Saturday, February 18, 2017

#famous Giveaway!

In celebration of the release of my friend Jilly Gagnon's YA debut, #famous, I'm giving away a personalized, signed copy! You have until 11:59 pm on Tuesday, February 21 to enter.

Here's a little bit about the book:

In this modern-day love story, Girl likes Boy, Girl takes photo of Boy and posts it online, Boy becomes accidentally insta-famous. And what starts out as an innocent joke spirals into a whirlwind adventure that could change both their lives—and their hearts—forever. But are fame and love worth the price?
Told in alternating points of view, #famous captures the out-of-control thrill ride of falling for someone in front of everyone.

I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy of #famous, and there are so many things I love about it - especially that it takes place in Minnesota.

Jilly's going to be at Addendum Books in St. Paul on March 3. If you're local, I hope you can make it! If not, enter to win a copy of her book PLUS some other fun surprises!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Ten Awesome Things: 2016 Edition

2016 was a roller coaster of a year. Lots of it sucked for a lot of people. The world lost so many beautiful, creative artists - many of whom were a huge part of my childhood (Prince, Carrie Fisher, Gene Wilder). I cried more in 2016 than I have since 2006, the year my dad died. And then the election happened on top of it all. But good things happened, too - some of them because of the bad. And 2017 promises to be an exciting year filled with new experiences, including the publication of THE LAST THING YOU SAID on April 4.
And so, to end the year, I'm again sharing Ten Awesome Things, in no particular order:

10. We spent a lot of time on vacation and at various lakes around Minnesota and Wisconsin. Nothing recharges me more than time at the lake, especially Lake Superior, and especially if I have the opportunity to write there.

9. Hammer Guy and I got to see my favorite band, The Jayhawks, live - TWICE, once at the Minnesota Zoo and a couple of nights ago at one of my favorite music venues, First Avenue.

8. In June, my position was eliminated and I was laid off from my job of nearly five years. Within a few weeks, I was hired as a copywriter/social media/seo "enthusiast" at a local advertising company, and it's a great fit. I love my job, the variety of my assignments, and my co-workers.

7. In July, the transmission on my all-time favorite vehicle went out, and she was put out to pasture. Now I'm driving a 2016 Chevrolet Equinox, and I'm so grateful to have reliable transportation this winter.

6. My kids got involved in local theater - Birdy was in The Little Mermaid, Jr. and she and Toad were both in the summer production of Seussical. 

5. I met Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton in May. HUGE moment.

4. I lost 40 pounds in the second half of the year - and not only that, made some pretty significant lifestyle changes to make my health a priority.

3. In August, I spent several days at Many Point Scout Camp with Toad and his Boy Scout Troop. I got to sleep in a tent, unplug, read, enjoy nature, and relax.

2. I'm so grateful for more connections with other YA and MG authors as we prepared for our 2017 debuts. I read some absolutely amazing books in 2016. 

1. My dream of publishing a novel is getting closer and closer - in September, I held an advanced reader copy of THE LAST THING YOU SAID for the first time.

I've got so much to look forward to in 2017. Cheers to the New Year. I wish you and your family all good things in the year ahead.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Currently... Summer of Adventure Edition, Part 1

Welcome to another edition of Currently..., a quick and easy way to share what's going on. Thanks for the idea, Katy Upperman!

It's been a couple of months since I've written a Currently... post, and I'm hoping to get back to a regular schedule for the summer.

Here we go! 


Our Summer of Adventure. In May, I declared that this would be another Summer of Adventure, and we've already done a lot of fun - and new - things. The Summer of Adventure took an unexpected turn on June 20 when I was laid off from my full-time job, but I am definitely making the most of it!

We've spent a day in Duluth and on the North Shore, gone to Valleyfair for some amusement park thrills, and spent this past weekend at an RV campground with friends for the Fourth. We've hit up a couple of swimming pools and water parks, and we saw Finding Dory.

I am loving being at home with my kids this summer. It's also giving me a little more time for writing activities, which is always a bonus.


I also have more time for reading! I've read some wonderful books in the last couple of weeks, including TELL ME THREE THINGS by Julie Buxbaum and FINDING AUDREY by Sophie Kinsella, both of which I loved. I just received an ARC of Jennifer Niven's HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE.

Listening To

The Jayhawks on a constant loop. They are one of my all-time favorite bands and they came home to Minneapolis on Friday for Music in the Zoo. The concert was so fantastic. They have a new album out, Paging Mr. Proust, so I've had that on repeat with a few classics thrown in to the mix as well. More than any other band, the Jayhawks have inspired me and my writing.

I've seen them live many times over the last 21 years, and I finally got myself a T-shirt:

Thinking About

I've been thinking about getting a new job, of course, and the wonderful things that are in store with the book coming out next April, and I've been thinking about the WIP that I'm finally able to go back to after a long break. I've joined a cabin for Camp NaNoWriMo and hope to have my draft finished by the end of the month.


More summer fun! We've got much more planned, including our annual family vacation in Hayward, Wisconsin, some time up north, and Scout camp for me and Toad. I'm going to throw in a few more day trips, too, before I go back to work: Lark Toys in Kellogg, Minnesota, the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota, and the Pipestone National Monument. Also! Next week is the much-anticipated Biren Family Reunion, with cousins coming to Minneapolis from all over the US and Canada.

Making Me Happy

The amazing, generous, brilliant people of the Swanky Seventeens make me happy. Last Monday, I hopped in the Vue and drove six hours (and back!) to meet up with Swanks Jilly Gagnon and Dave Connis for coffee in Sheboygan, WI. It was worth every minute on the road. I hope to meet many more Swanks along the way.

Here's hoping you're having an awesome Summer of Adventure!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Summer Special :: SP Critique & Editing Services

There are a lot of great things on the horizon for me this summer, and I'm happy to announce that this includes additional openings for editing clients!

Book now for July or August and save 15% on all services! And if you're looking for a manuscript edit or critique, you'll receive a complimentary query critique whenever you're ready for it.

Learn more about the services I offer HERE and email me to discuss your project!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Currently... Swanky Edition

Welcome to another edition of Currently, a quick and easy way to share what's going on. Thanks for the idea, Katy Upperman!


I have been absolutely loving the Swanky 17 Photo Challenge on Instagram. For 10 days, the Swanky 17s (a group of debut Middle Grade and Young Adult authors with books releasing in 2017) have been sharing images related to books and writing and it's WONDERFUL. You should definitely check it out at the hashtag #Swanky17PhotoChallenge.

I loved getting back into the Instagram habit - and the timing was perfect to think about THE LAST THING YOU SAID as I finished edits on it last week! Here's a wrap-up on Storify of my Photo Challenge posts - I made nine of the ten prompts.


I just finished DREAM ON by Kerstin Gier, the second book in The Silver Trilogy. You probably know of my extreme love for Gier's RUBY RED, SAPPHIRE BLUE, and EMERALD GREEN, and I love this trilogy almost as much. Liv and her sister Mia are so awkward and charming and funny, and Henry - the boy of Liv's actual dreams - really is a dream. As soon as the audiobook is available, I'll listen to that, too.

How sad that I have to wait another year for the third book, but at least I have the recipe for their German au pair Lottie's All-The-Year-Round Vanilla Crescents and that should comfort me.

Next up: working my way through the 28 books I put on hold at the library, about half of which have arrived.


Hammer Guy and I went to Purple Rain with friends. It had been a long time since I'd seen it - so long, in fact, that when I was looking for the DVD, he reminded me that we only owned the VHS. (Must correct that soon.) I was newly impressed by the storyline and the Kid's character arc. Yes, there is quite a bit of cheesy 80s background music, but it's worth a watch if you haven't seen it or it's been a while. Did I cry? Of course I did.

Listening To

The new Jayhawks album, Paging Mr. Proust. Ah, it's so good. Takes me back to the Sound of Lies days, early in my Best Buy career, when I spent three or four nights a week seeing live bands. We also just purchased tickets to see the Jayhawks in July. It's been a few years, so I'm really looking forward to it.

I've also started to recreate all the playlists I lost on Spotify - finally. I started with the playlist for THE LAST THING YOU SAID and am working my way through other WIPs and such.



Thinking About

Summer. Please let it be here soon. We need a change of season - and the kids need to catch up on their sleep.


Our annual end-of-school trip to Duluth and the North Shore. I haven't worked out the details just yet, but I'm looking forward to the weekend away in mid-June.

Making Me Happy

It's finally spring here in Minnesota - and that's making me very happy. I live outside of the metro area, so I'm surrounded by lakes and trails and farm fields. I spent some time on Mother's Day at a couple of my favorite parks and I feel so lucky for it.

Minnesota makes me happy and it always will.

Lake Rebecca Park Reserve

 What's currently going on with you?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Currently... Purple Rain Edition

Welcome to another edition of Currently, a quick and easy way to share what's going on. Thanks for the idea, Katy Upperman!



I have been thinking about Prince for days. The world was shocked and saddened by the news of his death last Thursday, nowhere more than his home state of Minnesota.

I have been thinking about Prince for days, but I'm not sure that I am ready to write about how his death has impacted me. I have been thinking about Prince for days, and crying, and listening to his music and to the rain as it falls over our saddened state.

Photo credit: Erin Pampusch-Bandy

I will say this: although I am not a super fan like many people I know, his loss has been very difficult. I loved a lot of his songs and I admired his creative genius and musical talent. Minnesota was his home, no matter how worldy and famous he became. He was born here, he lived here, he died here. Prince loved his home state, and we loved him. Minnesota was a better place because he lived. The world was a better place because he lived.

I was sick over the weekend, so didn't get a chance to visit Paisley Park or First Avenue, but I will soon. Many thanks to my friend Erin Pampusch-Bandy who did - all of the Prince images here are hers.


Prince. See above. Special thanks to The Current (the MOST awesome listener-supported public radio music station) for devoting themselves to such intelligent, thoughtful coverage, and for Prince A-W. Please check out their blog post, Around the World in a Day: 64 photos documenting the 24 hours following Prince's death.


Minnesota. See above. I love how our state has come together in mourning and celebration, how the death of this one man has brought us together in our shared grief. I am and will always be #MinnesotaProud.


I must tell you that I picked up a copy of THE RAVEN KING on Saturday afternoon, but I will say NO MORE... for now.


Prince. I am happy that he existed. This video is the story of one of my favorite Super Bowl half-time performances (even though I was NOT okay with his Dolphins-colored suit):

Thank you, Prince. Rest in peace and power.

Yeah, everything is beautiful.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Currently... Take a Hike Edition

Welcome to another edition of Currently, a quick and easy way to share what's going on. Thanks for the idea, Katy Upperman!


As I mentioned in my last post, I listen to a lot of instrumental music while I'm editing. I'm still in a major proofreading whirlwind for one of my clients. I recently added Film Scores Radio on
Pandora and I absolutely love it. Lots of Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Pride and Prejudice, and one of my favorite scores, Dances with Wolves.


Last week, Birdy and I finally finished our read aloud of CHAMBER OF SECRETS and started AZKABAN. This is taking forever with the girl. Toad and I had finished the entire series in the amount of time it has taken Birdy and I to read the first two books. Part of it, I think, is that she has seen the first three movies, whereas with Toad, he was not allowed to see the movie until we'd finished the book. So we'll see if we move along any more quickly once we hit GOBLET.


Just heard the news that the Star Wars Original Trilogy will be in theaters this summer! Can't wait to take the kids.


February teased us with warm temperatures, but April has been a joke. It's been cold and windy and I'm wishing for spring. Please hurry


This past weekend was one of my favorite Boy Scout events of the year, the Take a Hike Campout. This year we had 17 Scouts, ranging from brand-new additions to the Troop to Eagle candidates. We stay in a "camper cabin" with nice bunks and bathroom facilities. I was the only female on the trip. Because I was on deadline, I spent most of my time working while the Scouts did their thing, and I'm sorry that I had to miss some of the activities, but overall, it was a great weekend. It's a great group of kids.

The "currently" photo is of the Scouts waiting for their time on the Climbing Tower. Below is a photo of Toad (right) with his friend Adam. They've been in Scouts together since first grade. Seeing them grow and advance together in Scouts makes me happy.

My post is a few hours late due to technical difficulties... but it works out because today is my FIVE YEAR Blog-iversary! Stay tuned - I hope to throw together a giveaway early next week!