Year: 2014 (page 1 of 2)

Twas the night before NaNo…

“Twas the Night Before Nano”


Twas the night before Nano, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, I’d evicted the mouse
My laptop was on by the chimney with care,
In hopes that my writing muse soon would be there.

When at the back of my mind there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the desk to see what was the matter.
Away to the mirror I flew like a flash,
Peeled open my eyes to see the source of the crash.

But my eyes were as glassy as the new-fallen snow
For it was way past my bedtime on this night you know.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But my run away muse, coming ever so near.

What a shifty little man, so lively and quick,
My shock in that moment nearly made me sick.
More rapid than eagles ideas flew in when he came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Climax! Now, Dialogue! Now, Plot and Conflict!
Come on you slow pokes, you haven’t got me licked.
Get out here, you dolts, the hours coming quick
Get into your part, don’t be such a prick!”

All my hopes before 12 o’clock were aflight,
Until they met up with midnight and stuttered with fright
In desperation to the Nano forums I went
and what should I find, but support heaven sent.

From “plot bunnies” to “help, I think I might die”
There was a massive roar, a rising war cry.
With a great deal of excitement I felt part of a surge
And vowed to God and country, my writing devils I’d purge!

But all through the month, my desperation it grew
My muse, fearing death, like a bat out of hell flew

But through blood, sweat, and tears, I knew I must make it

So I turned off my phone and on my butt I did sit!

Oh my mind was a blur and my fingers did ache
I drank 77 cups of coffee and ate way too many cupcakes
I vowed to survive, no matter the cost
And write that damn novel, even if my plot was lost!

So thank you, dear November, for a war justly won
Even though it was hard work it was a great deal of fun.
I hope you have a great year, and holidays, too
A novel again next year I challenge you to!

Are you a Wrimo?

Taking part in the insane November challenge of writing a 50k novel in a month? Me, too! If you’re interested, send me a message and we can commiserate together!

Great review from The Gal in the Blue Mask – Thanks!!!


Live Once Trilogy 1:
Chanda Stafford

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Publication date: 5.8.2013
Pages: 297

Date read: 10.9.2014
Recommended by: Red Adept Publishing, Read 2 Review

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Mira works on a farm in the ruins of Texas, descendants of the defeated rebels.  Though she’s given her heart to Tanner, their lives are not their own.
            When Socrates, the powerful First, chooses Mira as his Second, she is thrust into the bewildering world of the rich and influential.  Will, a servant assigned to assist her, whispers of rebellion, love, and of a darker fate than she’s ever imagined.
            With time running out, Mira must decide whether to run to the boy she left behind, to the boy who wants her to live, or to the man who wants her dead.

This is a really interesting story.  It’s told from two points of view – Mira and Socrates.  Socrates isn’t just a First, he is the very first First, and he has chosen Mira to be his Second.  Mira lives on a farm in Texas with her mom and brother, is “in love” with her best friend … and never thought she would ever be chosen for this position.  She is also not happy about it at all.

I am always curious about dystopian futures and when I saw that this one involved Texas (my home state), I had to give it a read.  I love that the Texans were “rebels” and that, during the Immigration War, they bombed the White House and Pentagon, unhappy about what the government was doing.  As with most of the dystopian books I have read, there are bits of reality snuck in, twisted just a little bit so that, if you want to be all “conspiracy theory,” the future written is a possibility.  

I also really like this First-Second idea.  It’s intriguing and the fact that it was written from both points of view allows you to see inside each person’s head.

There are some unexpected twists and turns throughout the book that really impressed me.

This book was well written and a lot of fun to read.  It is definitely one that I would recommend to others. 

If you like this review, check out their site. They’ve got a ton of great reviews on a wide variety of book!

Yay! Another great review

This review comes from Big Al’s books and pals. Thank you for taking the time to read my book!

If you click on the link, you can also enter to win goodies from my publisher. 🙂

First / Chanda Stafford


Reviewed by: BigAl


Genre: Science Fiction / Dystopian


Approximate word count: 85-90,000 words



Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: NO  Paper: YES

Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store



A school teacher in Michigan, this is Chanda Stafford’s first book.


“Seventeen-year-old Mira works on a farm in the ruins of Texas, along with all of the other descendants of the defeated rebels. Though she’s given her heart to Tanner, their lives are not their own.

When Socrates, a powerful First, chooses Mira as his Second, she is thrust into the bewildering world of the rich and influential. Will, a servant assigned to assist her, whispers of rebellion, love, and of a darker fate than she’s ever imagined.

With time running out, Mira must decide whether to run to the boy she left behind, to the boy who wants her to live, or to the man who wants her dead.”


First is a dystopian novel set in the distant future. When the Patriot Act of 2297 was passed, Texans rebelled. The eventual fallout was Texans and their ancestors being punished, treated much like slaves for the rest of the US, with many restraints on their actions, choices, and opportunities.

Mira, the protagonist, was born in Texas and, through the luck (or lack thereof) of birth, has limited opportunity. At least until she is chosen by one of the anointed ones for something special. What that is and what the repercussions for Mira are isn’t clear at first, but become more so as the book goes on.

First is an entertaining read, with an interesting premise, unique story world, and a conflict central to the tale that will keep the reader interested. One of the signs of a dystopian novel is there an underlying political statement, typically taking some aspect of contemporary society and projecting the eventual negative outcome if those pulling in that direction drag everyone down the slippery slope. While the point  First seemed to be making was obvious, it seemed more applicable to times past (think pre-Civil War or Japanese internment camps) than present. Then I started pondering some of the stories getting play in the news recently, and reconsidered.


The first of a planned trilogy.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues


Rating: **** Four Stars    

from its humble beginnings

First started out as a NaNoWriMo project. A fact that is both validating and horrifying. It’s cool because it shows that out of the dregs of the 30 day novel, something publishable can emerge, but horrifying because according to some critics, it boosts the mentality that anyone’s NaNo novel can and should be published, too.

I’ve always been an avid proponent of Nano. Even when I started way back in 2002, with my trusty old dinosaur of a computer, the prospect of finishing a novel in a month really drew me. Of course, I was a pantser, and never equated that with the horrendous amount of editing I’d have to do, but that’s another story.

I know some believe that NaNoWriMo is a bad idea, and that it makes everyone believe that they can write a book, but I disagree. I think everyone CAN write a book, and should attempt it, at least. That’s not saying every 50k manuscript should be published (I have six or seven Nano novels that will never see the light of day), but validating that first Nano novel still ranks high up there in my book.

Check out this great review!

Book Review – FIRST by Chanda Stafford
When I was young(er) I used to look at pictures of, say, Mick Jagger sharing a beer with Paul McCartney, or learn that Keith Moon was godfather to Ringo Starr’s son and be flabbergasted. In my mind, these guys were in competition with each other. Competition for the charts, competitions for sales, competition for awards and accolades. How could they hang out together? It was like finding out Churchill used to babysit Hitler’s children or something.

Now that I’m a little bit older and little bit wiser (okay, okay, a lot older and not wiser at all) I finally figured out what I was missing. I had assumed that artists who were contemporaries had to be rivals. Now that I’m an author (of sorts) I realize that contemporaries actually form a tribe. We’re united by our knowledge of the industry (or lack thereof), our love of our shared craft, and our favorite artists. Mick and Paul and Ringo and Keith were all trying to make it at the same time and they all loved Muddy Waters, right?

Anyway, I’m pleased this week to introduce you to three members of my tribe, which is something I don’t get to focus on very much. Chanda Stafford, Collin Tobin, Laura Kolar, and I all share a publisher in Red Adept. I’ve read and enjoyed their books and the reason I haven’t left starred reviews in the past isn’t because we’re all trying to gut each other on a race to the top of the charts. It’s because it’s generally a conflict of interest for me to do so. But this week, in my capacity as an industry blogger (boy, don’t that sound fancy) rather than as an author, I’ve joined RAP’s Young at Heart tour. Fittingly, our first spotlight is on FIRST by Chanda Stafford.



Long-time readers of the blog may recall that I first (ha!) read FIRST last year as part of the 2013 Hundie Challenge. Since then the book has actually gotten a total facelift. I still have the original or “classic” cover on my copy of FIRST, but the rest of you will have to make do with this pretty new thing.

So what the heck does the title mean? Well, Firsts are the (theoretically) wisest and smartest of all people, certainly they’re the oldest, technically speaking. Technology allows the mind of a First to be downloaded into a new body, essentially erasing the “Second.” This process can be repeated multiple times, presumably forever, so that Firsts become effectively immortal as long as they have a pool of Seconds to draw from. But who would volunteer to give up their bodies in such a grotesque manner, you might ask?

In the future, the United States is rocked by a second civil war, which the victors primarily blame on “Texans.” I gather that the rebels were not exclusively from Texas, but the term is used as kind of a non-PC catchall, for instance the way today we might say “The Arab World” even though that area is full of Persians, Copts, Kurds, and countless other minorities. Anyway, the “Texans” of the future form a slave class, and the only real hope for a Texan to be anything other than a slave is to be chosen as a Second.

The reality of a Second’s duty is hidden from the Texans. They only understand it to be a great honor. And so, with this set-up, Chanda Stafford opens up a whole world of heady philosophical questions. Are some people inherently better than others? If so, isn’t it a small sacrifice to give up a lesser person for a better one? Are there ethical limitations to the pursuit of medicine? Just because we can live forever, should we? Is there still dignity in death?

You’d think from the way I’ve described it so far that FIRST was a densely plotted political treatise of interest only to intellectuals and politicians, but quite the opposite is true. This is a Young Adult novel, with teenage characters dealing with the world and raging against the unfairness of it all just as I did when I was a teen (although perhaps main character Mira has more legitimacy for her angst than I did.) It is much to Chanda’s credit, I think, that she managed to slip such dense, thinky themes into such a fast-paced, crowd-pleasing story.

Whether you’re shopping for a teen or YA is your guilty pleasure, you should definitely pick up a copy of FIRST.

Check out the full review and enter the contest on Stephen’s website, Manuscripts Burn. While you’re there, also check out Stephen’s own zombie  novel, Braineater Jones, which is a unique and refreshing take on the zombie genre.

Write-on Con is next week!

If you’re not a writer, you might want to skip this post. However, if you’re at any stage of the writing game, and eventually want to pursue publishing, you should definitely check out Write-on Con. It’s an online convention, which is great for those of us who live in the boondocks, and completely free. All you need to participate is a computer and decent internet. Well, it helps if you have a novel written and a query letter, but I’ve done it without and still gotten a lot out of the conference just by watching and listening.

Did I mention there are a number of agents who participate in this conference? Not only do they offer critiques, but they interact with writers. These connections prove invaluable, but several people have also had agents request partials or fulls. So it’s a win-win!

P.G. Holyfield.

Yesterday we said good-bye to a great author, P.G. Holyfield. His novel, Murder at Avedon Hill , was the first podiobook I ever listened to. I never met him, but his words touched me and his loss, at such a young age, is also a great loss to the world, as well.

Some of his friends have opened up a gofundme account to help his family with expenses. I think you read some of the comments and see how much P.G. meant to so many people, it might help you understand what a great loss this is. If you’re inclined, I know his family would greatly appreciate the help and support. Or, buy one of his books. I know I will.


Guess what?

If you purchased an electronic version of First,  you can get it signed by me via Authorgraph. <click on the link to go to my author page and request an autograph. Try it, you know you want to :).

Editing news :)

So I just heard from my publisher that I get to start content editing on book 2 this month. Yay! I can’t wait to get this one out there. I absolutely love this book! However this means I should probably finish my two works-in-progress before then though. One is a retelling of an ancient Greek myth (no, not Hades/Persephone) and the other was supposed to be a short story related to the Live Once universe but, um… it’s now turning into a novel. It’s funny, I had the whole plot laid out and then I’m like look at all this wonderful other stuff I can do. So yeah, new cast of characters, kick ass heroine, and a little bit of romance. Oh, and robot horses, can’t forget those.

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