Winners, Blogiversary, & Anniversary!!!

H*A*P*P*Y 14th Anniversary to my husband, the wonderful Mr. Ayres. We have two daughters, a basset hound, and two hermit crabs together and somehow, he still makes me laugh on this crazy journey called life. Coincidentally, I also met him when I was 14 years old, on the first day of high school. Some of you have heard this, but I KNEW the moment I saw him that I’d marry him.  And although I tease him on bad days that it was the devil’s voice I heard, I know it was really God’s. I’m so thankful to have married my best friend and that he still loves me unconditionally:-)

It’s also my two-year blogiversary (really August 1st but I forgot last week during my Buccaneer blogfest wrapup). Soooo what better way to celebrate than by having a few frozen cocktails and  . . .

Cheers--Butterbeers For Everyone!

Cheers–Butterbeers For Everyone!

by giving away some books! If you commented last week, then you remember (maybe? if you’re like me, you can’t remember yesterday. I’ve tried taking pills for this problem but I can’t remember to take them;-) I’m giving away 5 YA books. According to my random student selector (yes, school did start today *sigh* but my students are pretty awesome), the winners are–






Congrats!!! *throws confetti* Please email me at by next Wednesday to claim your prize. Don’t forget to tell me which book you want: Candor, Subject Seven, Switched, Wake, or XVI.

Be sure to check back next Wednesday. I’ve been tagged by several for the “look” challenge so I’ll be giving you a sneak peek at my novel, 18 Things, which will be released soon by Curiosity Quills Press.  Please be sure to like my publisher on Facebook–we’re going for 50,000 or bust!

Buccaneer Blogfest and IWSG

*Scroll down if you’re here for IWSG, or read the first part too if you want to win some cool YA books*

Well, it’s been a nonstop joyride of swashbuckling fun this past month participating in the Buccaneer Blogfest. Many thanks to our charming rogue pirates Sharon Bayliss and Courtney Young. I know the last post is supposed to be on Friday but as a teacher, I’m back to school this week (hence, missing my post on Monday) and it’s just madness this time of year. Now I know I’ll have a blood debt to pay for this, so no worries, I’m giving away 5 books. Hosting a Rafflecopter or even adding a Google Friend Connect Widget seems super complicated on wordpress (anyone have tips they can share??) so instead I’ll use my trusty Mega Timer I utilize in my classroom. I’ll number the comments one through . . . well, however many people comment (you think we can beat my record of 55 comments from one post? Hmm, I wonder what Alex’s is? No doubt that’ll look pathetic next to his, lol), then I hit the random selector button and TA-DA! I’ll have 5 different winners and will announce them here next Wednesday as I return to my regular weekly schedule. Once I announce them, you’ll need to email me within 24 hrs and tell me which book you’d like. That means the early bird gets the worm . . . if someone else already emailed me and chose the book you wanted, you’ll have to pick your 2nd choice (sorry, Charlie!). Here are the books I’m giving away from my bookshelf (all YA paranormal/fantasy/science fiction and in great condition).

by Lisa McMann, even autographed!

by Lisa McMann, even autographed!

by Amanda Hocking, the exemplar of self-publishing eBooks

by Amanda Hocking, the exemplar of self-publishing eBooks

by James A. Moore, twice nominated for Bram Stroker Award & writer for Marvel Comics

by James A. Moore, twice nominated for Bram Stroker Award & writer for Marvel Comics

by Pam Bachorz, loved the FL setting & twisted ending

by Pam Bachorz, loved the FL setting & twisted ending

by Julia Karr, this one is my fav out of the five

by Julia Karr, this one is my fav out of the five

Thanks to everyone who visited my blog during the month of July . . . somehow I reached the 1,000 followers mark during it *throws confetti* Quite a few from other countries too like Germany, France, Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland and Ireland! Yay:-) I’d love it if you gave me a follow before entering the contest, or visit the Follow Me button at the top of my site for other choices at stalking me;-)








Okay, now it’s time for Alex J. Cavanaugh’s IWSG! This is my first one since my pub deal (since I missed July’s posting).

According to the Ninja Master’s website, the Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Oh my gosh, soooo insecure about publishing my first novel, 18 Things, with Curiosity Quills Press soon! You know how they have the 7 Stages of Grief? I think writers go through something similar:
Step 1: Excitement–the OMG moment where someone FINALLY offers you a contract for publishment *squeal*
Step 2: Shock–your body goes numb & nothing going on around you registers
Step 3: Disbelief–nope, this can’t be for real. They made a mistake. They’ll be calling any minute now to retract their offer.
Step 4: Bargaining–Oh God, I’ll give anything for this to be real. I won’t yell at my husband anymore for never putting his dirty socks in the laundry basket. I’ll have more patience for my kids and students. I’ll walk the dog 3x a day. I’ll treat my body like a holy temple & won’t consume massive amounts of chocolate. Just please, please, please let this happen! (say allllllllll of this with your fingers & toes crossed in the prayer position)
Step 5: Guilt–how did I sign a contract before this totally AWESOME blogger buddy who writes waaayyy better than I do? That’s not fair!
Step 6: Acceptance–reality sets in & you remember everything happens for a reason & God has finally given you your shining moment
Step 7: Hope–that everyone (mostly) will fall in love with your novel when they read it and post rocking reviews
This quote I read sums it up nicely:
“A person who publishes a book appears willfully in public with his pants down.” – Edna St. Vincent Millay
*What about you, dear writers? Do you agree with my 7 stages? Have any stages to add? Comments make me smile:-)
~Cheers & Go Team USA!!! I have a major case of Olympics LOOOOOOOOOOOVE!!!

What’s On Your Bedside Table?

Perhaps you’ve heard of a little site called Goodreads? Incase you’ve lived under a rock for the past few years, I’ll tell you it’s the website where readers go to register the books on their reading lists as either read, currently-reading, or to-read. I mention this because to kick of Week 3 of the Buccaneer Blogfest, we’re supposed to highlight the last 3 books we’ve read on our blogs today. It’s pretty easy to discover the answer to this question just by checking out my Goodreads site so if you’re interested, check out the linky link above:-) If you haven’t started your own Goodreads account, I encourage you to do so (and add me as your friend while you’re there!). I’ve found lotsa great book suggestions and discussions on this site. It’s such a fun way to keep track of what you read and to interact with other readers, even authors! Authors are like rock stars in my book and this summer I’ve had the chance to interact with some of my favs like Susane Colasanti and Meg Cabot. And it’s a great way to support the authors you love. Reviews on Goodreads are like the fresh fruit, rainbow sprinkles and hot fudge added to our literary fro-yo cups (sorry–I’m on a frozen yogurt kick this summer).

If you want to check out other rock stars, visit some of the bloggers below! And don’t forget to read a book today! I’m hoping to finish Wilde’s Army and delve deeper into Jinx. What’s on your bedside table or Kindle? Inquiring minds want to know:~)

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Meet My Characters . . .

Today our Buccaneer’s blogfest assignment is to interview our characters. I decided to spend this fine Wednesday morning at Jumpin’ Java Coffee House, one of Olga’s favorite hot spots off Washington Street in her small hometown of Grand Haven, Michigan. I’m sitting at a table by the front window to keep an eye out for her. Ah, here she is, sporting Capri jeans and a red Wonder Woman t-shirt, her red curly hair done in french braid pigtails.

Me: Hey, girl. How are you today?

Olga: I’m happy! Is that for me? *points to a coffee mug in front of the empty seat*

Me: Of course! I know better than to approach you with a bunch of deep questions in the morning without giving you coffee first.

*takes a seat and groans after her first sip*Olga: Hmm, Chocolate-drizzled Snickers flavored whipped mocha. So . . . deep questions? How deep are we talking about here?

*Me grinning as I refrain from a That’s What She Said joke. Afterall, Olga is only seventeen years old*

Me: Umm, nothing too heavy. Lots of questions about Nate. Speaking of Nate, will he be joining us today?

Olga: He’s supposed to stop by after he finishes band practice with the Cantankerous Monkey Squad

Me: Awesome! Oh, I hope he brings his guitar and sings a song for us because that’s, you know, kinda sexy *fans self*

Olga: Hey, watch it! That’s my man you’re talking about.

Me: Right, sorry. So tell us a little bit about your story.

Olga: Well, it’s very emotional. Growing up, I was always a bit of an outsider but I always had my best friend, Conner, to keep me company. We’ve known each other since kindergarten. Then, last April, he died in a freak accident and I was there to see it all go down and wasn’t able to save him. I was really torn up about it, even downed an entire bottle of pain pills. That’s when my parents forced me to see a counselor and that’s where I met Nate. Ultimately our story is about love, grief, longing, self-doubt, growth, and the bonds of friendship. It has lots of fun stuff but it’s also poignant.

Me: Well, sounds like a beautiful story *toot, toot;~)* Now in the novel, 18 Things, your counselor tells you to write a life list of 18 things to do the year you turn 18. Is there anything on the list you wish you could take back?

Olga: Yessss! The roller coaster. Ugh . . . I can’t believe that . . . well, I guess I should let the readers find out what happens.

Me: For sure. *Get ready for shameless plug* Afterall, it’ll be released from Curiosity Quills later this year! What was your favorite thing from the list?

Olga: Going on my first date, of course! And speaking of the devil, here he is.

*At 5-foot-10, Nate enters wearing a blue t-shirt and baggy khaki corduroys, unfortunately covering up most of his lean and muscular body. He has a boyish face dominated by large, ocean blue expressive eyes, and his hair is crammed under a wool cap, a few coffee-colored strands peeking out onto his forehead*

Nate: Hello, ladies. *slides into chair next to Olga and sees her empty cup* Uh-oh, someone needs more coffee. *pulls out wallet*

Olga: It’s okay. I’ll get it. I know Jamie is dying to ask you some questions. *winks at me and walks over to the counter, the rich stimulating smell of brewing coffee drawing her closer . . .oh, sorry, POV problem for a second–hate those!*

Me: So Nate, when did you know you wanted to be more than just friends with Olga?

Nate: From the first moment I saw her.

Me: You’re just trying to score brownie points for when Olga reads this!

Nate: *holds up hands and laughs* I’m totally not! It’s the truth.

Me: Okay, then. Boxers or briefs?

Nate:  Boxers for sure. *adds suggestive eyebrow-wiggle as Olga walks over with 3 cups of coffee, one for each of us*

Olga: Everything okay here?

Me: Yes, of course. Totally behaving myself. So Nate, what’s the best thing about Olga?

Nate: She’s hot. *Olga slaps his shoulder* Kidding, well not really but I’d have to say everything. She gets emotional over things but not in a drama queen kind of way. She’s super smart and kind of dorky–loves to write poetry and  watch Star Wars and she’s never without a book. When I first met her last year she was all hunched over, like she was trying to disappear, so beautiful in her vulnerability. I knew right away I wanted to do something to make her feel better.

Me: Aww! That is so sweet. What would be your idea of a perfect date with Olga?

Nate: That’s easy. Of course it’s anywhere she is, anywhere she’d want to go.

Me: I like a boy who gives a girl what she wants! Olga–what’s your idea of a perfect date with Nate?

Olga: Hmm, probably grabbing a cup of coffee right here in the morning, then heading down the street to the beach and reading a good book while we’re stretched out on a towel next to each other, Nate strumming his guitar and serenading me. Then catching a movie at the theatre with the Jedi Order later.

Me: Oh, right. The Jedi Order is the reference you guys use for your group of friends in the book. Tell us a little bit about them too because they play a really important part.

Olga: Well, there’s Nicole. She’s the self-sacrificing best friend. Tammy is really strong. She puts up a front but she cares fiercely for her friends. Sean is a big goofball. Kyle is incredibly loyal. Conner is . . . was . . . bigger than life. He’s the one who started calling us the Jedi Order so we continued the tradition in his memory. Nate joined as an honorary member this year. He’s really honest and and definitely brings out the hidden risk taker in me.

Me: I’m sure Conner would’ve loved your list and the way it brought all of you together this past year as a catharsis to heal and move on while honoring his memory. Will there be  a sequel to your story?

Olga: We’re just some of the many voices in your head. You tell me.

Me: Oh, right. Yes, yes of course there will be:-) Guess I should be putting some words on paper then. I’ll leave you two love birds to yourselves. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do *wink, wink*

Buccaneer Blogfest Week 2

To kick off week 2 of our blogfest, canny captains Sharon Bayliss and Courtney Young have ordered us to kidnap our first paragraphs from our novel or WIP and post them on our blogs, lest we walk the plank. Well, I dunno about you, but I’ve seen some monstrous sea creatures lurking in the waters below. Here’s hoping you find me first 150 words of 18 Things seaworthy because it’ll be published later this year by Curiosity Quills Press:

Once I smashed my hand in the car door. The thought of returning to school today feels worse than that. I shove my book bag into the backseat of Nicole’s idling silver Honda Civic.

“Hey, Olga. How are you holding up?” she asks, hunched over her steering wheel. As her best friend, I can tell when her smile is a patent fake, plus there are dark circles under her eyes no amount of cucumber slices could cure.

I take two puffs from my asthma inhaler. “Just drive.”

She snaps her fingers. “I know just what you need. Some Espresso To Go.”

What I need is Conner.

His funeral was yesterday. I’m so not ready for this but Mom is making me, thinks she knows best. I know Mom isn’t trying to be cruel. She’s the kind of person who thinks in practicalities. Usually I’d agree with being practical, but I’m beyond that now.

*Please leave a comment to tell me what yer thinks, or I may be swabbing the deck again tonight;-) And it’s still not too late to join our thrilling quest of world domination er, . . . building our platform and creating connections. Just click on the linky link below, mateys.

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