Stop the Promo-citis and Just Review the Damn Book, Please

Filed under: Book Auntie Braggery, Book Reviews, Community, In the Wild, Marketing, Pondering, Reading, Writing

While there is an exception to every rule, most of us hate, hate, hate the self promotion of books. It makes EVERYONE crazy!

Straight Jacket

Readers get sick of hearing writers with promo-citis. Admire my cover, pre-order my book, buy my book, review my book, come to my signing, I’m having a giveaway, buy my book, buy my book, buy my book. Did you see this review by someone who bought my book? It’s so awesome YOU should buy my book. Seriously, I didn’t grow up contemplating going into marketing. My life is not and episode of Mad Men. Here’s the truth…authors are juggling jobs and kids and pets and parents and illness and every other real world calamity you can think of. Self promotion kinda sucks. Authors just want time to write more good books and spend a little time surfing baby animals on social media sites. Is that really too much to ask?

Some days it’s seems impossible. But even though I know I’m not in the running for the Nobel Peace Prize, I’m going to put out a solution that could potentially work for everyone. Or at least ease the madness a little bit. The secret for slowing or stopping promo-citis is…


Word of mouth sells books.

If readers are talking about the books, authors won’t have to do as much self-promotion.

And it doesn’t have to be complicated.

*Reviewing on an online sight like Amazon or Barnes & Noble is fabulous and hugely appreciated. Your favorite author and their publisher and agent will love you forever for taking the time to put your thoughts out there. But if you’ve never done it before, don’t be intimidated. It isn’t necessary to write a lengthy, time consuming and complicated review, a simple 5 stars and an I love this book will do the trick.

*Reviewing a book is as simple as telling people that you liked it. Encourage other people to buy it and read it. Think of book buzz like a stadium full of people trying to do the wave. If enough people don’t stand up and wave their arms and cheer, no one will even notice. It takes a lot of people standing up and waving to get anyone’s attention. Authors can not make a wave on their own. It takes fans.

*Give books you love to people who love books. As a book lover, I have never gotten a book and been upset. Even if I don’t end up reading the book, I donate it to someone who will and it makes me happy that I helped another author out there. Book Nerds are fabulous freaking people!

*Please don’t assume that other people are reviewing and talking about a book, making it unnecessary for you to do it. There are so many books out there fighting for shelf space and reader attention. Worldwide there are over 2,000,000 books published each year. There is no such thing as too much attention–especially for mid-list authors. It takes a lot of pushing before a tipping point is reached.

*Not everyone has heard of the books you love. Remember there are lots of books out there. Bring the books you love to the attention of your librarians and teachers. Libraries and schools do not have a large amount of funding to play with, but they will appreciate your feedback. They want to purchase books that will get readers excited. Your positive review, of a book you love, might get that book in front of a lot more readers. Books just want to be read. <3


This is by no means an extensive list of ways to help authors by reviewing books. But I’m hoping it’s a good start. Please feel free to add in your suggestions in the comments. I’m always on the lookout for ways to support the books I LOVE! Also, sharing this information with others is great. Not everyone realizes how much an author’s career depends on book buzz. And don’t forget it’s time to be part of the solution–stop the promo-citis and review the damn book, please.


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We Are the Authors of This Boy

Filed under: Family, In the Wild, Pondering, Stuff I Love, Writing for Children

This morning I dropped off my oldest for an 8th grade overnight field trip. As I watched the bus get smaller in my rearview mirror, I couldn’t help but feel all the feels.

This isn’t the first time that my 14yo has gone away without me. It happens in certain degrees and combinations more and more often as he grows. This summer there will even be a week of sleep away camp in his future. And in four years he’ll be graduating high school and preparing for college. But as I pulled away from the bus (way too early) what I noticed was my mixed feelings. I was infused with a combination of giddy excitement for him, confidence in who he is and a wee bit of sheer terror as I imagined my unprotected heart driving away on a bus where anything could happen. Anything. Car accident, terrorist bombing, escaped tiger from the zoo. Do I need to go on?

No–I absolutely don’t. And I mean that a little differently than you might expect…

The only time that worrying like that is beneficial is if an asteroid, plague, bomb or whatever is about to hit and I’m packing up the kids and preparing to run. Day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute–nothing good comes from imagining the worst. I simply have to trust that what we’ve given this boy so far, is enough for the task at hand. We’ve done our best.

But that wasn’t all I thought about on the two miles back home to the coffee pot. The true connection I made this morning was realizing how far this young man must travel in the next four years. Every day between now and then he will be in revision. If we do it right, we’ll slowly and methodically listen to what our main character is telling us and help him tweak his story. We’ll make sure we use the most effective words in all the right places and we’ll try to show instead of tell and yell and nag and preach. We’ll have to step back and make room for the cast of characters in his life, that over time, will have more and more weight in his story. We must also give the plot a chance to take turns we never expected. He’ll need that to be diverse and complicated and interesting to everyone who peeks beneath his cover. We’ll have to give him room to fail because no one wants to read a book where nothing happens. And we’ll have to be reminded that no book is ever perfect. Art is subjective. People are too. And even more important we’ll have to be reminded that sometimes distance is as important as persistence and diligence. And maybe the hardest thing will be knowing when to stop tinkering and when to let him stand on his own out in the world.


My husband and I are the authors of this boy, but if we do our jobs correctly, he will one day know how to write his own story.





Be the Lighthouse

Filed under: Family, Pondering, Stuff I Love

A friend sent me a really great article on parenting. It was called Raising Your Successful 35-Year-Old. In the age of helicopter parents, it talked about being a lighthouse parent–where the goal isn’t to constantly hover and fix, but to be visible for your children as they navigate their own smooth or choppy waters.



Because while we want to protect our children from harm,

what we too often end up doing is protecting them from learning.

Our job is to keep them from drowning, but not do the sailing for them. Wanting to protect our children is completely different from being able to. I think we’ve begun to believe, that if we are the perfect parents we can keep our children safe, although it might come at the expense of our sanity and our children’s autonomy.

The truth is, we are never completely in control. There are things like luck and chance in the world. Sometimes they are good, sometimes they are not. They are always the wild card. Perhaps the best we can do is be the light that allows our children to see what they are really up against. And if we’re really lucky, they will also have paid attention to what we’ve illuminated about ourselves.

Any thoughts?

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Empty Plate, Clean Slate

Filed under: Check-it-out, Pondering

Today I’m doing a detox.

Someone shoot me.

Every spring, as the weather warms up and more and more skin is exposed to the light of day, I begin to see the need to get myself back on track and feeling healthy.

The Easter Bunnies have been eaten and now it is time.

Today I am doing a 24 hour detox.



I’ve done program detoxes before and realized that I already have everything I need to reboot to default settings. So, I have my favorite detox tea. And my Vitamix…



And don’t forget lots of water with lemon too.

I felt great until about noon and then, even though I don’t ingest a large amount of caffeine, what little I was missing started getting all snarly with me. And the guy who came to look at the AC units in the house kept talking to me. Seriously–talking.

But I’m still holding up. One meal to go–I won’t mention that it’s Pizza Tuesday at the Sabatini house. *head thunk* Gosh, I just want to curl up in a ball and sleep. Just seven more hours and all the after school activities to go.

And here’s the thing–I’m not 100% sure if a 24 hour detox makes me miserable because I’m detoxing or I’m just brutally hungry and crabby. BUT there is one big reason I always find myself doing it at least once every year. If I can survive that 24 hours then anything I put in my mouth the next day is spectacular. If I don’t go cold turkey, but cut back instead, I find that I struggle every day, feeling deprived.

Make sense? Heck if I know. But for now, I’ve got to believe that one day with a clean plate gives me a clean slate.

Anybody else “cleaning house” for spring?



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Quirky Don’t Want To’s

Filed under: Pondering

Lately I’ve been thinking about Quirky Don’t Want To’s. Never heard of them before? I’m not surprised, I like to make stuff up whenever it’s convenient. In my world, the Quirky Don’t Want To’s are the bizarre, unpleasant things that cross the line–the line between chores and activities I enjoy doing or will tolerate AND stuff I avoid at all costs. Need an example? Here’s a few…

*I will do laundry all day long, I’ll even fold it. But it’s that last step–putting it AWAY that I find soul crushing. It’s the reason, if you stop by for an unexpected visit, you’ll find sheet and towels on my dinning room table. *sigh* It’s festive, right?

*Raking leaves or cutting back bushes. I’m like a sculptor when I pile and prune, it’s an act of art, but don’t make me bag the leaves and stems. *pouts* The yard work is the clean up. The clean up of the clean up is cruel and unusual punishment. Where’s the yard elf?

Santas Elf Sitting on Edge

*If you feed me, I will help clean up and do the dishes at your house, but I really don’t want to divvy up the leftovers. There’s way to much pressure, like container choices or what you want to keep for lunch tomorrow. And what you secretly don’t want to keep. And what about what I want to take? Or even worse, what I want to take, but shouldn’t because my pants are getting too tight. And opps were those your good containers and now I have to get them back to you? Ummm that’s not going to happen.

*I love to help out at my kids’ school when I’m comfortable. (Think book, writing, soccer, dance related activities etc…) I do know I sometimes have to do things outside my comfort zone. (Like the 8th grade Pizza Fundraiser.) And once I learned how to do it, all of my skills from working at Denny’s came right on back. (watch me handle a tray of food people!) But DO NOT make me the chair of anything or an officer in the PTA. Not if you know what’s good for you. I am not an organized, responsible adult. I am a SPAZ who masquerades as a parent.

Photo on 4-9-13 at 2.09 PM #2

*If you are MY child, I will clean up any and all disgusting fluids or solids that get ejected from your body during illness and injury. Not my favorite activity, but I’ll cope–IF YOU ARE MY CHILD. I solemnly swear. But the deal breaker is whining. I will sit with you, cuddle with you, jump up and down a 1,000 times to get stuff that makes you feel better. I’ll clean up the ejected stuff. I’ll even look at your broken bones and skin that needs to be sewn back together. Unless you are a whiner. Just a note with broken bones and flapping skin, I have been known to get really light headed once the adrenaline wears off, so try to make sure I land someplace soft. Thank you.

*I would rather pick up food off the floor of my kitchen and wipe the crumbs and dog hair off of it and eat it (30 second rule and all) than clean toilets. I hate cleaning toilets. Maybe the fact that I’ve birthed THREE squirters has something to do with that. Did I tell you about that time in the middle of the night when the toilet seat was down…  Yeah–I don’t want to clean toilets. I’d rather do all the other Quirky Don’t Want To’s than clean the stupid toilets. I am not kidding. Those of you out there that think cleaning the bowl is calming and therapeutic? I think you’ve got a screw loose, but you’re totally invited over for relaxation therapy any time you’d like. *grin*

And just so you know, the more I contemplate the Quirky Don’t Want To’s–the faster I think of more. They are like dust bunnies, multiplying right before my very eyes! Oh, look there’s that screw you were missing LOL!


In order to stop thinking about my own quirks, I need to fixate on yours, so tell me what’s on your Quirky Don’t Want To List…


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Internet Whiplash

Filed under: Blogging, Community, In the Wild, Pondering, Technology

Lately I’m having an unusually hard time coming up with blog posts. At first I thought my struggle was because I’m busy, both with life and writing. And I’m sure that plays a role, but after careful consideration, I don’t believe that’s the truest of answers. I think the most accurate reason for being stuck is that I have internet whiplash.



Unfortunately, blogging and social media have begun to seem a bit off. Kind of the way state testing and the common core feels uncomfortable. I’m not against some testing or having standards. In fact, I think they can be wonderful tools, but there’s something, not-quite-right about the current state of our educational system or the things going down on the internet lately.

For the first time, the trolls and the cyber bullies feel bigger than the things about social media that give me great pleasure. And then there is the sheer intensity of the opposing and highly volatile online opinions. I’m not suggesting that I only want to hear one side of an argument. I love intelligent conversation–I really do. But it is April of 2015 and already I can’t deal with the political FB stress. The hate mongering. How will I ever make it until November of 2016??? I refuse to comment, but can I also stop reading? I think I need to.

Of course, I’m smart enough to know the internet is the same functional and dysfunctional slice of pie you see in any microcosm. You should see some of the screaming, crying, throw-down dinners that have been had in my family over the years. I’m no stranger to the cray-cray, in fact I can bring the cray-cray just as much as anyone. But somehow the rapid, viral reach of the internet seems more sinister than I’d ever considered it before. When I fight with my family and friends, we make up and eat dessert and stuff. The world wide web doesn’t do that. Instead of stories I’ll laugh about at my kids’ weddings, there’s online shaming, which is probably as easy to catch as the stomach bug in a day care facility.

This is where the internet whiplash comes in. If you want to be heard, you MUST say something worth hearing. If you say anything worth listening to, there WILL be people who dislike what you’ve said. If you’re lucky those people simply disagree with you, but if you’re unlucky, it’s highly likely that they’ll abusively attack you online. My feelings about this state of affairs are whipping back and forth with such intensity it’s almost painful. One day I feel brave, the next cowardly. One minute I feel energized, but the next it’s depressing.

I’ve been trying very hard to find the remedy to my internet whiplash. I’ve been searching for a black and white truth that would clearly define how I move forward with my cyber life. As you might expect, that isn’t really working out for me.  Today’s blog post sums it all up perfectly–writing makes me see things clearer, all while mudding the same water quite a bit. So, there’s only one conclusion…what I need most is to be unsure. If I’m rigid, I will get injured. Instead, I need to be bendy. Perhaps it’s time to be flexible and blog when it feels organic and not blog when it doesn’t feel good. It’s a scary but liberating thought for someone who’s blogged regularly for years, but I should probably only blog when I have something important to say or share.

Is anyone else dealing with internet whiplash? What’s the worst part for you? What do you do to combat it? How do you feel about blogging at the moment?

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The Flow State

Filed under: Drafting, Pondering, Stuff I Love, Writing, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)


Time keeps spinning out of control…



I’m losing track of blog posts, the laundry is piling up and no other “projects” in the house are getting done…much to my husband’s disappointment.

But I love it because it means I’m writing. To hell with unpacking the rest of my stuff from when I moved in just over a year ago. Piles of stuff everywhere aren’t disorganization for a creative person–they’re a fort!

Recently I read an article entitled 20 Things To Remember If You Love Highly Creative People. Quite a few of those 20 felt liked they were aimed directly at me, but #17 struck a cord at this moment…

17. They are addicted to creative flow.

Recent discoveries in neuroscience reveal that “the flow state” might be the most addictive experience on earth. The mental and emotional payoff is why highly creative people will suffer through the highs and lows of creativity. It’s the staying power. In a real sense, they are addicted to the thrill of creating.

This is why, the closer I get to the “end” of this manuscript, the harder it is to do anything else. As I inch along, the addiction to possibility becomes more intense, making me want to abandon the rest of the world so I can be holed up in my imaginary one for as long as I wish. It sounds so simple, but the reality of living with an addictive flow state is a mash-up of creativity, sanity and motherhood and it can be a bit painful to look at, kind of like an eclipse LOL! I just try to remind myself that soon enough I won’t be celebrating my creative flow because…

5. They create in cycles.

Creativity has a rhythm that flows between periods of high, sometimes manic, activity and slow times that can feel like slumps. Each period is necessary and can’t be skipped just like the natural seasons are interdependent and necessary.

So, I guess I’ll unpack stuff then. Or maybe not, I’m sure I can find better slump activities to do. *grin*

What other things on the list resonate with your creative soul? Or are you stuck living with one of us highly creative fools? If you are, which one of the 20 drives you bat shit bonkers?



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How to Avoid Fartbaggery: A Vlog Brothers Classic

Filed under: Blogging, Pondering, Writing

How to avoid fartbaggery

Fat in Office


A Vlog Brothers classic…




And did I apologize for working on my manuscript instead of this blog post? Yesterday was a great writing day. That doesn’t make me a fartbag, right? I want to sincerely apologize for blowing you off and asking the Vlog Brothers to save my butt, but I can’t, because a good writing day is what it’s all about and let’s face it–I know I’d do it again LOL!

What’s the “worst” thing you’d unapologetically blow off for your writing or your job, even if it sort of makes you a fartbag?

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Spring Into Writing

Filed under: Check-it-out, Family, Fun and Games, Vacation Madness, Writing

As much as I look forward to vacations, I always look forward to coming home and the familiar routine when I return. Last week I was away in St. Louis visiting family. It was a fabulous trip–the perfect mix of laid back relaxing with family and a super fun time seeing the local sights and eating ALL the food. Here are some highlights…IMG_0954 IMG_0955 IMG_1224 IMG_1200 IMG_1232 IMG_1226 IMG_0872 IMG_0943

And the nice part about this trip was we were able to build in enough days at the end of vacation to come home and straighten life out, before heading back to school and work. Of course, things are about to get hectic with spring sports and activities. My command central boy calendar is already starting to look intimidating. FullSizeRender


But no matter how fun vacation was or how hairy the future schedule. Writing is back at the top of my list of priorities. *does a happy dance*

My question for you…is it harder or easier to write in the spring when the weather starts getting nice? It depends on the day for me.


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The YA Scavenger Hunt!

Filed under: Author Events, Blogging, Check-it-out, Community, Contests, Fun and Games, Reading, Touching the Surface, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! 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 for 72 hours!
Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are EIGHT (yes, you heard me correctly!) contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the GOLD TEAM!


But there is also RED, BLUE, GREEN, ORANGE, TEAL, PURPLE, & PINK teams. 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.



Directions: Hidden somewhere below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number in GOLD. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the GOLD 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 04/5/15, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.



Alexandria Monir

Alexandra Monir is an author and recording artist in her twenties. SUSPICION is her third novel published by Random House. Her debut was the popular time-travel romance, TIMELESS, followed by the 2013 sequel, TIMEKEEPER. Alexandra currently resides in Los Angeles, where she is at work on her next novel, while also composing and recording original songs. Her music can be found on iTunes, and you can visit her website at Follow Alexandra @TimelessAlex.



“If Alfred Hitchcock had directed Downton Abbey, the result would have been this book. Alexandra Monir takes us on a gripping, nonstop thrill ride with just the right amount of supernatural and an ending that you definitely won’t suspect. I devoured it in one sitting.”–Jessica Brody, bestselling author of the UNREMEMBERED trilogy

“There’s something hidden in the maze.”

Seventeen-year-old Imogen Rockford has never forgotten the last words her father said to her, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family’s English country manor.

For seven years, images of her parents’ death have haunted Imogen’s dreams. In an effort to escape the past, she leaves Rockford Manor and moves to New York City with her new guardians. But some attachments prove impossible to shake—including her love for her handsome neighbor Sebastian Stanhope.

Then a life-altering letter arrives that forces Imogen to return to the manor in England, where she quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind Rockford’s aristocratic exterior. At their center is Imogen herself—and Sebastian, the boy she never stopped loving.

Combining spine-tingling mystery, romance, and unforgettable characters, SUSPICION is an action-packed thrill ride.


Hi Readers! Thank you for joining us on the YA Scavenger Hunt! For my bonus content, I’m excited to share the opening scene from my upcoming fourth novel for Delacorte Press, THE GIRL IN THE PICTURE!

I hope you enjoy this opening scene! While you’re waiting for GIRL IN THE PICTURE to come out next year, check out my current release, SUSPICION. I’ll be giving away 2 signed copies for the scavenger hunt- to enter, please follow me on Twitter @TimelessAlex and mention SUSPICION and YASH!

Love and Happy Reading!
Alexandra Monir

THE GIRL IN THE PICTURE by Alexandra Monir


 At first it’s no more than a blurry shape on the ground, large enough to beat me up, slow enough for me to get away. Then my focus clears, and I see why the body won’t move. Its limbs are tangled and twisted amongst the fallen leaves. Mud cakes the sleeves of a well-worn varsity jacket. A once-familiar face has turned an ashy gray, its mouth frozen on the last word spoken, a word now echoing in my ears. “You.”

   I take a step closer, bracing for the gut-wrenching pain of recognition. But as I stare at my maimed self lying in the woods behind the soccer field—my soccer field—there is no pain. No emotion at all, really. I guess I shouldn’t expect to feel anything. I’m dead.

   Still, there is a flicker of something, an image—no, images. They push to the forefront of my mind, growing stronger the more I stare at my rigid body. Lips on lips, the sound of her voice calling after me, a jagged rock hovering above my skull, the last face before it all went black.

   Footsteps. They’re coming, mere seconds away from finding my body. Soon this section of the woods will be roped off with yellow tape, newscasters and Oyster Bay students clamoring for a view of where I died, of what happened. Then the detectives will swarm, full of theories and names.

I think I know who the first two names will be.

I have somewhere to go, don’t I? Some afterlife waiting to check me in?

But I can’t go just yet.

I need a little longer.

One more glimpse of her.

I need the truth.

Thanks, Alexandra!!!!! And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, Alexandra Monir, and at least 7 or maybe more than SEVEN fabulous authors! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is. Have you figured it out yet? Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the GOLD team and you’ll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!



To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next GOLD Team author, Katherine Longshore!!!
Spread the word by Tweeting #YASH

And 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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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