What do you see?

A couple days ago, I found something cool on the beach, and then I found something else cool today. My reaction to both things told me that I’m just a big kid, which I already knew, but they also got me thinking about voice and point of view and character…. But first, you want to know what I found, don’t you?



Yes, I found a message in a bottle — cool! — and worked for several minutes to get the note out. Turns out, it had bobbed over to my beach from a nearby island. Not exactly a long journey, but I put my name and location on the bottom of the note, re-sealed it in the bottle, and flung it as far as I could into the sea. Maybe it’ll catch a current and end up on a far-away shore, or maybe it’ll wash up where some poor soul is stuck on a deserted island and he’ll open it and find paper and pencil, and he’ll write an S.O.S., and his hope will be restored! Oh, the possibilities.

And then, I found a ship. Okay, it was actually a wood pallet, but imagine if you lashed it to a couple driftwood logs… hey! you could rescue the guy on the deserted island! Or you could at least imagine you were the one on the island and were now sailing into the open sea, warding off pirates and sharks as you headed off on a grand adventure.

See? Kid at heart. You understand why I write for children….

But on to my writing analogy. If you’re writing from a kid’s point of view, you have to see things the way a kid would. Or if you’re writing as a homeless guy (that pallet would make a decent wall to keep tonight’s rain out of my shelter) or a bored housewife (hey, a message in a bottle could set off a thrilling romantic rendezvous), you have to get in their head and see things the way they would see them. 

You knew that, right? Yeah, so did I, but sometimes it’s good to remind ourselves of such things. That’s why I said it…not at all because I was grasping at straws/bottles/rafts to find something to blog about. ;)


Saturday Snapshot: Yellowstone

My husband, son, and I just returned from 2-1/2 weeks on the road. We had a great trip, and I took hundreds of photos (yay for digital! remember back in the “film days”, when you carefully took one-and-only-one shot of Very Significant Things because it would cost SO MUCH to develop them? heh). A blog post about the trip is likely forthcoming, but for today, a peek at some of the awe-inspiring sights of Yellowstone National Park. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Left: Old Faithful Geyser erupting. Top right: hot spring pool in the Excelsior Geyser Crater. Bottom right: Grand Prismatic Spring, a hot spring in the Middle Geyser Basin.

Left: Old Faithful Geyser erupting. Top right: hot spring pool in the Excelsior Geyser Crater. Bottom right: Grand Prismatic Spring, a hot spring in the Middle Geyser Basin.

Saturday Snapshot is a meme hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads. Her pics are also of Yellowstone today! Go figure… *waves to West Metro Mommy*


I’m delighted to be taking part in the cover reveal for Denise Jaden‘s upcoming YA novel, FOREIGN EXCHANGE (Evernight Teen, October 2014). It’s a great cover! But if that’s not enough for you, there’s also a sneak peek — you can read the first chapter now! — AND a giveaway of Stephanie Perkins’ ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER. Read on, folks!

Here are a few of Denise’s thoughts on Foreign Exchange and its cover…

I’m so incredibly excited to share my cover of Foreign Exchange with you! This book holds a very special place in my heart. I wrote it during a very difficult year of my life, and the characters and their stories were a real bright spot for me.

Because this book is so important to me, I’m giving away something VERY important to me to go along with this cover reveal. I was fortunate enough to receive an early copy of the highly-anticipated Isla and the Happily Ever After by one of my all-time favorite authors, Stephanie Perkins. Isla and Foreign Exchange are both romances with swoon-worthy boys, and they’re both set partially in Europe. So I want one lucky person to receive my advanced copy of Isla to get you excited for Foreign Exchange!

Read on, check out my cover, and read the first chapter of Foreign Exchange below. It’ll all help you earn extra entries to win my copy of Isla and the Happily Ever After!

And here is the beautiful cover!

Isn’t it gorgeous? I love it.  Here’s the blurb, and a link to the first chapter:

Jamie Monroe has always played it safe. That is, until her live-for-the-moment best friend, Tristan, jets off to Italy on a student exchange program. Left alone with her part-time mother and her disabled brother, Jamie discovers that she is quite capable of taking her own risks, starting with her best friend’s hotter-than-hot older brother, Sawyer. Sawyer and Tristan have been neighbors for years, but as Jamie grows closer to the family she thought she knew, she discovers some pretty big secrets.

As she sinks deeper into their web of pretense, she suspects that her best friend may not be on a safe exchange program at all. Jamie sets off to Europe on a class trip with plans to meet up with Tristan, but when Tristan stops all communication, suddenly no one seems trustworthy, least of all the one person she was starting to trust—Sawyer. 


“Foreign Exchange is a fresh contemporary YA that will keep readers compulsively turning pages until the very end. Combining international intrigue with a steamy forbidden romance makes for a can’t miss read.”

 – Eileen Cook,  author of Year of Mistaken Discoveries

“A pitch perfect voice and delicious chemistry kept me turning those pages!”

- Tara Kelly, author of Amplified and Encore.

“Foreign Exchange is heart pounding and suspenseful…the teenage dream of escaping the boredom of suburbia by travelling Europe and spending quality time with a hot guy shifts into a dangerous nightmare.”

 – D.R. Graham, author of Rank and the upcoming Noir et Bleu MC series.


One of the entries in the Rafflecopter below will ask you a question from the above chapter!

This contest is open internationally!

Don’t forget…this copy of ISLA could be yours…


A Rafflecopter Giveaway


* Note – If you cannot access the Rafflecopter Widget through this blog, access it HERE.

News! Or, The Long and Winding Road

Six years ago I wrote a story about a girl who stopped trusting people (she had her reasons) and who wasn’t particularly trustworthy herself. She wasn’t the only messed-up person in the story, because life is messy, you know? I wanted to give those people hope. I wanted them to find their way through the mess to some sort of potentially-less-messy place. I worked hard, and I finished that story. But you know writing “the end” is only the beginning, right? ;)

Here’s the long and winding road FOLLOWING CHELSEA has taken:

  • written in 2008
  • revised
  • shared with my writing group
  • revised again
  • applauded at “SiWC Idol” (now that was fun!)
  • queried
  • rejected
  • queried some more
  • agented
  • re-written
  • revised
  • unagented
  • hidden under the proverbial bed while I wrote another novel
  • dusted off and revised
  • shared with critique partners
  • revised
  • thrown back under the bed while I wrote yet another novel
  • pulled out again and shined-up
  • submitted and…
  • sold!

Yup! For real! Evernight Teen is going to publish FOLLOWING CHELSEA, and I’m over the moon! :D

Photo: Dr Patty McAlpin, Creative Commons

Photo: Dr Patty McAlpin, Creative Commons


Books & Birds & Tangled Balls of Emotion


1. There are more wonderful books in the world than I will ever be able to read. (And yes, I realize this is a fact not only of my life, but also of the lives of every book lover in all of time and space.) Currently reading: THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY, by Gabrielle Zevin, and A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME, by Stephen Hawking.

2. The “breakfast buffet” down at the Willow Creek estuary must’ve been especially good this morning: I counted 18 bald eagles, 4 turkey vultures, several murderous crows, and a large assortment of gulls (but no partridge-in-a-pear-tree). Alas, I had no camera with me, but here’s a pic from another day:


3. When one gets especially good news and especially bad news on the same day, one’s emotions can become a tangled mess. Life is such a wonderful, terrible thing. (I am okay. My family is okay. But, life is hard sometimes, y’know?)


Have a great week, my friends. Peace…




Slip-sliding toward our goals

One of my favourite places to wander and explore is the Willow Point reef, which you can only get to when the tide’s quite low. On the far side of the reef, at the very tip, there are beds of gorgeous red sea urchins. The tide wasn’t quite low enough today, so the tip of the reef wasn’t that accessible and the red urchins were still beneath the surface of the water. Did I let that stop me from getting out there to see them? Heh…not a chance.

See where all those gulls are? The urchins are on the far side of that bit of rock. gulls on the tip of the reef-sm To get there, I traverse the first slip-n-slide: slipslide1 And then the second slip-n-slide: slipslide2 And then I wade into the sea, making sure not to step on any sea stars (because it would hurt them) or sea urchins (because it would hurt both them and me!). The water is thigh-deep in places. My shorts are…not short enough. Oh well. ;)

If you have too much time on your hands, you can watch me make my way over there:

Made it! (Click on photo to enlarge.)

waves over red urchins on tip of reef-sm

red urchins 3-sm


They’re so beautiful! Spectacular colours. Definitely worth risking life and limb to see (well…limb, at least). Just seeing them and watching the waves wash over them made me happy. :)

Analogy-of-the-day? Just this: Go for it. Whatever you dream or hope, whatever goal you seek that’s just out of your reach, go for it. You might slip. You might fall, or fail, or get hurt (or wet!). But get back up! Because if you press on, you might just make it, and it’ll be spectacular.