Spambots Ate My Blog or The Art of Second Chances

If you’re reading this, then the Spambot war I’ve been engaged in is over.

Phew.

My site was down most of last week. It popped back up for a few minutes here and there only to be swallowed again by these guys

spambot attack doodle_opt

 

 Note: This is not an actual spambot for they don’t show there faces. They like to lurk behind Burberry ads and gibberish disguised as flattery.

 

 

They were ruthless. They got thru Askimet and dumped so many comments HostGator had to shut me down. Finally, thanks to my tech guy (aka my hub), I got my site back.

Fish whisperer ninja_opt

 His other super power: Fish Whisperer 😉

 

Yay! Because I’ve got stuff to tell you all.

I finished my big Photoshop project–the one that required me to take classes–and pull my hair out.

Here’s what I’ve been up to–the cover of my new book:

The Art of Second Chances 3D_opt

 

 

 A visitor from Zac’s past shows up, sending Grace and Zac’s spring break—and their relationship—into uncharted territory.

 

The ebook is available now. You can check out all the details here.

The paperback is almost ready to go live. I got a bit sidetracked with choosing between matte or glossy–and again there was more learning to be done with the fancy Photoshop.

But I did it. It wasn’t easy and I still have lots to learn, but I’m pretty happy with how far I got.  And that I tried. There was lots of mistakes and trying again–which fits nicely with one of the themes in this new book. So there’s that too. 🙂

 Plus, the companion book, The Art of Chasing Normal, is a Kindle Unlimited book!

So what have you been up to? I’d love to hear! But first…

a teensy, tiny bit of bad news. Unfortunately commenting here now requires a little math. Sorry, I know this is a lot to ask, especially on a Monday. Hopefully I will find a better Captcha setup (I’m open to suggestions).

So because I miss your comments and hope you will tell me what’s been going on with you, I offer you some very pretty cake.

Dessert cake Shyndigz_opt

 Gives new meaning to fruit cake.

Or maybe you’d like a little zen.

Me too. My new favorite thing is this class

yoga garden_opt

Yoga at the botanical garden. 🙂

 

What’s happening in your world? I’d love to know!

HAPPY MONDAY!

Gratitude and The Art of Chasing Normal

My latest YA novel

 

Today I’m talking about NORMAL.

Not that I know what “normal” is, exactly. Except to say, sometimes I lose my way and fixate on the grass around my feet that somehow just doesn’t seem to look as green as the grass on the other side of the pasture. The green I used to have, or was supposed to have. Or thought I had.

I don’t know. All I can say is, trying to write about “normal” this week was confusing. I mean, usually when I sit down to write my blog posts I choose whatever floats to the top of my brain, like say, Hey! I’ve got a brand new book!

Except this week something else kept fighting for top billing. I can’t stop thinking about my actual brain–and the MRI scan I had last week.

Sure, health stuff is important, but this was my third scan in three years (I’ve written a bit about it before here). Each time my neurologist has ordered a scan to “Rule out The Chronic Illness That Shall Not Be Named.” But so far, there’s been nothing conclusive. Except physically, I don’t have the bright shiny green-ness I used to.

Plus, there’s the worry. Because there were these unidentified things, not normal things, or maybe they are normal for me (one can hope). Either way they were confusing to the radiologist and doctor, something that maybe shouldn’t be there. Here’s a little graphic to give you an idea of what shouldn’t really be floating in your gray matter:

MRI scan picture

This is my brain. I’m sure you’re not at all surprised to see all the dessert.

 

But the problem with chasing after normal, is I think I’m going after me, but I lose a bit of myself in the process.

So, in order to get my brain off the subject of my brain, I’m focusing on my heart by practicing some gratitude.

Here are this week’s highlights:

 

funny faces

I’m grateful for my family–and silly faces.

 

dutch resistance world war two

Cornelia Warmenhoven

I am grateful to have heard Cornelia speak at a Kristallnacht Memorial service yesterday. Cornelia is a rescuer and an inspiration. She worked with the Dutch resistance against the Nazis during World War II.  I’m especially grateful for brave rescuers like Cornelia because my husband is a grandchild (and my kids, great-grandchildren) of Holocaust survivors.

 

I’m grateful for a college visit that took us on a scenic country drive. And for barns.  Barns are awesome.

 

military family

I’m grateful for my parents–and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Yes, I’m thankful to the U.S. Coast Guard for moving my dad and our family every couple of years. I’m serious! Because of this nomadic experience, I’ve been forever fascinated with the idea of living life in one place and falling in love with the boy next door (and road trips, but that’s another Grace and Zac story). Which leads me back around to…

 

I’m grateful for my new book.

 

I’m so thankful I get the opportunity to write, especially characters like Grace and Zac. I started this story several years ago, but it wasn’t until 2011 when they came back with more to tell, that I started reworking this one. It’s been so much fun writing about friendship and love and the boy next door. You can find out more about THE ART OF CHASING NORMAL here.

Last, but not least, I’m also grateful for YOU.

Huge thanks and big hugs to you for taking the time to read, or comment, or share. You are what make this part so rewarding. You make me feel a part of a super awesome community when I emerge from my writing cave. Tons of thanks for taking the time to share a part of  your lives with me.

Happy Monday.

 

 

 

**If you enjoyed this post, you can subscribe to receive my new posts straight to your inbox. Just add your email in the space at the top of the right sidebar under my photo.

Book Marketing or Winking at a Boy in the Dark

 book marketing advertising quote_opt

The one thing I know for sure about book promotion is that there’s no shortage of information.

I’ve been reading and bookmarking how-to articles for the last couple of years, but when it comes to promoting my writing (and probably flirting), I think I probably resort to that winking in the dark stuff.

But then my very first print copy of my YA book, Come Back to Me, arrived in the mail.

Having a copy of my book made being published feel more real.

Made me feel like I wanted to do a little book flirting.

Which is a good thing, because if you want your book read, then you need to get your book OUT THERE.

Right?

I can’t just sit in my office and wink out of the window while holding my shiny, new book.

Come Back To Me 200 320_opt

 

Gotta do some book marketing.

come back to me book marketing _opt

book marketing dolphin show_opt

VLUU L210  / Samsung L210

book marketing billboard hollywood_opt

 adam levine promoting my book_opt

An endorsement from Adam Levine? You never know, he could like my “voice.”

 

Speaking of promotion, my book is now officially available in paperback at Amazon (all other formats can be found here). Plus, my book will be experience it’s very first blitzing in May (a promo blitz is kind of like the opposite of winking in the dark). 🙂

Do you have marketing advice to share? Are you any good at flirting? If so, do you know any celebrities?

Have a spectacular kind of week!

Coleen xo

 

You’re in Charge: Rules for Writers

Today I’m over at 4amwriter. The lovely (and disciplined) Kate didn’t make me get up at 4 am, but she did ask me some very interesting questions. Fun stuff like what I’d do if I lived in a world where I made all the rules for writers (and everyone must obey).

The following photos represent some of my answers. Pop on over to Kate’s to see the questions. 🙂

 

Did you know that there are American Crocodiles in the Everglades? I just thought they were all alligators.

Note: I did not ask this guy/gal to clarify. 

 

 

 

Happy Spring! Happy Passover! Happy Easter!

 

My backyard this morning. Doesn’t it look like spring?

 

Have an awesome kind of week.

 **If you enjoyed this post, you can subscribe to my mailing list to receive my new posts straight to your inbox.  Just add your email in the space at the top of the right sidebar under my photo.

 

Want to be in the know about NYC, bacon, over-sized leprechauns, and life in general? Check out Phil’s blog The Regular Guy NYC.

 

Do You Have Tattoo Envy?

Today I’m hanging out at Jenny Hansen’s blog. The topic? Tattoos!

Hop on over and check it out!

 

 

Have a spectacular weekend!

 

 

 

**If you enjoyed this post, you can subscribe to my mailing list to receive my new posts straight to your inbox.  Just add your email in the space at the top of the right sidebar under my photo.

 

Choosing Happy: Come Back to Me ~ My New YA Release

 

Big news…my debut YA book, Come Back to Me, is out NOW.

It went live on Amazon last Wednesday, a happy surprise. There I was gearing up for the you’ve-published-a-book-now-what marathon, when suddenly the starter pistol went off.

I think I was tying my shoes or something.

But I got moving. Thanks in BIG part to family, friends, and lots of super cool people like the WANA (we are not alone) writing community.

Although no one mentioned the adrenaline. I could’ve lifted a car.

Anyway, speaking of family, friends, and love…those are big themes in my YA contemporary story. Check it out:

Come Back To Me 200 320_opt

 

 

 Available for purchase at AMAZON or SMASHWORDS 

(paperback and other venues, coming soon)

 

Whitney Denison can’t wait to start over.

She thought she had everything under control, that her future would always include her best friend Katie… Until everything changed.

Now her life in Bloom is one big morning after hangover, filled with regret, grief, and tiny pinpricks of reminders that she was once happy.  A happy she ruined.  A happy she can’t fix.

So, she is counting down the days until she leaves home for Colson University, cramming her summer with busywork she didn’t finish her senior year, and taking on new hobbies that involve glue and glitter, and dodging anyone who reminds her of her old life.

When she runs into the stranger who drove her home on graduation night, after she’d passed out next to a ditch, she feels herself sinking again. The key to surviving the summer in Bloom is unraveling whatever good memories she can from that night.

But in searching for answers, she’ll have to ask for help and that means turning to Evan, the stranger, and Kyle, Katie’s ex-boyfriend. Suddenly, life flips again, and Whitney finds herself on not only the precipice of happy but love, too, causing her to question whether she can trust her feelings, or if she is falling into her old patterns of extremes.

As she uncovers the truth about her memories, Whitney sees that life isn’t all or nothing, and that happy isn’t something to wait for, that instead, happy might just be a choice.

 

So, it’s been an exciting week.

But wait! I’ve got one last, but very special thing to share.  You may have read a post I wrote about signs.  In that post, I mention how I equate ladybugs with hope, and to my brother (who passed away six years ago).

So, ladybugs found a way into Come Back to Me–and into my book’s acknowledgments, where I wrote, To my brother, Dan the Man, Thanks for the ladybugs.

Then, last Wednesday, in the middle of the awesome hullabaloo of seeing my book on Amazon, I ran up the stairs to grab my slippers (because it was a snow day–and cold!).

Halfway up the stairs I saw this:

ladybug2_opt

 Thanks for the ladybug, Dan.

 

Have an AMAZING, hopeful week!

YA Fantasy: Myndi Shafer & The Darkening ~ Book 2 of the Shrilugh Saga

 

Hi all! I’ve got a special treat for you today…

YA author Myndi Shafer is here to answer a few questions about her brand new book, The Darkening–the much anticipated sequel to Shrilugh. It’s out now!

The Darkening

  As Aydan Fulbert settles into her new life in a new world, she realizes a few things. She’s healing from losing Brig. She’s coming to terms with her new home. And she’s lonely.

  Rein Torvald’s return from his long absence helps alleviate her loneliness, but a darkness comes with him. Unsettling news about her father and the Sovereign has the potential to make her a fugitive all over again – from his world and hers.

  Will Aydan allow her heart to be taken places she’s never been brave enough to go? Or will the threat of danger – of the Sovereign’s rage, and her father’s vengeful grudge, send her running? 

 

Welcome Myndi!

 

What was the inspiration behind The Darkening?

When I first wrote this story, Shrilugh and The Darkening were all one book, told solely from Aydan’s POV.

When I changed the POV, the story really exploded, and needed to be divided into more than one book. Which is why the first book of the Saga ended rather abruptly, and why, if you read these two back-to-back, they’ll feel a bit like one piece of work.

So, really, the inspiration for The Darkening came from the same place as my inspiration for Shrilugh: an old silo on the farm where I was raised. There’s a ladder that extends up past the top of it that looks kind-of like a door, and I’ve always, always wondered where that door would lead.

When I began writing Shrilugh that was my goal – to find out what kind of world was beyond that door.

 

Have you always been interested in being a writer?

Goodness, no! The thought never crossed my mind until about four years ago. I started writing on a whim.

The Hubster and I were driving past the farm where I grew up, and I was staring at that silo with the ladder-door, and said to him, “I think I’m going to write a book.” He looked at me like I was crazy. But I started writing that night, and knew I’d found it – the thing that would be my thing for the rest of my life.

 

What do you like most about writing and being a self-published author?

The fact that I can do a job, from home, that allows me to dig down into my creative self, is THRILLING. Really, this is my dream job. I get to be with my kids, be the stay-at-home mom that I’ve always wanted to be, and still have the satisfaction of a creative outlet. The fact that this creative outlet helps to provide for my family is just a bonus. Really, I can’t even begin to tell you how blessed I feel to be able to do what I do.

Being a self-published author has been a really good fit for me. There are days where I wish I could pass the business-side of writing to someone else – all the marketing and networking and stuff like that…it just doesn’t come easy to me. But overall, it’s been a really fun ride. To see my books in the hands of readers, and to hear their enthusiasm…it’s so totally worth any and all of the effort.

 

What’s one thing about you that will surprise readers most?

I have the most tame, Beaver-Cleaver-type life you could imagine. I’m probably the least surprising person in the world. Well, okay, there’s this – I really enjoy folding laundry. I love seeing the tidy piles build up, and thinking about my kiddos and how they’ve grown, and the smell of clean laundry. It’s soothing.

*heavy sigh* I just re-read that and realized how lame I sound. I wish I could have had something way cooler like, “Oh, I go parachuting,” or “Big game hunting in Zimbabwe is totally my thing”. But nope. I’ve chosen to stun you all with laundry.

 

What is your favorite snack food and beverage of choice?                

Oh my goodness, my favorite thing to snack on are these almonds that have been roasted in cocoa powder. They are AH-MAZ-ING. Crunchy and sweet and perfect.

And if I’m not drinking water, I’m drinking coffee. Very rarely do I stray from either two of those beverages.

 

Where can you find Myndi?

Facebook: Myndi Shafer Stories

Twitter: @MyndiShafer

Website/blog: www.myndishafer.wordpress.com
Pop on over to one of Myndi’s hang outs and say HI! Ask her about the Shrilugh Saga, The Darkening, or coffee. 🙂

latte art san juan_opt

 I’ll be drinking fancy coffee this weekend. I’m off to spend a few days with my sister–a little road trip, and a lot of laughter.

Got a question for Myndi? What’s your beverage of choice?

Happy Weekend!

 

 

 

How to Have a Golden First Kiss (or Pancake)

 

indie kissing badge

 

The first kiss. So much anticipation, so many possibilities…

Sweet. Romantic. Fun. Flirty.

Awkward. Toothy. Slobbery. Waxy.

 

 Pucker up.

Yes, waxy. That’s the first word that comes to mind when I think of my first kiss. Not all first kisses are good. In fact, mine was not good it was GOO. As in, Hello, Madame Tussauds.

But on the plus side, that bad kiss was the easiest sign ever that he was not the one for me (good thing, because as Taylor Swift might say, he was trouble when he walked in.)

Anyway, I consider my first kiss like a first pancake.  Sometimes that first pancake doesn’t look like the rest of the batch. For whatever reason, it doesn’t turn out golden.

 

 Not all pancakes turn out the way you want them too.

 

Luckily, there’s always room for a do-over. Same goes for kissing.

But is it possible to prevent a bad kiss in the first place?

Well, I found LOTS of advice on Ye Old Internet on how to avoid a bad kiss the first pancake syndrome.

 

Awesome + Awesome = More Awesome

You need great ingredients. Once you have them, mix them with care. The key to combining ingredients is tenderness over toughness.

 

Hotness

Make sure you have the proper amount of heat.  According to The Pancake Handbook, “If they dance in a sprightly way for a few seconds, you’re good to go.”

Other experts say the heat level should be so hot that it almost smokes.

 

Beware of the drool

Moisture level is crucial. It can make or break your pancake. Moisten but then wipe away the excess before your first pancake. You’re aiming for a golden, “greaseless experience.”

 

Don’t Rush It

Once you’ve got your pancake going, keep the following in mind:

Peek at your own risk.

Resist the impulse to press and flatten.

Moving too much may cause it all to fall apart.

 

Enjoy!

Don’t stress over your first attempt. You get better with practice.

And keep in mind, there are many kinds of pancakes. Lots to choose from. For instance, the French have their own version.

But let’s leave crepes for another day.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! 

 

What are your thoughts on first kisses? How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? What’s your favorite pancake?

For more posts about kissing, be sure to check out the INDIE-KISSING BLOGFEST over at the INDELIBLES!

 

 

**If you enjoyed this post, you can subscribe to receive my new posts straight to your inbox.  Just add your email in the space at the top of the right sidebar under my photo.

 

 

Reader Paparazzi: An Interview with a YA Book Reviewer

It’s Reader Paparazzi time.

 

YA readers interview

It’s research, not stalking.

Reader Paparazzi is my Q & A series spotlighting YA readers (if you missed any previous interviews, click here or on the tab in the header above).  I spend a lot of time inside the mind of fictional teens–writing and reading, so it’s great to get a little real YA world perspective to help with character inspiration, or to learn what holds a teen’s interest, or simply find a new book to read.

But it’s not only teens reading Young Adult novels.  The popularity of YA spans the generations.  Wikipedia says the typical age range is from ten to twenty-five, but I know plenty of adults are reading it.  Plus, the categories of New Adult or Upper YA throw off the typical range also.

More than half of the eighty books I’ve read this year have been YA.  Although I guess I don’t count since I also write YA–and because I’m just barely over twenty-five.

🙂

Anyhoo, today I bring you an interview with a college student.  Ancient, I know.  But Amanda is a prolific YA reader.  She blogs about the books she reads over at her site Born Bookish.  Check it out.  You can find great reviews and segments like Breathtaking Book Covers and Wordlover Wednesday.

 

 

A big Reader Paparazzi hello to Amanda!

Amanda, what book are you reading right now?

You actually caught me in-between books! I started The Rise of Nine by Pittacus Lore a couple of months ago but have been so busy with review books I haven’t been able to finish it. Next up, is Social Suicide by Gemma Halliday.

 

the rise of nine

I am a fan of The Number Four series! Of course, every time I go to your blog, I find new titles for my to-read pile!

Okay, now let’s get serious.  What did you eat for dinner last night?

Macaroni & Cheese. Not the kind out of a box, I actually went out to eat and got fancy schmancy Mac & Cheese.

 

Yum!  What was your favorite book when you were younger?

I can only pick one? Wow, that’s hard. I’m going to go with Abby: South Sea Adventures series by Pamela Walls.

 

What do you hope you will be doing five years from now?

I hope that I will have a job in the field of Graphic Design, one that I will enjoy doing everyday.

 

What are you most looking forward to right now?

My trip to London that I’ll be taking over Winter Break!

 

Sounds amazing.  London is definitely on my bucket list. 

What would you like to learn how to do—that you don’t know how to do?

So many things . . . American Sign Language is something I’ve always wanted to learn–and how to play violin.

 

What fictional character would you most like to meet and why?

I have to think about this one for a minute . . . Cammie Morgan from the Gallagher Girl series by Ally Carter because she is a spy, and what girl didn’t dream of being a spy when she was little?!

 

out of sight out of time

 

Yes, but all that intrigue can make a spy girl hungry!

So back to food.  What is your favorite comfort food?

Chicken and stuffing

 

Top 3 songs playing on your iPod?

Small Bump- Ed Sheeran

Red- Taylor Swift

The Writer- Ellie Goulding (I just bought concert tickets for an Ellie concert tonight! I’m SO excited!)

 

You have a great blog segment on book covers—how important is the cover to you when choosing a book to read?

So important! If a book has a great cover it is pretty much guaranteed that I will at least pick it up, read the synopsis and decide from there. If I dislike a cover I won’t even bother reading the back. I know that’s horrible, but it’s the designer in me. I just can’t read a book if I hate the cover.

 

If you could Skype with anyone—who would you pick?

Does Perry the Platypus count? No? Okay. Then I would choose Taylor Swift.

 

 

Quick fire fill in the blank:

I fear: Heights

I need: Chocolate

I love: Family

I am inspired by: Nature

Favorite word from your Wordlover Wednesday series: Lollygag

As in enough of. Got it. 

Thank you Amanda!

Now, because Reader Paparazzi gets me feeling extra stalkerish and curious, tell me, what did YOU have for dinner last night?

 

I did NOT have Halloween candy for dinner.  

Have an awesome week!

 

 

 

**If you enjoyed this post, you can subscribe to my mailing list to receive my new posts straight to your inbox.  Just add your email in the space at the top of the right sidebar under my photo.