Monthly Archives: January 2010

Kyra: Review of Taken By Storm

Book review for Taken By Storm
by Angela Morrison.

I found an arc of the book Taken by Storm just chillin’ at the top of my mom’s closet early ’09. I pulled it off the shelf and looked at it. I wasn’t really interested in reading a romance, so I prejudged the book. I told myself  “You won’t like this, so put it back.”
Still, I looked at the romance-y cover about three times before I actually started reading it.
So we know what happened, right? That old cliche . . .  NEVER JUDGE A BOOK BY THE COVER.

The story has a strong religious undertone that I usually avoid when reading novels. Especially Mormon novels. Why? Because 99% of the time the author just ends up sounding preachy and like he/she is trying to get me to join the LDS church (I am a member of the LDS church. But I don’t want anyone making me feel like I better be a member or else.).

This was NOT the case with Taken by Storm and that is why I enjoyed the book. The characters were believable, they felt real. Leesie and Michael were like kids I went to high school with. They weren’t perfect (something I’ve noticed in a lot of novels today–perfect characters, I mean). They had their flaws. Michael messes up a lot, and it makes the story seem that much more real. I don’t want to give much away, but the grief feels real, and the characters don’t just get over that grief.  The relationship, the sexual desire, was developed well, and didn’t go too far.

If you’re interested in reading a good book with a religious character, then Taken By Storm is for you.


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Writing Challenge: Religion in Writing PLUS Book and Critique Giveaway!!!!

Angela Morrison writes about a girl who is religious and falls into temptation
but her novel, Taken by Storm, doesn’t feel preachy.

Other examples of books that deal with religion but don’t feel heavy handed are Sara Zarr’s Once Was Lost and Louise Plummer’s A Dance for Three.

How do you think an author achieves this balance? What are other examples of books that handle issues of faith well? How does your worldview infuse your writing?

You have until midnight on Sunday to post a comment. Two lucky people will win a copy of one of Angela Morrison’s books.

Mary Kole, Associate Agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc. is also having a contest. Look here for information. It’s almost over but she is hoping for great entries so write then email away, everyone!


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Guest Blogger: Angela Morrison and Online Self-Promotion

Angela Morrison is the author of Taken by Storm and Sing Me to Sleep. She graduated from Brigham Young University and received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

When Carol asked me to write a blurb on self-promo, I was gratified . . . and terrified. Gratified that after banging my head against my screen for a couple of years trying to figure out the rapidly mutating web of online promotion, that someone out there might benefit from what I’ve learned; terrified because I still feel like I’m missing 90 percent of what’s available. I welcome lots of comments from those of you who are no doubt way more flexible online than I’ll ever hope to be.

I started my online endeavors with a website made on my Mac, quickly branched out to FaceBookYouTube, and recently added a blog on Amazon via their author pages. I’ve yet to Tweet. Really smart authors have everything linked, so one entry goes a thousand places. I’m not that smart.

My website offers blogs readers can follow, but if I were to do it all over again and I was starting from scratch, I’d use one of the great free blogger sites, like blogspot. That seems to be a favorite among the YA book reviewers that I know. Their blogs all look fantastic, and it’s easier to connect with the community that way—and that is the community you want to connect with. Big time.

Today that seems like such an obvious statement. The blogosphere is the way books are promoted these days, but a year ago when I was trying to figure out how to promote my debut novel, TAKEN BY STORM (Penguin/Razorbill, 2009), that wasn’t so evident. At least to me. I figured that out slowly, made a lot of blunders, made some lovely blog buddies, and learned a lot that I’ve put into practice the second time around as I get ready for the launch of my next book, SING ME TO SLEEP (March 4, 2010).

The biggest thing I learned is to be hands on. Do whatever you can to make a personal connection with the blogging reviewers. For me that starts with my website. I run a “teen reviewer” contest that attracted bloggers, too. I also have a link to my email in several strategic spots and invite fans and bloggers to email me.

With TAKEN BY STORM, I dutifully referred any ARC (advance review copy) requests I received from bloggers, many of them teens and new to blogging, on to my publicist at Penguin. This time around, I had Penguin send me a load of ARCs and when I received requests, I wrote back and offered to send them a signed SING ARC for review and a signed hardcover of TAKEN BY STORM they could give away for a contest and review—thus keeping the conversation going about STORM, too. (Media mail is rate is my best friend.) One of my most inventive bloggers, hosted Angela Morrison week last month. She posted reviews of both books, an interview, plus interviews with all my characters. Lots of fun.

I invited bloggers to send interview questions and to join a blog tour I’m organizing for SING (and promoting via the participants), and promised hardcover copies of SING for contests leading up to the release. This got a great response.

I’m gearing up now for the release of SING’s trailer that will open my blog tour (January 20th). I’ve asked the bloggers to give their readers extra entries to the SING contest of they post the trailer on their own blogs or elsewhere. The more times they post about you the greater chance you have of their followers seeing you.

I could go on and on, but you get the gist. The best way to engage with the blog community is to find one that will review your book. And others will follow. Be nice. Be generous with your time and books. They all talk to each other, post on each other’s blogs, link them to their own, enter each others contests, etc., etc. How do you find the one? Google or click through to one of the many you’ll find scattered on my Website. Watch for my blog tour post that will be up on my ChatSpot blog soon with links to more sweet, eager, bloggers. Write to a few and offer to send your book. They will flip.

I guess that’s why I love this type of promotion. Blogger enthusiasm—always over the top. For me, that makes it a hundred percent worth it.


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Ann Dee: A Mystery

Dear You Guys,

How are you? I’m fine. The other day my husband told me our sink smelled like pee.

What do you mean? Like pee pee?

He said, Yes, like pee pee.

Like human pee?

Yes, human pee.

This was disgusting and made me feel sick and mad at him because he had to be exaggerating and who did he think he was accusing my kitchen of being pee-y?

I went in there. The smell was overwhelming.

Gross, I said.

I know, he said. And I’ve been trying to find what it is for like a half hour.

I took another deep breath. It was disgusting.

I’ll find it, I said.

Good luck, he said.

So I started my search. I picked up the rag. Gross but not pee-y. I tried the disposal. Nothing. I checked under the sink. Nope. On and on I looked, the half an avocado, the sponge, the bananas, the dish soap. Nothing. I scrubbed down the countertop, the sink, the faucet, all of it. The smell was still there.

Finally, I took a step back and looked at the big picture. Something. I was missing something. Pee doesn’t just spontaneously combust onto the scene.

Then I saw it.

I saw it there plain as day

And it broke my heart.

My flowers.

I had received bulbs for Christmas. I was excited for a lot of reasons. I have always dreamed of having plants in my house. Plants that live. I like the idea of fresh flowers. But even more than that, I love the fact that bulbs hold something secret in them, they transform. Bulbs=Potential.

The day after I got them I read the directions, carefully prepared the soil, and planted away. After two weeks they started to grow. I have to admit I was a little shocked. I knew that growing, turning into a flower, all that stuff was the plan, but it was crazy that it was actually happening.

Look at my flowers, guys, I’d say.

Cam and my three year old and one year old would gather around in the kitchen.

Do you see how tall the are?

And they were tall.

Yeah, three year old said.

Mommy did that, I said.

Wow, he said.

The other two were eating mini spooners and ignoring me.

And life went on.

I never thought about those fllowers except for almost all the time. Were they okay? Did they have enough water? What did “keep moist but not wet” mean?

Then one day, one dark cold January day, my flowers bloomed.  It was a Christmas miracle.

And then they smelled like pee.

I am now going to relate this experience to my writing.

Like when I was so excited about this book I’m working on. Only an idea at first, but a big fat bulb of an idea. I could envision in my head how beautiful it was going to be. Thick and long and luscious but complicated. Oh so complicated.

I did all the steps, I prepared, I thought things through, I started writing, carefully writing, and things were looking good.

The novel was growing.


I had actually stuck to some of my new years goals and I was seeing results.

And just when I thought, oh my beautiful flower of a novel, the unexpected happened.

Carol talks about icky middles. Today I am talking about pee middles. The problem with me is, I feel like if I can just push through, just endure the smell, the blooms will get the chance to fully open.

Don’t they smell better once they are fully open?

But maybe they don’t. Maybe I should stop now and throw the flower away. Should I throw the flowers away? How do you know when you should throw flowers away? And do you throw away something beautiful even if it stinks just a little?

Do you ever have a book in your head, people you love, a story you want to tell and you work and you work and you work and you feel like you’re almost there and then all the sudden you start smelling pee? You think, I can’t do this. It’s falling apart and maybe it really is falling apart. Maybe it will always smell like that. You think maybe I should throw this away. Should I throw this away?

I am writing in circles.

What I’m trying to say is writing is hard. There are so many moments of self-doubt. So many complications. So many things to think about.

It’s hard.

Hard but exciting.

Exciting because you are creating. You are turning an idea into something real. You are making potential a reality. That’s what art is, right? Potentialities? Things becoming? Something small, an inkling really, turning into something tangible?  A flower that wasn’t there before? A pee flower that smells up your whole kitchen that wasn’t there before? Who wouldn’t want to be a writer?

I need to not write these blog posts late at night.


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