Landing smack-dab in the sweetness

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to become successful at something, for people to love, want, need something you offer?  As an author who spends most of her free time writing Young Adult fantasy, it is something I think about every day.  Will my novel IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING, be something young readers will want to read? Will it be something anyone will want to read?

I think authors probably top the list as the most insecure artists out there. We’re certainly the most unrecognized, which is probably a good thing because who wants to go into a Piggly Wiggly and be mobbed by the paparazzi while you squeeze the lemons? On the other hand, if the paparazzi is following you around, that means people want more  of you. It’s not enough you gave them a great book that may have taken years off your life. Your fans want your body. Your soul. The napkin you used to wipe your mouth.

But how do you create this desire? This hunger? This need?

Bottom line:  I haven’t a clue, though I believe it is all in the timing, and being in the right place at the right time, with the stars aligned perfectly, and I’m sure the moon rising in Venus has something to do with it.

I’ve seen very talented and wonderful people spend $$ on seminars and books. They take classes on marketing. They step out of their comfort zone and make themselves vulnerable to the ravenous public, to an ever-watchful boss, but nothing happens.  They are skipped over. Then, someone comes along with a product that sometimes appears to be less inferior, and voila, they have a following, a ravenous crowd, a praising boss who wants more, more, more.

In the case of books, remember the Twilight series? How many critics, professional or not, ridiculed these novels, saying how awful they were? Guess what? Stephenie Meyer laughed all the way to the bank and the franchise is still growing.  Look at the newest sensation: Fifty Shades of Grey. I can’t even read these books all the way through because Christian Grey creeps me out. He’s a stalker, a sado-masochist. He’s everything a man should not be towards a woman and yet his and Ana’s story is so dreamy. I shake my head in confusion, yet the author is in the ‘laughing to the bank’ club, while so many other authors with much better books, more positive stories, struggle to get anyone to notice.

I looked for similarities between the two authors, Meyers and E.L. James, and couldn’t find anything remotely the same as it relates to marketing, EXCEPT that E.L. James began writing 50 Shades as fan fiction based on the Twilight series.  She developed a following and now she’s a gazillionaire and people are swooning to see a film about a rich, good-looking guy who stalks naive, insecure virgins.  Prior to Ms. Meyers hitting it big, she was really quite obscure, a woman who had a story inside of her that needed to be written.

But there are many authors like her, including myself, who have stories inside that need to be written. How do some get the accolades, all the attention, while the majority do not? How does one amazing singer get passed over for another? What is it about that person at work who always seems to capture the awards and the atta boys, while others work just as hard and sometimes contribute even more, and don’t even get a good-morning?

I don’t have the answers. All I know is we just need to strive to be the best we can be to ourselves. We must be true to ourselves and not compromise our integrity, our beliefs, our morals just to have a brief moment in the spotlight. At the end of the day, we have to look in that mirror and like the image we see staring back at us … and hope someday, someone will notice us for all we’ve done, for all we’ve accomplished, for all our dedication and committment. Then, maybe we’ll, too, land smack-dab in the sweetness (or at the very least we’ll get a taste), and be a part of the ‘laughing to the bank’ club, even if it’s just one trip.

It is what dreams are made of, you know.


Cover Reveal For HUNTED – the electrifying sequel to BRANDED

I know a lot of people who are waiting to see  this cover.  For those of you who don’t know, BRANDED is YA dystopian novel that has taken the world by storm, and with characters like Cole, it’s not hard to understand why. Many have ranked this novel right up there with the Divergent series and I can understand why.  It is the first in The Sinners series, and has 433 5-star reviews on Amazon.

No wonder people are aching to see the cover for the next in the series, HUNTED.  So, without further ado … here it is. Oh, and don’t forget to keep scrolling down. There is a giveaway going on and a Chapter Reveal!!!!


HUNTED is the electrifying sequel to the bestselling debut BRANDED, A Sinners Series, by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki.

It’s been three months since the revolt against the Commander’s fifty-year-old regime failed.

Under a new ruler, things were supposed to change. Get better.

But can anyone really be trusted?

Lexi and Cole soon find out, as life takes an unexpected turn for the worse.

In this ever-changing world, you must hunt or be hunted.

Lives will be lost.

Dreams will be crushed.

Fears will be realized.

Secrets will be exposed.

When Cole is once again faced with losing Lexi at the hands of a monster, one encounter will change everything.


Connect with BRANDED fans on Instagram at:

add to goodreadsTitle: Hunted (Sinners #2)
Publication date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki

Available for Pre-order:


You can read Chapter Three HERE!

Happy Reading and Enjoy!


Abi and Missy 2

Abi and Missy met in the summer of 1999 at college orientation and have been best friends ever since. After college, they added jobs, husbands and kids to their lives, but they still found time for their friendship. Instead of hanging out on weekends, they went to dinner once a month and reviewed books. What started out as an enjoyable hobby has now become an incredible adventure.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumbler


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Guys, I’ve got to tell you. I’ve had my eye on this book ever since I saw the cover last year. Look at this sweet cover art!

Innoculous Girl

I knew when I saw it I had to read it, so I signed up with Month9Books to get an ARC when they sent them out. I read it in less than two days. This book is everything I would want in a steampunk fantasy.

I rarely ever post the back cover blurbs in my reviews, but if you want to read it, you can find it at the bottom of this post.

Okay, so here are my thoughts.

This is a tried and true love story about two people from different worlds, different walks of life, who are in love with each other. Think Romeo and Juliette. Heathcliff and Catherine. Augustus and Hazel. Gatsby and Daisy. The theme has been done over and over before and this story is really no different as far as that goes. It’s sweet, and let’s face it – girls love romance, especially when there is a cute stable boy, or in this case, a smithie, and a wealthy girl who is full of spunk and determination.

But I don’t think this book would have had any draw for me if it weren’t for the steampunk aspect.

First, let me say I had my hesitations about this book. I’m not one for historical fiction and I really thought I would be bored by the 17th century French culture, but Statham makes it irresistible with her unique steampunk twist and all the gizmos and gadgets. I tell you, there were several times I wanted to jump in the book to see these things up close and personal. It was as if they were really real. I wanted see them, hold them, especially Marguerite’s cricket toy. I could go on for pages over the detail, the imagery. It was completely mind-blowing. I was drawn in right away by Statham’s imagination and her ability to make the reader feel like they were right in the thick of it. I was enthralled. Captivated, and all I kept hoping for was for this book to be made into a movie so I could see how the CGI artists would bring this world to life.

As for the characters, I found Marguerite very difficult to like in the beginning. She’s wild, reckless. Very defiant, but I couldn’t stop reading her adventure. She certainly plays with all of your emotions, but by the end of the story, I loved her. She developed and grew into this amazing individual, and discovering how her relationship with Claude grew and developed was a beautiful journey. Yes, it was clichéd on so many levels, but it was one thing I loved about the story. Statham not only did a wonderful job on Marguerite and Claude, but her secondary characters were well developed as well, with their own arcs, their own growth to achieve. It was quite refreshing.

I give this book a solid 4 stars for its steampunk originality and superb world-building. It added just the right spark to turn this otherwise mediocre, tried-and-true love story into something positively wonderful and delightfully different. I will definitely keep my eyes open for more books from Leigh Statham and I hope she keeps writing about her wonderful gadgets, toys and gizmos. She really is, my opinion, the Steampunk Queen of YA fiction.

A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review 

Link to Goodreads:

Purchase Links:

Chapters Indigo | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | TBD |



Publication date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Leigh Statham

Lady Marguerite lives a life most 17th century French girls can only dream of: Money, designer dresses, suitors and a secure future. Except, she suspects her heart may be falling for her best friend Claude, a common smithie in the family’s steam forge. When Claude leaves for New France in search of a better life, Marguerite decides to follow him and test her suspicions of love. Only the trip proves to be more harrowing than she anticipated. Love, adventure and restitution await her, if she can survive the voyage.


Leigh Statham was raised in the wilds of rural Idaho, but found her heart in New York City. She worked as a waitress, maid, artist, math teacher, nurse, web designer, art director, thirty-foot inflatable pig and mule wrangler before she settled down in the semi-quiet role of wife, mother and writer. She resides in North Carolina with her husband, four children, five chickens and two suspected serial killer cats. If the air is cool and the sun is just coming up over the horizon, you can find her running the streets of her small town, plotting her next novel with the sort of intensity that will one day get her hit by a car.

Connect with the Author: 

Website |Twitter Facebook | Goodreads

“Read at your level.” What the hell does that mean?

Disclaimer:  This post is not directed at teachers, but those making the rules.

“Read at your level.”  I can’t even comprehend that sentence.

What does it mean, oh wise educators rule makers?  Is that your way of telling kids not to learn more than we think they should?  Don’t expand yourself?  Don’t excel because you might make another student look bad?  I’m confuzzled.

I remember as a child my teachers encouraging us to read beyond our grade level.  They wanted us to strive for more than See Spot Run.  My mom read Heidi to me when I was five years old.  I read it by myself at the age of 7.  Soon after that, I read Call of the Wild and White Fang.  I was 8 years old.  A Wrinkle in Time soon followed.  By the time I reached 7th grade, I’d read Ulysses, Homer, The Grapes of Wrath (some of which I didn’t understand at the time), and Great Expectations.  By my sophomore year in high school, I had read Tolstoy, Tolkien, Ayn Rand, Hemingway, Frank Yerby, Twain and many others.  I had an insatiable thirst for books and was never content at ‘reading at my level’.

Can someone please explain to me what ‘read at your level’ means, and who determines such nonsense?  Sure, we all have to start somewhere, but by the time a kid leaves 1st grade, unless they have a learning difficulty, they should have the basics of reading down.  It then becomes a matter of the child learning new words and what they mean and developing comprehension (which comes from more reading).  Of course, grammar, and punctuation follow, but I have to tell you , I learned more words and how to use and write them from reading than I ever did from tests.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard agents and editors in the past year or so tell authors not to put big words in YA novels because teens don’t want to stop and look up what a word means.  Say what???  As a child, my teachers encouraged us to keep a dictionary at our side when we read. They encouraged us to increase our vocabulary, to learn how words are used. I am thunderstruck that some teachers nowadays not only don’t encourage the use of dictionaries and thesauruses, but discourage young people to read books that are not suitable to their grade level.  Really?  This is the most insane, idiotic notion I think I’ve ever heard.  Hey, you school system, core curriculum weirdos, please explain?  Do you want our kids to not strive beyond their comfort zones?  Do you really want them to go unchallenged?  Are you trying to keep them ‘dumbed down’?  Do you know there are studies out there that show struggling readers improve their comprehension and reading skills when placed with more advanced readers?

I’m not saying kids need to stray totally out of their comfort zone, and I’m not talking about struggling readers.  That’s where staying in your comfort zone and sticking to what you like to read is sooo beneficial.  No, I’m talking about your average kid in school who is told by their teachers not to pick books to read outside their age-appropriate level.


Now, I don’t believe jumping from Old Yeller to books by Frederick Nitche is wise, but kids should always be pushing the envelope when they read. And with dictionaries and thesauruses so readily available on phones, tablets and computers, there is no reason why kids shouldn’t be encouraged to look up a word or two they stumble upon while reading.

So, parents, go on and keep reading age-appropriate books to your little one, but every now and then throw in The Hobbit, Great Expectations, Harry Potter or Watership Down. Expand their minds.  Feed their imaginations.  Increase their vocabulary.  Shower them with your love for the written words.  Don’t dumb them down.  They’ll thank you later when they’re graduating at the top of their class, with honors coming out of their ying yangs.

“Read at your level?”  Ha!  Never!

So, what do you think?  What was the most difficult book you read as a child?

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Teaser Tuesday – What are you reading?

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My current read is:

And the quote is:

“Ashen had made bad choices because of Leck’s fog.  Bitterblue didn’t have that excuse; her bad choices were all her own doing.”

What are you reading and what are your random quotes?

The “Inconvenience” of books

I have to take a moment to spew and rant, all in good fun, mind you.  Of course I welcome all comments and respect all opinions, and am in no way trying to disrespect anyone.

I’ve heard over the past week by several people how books are too inconvenient to carry around.  The words almost made me weep, especially since one of the comments came from an author who wants to see his/her books in print.  What I want to know is when did this mentality set in?  Are we too enamored by technology that we’re losing the human aspect of our existence?

I understand that print books may be cumbersome, and I understand people can’t carry around a multitude of books at a time, but to eliminate them all together?  I don’t  understand.  Print books are ‘real’.  They are tangible.  When you hold a book, four of your five senses ignite:  touch, smell, sight, hear (audio books).  In addition, many well-loved books contain notes, autographs, mementos, personal treasures in the form of pressed flowers or hair clippings or ribbons.  Old books have distinct smells; their pages have a nostalgic feel and sound as they are turned.  It’s almost as if you can breathe the history in every page.  E-readers are sterile; they hold no personality.  They cannot be signed.  They have no history.

The print book is too inconvenient.  Plastic readers are so much better.

Print books have survived the ages.  The ability to read one isn’t dependent on battery power.  A real book never ‘dies’.  It’s never unaccessible.  It will never suffer a ‘glitch’.

Why all of a sudden is there a ‘need’ to carry around so many books at one time when you can only read a couple at a time?  I hear people say all the time “I have more books on my Kindle than I will be able to read in my lifetime.”  Why?  Because you have a device that allows it?  The way I see it, though, is you don’t really have 1,000 books.  You have a portable computer that can store 1,000 virtual books.  That is not the same as having a book.

I agree that in some circumstances (people in war zones, hospitals, people who travel a lot, etc.) e-readers are a God-send.  But to the rest of us?  Do you know how many people I’ve talked to in the past week who have eliminated their real books all together  and replaced them with virtual ones?

And how can an author who wants print books of his/her own to sign, say it’s too inconvenient to carry around a  print book?  That seems contradictory.

So many people say print books will never go out of style.  That’s what they said when cd’s and digital cameras emerged and look what happened to vinyl records and Eastman Kodak.

To me, virtual books are like virtual pets.  You can collect them without needing to take care of them, without giving them a place of honor in your home, without being particular about the ones you buy or the ones that will provide you years of enjoyment.  Instead, we purchase plastic products that can hold a multitude of virtual words that can be deleted – not passed on – with the push of a button.  How horrible it is to me to know words can be discarded in such a manner, tossed aside, obliterated instead of given to someone else who may find joy in their meaning.

The written word crawls within my belly and my heart.  It tugs at my soul, my very being.  ‘Deleting’ an author’s words with the push of a button is almost sacrilegious.  I have several autographed books and holding them in my hands means more to me than  a million virtual words stored on a plastic device.  Just knowing the author physically touched those pages fills me with a joy no e-reader can give.

I will never consider it ‘inconvenient’ to carry around a print book.  It is an honor to do so, and one I will proudly hold onto and display until the day I die.  For me, Kindles and the like are great extensions to reading, but I am heart-broken when I discover people are eliminating real books from their homes.  Of course, each person is entitled to their own ideals, but I could never imagine my home without tangible books.

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For the love of reading – a fun exercise for Hump Day

I remember reading a blog somewhere a long time ago that hosted something similar to what I’m doing today. For the life of me, I don’t remember who it was, otherwise I’d recognize and credit them. Whoever you are, thank you for the idea and I hope you don’t mind me carrying it forward.

As a writer, I love to read. Reading is a must if one wants to learn to write well. Heck, there are some books that I have pages highlighted because I loved the way the author worked the scene. When I struggle with a similar type scene, I’ll return to those pages and study how the author did it. How did (s)he make me connect with the character, the scene, the plot?

To honor that love for reading (and learning), I would like all of you to do the following:

*Grab the book nearest to you. Not your favorite. Not the one you think will be the most intriguing.  The closest one to you.

*Turn to page 60

*Find the sixth sentence

*Post your sentence in the comments section here. To make it more interesting, please don’t tell us the name of your book. Let’s see how many people can guess it.  

Also, if you want to keep this going on your own blog, that’s cool, just make sure you link back to this post.  🙂

Here is my contribution. Any clues?

“It may be only small injustice that the child can be exposed to: but the child is small, and its world is small, and its rocking-horse stands as many hands high, according to scale, as a big-boned Irish hunter.”