Thursday, March 31, 2016

New Release Spotlight: Competing With the Star, Young Adult Fiction by Krysten Lindsay Hager

This week I'm participating in the Spread Some Indie Love Blog Tour hosted by Debdatta Dasgupta Sahay, a book addict from India, b00k r3vi3ws. The tour's mission is to spotlight indie authors. I chose to spotlight fellow Clean Indie Reads author Krysten Lindsay Hager, author of the Landry's True Colors and The Star Series. Krysten's a frequent guest on Adventures in Publishing. I love her Young Adult novels that are full of contemporary story lines and good feels. Read on to learn more about her newest release Competing With the Star, book two in The Star series,  then follow the rest of the tour to discover some exciting indie authors. On Twitter? We're at #SpreadSomeIndieLove. Last but not least, I'm raffling off a copy of my soon-to-be-released Young Adult sports novel Swim Season. Enter the drawing at the end of this post. Now, here's Krysten!

Hadley Daniels’s life seems perfect…

Before the beginning of sophomore year of high school, Hadley and her family move to a beautiful beach town, where she makes amazing new friends and lands the boyfriend of her dreams—Nick Jenkins. He’s the kind of guy every girl swoons over, and it isn’t long until Hadley discovers some are still swooning.

A famous ex-girlfriend makes matters more complicated…

After some time dating, Hadley and Nick form a deep bond. But insecurity sets in when Hadley discovers her boyfriend once had a huge crush on her friend—who just happens to be the beautiful former teen TV star, Simone Hendrickson.

The past is the past—or so they say…

Hadley confronts Nick, who confesses about his history with Simone. Though he claims to only have eyes for Hadley now, it’s hard to believe—especially when she’s blindsided with the news that Nick and Simone kissed after school.

Now Hadley must determine who is telling the truth. Love, betrayal, friendship…who needs soap opera drama when you’re busy competing with a star?


Two days passed and Nick hadn’t called again. I couldn’t blame him. After all, I had pushed for him to be honest and then had bailed on him. I’m sure he was mad at me for telling him he could tell me the truth and then I punished him for it—and he would be right. I couldn’t handle the icky feelings, and instead of being a big girl and dealing with them, I came home from school and retreated into the world of books. A world where people were kidnapped, jewels were stolen, but nobody’s heart ever got broken because in my favorite series, The Raven Chronicles, Raven’s boyfriend, Fernando, was ever faithful and loyal and would never even look at another girl. He was the perfect book boyfriend. In other words, he was fictional and didn’t exist.

About the Author

Krysten Lindsay Hager is an obsessive reader and has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and humor essayist, and writes for teens, tweens, and adults. She is the author of the Landry’s True Colors Series and her work has been featured in USA Today and named as Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Teen & Young Adult Values and Virtues Fiction and Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Children’s Books on Values. She’s originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and southwestern Ohio. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.

Connect with Krysten


What readers are saying about Competing with the Star:

From Reader’s Favorite:

Competing With The Star is the continuation of Krysten Lindsay Hager's epic YA drama series, The Star Series. Through a captivating plot, amazing character development, and Krysten'sflawless writing, the story captures the true essence of the drama, confusion, and emotional high that is teenage romance. It brings to life the beauty of YA romance with all its uncertainties and possibilities. In the midst of all the drama, confusion, and romance, the story also gives off a beautiful and serene sense of family. I especially loved how the book dived into the story right away, and captured the genuine feeling of the story down to details, language, and interaction between the characters. Lovers of YA romance will definitely love The Star Series.

From Katie’s Clean Book Collection:

Oh, the feels! Krysten Lindsay Hager has a way of drawing me right back to my high school days with her writing--feelings and all. This book is a continuation of Next Door to a Star. Hadley is now settling in and a new boyfriend, Nick, really helps her feel like she belongs. What girl hasn't felt insecure at one time or another when trying to figure out if "he loves me, he loves me not?" Hadley is real. She has real struggles, real strengths, real reactions, and real emotions. Nick once had a crush on former TV star, Simone, and although Simone swears her friendship with Hadley means more to than anything, but oftentimes, actions speak louder than words and Simone is an actress...

Nick is a great boyfriend, especially for a first relationship, as he and Hadley have a lot in common. Many assumptions lead to drama and realizations as Hadley, Nick, and their friends try and navigate the confusing roads of teenage life. I love how this story seems to unfold like a TV show--easy to picture and imagine. The characters and situations are vibrant, almost leaping off the pages and I felt like I was either a fly on the wall or a silent friend, sitting smack in the thick of it. I love the dynamics and can't wait for more to the story!

Purchase Competing With the Star

Amazon Kindle
Amazon Paperback
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
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Monday, March 28, 2016

New Release Spotlight: Collection, Now Available in Audio

Audiobooks have become a big part of my reading life. In 2009, I set a goal to read 100 books in a year and audiobooks helped me meet it by October. Since then, I've listened to dozens of them, especially on long car rides. I travel frequently to Massachusetts, a five-hour trip, with my mother-in-law, and audiobooks help us while away the hours, although sometimes it's a challenge to find a book we'll both enjoy. 

As an author, audiobooks are part of my publishing plan. I'm pleased to announce my third audio title, Collection: A Daisy Hunter Story, is now available on Audible, Amazon and iTunes. It's a short listen, 27 minutes, ideal for a morning commute. 

As with my previous titles, I partnered with the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX, an Amazon company) to find my narrator, and publish, distribute, and market  my book. 

I chose to work with Evelyn Eibhlin, stage actress, director, voice artist, and professional storyteller. I wanted a narrator with a fresh, young voice, and a certain touch of innocence and Evelyn sounded perfect. (You can listen to a sample right now.) This is her second audiobook production.

Collection is the first in a collection of stories about Daisy Hunter, a tweenager growing up in the '70's in a family with too many kids, not much money, but lots of love. In this story, young Daisy and her family accompany their housepainter father on a trip to collect his wages from a slow-paying customer and encounter surprising consequences. Collection won Honorable Mention in the Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story, 2007. The Daisy Hunter stories are based on my childhood experiences. Some of them are a little dark. I'm told they're beautifully written. This one is currently available in Kindle and you can preview it on my Amazon page

Amazon reviewers say:
"This was an enjoyable short story that can be read in a single sitting."
"Sciucco weaves a classic tale of snobbery and humility."
"I was pulled in from the first sentence." 
"Life is so much like this story. They say those with the least will give the most and it's so true."

Collection is available on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.

Monday, March 21, 2016

You are Your Own Best Editing Tool

photo by Monika Wisniewska via Dollar Photo Club
When I first started writing, I had very few tools: a typewriter, dictionary, and thesaurus. I also used notebooks and pencils (and still do.) Writing was a long, laborious endeavor but I loved it. After the emergence of the PC, I longed for one of my own because I wanted Microsoft Word. Imagine: a word processor with built-in editing tools, including a dictionary and thesaurus. Now we have handheld devices that allow us to do everything we can on our PCs and Macs at any moment, wherever we are. A miracle!

I’d guess most of us thought writing would be a lot easier with all of this technology, and it is, but while these editing tools are useful they are no replacement for human intelligence, skill, and experience.

I use Word’s proofreading tools and Grammarly for my initial spelling and grammar checks. One of the frustrating things about rewriting and revising my current WIP Swim Season is that my editing tools often don’t understand what I’m writing, and bring to my attention issues that are not actual issues. This wastes my time, energy, and physical stamina for keyboarding. While they provide easy ways to identify problems quickly so I can move on to the deeper stuff, each can create its own time-consuming and frustrating difficulties because they don’t understand what I’m writing or don’t get the “lingo.” Here are some examples:

Grammarly, which helps identify 250 grammatical mistakes, points out possible contextual spelling errors, and offers vocabulary enhancement, doesn’t understand swimming terminology. Each time I use a word in this context, it tells me I’m not using it correctly. For example, “heat” usually relates to temperature, but in swimming this word refers to “one of several preliminary contests held to eliminate less competent contenders,” (see Merriam-Webster.) A swim meet consists of 12 events, some of which may have as many as 6 or 7 heats or more. The word “heat” is used a lot, and not incorrectly, but each time it shows up Grammarly suggests I reconsider its use. I don’t. Still, I must take the time to address each occurrence and it slows me down. I haven’t found the “ignore all” option that exists in Word.  

“Event” is another troublesome word. In Swim Season there are 18 meets, each with 12 events, so the word “event" comes up many times. Grammarly does not know this and at every occurrence alerts me that the word is “overused.” It’s not. It’s an essential plot element. Yet, I examine each use to make sure I can’t use another word. Most times I can’t and wouldn’t want to.  

When I use the word “taper,” I get this message: “Did you mean paper? The word taper doesn't seem to fit the context. Consider replacing it with a different one.” Taper, in swimming, as in most sports, refers to the practice of reducing exercise in the days before an important competition to prepare for optimal performance. My team tapers. Ignore, and move on.   

Here’s another example: One of my characters is called “Coach.” Grammarly stops on this word at every appearance and advises me to change it to “The coach.” It does not recognize “Coach” as the name of a character. I ignore this advice and move on.  

Grammarly doesn’t evaluate for the passive tense in its creative writing/novel mode. To perform this check I need to work in another writing style, i.e. essay or business. I find this odd. Why would it not check for the passive voice in a novel? Isn’t passive voice a major issue in most novels?  

Yet, I am amazed at Grammarly's ability to find typos, misspellings, and other grammar messes after three previous editing passes.

Use of Word’s grammar and spelling checker poses its own set of unique problems. Swim Season is written in the first person. Every time the checker comes upon “I,” “me,” or “myself” it suggests I change the pronoun. How many times do you think these pronouns appear in a 150,000-word novel in the first person? How aggravated do you think I get each time I’m told to address this issue? Needless time is spent “ignoring” this suggestion.   
Another Word problem is that it does not allow me to use contractions. It flags "I can't" and suggests I change it to "I cannot." I won't. And I don't. But weeding through all of these notifications is exhausting.

These otherwise excellent editing tools are worth every cent I paid for them, but it’s imperative I remember they don’t do all the work. I can’t depend on them to capture all of my spelling, grammar, and other problems. While both have caught many errors in my WIP that I’ve gratefully cleaned up, I know the most valuable tools I possess as a writer are my own eyes, knowledge, and experience. After all the high-tech, fancy tools have worked their magic, I still have to examine each word, its use, and its placement in my manuscript, and revise and edit as needed to make my book the best I possibly can. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

New Release Spotlight: By the Stars, Historical Romance by Lindsay Ferguson

When Cal finally gets a chance with Kate, the girl he's loved since grade school, their easy friendship quickly blossoms into a meaningful romance. Spirited and independent, Kate keeps a guarded heart due to a painful past, and Cal wants nothing more than to gain her trust. But World War II soon cuts their time far too short, and Cal prepares to part from her - possibly for good. After he's gone, what Kate does next changes everything. In the suffocating jungles of the Philippines Cal encounters the chilling life of a soldier and deadly battles of war. With Kate's memory willing him on, Cal must put his trust in God to survive if he hopes to ever return to her. Inspired by a true story, By the Stars is a romance that stands the test of time and the most intense obstacles.


A few moments passed and it soon felt like they were the only two people in the room. Completely engaged in her, he had no idea what she was actually saying or how much longer their lingering gaze would continue, but he knew he wasn’t going to be the one to look away. He no longer cared that the room was hot. He was oblivious to that now. He no longer cared what others might think. He was lost. Lost in those deep brown, beautiful eyes.

Then suddenly, as clear as day, Cal heard a voice inside his head speak to him. That is the girl you are going to marry.

Cal’s head jerked to the side in a quick, surprised response.

Marry? Kate Clayton? Why on earth would he think that? He was with Marlene. She was the girl he was going to marry. It only made sense.

He dropped his eyes to the floor and began mulling over the words that had entered his mind. An uncomfortable tightness began forming in his throat, and he started to remember just how darn hot it was in that building.

After a moment he slowly raised his head back up and glanced over to the girl at his side and then ahead to the girl standing in front of the crowd. A strange feeling was beginning to settle over him.

Why didn’t that thought enter his mind when he looked at Marlene? And more importantly, why, when the voice spoke those words to him, had it not sounded like his own?

By the Stars links:

Barnes & Noble
Deseret Books

About the Author

Lindsay Ferguson worked as a PR and marketing writer for a computersoftware company for several years before resigning to focus on raising her family. When she felt the itch to attempt novel writing a fascination with history created a natural inclination toward historical fiction, with a romantic flare, of course. She lives in a suburb of Salt Lake City with her husband and four children. By the Stars is her first novel. Visit her online at

Friday, March 11, 2016

A Debut Author on His Debut at the Brain 2 Books Cyber Con, Online Book Expo for Writers & Readers

I love a good writer's conference, especially when it's an online conference, because there's no limit to what fabulousness I can find and I can attend all the sessions I want no matter how long it takes. The sheer brilliance of an online conference is that it's available 24/7 and, in most cases, indefinitely. Plus I don't have to leave home. It's all at my fingertips whenever I have the chance to indulge. Beginning April 8th through the 10th I'll be taking part in the Brain 2 Books Cyber Con, an online conference for readers and writers. My guest today is author Shane Wilson, who will also participate. I'll let him give all the details.

I will never forget my experiences with writing and book conventions. They have been
some of the most valuable experiences of my life. As readers, we load up and drive to conventions to meet our favorite writers. We stand in long lines to get them to sign our copy of their book. There is something beautiful and communal in that act. We've often spent hours poring over every detail of each page. If you’re like me, you read with a pen—underlining the beautiful passages and writing single-word exclamations in the margins. “Wow!”

I was a participant in one of these beautiful and communal acts on the campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh two years ago. I sat in a large room and listened to one of my favorite authors talk about his work. That man was Junot Diaz, and I stood in a long line for a chance to shake his hand and get his signature. The book he signed for me was This is How You Lose Her, and it was the book I was reading when I started writing my debut novel A Year Since the Rain. I told him how his book inspired me, and I’m sure it was nothing he hadn’t heard seven million times, but it felt good to give him the appreciation I felt he deserved. His creation had inspired. That’s big, man.

Appreciation is funny that way. It often means much more to the person showing the appreciation than it does to the person appreciated.

But now I get to slip around to the other side of the pen. The
Brain 2 Books Cyber Con will be my first convention as a published author, and I am incredibly pumped for it. Not only do I get to meet tons of readers and other writers I’ve never met before, I don’t have to change out of my pajamas to do it. In the business world, they would call that a “win-win,” I think. I honestly don’t know, though. My business knowledge is limited to The Office re-runs on Netflix, which is probably not the best MBA program out there.

When I first heard about the
B2BCyber Con from a fellow author-friend (shout out to Ed Ireland), I wasn’t sure what to expect. Is it possible to capture the same magic of a brick-and-mortar book/writing convention online? But my curiosity was piqued, so I investigated the Convention groups on Goodreads and Facebook, and I read about what they are offering to readers. I have to say, this is an impressive undertaking by our fearless leader, Angela B. Chrysler, especially considering this is the convention’s second incarnation.

In short, the convention is expecting hundreds of authors to come through during the convention (April 8-10). All of the events are held online in the Goodreads Fairgrounds—where authors have virtual booths set up with their books and other materials. Some are even sponsoring giveaways. In addition to Goodreads, B2B Cybercon will be hosting hour-long author takeovers in their Facebook event all weekend. In fact, I’ll be there from 7-8 PM on April 8! If you want in on the fun—and you do—just click over to the links provided and join up.

So I’ve been asked, as a first time attendee, to speculate on the proceedings. I don’t know how helpful I’ll be on that front, but I can say that there are some very cool things happening Backstage at the convention’s fair grounds. There are plans in the works for live panel discussions with authors on a variety of topics from genre discussions (YA for Adults) and world building to writing about abuse. I’m personally very excited for these panels as the panels are often the most rewarding aspect of physical conventions.

Readers that come through can expect to find their favorite authors (and new favorites…ahem) answering questions at their virtual “booths” as well as hosting panels and behind-the-scenes video broadcasts. There are also rumors of a Character Tournament (Heroes vs. Villains). I’ve never witnessed a character tournament, but I can only assume it includes a fight to the death in some way. To the victor goes the spoils, amiright?

Brain 2 Books Cyber Con is going to be a TON of fun, and I hope to meet all of you there! Look for me and my book, A Year Since the Rain. I’ll see you in April.

About the Author

Shane Wilson is the author of A Year Since the Rain, a magical realism novel forthcoming from Snow Leopard Publishing. Born in Alabama and raised in Georgia, Shane is a child of the southeastern United States where he feels simultaneously at-home and out-of-place. He graduated from Valdosta State University in south Georgia with a Masters in English. He taught college English in Georgia for four years before moving to North Carolina in 2013. No matter the temperature outside, there is always an iced coffee in his hand when he walks into class in the mornings. He tends to chase the day with a whiskey and a re-run of The Office. Shane has published poetry in Tethered by Letters and the Stonepile Writers' Anthology, Volume III. He is currently at work on a new novel as well as a collection of short stories based on the mythos of and set in the same town as A Year Since the Rain. You may purchase A Year Since the Rain here.

Connect with Shane Wilson

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Monday, March 7, 2016

Running for the Finish Line: Revising a Novel's First Draft

I'm thick in the middle of rewrites and revisions for my Young Adult sports novel Swim Season and coming up for air to share a little of my progress. I truly enjoy this part of the writing process. It stretches my mental muscles and brings me deep into the cellular level of the story. Here's where I fine-tune tension, clarify ambiguities, and make the book the best it can be. It's a long process, made even longer and more taxing by my repetitive strain injuries, which rear their ugly head often and demand attention. I take lots of breaks.

Turning a 156,889-word first draft into a polished novel requires many steps. The first is a full read of the manuscript. I've been working on this book for years and lost track of its beginning pages long before I wrote "The End" on the last page. It's been months since I've read most of it, and I've forgotten parts of it.

My strategy for writing this book was to keep writing, to move forward without looking back. I didn't want to get bogged down in details that would get in the way of completing it. If I ran into a problem, had a question, or didn't know where I was going, I skipped over that part and kept writing. Past projects had taught me that rewriting as I write and double checking facts and details during the writing process slow me down, and ensure I'll never finish. I end up cutting out too much, wasting my words and work. Not good since I'm living with RSIs. Every word has to count. I don't write for the trash can.

I found it's easier and less painful to avoid the computer and do as much work on paper as possible. I print out a copy of the manuscript and run through it a few times the old-fashioned way, with red pens, sharp pencils, and a big pink eraser. During my first read through I made note of typos and grammar issues, errors and inconsistencies, and clarified plot points, character traits, etc. On my second read, I analyzed all the swim meets, assigned team names, and created meet sheets and scores. It was time-consuming but necessary. In the end, I may eliminate much of that data but it was info I needed to understand my team and tell the story. On the third pass, I clarified some of the open-ended areas, such as the color of a character eyes, the whereabouts of my heroine's mother, and the coach's role in the story. That often required research, which enriches the story and gives it more depth.

The bulk of my process involves fine-tuning the manuscript. For this, I rely on Bobbie Christmas' Find and Refine Method as described in her excellent writer's manual Write in Style. I followed this method for my novel Blue Hydrangeas. It's easy to use and understand and transforms my writing into tight, concise prose. But the process is slow, especially for a 156,889-word manuscript.

For example, Christmas suggests eliminating as many adverbs as possible. Her method: use the Find function in Word to locate all words ending in ly, the telltale sign of the dreaded adverb, and evaluate each one to determine if it can be eliminated or replaced with a stronger word or words. I discovered 1,800+ occurrences, not all of them adverbs because the search includes family (71), Emily (40), and only (117) and other acceptable ly words. I examined each one and whittled the number down to 614. It took hours but makes a better book.

The process continues with strategies to eliminate passive writing, ambiguous pronouns, and other sloppy or lazy writing techniques that slip into a first draft. I've eliminated 5,000+ words and have only just begun. I already see an improvement. I find the process exciting and invigorating even though it aggravates my RSIs and threatens to throw me into a tailspin of carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, and bursitis pain that not only affects my writing but every other aspect of my life. It's a slippery slope, but with pain management strategies and adequate rest periods, I plod on. I decided long ago that I will finish and publish this book no matter how long it takes. I started it in 2011, and almost five years later see the finish line.


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Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer's love story.
Rated 4.7 stars on Amazon, 141 reviews.