Sunday, August 28, 2011

Awesome August Blog Hop

The winner of Stephanie Humphries new book, Double Deceit, is:
Amydee Fawcett
Another round of fun giveaways starts today.

Welcome to the Awesome August Blog Hop, where bloggers from all over the Internet have come together to throw a summertime party!

Every blog on this hop is offering a fun prize, and entering is quick and easy. Simply follow the instructions on each blog, leave a comment, and bop right along to the next blog. You can win multiple times, so be sure to check out all the participating blogs!

On my blog, two entrants can win one of four like-new books. The first winner will receive first choice of books, and second will choose next. I have read and enjoyed each of these and hope you will too.

They are, alphabetically: (Sorry, the images are not working.)
Matched by Ally Condie
Secret Sisters by Tristi Pinkston
The Fourth Nephite by Jeffery Savage
Wrong Number by Rachelle Christensen

To enter:
1. Become a follower of my blog.

2. Leave me a comment explaining one favorite idea you enjoy from other blogs. (I will later consider incorporating those that work for me.) If your e-mail isn't available through your profile, I'll need you to leave that, too - I can't tell you if you've won if I can't contact you! If you have trouble leaving a comment, leave it at renaemackley AT

This blog hop runs through Wednesday night at midnight, so be sure to enter before then! The winner will be notified by e-mail.

Now that you've entered my contest, come meet all my other blog friends and see what fun things they are offering!

Awesome August Blog Hop Participants
1. Tristi Pinkston, LDS Author
2. Karen Hoover
3. Michael Young
4. Kristy Tate
5. cindy Hogan
6. Julie Bellon
7. Margot Hovley
8. Laurie Lewis
9. Mandi Slack
10. Melanie Jacobson
11. Joyce DiPastena
12. Renae Mackley
13. Debbi Weitzell
14. Donna Hatch
15. Carolyn Frank
16. Marsha Ward
17. Stacy Coles
18. Bonnie Harris
19. Danyelle Ferguson aka Queen of the Clan
20. Diony George
21. Lisa Asanuma
22. Susan Dayley
23. Christine Bryant @ Day Dreamer
24. Stephanie Humphreys
25. Ranee` Clark
26. Tamera Westhoff
27. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
28. Heather Justesen
29. Rebecca Talley
30. Jennifer Hurst
31. Aimee Brown
32. Cheryl Christensen
33. Rachelle Christensen
34. Imaginary Reads
35. Andrea Pearson

Learn more about Awesome August Blog Hop here.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Double Deceit Blog Tour

  If you enjoy clean Romantic Suspense, get your hands on a copy of Stephanie Humphrey's Double Deceit. My review is below, and you can Win my gently used copy through a random drawing from all appropriate comments this week who are followers. It's that easy! Leave a comment and make sure you're a follower between now and midnight Saturday. I'll post the winner Monday August 29. Stephanie Humphreys is also having an easy contest (see below). Her book kept me intrigued and guessing throughout the plot turns.
Back Cover Blurb:
  Someone is watching . . .
  As a young widow, all Elaina Bryant wants is a fresh start. Determined to put ten painful years behind her, she returns to her hometown and moves in with her sister, Natalie. Elaina soon accepts a job working at a small bookstore owned by the handsome Ryan Hill and his mother. Despite her reluctance to become romantically involved with anyone, she is drawn to Ryan and finds herself falling in love.
  But someone isn’t happy with Elaina’s new life and is watching her every move. Her tormenter seems determined to destroy her sanity and her future, but Elaina can’t convince anyone the threat is real. Natalie is preoccupied with her own blossoming romance, and their friend Peter, a police officer, seems to believe the threat has been manufactured in Elaina’s own mind as a result of her guilt and grief.
  Now Elaina’s plans for a new start are crashing down around her. She knows she will have to find the answers before she can overcome the past and enjoy love and happiness again. But how can she protect those she loves when she doesn’t know whom to trust?

My Review:
  Looking at the book, I first thought it had a great title and intriguing cover and back blurb. I was wary of the too perfect main character with excessive makeup but quickly warmed to her as I started reading.
  Elaina, the MC, comes with her own set of insecurities and flaws, including a failed marriage. There were interesting supporting characters with their own stories. I liked how Humphreys simultaneously showed Elania's character growth while trying to fight becoming crazy. Contrasting this was a likeable sister, Natalie, who became insensitive and self-absorbed due to a new boyfriend's attention. I knew not to like Chad though Elaina struggled to lend sisterly support. That was good tension. Friend Peter made me angry when he showed his spineless side, but there were reasons for it. Nearly-perfect love interest, Ryan, played it right most of the time. Ryan's mother possessed a quirkiness that was refreshing. These characters elicited reader emotions that pulled me into the story.
  The plot developed nicely. There were places of tension and rest from it, all building to a suspenseful climax. Non-LDS readers should have no trouble understanding content or enjoying this book. Humphreys' managed to hold my interest and keep me guessing.
  Visit Humphreys at and enter the great contest she has going on.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Having Fun on the Road to Publication

View hannahhol...jpg in slide show  View Hannah Ho...jpg in slide show

Say Hello to Hannah Holt, children's book author and illustrator with a "lightbulb" vision. If there's a child in your life, head over to her free-reading section and activities for kids (starting in September). Let's get to know Hannah.
Renae: Lightbulb Books. What a great title. Did it just 'pop into your head'?
Hannah: Ha, ha! Yes. You might say I had a lightbulb moment. I wanted a name that reflected my goal of igniting imagination and discovery. "Lightbulb Books" seemed to capture that spirit.

Renae: I read the three books in your free reading library and they are great. Do you produce them as e-books or self publish as printed books? If not,why?
Hannah: No, I don't produce them as either e-books or printed books. As an experiment, I produced a limited printing of one of my books. I earned a few hundred dollars; however, I could see that it would take a significant amount of time and capital to make a career in self-publishing. It's not for me. I'd rather spend my time writing.

Renae: Wouldn't we all! Those of you with success in this area, please share your secrets and strategies. Contact me at renaemackley at gmail dot com for a blog interview. Hannah, tell us about your writing journey. Have you submitted to traditional publishers?
Hannah: Two Christmases ago I created a comic book for a family member as a gift. I loved the process and so began my writing addiction. Since that time, I've submitted my work to a few “big five” editors, and I've had requests for additional material. However, only nibbles so far.

Renae: Good luck on that! I know you are accomplished in many areas from an Engineering degree to a full-time mother. How does writing fit into your life?
Hannah: Ha! Very carefully. Even so, I don't always stay in balance. I try to follow this priority chain for my writing. 1) Journaling: If nothing else, I write in my journal. 2) Critique Group Deadline: My goal is to bring new pages for my current work in progress to each meeting (once or twice a month). 3) Blogging: As time permits.

Renae: Priorities are important. What are your  future plans or goals?
Hannah: I'm excited about a new series coming to my blog this September called "The Creation Station." Every Tuesday, I feature a hands-on activity for children ages 2-6. The first post shows children how to turn vegetables into Martians. It's going to be fantastic fun.
In the longer term, I plan to continue writing picture books and the occasional chapter book. With four children in my home ages five and under, my time is definitely not my own right now. So, I'm anticipating a slow journey to publication, and that's OK.
Renae: I'm sure those twin babies keep you hopping. Tell me about your illustrating.
Hannah: Most of the illustrating I do these days is digital. I prefer illustrating the old fashion way (with paint and pencil); however, digital illustrating fits my schedule better. Paint dries when it will, not when it's convenient. It's easier to press pause in the middle of digital illustrating. Some day when my life is less hectic (it will be less hectic someday, right?), I hope to return to more organic illustrating.
Renae: Great attitude. Anything else you'd like to share about yourself?
Hannah: Yes! I love being a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). They have lots of helpful resources and networking opportunities for children's writers. Check them out at
Renae: Thanks, Hannah. She's also worth checking out at

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sometimes Life Gets in the Way

  We've all been there. Life choices get in the way of our writing. That's how this week has been for me. The reasons don't matter. The frustrating part is that ideas are flowing, the motivation is there. I recently returned from the site of where my WIP is set and I've been antsy to get writing ever since. All I've been able to do is write most of one scene. Not what I had in mind. So how do we handle minor setbacks? Here's a few thoughts. If you could share yours, I'd appreciate it.
  1. Keep it all in perspective. Other things are important too. What time lacks in one week will pick up extra in another. Unless your on publishers deadline, there's always tomorrow.
  2. Keep a little notebook handy to jot down a few notes that you don't want to lose before you can get to the computer. You won't have to spend time trying to remember later.
  3. Use those times standing in line or whatever to mentally go over spots that need thinking through. Use your dead time as brain time.
  4. Take care of yourself. Get the rest, exercise, good foods that you need to keep you going for those long days when you might not get to write until late or to start early the next morning. Be aware of your body's bio-rhythms and your best times of productivity, what kind of breaks help or hurt you.
  5. Learn to prioritize, condense, dovetail or multi-task better. Cut out things that waste time.
  6. Remember that getting started is often the hardest part. Reread a few lines or paragraphs to get back into the mode and mood you are striving for and take it from there.
  7. Here's a tricky one for me: Sometimes you have to choose to spend time writing over using social media excessively. Don't be a hermit, but you don't have to touch base with every writer friend every day.
  Good luck with your writing goals this week! I'm cheering for you!


Monday, August 1, 2011

Being There In Person

  There's nothing like being there yourself for a writer to get the flavor of a story's setting. I just returned from a vacation in San Diego County, where my current work in progress is set, and it opened my eyes to new facts and useful details. I've swapped one city for another that fits better for where the MC lives. Look out, keyboard, my fingers want to fly!
  I still might need something later on that I didn't capture by camera, notebook, or memory, and it's unlikely I'll get back there again soon. Even if you've never traveled to the location you're writing about, there are several research tools to help. Find an Internet or magazine photo that is a good representation of what you want to describe and tape it near your monitor. Check out Google Earth for both overhead shots and street views of real locations. Talk with someone who lives there. Then again, you might find places in your writing where the imagination is adequate enough to get it right.
  I read Rachelle Christensen's Wrong Number last year after having been to the ice caves that she describes in that book. When my perception of the place matched her descriptions, my mind's eye candy became even more delicious, more stimulating. That's what we're striving for.
  How do you make a setting or description come alive?