Monday, September 19, 2016


The release day of my third book baby has arrived! I’m excited. This was a novel I wrote in 2010 and shelved for years. In 2012, I rewrote it in first person, present tense. Then I dusted it off in 2015, revamping it from a post-apocalyptic dystopian into a science fiction novel, and sold it to Entangled Teen.

And now, an interview with my main character on the planet Liberty (i.e., The Lying Planet. This is not an excerpt, but you can read an excerpt from Chapter 1 on my WEBSITE):

Earth girl, the year 2147: Hello? This is Kasie McCormick from Earth, messaging the planet Liberty. Is anyone connected to the interplanetary hub right now? I have to do a project for my Social Awareness class, and I need a willing victim.

[ping!] Liberty dweller: Yes. Hi, Kasie, I’m on the hub. Ask me anything.

Earth girl Kasie: Awesome! What’s your name, Liberty dweller? Tell me about yourself.

Liberty dweller: Okay, I’m Jay Lawton. I’m 17, almost 18. Turning 18 is a big deal in my colony. We have this silvery Machine that’s shaped like an octopus, and it scans our brains and Tests us on graduation day. If we score high, we get cool rewards like a wristcomm. The really high scorers get a cloudskimmer or a hover vehicle. That’s what I’m aiming for. I’ve logged in a lot of extra hours working in my parents’ garden and collecting eggs at the chicken compound.

Earth girl Kasie: Uh, that’s…weird. I mean, cool. So what’s the deal with Liberty? I mean, you’re basically from Earth, since humans colonized your planet 90 years ago, right?

Liberty dweller Jay: Yep. Then 25 years ago we had a war, and now most of the planet is bombed out and destroyed. My colony  is called Sanctuary, and it’s a safe zone we’ve rebuilt. Refuge and Fort Hope are the other 2 safe zones. We stay away from the outer zones where there’s still a lot of genomide dust.

Earth girl Kasie: What in the twelve galaxies is “genomide dust”?

Liberty dweller Jay: It’s this deadly powder that gets on your skin and in your lungs. Causes genocide, or mass killings. It’s a chemical that burns you—so it’s nothing you want to be around. If the Machine scores us low at our Testings, we’re branded with a “B” on our foreheads and banished to the outer zones where the dust is. Trust me, that’s great motivation to work hard and obey all the strict rules around here.

Earth girl Kasie: Ugh, I bet. Let’s talk about something less creepy. What kind of music do you listen to—any favorite groups?

Liberty dweller Jay: We don’t have recorded music or CDs. At the Nebula, where secondary session kids over 13 hang out and eat, we have live music with technoguitars and singing. I’ve never heard anything besides that. We don’t have movies, either.

Earth girl Kasie: Seriously? Sounds pretty boring. What do you do for fun around the zones?

Liberty dweller Jay: We play helioball, which is this floating, color-changing blob that each team tries to catch when it turns the highest-scoring color. And in the fall we have a Harvest Equinox party. Dancing, sack races, and bobbing for greshfruit, which is sweet like an apple but soft like a nectarine.

Earth girl Kasie: Nice. How else is Liberty different from Earth?

Liberty dweller Jay: Well, we have two moons. Their magnetic pull causes the water from the underground tables to rise every night for an hour starting at 1:00 am. That’s a good thing, because it irrigates our yards and gardens. It never, ever rains here. We also have 13 hours in a day and 8 days in a week, Monday through Restday.

Earth girl Kasie: No rain at all? Wow, interesting. I sure could use an extra day of the week and an extra hour in the day. Especially with this project that’s due tomorrow… So who are your friends?

Liberty dweller Jay: My best friend is Harrel, and my girlfriend’s name is Aubrie…there’s also Peyton, who’s distractingly adorable and clever, and Leonard, who has this annoying scratchy voice and quirky sense of humor. I used to hang with the last two friends back in primary sessions, but they’re rebels now.

Earth girl Kasie: Uh…why are you whispering all of a sudden? Did your parents tell you not to be on the hub right now?

Liberty dweller Jay: It’s night time and I’m not supposed to be awake. And I’m hearing this really freaky noise. Oh, man, I gotta go— 

Earth girl Kasie: Wait! I have one more question… Hello? [dead silence]

Earth girl Kasie: Are you okay, Liberty dweller? Jay—Jay?


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Purchase linksAmazon  Barnes & Noble  |

Do you like to read (or write) dystopian novels? How about post-apocalyptic?
Have you ever written up an interview with your book character before? (it's fun!)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Lynda Young: CLING TO GOD devotional

(Parentheses: MY WRITING UPDATE)
My YA sci-fi has been re-titled THE LYING PLANET (formerly Safe Zone), and the release date is now September 19 instead of October via Entangled Teen. I had to do some fast revising here recently to accommodate the new schedule! Now I’m finally back to writing my WIP, a YA fantasy that’s coming along nicely at 56,500 words, about 2/3 done.

Today I’m pleased to be a part of my longtime writer buddy and critique partner’s book release! Lynda Young is celebrating the upcoming publication of her devotional, CLING TO GOD. It’s an encouraging daily read for Christians to use and grow in their faith.  This releases October 18, 2016 from Freedom Fox Press.

Cling to God: A Daily Devotional
Cling to God in the chaos of life…

Cling to God is a book of devotionals for every day of the year. The aim is to encourage Christians in their faith, to help them think about their beliefs and learn more about God. The devotions are short and inspirational so that people with busy lifestyles will still be able to spend time with the Lord each day. It will appeal to a wide Christian audience, to those new in their faith as well as those matured beyond milk and honey.

AUTHOR BIO: Lynda R. Young, a Christian first, writes devotionals, articles, and speculative short stories. In her spare time she is also an editor, game developer, artist, and dabbles in photography and all things creative. She lives in Australia with her sweetheart of a husband. You can find her here: Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Do you know Lynda, or follow her blog?
Do you enjoy playing computer games? I’ve never gotten into it, but my MOM does!
If you write, what’s YOUR current project these days? Or are you taking a vacation?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Interview with Sue Ford: ALONE

Today I’m delighted to feature an interview with my Oregon author friend, Sue Ford, who has just released an inspirational romantic suspense novel from Clean Reads (June 2016). The title of her book is called ALONE.

Ready for adventure in the snowy Colorado mountains, Cecelia Gage is thrilled to be employed as the live-in housekeeper for her favorite bestselling author. The twenty-five-year old doesn’t count on Mark Andrews being so prickly, nor becoming part of the small town gossip centering on the celebrity. Neither does she expect to become involved in Andrews family drama and a relationship with Simon Lindley, Mark’s oh-so-good-looking best friend. And certainly, Cecelia has no idea she’ll be mixed up in a murder investigation because of this job.

Will Cecelia’s faith in God get her through all the trouble that lies ahead?

1. What do you like about romantic suspense and inspirational novels?
When I was a teen, I fell in love with romantic suspense books. I liked smart female heroines in dangerous situations, imperfect heroes, and tension and suspense. Since that time the inspirational fiction market has become really strong, and I wanted to share my faith as those books do.

2. What makes your book different from other romance novels?
My main character is a live-in housekeeper and cook, so an unusual profession. Also, in many romantic suspense books heroine and hero meet and fall in love in a few days. That doesn’t feel very realistic to me, so I gave my characters time to become friends first.

3. What was the path to publication for this book—long, short, easy, difficult?
This book took a long path to publication. I wrote it very long ago--in the 1980s! It went through some critiques and rewriting and I was unsuccessful at selling it. I set it aside for a long time. Last fall I pulled it out and realized how much I had learned since I'd written it. In my updating and rewriting, I cut 11,000 words. I sent it out to Clean Reads not really expecting anything. Was a nice surprise to get asked if it was still available.

4. Do you use a pen name?
Yes, I actually have two! SM Ford is my initials with my married last name. But I also write for children under my maiden name Susan Uhlig. I like the idea of keeping them separate and have separate websites.

5. What other writing projects are you working on now—what do you hope to accomplish in your writing future?
I also write for children and teens under my maiden name Susan Uhlig, and am working on a "near future" novel in verse. When that is done and out on submission, I have revising to do on a number of other novels. I'd like to see more books in print to reach more readers.

SUE FORD writes inspirational fiction for adults, although teens may find the stories of interest, too. When she was thirteen, she got hooked on Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense books, although she has been a reader as long as she can remember, and is an eclectic reader. Inspirational authors she enjoys include: Francine Rivers, Bodie Thoene, Dee Henderson, Jan Karon, and many more. Sue is a Pacific Northwest gal. She and her husband have two daughters and two sons-in-law and three grandsons. She can’t figure out how she got to be old enough for all that, however. She also loves assisting other writers on their journeys.

Connect with SueWebsite  Twitter  Facebook

Purchase linksAmazon  Barnes and Noble  |  Kobo  Smashwords  |

Have you read many inspirational romance books? How about romantic suspense?
What do you hope to accomplish in YOUR writing future?

Thursday, July 7, 2016

BOTTLED release day—and excerpt!

This is an awesome day! BOTTLED is a novel I wrote in 2011-12 that sadly got shelved for years and years. Then, this last winter (2016), I took a chance and submitted it to Clean Reads for publication. It was accepted! It will see the light of day after all, and that bright day has arrived.

At seventeen, Adeelah Naji is transformed into a genie and imprisoned in a bottle. For a thousand years, she fulfills the wishes of greedy masters, only sustained by the hope of finding Karim, the boy she fell in love with as a human. When at last she finds a note from her beloved, she confirms he has access to the elixir of life and he still searches for her. 

But someone else also hunts her—Faruq, a man who plots to use her powers for evil. With the help of a kind master named Nathan, Adeelah searches for Karim while trying to evade Faruq. To complicate matters, she begins to experience growing fatigue and pain after conjuring, and finds herself struggling against an undeniable attraction to Nathan.

As Faruq closes in, Adeelah must decide how she can protect Nathan and be with Karim forever. How much power over her future does she really have, and what is she willing to sacrifice for an eternity of love? If she makes the wrong choice, the deaths of many will be on her hands.

Connect with me here!  Website  Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads

Buy links for BOTTLED:   Amazon  Barnes and Noble

Add to Goodreads to-read list: HERE

EXCERPT from BOTTLED, mid-Chapter 1:
My attention snags on a doorway to a small bathing area, and a booklet on the wall that shows it’s April. April 1977.

I gape. It hasn’t been a mere century I’ve been locked away from the human realm in that vault. It’s been more like three.

Bello scoops up my slender but sturdy glass bottle from the bed, greed churning behind his eyes. “So you can give me whatever else I want? Gold, whiskey? Foxy women?”

“I’ll grant you any wish within my ability, Master,” I say.

He frowns. “What’s that supposed to mean? Are you all-powerful or not? It doesn’t matter if I have endless wishes if all I can get is chutney, cold beer, and pita.”

I hold back a sigh. I prefer to tell him I’m unable to fulfill any of his wishes, limitless or not, but the bottle won’t let me lie. “My powers are restricted only when the wishes involve people. I can’t materialize people who don’t exist or bring them to you against their will. I can’t make them alive if they’ve died, or directly kill them. I also can’t change their bodies, minds, or personalities. But I’m able to take you places, modify objects, and grant you many tangible things.”

“Tangible. What’s that?”

I must say, this guy isn’t the swiftest camel in the caravan. “Things you can touch. No wishing for things like happiness, true love, and infinite world peace.”

[end of excerpt; I hope you enjoyed it!]

Do you have novels you’ve shelved as a writer, that you hope to revive some day?
As a reader, are you noticing a lot of genie novels being released lately?
What’s your favorite paranormal subject matter (vampires, angels, genies, werewolves, faeries, aliens, mermaids, etc.)?

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Release Day: GRANTED by Michelle Merrill

Michelle Merrill, author of CHANGING FATE, a YA novel about battling cystic fibrosis, is releasing her second book today! This new one is about genies, which is amusing because Michelle and I are critique partners and a few years ago we both wrote genie novels without knowing the other was doing it. And now we’re releasing them just one week apart (my YA, BOTTLED, releases next week on July 7!). Let's help Michelle celebrate the book birthday of GRANTED!!

The existence of genies may be the best kept secret in the history of the world.

After being trapped in the Sahara Desert her whole life, sixteen-year-old genie Brielle finally gets her first assignment in Tri-Cities, Washington. She eagerly heads out into the human world to grant her first wish so she can gain her magic. Unfortunately, her assigned human, Addie, gave up believing in wishes years ago and would much rather everyone just leave her alone.

Complicating everything is Rock, Brielle’s childhood friend turned enemy. Brielle doesn’t need him ruining her first trip out into the human world. Too bad she can’t keep her mind--or her eyes--off him and his annoyingly cute dimples.

To make matters worse, genies in the Tri-Cities area are suspiciously dying. One broken lamp could be an accident, but after three, Brielle suspects someone has uncovered the genies’ secret and is slowly killing them off one by one. With the Genie Council ignoring the threat, Brielle desperately needs to gain her magic so she can stop the murderer before she—or Rock—is the next genie to die.

Michelle Merrill loves kissing her hubby, snuggling her kids, eating candy, reading books, and writing first drafts. She names her computers after favorite fictional characters and fictional characters after favorite names. To learn more about her, visit her website HERE.

Granted will be available for only $2.99 from June 30th – July 7th! That's discounted from $4.99! So nab your copy on Amazon: HERE.    

Also, you can enter to win a signed copy on the Future House Publishing blog HERE, and they’re giving away physical copies on Goodreads starting July 1: HERE.

To add to your to-read list: Goodreads.

What do you think of Michelle’s cover for GRANTED?
I think I’ve read about 4 or 5 genie novels; how many have you read? Here’s a list one blogger created: 11 YA Books about Jinn/Djinn/Genies   

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Body Positivity! THE SOUND OF US

As many of you know, in September 2015 I published my debut YA, The Body Institute. I explored body image and identity in a near-future society. Our bodies are the first thing people see about us, and often before we even open our mouths, others make snap judgments or assumptions about us based on our appearance. This includes assessments based on our height, race, gender, hair color/style, clothing, weight, etc. When people value some appearances over others, it can cause doubts in a person whether he or she is “beautiful,” or—worse yet—if he/she even has worth as a human being. 

As my character Morgan Dey says, “Am I less of a person because I weigh more?”

Morgan, in The Body Institute, gets a job helping other people lose weight in a society where people are taxed for not being slim and fit. She’s downloaded into their bodies to make them look a certain, “acceptable” way. 

Can people who do NOT have a slim, trim, Hollywood-beautiful appearance get featured in YA books? Can they ever be not slender and beautiful at the same time?
Are they ever main characters? Is their weight or appearance always the main plot, or can they just “be” and have other goals? YA books I’ve read or seen: 

ARTICHOKE’S HEART by Suzanne Supplee
KEEPING THE MOON by Sarah Dessen

Aaaaand here’s another book about body image that releases today! 

Kiki Nichols might not survive music camp.

She’s put her TV-loving, nerdy self aside for one summer to prove she’s got what it takes: she can be cool enough to make friends, she can earn that music scholarship, and she can get into Krause University’s music program.

Except camp has rigid conduct rules—which means her thrilling late-night jam session with the hot drummer can’t happen again, even though they love all the same TV shows, and fifteen minutes making music with him meant more than every aria she’s ever sung. 

But when someone starts snitching on rule breakers and getting them kicked out, music camp turns into survival of the fittest. If Kiki’s going to get that scholarship, her chance to make true friends—and her chance with the drummer guy—might cost her the future she wants more than anything.

Purchase links:   

Julie Hammerle is the author of The Sound of Us, which will be published by Entangled Teen on June 7, 2016. Before settling down to write "for real," she studied opera, taught Latin, and held her real estate license for one hot minute. Currently, she writes about TV on her blog Hammervision, ropes people into conversations about Game of Thrones, and makes excuses to avoid the gym. Her favorite YA-centric TV shows include 90210 (original spice), Felicity, and Freaks and Geeks. Her music playlist reads like a 1997 Lilith Fair set list.

She lives in Chicago with her husband, two kids, and a dog. They named the dog Indiana.

Help Celebrate! ENTER THE GIVEAWAY for a $25 Amazon gift card: LINK 

Can you think of any other books that help promote body positivity?
Can you think of any books that feature main characters who are atypical of Hollywood ideals of beauty?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Cover Reveal: BOTTLED!

Today I’m thrilled to reveal the cover of my YA fantasy, BOTTLED! My book finally has a “face.” CHECK THIS OUT!!

This was designed by Cora Graphics, who does covers for my publisher, Clean Reads. I think it fits the tone of the novel very well. I think the genie may look a bit more sultry and older than the 17 Adeelah is supposed to look in the story, but this genie is beautiful, so I don’t care!  

View the book summary or add this to your Goodreads reading list: BOTTLED  

Only 6 weeks until the July 7 release!!

What do you think of my cover? What’s your favorite part of it?
Do you often fuss about what your cover will look like before you get it?
Have you ever heard of Cora Graphics’ cover designs?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Making Up Languages in Writing

J.R.R. Tolkein did it. He loved making up languages, creating (among other ones in less depth) two different Elvish tongues, Qenya and Sindarin, for his books set in Middle Earth.

Ash nazg thrakatul√Ľk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul. My daughters used to run around chanting this when they were young, especially after I found the actual One Ring online with those very words inscribed on them in Elvish writing. It made for a great Christmas present(s)! Translated, the words mean: “One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.”

In the 1990s, I included some Hindi phrases in a YA book I was writing set in alternate-India. It was great fun researching. One of the fascinating things I learned was that for Hindi, the tongue is placed differently for sounds like “t” and “d.” It’s more of a “dental” tongue placement; where English-spreaking people usually say these consonants with the tongue touching the roof of the mouth (alveolar ridge), Hindi speakers say them with the tongue touching just behind their teeth. Cool!

My new YA novel, my WIP (work-in-progress) is a fairy tale retelling. The main character does not speak the language of humans; she calls it “human-speak.” Of course, from her viewpoint, she speaks the English words that I’m writing in the narrative and usual dialogue, so when I had her attempt to communicate with a human, I decided to invent a language that would be “human-speak.” Such fun! For the base of my ideas for these words, I blended bits of French, Spanish, and Latin together to come up with a unique language all its own.

The caution with using real languages as well as made-up ones is not to overdo it. Readers may not be as entranced at your authentic or invented words as you are. Use them sparingly, like salt—for flavor, rather than heavily saturated. This is similar to using dialect or presenting people from other cultures or geographic areas or educations (dropping the g’s at the end of words, for instance): it’s very easy to overwhelm the page and the reader. I realized this when I got a little weary inventing more and more words. I decided my reader would be tired of it as I was getting; I had to go back and pare some usages down. Flavor, not saturation.

Have you ever made up a language in a short story or novel you’ve written?
Have you ever included a foreign language in your manuscripts? Spanish, French, etc?
Have you memorized the Elvish inscription/chant for The One Ring?
JK Rowling carefully based her magical chants in Harry Potter on Latin. Do you know some wand commands from the books—what is the forbidden spell that kills others?