Newsletter Signup



Today is the release day for Shelli Johannes-Wells book, UNTRACEABLE, and in honor of that occasion I wanted to post my first ever review.

My book flap summary – Grace’s upbringing hasn’t been like other sixteen year old girls.  She’s spent just as much time in the wilderness with her Forest Ranger father, learning everything she can about nature and how it needs to be protected now more than ever, as she has in an actual classroom.  Then her world is turned upside down when her father mysteriously disappears during a routine patrol and months of searching yield very few clues regarding his fate.

Now it seems Grace is the only person who hasn’t given up on finding her father, straining all of her relationships in the small little mountain town where they live, even the one with her mother.  But Grace isn’t ready to give in to popular opinion, even if it means pissing off a few friends and the local sheriff to find out what really happened in those woods.  In the process she stumbles across a handsome young stranger who shares her affinity for wide-open country.   Grace reluctantly permits herself to enjoy her time with the outsider, who stirs up feelings she’s never experienced before, but soon they are both put in dangers way when she uncovers the real reason for her father disappearance. Was she too late to recognize a conspiracy that reaches far beyond the mountains she calls home?

Let me preface the remainder of this review by stating not only is this my first attempt at reviewing, but I’m also not the target audience for this book.  This definitely belongs in the YA genre, with a lean towards the female reader, but I have to say that I still enjoyed the book a great deal.  Let me tell you why.

What I really enjoyed: I think the highest praise I can give Shelli’s book is that I finished it on a Thursday evening and felt compelled to go camping with my son the next afternoon.  The imagery of life in the wilderness that her words formed in my mind was very real and appealing, without being overly descriptive and dragging down the story, which can often happen.   The supporting characters leapt off the page with loads of personality and Grace as a MC was very easy to relate to.  The book was also a quick read because of the equal emphasis on the action and suspense.

Nitpicks:  Not being a YA, or a regular YA reader, the romantic triangle (which seems to the mandatory in these type books) and Grace’s teenage angst was distracting and at times pulled me out of the overall story.  I will concede though that Shelli is so good at communicating the dynamic of teenage rebellion, that as a father I tended to react negatively, which may or may not have been the desired result.   I also felt some of the plot elements surrounding the resolution of the mystery challenged believability, but I’ve had that same issue with some best-selling mainstream offerings lately, so I’ll cut her some slack on that point. J

You don’t have to trust my layman’s opinion; UNTRACEABLE has already been well received by Kirkus Reviews, which I highly recommend you read by clicking on the link.

Overall, UNTRACEABLE was a satisfying read that the YA adult reader will devour quickly and no doubt come back looking for more.

PS.  Round 4 of WRiTE CLUB is waiting for your vote, and the Deja Vu Blogfest scheduled for December 16th is going to be EPIC!  If you haven't signed up yet, do so right now.

WRiTE CLUB – Round 4

A quarter of the way through the preliminary rounds and WRiTE CLUB is just now picking up steam.  We had a strong showing last week despite the Thanksgiving holiday and NaNo activity peaking.  As we move into December my wife (who have read all the submissions) tells me the best is yet to come, and I'm eager to agree with her.  

In the previous rounds a good litmus test for deciding victory is whether or not a writing sample leaves the reader wanting more.  If nothing else, this should illustrate how we must each strive to adhere to this guiding principle in every phase of our work.  We've seen some awesome 250 word snippets, but what about the next 250 words...and the 250 after that?  We as writers cannot afford to coast, or compose filler that is supposed to simply serve as a bridge to the next major plot point, character interaction, or dramatic encounter.  Our standards must be set higher than that and the luxury of complacency a foreign concept.  A tough task indeed, but one we all embrace willingly.

There were no new submissions last week, so both our WRiTER's will come from the existing pool.  So, without further ado....

Here are this week's randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in the far corner, weighing in at 239 words, please welcome to the ring……..


She wasn’t allowed a name.

She stole one anyway.

She hoarded it in her mind, stowed it away to savour when she hid under the laboratory. Alone. Against the rules. Away from the eyes and the needles and the mindless others.

The thick walls stopped their minds from finding her. Kept her secret. Hid her name.

She heard the bright one say it. Her face changed. Her eyes widened, her mouth turned up. Her shoulders lifted and sat tall on her body. The bright one’s voice changed too. The words chased each other up and down instead of slumping along one after the next.

She’d never seen the bright one like that before. She’d never seen anyone like that before. She wanted that. So, she stole it.

The eyes of the others widened when the bright one said it, but she’d seen that look before. Fear. They looked around quickly, told the bright one to shut up. She hadn’t. Instead, she moved her feet quickly, moved them not in a straight line. Moved them back and forth and to the side.

The one with the broom hit the bright one. She stopped moving her feet and stopped looking different. When the broomed one moved away, the bright one whispered the word again.

She wanted that. Wanted to feel that.

So she’d stolen the word, made it her name.

Made it her.

She was Freedom.

And she needed a plan.

And in the other corner, weighing in at 246 words, let me introduce to you ……..


When a princess misbehaves, most kings and queens send them to their chambers. Not mine. No, my parents send me to the dungeons. And I don’t get to sit there and “think about what I’ve done.” I have to clean. It probably says something about my temperament that we have the cleanest dungeons in all of Farfel. Even now, as I sat on my royal *ahem* and polished the bars outside the second-largest cell for VIPs only (Very Important Prisoners), I was hard-pressed to find even one speck of dust. Of course, that might be because I’ve been on dungeon duty every day this week. (Let me just say – cleaning out chamber pots? Not. Fun.)

Sunday I was punished for putting a snake in Prince Alec’s salad. I know, I know. Not that original, but he yelled louder than a banshee from the Mountains of Mystery.

On Monday, I ever-so-innocently suggested that the prince resembled a blue pincushion – what with his puffy sleeves and all – and my parents sent me down here again. (Though, I noticed they didn’t disagree with my assessment of his outfit).

Tuesday morning I pushed the prince into the fountain during our supposed-to-be-romantic walk. My parents didn’t believe me when I said I was protecting the prince from a very deadly looking wasp who seemed quite taken with his cologne.

Really, I was surprised they still wanted to go forward with the whole marriage arrangement.

Maybe the fountain thing was too subtle.

Another tough choice for you.  Leave your vote for the winner of round 4, along with any sort of critique you would like to offer, in the comments below.  Please remind your friends to make a selection as well.  The voting will remain open until noon Sunday.  

Remember, here in WRiTE CLUB, it’s not about the last man/woman standing, it’s about who knocks the audience out!

The results will be posted Sunday night, just ahead of ROUND 5 which will happen next Monday.   You can throw your pen name into the hate anytime during the first twelve rounds by submitting your own 250 word sample.  Check out the rules by clicking on the badge below…then come out swinging!

 Where words are the true knockout!

PS.  The Deja Vu Blogfest scheduled for December 16th is going to be EPIC!  If you haven't signed up yet, do so right now.

WRiTE CLUB Round 3 - Results

I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of participation in this weeks round.  With the end of NaNo bearing down and the Thanksgiving holiday consuming everyone's time (including my own), this WRiTE still managed to generate more votes than round two. I credit our amazing talent on display and the quality of our submissions.  As always, though, only one can move forward.  Here are this weeks results:

NANOSH - 9 votes     TIMOTHY NINE - 17 votes

This weeks winner is TIMOTHY NINE!  He will join ANNE SHIRLEY & JAMIE STUART in the semi-finals which will begin in February.  Remember, WRiTER's that go back into the pool are free to submit a different 250 word sample in preparation for being selected again, or they can just let their previous submission ride.

These results will be posted on my WRiTE CLUB page, along with links to all of the writing samples.

Round 4 begins tomorrow morning! :)


Karen Amanda Hooper has been one of my blogging buddies for years and now her young adult novel, TANGLED TIDES, is officially being released into the world today. Please join me in the celebration by fighting in the war--the underwater web war between the sea creatures!

Karen’s story contains battling merfolk, selkies, sirens and gorgons.  Here’s a summary of what they are like (illustrations created by the talented Alexandra Shostak):

MERFOLK: of the sun, need warmth, gifted singers, can control water. Fun fact: in my story merfolk are ranked by color. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet (yes, the rainbow. And yes, my MC makes fun of it.) Each rank has a designated role and duties to their kind. Also, they must smoke C-weed to survive. You'll have to read the book to find out what C-weed is. 

SIRENS: of the sun, need warmth, seductive singers, can control the weather. Fun fact: There are 3 siren sisters, one for each of the original gorgon sisters who were eternally banished to the dark and cold gorgon grotto. The sirens fly and swim between the worlds doing the gorgon sisters' dirty work, but the sirens evolved to be feisty rebels who do whatever they want most of the time--including stealing memories from humans. 

SELKIES: of the moon, need cold, phenomenal dancers, can control human minds. Fun fact: selkies need the cold to survive but they're trapped in warm FL weather, so they hang out at Jack Frost's, a bar that is freezing cold and everything (seats, tables, walls, etc) are made out of ice. Their chic fur coats also help keep their bodies cool. They smoke seagarettes and have lots of scars that are invisible to humans. 

GORGONS: of the moon, need cold, seductive dancers, can control the sea creatures (the original 3 are like the gods of their world). Fun fact: Just like Medusa, the gorgons can turn any living thing to stone, but they aren't the heartless evil monsters that are portrayed in most legends. They are wicked smart, fast, and powerful. The male gorgons are tough as rock.

She says she loves all of them, but she wants everyone else to choose a side, so…
I CHOOSE SELKIES!  Why you ask?  Because they get to hang out in a bar, of course.

Wanna learn more or join in on the fun? Go check out the details at Karen’s blog:

Karen is giving away a signed copy of her book and some other sea creature themed prizes. To enter, join the underwater web war on Twitter. Tweet which sea creatures you’re rooting for and why. Include the hashtag #TangledTides and you could win.

Karen will be on Twitter all day celebrating and answering questions, so stop by and say hello. @Karen_Hooper  

Here’s a summary of the story:

Yara Jones doesn’t believe in sea monsters—until she becomes one.

When a hurricane hits her island home and she wakes up with fins, Yara finds herself tangled up in an underwater world of mysterious merfolk and secretive selkies. Both sides believe Yara can save them by fulfilling a broken promise and opening the sealed gateway to their realm, but they are battling over how it should be done. The selkies want to take her life. The merfolk want something far more precious.

Treygan, the stormy-eyed merman who turned Yara mer, will stop at nothing and sacrifice everything to protect his people—until he falls for Yara. The tides turn as Yara fights to save herself, hundreds of sea creatures, and the merman who has her heart. She could lose her soul in the process—or she might open the gateway to a love that’s deeper than the oceans.

Book Linkage:

Best of luck Karen...although I doubt you'll need much.  :)

You Did That

If you’re reading this…this post is meant for you.

In high school I wrote a short story to impress a girl.  That story ended up getting me an A+, urged to enter some writing contests, and nudged towards contributing to our school newspaper.

I did that.

Approximately four years ago I succumbed to an urge.  It was something that bubbled up out of nowhere, lying dormant in me for a very long time, and I simply couldn’t get out of my mind or ignore.   As a result I wrote my first piece of fiction since my senior year of high school.  It was a short story that I never let anybody ever read.

I did that.

Six months later I wrote another short story, and this time I worked up enough courage to let my wife read it.  She loved it and encouraged me to pursue this quiescent passion even further.  I took that second short story and turned it into a full-blown, one-hundred-thirty-five thousand word novel.  

I did that.

After deciding to get more serious about the whole publication process, I did some research and realized my first book needed a lot of work before I could even consider moving forward.  So that book got shelved and I wrote another one.  A better one.

I did that.

Somewhere along the way I found the blogs.   With that discovery came a very different understanding of who I was, and what I was trying to become.  I read about your struggles, your success stories, your hard-earned tips nonchalantly passed along, and the endless supply of positive energy that buoyed me during times of self-doubt.  I linked up with awesome critique partners and beta readers that helped turn my ugly-duckling novel into the beautiful swan it is.

I am now querying that second novel.

You did that.

During this season of thanks…I thank you!  No matter what happens from this point forward, I’ll be eternally grateful to each and every one of you!

If you haven't voted for WRiTE CLUB Round 3 yet, you can do that here.  Also, don't forget about the Deja Vu Blogfest.

Happy Thanksgiving!  DL :)


Blog Blitz

Design by: The Blog Decorator