#SizzlingSummerEvent Hosted by YA Bound Book Tours Giving Away Two, that’s right, TWO Loaded Kindle Fires!!

Kindle YA

Giveaway for Kindle YA. Notice the really pretty one in the bottom left-hand corner?

Are you interested in winning one of these Kindle Fires? Wellll, read on 🙂

Kindle NA

Giveaway for Kindle NA

Maybe you saw this tweet from me yesterday: Wondering if runnin topless across a field with #18things across my chest in red lipstick is good marketing idea? Maybe there r easier ways?

As many of you know, one of the biggest issues authors face is promotion. It takes money to market, and not all of us have extra income to spend *put your hands in the air & wave them around if you’re a teacher like me*

Thanks to Trisha Wolfe and Dawna Raver’s brilliance, we formed a top-secret organization *busts out super-maniacal laugh and rub hands together evilly*  in an effort to allow a group of authors to pull their resources and come up with a HUGE giveaway to promote each and every babe talent *slaps hand & whispers don’t give away the secret!*

So it’s with great pleasure I announce the Sizzling Summer Giveaway event hosted by YA Bound Book Tours featuring 50 authors!

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This giveaway event will take place this week, July 22nd to July 27th. Book Superheroes Bloggers from all over the country are hosting a promo post provided by an author (excerpt, dream cast, playlist, character interview, etc.) and rafflecopter giveaway code for 2 Kindle Fire HD’s pre-loaded with some of the author’s books.

Today, I’m hosted on The Eater of Books with a post about my top 10 rules for creating bucket lists. Later in the week, I’ll also be hosted by Once Upon A Dream Books and Fiction in Fiction in Fiction, but I’m not sure which day since this is a blast event, which means they can post any they chose.

You can check out the blogs during the week, or you can follow on Twitter with hashtag ‪#‎SizzlingSummerEvent.

Are you going to check out the blogs? Good! Give yourself a smiley sticker and prepare to win so you can squander your money on more e-Books . . . who needs food anyway? 🙂

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It’s A Small World Afterall . . . My Love/Hate Relationship

I’m sure we’ve all heard the expression, “It’s a small world after all.” Love the ride at Disney (ADD side note: funniest description I’ve ever read of this ride is in the opening pages of Going Bovine by Libba Bray. Do yourself a favor & click on the link to read the free preview on Amazon, and prepare to really ROTFLMAO!) . . . where was I? Oh yeah, love the ride, not a big fan of the saying. Ever since the invention of the Internet, this world just keeps getting smaller and smaller, to the point where I am afraid for the kind of world my 13yo and 9yo daughters are growing up in.

Family Disney Pic 2007

I miss when my kids were small, and when I was too, lol.

I’m frightened enough that when I took my English 6-12 certification exam a couple of weeks ago (in preparation to teach middle school Language Arts, and you should read the awesome story about that if you haven’t!), and I had to write a persuasive essay about an invention I wish would’ve never been invented, I wrote about social media sites.WARNING: If you’re my 13yo daughter reading this now (b/c she occasionally cares enough to see what her old mom is up to), you may want to melt me with that laser look you’re so good at when I’m done with this blog post. So get it ready now. And remember Mom loves you.

It drives me nuts to see my daughter’s iPod Touch attached to her hand . . . to the point where she challenged herself to a 5 day detox and couldn’t last 24 hours. I walk into a house to pick her up from a party and instead of everybody talking, they’re texting the person next to them on the friggin’ couch! They constantly ask, “How many Instagram followers do you have?” to the point it becomes bullying because if you don’t have at least 1,000 followers then you’re not cool. (Just made said daughter take down her account because she let too many strangers ‘follow’ her). Her ‘boy’ friends inhale violent video games through Xbox Live into the wee hours of the night. Her girlfriends think life can be encapsulated in a 140 character Twitter message or Facebook status update. BUT THERE IS NO COMMUNICATION! To the point where we run into one of her friends outside of school at a Shrek the Musical Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre performance tonight, and they don’t even know how to properly SAY hello to each other.

You see, my daughter lost her iPod Touch three weeks ago, so she couldn’t text it, email it, tag her in a FB status, post a duck face with her friend on Instagram, ect . . . . and by the way, these past three weeks have been HEAVEN without that little Apple. Dreading officially getting her a cell phone before school starts up again, but we’ll need to because of the logistics of my job change Note: this will be her first cell, and I’m proud of that. When I taught 3rd grade this past year, the majority of my class had cell phones and a FB account . . . at 8 years old. Yeah, and we wonder why we have such an ADD problem in this country now. Oooh, squirrel!

But here’s the LOVE part. Yanno that Shrek show I mentioned? I got to meet a publishing sister/blogger buddy all the way from Ohio there tonight. Why? B/c when hubs and I were trying to win the tickets through a, wait for it . . . YEP–Facebook contest, Tara Tyler saw it and said she’d be attending the show. I asked, do you mean in your area or are you visiting on vacation? She answered she was vacationing in Florida and did I live near there? Um, heck yeah! And this is the 4th blogger buddy I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in person due to social media. Well, I wouldn’t have any blogger buddies without social media, would I?

Tara Tyler and me

Tara Tyler and me 🙂

The other part I love? As a debut author, I could probably expect to sell 100 books to my friends and family without social media. But the social media frenzy caused my reach to multiply that by 10 so far, and it keeps growing. For the past 3 weeks, 18 Things has trended in the top 100 for Coming of Age fiction on Amazon, ranging anywhere from the 30’s to 100. Why? I haven’t done any real promoting since March. I’m guessing all those people who came across my debut novel through the What Are Your 18 Things bloghop and then the 6 week book blog tour have finally gotten around to reading and recommending it (the book came out in January). That’s the power of word of mouth, and it starts with social media sites, and most importantly, it’s all FREE!

In the end, I love connecting with fabulous people like you and the thought of a couple million people potentially reading my book. But on the flip side, I hate all the murderers and child molesters that potentially  could be looking at my daughters on one of those sites too. It’s a win-lose situation, but I know social media isn’t going anywhere, and I must adapt or die . . . which happens to be one of my favorite quotes from the movie, Moneyball. If you’ve never seen this inspirational true story, make some time to watch it!

What are your thoughts? Do you LOVE social media, or do you love to hate it? Have you meet any blogger buddies in real life yet? Oh, and don’t forget to check out Tara Tyler’s new novel, Pop Travela sci-fi noir, cat and mouse game where the hard-boiled detective is chased across the world, “popping” with teleportation, which has a deadly flaw he is determined to expose. How cooool does that sound?!

I Spy With My Little Eye . . . Two Awesome Cover Reveals!!

One way authors like to help each other out around the blogosphere is to host cover reveals, and today I get to share two covers for some blogger buddies very near and dear to my heart. The blogosphere just wouldn’t be the same without them!

First up is a Paranormal Suspense With Strong Romance Cloaked in Fur

Available August 5, 2013 through Crimson Romance

 Cloaked In Fur Cover

As a moonwulf, Daciana never expected to fall in love with a human. Hell, she never imagined that she’d abandon her pack, endanger everyone around her, and break the worst rule possible. But she did.

A rogue werewolf is killing Daciana’s friends, and she sets on capturing the creature.  She’ll do whatever it takes to stop the beast. The police and her boyfriend, Inspector Connell Lonescu, are starting to question her involvement in the murders, which is endangering the pack’s secret existence. But when the pack alpha kidnaps Connell, revealing the awful truth about the creature and its connection to the pack, Daciana must choose between saving the man she loves and saving her pack family from certain death.

                  About The Author

TF Walsh Pic

T.F. Walsh emigrated from Romania to Australia at the age of eight and now lives in a regional city south of Sydney with her husband. Growing up hearing dark fairy tales, she’s always had a passion for reading and writing horror, paranormal romance, urban fantasy and young adult stories. She balances all the dark with light fluffy stuff like baking and traveling.

Author Links

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Pinterest

Goodreads

Second up is a New Adult Paranormal Romance titled Courage, Mark of the Nexus-Book 2

Available in E-Book & Paperback on October 15, 2013

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Cover Credits:

Design: Carrie Butler

Photography: Subbotina Anna & Yuri Arcurs

Where to find Carrie:
WEBSITE  |  BLOG  |   TWITTER  |  FACEBOOK  |  GOODREADS  |  GOOGLE+  | NA ALLEY | PINTEREST 

Where to find Courage (Mark of Nexus #2):
BOOK PAGE  |  GOODREADS  |

Book Bloggers may start requesting e-ARCs via this form.

Book Trailer for Book 1, Strength

Thanks for stopping by today!! Don’t forget to add T.F. Walsh and Carrie Butler to your Goodreads, Twitter, and like them on FB. And have a fantastic week 🙂

Leaving My Comfort Zone and Awkward Middle School Photo

You might be facing a decision forcing you to choose between the easy and the adventurous. If so, this blog post is for you!

Sooo, a few months ago my pastor posted a pic on Facebook holding up my novel, 18 Things. Someone from my church, who I didn’t know, commented, “Who is this? I keep hearing about this book!” He responded, “It’s a local teacher who got a book published, who happens to attend our church and volunteer with the youth ministry.” She commented back she was going to read it, I thanked her, & that was the end of it . . . or so I thought.

She contacted me the following month (we still hadn’t met) & said her entire book club read 18 Things, loved it, & invited me to attend their meeting.  All the book club members were teachers at a middle school, which happened to be the same one I attended & even won the Language Arts award for our graduating class . . . which earned me the right to have my picture on the wall, and it was still there several years ago when I attended an event there. I’m curious to know if it’s still hanging now, and I’ll be able to check soon, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Awkward Middle School Photos

Awkward Middle School Photos

In May, Kelly (the lady from my church) asked me if I’d be interested in applying for a 7th grade Language Arts position opening up at the middle school. My initial reaction was YESSS! That quickly got overshadowed by all the potential dilemmas . . . I’ve taught elementary school for 12 years. I know the curriculum and the standards and everyone at my school family . . . my youngest kid still has 2 years left there & I’d have to pay for after school care for her if I switched . . . my oldest volunteers in my classroom & she’ll be sad she has to volunteer somewhere else (she goes next door to the middle school but volunteers for 2 hours in the morning first).  So I sighed heavily, said teaching my favorite subject at a new school to older students sounded nice, but I’ll just stay where I am for now. After all, it’s what I know. It’s where I’m comfortable.

So I let my feet tread easily on the well-worn path the rest of the school year, but the thought of teaching middle school kept nagging me in the back of my mind. But I had a sequel to finish. As soon as school ended at the end of May, I was writing 18 Truths. I gave myself a deadline of June 30th and by the 29th I’d emailed it to four Beta readers (Kelly included). Anyone who knows me well knows I can’t sit still for long. So of course, I immediately thought of that middle school job and looked at the county’s website for job openings and didn’t see it posted. I didn’t expect it to be since 6 weeks had passed, but I did see some other middle and high school Language Arts/English postings. By the time I went in for a school meeting the next morning, I made up my mind. I told my principal (who I also LOVE so much, which was another reason leaving my school was so difficult) I was going to seek another position, so she might get some calls. She said she understood, knew I wanted a change, and had a feeling I might switch schools after interviewing to take over the media specialist position at our school and not getting it *more on this later*

When I left school, I sent Kelly a text saying I was kicking myself for not saying yes earlier b/c I was now looking for a middle school job. She immediately called and said they hadn’t filled the spot yet b/c the school was in the middle of changing principal’s, and the interviews were being done the next day (Friday) and Monday morning. She called to see if they could fit me in, and the interview was soon set for Monday at 11:15a.m.

You want to know the COOLEST part?! I’m actually taking over for MY 7th grade Language Arts teacher! Mrs. Williams had a profound influence on me. I’m kinda back to being scared again b/c I have such HUGE shoes to fill.

What’s funny is I’m doing a Bible study with some of my elementary school co-workers titled The Power of a Positive Mom. You may recall this blog post where God used the book to speak to me while succumbing to depression over my book sales (which I’m happy to report have been up for some reason . . . trending in the top 100 for Coming of Age category for the past 2 weeks). Anyway, one of the assignments for the study was to read the story of Ruth in the Bible. Basically, the story boils down to choosing safety or surrendering to something different, trusting God has something better in mind for us if we’ll simply step out in faith. Staying where we are for too long brings very little fruitfulness in our lives. If you’re feeling vaguely depressed with life, then it may be you haven’t “gone” anywhere in a while.

Yesterday I packed up twelve years of elementary school stuff. I was crushed in April when I didn’t get the media specialist position at my school. Everyone thought for sure I was a shoo-in for the job. Funny thing is, when I went for my middle school interview, they were excited I had recently gotten my media specialist certification. It’s a position they’d cut and are very interested in bringing it back! Oh, and they’re also thinking of making 18 Things a required read for their “One Book One School” program this year, which I’ll also add was started by a dear lady named Polly who attended my church, but sadly passed away from breast cancer a few years ago. Interesting how God tied that all together, isn’t it?

“Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.”–Philip Yancey

So, what about you, dear friends? Have you ever encountered a divine intervention in a new plan for your life? Where it seemed like one looong string of coincidences was actually God leading you to a bold adventure?

Also, who do you think my friend is talking to on the phone in my awkward middle school photo? I think she’s probably saying, “HELP! There’s a tiger and bear in the room and my friend showed up for picture day with a hairdo that totally says D-O-R-K!!!”

Yep, some things never stay the same 😉

IWSG-The #1 Rule Authors Shouldn’t Break?

*Happy*FoURth*of*July*Eve* Am I the only one hearing constant explosions in my neighborhood this week? Don’t get me wrong, I love explosions just as much as the Little Blue Lady on Jennifer Eaton’s blog, but not between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m.  I imagine this is what it feels like to live in Syria. Thank God for our freedom! Sure, it’s annoying when I’m trying to fall asleep at 2a.m. and the fireworks are still going off, but I just pretend the teenagers have just finished 18 Things and it was sooo good, they had to celebrate. Hahaha . . . yep, a “vain” attempt to sleep.

Sorry, that joke was lame, wasn’t it?

Okay, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. It’s the first Wednesday of the month, so it’s time for Head Ninja Alex J. Cavanaugh’s . . . .

Buccaneer Blogfest and IWSG

Last month, I wrote about my latest pathetic royalty statement. The good news? I was back on Amazon’s top 100 for coming-of-age fiction one day last week, something that hadn’t happened in 3 months! And it seems I had at least one fan, because the very kind Sandy sent me this email after reading my post (and gave her permission for me to share):

“I just read your latest posting regarding lack of sales for 18 Things. I just wanted to mention that I bought 18 Things as soon as it came out and read it in 2 days. I was so emotionally invested in all of the characters and their relationships. I laughed, cried and smiled a lot those 2 days. Please don’t give up writing and don’t change your style. You really have a gift and I am really looking forward to 18 Truths. On top of the many messages I got from reading 18 Things, you also taught me how important it is for me to write reviews for exceptional work, so the author has some idea how well they are being received. I promise to be a more responsible reader in the future. Good luck in your future endeavors and know that I bought a hard copy of 18 Things so I could read it over and over and hopefully give it to my child to read one day.”

How awesome is that? One thing Sandy mentioned was writing reviews. Those certainly are crucial. I have 40 Reviews on Amazon and 22 Reviews on Goodreads. As my publisher submits my book to B&N for nationwide distribution in their brick-and-mortar stores, I certainly hope for newer reviews. I hear that B&N usually likes to see near 100 reviews before deciding to carry a book in their store.

So, I was thrilled when one of my blogger buddies sent me an email saying she was going to post a review for my book. Then I read the review. The review didn’t make me angry, even though it focused solely on the sad parts and didn’t highlight any of the fun *that’s a reviewer’s prerogative*, but it did make me even more interested in a blog I read by Kristen Lamb that same day, Should Authors Write Bad Book Reviews? The blog was in response to a post she did the previous day about The Three NEVERs of Social Media, one being never write bad book reviews. To quote Kristen: “If I can’t give a book a five-star rave review? I just don’t review it. Again, publishing is a small world and we all need each other. The world is already out to throw us under a bus. We need each other to keep from turning into cutters.”

bus image

There was so much discussion surrounding this topic, she did a THIRD post, Is it FAIR for Authors to Review Other Authors? I should note that the review my blogger buddy emailed me (she gave me the option of asking her not to post it, which I thought was really sweet)  gave me 4 stars and I didn’t think it was a ‘bad’ review. She thought 18 Things was a brilliant piece of Christian fiction about dealing with death and learning to live your life again, but felt cheated by my ending so she deducted a star. I’m fine with that . . . I knew not everybody would like my ending when I wrote it.

I still consider 4 stars a good review, and have starred the books I read with 4 or 5. But ever since I became an author, I haven’t reviewed a book if I felt like I couldn’t give it a 4 or 5. I tend to agree with Kristen. I know the amount of blood, sweat, and tears that goes into writing a book now, and writing is sooo subjective, I don’t want to publicly flog a book just because I didn’t agree with that author’s creative work. I think you can still mark it as “read” on your Goodreads page and just not star it. Silence can be very loud.

What about you? Do you leave ‘bad’ reviews? Do you think a 4 star review should still be considered ‘good’ or should I throw virtual eggs at my buddy? Hahaha  . . . kidding! Although that leads me to another thought. Has anyone seen the movie that was released last month, The Purge ? It’s an interesting premise where one day a year for 12 hrs, people can vent their negative emotions by making all crime, including murder, legal. Of course, I don’t agree with going that far, but it did make me long for the same concept, but with egging and toilet papering houses and cars instead. That could just be the foreclosure notice I was served Monday night talking though . . . really makes me mad that there’s no bailout that works for the American homeowner struggling to make their mortgage payment. But that’s a rant for another time. I still love America despite it’s politics–enjoy your BBQ’s and freedom tomorrow, even if that does entail posting a bad review 😉