Monday, June 30, 2014

Ready, Set, WRITE! Week 4

Ready. Set. Write! is a summer blog hop set up by  Jaime Morrow, Alison MillerKaty Upperman, and Erin Funk. If you want to participate, you can link up at one of their blogs.

1. How I did on last week’s goals: 

Well, it depends on how you look at it. One of my coauthors, Sheena, told me I HAD to watch the TV show Twisted on netflix. The actor who plays Danny Desai is who she would pick to play Sam Ryan if our books were movies.

In a funny twist, the actor who plays Jo Masterson could easily be Ana:

Anyway, watching the show has given me SO many ideas! (That's kind of odd, because the storylines aren't remotely similar. But seeing Sam's beautiful hair up on the screen like that.... Anyway, since Goal #1 was to flesh out my ideas for the next book, this can be construed as working, right???

No? Darn. I knew it would be a tough sell.

One of our amazing beta readers also finished critiquing our manuscript, so I've been reviewing that. Not a super productive week, all in all.

2. My goal(s) for this week

Continue rereading and retro-outlining Pyromancy: Burn. 

3. A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised

I don't know that this is an all-time favorite line. but it is my favorite line on the page my manuscript happens to be opened to:

His eyes lost some of their laziness. "Most people avoid Valentine's Day dances right after a bad breakup," he said, leaning toward me so he didn't have to shout.

I laughed out loud at how far off base he was.  "I'm not most people."

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write, the siren song of SNIs)

The projects I feel like I ought to be working on require other people (for one I need my coauthors, who are off doing summer things, and for the other I need the betas) and this week I realized that starting another project would be a very bad idea at this point in my life. I'm really glad I made that decision, but it still leaves me trying to convince everyone that watching TV is writing. Blurg.

5. Something I love about my WIP

It's pretty funny how Twisted has so many characters that are similar to characters in our story. Overprotected Jo could almost be Ana, sexy Danny could kind of be Sam, Rico could definitely be Seb. But Lacey IS NOT Juliette. Not even a little bit, and I'm so glad. When Sabrina created Juliette, I didn't think I would like her, since her defining characteristic is grumpiness. But I love her, and I love Sam, who is also a character I would never have created. It's awesome.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review: Killing Ruby Rose


Synopsis (from amazon): 

In sunny Southern California, seventeen-year-old Ruby Rose is known for her killer looks and her killer SAT scores. But ever since her dad, an LAPD SWAT sergeant, died, she’s also got a few killer secrets. 
To cope, Ruby has been trying to stay focused on school (the top spot in her class is on the line) and spending time with friends (her Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahniks are nothing if not loyal). But after six months of therapy and pathetic parenting by her mom, the District Attorney, Ruby decides to pick up where her dad left off and starts going after the bad guys herself. 
When Ruby ends up killing a murderer to save his intended victim, she discovers that she’s gone from being the huntress to the hunted. There’s a sick mastermind at play, and he has Ruby in his sights. Ruby must discover who’s using her to implement twisted justice before she ends up swapping Valentino red for prison orange. 
With a gun named Smith, a talent for martial arts, and a boyfriend with eyes to die for, Ruby is ready to face the worst. And if a girl’s forced to kill, won’t the guilt sit more easily in a pair of Prada peep-toe pumps?


I guess this would be considered a YA psychological thriller. It's the first book of its kind that I've ever read. Here's the scoop: Ruby is spying on five of the most evil people her D.A. mother ever let walk free. But someone knows about her list, and they keep setting Ruby up in positions where she has to kill the bad guys or innocent people will die. The intense action and the sexy boyfriend kept me hooked from the very beginning, and I loved it.

I had two small complaints--Ruby was super broken at the beginning of the story. I know a lot of people love reading about broken characters, but she was too broken for my taste. Still, the plot line kept me riveted right through all of that. Second, people were far too willing to let Ruby be alone during this dangerous time. Everyone backed away to deal with their own issues right when her safety was on the line. I guess it was necessary to advance the plot, but it seemed a little unrealistic--especially when her best friend and her therapist desert her. 

Still, I give the book 5 stars, because I couldn't put it down, and I can't wait to read the sequel. This book is definitely for mature YA readers because of the high body count. You can buy it here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: the Recovering from Vacation Edition

What's Up Wednesday is a blog hop created by Jaime and, Erin Funk, to help writers connect. ***Please remember to link to their blogs and/or use one of the WUW buttons provided.***


Right now I'm reading Killing Ruby Rose. Jessie Humphries is a WUW participant, and I found Killing Ruby Rose because so many other bloggers were loving it. I'm only a few chapters in, but it is awesome.


I haven't written much this week--see below.


TIME! It's not inspiration so much as panic. But also this quote:

"...the threshold to all that is extraordinary in life opens only when we devote ourselves to giving attention, not getting it. Things come alive for us only when we dare to see and recognize everything as special. The longer we try to get attention instead of giving it, the deeper our unhappiness." --Mark Nepo

In my life, its not so much about getting attention as it is wanting to be left alone so I can get things done! But to my surprise and chagrin, I find that I get more done, and feel more inspired when I give other people my attention and only let writing fill up the cracks. Weird. And hard to remember when I feel so much pressure.


We just got back from a vacation to New York City and Pennsylvania. We walked 30 miles in the first 3 days, and it was incredible, because I recently found out that all that pain I've been feeling for so long is probably arthritis. I'd been trying to get in shape by walking a lot, and 2 weeks before we left I gave it up for yoga. Smartest move of my life, because I did all that NY walking with no problems at all, and I was almost positive it was the yoga. Then we got to PA and I didn't do yoga for a couple of days, and then went on a walk--and the pain was back! So yoga is going to become part of my daily routine. Gladly.

So much awesomeness in New York! We saw Matilda and Les Mis, and went to Central Park, the Statue of Liberty and the Natural History Museum. We did Chinatown and 5th Avenue and Times Square. My favorite thing was Ellen's Stardust Diner though. Amazing stuff. 

(This isn't the video we took--the waiters move around so much, and I'm not much of a videographer, but this will give you a taste of it. Our waitress was amazing--she could sing and dance and waitress all at the same time!)

Then we went to Pennsylvania and had a good time with our family there, including a lot of futbol viewing (go Netherlands!), and a little lacrosse playing. It was a crazy full week and so much fun.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ready, Set, Write! Week 3

Ready. Set. Write! is a summer blog hop set up by  Jaime Morrow, Alison MillerKaty Upperman, and Erin Funk. I'm a day late, so the blog list is already closed. But this was an important week for me to set goals, so I'm venturing out on my own with this post. 

1. How I did on last week’s goals: 

I did pretty well on my goal--which was to find something cool to add to my WIP every day. I didn't actually add anything, but I came up with some good ideas.

2. My goal(s) for this week

Up until now, we've been travelling, so I haven't been as involved with this summer intensive as I wanted to be. But there is no excuse now, except that I have no idea what I want to focus intensively ON. 

Pyromancy: Crash is with the beta readers, so I can ignore that.
Pyromancy: Burn needs significant revision, but my coauthors think we should wait to see what the betas think of Crash before we do anything major.
Prophecy (the last book in the series) is only in rough outline form, and I can think of a dozen reasons not to begin it yet, but...  :)
Lost Magic is the sequel to a book I haven't thought about for a long, long time. It belongs on this list of unfinished things.

Looking at that list, I think this week's goal is to flesh out my ideas for Ana and James in Prophecy. In addition to that, I'd like to write 2000 shiny new words. 

3. A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised

Last week, I gave the ice demon quote, and people seemed to like it, so here's the next couple of sentences. This is an excellent example of actual collaboration. All three of us coauthors had a hand in writing this conversation:

"If that really is Juliette, this is a lousy welcome home," she said to me, and then she spoke to Juliette for the first time. "I'm sorry. I thought you were an ice demon. It was an honest mistake."Zach spoke up, “That could happen to anyone.”I chuckled at that. Jules shot a look at Zach, and crossed her arms. “I prefer ‘hellfire harpy,’” she said loftily.

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write, the siren song of SNIs)

We were on vacation, so I knew I wouldn't be doing a lot of writing. But we were on vacation in places moderately related to my story (New York City and Pennsylvania) so I was positive I would be inspired. But early mornings, late nights, hot, muggy days and no down time left my brain too exhausted to process anything but making sure all of my children were in my line of sight.

5. Something I love about my WIP

I don't have anything new to say about this. Next week for sure.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Ready, Set, WRITE Week 2

Ready. Set. Write is a summer blog hop set up by  Jaime Morrow, Alison Miller,Katy Upperman, and Erin Funk. You can head to any one of those blogs if you'd like to participate. Every Monday, you can go to any one of those blogs and post a link to your check-in post. 

1. How I did on last week’s goals: 

There was a lot more brain work than actual writing this week. But there was a little writing, (some of it on a SNI, unfortunately)...

2. My goal(s) for this week

There won't be a lot of time for writing. That's OK. It's my goal to find something cool to add to my WIP every day this week.

3. A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised

"I'm sorry. I thought you were an ice demon. It was an honest mistake."
Zach spoke up. “It could happen to anyone.”

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write, the siren song of SNIs)

My coauthors and I had a HUGE on-line meeting planned for Friday, and then I realized that my high school aged children would be done with finals right before it started. I picked them up, and my daughter had a post-finals, post-watching her friends graduate, post driver's ed breakdown. So I wasn't a lot of help at the meeting, but good stuff still got done. 

5. Something I love about my WIP

There's good stuff--honestly there is. But right now it kind of looks like a hot mess. So...I guess I've got to say my favorite thing about my WIP is its potential. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What's Up Wednesday! June 11, 2014

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow  and Erin Funk, to help connect writers on this writing journey.  If you want to join the fun, you can sign up here.


I had such high hopes for Fangirl. I know most of you loved it, but I ended up skimming the last hundred and fifty pages because I cared enough to find out what happened, but not enough to read every word. I was disappointed, but it worked out because I didn't have a lot of time for reading this week. I'm just starting The Fifth Wave, and I'm hoping to take it slow.


Pyromancy Part 1 went to the first batch of beta readers late last night. !!!!! My goal for RSW was to edit a little every day, and so far so good. I went through the first third of Pyromancy Part 2 and reverse outlined. There are several threads that my cowriters and I let slide, and so I started a running list of things we need to add. I also found 2 chapters that were in the manuscript twice for some reason, which is awesome because painless deletion of words is always a good time. :)


Ready, Set, WRITE! I knew I had to get some writing done this summer, but the how and when was lost in a great, big ball of panic. I am typically quite unproductive in the summertime, but there are so many deadlines! So writing weekly goals and having a support group is exactly what I need. Besides, I'm slowly starting to recognize this group of people and their writing projects are starting to seem familiar. Doing things with friends is always more fun.


Someone at school and someone at church got together and said "Let's experiment with how many things we can add to the Crouse's schedule before Melanie cracks." So there's that. Then add 3 weeks with 2 of my children in driver's ed into the mix, and you'll have some idea of my life. Sometimes, I turn on netflix just to turn off the sound of my brain constantly repeating my to-do list.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Ready Set Write #1

Ready. Set. Write is a summer blog hop set up by  Jaime Morrow, Alison Miller,Katy Upperman, and Erin Funk. You can head to any one of those blogs if you'd like to participate. Every Monday, you can go to any one of those blogs and post a link to your check-in post. 

My Ready. Set. Write goals this week are to:


 My kids are in school for one more week, so part of me wants to be super productive, while the other part of me doesn't. I have two WIP right now. One just got sent to our lovely betas, and the other is an editing job I haven't yet begun. 


My goals this week are to spend a little time writing each day, but not to expect huge things from myself. There are too many other things I need to do this week.

My overall summer goal is to:

Finish Pyromancy: Part 1. We (my co-authors and I) plan to publish it in October, so this summer I need to finish it AND get all the marketing stuff scheduled.

Get Pyromancy: Part 2 ready for betas.

Get Prophecy outlined. We've never written using an outline before, but this final book needs one. We've got too many loose ends to tie up to leave it all to chance. Writing by the seat of our pants is the reason why Pyromancy turned into two books instead of one (which is awesome. But Prophecy needs to stay just one book.) 

I'm looking forward to meeting everyone for this year's Ready Set Write. Thank you to the ladies who set this up!

Next week's headers are:
1. How I did on last week’s goals
2. My goal(s) for this week
3. A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised
4. The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write, the siren song of SNIs)

5. Something I love about my WIP

Come back to find out how I did! 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Screwing Up Alexandria

This was reblogged from my own post at The Prosers

Yesterday Screwing Up Alexandria was released! This is the third book in the Screwing Up Time series. I think Screwing Up Time might have been the first book I ever bought when I got my own kindle, and it is still one of my favorites. I had the opportunity to beta read Screwing Up Alexandria, and absolutely loved it!


Image of C. M. KellerShe is awesome. Of course, I only know her through the internet, but someday she'll come to Maine to do a book signing, and we'll go out to dinner and talk like we've known each other forever. She's super interesting and smart as a whip. I'm so glad to know her.

And here's what it says about her on amazon: 
C. M. Keller is an award-winning novelist and the author of SCREWING UP TIME, SCREWING UP BABYLON, SCREWING UP ALEXANDRIA, and the short story "Screwing Up Mongolia." She loves old movies and poison rings. In her spare time, she searches for that elusive unicorn horn. Currently, she's hard at work on her next YA novel, the fourth book in Mark and Miranda's story. You can visit her author blog at


I love YA books with a male protaganist, but they can be hard to find. That, combined with the awesome historical settings and the exciting action would earn 5 stars from me. But you throw in a fun time-travelling romance, and I'm totally hooked. Screwing Up Alexandria would be a great book to read all by itself. But Screwing Up Time is only .99 at amazon right now, so I recommend the whole series! 

Mark Montgomery's life is easy until he meets Miranda, "with her I-just-escaped-from-a-Renaissance-Fair clothing. Only, she hasn't. She has come from Bodiam Castle in the Middle Ages and demands a secret ingredient and a book of recipes for traveling through the treacherous colors of time. Although Mark has never even heard of either before, he must find them, or Miranda will die. To save her, Mark must break into a psych hospital to visit his grandfather who once tried to kill him, pass through the colors of time, take on a medieval alchemist, prevent Miranda's marriage to a two-timing baron, and keep it all hidden from his parents." 

Babylon, one of the most powerful and notorious empires ever, is the last place Mark wants to go. But when he discovers his girlfriend Miranda has been kidnapped and given to the king as a concubine, he travels through the colors of time to rescue her. It won’t be easy, not when the Hanging Gardens are a trap, his life is the prize in a game, and time is a prison. It will take all Mark’s cunning, the help of his friends, and a crazed chimp to free Miranda. When he does, time itself begins to unravel, and a life must be sacrificed or no one will survive.

And my personal favorite...

When Mark comes home from Babylon with a coded tablet, he never dreams someone would be willing to kill to get it. But they are. So Mark and Miranda kidnap an ancient cryptographer named Nin and take her to the Library of Alexandria to decipher it.

The search for the truth of the tablet takes all of them to the most dangerous time on earth. And when Nin ends up on an altar surrounded by blood-thirsty crowds, only Mark can save her. But he’s blind.


* While much of this novel takes place in Alexandria, Mark and Miranda also travel to the future and to ancient Uruk. I didn’t know much about Uruk when I started the book, but it’s a fascinating place and is known as “the Venice of the ancient world.”

*Often people ask how you keep a story fresh when you're writing a long series. I think that's a great question because it is one of the biggest challenges. But writing time travel it great because it gives me opportunities to explore new cultures and new people. In book one, Mark explored the Middle Ages and got to meet Miranda. In book two, he and Miranda went to Babylon and met Niri. In book three, Mark explores Alexandria, Uruk, and the future while meeting Nin and a whole host of secondary characters including a zoo keeper (until I started researching, I didn’t know that the library at Alexandria had a zoo) and a Jack Sparrow lookalike.

*People ask why I chose Alexandria as a setting. I’ve always been fascinated by the amazing library at Alexandria, where they tried to collect all knowledge of the ancient world. Can you imagine walking the halls? Reading the scrolls? Talking to the researchers? (I love libraries!)

*Was this book harder to write than the others? Is some ways it was the easiest because after being in the characters' heads for so long,  I really know them and their voices. But even more, in my personal life, my family was going through a lot of scary health crises and sometimes it was bliss to be able to escape all my stresses and go to Alexandria, Uruk, and even the future with Mark and Miranda. And there's nothing like shooting a Taser at an evil character for some serious stress release.

*Yesterday, a writing friend emailed me and said, "Do you know Screwing Up Alexandria is number one in sales in one of its Amazon categories?" I didn't. That was so cool. I can't wait to see what today brings.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What's Up Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime and Erin Funk, to help connect writers on this writing journey.  If you want to join the fun, you can sign up here.

For those of you who are new to WUW, here are the headings we are using:




The plan was to read Scarlet this week and then stop reading, but when the library informed me that my copy of Cress was available, I just couldn't help myself. I'm about half way through Cress. It is so much fun. Anyone who hasn't already figured out how good a series featuring a half cyborg/half alien princess can be--pick up Cinder right now! These are awesome books.



This week has been a strange hodgepodge of writing...Pyromancy is written in journal form, but we don't bother dating the journal entries until we're ready for beta readers. So this week I've been figuring out the dates and adding chapter headings, and making sure the timeline is right. It's going remarkably well.

We've also been thinking about the final book in the series, because we need to get it outlined before we can publish Pyromancy. We need to be certain we add all the details necessary to make the ending book of the series run smoothly. All my best ideas got used up in Pyromancy, which is why I am so grateful to have coauthors who can get my creative juices moving again. They've got Ideas. So much fun.


My coauthors, Sheena Boekweg and Sabrina West. It's funny how we can be writing the same story and sometimes have three different versions of where we think it is going.  We've been writing the Prophecy Breakers series for more than 2 years now. We've all had highs and lows and life hasn't always been easy for any of us. But they are professional and dedicated and fun. When life gets difficult, we dust ourselves off and keep going. I wish every author could have this kind of a learning experience. I can't even begin to describe how many ways they've helped me be a better writer. 


I have been crazy sick. It's hard for me to admit. I've been in denial for such a long time, pushing through pain because I thought the pain was there because I wasn't good enough. When I finally broke down and went to the doctor, they said my inflammation levels were sky high, and referred me to a rheumatologist. Then allergies hit suddenly and hard, plus a sinus infection, and I really thought I might be dying. Things have gotten much better, so no worries. But I'm learning that I have no idea how to nurture myself, and I think I've got to learn--fast!