Friday, September 30, 2011


A big thank you to everyone who offered to review Rearview Mirror on their blogs. If you'll send your snail mail address to emailstephanieblack (at) gmail (dot) com, I'll send you a copy of the book for review.

I'm looking for three more reviewers, so if you're interested, post a comment.

In other news, I just finished reading Josi Kilpack's new Sadie Hoffmiller mystery, Pumpkin Roll, and may I just say WOW! If you want a great Halloween read, or any-time-of-the-year read, I highly recommend Pumpkin Roll. Josi is a fantastic storyteller and fantastic mystery writer, and Pumpkin Roll will knock the socks right off your feet.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Another Winner!

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in the Haiku Fest of Funness! The entries were awesome. And the winner (as chosen by is . . .

Jon Spell! 

Congratulations, Jon. I'm gonna send you a free book--no escaping it this time!--so send me your address :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Winner! And More Ways to Win

A huge thank you to everyone who participated in the September Blog Hop! I was totally thrilled by the response--thanks for all the follows and the entries and the kind comments! And thank you to the talented Tristi Pinkston for putting the blog hop together. Using a random number generator, I selected the winner. And the winner of a copy of Rearview Mirror is . . .


Congratulations, Lisa! I'll send you an email, and if you could respond with your snail mail address, I'll get that book in the mail to you sometime around the first or second week of October, depending on when my books arrive on my doorstep--I'll be watching for that FedEx truck.

If anyone would like another opportunity to win a copy of Rearview Mirror, here are two more ways to do it. I'm am currently holding a Haiku Fest of Funness on the blog, which ends tomorrow. Write a silly or non-silly haiku about any novel you've read (or would like to read), and I'll enter you in the drawing for a copy of Rearview Mirror. Absolutely no poetic talent is required--just have fun!

The other way to win a free copy involves a little more writing than a 5 syllable-7 syllable-5 syllable haiku. I'm looking for ten bloggers who would be willing to review Rearview Mirror on their blogs (although I suppose you could review it in haiku form .  . . ) I'd ask that you post the review by December 1st. If you are interested in reviewing it within that timeframe, post a comment in the comment trail. If more than ten people are interested, I'll used the handy random number generator to pick the winners on Friday, September 30th.

THANK you again for all the support!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September Blog Hop

Welcome to the September Blog Hop! Celebrate the beginning of fall with me and my blogger friends by hopping around, visiting our sites, and entering our contests! There are no limits - you can enter the contest on every blog. With over 40 blogs participating, that's over 40 prizes you could win. Just click on the links below to move on to the next blog. On my blog, you can win a copy of my new suspense novel, Rearview Mirror, which will be released in the beginning of October. Yay!

Would you like to win this prize? You just need to do two things. 1. Become a follower of this blog. 2. Leave me a comment in the trail and tell me why you'd like to win this prize. That's it! You are now entered. The contest ends on Saturday night, September 24th, at midnight MST, and the winner will be contacted shortly thereafter. Please either leave your e-mail address in the comment trail or make sure it's visible through your profile so I can contact you to tell you that you're the lucky winner. Now go visit my other friends ...

September Blog Hop Participants

1. Tristi Pinkston, LDS Author
2. Joyce DiPastena
3. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer 4. Mandi Slack
5. Michael D. Young
6. Six Mixed Reviews
7. Pam Williams
8. Laurie Lewis
9. Kristy Tate
10. Marilyn Yarbrough
11. Stacy Coles
12. Kristie Ballard
13. Lynn Parsons
14. Pushing Past the Pounds
15. Sheila Staley
16. cindy Hogan
17. Jamie Thompson
18. Jaclyn Weist
19. Cathy Witbeck
20. Secret Sisters Mysteries
21. Tamera Westhoff
22. Tina Scott
23. Lynnea Mortensen
24. Danyelle Ferguson aka Queen of the Clan
25. Jeanette A. Fratto
26. Bonnie Harris
27. Melissa Lemon
28. Mary Ann Dennis
29. Stephanie Black
30. Jane Still
31. Janice 
32. Laura Bastian
33. Tamara Bordon
34. Betsy Love
35. Maria Hoagland
36. Amber Robertson
37. Debbie Davis
39. Christy Monson
40. Carolyn Frank
41. Rebecca Birkin
42. Melissa Cunningham
43. Emily L. Moir
44. Ronda Hinrichsen
45. Lisa Asanuma
46. Joan Sowards
47. Jordan McCollum
48. Diane Stringam Tolley

Monday, September 19, 2011

The 2011 Fiction Haiku Fest of Funness

Years ago, on Six LDS Writers and a Frog, we had a haiku contest. When I looked back over the entries this past spring, I laughed like crazy. I think it's time for the another haiku fest--we won't call it a contest, since we're not competing with each other, but rather seeking to entertain the absolute heck out of each other.

You remember haiku from high school English class, right? Five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, five in the third. But our topic is not nature or seasons--it's fiction. Your haiku can have anything to do with books or authors. It can be serious or funny, dumb or brilliant. But it can't be rude, crude, or insult anyone or their work, or it'll get the axe. Our goal is to have fun, not make fun of anyone's books. You can enter as many times as you want. 

Some examples from books I've read recently:

Inspired by Garden Plot, by Kristen McKendry

Body in the beans
I hate it when that happens
But that cop is cute

Inspired by Bloodbourne, by Gregg Luke

Gregg Luke writes creepy
Stories about mosquitoes
Bring on the Off

Inspired by Honeymoon Heist, by Anna Jones Buttimore

If you take a bag
Filled with the bad guy's money
You'll have a bad week

Anybody want to play? One week from today, on Monday, September 26th, I'll draw a random winner from the entries (so the more haiku you write, the more chances you'll have to win). The winner will receive a copy of my novel, Rearview Mirror, which will be released in just a couple of weeks.

A haiku in honor of the book's release:

A new book coming
Nervous, I will be checking
Goodreads all the time

Find your inner poet and let's write some haiku!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chocolate and Rewards

This week I hit a sort-of milestone. I finished off a box of See’s chocolates. In fact, I ate the whole box except for one piece that my husband ate. Yay! Go me! I ate lots of chocolate! In other news, I’m trying to lose weight.

Ahem. Actually, I ate the chocolates slowly, earning them chocolate by chocolate. They’re my bribe chocolates that I use to reward myself for writing. To earn one chocolate, I have to write 1000 words, so an empty chocolate box means that—hooray!—I’m making good progress on my current project. And no, I’m not an author who kicks out eight or ten thousand words in a day—that would definitely be problematic on the weight-loss front. If I could write that fast, I’d have to bribe myself with celery, and I can tell you right now how well THAT would work ("Here's my new suspense novel! It's twelve words long!").

I got the idea of bribing myself with See’s chocolates from author Melanie Jacobson (and if you don’t already read Melanie’s blog, go check it out—she’s very witty and entertaining. Also she just released a new book, Not My Type).

The See’s Chocolate System works so well for me that it’s a little scary. Who knew I was so highly motivated by chocolate? I’ve never been very good at bribing myself—the “do this, and then you can earn that” sort of thing. I fizzle out way too quickly. Bribing yourself, strangely enough, takes discipline and strangely enough, I’ve never had anyone pounding on my door saying wow, you have such an abnormal abundance of self-discipline! Can I borrow some? But to my delight, I found that Melanie’s chocolate suggestion works for me very, very well. I think it works because:

1-I love chocolate.
2-See’s chocolates are a special kind of treat—not the normal chocolate I’d keep around for snacking.
3-There’s this fun uncertainty in wondering what kind of chocolate I’ll get, since I can’t identify most of the chocolates from their outward appearance. This makes it more fun than if they were all the same kind.
4-I can earn the rewards regularly. It’s not like my goal is “Finish the book and then you can buy a box of chocolates.” Instead, I get small rewards along the way. A thousand words is a good chunk of writing—about four pages—but it’s not so much that I fizzle out and lose enthusiasm (and don't get me wrong--I do enjoy writing, or I wouldn't be a writer. But sometimes the momentum isn't there and it's too easy for me to waste time and get distracted and not accomplish much). 

One thing I love is that if I’m getting close to earning a chocolate, it sometimes motivates me to keep writing when maybe I’d otherwise quit (“You only need 200 more words and you get a chocolate!”) Did I mention I’m highly motivated by chocolate?

This is actually my second box, but it’s the first full box I’ve earned. I bought the first box months ago, and made some good progress initially, but then with the craziness of summer, I wasn’t getting any writing done, and with the heat in our un-air-conditioned house, the chocolates were going bad, which is NOT OKAY (should have kept them in the fridge, I guess). So I finally ended up handing out the remaining (somewhat stale and formerly melted) chocolates to the kids (and myself, of course). Normally, I keep bribe chocolates stashed away and don’t offer them around. There is other chocolate available for snacking, but bribe chocolates are for writing motivation.

My WIP now stands at nearly 69K, which I figure means I’m at least 2/3 of the way done with the first draft. And I bought a new box of chocolates, so I'm ready to write more. Kind of wish I'd earned a chocolate now, because I'm hungry, but I have 384 words to go . . . 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Nominate a Whitney

The “nominate a Whitney” button on my sidebar will take you directly to the nominating form on the Whitney Awards website. The Whitney committee made the button available so we can help spread the word and get readers a-nominatin’. Any novel written by an LDS author (either LDS market or national market) that was or will be published in 2011 and is at least 50,000 words long is eligible (if you’re not familiar with word counts, 50K would be a very short novel—for instance, my upcoming 300-something-page Rearview Mirror, which is definitely not a doorstop behemoth, is over 100K. So the vast majority of novels you read will be well over the 50K requirement).

Nominating a book is super easy and super fast. Any reader can nominate a book as long as the reader is at least twelve years old and doesn’t have a financial interest in the book (i.e., you’re not the author, publisher, agent, or author’s husband/wife/kids). To fill out the nominating form you just need the title, author, and publisher (if you can’t remember the publisher, you can always look it up on Amazon or Goodreads).

Everyone will have different criteria for which books they choose to nominate for a Whitney Award. For me, I’ll tell you what my criteria isn’t—it isn’t “I absolutely loved this book!” Maybe I did love the book and that’s a great reason to nominate, but my criteria is more along the lines of “I think this book would be a worthy contender in (genre category).” I’ve read a lot of Whitney finalists in the past, so am familiar with a lot of what makes the finals and/or wins. If I feel a book is a strong contender given what I’ve read in the past, then I’m comfortable nominating it (and I kinda really enjoy nominating books, so I’m happy when I read one that I feel is a strong contender).

I’ve even been known to nominate a book that I heartily disliked. Why? Because the author bribed me? Nope. Even though I don't care for the story and the main character bugged me, I can see that this is a well-written book and one that will appeal to fans of the genre. It was a worthy contender.

Nominations are due December 31st, and the committee will be happy to get nominations are early as possible (i.e. given a choice, it’s better not to wait until December 30th and then nominate all the books you’ve read this year). Each genre category has a panel of judges, and when a nominee becomes official (after five nominations), the judges will need to read the book. So it’s nice if they can spread that reading out over many months instead of getting a ton of nominations in the last week.

Have you nominated any books for Whitney Awards this year? What are your criteria? Do you nominate only your absolute favorites or do you nominate more widely? 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Kindle Editions

Recently, my publisher has been working like crazy to get their authors' backlist titles into Kindle format, and I'm excited to report that all my books are now available for Kindle. Previously, it was only my newest title, Cold as Ice, that was available as an ebook, but now all four books are up there in the Amazon Kindle Shop. The availability of ebook formats will provide more choices (along with print and audio versions) for readers and will open new possibilities for readers who don't live near LDS bookstores. Even though I don't have a bookstore outside my door, I can now get LDS fiction instantly. Of course, this can be, um, dangerous. Purchasing ebooks is perhaps a little TOO fast and easy, giving new meaning to the term "impulse buy" . . .

I'm particularly excited that my first book, The Believer, is available for Kindle. The Believer has been out of print for a while, so to have it for sale again is very exciting to me. Believer is different from my other books (which are contemporary mystery/suspense); it's a dystopian thriller.

Now I'll get mushy: I think my first book will always have particular significance to me. The publication of The Believer was the fulfillment of a dream. For years and years, I'd worked on this book, writing and rewriting as I learned the craft of writing a novel and refined the story. For years, I'd dreamed of being published, and when I would walk into LDS bookstores, I'd yearn to have my own book on the shelf. That moment when I received my box of author's copies and there was my own story, my own words--that story that I loved and that I'd worked on for so long--there on the pages of a real published book with a cover and everything--wow! My first review came from Robison Wells . . . ah, memory lane. I hadn't met Rob yet, but now I know him to be an extremely nice, extremely smart, and extremely talented guy. He's also the totally awesome author of Variant, which will be released next month. Yay!

Anyway, I'm thrilled to have The Believer available again!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Video Interview

While I was in Utah doing the college run, I stopped at my publisher, Covenant Communications, to do a video interview. Covenant's wonderful publicist is filming interviews with authors wherein the authors discuss their new books. Covenant then posts the interviews on YouTube. I've never been on YouTube before, so this is a new 21st-century sort of experience for me.

Here's the video. And oh my, that's a weird look on my face in the freeze-frame, so try to ignore that.

Rearview Mirror will be released in October. It's currently available for pre-order from Deseret Book.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Rollercoaster of Time (Which Would Make a Good Title for a Novel)

I was at Trader Joe’s the other day and saw some corn on the cob and thought, hey, we could have corn for dinner, and—this is where it gets strange—I only needed five ears of corn. Whoa. And now we really need to either take a leaf out of the dining room table or hire someone to run messages from one end of the table to the other. Just kidding. Our table isn’t that big, but it’s a lot emptier than it used to be. Last week, I took my two oldest daughters to BYU, so our numbers here are shrinking.

I’ve gotten accustomed to having my oldest daughter off at college, but it threw me for an emotional loop to have my oldest two daughters leaving. Funny how when your kids are young, you feel like they’ll be young forever. Then once one of them grows up, it’s like you’ve started down the slope of a rollercoaster and zaZOOM, there goes #2. Seventeen or eighteen years of child-raising seems like such a long stretch when you’re on the first leg of it, but then when a kid starts moving her stuff into a dorm room . . . well, eighteen years isn’t as long as it used to be. I shed a few tears during the college drop-off run—it's interesting how you can be so happy for your kids and excited that they have this opportunity, but kinda sad for yourself at the same time as you see your daughters settling into their dorms/apartments and you know their rooms at home will be empty now.

Just kidding! We don’t do empty very well. To quote a phrase I learned from somewhere--possibly from my neighbor, Michelle? Can't remember--our motto is “A place for everything and a thing in every place.” My oldest son has taken over my younger daughter’s room. And my oldest daughter’s room is now being used as a study and is still occupied by the pet frog, Bernard. My younger son has taken over frog duty, which is a good thing, because no way am I doing it. It involves feeding him live crickets. I bought a new bag of crickets for Bernard (he’s named in honor of a reference from The Brothers Karamazov) and told my son to get them into the cricket container. He wanted to know why I hadn’t done the cricket transfer myself. I told him I didn’t do bugs (to me, a cricket is something you freak out over and whack with a shoe), at which point he promptly broke into song: “B . . . I don’t do bugs” which will only be funny to those who are familiar with the DARE program, but which I found highly amusing.

Our trip to Utah was a whirlwind one—one day on the road, one day in Utah, another day on the road to get back home. We drove together with a friend and her daughter, so there were five of us in the car on the way out, along with gear for three girls. Thank heavens my oldest daughter had stored most of her stuff in Provo or we never would have made it. As it was, we were so loaded down that it’s amazing we weren’t scraping the bottom of my minivan along the freeway.

And holy moly, Utah, what is up with the road construction? As I was trying to find my way around at midnight after a day of driving across the Nevada desert—so I was very tired and crabby—everywhere I looked there were those orange traffic drums or construction and where the heck is that freeway entrance—did you have to tear up the whole state at once? Aaarggh!

Okay, I’m calm now. And I feel the pain of those of you who get to deal with that construction every day. All is well--the girls are having fun at school (except for a not-fun virus that sent my oldest daughter to the Health Center, but she's fine). Life around here is pretty much normal--having booted one kid out of high school, we now have a new high schooler, so we're back to the early morning seminary schedule. Rise and shine! Even if the sun isn't up! And thank heavens for Gmail chat, email, and telephones so I can keep in touch with my *sniff* grown-up daughters. I guess if I really wanted to get sentimental, I could go gaze at the bugs still stuck to the minivan, souvenirs of our college-run trip--stubborn souvenirs that remain even after a car wash. But nah . . . I don't do bugs.