Archive for the ‘Check-it-out’ Category

May

3

2016

I’m Committed to my Growth

Filed under: Blogging, Check-it-out, Pondering, Writing

Today I’m saying something out loud that I’ve been thinking for awhile–I’m committed to my growth.

One of the many ways I’m honoring this commitment is by spending less time on the internet and attached to my phone. It doesn’t mean I don’t like you, my fabulous cyber friends, but the more I look, listen and learn, the more I realize that the internet isn’t the best place to spend my time. Let’s be honest–a lot of bullsh*t goes on over there–a lot.

So, I’ve decided I’m not committed to my bullsh*t. Instead I’m committed to my growth.

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What does that mean?

It means I’ve watched my writing productivity sky rocket when I prioritize deep work over shallow work. Read DEEP WORK: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport if you want more information about what that entails.

I’ve also realized that I love this blog and very much enjoy writing it–when I organically have something to say. But, if I have to spend too much of my quality writing time and family time thinking about what to pen–I probably didn’t have to struggle with a post that day. And I don’t need to apologize for it. If it was that hard to write, then you probably didn’t want to read it anyway.

And yesterday I saw a great quote on Elizabeth Gilbert’s FB page that resonated with me…

“Nothing will bring you greater peace than minding your own business.”

It’s come to my attention lately that when I’m too engaged in social media, I feel the need to have opinions and give commentary on things that really aren’t my business. This is especially true in this political climate. The truth is, I never walk away, from minding other people’s business, feeling welcome or believing I made positive change. In fact, I usually feel anxious and frustrated–occasionally a little sick to my stomach. And internet trolls are horrifying. I’ve decided I want to limit my exposure to that kind of stuff.

And then there is that insane addiction going on where you can’t talk to a person without them having their face in their phone. It’s so disheartening when you’re at a restaurant and their right in front of you on FB. Or your having a conversation with someone and you lose the face off. But, since I’m more dedicated to trying to mind my own business, I’m not going to talk more about what kind of bullsh*t that is. I’m just going to say that I don’t want to be that person. I can’t change them and I’m aware of that. But I don’t have to be rude–that’s my choice. I want to be a listener. I want other’s to feel valued when they are around me. And I’m also trying to stop using my phone as a mental pacifier. I used to be able to be with myself for more than 30 seconds without needing to be entertained. How can I grow when I’m not thinking? When I’m not day dreaming? And putting my phone away is another opportunity to pull out a book and read!

And then there’s the hype about needing a crazy social media presence. And I hate to admit this… there are a ton of fabulous authors that blog and do crazy social media–and I read their posts and follow them–but I’ve never bought or read their books.

I am skeptical about how social media translates into book sales and success as an author. I’m not saying it can’t happen or that a strong presence doesn’t have some beneficial side effects, but I’ve become convinced that it’s not the best way for my growth to occur. If time on social media directly translated into book sales and followers–I probably would have sold more books. #hardtruths

Do you see what I’m declaring here?

I’m still going to be on social media, write a blog, have a smart phone and adore my laptop. But I need to make sure that I’m functioning like an intelligent human being. I need to use these things as tools. I do not need to let them use me. I must be sure they aren’t ruling my life. Instead, I have to be running the show and doing productive things that matter.

Today I’m taking another step towards balance and sanity.

I’m committed to my growth.

Share your thoughts if it resonates.

I’ll see you when I see you.

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Apr

26

2016

Virtual Book Club–DEEP WORK

Filed under: Book Reviews, Check-it-out, Reading, Stuff I Love, Writing

More often than I can count, I read a book that intrigues me. It doesn’t matter if it’s kidlit, adult, fiction or non-fiction. When an interesting book strikes, you want to share it and discuss it with your people. It really makes me wish I was part of a book club. Starting one is on my bucket list, but until then, I think I’ll have to start a virtual book club here on my blog.

Many books

Here’s what I’m reading…

DEEP WORK by Cal Newport

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One of the most valuable skills in our economy is becoming increasingly rare. If you master this skill, you’ll achieve extraordinary results.

Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep-spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there’s a better way.

In DEEP WORK, author and professor Cal Newport flips the narrative on impact in a connected age. Instead of arguing distraction is bad, he instead celebrates the power of its opposite. Dividing this book into two parts, he first makes the case that in almost any profession, cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits. He then presents a rigorous training regimen, presented as a series of four “rules,” for transforming your mind and habits to support this skill.

A mix of cultural criticism and actionable advice, DEEP WORK takes the reader on a journey through memorable stories-from Carl Jung building a stone tower in the woods to focus his mind, to a social media pioneer buying a round-trip business class ticket to Tokyo to write a book free from distraction in the air-and no-nonsense advice, such as the claim that most serious professionals should quit social media and that you should practice being bored. DEEP WORK is an indispensable guide to anyone seeking focused success in a distracted world.

Deep Work: Cognitively-demanding, requires focus without distraction, and you apply hard-to-replicate skill sets.

Shallow Work: More logistical/basic tasks that don’t require tremendous amounts of attention or skill.

I’m not finished reading this yet, but clearly I find it intriguing enough to want to share it with you. It was pointed out to me by a fellow writer–she was raving about how it changed her outlook on her writing process. Already I’m agreeing with her. I’m intrigued, especially since I signed up to participate in #WriteDaily30 with Linda Urban in the month of April. What I’m finding as I read and write is that this book and that challenge have overlapped. The concepts reinforce each other and I think I’ve learned some valuable take aways from having both show up at the same time. I love when the universe sends me a message and I’m alert enough to make the connections.

So, if there are any of you out there who are looking for some guidance, clarity or inspiration for getting focused and being productive with your craft, art or career–then maybe it isn’t a coincidence that you stumbled upon my virtual book club today.

Have you read DEEP WORK? Are you intrigued enough to want to read it? If you do decide to read it, make sure you come back and let me know what you think.

 

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Apr

14

2016

Write Daily 30

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, Stuff I Love, Writing, Writing Style

This month I am participating in Linda Urban‘s Write Daily 30 (#WriteDaily30) challenge. This has been wonderful for me. You set your own goal and try to meet it every day for the month of April–but you do it in a hard working, supportive group.

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Here are my list of reasons why any writer should grab a group of friends and do a Write Daily 30 #WriteDaily30 Challenge…

*Checking in and knowing your friends are watching helps you stay accountable.

*Setting your own goals allows you to do exactly what you need to do. Your choices can be specific to you and the project your working on. My goal is to show up for 15 mins and work on my WIP. This is a great goal because my problem is STARTING, but once I begin I almost always do a lot more than I expected. Score!

*Having to check in everyday creates a new view of scheduling–you WILL carve out the time you need to meet your goal. Even if it means bringing your lap top to Little League practice.

*You may make wonderful discoveries–like how much you get done at Little League practice when no one else is bugging you or interrupting you. You may begin to wonder why your child hadn’t signed up for Little League earlier.

*You”ll probably learn or be reminded of some important lessons about writing in general because you consistently engaging with your work. The biggest for me so far, is about the importance of staying in a close relationship with my manuscript. When you do this, you spend less time working to place yourself back into your work. When you stay in the moment, you improve your writing. Time away from your manuscript is important at other times in your process but not when I’m trying to complete that MS.

*I’ve also discovered that the small bits add up. When I look at each individual day, more often then not, I find myself wishing for bigger numbers. But a funny thing happened when I stopped and added up those word counts–I realized that even if I only did a little bit on some days–those numbers were adding up and I’m pleased with the results. Not doing anything, because you don’t think you’ll get enough done, is just plain stupid. This is a much better approach.

 

Since it’s only April 14th–I’m almost at the halfway mark of Write Daily 30 (#WriteDaily30.) I’ll try to check back in at the end of the month and let you know how I did and tell you about any other additional insight I gained by participating.

Have you done this kind of group writing challenge before? I’ve done #NaNoWriMo (a monster challenge) and #JoKnoWriMo (which is very similar to this one.) What works for you? What are some of your best tips? Planning on getting involved with a writing challenge or starting your own? Have any questions?

 

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Apr

12

2016

SUPREME VIRAL RESONANCE COMMANDER

Filed under: Check-it-out, Marketing, Pondering

SUPREME VIRAL RESONANCE COMMANDER

viral |ˈvīrəl|
adjective

2 relating to or involving an image, video, piece of information, etc., that is circulated rapidly and widely from one Internet user to another: a viral video ad | the video went viral and was seen by millions.

resonance |ˈrezənəns|
noun

1 the quality in a sound of being deep, full, and reverberating: the resonance of his voice.
• the ability to evoke or suggest images, memories, and emotions: the concepts lose their emotional resonance.

 

Viral on Colorful People Buttons

I’ve been thinking about a a concept I’ve privately termed VIRAL RESONANCE. When something or someone explodes into awareness, seemingly blowing over the tipping point between obscurity and popularity, I believe a key component (making that person or content stick) is personal connectivity. There is something honest in the transaction that resonates with the receiver. Then everyone wants to share their connection with someone else, creating that glorious snowball effect.

I know, I get excited too.

But this theory, as fabulous as it is, has certain pitfalls. Connectivity can’t be mandated and honesty lives in the eye of the beholder. Truth can be as unique as a fingerprint–as maddening as that may seem. One person can’t decide what inspires and sets a fire under another person.

If viral resonance could be controlled and I was elected the SUPREME VIRAL RESONANCE COMMANDER, Donald Trump would be fading into obscurity right before your eyes. In fact with my grand position, I’d build a 30 foot wall around Donald Trump, a cone of silence. No, wait–make it 40 foot wall and HE can pay for it. *pauses for a moment to enjoy the tingles*

If I were the Supreme Viral Resonance Commander...

Sadly, I am not the SUPREME VIRAL RESONANCE COMMANDER. But I am curious…

In your life time–whether it’s books, movies, art, people, toys, fads–whatever. What are some of the most fascinating things you’ve seen resonate with people and then go ape shit viral? And why do you think that particular thing or person made such a huge connection and had such an impact? Give me your best and your worst viral examples. Let’s discuss. Can this phenomenon be predicted in any way? Replicated? What do YOU do to bring viral resonance to your work? And can I please be elected SUPREME VIRAL RESONANCE COMMANDER?

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Apr

7

2016

It’s Throwback Thursday Arizona Style

Filed under: Check-it-out, Family, Fun and Games, In the Wild, Stuff I Love, Vacation Madness

It’s taken me a bit, but I finally got my spring break photos put together and some I set up for your Throwback Thursday #TBT pleasure. Enjoy the trip back in time…

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First stop Tucson for my birthday on…

you guessed it–3/19 LOL! This was a very perfect room number.

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And my post about it connected me with a friend from home in the same hotel.

(We never saw each other in person.)

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Then it was throwback time! With a visit to the University of Arizona. I had a wonderful time getting my Masters in Special Education while we were stationed in Arizona roughly 18 years ago.

University Blvd.

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Old Main

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The Education Building where I took all my classes.

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Stadium

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And here’s a blast from the past…

The “old folks” in the family (out for a visit) in front of Old Main.

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Heading to a Wild Cats football game.

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My graduation in 1998 and hanging with my favorite professor Dr. Lane.

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The next day we headed to Sierra Vista, where we lived while stationed in AZ. And we found our old apartment…

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The trees have definitely grown and the paint colors have changed.

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Ask my brother–we used to have a much more open view during our epic BBQ’s when he came out to visit. LOL!

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More of the present and past in Tombstone.

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It was a lot emptier when I came out with my mom. I wonder if that has anything to do with the movie Tombstone?

Doc Holiday is everyone’s Huckleberry now.

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Also made  a new and old visit to the Crystal Palace. This time with the boys but last time with high school buds.

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And things had changed inside the O.K Corral too.

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My first time around the shoot out reenactments occurred right on the spot where the shoot out happened. Now they have a model in the same place and the reenactment off to the side.

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Back in the late 90’s.

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Clearly the new models are having a bit of trouble. All of the figures have very interesting feet. The heat?

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We then headed to the eclectic and artsy mining town of Bisbee. We didn’t make it in time to take the Copper Queen mine tour, but we did get to check it out and of course I had stories.

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Not too much has changed.

Grandma and my Dad.

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Mom and I.

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Here’s a different Bisbee before and after shot.

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And the rest of the pics are some quirky, random shots…

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And this was our favorite restaurant and it was still there!!! Had a yummy dinner <3

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Bisbee at night.

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Speaking the truth…

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Off to Phoenix…

These two cuties were not the best of friends.

The Easter Bunny?

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A Gorgeous Harris Hawk named Hitman who worked on the Falcon Force Squad.

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After an afternoon of swimming. This was one of our quieter days. We drove 1,200 miles from the southern part of AZ to Las Vegas, Nevada in a week.

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Old Town Scottsdale

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And the next morning, we hiked up Camelback Mountain.

Gorgeous views the whole way up and down.

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Can you find the critter?

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Meeting the challenge the 10yo was issued by a friend LOL!

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We all made it to the top.

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And then it was off to Sedona with it’s red rocks and a Pink Jeep Tour…

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Our friendly and fun driver PJ!

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Heading back to Sedona…

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And here are my #TBT pics from my first time in Sedona…

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And the next day it was a road trip to the Grand Canyon!

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It was just as beautiful the second time around…

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The size just blows your mind.

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A last night in Sedona–one of my favorites <3 before heading out.

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A pit stop at an IN-N-OUT Burger. I’d never been before. Yum!

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And then it was the Hoover Dam, which I’d never been to either. It was a fascinating tour and an incredible architectural feat.

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Some of the turbines.

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Where the turbines are housed.

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The Colorado River

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My camera was looking down–not me!

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You can see how dry it is and how low the water is in Lake Mead. This is the emergency spillway. It’s only been used twice–once when they tested it and only one other time. Not a risk at the moment.

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And last but not least we made it to Vegas!

And you know what they say…what happens in Vegas happens to your best friends too. No, really I mean it. Imagine running into your 10yo’s best friend and his brother at the pool in Vegas. We knew they were traveling in some of the same places we were over the break, but we didn’t know their schedule at all and they could have been anywhere in those 1,200 miles. Unbelievably we randomly bumped into each other at the pool!

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And a pit stop at the Stratosphere was on the agenda after a fun time here 18 years ago…

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Back in the late 1990’s

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He ate the WHOLE thing folks!

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See–what happens in Vegas happens to your best friends too. LOL!

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And some Vegas random. Very cool glass gallery.

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Kind of think I should own these chairs of birdie awesome.

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And after a night of David Copperfield and his magical illusions,it seemed like this New York, New York…

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was destined to turn back into this one…

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If you could do a Throw Back #TBT tour of a place you used to live or spend a lot of time, where would you go and what would you want to see while you were there???

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Mar

31

2016

THE SWEET SPOT Blog Tour!!!!!

Filed under: Book Auntie Braggery, Book Reviews, Check-it-out, Contests, Cover Art, Middle Grade, Publishing, Reading, SCBWI, Stuff I Love

Today I get to be a part of THE SWEET SPOT Blog Tour!!! What is that, you ask?

It’s me getting to celebrate a fabulous book and it’s new publisher…

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Here’s a little bit about THE SWEET SPOT…

When thirteen-year-old Sam Barrette’s baseball coach tells her that her attitude’s holding her back, she wants to hit him in the head with a line drive. Why shouldn’t she have an attitude? As the only girl playing in the 13U league, she’s had to listen to boys and people in the stands screaming things like “Go play softball,” all season, just because she’s a girl. Her coach barely lets her play, even though she’s one of the best hitters on the team.

All stakes now rest on Sam’s performance at baseball training camp. But the moment she arrives, miscommunication sets the week up for potential disaster. Placed at the bottom with the weaker players, she will have to work her way up to A league, not just to show Coach that she can be the best team player possible, but to prove to herself that she can hold a bat with the All-Star boys.

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My review of THE SWEET SPOT…

This is an important book for girls and boys. In a world where two former female West Point graduates can kick butt in Ranger School, there is NO REASON why a girl who loves baseball and plays as well (or possibly better than the boys) shouldn’t be allowed–EXPECTED– to play. In Mozer’s novel, the sweet spot is that place on the baseball bat that’s just right–allowing the batter to hit it out of the park. But there’s also a sweet spot in life and it’s when EVERY PERSON is in the place where they get to be the best version of themselves. Mozer’s book isn’t an easy fix. It’s hard to figure out who and what you’re supposed to be with other people throwing around ignorant labels, sterotypes and abusive behavior. The Sweet Spot reminds us that even though it isn’t easy, one of the best ways to attack adversity is with determination and a positive attitude. I’m so delighted to know there are authors like Mozer out there making sure that all kids are represented on the shelves. I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

As part of THE SWEET SPOT Blog Tour, I was luck enough to interview the fabulous author with questions about her wonderful book and her new publisher, Spellbound River Press.

Check it out…

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Author Bio:

Stacy Barnett Mozer is a third grade teacher and a mom. She started writing books when a class of students told her that there was no way that a real author who wrote real books could possibly revise their work as much as she asked them to revise. She’s been revising her own work ever since.

1. How was The Sweet Spot reinvented by Spellbound River Press? Banner_cl The book has a snazzy new cover designed by illustrator Lois Bradley and the paperback has a fun new interior look (the boring chapter titles have been replaced by baseballs). I was also able to update the content since the Mets surprised us all and ended up in the World Series last year and former Mets player Mike Piazza, who is mentioned in the book, is now in The Baseball Hall of Fame. The only thing the Mets can do now to make the content outdated is to win the World Series – and that would be fine with me!

2. Tell us a little about this brand new press and how you were discovered by them.

Spellbound River Press is a new press for middle grade books. For their first list they sought out authors who had books that were either self-published and getting some attention or series that had been traditionally published but the next books in the series were not picked up. My book fell into that first category. I knew one of the authors whose book was picked up through the SCBWI. He suggested I submit my story. The press loved everything (except for the cover).

3. I’ve read The Sweet Spot and loved it – but for your up and coming readers, tell us a bit about the book.

The book is about a 13 yo girl named Sam who has always played baseball with the boys, but has now found that she is no longer accepted by everyone. Her coach feels she has an attitude about this and tells her that the only way he will recommend her for All Stars is to get a good report from baseball camp, but when she arrives they hadn’t been expecting a girl and it all goes downhill from there.

4. One of my writer friends was recently doing a school visit and she was using a football comparison to make her point to the students. On a whim my author friend used the pronoun SHE when talking about the football player. Eyes widened. Questions were asked. Several boys wanted to know WHO IS THIS FOOTBALL PLAYER WHO IS A GIRL??? I know you are actively involved with Sporty Girl Books. Can you tel us a little bit about why you write for sporty girls and what you are aiming to accomplish by writing non-traditonal books?

I will tell you that it was never my intention to write a book that was non-traditional. Sam is a baseball player because I was writing a story about a girl who goes camping and in one of the scenes I decided to have her surprise some boys by showing off her wicked baseball skills. As a lover of baseball (huge Mets fan), I thought it would be fun to have her be good at the sport. That one scene turned out to be everyone’s favorite and I developed a new plot line around it. When I was first proposing the change, my husband asked me whether or not it would even be an issue, for a girl to play baseball, in this day and age. So I researched it and found out that it is, indeed, a big issue. I also found out that there were very few books written about the topic. That lead me to talk to others about other sports that weren’t getting attention in books (football definitely being one of them) and that’s what lead me to start the blog. I am still surprised how difficult it is for girls to play male dominated sports. I’m also surprised how little media attention women’s sports receive. But that also doesn’t mean that I think all men think this way. Every now and then a reviewer calls me a bad person because my book suggests that all boys think girls should not play baseball. If they read my book, they would see that Sam has way more male supporters than those who stand in her way. I think that is true in the real world as well. I have been very happy to see that The Sweet Spot has had a wide range of supportive readers. Boys and girls. Those who love sports and those who have no interest in playing. The heart of the book isn’t about baseball, it’s about never letting anyone stop you from following your dreams. From finding your own personal sweet spot. I think everyone can relate to that.

5. Tell us a little bit about your book launch and the best way to get The Sweet Spot.

This is one of the last stops on The Sweet Spot blog tour. But you have a chance to win THE SWEET SPOT in a Goodreads giveaway. The book is also available on Amazon and you can request it at your favorite Indie bookstore. You can also buy it directly from www.SpellboundRiver.com. And don’t forget to like it on Goodreads, rate it, and write an honest review once you’ve read it!

Social Media Links:

www.StacyMozer.com www.SpellboundRiver.com

www.facebook.com/StacyMozerAuthor

www.twitter.com/SMozer

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29474468-the-sweet-spot

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Sweet Spot by Stacy Barnett Mozer

The Sweet Spot

by Stacy Barnett Mozer

Giveaway ends April 30, 2016. See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
 

Enter Giveaway

 

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Mar

29

2016

YA SCAVENGER HUNT Spring 2016

Filed under: Author Events, Blogging, Check-it-out, Community, Contests, Fun and Games, Kim Sabatini, Kimberly Sabatini, Stuff I Love, Touching the Surface, YA Books, YA Scavenger Hunt, Young Adult (YA)

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt!

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This tri-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for a prize–one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online until April 3, 2016!

 

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are NINE  (yes, you heard me correctly!) contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the ORANGE TEAM!

 

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But there is also RED, BLUE, GOLD, GREEN, TEAL, PURPLE, SILVER, & PINK-each with 20 authors. You can participate in all the hunts for a chance to win different sets of signed books! If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt homepage.

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SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE

Directions: Hidden somewhere below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number in ORANGE. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the ORANGE team, and then add them up. And don’t worry if you have to take off your socks and use your toes to keep track. A calculator works too.

 

Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

 

Rules: This contest is open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by 04/3/16, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered. Now it’s time to get started and check out the good stuff…

SCAVENGER HUNT POST

PANDEMIC by Yvonne Ventresca

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Pandemic is a contemporary young adult novel about an emotionally traumatized teenager struggling to survive a bird flu pandemic.

In Pandemic, only a few people know what caused Lilianna Snyder’s sudden change from a model student to a withdrawn pessimist who worries about all kinds of disasters. When people begin coming down with a quick-spreading illness that doctors are unable to treat, Lil’s worst fears are realized. With her parents called away on business before the contagious outbreak–her journalist father in Delaware covering the early stages of the disease and her mother in Hong Kong and unable to get a flight back to New Jersey–Lil’s town is hit by what soon becomes a widespread fatal illness.

With friends and neighbors dying around her, Lil does everything she can to survive. Just when it all seems too much, the cause of her original trauma shows up at her door. Lil must find a way to survive not only the outbreak and its real-life consequences, but also her own personal demons.

Ages 12+, Sky Pony Press, May 2014. Hardcover, ISBN 978-1628736090.

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Before becoming a children’s writer, Yvonne Ventresca wrote computer programs and taught others how to use technology. Now she happily spends her days writing stories instead of code, and passing on technology tips to writers. Yvonne is the author of PANDEMIC (Sky Pony Press, 2014), winner of the 2015 Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (Atlantic region). PANDEMIC is a young adult novel about an emotionally traumatized teenager struggling to survive a deadly bird flu outbreak.

Yvonne’s other writing credits include a short story in the YA dystopian anthology PREP FOR DOOM (2015), two nonfiction books for teens, AVRIL LAVIGNE (a biography of the singer) and PUBLISHING (about careers in the field), as well as various articles for teens and adults. You can visit her website at www.YvonneVentresca.com.

Pandemic Exclusive Content

  This is a deleted scene from my novel, Pandemic. At one point, this was the novel’s opening. It shows a glimpse of Lil’s friendships and her life before the Mr. B incident and the pandemic.

Five months earlier:

Lockers slammed as the usual Friday afternoon joy filled the school. Kayla and Megs walked down the hallway in front of me. I caught up, slipped between them, and linked my arms through theirs.

“Hey, Lil,” Kayla said.

The loudspeaker interrupted with Mr. Fryman’s last announcements of the week. “Don’t forget that Monday is Spirit Day, so please show your school pride by wearing red and white,” he said. “Congratulations on donating over 200 pounds of non-perishable food for the Thanksgiving drive! This season, I’m thankful for all of you! Don’t forget, charity begins at home. And success is a journey, not a destination!”

“Principal ‘Cliché’ is at it again,” Megs said. “Will he ever stop?”

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” I said.

Megs laughed, but Kayla moved away from us and stood straighter, head up, chest out. At first I thought we’d annoyed her again. Then she did the head tilt, which meant an attractive guy had entered her orbit. As I glanced around for the usual suspects, I almost walked straight into the English teacher who helped me coordinate the food drive in between his debate team coaching.

“Hey, Mr. B,” Kayla said, all white-teeth smile.

“Happy Friday, ladies,” he said. “Liliana, we’re meeting in the parking lot. I have directions to the food pantry and—”

“Debate team practice on Tuesday?” Kayla interrupted. “I’ve been working on a new speech for Original Oratory, Myths about Love.”

“Sounds good. I can’t wait to hear it.”

She beamed after him as he continued toward his classroom, greeting students and making small talk as he went. Mr. B had convinced the other English teachers to exchange homework passes for food donations, which greatly increased our collection size.

“He’s like the school mayor,” I said.

“The mayor of hotness,” Kayla said. “That dark wavy hair, those brown eyes.”

“Oh stop,” I said. “He’s at least thirty.”

“So?” Kayla said. “I’m mature for my age.”

Someone had supposedly seen Mr. B with a student over the summer. What I figured was gossip, Kayla took as an encouraging sign. She’d spent all of last year crushing on him. It looked like our sophomore year would be more of the same.

“Gross.” Megs scowled. “And illegal.”

Kayla flipped her hair back, ready to argue.

“Are you nervous about the next debate?” I asked, hoping to derail their fight.

“No,” Kayla said. “I just envision people naked. I have a vivid imagination.”

I shook my head, leaving Megs to deal with her as I left to meet Mr. B.

Later, I would face evil in the form of a deadly virus. But I didn’t know then that evil could come in many forms. It could even masquerade as a caring English teacher. That afternoon would change everything.

To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next ORANGE Team author, Sarah J Schmitt!!!

Orange TeamSpread the word by Tweeting #YASH at least 7 times a day!!! But before you go…BONUS CONTEST!!!!!!

Here’s a chance to win TWO signed copies of TOUCHING THE SURFACE–one copy for you and one copy for your favorite school or local library. Check out my Rafflecopter for the details on how to win.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Mar

10

2016

Free Book Friday!!!!

Filed under: Author Events, Check-it-out, Reading, Touching the Surface, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

Tomorrow is FREE BOOK FRIDAY and you have to check out this fun and fabulous website.

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This week, my YA novel TOUCHING THE SURFACE, was highlighted over at Free Book Friday and it’s been a blast.

Touching the Surface cover =-blurb

Experience the afterlife in this lyrical, paranormal debut novel that will send your heart soaring.When Elliot finds herself dead for the third time, she knows she must have messed up, big-time. She doesn’t remember how she landed in the afterlife again, but she knows this is her last chance to get things right.

Part of Free Book Friday is a giveaway. And FIVE lucky winners will get a signed copy of TOUCHING THE SURFACE!!!

The winners will be announced TOMORROW–so make sure you get over there now and get your name in the hat.

ENTER HERE!

So, I’m wondering…if you could be the winner of any free book on Free Book Friday–what book would you chose to win??? Remember, it would be a SIGNED free book LOL!

I know–that’s such a hard question!!!!

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Mar

8

2016

YA Outside the Lines Crosspost–Words

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, Fun and Games, Music, Pondering, Stuff I Love

Today is my day to blog over at YA Outside the Lines. Our topic for the month of March is WORDS. If you want to get your nostalgia on, you should hop on over to the YAOTL Blog check out how the School House Rocks!

SCHOOL HOUSE ROCK ROCKED THE WORDS!

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It’s Great to learn–knowledge is power!

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Feb

23

2016

Win My ARC of ALL FIXED UP by Linda Grimes

Filed under: Book Auntie Braggery, Book Reviews, Check-it-out, Community, Reading, Stuff I Love, Wolf Pack, Wolfson Literary

Today is your lucky day–you have multiple chances to win my ARC of ALL FIXED UP (Ciel Halligan #4)

by the fabulous Linda Grimes!!!!

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Linda is one of my Wolf Pack Sistahs at Wolfson Literary and she was super-duper sisterly and sent me an advanced copy of ALL FIXED UP!!!  I love her for not making me wait to find out what happened to one of my favorite characters in the book world. And since I just finished reading ALL FIXED UP, I get to tell everyone how awesome it is AND I get to be one of the nicest people on the planet because I’m sharing my copy with another Ciel fan.

But before I get to the giveaway, let me tell you a little about the book…

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Coming May 24, 2016 — Tor Books

The hilarious adventures of human chameleon Ciel Halligan continue in the fourth installment of this original urban fantasy series, All Fixed Up.

Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire, has a lot of experience filling in for her clients–as them. A rare genetic quirk gives her the ability to absorb human energy and project it back out in a flawless imitation. She’s hard at work, posing as a well-known and celebrated astronaut, about to make a stunning announcement on behalf of the space program…when the photographer documenting the job sees right through her aura. Worse, it soon becomes apparent that he not only knows Ciel’s not who she’s supposed to be, but means her harm.

When Ciel’s elderly Aunt Helen—also an aura adaptor—is murdered in Central Park, and the same photographer shows up at the funeral, Ciel starts to feel even more exposed. Then more adaptors are killed in the same way, and she becomes terrified her friends and family are being systematically exterminated … and it’s starting to look like she’s the ultimate target. She turns to Billy Doyle, her best-friend-turned-boyfriend, for help, but when an unexpected crisis causes him to take off without a word, she’s left to rely on her not-so-former crush, CIA agent Mark Fielding.

Staying alive, keeping control of her romantic life, and unraveling the mystery of why adaptors are being pursued becomes a harder balancing act than ever in this new Ciel Halligan adventure from Linda Grimes.

And here is my review of ALL FIXED UP:

I’m just going to say it–I LOVE the Ciel Halligan books! I don’t know how Linda Grimes does it, but ALL FIXED UP is my favorite to date. The more she writes, the better she gets. Once again Grimes captures the perfect balance between humor, steamy romance and heart. If you like Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, but want to add a supernatural twist, you are going to love Ciel Halligan!!!!

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And in case you’ve some how managed to miss this fabulous series, I wanted you to get a look at all the covers and some of the fabulous reviews. You do see that OUTLANDER’S Diana Gabaldon thinks it’s awesome too! Right along with RT Book Reviews and Library Journal. And me, of course.

And I don’t want you to leave without getting to know Linda a little better…

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Linda grew up in Texas, where she rode horses, embarrassed herself onstage a lot, and taught teenagers they’d have to learn the rules of English before they could get away with breaking them for creativity’s sake. She currently resides in Virginia with her husband, whom she snagged after he saw her in a musical number at the now defunct Melodrama Theater in San Antonio. (There’s nothing like a rousing chorus of “If You Wanna Catch a Fish You Gotta Wiggle Your Bait” to hook a man for a lifetime.)

Like IN A FIX’s globetrotting main character, aura adaptor Ciel Halligan, Linda has spent her fair share of time overseas, though fortunately under less stressful circumstances. Kidnapping and daring rescues are all well and good in fiction, but she prefers sanity in her real life.

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. It’s time to give my ARC of ALL FIXED UP to one lucky winner!!! The Rafflecopter below will give you all kinds of chances to win.

Ready. Set. Go!

****If you haven’t started this series yet–Linda is also throwing in a signed copy of her first book in the series IN A FIX for the winner!!! It’s your lucky day!!!!!****

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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