20 August

#BlinkBlog: Favorite Thing From This Summer

Summer may be coming to an end but our authors took a minute to share their favorite memory from this summer. What is your favorite memory?? Share with us on Facebook or Twitter!

Alison Gervais: My summer has been rather uneventful, since all I’ve done is work full-time, but I’ve enjoyed getting to go horseback riding with a good friend of mine.

Annie Sullivan: I love to eat, and I love desserts. For my book launch party, I went cake tasting to pick out flavors for the cake I’m going to have. You won’t believe what this cake is going to look like until you see it.

CJ Lyons: Working with my niece on audio recordings of my Morgan Ames Renegade Justice books. She’s trained in opera and a starving college student who needed some extra money and my regular voice talent got a full time acting job, so it was a win/win. Best of all was hearing Morgan come to life as a real life girl!

Laurie Boyle Crompton: Getting to go to ALA at the end of June was a real treat for me. I’ve never been to New Orleans and although I didn’t have time to do much sightseeing, I did enjoy the festive energy of the place and the high spirits of the teens I met who live there! Of course, getting to spend time with librarians always makes me feel right at home and I especially loved it when I’d hear, “Oh, I know just who will love this…” about PRETTY IN PUNXSUTAWNEY. Those relationships between librarians and YA readers are so important and awesome.

Lorie Langdon: I traveled to China to teach a writing workshop and do a book tour. I met amazing people, taught aspiring authors from all over the world, and walked The Great Wall!! It was a life-changing experience!

McCall Hoyle: Asheville, North Carolina is one of my favorite places in the world. I was able to spend a week with friends and family exploring the mountains, reading, and eating lots and lots of good food. I might have snuck in some research for a book idea I’m really excited about as well.

Stephanie Morrill: Watch my three kids spend time together. My kids are 10, 8, and 2 so during the school year they don’t get a lot of time to just play together. It has been so precious to find the older two building train tracks or playing Legos with my toddler.


13 August

#BlinkBlog: What's Inspiring You?

Another week, another #BlinkBlog! Curious of our author’s travel dreams and what is inspiring them??

Keep reading below…

If you could travel anywhere in the world this summer, where would you go?

Alison Gervais: I would love to go to Hungary and visit the town my great-grandma was from.

Annie Sullivan: Ha! I’ve actually traveled quite a bit, but one place I haven’t been yet is Iceland. I would love to see all those sweeping landscapes and how they differ across the island.

CJ Lyons: New Zealand and Australia—it’s winter down there!

Laurie Boyle Crompton: I’m actually writing this from an AirBnB in Southern California where I’m vacationing with my family and we’ve explored every beach in the area. Next week we’re heading back to New York where the east coast beaches await, along with our dogs who we miss VERY much. Southern California is really so beautiful and we’re having an amazing time, but I also love New York City in the summertime. We spend time upstate in New Paltz during the summer as well, plus we always travel 400 miles to Butler, Pennsylvania where I grew up so maybe ‘not’traveling will be nice for a bit. We’ve been away from our dogs for a week and a half now and miss them terribly, so if I’m making wishes it might be to travel everywhere with them. Which would be pretty silly actually because as I mentioned above, they’re kind of wild and out of control.

Lorie Langdon: London! I would LOVE to walk the streets and see the sights I wrote about in OLIVIA TWIST! Many of the settings I describe are still standing. Also, doing a Dickens tour of London would be amazing!  

McCall Hoyle: My twenty-one-year-old daughter has been in Spain studying abroad for most of the summer and sending home gorgeous pictures of Moorish palaces and the Mediterranean Sea. I would love nothing more than to be in Spain experiencing all the sights and sounds with her.

Stephanie Morrill: Italy. My husband and I have been planning a trip to Italy for about five years now. We tried to go a couple years ago, but then one of our kids was diagnosed with epilepsy and that became our life for a while. Then we had our third child, and Italy got delayed again. But one of these days!

What has been inspiring you lately?

Alison Gervais: History. That’s all I can really say at the moment!

Annie Sullivan: My niece and nephews have been inspiring me the most! They’re always coming up with funny stories to tell, and that’s sparks my creativity. Also just being in nature during these hot summer months always helps me connect with my creative side.

CJ Lyons: The Thai soccer team’s rescue—for a thriller writer and an outdoor enthusiast it was so fascinating to see it all unfold and so inspiring the way so many people from all over the world came together to make it happen.

Laurie Boyle Crompton: Traveling inspires me, especially being in a completely new environment and meeting different people. The house we’re renting has a treehouse in the backyard that is such a wonderful haven, it’s just popping with creative energy. I love capturing snippets of conversations and imagining what peoples’ lives are like. My favorite overheard snippet this week was, “I’m not trying to be negative, I’m just saying that everything sucks.” There is such a wonderful lack of self-awareness in that statement!

Lorie Langdon: I just finished watching the first season of the TV series POLDARK. The writing and characterization in that show are fantastic. As an author of historical fiction, the costumes, settings, and even the language make my heart sing!

McCall Hoyle: I teach high school English at a women’s prison, and it is the most rewarding work I have ever done. The women I teach are working so hard to improve themselves. They inspire me to improve myself as well.

Stephanie Morrill: Jen Hatmaker’s podcast, For The Love. I have been listening to it while I train for a half marathon that I am writing this fall. Not only is my body growing stronger, but my heart and my head too!

06 August

#BlinkBlog: Back To School Advice and Fall Reading Lists

A new week means a new #BlinkBlog! See what our authors have are reading this fall and get the scoop on their advice on focusing on writing during the school year.

Any fall reading plans?

Alison Gervais:  I’m very much looking forward to reading fellow Blink author McCall Hoyle’s MEET THE SKY. I’ve already pre-ordered. 😊

Annie Sullivan: I have so many books in my TBR pile, that I feel like I have enough books to last me for years. So my fall reading plans are to just start working through the pile and see how many books I can get through because I know I’ll constantly be adding to that pile as more and more books come out!

CJ Lyons: Absolutely! Two of my fav authors have books coming out towards the end of the year: Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor and Elizabeth Arden’s Winter of the Witch

Laurie Boyle Crompton: I’ve been reading up on the history of drive-in theaters as research for my next book project which has been a lot of fun. And I’m constantly reading books about the craft of writing because I am always learning and growing as an author. It’s been a while since I re-read Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD so that’s on my ‘to read again soon’ list. Also, I have a doggie training guide on my shelf that I keep meaning to get to because our pups are super-loving but also a bit wild and out of control.

Lorie Langdon: In the fall, I like to read more mystery and spooky thriller novels. If you’ve read my book, GILT HOLLOW, you know I’m down for a good whodunit!

A few books on my TBR for autumn are: A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn, A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro, and The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden

McCall Hoyle: Young adult fiction is my mainstay, but I also plan to do some professional reading this fall. Two of my all-time favorite educators, Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle, recently released a book called 180 Days that I’ve been dying to read. It’s next up on my TBR pile.

Stephanie Morrill: This fall my line-up is Fawkes by Nadine Brandes, Murder at the Flamingo by Rachel McMillan, and Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof.

What advice do you have for young authors trying to stay focused on writing as they begin a new school year?

Alison Gervais: Try to find a balance between writing and school, whatever that may be. Both are important.

Annie Sullivan: Balancing school work, a social life, and writing can be hard, but if you really reserve time in your schedule for writing like you would a job or homework, then you won’t get off track. But also remember that part of being a good writer is going out there and having experiences, so if you miss a few days of writing, don’t beat yourself up. You’ve got plenty of time to get back on track!

CJ Lyons: For an introvert like me, the drawback of a new school year was meeting all those new people. I used my writing to help make sense of the chaos (poetry and journaling are great for this) and used the start of the school year as a time to observe people and ferment new story ideas, which I’d save up for later when I had time to really focus on them.

Laurie Boyle Crompton: Always keep some blank pages and a pen close by. Journaling is the best way to keep that Pilot Precise V5 moving during busy and hectic times. It’s also a great way to process the changes that are happening around you! I love the quote from Flannery O’Connor; “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” I still find myself working through stressful events and big changes with my pen moving. It really helps me keep in touch with myself!

Lorie Langdon:  My advice for any author is to touch your manuscript every day. Even if it’s a bit of research, characterization, or just writing one paragraph. Keeping your head in your story will help ensure that it doesn’t get pushed aside for months at a time.

McCall Hoyle: Set aside a designated time to right every day, and put your butt in the chair no matter what. I read an article years ago when I used to run that said if you put on your running clothes and tie your shoes, you’re way more likely to actually get out the door and get your miles in. I think this applies to writing too. If you put your butt in the chair even if you just sit there and stare at a blank computer screen, you’re way more likely to get some words written. Once you’ve written something, you can always revise it, which you can’t do if you haven’t written anything.

Stephanie Morrill: Think “something” not “everything.” Now that you have responsibilities with school on your plate, you are probably finding it difficult to find big chunks of time to write. Instead of trying to write All The Things, just try to write something. Try to write just a scene, or for 15 minutes. All those drops in the bucket add up, I promise!


01 August

#BlinkBlog: Back To School

The Blink Blog is back! This week some of our authors are sharing updates on their New Year’s Resolutions, final summer plans, and their favorite back to school tips. Stay tuned for more next week…

The year is more than half over!! How have you been doing with your New Year’s Resolutions?

Alison Gervais:  I am sad to report that I never got around to making any New Year’s Resolutions!

Annie Sullivan: One of my New Year’s resolutions was just to be more grateful for everything I have, and I truly have taken that to heart. I try to notice small things I would’ve taken for granted before, and that’s really helped me when things aren’t going my way to see all the good things I still have going on.

CJ Lyons: I don’t actually believe in New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I think of a word to guide me through the year, become my mantra, so to speak. This year my word is: Explore. So I’ve been exploring new genres in my reading, trying new techniques in writing, taking classes in subjects I’d never dreamed of trying to learn about (abstract expressionism, anyone?), etc.

Laurie Boyle Crompton: After years of proving to myself over and over (and over!) that I have the willpower of a goldfish, I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions anymore. They basically became an excuse to make bad choices for the weeks leading up to each new year. Now my resolution is to treat each day as an opportunity for a new start! Sometimes, I even restart my day right in the middle, which can often look a lot like taking a nice nap. Maybe next year I’ll just resolve to take more naps!

Lorie Langdon:  I’m not great with resolutions…I rarely make them. I do start the year with writing goals and I’ve done well keeping those commitments so far.

McCall Hoyle:  New Year’s Resolution? Those are meant to be broken, right? Just kidding. I think mine was to be healthier and to live in the present moment more often, and I think I’ve actually done that this year. I’ve lost a bit of weight by investing in a standup desk and getting up and moving more. And I’ve spent more time reading for pleasure this year. So, yay!

Stephanie Morrill: I am doing pretty well! I’m a big dork, so in June I sat down with my goals from the beginning of the year and a notebook to evaluate how to best spend my time in the last part of the year. I’m glad I did this because some goals I’d completely forgotten about!

Any plans for the remaining weeks of summer?

Alison Gervais: Work, work, and more work! There’s no rest when your job is in social services.

Annie Sullivan: Well, my book A Touch of Gold comes out in August 14th, so I’ll be getting ready for that. I’ve got a bunch of book signings, school visits, and even a HUGE launch party I’m planning. Outside of that, I hope to spend some time at the pool with my niece and nephews and to read a few good books!

CJ Lyons:  I live at the beach so summers are hazy, hot, humid and crowded by tourists. This makes it my main time to hide inside to read and write—my two favorite activities!

Laurie Boyle Crompton: One word: BEACH!!

Every moment I’m not working I plan on having sand between my toes. I will also be spending a lot of time working on my next novel (details to be revealed soon – wheee!) and I’m excited to start ramping things up for the release of PRETTY IN PUNXSUTAWNEY early next year. I have a number of fun book swag giveaways in the works and hand-making buttons of my covers always makes me obnoxiously happy!

Lorie Langdon:  Writing! I’m working on a YA Fantasy novel (It’s top secret!) that has been a huge undertaking. I’m determined to finish by the end of the summer!

McCall Hoyle: I live in the southeast where we go back to school super early. So there are no remaining weeks of summer. My husband and I are both teachers and return to school August first, but we love what we do, so we’re actually looking forward to it.

Stephanie Morrill: Yes! I am so excited to be going to Manzanar National Historic Site, one of the key settings for my next release, Within These Lines. I live in Kansas City, and Manzanar is about four hours outside of Los Angeles in the desert. It is a tough place to get to! I am really excited that I will get to bring my kids too so they can learn about the unfair evacuation of the Japanese Americans during World War II.

What is the best back to school advice you have for Blink readers?

Alison Gervais:  Just do it! The time you spend in school is a very short amount compared to the rest of your life – you’ll be graduating before you know it!

Annie Sullivan: Don’t be afraid to be yourself this year. The things that make you different are what make you unique and special. It’s easier to be you than to be anyone else.

CJ Lyons: Enjoy! (yes, I was one of those geeky kids who loved shopping for notebooks and pens and heading back to new classes to learn new things, lol!)

Laurie Boyle Crompton: Embrace the school supplies! There’s something so promising about a brand-new box of ink pens (Pilot Precise V5s of course). And maybe think about getting a dog or two if you don’t have one. They will always be excited to greet you after school with a massive amount of love. We have three dogs (small, medium, and extra-large) and they give us a full-blown celebration at the door any time we come home. Perfect way to end those long school days!

Lorie Langdon: Be yourself! In middle school and high school, it’s easy to fall into “clone mode” where if you aren’t dressing and acting like everyone else, you feel weird. Weird is good, my friends! If we were all the same what a horrible world it would be. Oh, and also do some studying.

McCall Hoyle: Make time to keep reading even when school starts and life gets hectic. My high school students all know my beliefs on reading for pleasure. First, reading fiction improves our ability to empathize with others, and I personally believe this world would be much better off if we were all a little more empathetic. And reading for pleasure is the single greatest indicator of academic success in all content areas. How cool is that? Over the long haul, reading books you love will do more to improve your grades than studying or anything else. Stephanie Morrill: Have grace for yourself. Going back to school always comes with mixed emotions, and I think it is helpful to remember that as you get used to being back in a strict schedule.