Bibliobattle with Me, This Saturday!

 

CALLING ALL NEW YORK CITY BOOK LOVERS!

On Saturday, March 25th at 3 PM, I will be the moderator of the next Bibliobattle at Kinokuniya NYC, near Bryant Park. Our topic this time is dystopian novels. To learn more about Bibliobattle, check out my last blog post on the topic here. We have a few battlers in place, but we can always use more people who are willing to talk up their favorite dystopian novel! Tomorrow is the last day to sign up, so if you’re interested, please let me know! You could win free booooooooks….

Also, we’d love to have you there as audience members! If you have a free hour this Saturday, come join us and help us choose the winner!

Hope to see you guys there!

My Take: Team Urban or Team Epic?

 

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Hi all,

Today is the final day of Entangled Teen’s Team Urban vs. Team Epic Fantasy Promotion, and in honor of the conversations of this week, I would like to elaborate on a statement.

Earlier this week, I clearly declared what side I was on. Now I’m going to tell you why.

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I have always loved fantasy novels of any kind. A popular theme here on the blog is that I like weird stuff. I like to read it, I like to watch it, I like to write it. So I enjoy most stories in which something out of the ordinary occurs. Fantasy was a natural interest for a person like me.

There is nothing wrong with epic fantasy. There is a beauty to the pure inventiveness, the creations of entirely new worlds, languages, people. For the early part of my childhood, I was raised on fairy tales, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien. My father even had a Tolkien calendar. My favorite video game was The Legend of Zelda, and if that isn’t an epic fantasy loving gamer’s dream, no game is.

But at some point, things shifted. As I grew up, I became exposed to television series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it touched me in a way no other series, or anything else for that matter, ever had. I was absorbed, completely moved. I fell in love with these characters, saw myself in them, saw myself in their weekly trials. I tried to decide which one I was more like. It didn’t matter if they were dealing with real life troubles, the monster of the week or some deep seated evil that spanned seasons. They felt more real to me.

The reason for that is that they were grounded in my reality. I could see myself going to school and having to deal with my principal as I snuck out to fight a demon. I could see myself sacrificing my social life to devote my life to something bigger. And somehow, those metaphors for life that were present in every fantasy novel struck a chord within me. Suddenly, I saw the challenges in my world as monsters to be defeated, the lessons to be learned as my spell book.

And ever since then, I found myself leaning towards Urban Fantasy, because if Buffy was a book, that’s exactly what it would be. I still love Epic Fantasy, but not with the ferocity with which I devour stories about real people dealing with their supernatural problems in concert with real world troubles. Killing monsters while dodging police. Hiding magical abilities from their parents. Having nobody believe them about who they are. Coming to terms with the strange in such a normal society.

I’d take a thousand magical societies hidden in plain sight over a dragon flying over head any day.


Thank you for hanging out with me for Entangled Teen’s Team Urban vs. Team Epic Promotional Event! Don’t forget to enter the giveaway and check out all of the books we discussed this week!

I’ll be back next week to discuss the difference between outlining a short story and a novel. See you then!

 

Entangled Teen Presents: Why I love Epic Fantasy!

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Today, we’re continuing Urban vs. Epic Fantasy Week with Entangled Teen’s Epic Fantasy Authors discussing why they love their genre.

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Erica Cameron – Island of Exiles (The Ryogan Chronicles, #1):

Why do I love epic fantasy? It’s a blank slate. We can erase all of our preconceived notions of society and law and even science, throwing all of that over the side of a cliff. Epic fantasy lets us push humanity well past the breaking point with ever more impossible landscapes and situations. It lets us see what we could be if only we let ourselves get there. Plus, epic fantasy is, well, epic!

Book Description:

9781633755963-1In Khya’s world, every breath is a battle. On the isolated desert island of Shiara, dying young is inevitable. The clan comes before self, and protecting her home means Khya is a warrior above all else.

But when following the clan and obeying their leaders could cost her brother his life, Khya’s home becomes a deadly trap. The only person who can help is Tessen, her lifelong rival and the boy who challenges her at every turn. The council she hoped to join has betrayed her, and their secrets, hundreds of years deep, reach around a world she’s never seen.

To save her brother’s life and her island home, her only choice is to trust Tessen, turn against her clan, and go on the run—a betrayal and a death sentence.

 

Buy Island of Exiles

Amber Mitchell – Garden of Thorns:

When I read and write, it’s because I want to escape and nothing gets you farther from your troubles than the distant shores of entirely new worlds. Epic fantasy invites you onto its tropical beaches, into its lush jungles and through its exotic cityscapes, shaking out its uncharted map for you to explore. Every page brims with fantastic characters questing, battling men and extraordinary beasts alike with magic flowing from nimble fingertips and daring sword fights. The allure of entirely new cultures, the epic stakes, swoon-worthy romances, and the flowing dresses of epic fantasy will always have my heart.

Book Description:

9781633758483After seven grueling years of captivity in the Garden—a burlesque troupe of slave girls—sixteen-year-old Rose finds an opportunity to escape during a performance for the emperor. But the hostage she randomly chose from the crowd to aid her isn’t one of the emperor’s men—not anymore. He’s the former heir to the throne, who is now leading a rebellion against it.

Rayce is a wanted man and dangerously charismatic, the worst person for Rose to get involved with, no matter what his smile promises. But he assumes Rose’s attempt to take him hostage is part of a plot to crush the rebellion, so he takes her as his hostage. Now Rose must prove where her loyalties lie, and she offers Rayce a deal—if he helps her rescue the other girls, she’ll tell him all the Garden’s secrets.

Except the one secret she’s kept for seven years that she’ll to take to her grave if she must.

Buy Garden of Thorns

L.E. Sterling – True North (True Born, #2):

Don’t get me wrong — #TeamUrban is great. I love time jumpers and magicians running around a book. They make you blink and question what you saw. But I prefer life in a funhouse mirror. Give me a goblin market. Give me a warrior queen with immortal blood. I want the snow queen’s glass shard to be embedded in my eye. I want to completely escape the bounds of reality — not be shackled by them. I don’t want to just question my perceptions — I want to know I’m not in Kansas any longer.

Book Description:

les_truenorth_final500Abandoned by her family in Plague-ridden Dominion City, eighteen-year-old Lucy Fox has no choice but to rely upon the kindness of the True Borns, a renegade group of genetically enhanced humans, to save her twin sister, Margot. But Nolan Storm, their mysterious leader, has his own agenda. When Storm backtracks on his promise to rescue Margot, Lucy takes her fate into her own hands and sets off for Russia with her True Born bodyguard and maybe-something-more, the lethal yet beautiful Jared Price. In Russia, there’s been whispered rumors of Plague Cure.

While Lucy fights her magnetic attraction to Jared, anxious that his loyalty to Storm will hurt her chances of finding her sister, they quickly discover that not all is as it appears…and discovering the secrets contained in the Fox sisters’ blood before they wind up dead is just the beginning.

As they say in Dominion, sometimes it’s not you…it’s your DNA.

Buy True North

Nicole Luiken – In Truth & Ashes (Otherselves, #3):

First for the endlessly inventive magic. Second for the fascinating new worlds to explore. Third for the fantastic creatures that dwell there: dragons, gargoyles, demi-gods and phoenixes are just a few of the ones I’ve used.

Epic fantasy gives a writer a bigger canvas to paint. Instead of a city, a country or even worlds. Wars. Heroes. Villains. Destinies. Everything is bigger is epic fantasy. The stakes are higher, instead of a single group, the fate of a world can hang in the balance.

Book Description:

9781633755451-1The Mirror Worlds are but dull reflections of the True World, where magic and technology blend together…

On the True World, Belinda Loring has known from childhood that she must Bond with the son of another noble First Family. Uniting the families ensures hers will hold onto its powerful position, and so she’s always pushed down the tender feelings she has for her best friend—gorgeous, steadfast Demian, who isn’t noble.

But when the ceremonial magic goes disastrously wrong, Belinda becomes a national disgrace. Scorned as Broken, she turns to Demian for help getting revenge on the man who ruined her: the radical Malachi.

But the seeds of Malachi’s murderous plans lie buried in Belinda’s past, in the dark days of her kidnapping—a period of which she has no memory. And Demian may hold the key to recovering all that she’s lost—and saving the worlds.

Buy In Truth & Ashes

Renee Collins – Relic:

Book Description:

9781622660155-1After a raging fire consumes her town and kills her parents, Maggie Davis is on her own to protect her younger sister and survive best she can in the Colorado town of Burning Mesa. In Maggie’s world, the bones of long-extinct magical creatures such as dragons and sirens are mined and traded for their residual magical elements, and harnessing these relics’ powers allows the user to wield fire, turn invisible, or heal even the worst of injuries.

Working in a local saloon, Maggie befriends the spirited showgirl Adelaide and falls for the roguish cowboy Landon. But when she proves to have a particular skill at harnessing the relics’ powers, Maggie is whisked away to the glamorous hacienda of Álvar Castilla, the wealthy young relic baron who runs Burning Mesa. Though his intentions aren’t always clear, Álvar trains Maggie in the world of relic magic. But when the mysterious fires reappear in their neighboring towns, Maggie must discover who is channeling relic magic for evil before it’s too late.

Relic is a thrilling adventure set in a wholly unique world, and a spell-binding story of love, trust, and the power of good.

Buy Relic

Rebekah L. Purdy – The Summer Marked (The Winter People, #2):

Epic Fantasy is an escape from the “real world” and takes you to other lands, places you can only dream of, which is why I love it so much.  And there’s so much more opportunity to really explore new creatures and characters within these worlds. I mean, who doesn’t like the idea of stepping through a closet and finding a cool fantasy world? LOL.

I’m also a big fan of the epic battles (think Lord of the Rings or Throne of Glass). Girl with a sword=Awesome.

Book Description:

9781633750098Fresh off a break-up with her boyfriend, Kadie’s glad to be home from college for Thanksgiving. All she needs is a rebound guy, a box of chocolates, and some girl time with her best friend, Salome. Problem is, Salome isn’t returning her calls, and her family won’t say where she is. Feeling sorry for herself, Kadie ends up at Club Blade, a place filled with pumping music, dangerous guys, and promises of a good time. However, when midnight strikes, Kadie’s fun turns into a nightmare as she’s ripped from the human world into Faerie by a vengeful Winter Prince named Etienne. For the first time in her life, she realizes the monsters Salome always spoke of are real, and they’ll stop at nothing to destroy her friend.

Salome thought the winter curse was behind her. But winter has left its mark. Not just on her, but on the whole summer court. The Kingdom of Summer is falling apart, and Nevin is hanging onto his throne by a thread. With war on his doorstep, he has no choice but to send Gareth into enemy territory, which means Salome will be left alone—vulnerable in a world she doesn’t understand. A place where beauty is deadly and humans are pawns in the macabre games the Fae play. Both Kadie and Salome will have to call on all their strength to survive in a world where humans aren’t meant to be. With death and enemies all around them, it’ll be a miracle if they can survive.

Buy The Summer Marked

Chloe Jacobs – Greta and the Goblin King (Mylena Chronicles, #1):

Book Description:

9781620610039While trying to save her brother from a witch’s fire four years ago, Greta was thrown in herself, falling through a portal to Mylena, a dangerous world where humans are the enemy and every ogre, ghoul, and goblin has a dark side that comes out with the eclipse.

To survive, Greta has hidden her humanity and taken the job of bounty hunter—and she’s good at what she does. So good, she’s caught the attention of Mylena’s young goblin king, the darkly enticing Isaac, who invades her dreams and undermines her will to escape.

But Greta’s not the only one looking to get out of Mylena. An ancient evil knows she’s the key to opening the portal, and with the next eclipse mere days away, every bloodthirsty creature in the realm is after her—including Isaac. If Greta fails, she and the lost boys of Mylena will die. If she succeeds, no world will be safe from what follows her back…

Buy Greta and the Goblin King


That’s all for today! Come visit tomorrow when I talk about my own personal choice and share a little bit of why I favor it.

2014 Year In Review

Happy New Year!  I hope you can look back at last year with happiness in your heart, and look forward to a year filled with new and interesting possibilities.

2014 has been a bit crazy for me, personally. I’ve faced some trials, some family illnesses, some coping with awful life things from my past. I’ve also made new friends, solidified old relationships, and adopted to the new rigors of having a school-aged child. It can be a lot, but every year is a gem in its own way. We have been blessed. Our family continues to float on.

As this year kicks into gear, it is easy to look back and think of all of the things you didn’t get to do, or the things you have yet to do – which is why it is so important for us to take a second to examine what has been accomplished in this bygone year. So, that’s what I’m going to do – I’m going to look at what I’ve accomplished in 2014 and discuss where I’d like to go in 2015.

Writing Steps in 2014

  • Last year, I was celebrating the publication of one of my first short story. This year, I am celebrating the publication of three new stories! My writing life has absolutely been blessed this year. Forward momentum for the win! Tunneling, which also happened to be my first piece of flash fiction, One Percent, which I mentioned in my 2013 year in review as a story that I struggled with rewriting, and Choosing to Stand Still, which was the first short story I brought before the writing critique group I was just joining at the end of last year, all found permanent homes and made me a proud mama.
  • I went to my first writing convention, the Writer’s Digest Conference 2014, and did my first ever pitch session. Chronicled in a two part blog post in August, I got to pursue this particular first in time with my son’s 5th birthday weekend, which left me in an insane tizzy. Though two out of three of my pitch requests ended in rejection, and one is still pending, I still count this as a victory on two fronts. I had never gone out into the world to discuss one of my books before. I very rarely went out into the world and declared myself a writer. That weekend, I got to do that, and not only that, but I got to prove to myself that, while it may tire me out, I can be a mother, and a writer, and have a day job, without everything falling apart. This was the first test.
  • Not only did I start pitching The Order of the Key in person, but I also started to send out query letters to agents, enter twitter contests, and just generally get my first full length novel out into the world. This was a huge step, as a writer can sit in edit, rinse, repeat hell forever if allowed.
  • While I have read my work publicly in the past, I read my work for the first time, professionally, this year. It was a great time, only slightly nerve wracking and helped quite a bit by the presence of several incredible people at my side while I geared up. I will say, that one of the ways I have been very lucky, and there are many, is that I have an intensely supportive and loving group of people that would follow my writing and me anywhere and the feeling is mutual. These are the moments when you see that in living color – whether it’s the people who watch my son for me while I go and participate in writing related activities, the people who listen to me practice read, the people who ask me about my work, or the people who come out and attend readings – I have an awesome group of people surrounding me.
  • This year I wrote my first guest blog post, about writing superstitions. I enjoyed putting it together. I also enjoyed the opportunity to get to know a bit about fellow YA Fantasy writer Scarlett Van Dijk’s work.
  • I completed another round of NaNoWriMo! Which means I’m over halfway through my rewrite of Legally Insane. It is almost complete and I am excited about it. It’s an oddly sweet little story about a girl who hallucinates, and I can’t wait to finish it and get it to you guys so you can read it.
  • I wrote a fanfic, my first in a long time, on a totally different topic than usual. It was, as most fanfic is to me, an experiment in writing a different kind of voice than I’m used to. I enjoyed it.
  • I  wrote yet another short story prequel to my Keys and Guardians series, titled “Love is Sacrifice”. I’m not sure if I can do anything with it as a stand alone (I have the first, “Fuel and Fire”, out for submissions as mentioned below) but I am getting the feeling there will definitely be some kind of anthology one day.

Plans for 2015

  • I’ve got two short stories out in the world waiting to be published by somebody. I am hoping they find placement out there somewhere. They also happen to be my two favorite short stories, which makes their prolonged lack of publication particularly sad.  I’m hoping 2015 will find them a home.
  • The Order of the Key is still out in limbo with a couple of agents and publishers. I am hoping that by the end of 2015 I will know the fate of the Keys and Guardians series. Hopefully, much sooner than that.
  • I definitely want to finish Legally Insane and complete the edit on the book by the end of 2015.
  • If The Order of the Key is picked up for publication, my NaNoWriMo book for next year will be Book 2, The Lost Key. If it is not, and I’m still figuring it out or still in the process of editing Book 1, I will be going forward with The Broken Hearts Club, my ironically (and possibly temporarily) titled story about the continued tale of Tunneling. I still have a couple of characters to really figure out from that story, so we’ll see.
  • I’m taking on a reading challenge for 2015 to get me to read more and different books (in case you noticed that list from last week was a little…Kelley Armstrong heavy…). I will be tracking that, to some extent, here.
  • Just more. Of everything. I’d love to look into more networking opportunities. I’d love to take more classes. I’d love to try some more new experiences that I can maybe use in my writing. I’d love to travel a bit. I’d love to do another reading. I’d love to do more guest blog posts. I’d love to have people do guest posts on my blog. I’d love to grow as a writer. And I can’t wait to start doing it.

2014 was an amazing year. I published one story when 2014 began. By the end of 2014, I’ve published four. I don’t want to lose this momentum. So here’s to another wonderful year of getting out there and being a writer.

And here’s to another wonderful year of you pursuing your dreams!  What have you accomplished in 2014? What do you have planned for 2015? Post it in the comments below.

 

Reading List of 2014

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
― Stephen King

Reading is a huge part of being a writer. It helps you to gain an instinctive grasp on plot, character development and story structure that you will never learn from a class. It’s immersive learning and, with the right book, it’s also a great deal of fun. Why do we write? We write because we love sharing thoughts through written word. So why wouldn’t we love receiving thoughts through the same medium.

I know a lot of people who love to read. And they’ll ask me how many books I’ve read this year – because they have a list. I never do. When January 2014 rolled around this year, I decided it was time to start keeping track of all the reading I do. Which…is not at all what I’ve accomplished here. I’ve realized, when writing this list, just how much I read that is not technically a book or a short story, etc. I read three issues of Writer’s Digest this year and an issue of Publisher’s Weekly. I read MANY fanfics. I read stuff my friends sent me to beta read. I read cereal boxes. I read Max & Mo Go Apple Picking a trillion times to Logan. I helped to teach Logan how to read it himself. It’s been a long year. And, as I told Logan, the only way to learn to read is to try to read everything in front of you. See a sign? Read it. See a box of food? Read it.

I realized, in teaching him that, that it’s what I’ve been doing since I was young. Soaking up all the written information I could get my hands on.

So, without further ado, here is my, not by any means exhaustive, list of reading materials I’ve perused since 2014. Enjoy!

 

Full Length Books

 1) The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

2) The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

3) Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness – I reviewed this trilogy! Follow the link!

 4) American Gods by Neil Gaiman – This was a reread of something I hadn’t read since my ridiculous goth years. So much better this time around.

 5) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – I loved this book. I loved this movie. This book being bought for me last Christmas so I would stop reading “all that Sci Fi crap”, and I wanted to spite hate it, but I couldn’t put it down. A fun mystery about horrible people.

 6) The Story Within by Laura Oliver – A great writing book (and another Christmas gift).

 7) Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong – I’ve long touted Kelley as my favorite author and this book is no exception to her greatness. Diving into a new YA universe is always much fun with her.

 8) Across the Universe by Beth Revis – I took a chance on this series based on a short story I found in a YA Dystopian anthology. I wasn’t disappointed.

9) Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

10) A Million Suns by Beth Revis

11) Odin’s Ravens by Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr – I don’t care if it’s middle grade. If it’s by Kelley, I’m reading it. Judge all you want.

12) City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare – I have such a love/hate relationship with this book series, but I fell so hard for a couple of the characters, I couldn’t NOT see how things turned out for them. I told myself this was it for me and Ms. Clare. Except…there was an untied loose end that leads to a new series coming out next year. And despite myself…I. WANT.

13) The Vast and Brutal Sea by Zoraida Cordova – I’ve been reading this series by my buddy Zoraida for the last three years and this was the stunning wrap up to her first YA series. Perfect conclusion.

14) Four Divergent Stories by Veronica Roth – After Allegiant, I never believed I would get back on the Roth train, and not for the reasons so many people thought. It wasn’t about the end of the book, it was about the way Roth lost Four’s voice in that final book. But here, she brought him back and he was him in all his glory. Perfect. I missed him.

15) Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro – The book that inspired a blog post. You’ll see it soon. I wanted to have a sprightly debate with Ms. Shapiro. Which means, of course, that the book did it’s job.

16) Reflection Pond by Kacey Vanderkarr – I’m not big on stories about the fae, but I fell hard for this one, told by fellow Sucker Literary staff member, Vanderkarr. So hard, in fact, that I bought part 2 the day it debuted.

17) Joss Whedon: The Biography by Amy Pascale – If Kelley Armstrong is my favorite author, then Joss Whedon is my favorite EVERYTHING. So…a biography of my hero? Yes, please!

18) Visions by Kelley Armstrong – This should count as three books, since I read this, re-read this, and then re-read it’s predecessor Omens in preparation for a fanfic. Don’t tell. 😉

19) Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman – If I was going to read American Gods, might as well go for the sequel I hadn’t read yet. Loved this. Possibly better than its predecessor.

20) Luck on the Line by Zoraida Cordova – Another one from my friend, Zoraida. She knocks it out of the park with her first New Adult romance. And I will not tell you what my signed copy says, but she blushed writing it and I laughed out loud reading it. Good to know other people feel awkward writing sex scenes….

21) The Poison Tree by Kacey Vanderkarr – The sequel to Reflection Pond. Made me so happy.

Novellas/Published Short Stories

 1) The Course of True Love and First Dates by Cassandra Clare – This was one short story that was part of a collection surrounding Magnus Bane, one of the stand out characters of Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. I have recently started (but had not finished at press time), The Bane Chronicles, a collection of these short stories. But this one was about my favorite character, Bane’s boyfriend, Alec, and I just couldn’t stay away until the full book came out. Because I am a loser.

2) Skid Out by Anne Marie Frohoff – I got this for free in a giveaway. So. Much. Bad.

3) Cruel by Ashley R. Carlson – This was another freebie, this one was for following Ashley R. Carlson’s blog. And this one was far more rewarding.

4) Forsaken by Kelley Armstrong – New novella from Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series? Yes, please! New novella featuring my favorite villain from said series? GIVE ME NAO.

5) Luck on the Line Bonus Chapter .5 by Zoraida Cordova –  Who doesn’t love the male point of view of a good female romance story? No, seriously. Tell me who?

Anthologies/Short Story Collections

1) Enthralled, edited by Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr – Anthologies like this collection of YA stories is how I find new authors. Loved every story in this.

2) Sucker Literary: Volume 3 – If you haven’t heard about Sucker Literary from me a million and one times at this point, you must be wearing ear plugs. Not only did I work on the staff of this magazine, but it’s comprised of YA short stories which I love, and it’s run by some great people who genuinely want to contribute to the writing world. Also, every single story in this anthology is a winner. This is definitely one to check out.

3) Dead Man’s Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West, edited by John Joseph Adams – I came here for Kelley Armstrong and Beth Revis. I got a couple of other stories out of this that I loved. But, really, this wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. I’m not much of a fan of Westerns, but I will say that this broadened my horizons a bit and I liked more than I thought I would.

4) Tell My Sorrows To The Stones by Christopher Golden – I won a signed copy of this. Chris has been on my top 5 faves for ages and this book demonstrates why. A mix of terrifying tales and true, real emotion, make Golden one of horror’s best.

5) Gifted by Kelley Armstrong – I’ve mentioned that I love Armstrong’s Otherworld and Cainsville series, and this short collection includes stories from both – both holiday themed. Both were surprisingly emotionally packed. I teared up a little. I’ll admit it.

Literary Magazines

1) Sliver of Stone, Issue 8 – A girl has gotta read a magazine she is in. My story, Tunneling, is in this issue.

2) Subterranean Press Spring 2014 – Another Cainsville short story. I’m realizing while looking at this list that…Kelley Armstrong writes a lot. Like…a LOT…every year.

3) The Greenwich Village Literary Review, Issue 1 – I was honored to be featured in the first issue of this new New York literary magazine. Check out One Percent here.

4) The Holiday Cafe, Fall 2014 – My story, Choosing to Stand Still was featured in this lovely mag.

So that’s my reading for 2014!  I have already half-completed two books for 2015. And if that little bit at the end didn’t cue it up for you, check out my year-in-review this New Years!  Happy Holidays to you all! See you soon!