NaNoWriMo Day 19: Survival Tip of the Day

Like many of my friends and acquaintances, you might be in the midst of the sheer madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The goal: to write a book (yes, sir, that’s right a whole book) in (gasp) 30 days!

We are getting to the end of that rough third week. Here’s what is happening to a lot of people: work demands are increasing; you’re getting tired & making excuses to not write; Thanksgiving planning/preparations are becoming more urgent; and you’re just not writing like you’d planned.

You’re so close to the end. This is the time you need to push through. Determine how you can best schedule time to write.

  • Some people do better when they block off a dedicated writing time. Allow yourself 1-2 hours daily (for minimum 1667 words, plus this allows you some room for a buffer or bonus word count in case you fall short one day)
  • Some people do better if they can write, in sprint format, for several shorter periods every day. Depending on your typing speed you can get 400-600 words in a 15 minute period. In four fifteen minute sprints per day (morning, afternoon, dinner time and before bed, perhaps?) you should be able to meet, and even exceed your 1667 word per day goal.

However you do it, rededicate yourself to meeting the goal. There are only 11 days left. You can do it!

NaNoWriMo Day 18: Survival Tip of the Day

(It’s painfully apparent that I forgot to push this out on schedule yesterday, but I am doing so now because I am a strong supporter of the topic)

Like many of my friends and acquaintances, you might be in the midst of the sheer madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The goal: to write a book (yes, sir, that’s right a whole book) in (gasp) 30 days!

The Day 18 tip of the day is: reward yourself! Whether you reward yourself for a job already well done (for instance, you’re probably hovering around the 30K word mark this week) or if you rely on rewards to keep pushing on, rewards can be important.

I personally set small goals: 1500 words, pushing past 20k, for every 5,ooo words. There’s some sort of reward that keeps me going and keeps me honest. Maybe I can go to dinner & a movie with my family when I pass the 35,ooo word mark. I’d like another cup of tea, but I can’t get up to get that until I’ve gotten another 1,000 words. I’ll write for three hours then take a break to watch a show I’ve recorded, then come back to writing. Pick some form of reward, no matter how small, and treat yourself throughout this experience. Don’t wait until the very end to reward yourself. NaNoWriMo is a major undertaking and you deserve to pat yourself on the back for sticking to it, so give yourself a kiss (Hershey’s, of course, and only after you’ve written 750 words!)

 

 

NaNoWriMo Day 17: Survival Tip of the Day

Like many of my friends and acquaintances, you might be in the midst of the sheer madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The goal: to write a book (yes, sir, that’s right a whole book) in (gasp) 30 days!

Todays tip is dedicated toward getting the most words possible in the shortest amount of time: join in some word sprints/challenges. It’s easy to find challenges & sprints online. Check the NaNoWriMo forums, follow @NaNoWordSprints on Twitter, check your local NaNoWriMo group or organize your own among groups of friends who are participating. The idea and rules are simple: Someone declares a word sprint of a certain length to begin at a certain time (ie “15 minute challenge beginning at :15). You simply join in, begin typing like crazy at the designated start time, then count & post the number of words you wrote during that time. A 15-minute challenge is a great way to knock out 400-600 words (depending on how fast you type). If you’re very competitive by nature, you can join in three of the 15-minute challenges & have met your minimum daily word count in 45 minutes!

NaNoWriMo Day 16: Survival Tip of the Day

Like many of my friends and acquaintances, you might be in the midst of the sheer madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The goal: to write a book (yes, sir, that’s right a whole book) in (gasp) 30 days!

For those of you who have hung in, congratulations. We have just crossed the midpoint! We are halfway to our 50k/30 day goal. This is a good time to bring up todays tip: think about the middle of your book. This is the paint at which, even during a regular writing schedule, you might find your story lagging.

Some things to keep in mind at this point:

  • This is the point at which something should be happening to change your characters from being reactive to being proactive
  • There should be some sort of big event that drives the story forward and changes your characters outlook. Has there been a death? Has deceit been exposed? Your characters still have so much to overcome.
  • Whatever happens here should be a logical progression of the events that happened in the beginning of the book
  • The tension and/or action should still be increasing. You don’t want the story to slow down.
  • If you’re having trouble with the middle and just can’t seem to get past it, jump to the end. Don’t give up. You can come back and fill in the middle when you have a better idea of what it’s leading to.

Waiting on Wednesday: Gilded Cage by Sherry D. Ficklin

 

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Gilded Cage by Sherry D. Ficklin

Series: Canary Club

Publication Date: December 1, 2016

Pages:  53

Genre: Teen, Young Adult, YA, Historical, Romance

 

Summary (from GoodReads):

Masie, the flaxen-haired daughter of notorious boot-legger Dutch Schultz, returns home from boarding school to find her family in crisis. Her mother is dangerously unstable, her father’s empire is on the brink of ruin, and the boy she once loved has become a ruthless killer for hire. To keep her family’s dangerous secrets Masie is forced into a lie that will change the course of her future—and leave her trapped in a gilded cage of her own making. As she watches her world fall apart, Masie must decide whether to take her place in the hierarchy, or spread her wings, leaving the people she loves, and the life she despises, far behind her.

Two worlds collide in Gatsby era New York, in a time of dazzling speakeasies and vicious shoot-outs, of gritty gangsters and iridescent ingénues, where not everything that sparkles is gold.

*This is the first of the Canary Club series and is a short story introduction into the forthcoming novels.

LINKS: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads

 

Why I’m waiting:  I am absolutely obsessed with anything having to do with gangsters and I adore prohibition era based books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo Day 15: Survival Tip of the Day

Like many of my friends and acquaintances, you might be in the midst of the sheer madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The goal: to write a book (yes, sir, that’s right a whole book) in (gasp) 30 days!

Today’s tip–and I realize now that I should have mentioned this earlier, like way earlier–is to lock up your internal editor. No matter how hard it is you have to push forward. You cannot make progress and move forward if you keep moving back. All of those misspellings, wrong words, bad punctuation, and really, really inadequate words that you put down will still be there when you go back later. You can fix them during your first round of revisions.

The goal of NaNoWriMo is to get through the first draft, no matter how bad it is. My current project title includes “SFD”, for Shitty First Draft (a la BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott). I label all of my projects with the title and then “SFD”. This is just a starting point, nobody expects it to be perfect, but I’m certain that you want it done. So plug along. Leave the errors. Get to the end. December is the month of spelling corrections and removing errant punctuation.

NaNoWriMo Day 13: Survival Tip of the Day

Like many of my friends and acquaintances, you might be in the midst of the sheer madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The goal: to write a book (yes, sir, that’s right a whole book) in (gasp) 30 days!

Today’s tip is try a write-in. Write-ins are great for productivity and support. There are a number of write-ins during NaNoWriMo. You can usually find several options during the week. Check your regional message board for listings. There are established write-ins that occur every week at a particular time and place (frequently in book stores or coffee shops). There are also pop-up write-ins that are planned during the week as people are available.

If you can’t make it in person, try a virtual write-in. You can log onto a chat room with others. There is usually minimal chat during the actual writing time, and usually involving word sprints or challenges which you can participate in if you’re interested and inspired by competition. Familiarize yourself with the NaNoWriMo website so that you can find local/regional events and give it a try. Sometimes it’s just nice to sit in a room of like-minded people whose sole purpose during your time together is to write!

NaNoWriMo Day 12: Survival Tip of the Day

Many of my friends and acquaintances are currently in the midst of the sheer madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The goal: to write a book (yes, sir, that’s right a whole book) in (gasp) 30 days!

You may have noticed (or not, which is also fine, you have been busy trying to get your word count in!), but I didn’t post a survival tip yesterday. Why? Well, I had a lot going on, it had been a busy week and I was just exhausted. For my own mental health, at the end of the work day I shut down my computer, picked up dinner, and vegetated in front of the tv with my family. In the words of Stuart Smalley…

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Today’s tip is that it’s ok to take a day off. Sometimes you just need to take a night off, rest your brain and recharge. The important thing is to get back at it the next day!

 

 

NaNoWriMo Day 10: Survival Tip of the Day

Many of my friends and acquaintances are currently in the midst of the sheer madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The goal: to write a book (yes, sir, that’s right a whole book) in (gasp) 30 days!

You’ve made it to day 10. How are you doing? Kickin’ ass? Barely getting by? Maybe you need some support. As writers, we are a solitary creature by nature. Maybe you haven’t quite announced to the world (or even your family & friends) that you are, in fact, a writer? Well, everyone needs some kind of support, especially when embarking on such a momentous goal as NaNoWriMo. My tip for today is to get some support & encouragement.

You can get support from any number of places. Family is great. Nobody will cheer for you more than your family. They are the ones who will brag about you, encourage you to stay the course, and make you sour cream enchiladas to fuel your creative energy (OK, not really, that’s a subtle hint in case my mom is reading). But, unless they’re also writers, they may not really know what you’re experiencing right now (the stress, the self-doubt, the absolute absence of words at some times).

Do you have a critique group that you can turn to? Try checking into a local NaNoWriMo group, you might be surprised how many people in your area are involved in NaNoWriMo. And, if you are the sole inhabitant of a mountain top in an inhospitable environment that supports no other life than your own, the internet  is always a great place to find support. Try the NaNoWriMo website and forums.

The important thing is to reach out, talk to others, commiserate about your journey. And then get back to writing! You only have 20 days left!!

NaNoWriMo Day 9: Survival Tip of the Day

Many of my friends and acquaintances are currently in the midst of the sheer madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The goal: to write a book (yes, sir, that’s right a whole book) in (gasp) 30 days!

Todays tip is brought to you by a rockin’ selection of music.

At some point you may find it difficult to keep your mind in the right place to write. It can be hard to get into your characters minds, or to imagine the world or events in your story. This is where an inspirational play list comes in handy. Having a selection of songs that represent the time or region of your story–or songs that simply inspire you and put you in a creative mood–can be a useful tool.

When I was working on my prohibition era, Louisiana-based novel I set up a playlist of zydeco and jazz that kept my mind in the time and place. Right now, I’m relying on some ass kicking songs (Nine Inch Nails, Disturbed, Three Days Grace, Sick Puppies, Linkin Park) for my NaNoWriMo project.

Don’t just listen to the music while your writing, try listening to your playlist while walking or driving. During those times your brain is relaxed and as you listen you may find more inspiration for a plot point or be better able to work out a problem.

GILDED CAGE by Sherry Ficklin: Cover Reveal

The Gilded Cage: A Canary Club Novelette

Release Date: December 1st 2016

YA/Historical

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Pre-Order Now

About the book:

Masie, the flaxen-haired daughter of notorious boot-legger Dutch Schultz, returns home from boarding school to find her family in crisis. Her mother is dangerously unstable, her father’s empire is on the brink of ruin, and the boy she once loved has become a ruthless killer for hire. To keep her family’s dangerous secrets Masie is forced into a lie that will change the course of her future—and leave her trapped in a gilded cage of her own making. As she watches her world fall apart, Masie must decide whether to take her place in the hierarchy, or spread her wings, leaving the people she loves, and the life she despises, far behind her.

About the series:

Two worlds collide in Gatsby era New York, in a time of dazzling speakeasies and vicious shoot-outs, of gritty gangsters and iridescent ingénues, where not everything that sparkles is gold.

The Gilded Cage is the first of three novelettes which together create a stunning prequel to The Canary Club novel. They are being released as a mini-series leading up to the release of the novel.

Visit The Official Website

About the author:

Sherry is a full-time writer from Colorado and the author of over a dozen novels for teens and young adults including the best-selling Stolen Empire series. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.
You can find Sherry at her official website, http://www.sherryficklin.com, or stalk her on her Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/sherry.ficklin. She is represented by Nadia Cornier of Firebrand Literary.

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NaNoWriMo Day 8: Survival Tip of the Day

Many of my friends and acquaintances are currently in the midst of the sheer madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The goal: to write a book (yes, sir, that’s right a whole book) in (gasp) 30 days!

You’ve spent the past eight days bent over the keyboard or notebook writing away. When you aren’t writing you’re obsessing over where your manuscript is going and what you still want to happen. You can’t be at your full creative potential if you’re trapped in a room, so my tip of the day is : Go for a walk!

It has been proven that one of the times you are most creative and best able to problem solve is when you step away from your project. Take a half-hour and go out into the world and walk. If you have a music playlist for your project, listen to that. Otherwise just walk and ponder whatever problem you are trying to work out. If you’ve reached the end of the half-hour and still feel stifled, go another 15…or 20!

Getting out and moving isn’t just good for you creatively, your body needs to get and move about as well. If you have a dog, well he/she is dying to go as well.

When you get back, you can get back to your novel with renewed purpose and a re-energized mind.

NaNoWriMo Day 7: Survival Tip of the Day

Many of my friends and acquaintances are currently in the midst of the sheer madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The goal: to write a book (yes, sir, that’s right a whole book) in (gasp) 30 days!

At some point you’re going to need to step away from your project to breath and refocus. You’ll want to some activity that has nothing to do with your manuscript. The most timely and important tip I can give you for today (and into tomorrow) is to get to the polls and vote!! I don’t care who you vote for, but your vote counts (unless you’re voting for the person I didn’t vote for). So get away from the computer, get to your local polling location and cast that vote!

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NaNoWriMo Day 6: Survival Tip of the Day

Many of my friends and acquaintances are currently in the midst of the sheer madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The goal: to write a book (yes, sir, that’s right a whole book) in (gasp) 30 days!

One concern that a participant mentioned today, and others may be feeling: After 6 days she still doesn’t feel like she has the character’s voice. That can be frustrating as it’s hard to push through when that inner voice just isn’t helping.

At some point we all rely on our characters to take over and tell us where the storyline is going and what their role in the events is (and if you’re not a writer, it’s true, we hear voices, but they tend to go away when the story is done, so don’t fear!).

So, what can you do to try an urge your character’s voices to come through. Some tips that were offered today:

  • Drop your character into a completely different scenario and write what he/she is like there.
  • Explore your character more: gather images (what your character looks like, where they live, a favorite pet, where is his/her saddest memory), listen to music that your character would appreciate, any details to make your character more multi-dimensional
  • Write a short story of something you have done, but through the eyes of your character.
  • Some people find benefit in quiet meditation with the character until they’ve reached a better knowledge of them
  • Write a letter from your character to you, or your readers. Start with “My name is _____, and these are the things you need to know about my journey.”
  • Continue to push forward with your manuscript but do everything from the perspective of the character you are trying to work out (if you have multiple POV or a different MC). If this is your MC include internal dialogue and reasoning as you write. It can help flesh out your character’s motivation and history, applies to your word count and can be deleted later during your edits.

Remember that anything you write during your effort to connect with your character can be included in your word count. It’s part of your process. You can delete it during revisions–at which point you’ll be more intimately connected with your character’s voice.

NaNoWriMo Day 5: Survival Tip of the Day

Many of my friends and acquaintances are currently in the midst of the sheer madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The goal: to write a book (yes, sir, that’s right a whole book) in (gasp) 30 days!

If you’re with me now, congratulations! You’ve made it to your first NaNoWriMo weekend. Today’s tip is USE YOUR WEEKENDS.

Weekdays are stressful. You have work/school, running kids to their activities, helping with homework, maybe you take care of your parents or have friends that rely on your help. Meeting your word count goal every day can be added stress. That’s where your weekends come in handy. During the week, continue to write as much as you possibly can. On the weekends make it a priority to get caught up (or, better yet, ahead, with your word count).

  • Consider setting your alarm for the same time you wake up during the week. Use that extra time to do nothing other than write.
  • Spend the hours you typically work during the week (ie- 9am to 5pm) and dedicate that time to writing. You can factor in a “long lunch” and do something fun with family and friends before going back to “work”.
  • If you have small children enlist your spouse or other family members to help out. Don’t be afraid to ask.
  • Allow yourself the freedom to say “No” to requests or invitations.
  • Factor in smaller goal/reward cycles during long days of writing. For example: When I hit 2500 words, I’m going to take a 1/2 hour walk; I have to get 1,000 words before I can check my social media again; I’m getting 2,000 words before I fold a single pile of clothes; and–because we are fueled on caffeine and chocolate, are we not?–I can have another cup of tea/coffee/soda/mini candy bar in 1,000 words, but not until then.

NaNoWriMo is a big goal, but it’s absolutely something that you can achieve. And keep in mind that, yes, you are giving up free time and extra sleep, but it’s only for four weeks. Thirty days. At the end of that time you’ll have an amazing thing that you created (in only 30 days!!!).

 

NaNoWriMo Day 4: Survival Tip of the Day

Many of my friends and acquaintances are currently in the midst of the sheer madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The goal: to write a book (yes, sir, that’s right a whole book) in (gasp) 30 days!

Today’s survival tip is brought to you by the letters F, L & U.

That’s right, it’s not too late, get your flu shot.  Nothing will put a damper on productivity more than the flu. Take care of yourself (for this and every other month). Stay hydrated, wash your hands regularly, give yourself time to rest, and for the love of all that is Holy, get a flu shot!

If you find yourself becoming sick, take a day or two to rest. You really can make up the time & get your word count back under control. And now I will retreat into my ginger ale and tylenol cocoon, be well NaNoWriMo’ers!

NaNoWriMo Day 3: Survival Tip of the Day

Many of my friends and acquaintances are currently in the midst of the sheer madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The goal: to write a book (yes, sir, that’s right a whole book) in (gasp) 30 days!

As you can imagine, when writing an entire novel in 30 days, a lot of things will fall by the wayside. A person is forced to give up many things, including sanity, to make time for writing. One thing that causes a lot of stress is meals. You can give up many things for 30 days, but eating isn’t one of them. Some of you have families to cook for, some are only looking after yourselves. Whichever the case your NaNoWriMo meals should be stress free. And so, I give you my NaNoWriMo tip of the day (part tip, part recipe):

Slow cooker cooking: Easy Slow Cooker Korean Beef For those in the know, cooking in a slow cooker can’t be beat. With the easiest of recipes, sometimes it’s a dump & run preparation. Now, if you’re the kind of parent who serves only natural, organic, non-GMO meals, well…I can’t help you. I’m the kind of parent who admires my effort and dedication if I offer a meal that hasn’t been purchased as a value meal combo.

So, for a really tasty, seems-like-someone-made-an-effort meal, that won’t get in the way of your NaNoWriMo progress I recommend this recipe. To save steps I bought pre-cut steak and served with fast cooking rice.

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Book Review: BUTTERFLY BONES by Rebecca Carpenter

I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of BUTTERFLY BONES from Lakewater Press in exchange for an honest review of the book.

Bethany is a high school student who was born with a rare genetic disease. Osteogenesis imperfecta affects her bone growth and has caused her to be the size of a ten-year old. Now she’s become the target of the new girl at school and her unrelenting bullying. She’s also helplessly in love with Jeremiah, who seems to want nothing more than to be her friend.

As if everything weren’t already bad enough, Bethany’s dad, a research scientist, has been experimenting with a hormone derived from butterflies in an attempt to find a cure for her. But finding a cure won’t be so easy because “When one alters the order of nature, it’s only a matter of time before nature screams for revenge.” The results of her dad’s experimenting have profound consequences.

BUTTERFLY BONES is a unique concept and definitely pulled me through a lot of different emotions, which is a testament to the writing of Rebecca Carpenter. I was furious when reading about the bullies and with some aspects of Bethany’s home life. I got a little teary when reading her dad’s journal entries. And, in one particular revelation near the end, I almost threw the book across the room–which I realize was a great reaction, because it showed how invested I felt in what happened to Bethany.

As for the ending, I personally prefer my vengeance a little more brutal, but I thought this book wrapped up nicely and left me with a little bit of hope.

Social Media Games

Disclaimer: I will not play your Facebook games. Or your Twitter games.

I’m not talking about the Candy Crush or Farmville invitations I’m constantly getting (but really, please stop sending those). I’m referring to the recreational blocking, unfollowing and unfriending that happens on social media sites.

We seem to have entered an era in which we deal punitive blows to our friends, acquaintances–and, yes, even family members–by deleting their very existence from our timelines and friends lists. I, personally have been deleted/blocked/unfriended on three different occasions. Not one of those times was it based on anything that I’d done, only because I happened to be the friend of a friend of someone who may have been involved in drama with my “unfriender”.

I don’t like conflict. I’ve whittled it out of my life and aside from the inevitable (work place, family, kid issues) I live a very quiet and drama-free existence. It’s chaos (I did mention the kids, right?), but a quiet and manageable chaos. Very rarely will you see me voice my opinion or get involved in any online debates over issues. I feel that online debates are held in a forum that doesn’t support resolution or even a respectful discourse. I’m more than happy to debate face-to-face, but I just don’t see the internet as an effective means of debate on social issues or conflict resolution.  So, with that, I must say that if you try to engage me in an online argument, I will not join in. If you’re involved in an online battle, I won’t join in. I don’t feel the need to prove myself or be “right”. I’m just as happy to walk away and enjoy my quiet, peaceful existence. I can say with 98% certaintly that I haven’t, nor will I ever, tried to engage in an online battle with anyone or slander anybody. But as much as much I am an Olympic champion at letting things roll off my back, I am also a reformed hot-head and being “punished” for someone else’s actions/words is one of my hot-button topics. If you delete/block/unfriend me simply because I’m acquainted with someone who you have conflict with I will never reestablish that connection with you again (I do have family who can attest to that).

Please don’t misinterpret my position: I’m not referring to legitimately wanting to remove negativity & drama from your social media life. There are going to be times you’re completely right to block someone. If you’re being harassed or just find that someone’s posts are offensive, then by all means block them. But please don’t rush into being punitive when dealing with everyone. A little bit of disagreement and opposition are good things, as are cooperation, compassion, empathy and respect for those we disagree with.

SHATTERED by Sharon M. Johnston

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SHATTERED: An Open Heart Novel Book 2

Healing a battered heart will risk her last link to humanity

Mishca needs to save her sisters, but only Ryder can save her.

The truth about Mishca’s past shattered her heart. She deals with the pain by focusing on a new mission: saving her newfound family from their creator. With her sisters scheduled for termination, Mishca and her friends set out on a journey up the North Queensland Coast to save them before someone else dies.

Ryder understands the need driving Mischa. It’s in her DNA. But he’s not giving up on the chance they can still be together. She’s the only one to have seen him levitate. The only one to watch the sparks dance across his skin. The only one he trusts enough to know what is in his heart. And now, he might be the only one who can stop Mishca from losing her humanity.

Driven apart by secrets, will they come together in time?

BUY LINKS shattered-digital-3d

Buy SHATTERED on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Fishpond, Indie Bound, Booktopia or via the various outlets found on the City Owl Press website.

Don’t forget to add it on Goodreads!

Haven’t read DIVIDED yet?

Find it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Fishpond, Indie Bound, Walmart, Booktopia, Boomerang Books, or via the various outlets found on the City Owl Press Website.

And you can add it on Goodreads!

To celebrate the impending release of SHATTERED, you could win a $20 gift voucher. Check out all the ways to enter in the Rafflecopter Link

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the authorDSCF0416

YA & NA author, Sharon M. Johnston, hails from sunny Queensland, Australia. When she’s not writing, Sharon works in PR, spends time with her family, and plays far too much Pokemon Go.

You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and on her website.