Monday, August 11, 2014

Adventures in Co- authoring Part One: The Genesis of an Idea

There’s a lot of background to my collaboration with fellow Spencer Hill Press author, Elizabeth Langston.

We’d first bonded when I worked as the cover designer for three of her books: A Whisper in Time, Whispers from the Past, and I Wish. I found that I enjoyed working with Elizabeth and really appreciated her ability to “get” my ideas and communicate her own quite coherently. When it came to visualizing, Elizabeth was a natural. And not to diss others I’ve worked with in publishing, but that’s not as common a trait as you might think.

A friendship was formed through our professional contact, that later moved on to some serious fangirling (okay—I’m going to admit it—she is bonkers over the hottie Irish actor Michael Fassbender and I am almost psychotically obsessed with uber-adorable and brilliant Brit actor Benedict Cumberbatch.)

Elizabeth: Michael sang lead vocals with his movie band on The Colbert Report this week. Top that, Bennie.

But lest you all think that our celeb crushes are ALL we talked about—we quickly moved on to our nerdish ways and our enjoyment of the historic TV show that launched this past spring on the AMC channel. It’s called TURN and it features a ring of Revolutionary War spies located on the eastern tip of Long Island.

Elizabeth was already aware of this show because of her Whisper Falls series. Since half of the series takes place in 18th century North Carolina, she’d already done mounds of research. I was aware of TURN because my mother told me about it.

Now, you may be wondering why my dear astute mother knew, without a doubt that I would be interested in a show like TURN when I generally write twisted paranormal mysteries, like Breaking Glass and Vision. (note: In Breaking Glass, Jeremy Glass is an uber-history geek, so there’s a bit of a clue)?

My dear mother knew, because three years ago, in the summer of 2011, I totally bent her ear about the Revolutionary War hero, Nathan Hale, nearly to the level that I am currently obsessed with Mr. Cumberbatch. And being the good mother she is, Mom took an interest in Nathan, even learning that a nearby town had a plaque to mark his landing on Huntington, Long Island at the start of his ill-fated mission to be Washington’s first spy.

Weird thing to fixate on, you think? Well, in my case, weird and obsessive often gets put to use at some point.

BUT WHY NATHAN HALE? What’s wrong with you, woman?

Well, I guess I owe some explanation, even though large swaths of the (male—jealous much?) population think Mr. Cumberbatch looks like an otter or an alien. But Nathan Hale? No one really has much of an opinion on him.

Elizabeth: Go to Nathan’s wikipedia page and check out the photo of his statue. Fix that image in your mind.

It all started back in, oh, I think 2007, when my daughter was in seventh grade. She had a rather detail-oriented taskmaster of a History teacher (who I really liked, even though she might have felt otherwise, lol--*waves at Mr. Colin Welch*). Mr. Welch was a real detail oriented guy and gave very elaborate study handouts. And being the devoted mother that I am, I used to sit on the floor and help my dear, not so terribly studious daughter to study. So, one evening, pouring over the handouts on the Revolutionary War with her, I read the small paragraph that Mr. Welch had written about Nathan, and his famous quote, as it is most frequently paraphrased. “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” Yeah, heard that. BORING. BORING old guy who died for his country.

But wait—what? Nathan Hale was a kid of twenty-one who snuck behind the British lines and was hanged as a spy? How did I not know that Nathan was only twenty-one? And he was a spy? Hmmmm. Wheels turning. Wonder what the heck he was doing behind the enemy lines. This guy is interesting!

Okay. So that went into my cobweb file. And sat there for years. But occasionally I’d think about poor Nathan and wondered—why does nobody really not know anything about him? Was he handsome? Dumb? Smart? At twenty-one he’s just a little older than the age of YA characters. He could have connected with teen “rebels” when he was behind enemy lines, couldn’t he?

Fast forward to an evening in 2011 with my BFF, Joanne, a collector of every kind of trivia imaginable, who tells me there is a plaque on 61street and Third Avenue in Manhattan, at the location of what used to be a restaurant called the Sign of the Dove, and that it marks the place where Nathan Hale was hanged. Wheels really turning, now. Obsession engaged.

Yeah. That was going places. When I brought this up to my then agent that summer, she was like—umm, huh? Excuse me for yawning in your face?

But that did not deter me. By 2011, somehow, this preposterous idea about doing a young adult paranormal history about Nathan Hale and what he did when he’d spent a week behind enemy lines took root. I read, probably ten to fifteen books about him and his real life. Learned he’d gone to Yale, became a schoolteacher and left a string of swooning broken-hearted young ladies all over Connecticut back in the late 1770s. I learned that he was a progressive young man who believed that women should be educated. And that in the summer of 1775, he dropped everything and joined the Continental Army. And that, in September 1776, a few months after the signing of the Declaration of Independence and his twenty-first birthday, Nathan was hanged from an apple tree by the British and left there to rot, a disgraceful death at the time.

I also learned that Nathan’s great, great, great something or other grandfather was John Hale, one of the accusers in the Salem Witch Trials. And that Nathan was born with a mark on his neck called a witch’s mark, which he’d grown up believing foretold that he would die by hanging.

I also dragged my kids to visit the Hale homestead in Coventry, Connecticut. I’d become, in a word—really obsessed. Because the more I learned about Nathan, the more I liked him. Nathan Hale was not some fusty, musty forgotten figure from history. Nathan Hale was not a QUOTE. Nathan was a good-looking, charming, brilliant, super-educated colonial hottie who was willing to basically throw his life away for his ideals. Now how hot is that?

And so, I was pumped. I was going to write this thing. Hells, yes.

But I hit a wall.

What did I know about writing historical fiction?

Writing historical fiction, I soon found out, involved a lot more than simply researching the background of the character you wished to write about.

It entailed understanding social moirés, dress styles, customs, style of language, etc. I had no idea where to begin with that.

So, sadly, I let the entire idea fizzle out and went on to other projects. Like Breaking Glass, and Vision, and Until Beth, and The Garden of the Lost.

Fast forward to 2014, TURN and Elizabeth Langston.

In our talks, Elizabeth and I had decided that we’d watch TURN together and live chat about it. In one of our chats, I bemoaned the fact that Washington's Spies, the book that the show is based on, had a first chapter that was not even mentioned in the show. And that first chapter was about Benjamin Talmadge (who is a big character in TURN) and his very dead best friend, young Nathan Hale.

How, I whined to Elizabeth, could they have not at least MENTIONED Nathan, America’s very first spy? I mean, the CIA headquarters has a statue of him. How could they not have at least dropped the poor guy’s name even once?

That got us talking. And Elizabeth mentioned that she had also found Nathan Hale to be an intriguing figure.

Elizabeth: Nathan would be an amazing hero in any YA or NA story. He was hot, smart, charming, athletic, and visionary. When he loved--whether it was his family, a woman, or his country--he was fierce. About the only flaw he had (and it was a fatal flaw) was being too impulsive. What author wouldn’t want to get her hands on that character?!

So, that’s when the wheels started turning inside my Squirrel-on-Crack brain. Elizabeth may remember this differently, but the voice in my head said this.

Lisa: Elizabeth is a GREAT writer. Elizabeth knows her historical stuff. Elizabeth is cool. We worked really well together on those three covers we did. Like we almost read each other’s minds. Elizabeth is logical and analytical whereas I am—BONKERS. Hmmmm…”

“So, I said—would you—what do you think about if we, like, wrote something together about Nathan Hale?”

Okay—let me tell you—I was totally ready for that giant yawn, I was so used to getting. But no—instead I got a different response. And if I had the to patience to scroll back through eight months of furious Facebook messaging, I’d even be able to pull up the actual discussion…but it doesn’t really matter.

Elizabeth: What I said was--I’m in. When do we start?

And the rest is, yeah—you guessed it. The rest is history.

Find out how, we started the ball rolling in Part 2 of Adventures in Co-Writing:

You can visit Elizabeth Langston on her website and blog.

Friday, August 8, 2014

UNSPEAKABLE by Michelle K. Pickett

Genre: Mature Young Adult Contemporary Romance (Realistic Fiction)
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing

Release Date: February 10, 2015

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Unspeakable by Michelle K. Pickett     

Giveaway ends September 30, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

We are excited to share with you the official cover reveal of UNSPEAKABLE by Michelle K. Pickett. UNSPEAKABLE is a young adult contemporary romance that is scheduled to release in February of 2015. Check out more information below and make sure to add it to your TBR List! 

Summary from Good Reads:

“Breathe. No one will break me. I’m strong. Breathe. Just breathe.”

On the outside, Willow appears to have it all. She’s beautiful, smart, from an influential family, and she dates the most popular guy in school—Jaden. But she would walk away from it all in a second. Willow is tormented by lies and suffocating guilt, not the hearts and flowers people believe her life is full of. 

She carries a dark secret. Plagued by nightmares and pain, the secret dominates her life. If she hadn’t walked away. If she had just… but she didn’t. And now she has to live with her choices. But when someone uncovers her family’s past, they use it against her, crushing her spirit little by little. She tells herself she just has to make it to graduation. Then she can leave Middleton, and her secret, far behind.

When Brody transfers to Cassidy High, he turns Willow’s life upside down. He shows her what it feels like to live again, really live. And suddenly, she isn’t satisfied with just surviving until graduation. She wants a normal life—with Brody—and he wants her. But the closer they become, the more it threatens to unravel the secret she’s worked so hard to hide.

Willow finds true love with Brody. Will she let his love save her, or walk away from him to keep her secret safe?


Michelle is the bestselling author of the young adult novel “PODs.” She was born and raised in Flint, Michigan, but now lives in a sleepy suburb outside Houston with her extremely supportive husband, three school-aged children, a 125 pound “lap dog,” and a very snooty cat.

Red Bull or Monster Khaos are her coffee of choice, and she can’t write without peanut butter M&Ms and a hoodie. A hopeful romantic; she loves a swoon-worthy ending that will give her butterflies for days. She writes across genres in the young adult and new adult age groups. She loves to hear from her readers.

Michelle signed her new young adult contemporary novel— Unspeakable, with Clean Teen Publishing in 2014. 

Keep up-to-date on her current and future projects at

More from Clean Teen Publishing:

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Upcoming Events for August, September and October

Upcoming Events for Fall

Goodreads giveaway for a VISION Arc.
click here

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY Swagarama contest

Special VISION limited special price— $.99 for BREAKING GLASS--

Release of VISION, (online release day party with Jennifer Murgia, whose book FOREST OF WHISPERS also releases the same day).

September TBA
VISION release party

Chapter by Chapter Book Rave

TOUR DE NOIR events with a host of other YA authors with tales of darkness: (including Kate Brian, Jennifer Murgia, Amalie Howard, Kristi Cook, Elizabeth Kiem, and more... (not all authors will be appearing at all events.

OCTOBER 9, Thursday 7PM —5PM
A TOUR DE NOIR Halloween Party at the New York Public Library in Riverdale NY

OCTOBER 16, Thursday 3:30—
Hawthorne Library, Hawthorne NJ

OCTOBER 30, Thursday
Barnes and Noble, Easton, PA

Monday, August 4, 2014

Back to Home base...What's coming up..

Well! Hello everyone! I know it's been awhile. I've been posting on the blog template for my website, but you know--that was not working out for me. I like this better. So from this point forward,


DIDJA MISS ME??? what's coming up?

Fall is going to be BUSY.

My second book, ViSION releases next month, on September 9, 2014
But you can preorder it now, if you like right here!

High school student Bobby Pendell already has his hands full--he works almost every night to support his disabled-vet father and gifted little brother. Then he meets the beautiful new girl in town, who just happens to be his boss's daughter. Bobby has rules about that kind of thing. Nothing matters more than keeping his job.

When Bobby starts to get blinding migraines that come with scary, violent hallucinations, his livelihood is on the line. Soon, he must face the stunning possibility that the visions of murder are actually real. With his world going dark, Bobby is set on the trail of the serial killer terrorizing his small town. With everyone else convinced he's the prime suspect, Bobby realizes that he, or the girl he loves, might be killer's next victim.

The light is darker than you think...

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Happy New Year! Brand new website and home for my blog

Happy 2014!!!

Announcing a brand new website for my writing and cover design...

From this day forward, new posts to my blog will be embedded in my new website at Check the navigation panel for a link to be redirected to the homepage.

for a link to the blog, click here:

Sunday, December 22, 2013

School Library Journal Review of BREAKING GLASS

The School Library Journal did review BREAKING GLASS. The full review is up on the Barnes and Noble website. We are working to get it up on Amazon and it is:

Editorial Reviews
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—This novel is an edge-of-your-seat thriller with a supernatural twist. Jeremy Glass is the star runner for his high school track team, has a stellar GPA, and is in love with his best friend Ryan's girlfriend, Susannah. He's also a secret alcoholic. He uses vodka to escape the nightmares that have haunted him since his mother drove the two of them off a cliff. However, for the past year, he's found himself relying on alcohol to dull his desire for Susannah, as well. The night she discovers Ryan cheating on her, Jeremy follows them to the gorge where they are engaged in a heated argument. Hoping to mediate, he leaps from his car directly into the path of an oncoming truck. He awakens in the hospital with a crushed leg and to the news that Susannah is missing. Once he is released, he begins to receive links to videos and cryptic messages indicating that she is dead and becomes determined to find her killer. In a fog of pain killers combined with alcohol, Jeremy risks his life to uncover a past murder that involved his mother, Susannah's mother, and Ryan's wealthy and influential father. Amowitz does an exceptional job of portraying the fragile mental state of a young man who has faced three devastating losses. Readers will wonder if he is truly solving a murder or experiencing a mental meltdown.—Cary Frostick, formerly at Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA

Thursday, December 12, 2013

This is the cover for VISION

Okay--I have been exceedingly lame. So I am just going to post a picture of my forthcoming book VISION for you to look at, kind of like a Yule log, until I have anything else to post.