Crossed Out

Crossed Out

Sunday, July 20, 2014

#Wipmadness Week Three-What's Distracting You in Your Writing?

On Friday we went to see Pompeii The Exhibition at the California Science Center in the hub of Los Angeles.  We were excited to see this traveling exhibit.

I loved the history and the knowledge that these things were owned by actual people some 2000 years ago!  Plus, my second book in the goddess series has Aphrodite messing with Jordan.

Pompeii was the hub of the Roman Empire around the 1st century.  It was kind of like the NYC of that time.  The place to go and be seen.

I realized that the Romans took their Gods from the Greeks.  This painting is of Venus, who is the Roman's goddess of love.

Another statue of Venus:

The painting of Aphrodite's birth:

A statue of a young male:

13 year old though only noticed one thing.  Can you tell me what it was?

Son's reaction on most of the exhibit:

 "Mommy, serious?  Is this all about NAKED PEOPLE?"

Seems son didn't like looking at the classics as he only saw one thing--the nudity, which overpowered everything else in the otherwise amazing exhibition.

"I know what guy parts look like but I DON'T WANT TO SEE A LADIES."

So for today's #Wipmadness theme I'm wondering if any of you also get distracted by something albeit your writing, life, or other things that has you lose sight of your main objective--your writing.

I saw during this exhibit fascinating glimpses into a world that time had forgotten but to son?  All he saw was a bunch of naked people that embarrassed him.

In my writing sometimes I get distracted by my very busy schedule or even when someone I know gets that call and/or offer that seem to be out of my reach.  So I forget that I have to work on my writing to get to that point that I will get noticed and hopefully get that call too.

For all of you, that do get a case of distraction, I'm sending some fairy writing dust, to keep all of us on track!

**Last week's #wipmadness winner is....


Email me at for your chose of a book from:

**Fiendish is already taken but the other ones are available!

You all can still have a chance at a galley!  Just RT on Twitter, FB!!!!

This week I'm adding this MG book to the selection:

Kate has created a fun MG series filled with suspense and adventure.  These heroes are looking for missing artwork that takes them to Paris, France!  A great series for reluctant readers with the added bonus of historical facts and fun illustrations.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Friday Five

1. This week I've been hitting my revisions big time in hopes to get the second goddess book off to my editor by August 1st.  Here's hoping I make this deadline!

2. I won a free cover from Paper and Page during last week's #YALITCHAT chat on covers.  I'm really excited as she'd making on for the second goddess book with a Parisian theme!  Can't wait to share!  Oh, here's her site:

3. Latest on MIL: she 'lost' her purse with everything in it, including her passport, two sets of car keys, and other things but only told us late Sunday night.  (Apparently it happened last Thursday).  It's been really hard with her as she's very demanding, needy, and expects everyone--mostly husband--to drop everything and do things for it.  It's gotten worse, not better, with her in assistant living.  Sigh.  Need to set more borders and also have the assistant living place do what they're supposed to do.  So yeah, very stressful.  Thank goodness I'm going to Sacramento next week to visit with my family!  It'll be nice to not be around this for a few days.

4. Books this week include one amazing series that fans of Beth Revis and also ALIENATED series will love.

This is an unique twist on the whole traveling to another world to settle premise.  Totally loving.  There's also hints of an alien love in the second book which does deliver.

Here's the trailer:

5. And I'm not almost done with the second book:
Terra is now on the planet and finds the boy of her dreams. Only problem is he's an alien. LOVING this story so much!

**Guilty pleasure:

We're going to LA to see this exhibition:

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Wipmadness Week 2- Aiming for Writing Goals

This last week son attended Boy Scout camp.  He had a fun time with the other boys in our church and one of his favorite activities was working towards getting his rifle shooting Merit badge.  He even spend extra time and money so he could practice.

**This was really hard for me to give him permission to do this with the history of gun violence in my family but I figured it would be better if he learned how to use one since most of his friend's families do have guns.  Still, though, it was tough.  Husband went on Wednesday till the end and watched and made sure the scouts kept their promise to tell son and other boys the consequences of not using a gun correctly.


Today's theme is are you right on the mark with your writing?  Or are you like me and go way off the bulls eye and have to do like my son and practice numerous times before you get a project to a point that you're happy with?

Using son's Merit badge experience for our example:

First you need to get all the materials you need together.  For me it's a printed draft with numerous comments throughout or critique buddies feedback.

You then get started or actually do those revisions, writing, etc.

Then you aim and go for your target.  For me it's been actually hitting my revision and asking for help from a critique buddy who gave me insights and feedback that helped me get closer to that bulls eye.  I was able to revise almost 200 pages in the 3 days that son and husband were gone at camp.  Yay me!

Son did earn his Merit badge but only after lots of practice and not giving up even when at first it was harder than he thought.

So don't give up!  Be persistent and go for your goals!

Remember I'm cheering for all of you!

**Last week's winner is:

Mary Ann

Email me at for your choice of galley you'd like! Here's the link to the books that are available!

And make sure to comment, RT for a chance at winning a galley for next week!!!!

And here's another galley up for grabs:

My YABC review:

Teaser: PRETTY LITTLE LIARS meets a murderous A-type set in a private Christian school backdrop where an underground group of teens against bullying find that their enemies might be more than they can handle. Karma sometimes isn't sweet.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Wipmadness Week 1

Hi, everyone! I'm excited to be your host for this month's #wipmadness!

I'm glad it's summer! I'm burned out with teaching and need a break! I hope to finish my revision of book two in the goddess series and get back to El Compuesto! Also my one publisher wants to read more of the sequel to CROSSED OUT!

My plans for this month and next include:

Scheduling more writing time at the local coffee house and nearby library. It's really hard to write at home as husband works there and son is off for the summer.

But I also hope to take it easy:

and visit my own family in Sacramento!

My question for all of you is what are your goals for this month? Do you have anything standing in the way of accomplishing them and if you do, how do you overcome those odds?

Remember, I'm cheering for you all!

Courtesy of

And what would #Wipmadness be without prizes to help motive you all?

Comment and RT on FB and Twitter for a chance at winning one of the following: **I'm also posting little teasers from my YABC reviews!

Like No Other by Una LaMarche

I'm a total sucker for a bittersweet love story and this one delivers. Think modern day WEST SIDE STORY with an engaging voice and two characters that you hope will somehow overcome the odds against them. And the odds are huge for this couple.


The whole premise of something wicked happening in a small town and the hypocrisy of the townspeople reminds me so much of a Ray Bradbury story only with much more woven throughout. She also reminds me a bit of Francesca Lia Block, another one of my favorite authors!

Don't Look Back by J.Armentrout

An amazing thriller

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Think Steampunk meets 1844 Scotland with one kickass heroine that would give Buffy the Vampire Slayer a run for her money. Only in this case the heroine is supposed to be the proper lady with a secret: she's a faery slayer and loves it.

End Times by Anna Schumacher

Great voice with intriguing twists on an end of the world premise. Fascinating backdrop that foreshadows where the Rapture might occur with characters that will keep you guessing on their roles in all of this.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Guest Post from Diana Renn, author of LATITUDE ZERO

You all know how much I loved LATITUDE ZERO!

I'm excited to have a guest post from author Diana Renn on a subject dear to my heart: diversity in literature.

Tricky Terrain: Incorporating Diversity in Travel Fiction

I write mysteries about globetrotting teens. Tokyo Heist (2012) takes sixteen-year-old manga fan Violet Rossi from Seattle to Japan, on a quest to recover stolen van Goghs. Latitude Zero (2014) takes aspiring investigative reporter Tessa Taylor from Cambridge, MA to Quito, Ecuador, as she uncovers the truth behind an Ecuadorian cyclist’s death on a bike race. And Blue Voyage (coming in 2015) takes a politician’s daughter, Zan Glazer, to Turkey, where she gets entangled with an international gang of antiquities smugglers.

I’ve always loved to travel, and so I love writing travel fiction + mysteries. My books are love letters to places where I’ve traveled or lived myself. But the terrain of travel fiction necessarily involves writing across cultures. And that can be precarious terrain to navigate.

We all know there is a need for more diversity in YA fiction. We need more diverse characters – main characters – so everyone can see themselves represented on the page. When I set my books partially or fully in foreign countries, it might seem like an easy answer to this imbalance. Of course my teen sleuths will encounter diversity. They will meet people from different cultures, or people with roots in these cultures..
But every time I begin one of these novels, I have to think very carefully about the relationship of my teen sleuth – a white American female, like myself – to the cultures and people she encounters.

These are some of the questions I wrestle with as early as the brainstorming stage and all along the way through a draft:

  • Could the sleuth be from this culture I’m writing about? In each of my books, I’ve started with this question. After numerous attempts and a great deal of soul-searching, my answer, so far, has come up as no – not if I’m the one telling the story. I haven’t yet felt qualified to tell these stories from the insider perspective. I’ve come to accept that mine is the perspective of the outsider, the tourist, which is also the perspective of my narrators. I In Tokyo Heist I would have loved to see the same story told by Reika, Violet’s best friend, who spends her summers in Tokyo and knows the culture well. In Latitude Zero, I really wanted my sleuth to be Mari Vargas, an Ecuadorian-American bike mechanic. But in both cases, I felt too removed from their experiences to write authentically in their voices for an entire novel.

  • If the sleuth is a white American girl, how can I incorporate diversity in a meaningful way? One solution has been to create strong supporting characters from other backgrounds. Each of my sleuths has one or more friends to team up with in her investigation. This carries an additional risk, though: the person of color as sidekick. Reika, Violet’s friend in Tokyo, plays this role. So in Latitude Zero my goal was to make Mari Vargas more of a co-sleuth with Tessa, as opposed to a sidekick. Mari is not Watson to Tessa’s Holmes. She brings a distinct set of skills to her role in the investigation, and she sometimes goes off and does her own thing. She and Tessa also have very different motivations for solving the mystery. This issue is something I have to continue to think carefully about in my books. It’s helpful to have an “insider” on board who knows the language or culture and who can help the primary sleuth investigate. But that person should not always be a person of color in a secondary role. In my future books, I’ll have to think even more carefully about how to handle this problem.

  • Is my sleuth “saving” everyone? In recent years, Nancy Drew has gone global. Many of the newer Nancy Drew novels are set in foreign countries, and a graphic novel series published by PaperCutz takes Nancy to India, Turkey, and other places abroad. Nancy’s fallen under some criticism, though – and rightly so – because she arrives in these countries to save the day. Why should she fly to India and “save” a woman with whom she spoke on a customer service line? (Unless she had some really amazing customer service?) Don’t people in other countries have their own resources? The white girl saving the day is a tired trope, so it’s my goal to find ways to activate teams of people, across cultures, who all play a role in investigating crimes or bringing criminals to justice.

  • Am I portraying other cultures as monolithic or multifaceted? It’s so important to do good research and not fall into easy stereotypes. Sometimes I want my white characters to have some stereotypes in mind – to talk about them – and to have them challenged. Characters can even talk directly about stereotypes and wrestle with them. In Latitude Zero, for example, Mari expresses dismay that people associate Latin American countries with drug cartels and other criminals. Characters can also realize that their initial impressions of another country were incorrect. In Tokyo Heist, Violet comes to realize that Japan is neither a manga nor a Miyazaki film. Her expectations of Japan were romantic, fueled by entertainment, and once she’s there she becomes aware of herself as an outsider who has much to learn. Finally, it’s important to show that there are “good guys” and “bad guys” in every culture. My criminal networks in my novels are always international.

  • Are people from these cultures comfortable with what I’m writing? With all my books, I have people from these cultures read them. I ask them to check for stereotypes and clich├ęs, as well as accuracy. Does anything cause offense? I urge them to be completely honest. I try to have at least two readers for each book. This is the scariest part of the writing process for me, but a step I would never skip.
My teen sleuths uncover more than clues and red herrings in my mysteries. As they investigate crimes, they meet people from diverse backgrounds. They bump into their own expectations and preconceptions about other cultures, sometimes uncomfortably. Maybe some readers will too.

I hope that my books inspire curiosity about other cultures. The Readers Guides to my books include questions designed to spark important conversations about diversity.

I also hope that we’ll see more mysteries featuring sleuths from all kinds of backgrounds. I’m always looking for good recommendations!  

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Friday Five

1. This week I've been collecting items for son's scout trip next week. Did I mention how $$$ this trip is going to be? Son's camp master- can't go this year so he asked husband to help out. So that was more money I didn't plan on. Sigh. But on the plus side? I'll have the house ALL TO MYSELF! Now just need to cross my fingers mother-in-law doesn't have a drama moment or two like she did yesterday morning. Double sigh.

2. Love when I get packages that include books:

3. I was really excited to get the latest Kimberly Derting book:



I'm a huge fan of Kimberly Derting's THE PLEDGE series and was really excited to be able to read her latest novel.

Mysterious and suspenseful, this novel shows us sixteen-year-old Kyra waking up and finding out she's lost five years. This is more than a Sleepy Hollow type of story as Kyra hasn't changed at all. Things that she has love and even her family seem off somehow. Here's when the creepy factor comes in. A stranger appears at her home, telling her he can help but something isn't right. Add one very cute brother of a former boyfriend and another guy who seems to everywhere. Secrets will be revealed but will Kyra be able to accept what comes with the truth including losing those she loves once again?

4. Of course loved this book:



Fast-paced engaging adventure set in the world of professional cycling with a determined girl who sets out to resolve her friend of a wrongdoing. A must read for those who love suspense, adventure, and hints of romance set in a Latin American countryside.

5.Also a reminder if you are boycotting Amazon? My book NO MORE GODDESSES is available here:Indiebound

Love supporting Indie stores!

**Guilty Pleasure

Getting a much needed pedi/mani on Saturday.

Not sure what we'll be doing on July 4th as Mother-in-law might be in the hospital after getting a really bad case of a virus going around. **Hope son doesn't get it as he'll be at camp next week.

Monday, June 30, 2014


I was excited to get a galley of the latest Diana Renn book to review! One huge plus with this book is the diversity. You all know how I am with the whole #WeNeedDiverseBooks

Plus, most of the setting in this book takes place is Ecuador! Love it!

My review:

Talk about whirlwind suspense, tension, and adventure that doesn't stop! I was hooked on the very first page of the latest Diana Renn novel. With all the talk lately on a lack of diversity in YA, this one is a perfect addition to that collection.

What worked: I loved how suspenseful and engaging this novel was! Readers are introduced to TV host Tessa who acts a little rebellious by riding 'Bandit' style in a cycling race for cancer. This act has her promptly fired from her children's TV show but that's not what gets to her. Right before the race, Juan Carlos, a cycling star, asks her to contact him as it's important. He dies before she can do this. At first she blames herself as she did cause a major accident during the race but later questions pop up on maybe there was much more to his death. She decides to go to Ecuador to find the truth even if that means it might put herself in danger.

One huge plus is a strong protagonist. Tessa is strong willed and doesn't give up. Her jerky former cyclist star boyfriend Jake shows his true colors more than a few times at the beginning and I'm glad that she has enough backbone to go with her gut feelings even if that means losing him. The story really comes to life when she journeys to Ecuador and volunteers with bringing bikes to the residences of this country. The Ecuadorian countryside is shown in brutal honesty from the rich residences complete with armed guards to the squalid of the poorer neighborhoods.

I liked the suspense and mystery on what might have really happened to Juan Carlos. The added possible romantic angle with Ecuadorian Santiago adds to the storyline. It's not over the top and she doesn't wait for him to solve the mystery but rather uses his help along the way.

Tessa inner strength adds much to this story. Renn just doesn't dwell on the Latin American's corruption but equally shows others, like Tessa's host family, who want the best for Ecuador without doing illegal activities. The Spanish gives the story authenticity as it's right on. I can say this as I'm fluent in Spanish.

Another added bonus is readers get an insight into the world of professional cycling. Fascinating details along with other painful hidden glimpses into how this sport can be tainted by a few.

Fast-paced engaging adventure set in the world of professional cycling with a determined girl who sets out to resolve her friend of a wrongdoing. A must read for those who love suspense, adventure, and hints of romance set in a Latin American countryside.

Release date is July 3rd!

Originally posted at: YA Books Central