Valentine Giveaway!

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Valentine’s Giveaway!

My MC Kara is a baker and she thinks winning a Valentine’s baking contest will help her escape life, so in honor of Kara, I’m giving away a hardcover copy of From Where I Watch You, baking treats, and writerly treats!

Enter a comment here, or Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram (@Shannywriter) or Facebook (Shannon Grogan). RT’s and shares get you another entry! Ends noon on February 14th! Good luck and thanks  for entering!

Sorry, US only!

If you’d like to enter my Goodreads giveaway, click here. Ends February 23rd 🙂

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Giveaway and Interview with Kylie Gilmore, author of The Opposite of Wild

Congratulations to my friend Kylie Gilmore on her new romantic comedy The Opposite of Wild! Be sure to read through to the bottom of the page to find out how you can win a copy of Kylie’s book and a $20 Amazon card!

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Unleash the wild woman…?

Ex-cop Ryan O’Hare takes one look at buttoned-up control freak Liz Garner and just itches to loosen the woman up. Not that he’s into her. Because a woman like that comes with way too many expectations. Not to mention, she practically works for him, and he didn’t hire Liz to watch after his beloved Harley-stealing Gran so he could turn Liz loose in his bed. Still, there’s something about her, a hidden wild side, that makes him wonder what it would take.

Liz must be crazy to work for the insensitive, arrogant, horribly…hot man she’s avoided for years. Unfortunately, she needs the money and Ryan’s grandmother needs a keeper. (Midnight tango lessons and ziplines with Gran, anyone?) Ryan’s rare smile and swaggering confidence have Liz torn between throwing her favorite pinot grigio at his head or throwing herself at him. Can this control freak find a way to let loose with the tough, no-strings guy who once broke her heart?

SG: Thanks for stopping by my blog, Kylie! I love your book cover, how did you come up with the title?

KG: The title is based on the way Ryan initially sees Liz as the opposite of wild, the perfect antidote to his crazy grandmother. Somehow Gran’s wild ways rub off on Liz and that’s when things get interesting.

SG: Ooh, things get interesting, I definitely want to read more! I have kind of a silly question for you: If Liz was craving chocolate, what kind of chocolate would she have?

KG: Ooh, tough question because Liz is really into eating healthy and staying fit (part of her control freak ways), but she does have a weakness for Godiva chocolate truffles.

SG: If we readers weren’t looking, what kind of date would Liz and Ryan go on?

KG: They’d probably stop for pizza with veggie toppings for Liz and pepperoni for Ryan. Then they’d go cruising on Ryan’s Harley.

SG: Fun! I’m betting those two have a whole lotta fun in this story. Speaking of fun, which scene did you have the most fun writing?

KG: One of my favorite scenes to write was when Ryan delivers Liz’s first paycheck. His fascination with Liz drives him to push her just a little bit out of her comfort zone.

And here it is:

Ryan just stood there, his sharp eyes studying her. “You’re a puzzle, Liz.”

“I am?”

He reached out and smoothed a lock of hair behind her ear, and her heart caught in her throat at the gentle gesture. “You seem so…uptight,” he said. She stiffened and took a step back. “But I know you were checking me out when I was mowing.”

She flushed, but rallied quickly. “I was only bringing you water.” She crossed her arms and said primly, “You surprised me when you dumped the water on your head. I was merely looking to see if you were going to do any other…surprising things.”

His lips twitched. “You’re like a librarian just waiting to let loose.”

“Is that supposed to be a compliment?” she bristled, hands on her hips.

“There it is.” He smiled and stepped close, crowding her space. She drew in a quick breath, but held her ground. “The puzzle—fire and ice.”

She put both hands on his solid chest and pushed him out the door. “Next time, mail the check.” She shut the door in his face, turned and leaned against it. “Urgh!”

“That’s what I’m talking about,” he said through the door.

She ripped open the door. “Go away.”

His head cocked to the side while he bit back a smile. “Is that any way to talk to your employer?”

“Gah!” She slammed the door and locked it. She heard his low laugh as he walked away.

SG: Oh, I need more! I want to read more! Okay, I’m calming down now, next question. Kylie, where do you create all these fun scenes? Where do you write?

KG: I write at a tiny desk in a tiny office on a computer with a huge screen (this is what happens when your hubby picks the computer). My kitty is my special revisions helper. DSCN1433_2

SG: Aww so cute! Cats love those warm computers, don’t they? Onto the next question! Kylie, if your book was made into a movie, who would you cast in the role of your characters?

KG: Josh Holloway would definitely be Ryan (see my Facebook page for the picture that inspired my hero) and for Liz, it would be fun to see Reese Witherspoon play her from control freak to wild woman.

SG: Ok I had to look him up and I’m glad I did! Yeah, I could totally see him as Ryan! So Kylie, what are you currently working on?

KG: I always planned on writing the story of each of the three O’Hare brothers, so right now I’m hard at work on book #2 in the Clover Park series, Daisy Does It All, featuring Daisy and Trav’s love story. Book #3 will feature the youngest brother Shane.

SG: More O’Hare brothers? Well I can’t wait to read the other books too! Thanks for stopping by to talk about The Opposite of Wild! And readers, don’t forget to click on the Rafflecopter link below for Kylie’s awesome giveaway!

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Kylie Gilmore lives in New York with her family, two cats, and a nutso dog. When she’s not writing, wrangling kids, or dutifully taking notes at writing conferences, you can find her flexing her muscles all the way to the high cabinet for her secret chocolate stash.

You can find her on Facebook , Twitter , and her website.

The Opposite of Wild can be found in the wild on US Amazon.

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway where you can win a copy of Kylie’s book and a $20 Amazon card!

My Interview with YA Author Talia Vance, and ARC Giveaway of Spies and Prejudice!

Congratulations to my Greenhouse sister Talia Vance, who has a new book coming out from Egmont June 11th! Read through to the bottom of the page to find out how you can win an ARC of Talia’s second book, Spies and Prejudice!

Product Details

Fields’ Rule #1: Don’t fall for the enemy.

Berry Fields is not looking for a boyfriend. She’s busy trailing cheaters and liars in her job as a private investigator, collecting evidence of the affairs she’s sure all men commit. And thanks to a pepper spray incident during an eighth grade game of spin the bottle, the guys at her school are not exactly lining up to date her, either.

So when arrogant—and gorgeous—Tanner Halston rolls into town and calls her “nothing amazing,” it’s no loss for Berry. She’ll forget him in no time. She’s more concerned with the questions surfacing about her mother’s death.

But why does Tanner seem to pop up everywhere in her investigation, always getting in her way? Is he trying to stop her from discovering the truth, or protecting her from an unknown threat? And why can’t Berry remember to hate him when he looks into her eyes?

With a playful nod to Jane Austen, Spies and Prejudice will captivate readers as love and espionage collide.

SG: Talia, thanks so much for stopping by my little blog! I just finished reading reading this book, which I loved and it was so fun to read. Where did the idea for Spies and Prejudice come from?

TV: My dad is a private investigator, and I once spent a summer working for him between college and law school.  I was a terrible spy, but the experience got me thinking about a story involving a teenage P.I.  Within minutes, Berry Fields appeared, talking in my head like a living, breathing person.  I knew that Berry was jaded and tough, and that she would not fall in love easily: she would be kicking and screaming all the way.  What kind of boy would she fall in love with?  It would have to be someone equally strong, someone who was more than Berry’s first impression.  Enter Tanner, a modern-day Mr. Darcy.  Once I knew I wanted the romance to follow the basic structure from Pride and Prejudice, I was off and running.

SG: Wow your dad is a P.I., very cool and what a great resource! Very authentic in the book. Did you research much for all the cool spy stuff/technology?

TV: I did research spy gadgets on the internet.  Some of the gadgets Berry uses (like the ninja claws) are actually available on the internet.  I also spoke to someone who worked for a company that developed gadgets for a government agency.  She couldn’t tell me about specific gadgets, but she did vet some of my gadgets, and was surprised that I came up with a few things that are actually in use.

SG: I can only imagine how many would love to get their hands on some ninja claws! So when you started writing Spies, how long did it take to write the first draft? Revisions?

TV: The first draft was written over about 90 days, which was largely deadline driven.  We sold the book off of a fifteen page sample, and the publisher wanted to see a full draft four months later.  It’s the fastest I’ve ever written anything, but the revisions took another eighteen months, including a from-scratch rewrite that took about six months.

SG: What was the hardest part of writing Spies and Prejudice?

TV: I had to cut a character based on Lydia Bennet from the final draft.  She was fun to write, but overcomplicated the plot, so I had to let her go.

SG: That’s too bad. Cutting characters you love is difficult, and would send me to the candy aisle. So If Berry walked into Albertson’s what would kind of candy would she buy?

TV: Berry would buy Sour Patch Kids.

SG: Excellent choice! Sour Patch Kids are the best! So, say Berry and Tanner were real teens riding in the limo going to the dance and they got hungry, where would they stop to get food?

TV: They would stop at In-N-Out burgers.

SG: Dang I wish they had those up here in WA. Hey, Talia, do you outline? Use any visual plotting method? And what are your favorite revision tools?

TV: I wasn’t always an outliner, but I definitely outlined this story.  I used index cards and a  cork board to visualize the plot, but once I created it, I never looked at it again.  It’s funny, because I still have those cards storyboarded, and fair portion of those scenes are not in the book.  So I outlined the basic plot elements, and then allowed myself to go “off-book.”

After I finish a complete draft, I create a chart summarizing each chapter in one or two sentences.  This “big picture” outline usually reveals plot holes or scenes that aren’t moving the plot forward.  It’s a great revision tool!

 SG: When do you write? What does your schedule look like? And when are you the most creative?

TV: I write on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  Usually in four to six hour stretches. I’m most creative in my car, driving to and from work.  That’s when ideas pop into my head.

SG: It’s so weird how stuff always comes up in the car, huh? So where is the weirdest place you’ve written down story notes?

TV: I actually don’t write story notes outside of my outline.  I guess I follow Stephen King’s school of thought when it comes to story ideas.  If an idea sticks with me, than it’s something I need to write.  If it doesn’t, than I wait for the idea that does.

SG: This isn’t your first book, but did you learn anything new when you wrote this?

TV: Yes!  Every book has something to teach me, and this book taught me that it’s okay to start over.  I wrote and revised an entirely different version of this book, then threw it out and started over.  It was terrifying and liberating at the same time.  In the end, I let the characters tell their own story, and tried to keep myself from overthinking it.

SG: Have you ever wanted to strangle or shake one of your characters?

TV: Yes, Tanner.  He was not nearly as forthcoming as Berry when it came time to write.  I actually had to give a different name before he would let me peek inside his head.

SG: Um, I wanted to shake him too. What is your favorite part of the whole process of getting this book from your idea and into the hands of readers? Anything you want to share that I haven’t asked?

TV: I loved writing this book.  There were moments where the characters seemed to show up and start talking, completely wresting control of the scene from me.  Jason was especially good at stealing scenes and I loved writing every scene he was in.  But my favorite part has to be hearing from readers who enjoyed spending time with Berry, Tanner, Mary Chris and Jason as much as I did!  That’s always the hope, so it’s great when it happens.

SG: I loved these characters, especially Jason! I also loved how Mary Chris has two names, like most of the Marys I grew up with. Okay last question. When you’re sitting at your computer, stuck , what distracts you?

TV: Twitter.  I usually start tweeting my writing goals for the day as kind of a self-generating peer pressure.

Thank you, Talia! And speaking of Twitter, you can follow Talia @TaliaVance.

**Thanks for entering! Contest is now over!** Winner is KIERRA 🙂If you want to win an ARC of Spies and Prejudice Click here to enter Rafflecopter link

If you win, I may just toss in some Sour Patch Kids too!

Sorry, you must live in the United States because I’m a poor teacher and I can’t afford international shipping!

ARC Giveaway #3!

**Thanks for entering! Contest is now over!** Winner is LARISSA 🙂

I’m giving away three more YA ARCs from ALA Midwinter, all March/April 2013 pub dates!  Click here to enter Rafflecopter link

Sorry, you must live in the United States because I’m a poor teacher and I can’t afford international shipping!

My Goodreads reviews are below so don’t read if you’re worried about spoilers!

Fat Angie

You Know What You Have to Do

Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo

This was another terrific ARC I picked up at ALA Midwinter. Sorry, but I chose it purely because of the title and I didn’t even bother to read the back this time. (Um because me and my daughter were frantically trying to get through the exhibit before it closed down!)

I knew Angie (the MC) was obviously struggling with weight so absolutely I needed to read this, as someone who has stuggled with weight her whole life, and had huge body image issues as a teen. I’ve read other YA books where the MC struggled with weight issues, and I have always come away feeling like it was written by someone without firsthand knowledge of the subject. I usually came away feeling  disappointed. Maybe I haven’t read the right ones yet.

This book was less focused on the weight issue and mostly on the family dynamics that lead to ways people harm themselves, either with food or by other means. I’m so glad I read this book.

I’m not really saying anything else beyond this. It is a great read with amazingly enviable lines that I wish I wrote and some of the scenes between Angie and her brother Wang are so funny I could barely breathe. This is one of those wonderful stories you read and every emotion goes through you, and I LOVE that!

Dead River by Cyn Balog

This was a great ARC, I enjoyed reading it, and I give it 3.5 stars! I have to say I was confused a bit, half way through the story, in regards to why this is a paranormal, but intrigued enough to stick with it, and I’m glad I did!

You Know What You Have to Do by Bonnie Shimko

This was nother ARC I picked up at ALA. **Spoilers** Don’t read this if you don’t want to know.

I loved the promise of this book and I gave it 3 stars for the parts that I loved, but it was a tad disappointing, and I’ll list the reasons I felt this way before I tell about the parts I loved.

Mary-Magdelene has an evil voice in her head that tells her to kill people. This reminded my of that Kevin Costner movie ‘Mr. Brooks’ that came out a few years ago. I enjoyed that movie so of course I wanted to read this one.

Like I said, stuff that didn’t work so well for me first, and then the love.

The book took off with this dark creepy, fun tone and fast pace. I was hooked pretty quick, after I read through too many character names that left me confused keeping track of who was who. When I got to the last quarter of the book, when I thought things would really pick up, the pace stalled for me, to the point of boring in a few spots.

There was blackmail involved that never seemed to get explained or tied up and I kept waiting for it. I hoped for something bigger. So that felt like an unanswered question. Why Mary had voices in her head–I was hoping to learn more about the reasons/family history there. So really just a few elements for me that I wished had been taken further. That’s all.

Now for what I loved! This was a fast read for me, very hard to put down because of the awesome tone and pace of the story (until last 1/4 of book, sorry, that’s how I feel:( ) Mary-Magdelene’s voice–love love and authentic. Her mom Roxie, and her ‘dad’ Harry, and even her real dad Lonnie. All characters to root for, for sure. I even loved Jacob until he turned into a D bag. The family relationship between Mary and Harry and Roxie was warm and funny and real, despite the fact they lived in a funeral home!

So I liked the book, I started off loving it, but like I said… I would recommend it because a really fun read and you will love Mary Magdelene right away. I am eager to read

ARC Giveaway #2!

I’m giving away two more ARCs from ALA Midwinter! **Giveaway is now closed** Thanks to everyone who entered! Click on the Rafflecopter link to see the winner! I will be posting another giveaway soon! 🙂

The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door by Karen Finneyfrock

And Surfacing by Nora Raleigh Baskin

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It’s so easy to enter, all you need to do is either follow me on Twitter @Shannywriter or leave a comment below. Click on the Rafflecopter link below for the details and thanks for entering!  My Goodreads reviews/ratings of both books are below. 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door by Karen Finneyfrock

Wow, 4 stars, my favorite ARC so far from ALA midwinter. I loved this book and finished it in like a day? A must-read! It’s a YA, a lower YA–I would love my almost 13 yo girl to read it. Celia’s voice is perfect!

There are spoilers, so don’t read anymore if you don’t want to know.

To me this is a story of pure friendship and the up and down of it as you try to ‘help’ your friends with their schemes and plans.

Celia is a wannabe famous-poet. (the poems show so much of her character throughout the story–what a great device!) Celia has turned Dark. She was bullied into it, but this doesn’t come across right away because Celia’s voice is so perfectly real, and positive for so much of the story. She’s a character I liked on page one. Yes she was bullied, but she also lost her best friend and her parents seperated–all within a short span of time. She’s gone through all of this but still sees pain in another, like when she wonders if a classmate is fat for the same reason that Celia is Dark? Love that!

Celia has turned Dark with the plan of exacting her revenge on the mean girls at school who were responsible for humiliating her in 8th grade.

My heart breaks for Celia, being friendless and starting high school. And it breaks again when she makes one friend her first week of high school, and then crushes on him, and then finds out he is gay. This was a huge shock! I didn’t see it coming so hats off to the author because there is nothing stereotypical about Drake. I as the reader didn’t see it coming, I just thought wow, Celia’s new friend is the ‘hot’ guy at school. He’s cute, he’s smart, he’s athletic, and he doesn’t care that Celia has no friends. I love him!

I love how Celia knows he is gay but still she can’t help her feelings, and of course gets jealous when she thinks he is spending too much time with her rival, mean girl Sandy. He’s just trying to be nice, because that’s who he is.

Drake’s explanations of his own crush are so natural and authentic that I forget he’s talking about crushing on another boy. His journey to fulfill his dream (making his childhood pal fall for him) with the help of a popular book on visualizing your dreams resonated with me because of a very popular, real self-help book I remember reading a few years ago (um I still have my little vision board, and the little paper book I put on it with my name is pretty dusty:)

Celia struggles with, and makes the very mature decision to support Drake and his dreams and not make fun of his belief in this guru’s book he is reading. She catches herself every time, and she cheers Drake on.

Drake helps Celia with her revenge, he just doesn’t know it. Because Celia has not confessed her secrets to him, about what happened. There’s a teary moment for me reading when Drake tells her that Clock (who Celia thinks is darker than her) likes her and Celia thought no boys liked her. But there is Drake, telling her she doesn’t realize how pretty she is! And it comes at a time when she needs to hear it. I would’ve loved having Drake for a friend when I was Celia’s age.:)

Celia’s friendship is tested when one of her poems about Drake (being gay) gets posted all over school by the mean girls. I’m surprised in the best way when who comes to her rescue but Clock–dark and gothic Clock, who torments her and calls her Weird. Even though we know pretty soon that Clock has a thing for Celia. BTW this is the only part of the story I was bummed about–I was really hoping Celia and Clock would be together. I mean after he goes through school ripping down the poems for her? Oh Clock.

Despite being outed by the mean girls (even though Celia totally takes the blame) Drake still wants Celia as a friend. And when they try to run away to New York becuase Celia feels its only right to help Drake with his plan to talk to his crush and see if he feels the same, Celia tells Drake the whole backstory on what happened to her and why she turned Dark. So here my heart broke twice: the first time when Celia reveals the reason she started writing poetry (and I love how poetry saved her life), and when Drake’s parents find them at the train station and tell Drake that his crush is off with his girlfriend’s family. His crush has a girlfriend 😦

But in the end, Celia got to keep the friend she thought she was losing to NY forever, and her plan for revenge took a natural and logical course. I loved this story, absolutely loved it!

Surfacing by Nora Raleigh Baskin

This is another ARC I was lucky enough to pick up last month at ALA. I’m always happy when a book I’m reading makes me think about my own writing and why I have my characters do what they do. This is something I’m struggling a bit with now so it’s nice to see this addressed so well in a book. This is not the type of book I’m usually drawn to because it is quieter, in my opinion, and more character-driven, but like I said before, I’m so thankful for reading it just for what it has taught me about motivation in my own characters. In my opinion this is a YA for high school readers, i wouldn’t let my 7th grade daughter read this yet because of content, even though its written in a delicate way. Slight spoiler warning.

The story opens with the drowning of Maggie’s sister Leah when she is 9. This scene was so vivid and heartbreaking for me and I had tears in my eyes by the second page and I was hooked.

Fast forward–Maggie is a high school swimmer with this family tragedy in her past that affects every choice she makes throughout the story, including trying to offer herself up to a nothing, user, older boy. This whole plan is carried through the story and although its heart-breaking to see what happens from her planning stage to carrying it through to the end, it shows her growth despite the fact that she loses so much as a result. But maybe what she learns about herself in exchange for hurting another is needed.

There are many flashbacks throughout the story of what happened to Leah that day and Maggie’s role and dealing with feelings of guilt, even though the blame was not hers.

I was confused by Leah’s POV becuase it came on later in the story, but it worked, and I understood the reason for it more as the story progressed, especially at the end with her heartfelt, almost love letter, for her little sister. 😦

ARC Giveaway!

**Giveaway is now closed** Thanks to everyone who entered! See below for the winner! I will be posting another giveaway soon!

I’m giving away an ARC of Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff. Below is my mini review, and the details on how to win it and a little chocolate, because hey, it’s Valentines week!

No spoilers here! I’m not giving a synopsis of this YA mystery/thriller, I don’t review that way. I just like to tell you how much I enjoyed the story. If I didn’t enjoy it then I wouldn’t give this mini review.

I was overjoyed to pick this ARC up at ALA Midwinter last month! I was already a fan of Brenna’s after reading The Replacement a couple of years ago so I knew I couldn’t go wrong, and this book did not disappoint me!

Why did I like this story? Come on, it’s dark and there are ghosts and blood and some of my other favorite elements, all mixed together! I admit, the beginning didn’t quite hook me the way The Replacement did, but I do have an aversion to summer heat so this might be why. But all it takes is for one ghost to appear and I’m hooked! The tension grows throughout the story, and especially after protagonist Hannah’s unlikely love interest enters the picture. Which all means, I couldn’t put this down! Because the other things I love in a book are creepy and possibly-forbidden love.  Love them! The end has a little twist that I didn’t see coming. I mean it–I couldn’t put this down–I read it in 1.5 days, and stayed up late on a school night to finish it!

Here’s How You Win (There are two ways to win!):

1. Follow me on Twitter! @Shannywriter. Reply to me with the words “ARC Giveaway”. If you’re already following me, do the same reply.

2. Or, follow this blog (and leave a comment below so I know you are interested in the giveaway). And if you already follow this blog, leave a comment below.

PS: If you do both things, that’s two chances to win!

The giveaway ends at 2:14pm (PST) on February 14, 2013. And sorry, you have to live in the United States because I’m a poor teacher and I can’t afford international shipping!

Update: The winner of this giveaway is: ANNASTAN! Congratulations, Anna! Please email your address (or PM me on Verla Kay) so I can send this to you!  ShannyMB(at)msn(dot)com