Monday, April 27, 2015

Embracing an Open Reading Lifestyle

I don’t remember my exact age when I started reading, but I know I was young. I always loved books and the stories inside them. I loved the way they made me feel. Like the good girl I was, I quickly found myself in a monogamous reading lifestyle—which basically means I read only one author at a time for an extended period.

I still remember my first epic love. So many feels. I remained loyal to the Sweet Valley High Series, ensuring that I had every issue, for many years.

As I got older, my brother introduced me to King. I was a teenager and King’s dark and dangerous side was appealing and impossible to resist!

When I grew out of my bad-boy phase, James Patterson held me close and took me on adventures that were still thrilling, but much safer.

When I needed to slow down due to the craziness of life, Maeve Binchy gave me all the comfortable feels my body craved.

Then ten years ago a friend asked me if I was interesting in joining a small book club she was starting. After I got over my shock and regained my composure, I began thinking about how a book club wouldn’t be right for me. I knew enough about book clubs to know that they were promiscuous in their reading, quickly jumping from one author to another. Some members even read more than one at a time!

However, I was also intrigued by this alternative reading lifestyle. I had several friends in other book clubs, and so I decided to give it a try. As I expected, this group opened up my reading experience by removing me from my monogamous reading lifestyle. What I didn’t expect was my reaction—it was exhilarating! I found so many new authors I loved and types of books that I didn’t know I enjoyed reading. I also discovered some that weren’t for me, landing them a one-night-stand status.

As the years passed, I realized that while I was reading many new authors, I was still only reading books selected by my book club. I had developed an itch to become even more adventurous. So when I became an author, I decide it was the perfect time to move into full swing—I wanted to have an open reading relationship with many books and authors.

After a year of reading just about anything and everything, I’ve experienced nothing but sweet bliss! Of course I’ve paired up with the occasional dud, but that’s part of the excitement. It just heightens the next reading experience. Besides, I can always go back to one of my steady authors if I run into a bad batch of books. That’s usually enough to cleanse my palette and get me back out in the field.

In my open reading lifestyle, I’ve read short stories and novellas—genres I never considered before. Usually I want the full reading experience—you know, build up some tension by starting out with a little flirting before getting to the good stuff. Who knew a quickie could be so satisfying? One of my recent favorites was One Night Is All You Need by fellow Across the Board author Kimberly G. Giarratano.  

I’m currently reading Billy and the Cloneasaurus by Stephen Kozeniewski, another Across the Board author. In my previous monogamous reading lifestyle, I would have taken one look at the cover and ran away. But I knew that if I wanted to truly embrace this open reading lifestyle, then I needed to give every book a shot. As I got started on it, I thought perhaps I’d be reading the entire thing through my fingers (I mean, he is a horror author). I know, I know, I used to read King so what’s the big deal? Well, I’m no longer that carefree, reckless teenager. I’m a mom in her 40s. At this stage in my life I should be rebelling by moving in the hot and steamy direction, not the dead and steamy. So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised (and I haven’t had to read through my fingers). 

Over the weekend I finally took my open reading lifestyle to the ultimate level by experiencing an audio book for the first time. Oh my. I might have to take extended trips without the family more often. 

I’m so happy that I took the leap to move into an open reading lifestyle. When I started down this path I was afraid I’d constantly be comparing one author to another. I mean, how can you compare a YA contemporary romantic dystopian to a classic piece of literature? Well, you can’t. Surprisingly, I think that’s what I’ve come to love most about my new open reading lifestyle. I’m able to approach each book with the appreciation that it is unique, and beautiful, in its own way (even the books I dont end up enjoying).

For those of you who are stuck in the rut of a monogamous reading relationship, I highly recommend stepping outside your box. Whether you currently read just one author at a time, or remain only in one genre, push your boundaries—variety really is the spice of life!

Anyone else enjoying an open reading lifestyle?


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Autism Awareness Month

That's right. April is Autism Awareness Month. I'm sure we've all seen the colorful puzzle piece ribbons, the light-it-up-blue tints on profile pictures, and autism articles floating around. For me, this is something close to my heart, as our first appointment with a developmental pediatrician is next month (trust me, it's been a lengthy journey to get here!). With awareness comes understanding, and with understanding comes acceptance. So in honor of Autism Awareness Month, I wanted to bring light to fictional works that bring awareness to autism.

As I mentioned in my One More Chapter Syndrome post back in March, I was reading a companion series by Stephanie Perkins, one of which was Isla and the Happily Ever After. This book really struck a chord with me because it was the first one I read after realizing the potential for a spectrum disorder in my son that featured a character on the spectrum. And that sparked the idea for this post, along with several articles people have brought to my attention.

Because I, admittedly, haven't read many books that contain such a topic, I relied on my reading friends to compile a list (a sincere thanks to those who added books!). An asterisk (*) marks the books I've actually read. Also, these are in no particular order and not organized by genre or audience.

Have you read a fiction book with spectrum characters? I'd love to add to my always growing TBR list!

--Brianna Lebrecht

Monday, April 20, 2015

Dressed Like a Cover

I walked into work on Friday morning and my co-worker's lovely outfit instantly reminded me of a book cover. I, of course, had to pull it up on my computer and show her, and she agreed. And like a champ, she also agreed to let you all see as well. I present:

Jasmine as 'Rebel Belle' (which is kind of an apt description anyway...) ;)

{The tagline says: A lady never starts a fight...but she'll finish it. Ha, love it!}

This made me think of other possible book/outfit pairings, so over the weekend I scoured my closet and bookshelves. None of them are quite as perfect as Jasmine's, but I did my best. Enjoy!

If you look closely, you'll find the cover model is also wearing black and white sneakers. 

So my bird isn't quite to scale-- shoot me! 

Actually, looking at this shirt doesn't make me happy, as it no longer fits anymore. *inverted smile*


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Beth: Get Well Soon!

Sometimes life is rough! Beth Ellyn, one of our wonderful members, knows that first hand lately. She's had a major round of sickness this winter (here's to a way better spring!) So we'd like to cheer our friend up. As a Queen of Gifs, it seems there'd be no other way to do this than with a few of her favorite things.


While we are sad that you have to fight through some health issues, we know that you'll soon be good as new because you are one tough cookie! Or as Amy says, you are like William Wallace: As Rugged as the Highlands.

To help speed up your road to recovery, your fellow Boarders wanted to remind you of the critical elements for recovery.

1. Rest

We know that rest is important when overcoming any type of illness. Put in a movie, pop some popcorn, and relax. Your movie suggestion comes to you from Jonathan: You love Disney. He loves Sci-Fi. This!

2. Mindset

A positive mindset is important to keep from going crazy during recovery. Staying indoors and resting can make it difficult to remain positive, especially with the beautiful spring days that have finally started to arrive. So, Leandra is sending you a few of her friends bearing gifts that you can place beside you to brighten your day.

3. Nutrition

That's right. Your body needs proper fuel to heal, so Steve wanted to make sure you were eating properly. IT'S PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME!  Peanut butter jelly, peanut butter jelly, peanut butter jelly and a baseball bat! 

Wait...what were we doing again?  Something about Beth?  Well, there's nothing she'd like better than a dancing banana.

4. Exercise 

Now that Steve has effectively infested our brains with that annoying song (but the dancing banana is cute, so all is forgiven), we will move on. Being the fitness nut that you are, we know you will want to get back to exercising as soon as possible. Since Carrie has now joined the ranks of crazy-workout-people, she wanted to remind you to not push yourself too fast too soon! Start off with something that provides a great workout with minimal exertion.

5. Faith

Finally, it's important to have faith. You need to believe that you will overcome all that ails you, so Kimberly sends you hope - from one Jewish girl to another.

So Beth, we know you've had a rough time, but fear not! As Brianna says, "We're all in this together!"

~Your fellow Boarders: Amy, Jonathan, Leandra, Steve, Carrie, Kimberly, Brianna

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Beckon Me Review & Giveaway!

I am a day off here, but BECKON ME by Cindy Thomas is now out in the world (as of yesterday) and I couldn't be happier to spread the word about this book! Before I get to my review and your chance to win a copy of this beauty, here's some info on the book: 

Everything nineteen-year-old Karina Mitchell knows about death changes the instant that she and her best friend, Rainey, are shot. For one, souls don’t die. They cross over. Only, Rainey’s soul hasn’t, and her ghost is hell bent on haunting Karina.

When Karina begins her sophomore year of college and moves into the apartment that she was supposed to share with Rainey, she learns a few shocking truths from her mysterious and gorgeous blue-eyed neighbor, Eli.

One: Karina has been chosen to become a Beckoner—an immortal conduit of the dead who helps safely guide souls to the other side.

Two: She’s the reason that Rainey’s soul can’t cross over—Rainey followed her back from death and missed her window to be at peace.

Three: Eli is hot. As in swoon-worthy, to-die-for, will-make-you-forget-yourself hot. And it turns out, Eli is a Beckoner, too.

Despite her attraction to Eli, the decision to become a Beckoner isn’t an easy one—it would mean giving up her own mortality … her own soul. But if she doesn’t, her best friend will be left to suffer an eternity at the hands of the evil Ceptors, dark creatures that feed on the souls left behind. After all, it’s her fault Rainey is haunting her.

Time is running out, and Karina needs to decide: Are love and loyalty worth sacrificing her soul?

BECKON ME is a dark but sweet NA paranormal romance for both NA and upper YA readers, ages 16 and up.

Links to buy:

Find Cindy Thomas Online: 

I had the absolute pleasure of reading Beckon Me early and I'm happy to share my review of it! 

Beckon Me begins with the tragic death of Karina's best friend, Rainey, in which Karina should have died too. And now Rainey is haunting her. Karina is faced with a choice to remain human or become a Beckoner to help her friend cross over. Fortunately for Karina, she has two awesome people to help clarify the options- the ever flirty and sexy Eli and the supportive and understanding Gabby. 

When I first started the book, I cried. What a way to start a book! Getting choked up over characters you've just met, but you feel the depth of their connection to the point that it breaks your heart to read their fate. I felt Karina's pain every time she had to relive that moment or see her friend. *sniffle* 

But then you meet Eli and you get distracted by this guy who puts a smile on your face, even though he says inappropriate things. Or maybe it's because he says inappropriate things. Throughout the book, Eli made me laugh out loud, smile, melt, choke up, and even giggle (I loathe the word 'giggle'). He has a way with words, that's for sure. I adored Eli. 

And Gabby. I also adored Gabby. She was there for Karina during a rough transition and was always unwavering as one of Karina's strongest supporters. I love best friends like that! 

As the book progressed and Ceptors started showing up, I got sucked into the full impact Karina's decision would have on her and those closest to her. In the end, I think she made a great decision and it's something that made me like her even more. And I also have to say the very ending of the book made me smile in that way a reader who is truly happy for a character smiles. 

I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to those looking for a paranormal read with a new idea- Beckoners. I would also recommend it to those who enjoy reading about slightly older characters than the average YA while being hesitant about the way the NA market has taken a dive head first into more graphic sex scenes.

***Would you like to win a copy of BECKON ME? For your chance to win, leave a comment with one of your hobbies and how your best friend supports it. I'll leave the giveaway open for ONE WEEK (ends 11:59PM/EST on Monday, April 20th) before randomly selecting one winner. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Sixth Month Shout-Out

A Post By Jonathan

As I was preparing my blog post for today, I decided to take a look at all our past posts to make sure I was writing something fresh and new. It was then that I came to an earth-shattering realization. Across the Board is six months old, meaning it's high time for a shout-out!

Our ensemble of writers have stuck to their promised posting schedule of Mondays and Thursdays (well, except for last Monday...), bringing quality content to our readers for over half a year. That's a long freakin' time people! If you ask me, that day off was well deserved...

Over this span we've seen Amy's hunky romance novel, A Highland Knight's Desire, get nominated for Kindle Scout (I'm still waiting for my royalties for that front cover photo, btw...), we've celebrated the launch of Carrie's most recent book release, Shattered Angel, we've been to 30 Rock with Beth's favorite inspiration, visited the Indiana Writer's Workshop with Leandra, been to Germany with yours truly, gotten vandalized with Steve, had a Writer's Ground Hog Day with Kimberly, and learned about One More Chapter Syndrome with our resident reader, Brianna.

I for one have thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone's posts and can't wait to see what the next six months bring. Dear readers, please join me in giving our bloggers a shout-out for all their hard work and dedication. Now, everyone, back to writing!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Literary Tattoos

Another quality post brought to you by Steve!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  And a picture on skin is worth a few hundred bucks.  One of the neat things about being alive in 2015 is that tattoos are finally common enough for respectable people like authors (yeah, right) to have them.  And I have seen/heard of some fascinating ones.

I think it would be neat to do a post about authors with tattoos, particularly literary tattoos.  If you're interested in being featured in such a post in the future, just include a link to your ink in the comments below.  And so you don't think I won't put my money where my mouth is, I'll kick things off:

Obviously, you can tell I'm a horror author.  The crow is a reference to Old Crow, a favorite drink of both mine and one of my characters.  (Anybody know who?)  And the hyena is a reference to an as-yet unpublished novel of mine.

So how about it?  Can you top me?  Tell us about it in the comments, and remember to leave a link!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The chaos! or what passes for my days lately

Guys! Guys! I screwed up and I am uber late on this post. Do you know that I actually bought a planner to keep track of things like 'Write your blog post for ATB on April 2nd?' And by planner, I mean an old-school paper, spirally-bound notebook similar to what I had in college because my cell phone calendar is useless. I just need a system to remember stuff. So far, my system is failing. In the words of Sophia Petrillo, I digress...

So this past month, I've been hustling to finish my novella, the spin-off to Grunge Gods and Graveyards. It's called The Lady in Blue and it features a peripheral, but beloved character from GG&G. Anyway, this post isn't so much about the novella as the rush to get the novella done. I was originally planning on self-publishing The Lady in June until my publisher said she is putting GG&G on sale in early May (so if you haven't bought it, wait til then). With that in mind, I need the novella out early in order to pick up residual sales from GG&G (assuming readers like it enough to purchase the novella). I moved up my timeline a month. Eek! And the only writing I've self-published so far is a short story on Amazon. It's like not like I'm an old pro at this or anything.

In the past few weeks, I've:
  • finished revisions
  • bought a cover
  • sent my work to beta readers
  • interviewed editors
  • hired an editor
  • sent my manuscript to the editor via snail mail
  • hired a proofreader
  • downloaded and learned Vellum for formatting
  • wrote a blurb (thanks, Steve-o for help with this one)
  • participated in 2 YA promo events 
I still need to:
  • figure out keywords (this takes awhile)
  • familiarize myself with various platforms
  • do the edits!!
  • market
  • not freak out
So, I'm a bit crazed. My kids have been eating granola bars and Teddy Grahams for lunch because it's what they can get themselves as I've been trying to do all the writing things. Anyway, thanks for your understanding.

What have you all been up to?

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