Tuesday, December 29, 2015


I hope your holiday season was lovely in whatever way you would choose. Mine definitely was, and made even better by hanging out with you all in the lead up. On that note, now that our advent calendar is done (like a boss!) I'm going to give out more presents!

There are some individual winners from my author friends still to be announced, but the winners of my personal prizes are:

Ebook of Dethroning Crown by Lila Felix goes to Nicole W

Personal Mail goes to Jessica F

Amazon Giftcard goes to Sara S.

Metallic Tattoos go to Tracy BB

Advance ebook copies of DARK TOUCH go to Cierra, Jennifer QC and Christina MW

Signed, advance copy of DARK TOUCH goes to Jennifer S

The Annotated copy of EUW goes to Rachel L.

WINNERS: I need to hear from you! I have sent emails where I've been provided details, but if you see yourself in this list and haven't heard from me, check your spam, or contact me on aimee (at) aimeeLsalter (dot) com!

All books will be sent out before the end of January. Honest reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are ALWAYS welcome, but these prizes are for your personal enjoyment, so I hope they top off your 2015!

Thanks again for being so much fun this month. See you next year???

Thursday, December 24, 2015

ADVENT CALENDAR - Happy Holidays from Me to You!

Wow. Just . . . wow.

What a cool month it's been. Thanks so much for your enthusiasm, and involvement. We've had a ton of fun on here and on the Facebook page.

For me, it's now time to hang out with family, remember the year, and look forward to 2016. I appreciate you sticking with me this year, I know it's been a little crazy (more on that coming up to the New Year).

The last of our grand prize competitions closes at midnight TONIGHT, so this is your last chance to enter to win an annotated copy of Every Ugly Wordor the only signed, advanced copy of Dark TouchEven if you've entered before, there's chances to enter daily, so get on to those links and make sure you're in the running! I've also linked the visiting author comps that are still open until tonight at the end of this post, so don't miss those either!

In the meantime, here's me hoping and praying that no matter what you do or celebrate (or don't) at this time of year, that you have a wonderful day tomorrow that makes you feel special and loved (and maybe hit these other author giveaways to win yourself a treat!).

See you on the other side!

- Aimee

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


I can't believe we're almost done. It's been so much fun getting all these prizes out there. Have you won anything yet? Check your email--I'm still waiting to hear from winners that I can post their details! There's SO MUCH STILL UP FOR GRABS. Look at all these things you can still win:

An ebook of DETHRONING CROWN by Lila Felix (closes tomorrow): http://bit.ly/1Yotwe8

ADVANCED, physical copy of the manuscript of DARK TOUCH (closes tomorrow):  http://bit.ly/1QF6XTw

Annotated copy of EVERY UGLY WORD (closes Christmas Day):  http://bit.ly/1PiyBSW

A SIGNED copy of REBEL WING by Tracy Banghart (closes Christmas day):   http://bit.ly/1V33WeG

An ADVANCED, SIGNED copy of Emily Hainsworth's TAKE THE FALL: http://bit.ly/1J3gYac

A copy of HALF IN LOVE WITH DEATH by Emily Ross (Closes Dec 31st):  http://bit.ly/1InAYEG

Wow! Look at all those goodies! Go forth and enter! :)  And come back tomorrow as we WIND THIS BABY UP!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

ADVENT CALENDAR Day 22 - Welcome Emily Hainsworth! WIN AN ARC!!!

Is your holiday shopping done?? MINE ISN’T! So let me tell you about TAKE THE FALL (release 2/16/16) because books are calming! Stick around to the end of this post and get a chance to win a signed ARC of the book! 

Oh, and hi, I’m Emily Hainsworth. :)

TAKE THE FALL is my second book, but it’s my first straight-up contemporary novel, and my first straight-up mystery! My debut, THROUGH TO YOU (2012), had some mysterious elements, but there was also an other-worldly green light, a portal to a parallel world, and some serious inter dimensional heartache. While no one in TAKE THE FALL is able to visit a world where their circumstances turned out differently, they sure spend some time wishing they could. ;) 


Fear grips the residents of Hidden Falls the night Sonia Feldman and her best friend, Gretchen Meyer, are attacked in the woods. Sonia was lucky to escape with her life, but Gretchen’s body is discovered at the bottom of a waterfall. Beautiful, popular, and seemingly untouchable, Gretchen can’t be gone. Even as Sonia struggles with guilt and confusion over having survived, the whole town is looking to her for information…. Could she have seen something that will lead the police to the killer? 

At the top of the list of suspects is Gretchen’s ex-boyfriend—and Sonia’s longtime enemy—Marcus Perez. So when Marcus comes to Sonia for help clearing his name, she agrees, hoping to find evidence the police need to prove he’s the killer. But as Gretchen’s many secrets emerge and the suspects add up, Sonia feels less sure of Marcus’s involvement and more afraid for herself. Could Marcus, the artist, the screwup, the boy she might be falling for, have attacked her? Killed her best friend? And if it wasn’t him in the woods that night…who could it have been?

Win a signed ARC of TAKE THE FALL to enjoy in your post-holiday fog! (Open to people with a U.S. address only, sorry!) All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below—tell us what books you’re looking forward to reading in 2016!

You can also preorder TAKE THE FALL here! 

Thank you for stopping by Aimee’s awesome Author Advent Calendar amid your holiday madness, and thanks to Aimee for having me here! I’ve already added her book, DARK TOUCH to my New Year’s wish list because doesn’t it sound amazing?? Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 21, 2015


Wow, Day 21 already?! I can't believe we've been doing this for three weeks!

There are SO MANY WINNERS, but several of those I haven't heard from. If you've been entering my rafflecopters or comment/follow comps, please check your email and make sure aimee@aimeelsalter.com isn't blocked on your filters. I don't like to name winners without their approval, so may be waiting for your confirmation before sending your prize!

As for today, I know it's a stressful time leading up to Christmas, so I just wanted to share a little something from EVERY UGLY WORD that was a bit of fun for me. I toyed with the idea of writing a novella for EUW - an alternate viewpoint of the story from Matt's point of view, to give him a little of his due.

The project didn't pan out, but I thought it might be fun to let you see a little something from behind his eyes.

*** WARNING: Contains coarse language, and there are spoilers for EUW in this passage ***

This correlates to the part of EVERY UGLY WORD when Ashley and Matt went to Finn's party the night before. There Finn caught Ashley searching his room for her letter. Matt was angry with Ashley when he had to take her home because he thought she was drunk and making stupid decisions.

In this scene he's returned the next morning to talk to her before they head to the art room.

Hope you enjoy!


Chapter 1


The truth is, I drove to Ashley’s house that morning still pissed off about the night before. Pissed because she’d sworn she was never getting drunk again. Pissed because being nice to her got Karyn pissed at me. And pissed because, let’s face it, I was a walking punch to the face at that point.

So, yeah, I didn’t pull the truck up Ashley’s driveway in the mood for a giggle.

I yanked up on the hand brake and almost tore the damn things off. When I saw the other car already parked there, I just assumed her mother had a date, or something. No way was I following that train of thought to its natural conclusion. I was too busy rehearsing exactly how to chew a hole in Ashley’s ass without making her cry. Because she needed to think. But I hated it when she cried.

I jogged to the front steps and paused, took a deep breath. I didn’t want to lose my temper and yell at her, just get her thinking. But the door squeaked open before I’d even knocked twice. The first thing I noticed was Ashley’s eyes looking way too big, even for her. Like she was scared. Which pissed me off more, because when had I ever given her a reason to be scared of me?

I took a breath. Don’t jump on her if she’s already nervous. Give it some time. “How are you feeling this morning?” I sighed. “I figured you’d want a ride.”

She didn’t answer.

“Are you ready?” I said through my teeth.

“Almost,” she said, then licked her lips. “I just . . .”

Movement behind her caught my eye. When I looked up, I was glad I’d been clenching my teeth. Otherwise my jaw would have wiped the floor.

“Dex?” I might as well have vomited the word. Dex was Ashley’s ex-boyfriend. The asshole who treated her like she was worthless, then bailed. Literally. A year ago he left town without even warning her. The night before Prom.

And there he was, standing in her entryway looking cleaner and, well, bigger than I’d ever seen him.

The fact that she hadn’t kicked him out on his ass left me stunned. But then he stepped forward and put his hand on her shoulder, like that was totally normal. Like she belonged to him.

Are you kidding me?!

For a moment my anger disappeared behind shock and . . . something else. Looking at his hand there, on her, sent a jolt to that weird space right behind my navel. It felt like the floor had just fallen out from under me. He was touching Ash. She was letting him.

“Mike, right?” he said, all guttural like he was trying to make his voice deeper than it actually was. I tore my eyes off the spot here he touched her and glared at him.

“It’s Matt, actually.”

“Matt. Right. Sorry.”


Ignoring the weird quiver in my gut that wouldn’t go away, I jerked my gaze back to Ash, making the question as plain on my face as I could. She couldn’t be getting back together with him, surely? 

When had he even come back? Why hadn’t she told me?

“Dex is back,” she said apologetically, as if somehow she were to blame. “He came to see me.”

“No kidding.” When she didn’t answer, I looked back at Dex. He met me stare for stare, but he was working for it. I hadn’t liked the way he’d treated Ash even before he bailed. No way was I making it easy for him now. And if he didn’t take his hand off her shoulder I would happily rip it off for him. At the shoulder.

“Come in,” Ash said suddenly, stepping back and away from Dex to open the door wider. “It’ll only take me a second to get ready.” Then she looked up at him, and she smiled.

It didn’t reach her eyes.

A different interpretation of the fear in her eyes when she opened the door occurred to me and it took every ounce of my self-control not to shove my way between them while she explained to the douchebag that we were headed to the art room at school to work on our entries into the National Young Artist of the Year competition.

I should have been focused on that, on getting my portfolio finished, on getting to New York. But I was too busy wondering what Dex had done to scare her before I arrived, and how I might take it out of his hide, to listen closely.

Big mistake.

“ . . . I can give you a ride if you want,” Dex said, with a greasy smile. “I don’t mind hanging out while you get ready. I’m going past there anyway.”

“Um . . . sure.” Ashley looked surprised. “That would be great.”



She turned to me and I tried to glare my opinion on the idea so she’d make an excuse. But she just flapped a hand at me and said, “Then you don’t have to wait for me.” Like she was giving me a present.

Fuck that. “Can I talk to you alone for a second?” I touched her arm, but she didn’t lean into me like she usually would. Instead, her brow creased.

“Can’t we talk at school? I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

I couldn’t believe it. She was going to forgive this dickhead. Then get back together with him. I could see it. And the image left me hollowed out. Like someone had removed a vital organ, then sent me on my way.

What the hell was wrong with me?

Shaken, I didn’t meet her eyes. “I’ll leave you to it, then.”

“Matt, don’t—” her hand landed on my arm. I felt the warmth from it and, out of nowhere, I had to fight back a shiver. The sensation shocked me so badly, I didn’t even look at her.

“Later, Dex,” I said through my teeth. “Try not to disappear again before you get her to the art room.”


He tried to look tough, but I was already gone. I had to get out of there. I had to get away from Ash and that asshole that she was idiotically going to forgive.

I stormed down the steps and back to my truck, slamming the door closed the second I’d slid in behind the wheel. I held onto my anger as I pulled out of the driveway too fast and drove the mile or so to school.

But no matter how I tried, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that I wasn’t running to something. I was running away. 

Away from Ashley, and the way her touch had suddenly opened a gaping hole in my gut.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

ADVENT CALENDAR Day 20 - Welcome Tracy Banghart!!!

Hello hello! Thanks so much to Aimee L Salter for asking me to join her in celebrating the holiday season! 

 My name is Tracy and I’m the author of a YA scifi adventure trilogy about a skilled female fighter pilot who disguises herself as a boy to be with her boyfriend on the front lines, only to realize there’s more to fight for. It’s been called “Mulan meets Top Gun” and “Mulan meets Battlestar Galactica.” ;-) I would love to give away a signed copy of Rebel Wing, the first book in the series. To enter, like my author page or follow me on Twitter, then comment “done” below. Thanks for hanging with me!




Saturday, December 19, 2015

ADVENT CALENDAR Day 19 - Welcome Author Emily Ross!

Happy Day 19! I’m Emily Ross, the author of Half in Love with Death, and I’d like to extend a huge thanks to Aimee for letting me participate in her Author Advent Calendar.  So many great prizes and posts here! And I’m super excited to read her current novel Every Ugly Word and her upcoming one Dark Touch!

And now for some info about my book. Half in Love with Death is a young adult thriller that takes place in 1965. It's the time of peace and love, but nothing is peaceful in fifteen-year-old Caroline's life. Since her beautiful older sister Jess disappeared, Caroline might as well have disappeared too. The only person who pays any attention to her is Jess’s boyfriend Tony. Every time she turns around, he’s looking at her with startling blue eyes, telling her how they can find Jess together, how anything is possible if you believe it. Tony is so loving, and all he cares about is bringing Jess home. And so Caroline follows, and by the time she learns the difference between truth and illusion, it may be too late.

Learn more at http://www.emilyrosswrites.com/.

And there's a giveaway!! Enter to win a free signed copy of Half In Love with Death (U.S. residents only! Sorry, shipping hardcovers is so expensive!)

I’d love to hear from you so please share any questions and comments you may have! Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 18, 2015

ADVENT CALENDAR Day 18 - It's the DARK TOUCH Cover Reveal!

Ahhhhh! This is one of my favorite moments in the building of the book. It's so much fun getting to see my characters brought to life, just a little bit. I adore this image.

Pre-order the book for your kindle, add it to your Goodreads list, or scroll down for links to lots of fun stuff and giveaways. But right now you can just join me in gazing adoringly at all the pretty! Without further ado, I give you . . .


Tully isn’t alone in her skin. Whenever she touches someone, they feel everything she feels. All her ugliness. All her darkness. All her pain.

The only thing she wants is to be left alone—and to finally get out of her small Oregon town. But then she meets Chris. He’s everything she’s not. Light. Trusting. Innocent. And he wants Tully.

Tully knows she should spare him the heartache of being with her. But when he touches her, she’s not sure she’ll have the strength to push him away...

From the author of Every Ugly Word comes a poignant, emotionally raw story about the violence that plays out behind closed doors and the all-consuming passion of first love.

Isn't that gorgeous?! Tell me your thoughts -- or go ahead and order a copy, win a copy, or listen to/read part of the book:

Thursday, December 17, 2015

AUTHOR ADVENT CALENDAR Day 17 -- Another of my Favorite Things! (Or should I say, people?)

One of my favorite peeps in all of authordom is Lila Felix. She has a HUGE back list of books, so there really is something for everyone (check her out on Amazon!) But if you're looking for a new adult, or young adult contemporary--especially one with some really intriguing characters--you can't go past DETHRONING CROWN. Check it out here.

Lila has been kind enough to donate a copy of the book of Dethrowning Crown for me to give away! All you have to do is head over to her Facebook page or her Twitter account and either follow one of them, or comment on a post there. Then come back here, comment "done" and you're in!

Merry Christmas!


Number ten is plastered on his team jersey and on his ego. In his own mind, Crown Sterling is the shit. He dates the prettiest women, he dominates on the soccer field, he pours money out of his pockets like it’s water. Until a debilitating knee injury puts him out of commission on and off the field. He’s sent to an isolated town in Louisiana to recoup, undergo physical therapy and heal. But it’s when you’re down that you find out who your real friends are, and what they value in you, if anything at all. 

All Lyra wants out of life is peace and quiet. She grew up with a regular, everyday family. When she turned sixteen, rummaging through her grandmother’s hope chest in the attic, she discovered a secret that would turn her simple, normal life into a ball of chaos that revolved around her. But while she seems to face her fears head on in her career, she lives a life that’s secure and well hidden. 

A new neighbor moved in next door and he’s decided that everyone needs to listen to his rap music, shattering Lyra’s quiet existence. Enraged, she stomps to the next townhouse over and who should open the door but a man whose good looks and charming smile knock her breathless. 

How good looking? Just ask him. 

How charming? He’ll tell you that too. 

The king must be dethroned. 

And a small town girl who’s been through hell is just the one to do it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

ADVENT CALENDAR Day 16 - One for the Writers! Win a Critique from My BEST Crit Buddy!

Today I'm excited for you! I've been saying for years that I think having your work critiqued, and criting for other authors is a crucial stage in a writer's development.

I was really blessed to be introduced to an amazing crit group very, very early in my journey, which included published, repped, and newbie authors like myself. Through that group I met Vanitha Sankaran, author of Watermark: A Novel of the Middle Ages. She's been my go-to critique buddy for almost SIX YEARS now and she just keeps getting better and better.

If you'd like to win a critique of the first chapter of your manuscript, here's your chance! Vanitha is offering to read for you! Enter here NOW. If you're lucky enough to win you won't regret it!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 14, 2015

ADVENT CALENDAR Day 14 - Anatomy of a Story - Behind the Scenes

*** Giveaway Below! ***

I'm often asked about the editing process. How does a story change? Do I always take the advice of my editor? How do you decide what to keep and what to cut, or change?

It occurred to me that Every Ugly Word had been through so many iterations, it would be really interesting to see how the story had developed. So today I'm opening the vaults and showing you four versions of one of the opening scenes of the book which has been there since the very first draft! You can see how my agent molded the story, how my editing partners helped me refine it for self-publication, and what my editor ultimately did with it.

If you want to skip to the giveaway, today I'm opening entries for a signed paperback of Every Ugly Word. You can just scroll to the bottom to enter!

 This is the very first version of this scene, written even before I'd finished the draft. 
At this point I hadn't introduced Doc into the story, so this scene opened the book!
In this original version, the protagonist was named Stacy, and her best friend was called Matt. 
They would stay that way until my publisher acquired the book.

 My breath made a cloud on the bedroom mirror, but I had to stand that close to make sure I didn’t miss any of those fuzzy tufts of hair around my face.  Having red hair was bad enough.  Frizzy red hair was the height of uncool.  Tonight everything had to be just right.  Mark had to take one look at me and think ‘perfect’.
My fingers were still damp from pulling water through my unruly strands.  Twisting my bangs around the barrel of the curling iron, my wet finger touched it and sizzled.  I howled and yanked my hand away.
“You’re doing it all wrong.”  In the mirror’s reflection, my twenty-eight-year-old-self leaned against my chest of drawers with her arms folded.  She had a look on her face exactly like Mom’s when she thought I was being stupid.
“Well, tell me how to do it then!”
“Oh, no!” My older self showed me her palms and shook her head.  “I refuse to be a part of this.  You’re going to make a fool of yourself.”
“How do you know?” I rolled my eyes and gave her exactly the same look I give my Mom when she’s being stupid.  “You said you don’t remember this far back.”
Older Me scoffed and pushed to stand straight, her face twitching at the reminder.   “I don’t,” she said.  “But I’m old enough to know… I mean, you’ve told me what he said.  I just think-”
“Either tell me how to do this, or shut up.  He’s going to be here in ten minutes.”
She closed her mouth, but her eyes stayed on me the whole time I tried to figure out how the schmeck I was supposed to get that silky, straight look to my hair from this little round hot-iron.
Older Me had a really boring haircut.  It was long.  Too long.  And she hardly ever styled it anymore.  It looked okay a few months ago when she cut her bangs and got more layers, but now they were grown out again, it just made her – me - look fat.  Especially in that sweatshirt she was wearing.
Not that seventeen-year-old-me got any say in what twenty-eight-year-old-me did, or what she wore.  Oh, no!  It had always been that way.  Right from the beginning, she was all talk and advice.  No listen.  Never listen. 
I was only five or six the first time I saw her - the her that’s me in, like, twelve years or something.  I was still young enough to assume everyone must see both versions of themselves whenever they looked in the mirror.  Why else would Mom spend an hour there every morning? 
I don’t know how many months it took Mom to realize I wasn’t playing imaginary friends.  I don’t even remember what I said.  I just remember her face going really white and her mouth pulling down at the corners.
“Stacy, you can’t tell anybody about this… okay?”  Her voice was too quiet.  It scared me because she looked scared.  “That’s not…  I mean, other people don’t have…what you have.  So just keep it between us, okay?”
“A secret?”  I loved secrets when I was little.  I might have clapped my hands.
Mom nodded and her lips pushed into a really thin line.  “Yes, dear.  A secret.”
Older Me told me to keep it quiet too.  So I did. 
If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

 After querying agents for a few months and receiving a lot of manuscript requests, but no "bites", I'd been given a lot of feedback by some very experienced agents and tried to work their suggestions into the scene. At this point the scene still opened the book and eventually got me signed with my former agent:

My breath made a cloud on the bedroom mirror. I had to stand that close to make sure I didn’t miss those fuzzy tufts at my hairline. Tonight everything had to be just right. Mark had to take one look at me and think “perfect.”
In the mirror, behind my own reflection, it looked like my twenty-nine-year-old-self leaned against my chest of drawers. She wasn’t actually in the room, of course. I just saw her over whatever was in my mirror. She said I always looked like I was in her room, too.
Older Me looked just like me. Except older. Go figure.
Our hair was exactly the same shade of burnished red. My freckles had lightened on her -- something to look forward to. Except where my blue eyes were smooth at the edges, hers were feathered with wrinkles.
I’d never been skinny, but Older Me was downright pudgy. Her too-long hair dripped down her back. She hardly ever styled it anymore. Not that seventeen-year-old-me got any say in what twenty-nine-year-old-me did, or what she wore. Oh, no! It had always been that way. Right from the beginning, she was all talk and advice. No listen.
“You’re doing that all wrong,” Older Me sighed. Typical.
“Then either tell me how to do it, or shut up. He’s going to be here in ten minutes.”
She closed her mouth, but her eyes stayed on me as I tried to figure out how the schmeck these little flat plates were supposed to deliver that silky, natural look to my hair.
I stepped back from the mirror, turning my head left and right to examine the effect. My hair hung a little too straight. Like it was pulling for the floor. At least there wasn’t a hint of frizz.
In the reflection Older Me stepped right up behind me. “Look, we should talk about this before you go. I really don’t think he meant-”
The doorknob turned and the door swung wide to reveal my best friend, Mark, leaning against the frame. The entire house seemed to hold its breath when he was there.
Or maybe that was just me.
Mark was cool. The kind of cool some people are born with. When he walked into a room people watched him because he always looked like he was on the verge of doing something. I knew better than anyone that if we hadn’t become best friends in third grade, he wouldn’t even know my name now.
“Hey, Stace.”
I’d always wanted to try drawing Mark, but I was sure I wouldn’t get the angle right on his jaw, the perfect weight to his brow. And I’d never be able to show how his sandy hair turned blond in summer, or how his eyes, blue like the sky, had green flecks when you got up close.
“You do something to your hair?”
I glanced at Older Me to make sure she realized he’d noticed.
Mark’s broad, muscular shoulders rolled forward underneath the letterman’s jacket he’d earned as a sophomore. Then his perfect, full-lipped mouth dropped open in exaggerated shock. “Your room’s clean?”
I ignored him, turning away to look for my bag, heart racing off at a gallop. But he misread my silence.
“C’mon, Stace, I’m kidding. Let’s go.”
“Just a sec.” I hoped he wouldn’t notice the flush in my cheeks that rose because he was almost in my room -- a place my mother had barred him from entering since the day he’d turned twelve. Back then we’d both found the rule hilarious. Now I was blushing because I really hoped that when I got home tonight, Mark might sneak in with me.
Mark shrugged, muttering about the time and how I couldn’t even dress myself. It was a joke. He never treated me like the loser everyone else thought I was.

By this time I had introduced Doc -- though he still didn't get as much page time as he does in the final version. So when I put the book out, this had become the second chapter / scene in the story:

A billow of steam rose from the chunk of my hair flattened in my straighteners. The vapor licked the surface of the mirror, obscuring my reflection and turning the bedroom behind me into a smudge. Wretched things. I should have dried my hair more. But I was already running late. I’d gotten distracted by another argument with Older Me.
Somewhere to my left, my phone buzzed. I fumbled on the carpet with my free hand to find it, then dragged a finger across the surface. The name “MARK” appeared at the top of the screen, scrolling to “come 2 my room wen u get here”
I texted back “leavin in 5”
Cursing my frizzy strands of copper hair that insisted on defying me at every turn, I redoubled efforts to turn my mop into some kind of sleek…something.
I swiped my sleeve down the mirror, smearing the vapor aside.
In the mirror’s reflection, Older Me stood over my shoulder, appearing close enough to touch if she’d actually been in the room, her face twisted into that look of concerned pity I hated.
She’d been giving me that look in the mirror since I was twelve. The first time she appeared I thought I was crazy. It wasn’t until she told me stuff no one else could know that I realized she was real. Too bad I’d already told Mom at that point. She was horrified – and embarrassed. She made me promise never to tell anyone else. A course of action that Older Me supported.
“Was that text from Mark?” Her voice, still sullen, was an oddly deeper version of mine.
 “Yes,” I sighed. “He’s expecting me soon and my hair is just… ugh.”
The too-long beat of silence that followed my complaint meant we weren’t finished discussing things.
“I just–” she began.
I groaned. “Can we just agree to disagree? I have to get out of here.”
But she kept talking. “I don’t understand why you insist on going to this dance when you know they’re going to give you a hard time.”
“Would you let it go already?” After all, it wasn’t like she was going to help.
Once I’d gotten used to seeing her, it wasn’t long before I figured out Older Me would know how things happened for me in the future. I’d been giddy, rushing to the mirror, calling for her until she appeared, demanding that she tell me. She refused.
I got mad. She didn’t care. I screamed. She shrugged. I cried, she apologized, but still refused to budge.
And so began a conversation we’d repeat ad nauseum for…well, for almost six years so far. Oh, she was great at telling me why people acted the way they did after the fact. But what’s the point of having a window into your future, if half the time your future self refuses to clear the fog so you can see through it?
So I’d stumbled through the last few years, screwing everything up. Now all I had left was Mark. My best friend and, I hoped, soon-to-be-boyfriend.
Mark was my future. I’d written the letter in my pocket to make sure he knew that.
“I’m not talking about this anymore.”
Older Me glared. “You always say you want me to help.”
“I wanted you to help me break up Mark and Belinda in ninth grade. I wanted you to tell me what to study on my Chemistry final. I wanted you to help me not make a complete ass of myself at that party last spring.”
“But that’s just it, Stacy,” she said through gritted teeth. “You don’t want help when it means missing out on something. Like this dance. Where you know they’re going to make your life hell.”
“Do you really think I need you reminding me that everyone hates me?”
She sighed. “Hate is a strong word.”
“Exactly my point.”
She met my glare with a worried frown. My stomach clenched, just for a second. But I wasn’t backing down this time. Not now, when I finally felt like maybe things might happen between me and Mark. I hadn’t told her about the letter. No matter what the future held, I knew she’d think that was a bad idea.

My editor thought we could move the story forward by essentially combining the second and third scenes. So we've skipped the mirror and hair scene completely, and worked many of those details what was the next scene in the former versions. We've also changed the character names, so Stacy became Ashley, and Mark became Matt:

The headlights of my mom’s ancient Civic cut across the deep black of the Oregon countryside, turning the grass silver and bringing the post-and-rail fence into sharp relief. The engine whined as I downshifted and took the corner too fast into my best friend Matt’s long driveway.
“You know, in moments like these I’m grateful I never have to actually ride with you,” a familiar female voice said.
“Stop scowling. You’re giving me wrinkles,” I replied, adjusting my rearview mirror so I could see her better. In the small, rectangular frame, it almost looked as though she were in my backseat, arms folded across her chest, her too-long reddish hair falling limply across her shoulders. But she wasn’t there, not really.
She appeared five years ago, the same day I lost all my friends. I’d run home from school, refusing to cry until I was alone. When I made it to my room, I caught sight of my pathetic self in the mirror. Except, it wasn’t just me staring back—Older Me was there, too.
“Are you in the bathroom again?” I asked.
She nodded. “My roommates are home.” She’d moved into an apartment a few months before. She didn’t seem to like her roommates much, but then, she didn’t seem to like much of anything.
As I braked in front of Matt’s huge brick house, she frowned again, worry lines creasing her forehead.
“I told you I don’t need you tonight,” I reminded her.
Tonight was about me and Matt.
If you’d asked me twelve hours earlier if tonight would be That Night for us, I would have laughed. But that was before art class this morning. Matt had grabbed my elbow as the bell rang. He’d shifted his weight and avoided my gaze.
He was . . . nervous. Twitchy.
Matt was never nervous with me. And I’d only ever seen him twitch when he was talking to a girl he wanted to ask out.
“What’s up?” I said.
“We need to talk.” He glanced over my shoulder. “But not here. Can you come over tonight, before the dance?” His Adam’s apple bobbed.
“Of course.”
When he left, I’d almost floated to the cafeteria.
Matt was nervous. And he wanted to talk . . .
Older Me’s voice yanked me back to the present. “Look, I know you like Matt, but he’s your best friend. Dating would just make everything . . . complicated.”
I sighed heavily and killed the engine. I’d gotten used to Older Me being around, popping up in mirrors and glass surfaces, always listening, commenting, offering advice. Usually it didn’t bother me. But tonight was big.
I’d hidden in the library after school and written Matt a letter that confessed everything—my feelings for him, and what I saw when I looked in the mirror. Then I’d tucked it deep in my purse where there was no chance she’d catch sight of it and try to talk me out of it. She’d always sworn upright and sideways that no one could know about her and me. Especially Matt, though I was pretty sure she’d said that because he was the only person I would tell. She hated it when I went to other people for advice. And she was full of advice. Always. You’d think that’d be awesome, right? Advice from your future self. A literal glimpse into the future.
I wish.
I’d learned years ago that asking her about my future would be met with stony silence and pursed lips. You and me . . . we’re taking different roads, Ashley. How can I tell you what your future is when it might be different from my past?
She cleared her throat. “What about just giving it some time?” she suggested. “You don’t have to tell Matt how you feel tonight. I mean, you guys are so close now. Wouldn’t it be better not to risk the connection you have?”
Before I could comment on the irony of my older self asking me about the future, my phone pinged with a text, no doubt Matt asking where I was. I picked up the phone from where I’d left it on the passenger seat . . . and dropped it immediately.


“What is it?” Older Me asked, the irritation gone from her voice.
My cheeks burned. The caller ID said UNKNOWN, which meant it was Terese. She was the only one with a private number because her mom was the local district attorney.
I could just picture Karyn and Brooke peering over Terese’s shoulders, cackling, telling her what to type. With shaking fingers, I deleted the message. My stomach hardened into a knot, the bitter taste of bile rising in my throat.
How had they gotten my new number?

That's it! If you've read this far, applause! That's quite the journey!  If you have any questions for me on how this progression occurred, or other queries about the publishing process, just ask in the comments or tweet / email me!

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

ADVENT CALENDAR Day 13 - Get in the Know!

Keeping it simple today!

The cover reveal for DARK Touch is on Friday. Sign ups for the event end at midnight tomorrow.

So on Tuesday, I'll be drawing a winner of an ADVANCE READER COPY of the book from those who've signed up to share the news! (So, yes, that means if you're already signed up, you're already entered!) You have two opportunities:

If you have a blog you can sign up through my publicist to post the entire kit and receive two entries.

If you use social media (twitter, Facebook, Tumble, whatever), you can sign up through my list to share the image for an entry into the draw for the ARC.

Remember, sign ups for the cover reveal close tomorrow (Monday, December 14) at midnight PST. So get in now!

Saturday, December 12, 2015



I have the very special honor of being a bridesmaid in my cousin's wedding today, so I will be AWOL all day. While I'm gone, check out all the fun stuff still up for grabs -- and look at all the incredible things to come this week!

The entries for an annotated copy of Every Ugly Word remain open until Christmas Eve.

Entries for the advanced, physical copy of Dark Touch remain open until Christmas Day!

You can still sign up for the Cover Reveal of Dark Touch and be one of the first people to see it!

And you have until the end of the day today to enter to win some metallic tattoos, similiar to Tully's.

Starting tomorrow, we'll have visits from THREE of my author friends, so click "Going" on the Facebook event where you can meet and talk to them AND win their books!

If you're a writer, you won't want to miss Day 16 -- You could win a critique of your first chapter from the writer I respect most when it comes to comments and writing-know-how.

I'm giving away more swag, and you'll get to see a deleted scene from my book Every Ugly Word.

Phew! We have a MASSIVE week coming up! Don't miss it!

Friday, December 11, 2015


Can you believe we've been going for almost two weeks? CRAZY! And there's so much more to come!

The main character in Dark Touch is named Tully (pronounced "TUH-lee"). She's got it rough. At seventeen she already has a couple tattoos and a lot of life experience.

I love Tully's tattoos, and although I couldn't find anything exactly the same as hers, I did find some in theme. So I'm giving them away!

They're temporary, metallic tattoos that you can use whenever you want. And I have FIVE sheets to giveaway! This is also your chance to be one of the first to see the cover for Dark Touch before it's revealed on December 18th!

So enter now. The winners will be announced next week!

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

ADVENT CALENDAR Day 10 - VLOG on the (dark!) inspiration for DARK TOUCH

I get asked all the time about what inspires my stories. Because the spark for Dark Touch is very personal to people I care about, I wanted to tell you the real background behind this very special book.

And don't forget the giveaways:

You can go to Tuesday's post to enter to win an ebook copy of Dark Touch, or visit the Facebook Event for extra entries!

The giveaway for an annotated copy of Every Ugly Word remains open until Christmas Eve.

And you could be the only person to get a physical, signed, advance copy of Dark Touch!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


One of the authors I most admire as a writer is my friend, Vanitha Sankaran. She wrote the incredible Watermark (an historical romance about a teenage mute in the middle ages). She's the first person I got to for help to figure out what I'm not delivering in my writing. And she's just a cool lady, too!

If you'd like to meet Vanitha, head over to the Author Advent Calendar Facebook Event - she'll be on there today and you can talk to her, learn about her book, or just make friends. Join us!

If you aren't on Facebook, you can enter to win a signed copy of Watermark at the rafflecopter below.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

ADVENT CALENDAR Day 8 - You Don't Know Jack! WIN Dark Touch!

Wow, what a week. yesterday I handed in final major edits for Dark Touch, which has got me thinking about all the little details and fun parts of building a character's life. So today we're playing You Don't Know Jack -- the trivia game where you can't possibly know the answers!

Don't worry, it's easy :) There are three questions below. Comment with your three chosen answers and go into the draw for an advance e-book of Dark Touch! You can also gain extra entries by clicking "Going" on the Facebook Event, and for every friend you invite who does the same here.

Question 1: What is Tully's favorite subject at school? 

A - Art
B - English
C - Woodwork
D - Economics

Question 2: Tully has two tattoos. What are they?

A - Two broken wings
B - Skull and DO NOT CROSS tape
C - Snoopy and Charlie Brown
D - Chinese symbols for Freedom and Strength

Question 3: What is the name of Tully's truck?

A - Gavin
B - Chuck
C - Oscar
D - Nigel

Monday, December 7, 2015

ADVENT CALENDAR Day 7 - My Favorite Things....

One of the best things about the Christmas season is, in my opinion, getting REAL mail. I love opening my mailbox and finding notes, cards, or packages from my online shopping.

So I want to send some joy to someone else. This giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY. If the winner is within the US, they'll have the choice between receiving a Christmas ornament, or a card and personal note for the occasion of their choice. International entrants will win a letter / card from me. I'll even try my hand at really bad poetry, if you want! (Insert cringing face here).

To enter, tell me your wishlist for mail this month. If you could have absolutely anything show up in your mail, what would it be? You can also tweet or share this giveaway for entries too!

Entries close tomorrow at midnight, PST, so enter NOW!

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Sunday, December 6, 2015

ADVENT CALENDAR Day 6 - Look What's Coming!

I'm taking the day off to wander DEEP into the writing cave, but wanted to show you all the wonderful things you can expect in the Advent Calendar this coming week. But don't forget, entries are still open for the annotated copy of Every Ugly Word (drawn Christmas Eve), and the advance copy of Dark Touch (drawn Christmas day)!

As for the upcoming week, check this out:

- There will be more giveaways from me in the form of Swag you can wear (and another book).

- Two (count 'em, TWO) of my author friends are stopping by and will give away their amazing books!

- You'll get to share in another of my favorite things: Mail. (Just think on that for a sec).

- I'll be Vlogging on the number one question I get asked: The inspiration for my books (specifically Dark Touch)

- We'll play a trivia game you literally CAN'T already know the answers to (won't that be fun?)

- And MORE!

Make sure and visit the blog every day, or join our Facebook Event where you can receive notifications every day to access the content!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

ADVENT CALENDAR Day 5 - Vlog and Live Reading!

You can read the first chapter of Dark Touch here.

Enter the drawing for an advance copy of Dark Touch here.

Sign up for the cover reveal (December 18, 2015) here.

Friday, December 4, 2015

ADVENT CALENDAR Day 4 - Behind the Scenes - When Good Authors Go Bad...

Want to know exactly how crazy it is to live in a writer brain? (Or in same town as an author?) Read to the bottom and comment for your chance to win a digital copy of Every Ugly Word!

It's a Funny Story...

A couple weeks ago, on my way to an author event in Portland, Oregon, I had to pick up some printing at the local Staples. As soon I reached the counter, I saw a young man in line on the other side who looked exactly like a character I'm currently writing.

All nods to normalcy fled.

My heart started pumping, and writer brain took over:

Maybe I can take a photo of him surreptitiously, so he won't notice? 
Can I get the angles I need to see his face clearly so I can use it for my visual diary? It'll show if I zoom up, right?
What if someone catches me? I'll look like a weird stalker and they'll probably call the Police.
But he looks just like Aiden!
Am I a creeper if I secretly take photos of a guy half my age--even for professional reasons? 
Why am I talking to myself as if I don't already know what I'm thinking?

The unsuspecting Staples agent was able to help me, and managed to maintain her smile despite my preoccupation with the line forming to her right. Eventually she got my stuff for me, but was called away to help another staff member.

While waiting to pay I threw good sense to the carpet. I couldn't resist the temptation to try to take a photo of the guy.

Unfortunately, I was juggling my purse, my phone, another bag, and the printing which had just been handed to me. I was also at an angle that left me little in the way of photo fodder. I'd almost settled on exclaiming loudly over a display of school bags behind him and how my mother REALLY wanted one of those, when I raised my phone... And managed to drop everything I was holding, and then trip on my purse.

This was the resulting "covert" surveillance photo.


I'll admit, it was incredibly embarrassing. I don't think anyone realised I was trying to take a photograph, but since the guy and a couple other people were staring at me, I paid for my printing and fled.

The story should have stopped there, but I literally couldn't get past how much this guy was the doppelganger for a character I had. How awesome it would be to have pictures of his face and build? It wasn't like I'd be looking at them for personal reasons . . . So when I reached my car in the parking lot I put my things in the car then stood next to it.

If he comes out in the next 60 seconds, I'll ask him.

A minute passed.

Okay, if he comes out in the next two minutes, I'll ask him.

I'd reached about four minutes of freakishly loitering in the parking lot when he finally came out.  

I can only imagine what he thought when this short little woman stopped him on the cement and asked for his picture. But bless him -- his name's Brandon -- he was totally game!

It turns out, Brandon is a photographer, and accustomed to asking strangers if he can take their pictures too. So with several assurances that I'm "not a stalker" I gave him a free book (I had boxes of them in my car for the author event) and asked for a couple pictures.

All's well that ends well, right? I have to say, Brandon wins the Nice Human Award, for being very sweet about a weird situation, and understanding about what could be misconstrued as Scary Creeper Behavior.

If you'd like to visit Brandon's photography page, Rockstar Images, on Facebook, you can! Tell him I sent you, and I say "Thanks for not laughing at me--or calling the Police!"

Your Turn: Have you ever done something really nuts to a complete stranger? Or had a stranger do something nuts to you? Tell me about it! You might win a copy of Every Ugly Word!