Tour recently that steps through each round of revision so you can see how the cover progressed - check it out here.

Will there be a sequel to Stitch, and can you tell us anything about it?
Yes, there will be TWO sequels to Stitch - it's the opening installment of a trilogy! The next book will be more strictly dystopian and will focus on answering the questions we opened up in the first book (i.e., who are The Engineers and what exactly was their role in bringing about the world that Alessa lives in today? What happened to Janie and Joe and Nikhil? And what are Alessa and the rebels going to do about the oppression they're living under? Etc.). Now that readers understand what's going on in Alessa's life, they can expect more action, more romance, and of course, a few big twists!

Do you have any routines you follow during a typical writing day?
On a writing day, I mainly just try to get out of bed and go straight to writing. No email, no Facebook, not even any breakfast! I'm most productive in the morning (and it's quietest at my house), so I try to maximize that time to get as many words onto the paper as I can before life starts getting in the way. I always approach my writing with a plan - each chapter is mapped out before I sit down to write a word - so that makes it easy to just focus on the writing itself.

Is there any advice you have for aspiring writers?
My advice to aspiring writers is to just go for it. You don't need an amazing, ground-breaking, never-before-seen idea; you just need a story that you would like to read and are excited about. And I always recommend starting with a very detailed chapter-by-chapter outline. By breaking the book down into manageable pieces, it's no longer such an overwhelming undertaking. Just take it a chapter at a time, and do what you love to do.  :-)

Book or e-book?
Book! I really appreciate the convenience of my Kindle when I'm traveling (or my cat is sitting on me in such a way that I don't have a second hand to turn the page...), but I don't think there's any way I'll ever stop appreciating the smell of a fresh new book waiting to be read.

Bookshop or Amazon?
I love the coziness of traditional bookstores, but I've got to give props to Amazon for making it so easy for self-published authors like me to get their work to the masses. Plus, I'm a huge fan of Amazon Prime - free 2-day shipping on almost anything is dangerous!

Pen or keyboard?
If you'd seen my handwriting, you'd know that the answer to this question is OBVIOUSLY keyboard! I just don't have the patience to write neatly - it takes too long and makes my hand hurt - so I do everything on my computer.

Paranormal or dystopian?
You're making me pick just one?? I guess if I had to choose, I'd go with dystopian, because it's always intriguing to me how dystopian worlds come about. But that's definitely not to say that I don't enjoy a good para-rom whenever I can get my hands on one!

Fiction or non-fiction?
Fiction. There's enough real life to deal with - to me, a good book should be an escape to some amazing place that you just can't get to any other way.

Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule, Samantha! I wish you all the best and congratulations on your upcoming nuptials!
Thank you so much! We actually got married on Saturday, September 15th and it was just an incredible day with all of our loved ones there to support us - my husband (husband!! I need to get used to that!) and I couldn't be happier. In fact, we're on our honeymoon right now! But I'm looking forward to getting back and picking up the Stitch Blog Tour in October. :-) Be sure to join us for lots of fun guest posts, character/author interviews, and tons of giveaways all month long!

To find out more about Samantha, Stitch, and her upcoming novels follow the links below.


To participate in the giveaway, please log into the Rafflecopter below and complete as many activities as you can. The giveaway is open internationally and will close on October 20.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 12, 2012

Beta Reader (2)

Hey everyone!
Recently, I finished up my first draft of The Owens Legacy: Redemption. While getting words down on the paper can be a struggle, the bigger struggle for me is the editing.

I am very fortunate that my good friend Nadine has an incredible English eye. I often say: “Everyone should have a Nadine.”  What I want to show you today is the result of Nadine’s editing. Some of the things she does: reads it through, corrects my grammar and typos, checks out my inconsistencies, and talks me through on places I got stuck.  
Below is what my manuscript looks like. When I first get it back from Nadine. Notice that she used multiple pen colors so comments didn’t mesh together? 

After we go over page by page, I begin the editing. It’s a lot. It’s overwhelming, so how do I juggle this? I do two things: one I set daily page goals and two I use a highlighter.  It helps me keep my spot and I also feel accomplished when I start highlighting what I have completed. 

Your beta readers are super important, but their opinions are not end all, be alls. I agree with Nadine’s opinion for the most part. Below is a simple note about something I don’t agree with. As a writer you have the right to disagree. But I also made a note about it, and if say Komal or Joe, also point out that it’s off, I might re-think it.

I do this every time someone edits my manuscript. Something I have noticed, I much prefer not having to do this every time (shocking, right?), it makes me a better writer, the first time through.

What are some of the ways you make your edits? 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Interview with Tammy Blackwell & a Giveaway!

I picked up DESTINY BINDS on a whim in January (the 17th to be exact). I was on a big "self-pubbed" kick and thought I would give it a go. I was expecting a "good for the price" story jam-packed full of errors (you know how it is) what I got was a smart, fun and original story I fell in love with. Tammy's book is witty and sarcastic and just plain amazing. I loved the banter between the characters and I adored Scout's internal monologue. I purchased the sequel, TIME MENDS, the very next day. I was so sad that I had to wait months for the final Timber Wolves trilogy installment but FATE SUCCUMBS was well worth the wait. I have definitely become a fan of Tammy's and definitely look forward to reading more of her work.

I am delighted to say that the awesome Tammy agreed to let me interview her for A Dash of YA!

Tammy, what inspired you to write the Timber Wolves trilogy?

A lot of things, really. My family. Some awesome teachers. Meeting some fantastic, but very down-to-earth authors at the 2008 YALSA Lit Symposium. A neighbor with a gun. You know, the normal stuff.
My biggest inspiration, however, was the teens at the library where I work. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the coolest kids in the world, and I wanted to write a book that reflected their lives and personalities. Destiny Binds was the product of that desire.

When you started Scout's journey did you already know how her story would end or did it develop as you wrote?

Not to sound horribly didactic, but I knew what I wanted readers to take away from the story and some of the ways I would attempt to accomplish that. Basically, I knew some of the major plot points, but a lot of what really made up the story came during the writing process.

Have you started writing your new Seers and Shifters series yet? I’ve started the research process, but no words have been put on paper (or screen) as of this moment. After putting out three novels in 18 months, I needed a bit of a slower pace for a couple of months. However, I am still writing a little. It’s just that what I’m working on right now is a secret… Shhhhhhhh!

I know you work as a YA service coordinator at a library so that sort of makes you an expert on the genre! Are there any YA authors you are inspired by or just really love?

Oh mercy! There are way too many to name! But in my professional opinion, THE YA writer for this generation is John Green. Not only are his books well-written and entertaining, but they all carry such a powerful message. And that doesn’t even take into account the amazing things he’s doing for YA culture as the original Nerd Fighter.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Read and write every day; finish something, even if it’s horrible; work hard; believe in yourself; and always be kind to others.

Could you tell our readers about your cause Hope Conquers?

Hope Conquers is based on the belief that books matter and that they can change lives for the better. My small community has recently been hit hard with childhood cancer. Four of the people I graduated with have had a child diagnosed with cancer, and currently there are three teens in our county undergoing cancer treatment. Hope Conquers is my way of helping those families. There are two aspects of Hope Conquers. The first is that I’m donating the profit from every Kindle edition of Destiny Binds sold in October to The Ronald McDonald House, which supports families with seriously ill children. The second part is that I’m collecting signed books with inspirational inscriptions from authors to donate to the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. You can read more about the project and how you can help on my website at

A big thank you to Tammy Blackwell!

If you haven't had a chance to check out DESTINY BINDS yet I highly recommend you do so! Not only is it a fantastic read and all profit for the month of October is being donated to a great cause, but as an added incentive it is currently only .99! Go get it! NOW!
(You can find it here and here.)

Even though I am already a proud owner of this fabulous book, I really want to help out Tammy's cause soooooooooooo you know what that means! A Giveaway!

Tweet about Hope Conquers and/or share this post on your facebook or personal blog and leave us a comment saying you did so. I will announce the winner one week from today! Good luck!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012