Author of Middle Grade novels about friendship, family, and figuring out where you fit in.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Interview: What It's Like To Be a Self-Published Author

Today, my friend and critique partner, Kristi Wientge, is interviewing me on her blog about my self-publishing experiences.

If you're interested, go ahead and check it out. But if you're not, I still encourage you to stop by anyway.


Because Kristi recently had some awesome news -- she signed with agent Patricia Nelson of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency! You guys will love Kristi's book! It's incredibly heartwarming and sweet and so true to life.

So, I highly recommend that you head on over and say hi to Kristi (even if you ignore my rambling, it's okay, haha.) Chances are, you'll be hearing a lot about her book in the future!
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Friday, March 27, 2015

Upon A Time: Excerpt & Guest Post by February Grace

I am ecstatic to feature February Grace on the blog today! February Grace is not only an extraordinarily talented writer with the most amazing ideas, but she's also one of the sweetest people I've ever "met." Today, she's here to talk a bit about her newest release, UPON A TIME, and to share an excerpt of the book.

The floor is yours, my friend!

“For every soul whose heart defies the limits of their body.”

It is with that dedication that UPON A TIME begins, and those words are more than just words to me.


Because I myself am one of those whose soul is travelling around in a physical shell that feels too weak to hold it.

I have struggled with health problems all my life, and the list is too long to get into here. Most of them can, collectively, be attributed to a genetic disorder that I was born with but not finally diagnosed with until I was 38. The rest are just an unlucky roll of the Universal dice, I suppose.

Whatever their cause, I know what it feels like to be judged by your appearance and by your disabilities, visible and invisible. Anyone who has ever experienced such discrimination and humiliation can tell you that it definitely feels anything but good.

I wrote UPON A TIME to challenge the long-standing fairy tale myth that beauty equals good. To show that the notion is just that, a myth, and those who have physical challenges can often be stronger at heart than those without such obstacles to overcome.

I also wanted to show through the story that help, and yes, even love can come from the most unlikely places and people, and that those who seem most unlikely to lead can step up, take the mantle of leadership, and wear it with grace and dignity.

Brilliant minds, loving hearts, and amazing souls all dwell within people of all shapes, sizes, and abilities. If I could send one clear message through UPON A TIME that would be it. Don’t judge people by their exterior, get to know their heart. That is where true strength, and beauty, lies.

About the Book

A blacksmith’s apprentice who would be a knight. The heir to the throne, at death’s door. One woman who would save them both, if she could… Charlotte was number sixty-four in the second group of young, hopeful maidens intended to meet the Prince at a grand ball in his honor. That introduction was not to be. She returned home to her tiny village—and her visions of a future limited by it—without any warning of the drastic turn her life was about to take. Soon she would be fighting against the odds to help keep a gravely wounded stranger alive; and waging war with her own heart, as he stirred feelings in her she’d never known. When the stranger’s royal identity is revealed, Charlotte is faced with an entirely different battle: one to keep her family, village, and the injured Prince in her care all safe from a madman set on taking the throne by any means necessary.

Excerpt from the book:


The proclamation was nailed to the largest tree in every village square, announcing the Prince’s betrothal.

“Well, good for them, I hope they’ll be happy,” Charlotte said, reaching into the bag at her waist and pulling out an apple for her horse. Poor old Beau was still expected to keep up his daily duties, even though he’d barely recovered from the long trip to the palace and back for the ball a fortnight ago. Still recovering as well, it seemed, was Charlotte.

“So, he’s going to marry her, then?” A familiar voice spoke nearby, and Charlotte looked up to see her friend, the young apprentice to the village blacksmith. She had known Thomas since they were both too small to climb the tree they now stood before. It became a contest between them as the years went on, until work took the place of play full time. Now, neither could remember when last they’d raced to that tree and grasped bough after bough until they overlooked the whole of their little village.

“Looks that way. They never even made it this far out with the slipper to try it on anyone. Not that I’d have bothered. I knew it wasn’t mine.” Charlotte shook her head. “Imagine, leaving a party in such a rush you lose your shoe.” She reached out as Thomas repeatedly tossed an apple he had brought with him into the air. She snatched it away and held it out toward Beau.

Thomas patted Beau’s swaying back, noting that the horse looked wearier every time he saw him. He didn’t know what Charlotte was going to do when Beau’s days upon Earth came to an end.

The horse gobbled up the fruit and whinnied his approval, nuzzling his nose into Thomas’s hand. “You’re not really disappointed, are you? About… you know?” Thomas let the question hang in the air. He hadn’t liked this idea of the Prince selecting a bride based upon one initial meeting under such strictly controlled circumstances. How could a man ever expect to find a woman to be his partner, his equal, in such a way? Someone with the strength to stand beside him and rule the people justly? For the life of him, Thomas couldn’t fathom the idea, and he was glad that, for Charlotte, any dreams of becoming royalty had ended the night they began.

“About the Prince?” Charlotte shrugged. “I didn’t even get a very good look at him, they had him sequestered in another room most of the night, and then he just danced the golden-haired maid past us all and was gone. I know nothing of him; nothing of his character or spirit. So I can’t say I’m disappointed that I didn’t get the chance to marry a stranger...” her voice trailed off.

“But?” Thomas looked away, examining his rough-hewn hand as if he’d never seen it before.

“The idea of a different life, for just a moment...”

About the Author

February Grace is a writer, poet, and artist from Southeastern Michigan. She has created characters with clockwork hearts, told the romantic tale of modern fairy godparents, and has now put her own spin on a classic tale in UPON A TIME, her fourth novel published by Booktrope. She sings on key, plays by ear, and is more than mildly obsessed with colors, music, and meteor showers.

Find out more about February Grace by visiting
Or find her on Twitter and say hello! @FebruaryGrace

Amazon (Paperback)
Amazon (eBook)

Thank you to February Grace for sharing with us today! I can definitely relate to the message behind your writing, and I can't wait to read this book!
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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Nerds Rule! Guest Post by Stephanie Faris

Today, I'm swapping blogs with the super cool & fabulous Stephanie Faris! Stephanie is the author of 30 DAYS OF NO GOSSIP and 25 ROSES and the creator of a very fun blog!

We're both blogging about nerd-related topics today. I'm over at her place, talking about nerd conventions. Meanwhile, she's here today to talk about how much nerds rule!

The floor is yours, Stephanie!
* * *
Thank you for having me today, Shelley!

Since the first time I saw the Internet, I’ve questioned the use of the term “nerd.” After all, the guys behind the technology we use every day are the same ones who were playing video games on their Commodore 64s in the 80s. We made fun of those guys then. Today…

We still make fun of them? Really?

Shows like The Big Bang Theory have tried to make a mockery out of super-smart people who lack any social sensibilities whatsoever. Sheldon and his team of physicist buddies dress up in superhero costumes, hang out at comic book stores, and spend way too much time on online role-playing games. In other words, typical “nerd” behavior.

But when you break it down, nerds are merely people who are passionate about their hobbies. The only difference is, a passionate interest in video games gets someone labeled a nerd, but a passionate interest in sports doesn’t. What’s the difference?

Both nerds and sports fans set their lives aside for events related to their hobbies.

Both nerds and sports fans dress in costume for events.

Both nerds and sports fans spend an excessive amount of time talking about their hobbies.

Of course, without the social skills necessary to make it into the top social cliques in school, nerds will likely always be seen as outcasts…until they graduate. At that point, they go on to excel in college, land top jobs, make six figures, and serve as presidents and CEOs of the companies that power the products you use every day.

Perhaps books like Shelley’s are the key to changing all that. Once kids start to realize nerds are a lot cooler than they seem on the surface, they might try to get to know them. They might realize nerds are much more interesting than they ever realized. Even if those nerds are their own dads.

Yes! As a nerd, I definitely hope that people will start to see that nerds aren't so different from non-nerds after all. Thanks, Stephanie!

Here's more about Stephanie's latest book (which I will be reading very soon -- can't wait! I loved her first book!):

Mia moves from the shadows to the spotlight when her matchmaking plans go awry in this contemporary M!X novel from the author of 30 Days of No Gossip.

Mia is used to feeling overlooked: her perfect older sister gets all the attention at home, and the popular clique at school are basically experts at ignoring her. So when it’s time for the annual Student Council chocolate rose sale, Mia is prepared to feel even worse. Because even though anyone can buy and send roses to their crushes and friends, the same (popular) people always end up with roses while everyone else gets left out.

Except a twist of fate puts Mia in charge of selling the roses this year—and that means things are going to change. With a little creativity, Mia makes sure the kids who usually leave empty-handed suddenly find themselves the object of someone’s affection. But her scheme starts to unravel when she realizes that being a secret matchmaker isn’t easy—and neither is being in the spotlight.

Stephanie Faris knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in broadcast journalism, she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing.

Stephanie is the author of 30 Days of No Gossip and 25 Roses, both with Aladdin M!x. When she isn’t crafting fiction, she writes for a variety of online websites on the topics of business, technology, and her favorite subject of all—fashion. She lives in Nashville with her husband, a sales executive.

Find Stephanie and her books here:

Buy (Autographed)
Buy (Amazon)

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Winner Could Be You!

To celebrate my latest book release, I'm offering several chances for readers to win free books (and more)!

The Release Day Party giveaway via Rafflecopter has just ended, and the winner is:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations, Tiana! (She was chosen at random, but I'm happy because she's super awesome!)

But just because that one giveaway is over doesn't mean there are no more chances to win. I'm currently running a Goodreads giveaway for the print version of One Hundred Thirty Stars:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

One Hundred Thirty Stars by Shelley Sly

One Hundred Thirty Stars

by Shelley Sly

Giveaway ends April 03, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

And also, if you're still interested in winning an e-book, you'll have another chance next week. My critique partner, Kristi Wientge, will be hosting a giveaway on her blog on the 31st! She'll also be interviewing me about the publishing process, so if you're interested, be sure to check it out!

Thanks for all the kind words about One Hundred Thirty Stars the past few weeks! Now I'd like to shift gears and focus more on books by my lovely writer friends, so check back here for some fun guest posts in the coming days!
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Monday, March 16, 2015

Visiting Friends This Week -- Come Join Us!

A bunch of my wonderful writer friends are featuring me and/or my book on their blogs this week!

Today I'm over at Jemi Fraser's blog, talking about the difference between the two genres I've focused on: middle grade and romance.

Jemi is one of the sweetest and most thoughtful people you'll find in the blogging community (and, possibly, in the entire world. She's that nice!) If you haven't been to her blog yet, I highly recommend it!

On Wednesday, I'm excited to be on Tyrean Martinson's blog, where I'm answering questions about my writing life!

Tyrean is SO incredibly nice, and she's the author of many books and short stories. If you haven't already, please check out my post about her book, A Jumble of 500+ Writing Prompts!

And on Friday, Medeia Sharif's blog will feature my new release, ONE HUNDRED THIRTY STARS!

By now, you must have heard of how awesome Medeia is -- she's written lots of books with unique and catchy premises. I can't wait to catch up on the ones I haven't read yet!

Also, just a reminder -- the random drawing for a free e-book and 20 page critique ends in less than a week! Check it out below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hope you guys have a terrific Monday!
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Friday, March 13, 2015

We're All Fans

Today, I'm doing a guest post over at Heather Holden's blog! You may know Heather Holden from her totally fun and adorable comic series, Echo Effect. You may also remember her from the Otto's Quest drawing she did for my upcoming book.

I'm talking about being a fan of something, so hop on over and tell me what you're a fan of!

If you missed my Release Day Party a couple of days ago, don't worry -- it's still going on! You've still got a chance to win some prizes:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Thank you so much for attending the virtual release day party for ONE HUNDRED THIRTY STARS! (Even if you didn't know this was going on today, you're still invited! Come on in and cut yourself a giant slice of cake!)

Happy birthday to this brand new contemporary middle grade book! Here's where you can find it:

Paperback: Amazon
E-Book: Kindle

(Nook version is still being processed and will be available soon.)

And you can add it on Goodreads here.

After we've all sang to it and made it feel awkward, it's time for presents! Don't worry, you weren't rude by not bringing anything. At this party, YOU are the one who receives the gifts (or who has the chance to, anyway.)

Enter below to win a free e-book (Kindle or Nook -- also works with iPad and android devices as long as you have either Kindle or Nook apps installed), plus a critique of the first 20 pages (double spaced) of your MS! You can still enter for the free e-book if you don't want a critique; just please specify in the comments.

If you're looking for another set of eyes to go over your MS, don't let this opportunity pass you by. I've critiqued 29 manuscripts for other writers in the past few years, and I love providing constructive and encouraging feedback. While I mostly have experience with MG, YA, and NA stories, I'm also open to adult manuscripts, provided that there's no nightmare-inducing graphic violence. Also, 20 pages is approximate -- I'll read until whatever the closest chapter break is.

Excited? Well, I am! Go ahead and enter the giveaway below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Before the party's over, I just want to say a massive THANK YOU to everyone involved in the creation and publishing of ONE HUNDRED THIRTY STARS. Thank you to my family, friends, critique partners, writer buddies, cover artist, and everyone who is spreading the word through social media! (A more personal thank you can be found in the book's acknowledgements.) You guys are the best!

Thanks for stopping by and celebrating ONE HUNDRED THIRTY STARS' birthday!

P.S. I won't be at my computer for most of today, as I've got a ton of stuff going on (unrelated to my book's release), so I might be late responding to your comments and visiting your blogs. But I'll definitely be there as soon as I can!
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Monday, March 9, 2015


Today, I'm happy to feature Medeia Sharif's middle grade novel, THE ATTIC OF SAND AND SECRETS! Check it out if you have the chance. I absolutely loved mysteries as a kid, and reading this brought me right back to being a 10-year-old wannabe detective. It's awesome!

In THE ATTIC OF SAND AND SECRETS, the main character, Lily, has a learning disability. Her
mother has been kidnapped and she plays the sleuth, meanwhile many doubt her. She even doubts herself.

This is a quote from the book regarding her disability: “[Although] she was average in intelligence, she significantly lagged behind others in reading and math skills with her poor memory and short attention span.”

Here are her weaknesses in the beginning of the book:
*Reading frustrates her.
*She believes in “dummy” comments people hurl her way.
*She feels bad when comparing herself to others and their abilities.

Here are some ways in which she grows:
*She sticks to books, even when the text is hard, because the material helps her piece clues together.
*She starts to make connections between things.
*She’s empowered when she gets closer to finding her mother and the person who kidnapped her.

It was a pleasure creating this character. I have met young people like Lily, and they should never believe that a label or other people’s opinions define who they are. They are capable of doing so much.  


by Medeia Sharif

Middle Grade Historical and Fantasy, Featherweight Press, November 2014

Lily, a learning
disabled girl, attempts to unravel the mystery of her abducted mother using
supernatural clues from an ancient stranger, even when it means posing a danger
to herself.

Learning-disabled Lily desires
to prove herself, although her mind freezes when presented with big problems -
such as her mother's abduction. With a French father and Egyptian mother, Lily
worries that her mother hid her ethnicity from her French in-laws. However,
there's something deeper going on. Lily finds a way into an attic that's
normally locked and encounters a mysterious, moonlit Egyptian night world.
There she finds Khadijah, an ancient stranger who guides her to finding clues
about her mother's whereabouts. Lily becomes a sleuth in both the real world
and magical desert, endangering herself as she gets closer to the kidnapper.

Find Medeia – Multi-published
YA and MG Author

Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

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Friday, March 6, 2015

I'll Share!

Because I like you guys so much, I'll be sharing a few things in the coming week.

Right now, the first three chapters of ONE HUNDRED THIRTY STARS are on Wattpad for everyone to check out!

And on Wednesday the 11th, the release day for STARS, there will be a giveaway for a free e-book and a 20 page critique!

I'm also planning a Goodreads giveaway of the paperback version of STARS for the near future. Stay tuned for chances to win free stuff, and if you're looking for something to read, feel free to hop on over to Wattpad.

Besides free books, what other prizes do you like to see in giveaways? I'm looking to do more of them this year, so any tips are welcome!
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Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Today's the day! I'm sharing the cover for my upcoming (3/11) release, ONE HUNDRED THIRTY STARS. Fellow MG writers Kristi Wientge and Stephanie Faris are featuring my cover as well! Be sure to drop by and say hi to them, if you can.

If you missed it a few weeks ago, here's the back cover summary:

Eleven-year-old Kelly “Birdie” Knotts has the perfect summer vacation planned: she’s finally going to visit her dad, Arthur. Birdie hardly knows him, but she has high hopes that he’ll be the one family member who understands her.

Too bad her vacation is nothing like she imagined it would be.

Arthur’s plans for their father-daughter visit revolve around a video game convention, where he dresses head-to-toe in costume and makes a boisterous scene every chance he gets. When he isn’t shouting gleefully in the hallways, he’s belting out off-pitch tunes in the karaoke room. Birdie’s new plan? Hide under a rock for life.

It’s impossible for Birdie to get to know Arthur when he insists that he’s a video game character. And if he doesn’t step up and start acting like a dad, it might be game over.

And here's the cover, with a special shout out to Steven Novak of Novak Illustration! I highly recommend him -- just look how great his work is:

What do you guys think? (You can click on the cover for a larger image.)

There's a star-gazing scene in the book that this cover represents, plus plenty of references to stars in video games.

Thanks for stopping by! I'm so thrilled to share this cover with you guys!
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