#DearMe, Advice for my Younger Self


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Youtube recently launched a #DearMe campaign in honor of International Women’s Day. It’s a great idea – people post a video where they tell their teenage selves advice. I know I have a lot of advice for young Heidi. In lieu of a video, I thought I’d post it here.

First of all, young me, remember that paperwork never goes away. So just sticking it in a drawer and not filling it out will not help you. It will still be sitting there, looming, waiting to be filled in, and eventually your decision to ignore it will catch up to you. This happens repeatedly. Stop it.

Also revisions really are necessary. I know you think you wrote it the way it was meant to be written the first time, but seriously, who are you fooling? That first draft is just the very beginning; the revisions are where the story actually takes shape. You’re not “ruining your vision” when you go back and change things.

And yes, someday you will have a dog. And yes, I’m going to tell you what everyone’s always told you – dogs are a lot of work. But so worth it. In fact, everything that matters in life is a lot of work, so it’s good to get used to it.

Finally, stop worrying so much. Things always seem to work out. And remember, I think you’re awesome. ;)

Me and my sisters back in '98

Me and my sisters back in ’98. 

How about you? What advice would you give your younger self?


More Than Comics


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MTCebook.v2Get ready to add to your TBR piles because we have another book to recommend this week! The second book in Elizabeth Brigg’s sexy NA “Chasing the Dream” series is out, and it looks great! Here’s the blurb for More Than Comics:

They’re friends online – but can they be more in real life?

Writer Tara McFadden has been friends with artist and drummer Hector Fernandez for years, long before his band became famous on reality TV – yet they’ve never met in person. They finally have a chance to connect offline when they’re both sent to Comic-Con to promote the graphic novel they collaborated on.

Hector’s secretly been in love with Tara for as long as he can remember, and once they meet, she sees him in a new light. All the years of longing lead to an incredible night of passion after one of his concerts, but neither is sure if their online relationship can translate into a real life romance – or if this will ruin their friendship forever.

Over four crazy days at Comic-Con, Hector and Tara must decide if they want a future together. But when their story seems to be over, it’s up to Hector’s entire band to make sure he and Tara get their happy ending.

Author bio:

Elizabeth Briggs is a full-time geek who writes books for teens and adults. She plays the guitar, mentors at-risk teens, and volunteers with a dog rescue group. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a pack of small, fluffy dogs.

She was also our Pitch Wars mentor back in the day, and she’s a phenomenal writer. If you haven’t checked out her first book, More Than Music, we talked about it here, and it’s also on sale this week only.


If you want to connect with Liz online, you can find her here:

Website: http://www.elizabethbriggs.net/
Facebook fan group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ElizabethBriggsFans/
Newsletter: http://smarturl.it/elizabethbriggs
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/lizwrites

Happy reading, everyone! :)


Cover Reveal: Torn by Kate Sparkes


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We have a special treat today – a cover reveal for the second book in the Bound Trilogy by Kate Sparkes!

Okay, first of all, if you haven’t read Bound yet, definitely check it out. It’s on sale for $0.99 from now until March 2nd. If you love YA fantasy, well-developed worlds, awesome female protagonists, and romance, this is one you shouldn’t miss! Here’s a link to check it out for yourself.

bound sale 1

Read Bound already? Check out the sequel, Torn, and this amazing cover:


And here’s the blurb:

Aren Tiernal knows that safety is an illusion, that his cruel and powerful brother Severn will never forgive his betrayal. Still, returning to Tyrea to challenge Severn for the throne would be suicide. It’s not until Severn himself comes to collect what’s owed to him that Aren decides to risk everything in an attempt to bring down the most powerful Sorcerer Tyrea has ever known. It’s a mission that seems doomed to fail, but it’s Aren’s only chance to save himself, his country, and the woman who thawed his heart.

Rowan Greenwood has troubles of her own. Though she has potential to become a great Sorceress, years of being closed off from her magic have left her unable to control her incredible power. When a pair of ominous letters arrive from her home country, Rowan has to choose between her new life and a chance at saving a family member’s life—and just maybe changing an entire country’s beliefs about the evils of magic.

Torn apart by separate quests, Rowan and Aren will have to discover untapped strengths and confront their darkest fears in order to overthrow a ruler determined to destroy them both.

It’s available for pre-sale now, and will be released on March 31st with a limited time launch price of $2.99.

Kate is a terrific writer, but don’t take our word for it – check her out at her own blog, or you can follow her on twitter @kate_sparkes, on Instagram at kate.sparkes, or on Facebook.

Cover art was done by Ravven at www.ravven.com

Fiction Friday: Ensnared


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So…a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I wrote a Fiction Friday post on Splintered and Unhinged by A. G. Howard, and my one complaint: I have to wait until 2015 for the last book?!? Well, as you all know, 2015 is here, and with it Ensnared, the final book. I have now read and re-read the entire trilogy, and I loooooved it. Morpheus 100 percent sold it for me, but that’s not to say that I didn’t like Alyssa, the MC, too.

Here’s the scoop. After an awesomely chaotic ending to the second book, the third book picks right up from there. In this book, you finally learn about Alyssa’s dad’s secret past – which unfortunately, I wasn’t blown away by. In fact, I found Alyssa’s dad to be almost as irritating as Jeb.

Moving on past that though, we get to see AnyElsewhere, a twisted world full of Wonderland rejects. AnyElsewhere is a pretty fantastic setting, and thankfully we don’t have to wait long for the wonderful appearance of Morpheus.

In this conclusion, all loose ends are tied up, and everything ends in a neat little package…almost too neat. However, even if I do like a little more chaos in my endings, I was satisfied enough with this one, and it did leave me smiling, and skimming back through the book for my favorite scenes.

How about all of you, what have you been reading these last few months? Do you have any good book recommendations?

What’s in a name?


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So last week we got a new puppy. Here’s a picture of him:


All was well and good. Until the battle of the names began.

You see, I wanted to name him “Oz,” short for “Ozymandias,” from the poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley. One, because I think it’s a good, cute name for a little dog, and two, because that’s an awesome poem.

My husband wanted to name him Gomukha.

ME: Gomukha? Why Gomukha? How did you even come up with that?

SEAN: It’s Sanskrit.

ME: Oh, this is one of those yoga things, isn’t it?

SEAN: …maybe.

ME: Fine. What’s it mean?

SEAN: <pause> Uh, it means “cow-face.”

cow face_blog

ME: Okay. I guess that’s appropriate.

And so the puppy became “Gomukha,” or “Gomu” for short. Poor little guy. ;)

I’ve always had a hard time picking a name. When I write, I usually just choose the first name that pops into my head, and then promise myself I’ll go back and replace it later. Sometimes I do, and sometimes the instant name sticks. But I know if I spend too much time deliberating on the names at the start, I’ll waste hours on sites like Behind the Name, and I’ll never get past that first page.

How about you? How do you choose your names?

"nom nom nom..."

“nom nom nom…”

We Have an Agent!


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ANNOUNCEMENT: Kati and I are excited to say that we’re now repped by Jennifer Azantian of the Azantian Literary Agency!

It’s taken us a couple of writer’s conferences, some really great critique partners, hours brainstorming, and lots of revisions, but here we are, ready for the next step.

KATI: Speaking of next steps, some of you may wonder how we celebrated after finally signing with an agent.

HEIDI: How did we celebrate? Why, the best way possible – by hitting the town! And by “hitting the town,” I mean we stayed in and ate cake…

KATI: But it was really good cake.

The best cake in the world!

The best cake in the world! Extra thanks go to Kati’s bf Nick for surprising us with it. :)

HEIDI: Almost too good, honestly. It was one of the only times I’ve had a piece of cake and been like, hmm, I think that’s enough cake for me. Unfortunately, Kati was determined that we were going to eat all of it.

KATI: Heh heh. Cake or death?

HEIDI: Death.

KATI: Okay, death…by cake!

HEIDI: Noooooo….

So, thank you to everyone who has supported and encouraged us along the way. We couldn’t have done it without you! Here’s hoping there’s big things ahead for MYSTIC COOKING, but in the meantime, we’ll be where we always are, writing away.

Yeah, that’s right, I cook now


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Hello friends! It has been far too long, but better late than never to say: Happy New Year!

This new year I resolved not to make any resolutions at all. That way I could get the whole resolution fail out of the way at the start, instead of waiting until mid-March like normal. ;) I also decided to set a few looser goals, things to work on throughout the whole year.

1. Develop a more consistent early morning writing practice:

Last year I tried to make it a habit to get up by 4 or 5am and get in at least an hour or two of writing every morning. Some mornings I was victorious. Other mornings, the gravitational pull of my bed was just too strong. I refer to these constant struggles as “The Battles of the Snooze.” I’m happy to report that so far in 2015, nothing much has changed on that front – but I will battle on. By the end of the year, I hope to be in the habit of just getting up every morning.

My early morning writing partner

My early morning writing partner

2. Read more non-fiction:

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. I do most of my reading in one of my chosen genres, and I think that’s important. But I also think there’s a lot to be said for reading outside your preferred genres. I realized I tend to avoid anything non-fiction, and I am going to try to change that this year.

3. Learn to cook:

You’d think I know how. The main character of mine and Kati’s book, after all, is a chef. And I do try. I even invent my own dishes, and sometimes I’m successful, and sometimes…well. Honestly, there are only a handful of things I feel confident I can make. Usually when I’m writing a cooking scene, I just describe Lailu making stew and then send it along to Kati, who yells at me and then changes it to something more “high-end.” So I’ve decided this year that I will make something new every week. And since Kati’s boyfriend got me hooked on Blue Apron, I’ve actually been making progress on that goal – six new recipes this year alone, and counting!

A messy stove is the mark of a good chef!

A messy stove is the mark of a good chef! That’s what I tell myself…

So how about you? Any goals for this year? And any good non-fiction recommendations?

Movie Monday: Big Hero 6


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Heidi reporting here from the colds of Detroit. There is some strange white substance falling from the sky as I type. I can’t quite figure out what it is…looks like frozen water? So weird… ;)

Yesterday, to beat this very cold weather, my older sister and I retreated to the movie theaters where we watched Disney’s Big Hero 6. I’ve been wanting to see this movie ever since I watched the trailer, and I’m so glad I finally saw it. It lived up to my expectations and more.

Big Hero 6 is a great movie with amazing graphics and fun characters. It’s set in the futuristic city of San Fransokyo, and looks exactly like you’d think. The main character is a 14 year-old-genius who is dealing with the loss of his older brother, helped along in part by Baymax, the robot his brother designed. There are other cool inventions, some awesome superhero suits designed along the lines of Iron Man, and, of course, an epic battle against a super villain. The whole movie has this really fun comic book feel, and it’s impossible not to like Baymax, who is the best robot ever. :)

Be warned, unless your heart is ice you will totally cry during this movie. It’s not as sad as Up, but I’d recommend keeping a tissue box nearby. There are also plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, and a fun storyline with lots of action that will keep kids and adults entertained throughout. The only criticism I have is on the villain, who I felt wasn’t fleshed out enough, and whose actions didn’t quite seem justified by the brief bit of backstory given.

However, that being said, it’s definitely a movie worth seeing, and with those amazing special effects and graphics, a movie worth seeing on the big screen.

Have any of you seen this movie yet? What did you think?

Fiction Friday: Cold Weather Reading


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Since earlier this week Heidi talked a bit about choosing your destination carefully, and how weather can play an important part in a novel, I thought I’d bring up some of my favorite novels that deal well with weather. So grab a hot chocolate, and here it goes:

First Book: Icefall

A long long time ago, in a blog that used to be updated quite regularly, Heidi wrote a fiction Friday post on Icefall, by Matthew J. Kirby. Recently I read the book and I absolutely loved it! While it’s definitely an upper MG, you never find out the character’s ages. Also, this is one of the few mysteries that kept me guessing till the cold, bitter end who the killer was. Seriously, this winter, if you’re looking for a fun quick read with lots of snow and a bit of Nordic mythology, this is a keeper.

Second Book: Star Crossed

I don’t think I ever talked about Star Crossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce here, but this is a book that I absolutely loved. For one thing, don’t let the title fool you, this is one of those rare YA books where the romance takes the backseat. Seriously, the love interest is introduced, then is gone for the rest of the book. So pretty much this book relies on Digger, it’s butt-kicking thief main character, some awesome world building (a world with multiple moons!), and a pretty exciting plot. Not only that, but snow, lots and lots of snow. Unfortunately, this is the first book in the series, and so far, there’s no sign of when the third book will be coming out. Still, don’t let that stop you, if you’re looking for a good YA this winter, I recommend this one.

Third Book: Life as We Knew it

Life as we Knew it by Susan Beth Pfeffer is another YA that deals well with snow and weather. In fact, the tagline on the cover is: The weather finally broke…for good. This one is told from Miranda’s perspective through her journals. When an asteroid crashes into the moon, it hits it out of orbit and closer to Earth causing a whole chain of natural disasters. This book is the story of one family trying to survive one disaster after another. One of these days, we really should do a Fiction Friday just on this book, but if you want to read a little more about what we think about it, Heidi and I mention it in a joint blog post about family love here.

So, that wraps up the three books that came to mind when I found out Heidi was going to be off running through the snow. Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them if you have?

Choose Your Destinations Carefully


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Mt. ShastaSo I was reading the news the other day, and I came across the term “bomb cyclone,” which is what they’re calling the super cold weather expected to hit the Northern US this week. Which is kind of a problem for me.

Let me back up.

A few months ago, my older sister (you may remember her from our “Ask a Scientist” segment we did a while back) invited me out to her part of the country to run a 10k with her. “It’ll be fun,” she said. “You get a cool hat,” she said. I still wasn’t convinced. “There’s a chocolate buffet at the end…”

And just like that, I was in.

And where is her part of the country, you may ask? Detroit, Michigan. Yes, that’s right, I am going to be leaving California to go to Detroit and run on one of the coldest weeks of the year. What was I thinking? I don’t even own any cold-weather clothes! “Who decides to do a destination run in Michigan in the middle of November?” my husband wondered. He hasn’t been particularly sympathetic to my plight. I just hope that chocolate buffet is worth it! ;)

This made me think about writing, and how much weather can really play a role in a story. I feel like in my own writing, I often forget about the weather, but it can be as much a character as the people, and is a potential source of all sorts of conflict. Some authors use it really well, developing it into a key aspect of their story. Brandon Sanderson’s “The Way of Kings” comes immediately to mind, where storms are regular, terrifying, and a major plot component.

How about you? What books have you read where the weather is truly a major part of the plot? Was it effective? And do you use weather often in your own stories?


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