Friday, August 29, 2014

Exciting upcoming release: Something About Love by Elana Johnson

Guys! I am SO excited about Elana Johnson's newest release, Something About Love. First, I fell completely, totally in love with her contemporary novel-in-verse, ELEVATED, and while this one is not related, it's done in the same style, and I think Elana is a genius at writing in verse.

Lucky me, I get to read it early! It's at the very top of my list this week as a reward for me finishing an edit I need to finish (but I am SO tempted to read it before then!).

Also, look at the pretty! Is this not a gorgeous cover?


About SOMETHING ABOUT LOVE: High school senior Olivia Winging gave up her love of photography when she gave up her boyfriend, Trevor Youngblood, a year and a half ago. She broke things off with Trevor because her mom married his dad, and dating your step-brother? Creepy. 

Livvy hasn’t been on good terms with her mother since, and one of her stipulations for staying at the Youngblood’s every other weekend is that Trevor can’t be there. When she gets nominated for the Junior Photography in Excellence award, Trevor insists she enter. She agrees—only if every photo in the portfolio can be of him. Knowing that Livvy can capture a person’s deepest secrets through her lens, Trevor hesitates before accepting the deal.

As Livvy gets behind the lens of her camera again, her love of photography is rekindled. Unfortunately, the time she spends with Trevor also re-ignites the old flame for him she’s kept smothered for so long.

In order for Livvy to finish her portfolio, she’ll have to face her feelings for Trevor as well as deal with the animosity between her and her mother. Livvy’s always been able to capture a person’s soul from behind the camera—but she’s not sure she likes it when the lens is suddenly focused on her. If she can’t find a way to forgive her mother and admit how she feels about Trevor, Livvy may end up losing more than just the photography contest. She could lose her heart. 


You can Pre-order SOMETHING ABOUT LOVE on Amazon and also talk about it on Goodreads.

And guys, this is very exciting too. ELEVATED, the book I mentioned above and which is my favorite of all favorites by Elana, is FREE on Amazon September 15-19 as a special promo as SOMETHING ABOUT LOVE releases. Make sure you grab it. You will NOT regret it. Promise.



Praise for Elana’s first verse novel, Elevated:
“The taut poetry keeps tension high. The plot is deftly paced, as past intrudes on present, like a photograph emerging in developing fluid.” ~San Francisco Book Review

“Every word Johnson writes carries an emotional heft that lifts readers up to the highest happiness and then sends them crashing down to the depths of despair. It is easy to flow from the first word to the last without ever putting down the book. Johnson shows outstanding talent in this form, and her words are beautiful, important and deeply felt.” ~The Deseret News


About Elana Johnson: Elana Johnson’s work, including Possession, Surrender, Abandon, and Regret, published by Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster), is available now everywhere books are sold. Her popular ebook, From the Query to the Call, is also available for free download, as well as a Possession short story, Resist

Her self-published novels include two YA contemporary novels-in-verse, Elevated and Something About Love, as well as a YA/NA futuristic fantasy series, which includes Elemental Rush, Elemental Hunger, and Elemental Release.

School teacher by day, Query Ninja by night, you can find her online at her personal blog or Twitter. She also co-founded the Query Tracker blog, and contributes to the League of Extraordinary Writers.


Social Media Links:
League of Extraordinary Writers: http://leaguewriters.blogspot.com/


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Catching Up and Coming Back and Summer

Guys! You know how in my last blog I said I was going to take a two week hiatus? And it’s been like four instead. That is just how crazy moving has been for me. We have so much catching up to do!

To save time and space, here’s a quick rundown:

At the beginning of July, my husband was offered a new job that took us from Texas back to Utah. (You know it had to be good to drag me away from my beach!)

I spent the rest of the month packing and preparing to put my house on the market and move my family.


When my husband was finished with his job in Texas, we took a week to visit Orlando, FL, to look at apartments for my daughter who is going to school there (and yes, we did visit Disney and Universal, because—obviously.)




I finally got to visit Hogwarts!



Immediately after returning from Florida, it was time to move. Since our movers fell through at the last minute (their fault, not ours), we improvised. I learned to tow like a BOSS! While transporting a small zoo (2 dogs, a cat, a rabbit, 3 kids, 2 adults).




We arrived in Utah, and immediately picked up this beautiful family member—which we have missed tremendously. (Yes, I am a water person, clearly.)


A short week after arriving, it was time to move my daughter to Florida. So she and I took an epic road trip.


On my returning flight, I *finally* started editing a project I planned to have finished in June.

Last week, my kids started school, and I have been catching up on sleep. This week, I am BACK TO EDITING AND WRITING!

And on September 19-20 I will be visiting Kansas City, KS to present at the LDStorymakers Midwest Conference. There is a massive Author event at a local library the afternoon of September 19th, so if you’re in the area, definitely stop by and say hi!

 *deep breath* That’s a lot of stuff, y’all!

I am now back to blogging, and writing, and all that fun author stuff. I’m going to stick with my current once-a-week posting on Tuesdays for now, but if you want to hear from me more often, you can always follow me on Facebook, where I post a little more frequently, but not obnoxiously so (I hope). Also, for the most up-to-date news and contests, I’d love to have you sign up for my author newsletter (sign up on the sidebar thereà).


And now that I’ve caught you all up on what’s happening with me, what did you do this summer? 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Inspiration

For the next two weeks, I am taking a short hiatus while we take a little trip and then finish our big move. I am so glad you stopped by to read, so I thought I'd share this lovely shot I took a couple weeks ago as my husband and I headed home from South Padre Island, Texas.

Here's a little writing prompt to go with it:

You have two characters, in a car, on this road. Who are they? Where are they going, and what happened earlier in the day that led them to this place, at this exact time?

Annnnddd....GO!


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Benefits of Practice

Well, actually, it’s pretty much everything. I mean, practice keeps us on our toes, right? But since this will be our third move in two years, and since two of those moves have been major, cross-country moves, I’m starting to feel like an expert this time around.

I’m getting good at packing. Not that I wasn’t good before—I’ve moved so many times in my life, that I’ve lost track of how many homes I’ve lived in. And that’s okay. But when it comes to boxing things up—yeah. I’m getting there.

I’m also getting good at throwing things away. I know it sounds funny, but this is not a strength I’ve always had. I’m something of a packrat—or I used to be. I kept everything, even broken Rubbermaid containers, because I didn’t want to have to buy new ones. But broken containers do me no good when we’re moving, and so away they go. Along with the bench I’ve kept in the garage for the last year, planning to paint it. I love it, but it’s damaged, and heavy, and will cost more to transport than it’s worth, and so…it too goes.

Since we’re selling our house in Texas, I’m getting good at quick cleaning. Not because my house is always spotless, but because we’ve learned tricks on where to hide our dirty clothes and how to load the dishwasher in record time.

Another thing I’m learning through practice is how to juggle everything else in life and still get my packing done. For instance, this weekend, my husband and I took a day off to visit a beach we’ve been wanting to get to, but that is just far enough away that we’d put it off. We were gone all day, so we didn’t get any packing done, but we didn’t feel guilty, because we have a Texas bucket list which is also important.

Even though all of the above mentioned things seem to be all about moving, I think the practice idea is true for EVERYTHING. Writing. Reading. Playing an instrument. Sports. Whatever. The more you do a thing, the better at it you become.

And now I need to figure out how to actually plant new roots and stay put, because people, I do not want any more practice with moving.


What about you? What are you currently practicing? 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Land of the Brave, the Independent, the Free

I am of the patriotic sort. The girl who wears red, white, and blue on the 4th of July and who insists on attending parades (even though my kids think they’re too old) and planning barbeques (even though they all whine) and then finding the best local fireworks show (even if I have to go without them). I love everything this holiday is about, what it stands for, and how it came to be. And I have a very special place in my heart for The Star Spangled Banner, particularly after a few years ago when I visited the very place where Francis Scott Key became inspired to write it.


But sadly, in South Texas, there is no parade, no city carnival/festival, and only a very small fireworks show in one of the nearby towns. Instead, we got up before sunrise and drove an hour away to see baby sea turtles released into the wild. We spent the day at the beach. We had our barbeque and spent the day together, and regardless of the whining, my family remembered why the country celebrates this glorious holiday.

Because thousands of brave soldiers have fought, and continue to fight, to keep our country strong—to keep us free. Because of that freedom, I am brave enough to follow dreams of my own. Like writing. And my kids can follow their dreams.

So, you know how two years ago we moved to Texas so I could finally live by my beach (that I LOVE)? Well. Not all dreams last forever, and my love affair with the beach was to be short lived in order for my husband to chase a dream of his own. I won’t go into all the crazy exciting details about it, because you can read about it here, but the bottom line is, the Giles family is headed BACK to Utah! This means another cross-country move.

And it’s happening fast. As in, now.

So please forgive me if over the next couple weeks I’m a bit absent. I promise I’ll be back in due time. And hey, if you follow my Facebook author page, I’ll post pictures along the way.


Happy July!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Holding the Spoon

Occasionally in life, we come to a point where we begin to feel stagnant. When the everyday becomes so routine that it ceases to be a challenge or a learning experience. And like a crime investigation gone cold, sometimes it becomes necessary to find a way to stir things up.

My husband (who is Chief of Police in our town) and his detectives recently did such a thing on a two-year-old homicide case which had almost gone cold. Recent changes in their department (including my husband coming in as chief), particularly the detective division, prompted them to start the investigation from the beginning, look at it with fresh eyes. Then they started all over by calling in a search and rescue team, complete with trained K-9s, to re-canvas the scene of the crime.

I think the same kind of thinking can apply to writing or to other art forms, as well as any aspect of life. Stirring things up is how I got my first book contract. And then again, stirring led me to my agent. Indeed, we stirred our family by moving to Texas a little under two years ago. There is extreme value in shaking things up, breaking patterns, accepting change. Change is growth. And growth is always, always good.

So they stirred this investigation, and while initially, no new evidence surfaced, the presence of the team was enough to start an avalanche of new information that bled with old information, and three weeks later…


An arrest. A strong case. Closure for the victims and their families. A murderer off the streets.

Stirring the cold pot brought out information that led investigators down the right path, just like stirring our family life to come to Texas led our family into some incredible, phenomenal growth. I am still awaiting the verdict on the progress with my career as an author, but big things are coming there too. I can feel it.


I’m already holding the spoon, dipping it in the sauce. Once again, it’s time to give things another little stir.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Everyone Is Angry

I feel a great disturbance in the force over the last few months. Not for any one reason in particular, but maybe for a combination of many. It seems like everywhere I look, every news article or social media feed has become about choosing sides on one issue or another.

Politics. Sports. Industry. Religion. One side must be right while the other side is wrong, and SO MANY people who normally might not speak out are shouting at the top of their lungs, crying foul! Because someone, somewhere, did something or said something that offends a personal sensibility, so we must share our opinions. Let us ALL share our thoughts on Amazon vs Hatchett, or Kate Kelly vs the LDS Church, or whether or not adults should read YA books. Let’s discuss industry jealousy, and politics and politicians, and, oh yes, what about the death penalty? While we’re at it, let’s discuss everything at once because we. Are. Angry.

Everyone is so angry. And eventually, anger becomes bitterness, which turns into hatred. And hatred, no matter how it forms or where it comes from, becomes misery. Wide-spread hatred becomes wide-spread misery.

It feels like everyone in the world is fighting over something. It’s exhausting, really. Because no matter the issue or which side on which you stand, there will never be a point where your view or your take is proven true. It’s an endless circle of discontent.

Granted, it’s not all about being proven right or wrong. In most cases battles are about making change, and I am an advocate for change. Change is good. Always. In most cases, change makes things better, even if it means going through growing pains for a while.

But people, do we really have to be at war with one another? Do we really have to spread venom and hate and anger throughout the world, just because our own emotions are high? Aren’t we, as compassionate, understanding human beings better than animals fighting over a kill?

I think we are. I think we should be. And I think it’s up to us to remember that, and to decide to take a step back, catch a breath, and focus on the good, the positive.

Today, when I was leaving the gas station after my daily Dr. Pepper stop, a gentleman held the door for me. At the grocery store, a little boy smiled shyly and waved. This afternoon, I have had texts from three separate long-distance friends telling me they miss me. My daughter borrowed my car last night, and while she was out, she filled up my gas tank and saved me the trouble of doing it myself.

There are kind gestures, sweet thoughts, beautiful, wonderful things happening all around us, and when we focus on those things rather than the ones that make us angry, I think it’s easier to remember how it feels to be happy. To be individual. To be free.

I vote we stop spreading anger and start spreading love instead. Let’s work on restoring the balance of the force, shall we?