Friday, February 24, 2017

Author Interview with Rose Phillips

I'm very happy to have fellow Evernight Teen author, Rose Phillips, here on my blog! She is the author of contemporary fiction for young adults and her debut novel 'Cutting to the Chase' (Evernight Teen Publishing) is now on the cyber shelves!

In a previous incarnation, Rose was an educator who worked with at-risk adolescents. She left that behind to write and live on the beautiful West Coast with the love of her life and her two fur children, Ginger and Spice.

Rose on writing....

Lisa: What do you write?

Rose: Realistic contemporary young adult.

Lisa: Why do you write what you do?

Rose: I was an educator for many years. Kids and teens are the world I lived in, the world I know.

Lisa: Do you have a favorite background noise you like to have going while you write (TV, Music, kids playing)?

Rose: I don’t enjoy silence while writing but lyrics tend to distract me. So I listen to instrumental, mostly solo piano or spa.

Lisa: Do you have a favorite snack you have while writing?

Rose: I never eat while writing. I use that as an excuse to get up and stretch and give my brain a break. I do enjoy a Werthers with a vanilla flavoured coffee though.

Lisa: What are you working on?

Rose: I have several projects on the go right now but the most relevant one to our conversation today is Mags’s story. Mags is a secondary character in Cutting to the Chase who insisted on her own story line. Becky, another secondary character, is also demanding to be heard. I suspect she will be the next focused writing project.

Lisa: Do you have a new release?

Rose: Today is release day for my novel, Cutting to the Chase (published by Evernight Teen/Evernight Publishing), and is available in ebook, soon to come out in paperback.

Blurb: How do you fix something you didn't break?

Lizzy certainly doesn't have the answer. All she knows is that she needs to survive senior year, then get as far away from her dysfunctional family as possible. In the meantime, when she can't take the pressure, she eases it with the sharp edge of a razor blade.

But, she's been cutting deeper and her thoughts are growing darker.

Until she meets Michael. With him she finds relief.

Now, maybe—just maybe—she can make it.

Lisa: What a teaser of a blurb! Is this a stand-alone book or is it part of a series?

Rose: It is definitely a stand-alone, but as I explained above, two more characters are getting a chance to tell their stories. But they are not a series, not dependent on one another, merely connected.

All about Rose....

Lisa: What is one thing you would love to learn ‘one day’?

Rose: To paint. I always loved cartooning but I was never very good at any other type of visual art. I did a lot of research on painting when I wrote Cutting to the Chase as it is a passion of Lizzy’s. It reignited the desire to try it. We went to a paint and sip in the fall. I loved both the painting and the sipping, although I fear I was much better at the latter.

Lisa: What is your least favorite ‘adult’ task, and why?

Rose: I hate to make the bed. What’s the point? It just gets messed up. I must confess that I rarely do it.

Lisa: Do you have any hobbies outside of writing?

Rose: Music is probably my favorite pastime. Before moving, I was very involved in musical theater. My husband and I also had a trio with a good friend. That was great fun.

Lisa: Have you traveled – even if in your own province or state – and what was your most memorable/favorite destination?

Rose: When I finished university, my husband and I left for a year and backpacked. We traveled throughout Europe, into North Africa and over to Turkey. We’ve had many travel experiences since, but nothing tops that year.

Do you have a ‘keeper shelf’ of books? If so, take a picture and share it here. What is your most re-read book and why?

Rose: Because of a long distance move, I had to pare down. I also write historical fiction, so I had a lot of weight in non-fiction books. Many of the fiction had to go. Most of the fiction keepers are from a broad spectrum of genres and age groups and kept mostly because I have connected with the authors personally. I rarely re-read a book, but I have re-read Diana Gabaldon’s first book, Outlander. I do intend on re-reading Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy to see if it stands the test of time. I loved it so much when I was a teen that I wrote to her. I was thrilled when she wrote back from Scotland, telling me she was busy working on the third installment.

Lisa: Do you have any pets, currently or in the past? Did you have a favorite?

Rose: I have two fur babies, Ginger and Spice. Two Lhasa Apso sisters, they bring laughter to our household every day.

Lisa: Do you have a dream car?

Rose: I’ve never been into cars. So long as I can get from point A to B, I am happy.

Thank you so much, Rose, for sharing your writing life as well as a bit about your personal life! Congratulations on the new release - I'm looking forward to reading it!

Be sure to visit Rose and find out what else she's up to at:


Twitter: (@rosephillipsya )

Excerpt of Cutting to the Chase (February 2017 - Evernight Teen Publishing)

Chapter One

The metal is cool against my leg. I want to put it away, shove it back in the cabinet out of sight, and forget it exists. But I can’t. Instead, I tip it and drag it across my skin, scraping slowly. Chills run down my spine, making me shiver. I spread my legs wider, allowing my hand to slip to my inner thigh, totally giving in to it, edging the corner of the razor blade in. It’s easy. Flesh is soft.

I hold my breath and wait. The first crimson drop hits the water. The silent splash echoes in the room, shouts in my mind—then it disappears into watery nothingness. The buzzing in my head softens Mom’s angry words to whispers. I can breathe now and my heart starts to thump normally. The sharp pain eases. I draw the blade in a straight path. I love how the skin folds away. Like pulling the strip on a Babybel. Except I’m the cheese inside out.

“You’ve been in there thirty minutes!”

I pull at the roll of toilet paper and press a clump of it against the cut. The little shit can wait.

“I timed it. Thirty stinkin’ minutes. You don’t own the freakin’ washroom!” The door reverberates from his banging.

“Shut up.” I wipe, but I’ve gone deeper this time and it keeps dripping. Crap! Grabbing more tissue, I manage to smear the blood, the mess looking a lot like my watercolor attempt last week. Mrs. Opal had described it as a sailor’s warning, whatever the hell that means.

He pounds the door again, obviously totally pissed. “I mean it, Lizzy. Get out!”

I pull up my panties, then wad some more tissue and hold it against my skin, carefully tugging my jeans with my free hand. Sucking in my stomach, I pull my hand out, leaving the padding there. My heart is pounding again, so loud in my head I can barely hear Midget muttering. I pull up the zipper and snap the jeans, looking around like there’s someone watching me or something. I don’t know why I’ve done it in here today. It’s not my usual spot. I rinse the blade, slip it into my front pocket, then turn and look at the bloodied mess bloating in the basin. Screw it.

You can find Cutting to the Chase at:

Evernight Teen Publishing


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Pink Shirt Day Feb 22 2017

Today is Pink Shirt Day, a movement started by teen boys who saw a wrong and stood up for what is right. Although a day has been marked for everyone to come together and support the movement – bringing awareness to bullying everywhere, no matter the age – awareness, action, and support has to be year-round. The Pink Shirt movement started with a couple of courageous boys who took action – actions speak louder than words – so remember to show your support and commitment to anti-bullying and wear pink, and think pink, today and all year long.


Be sure to check out the video of Pink Shirt Day happenings around BC by Arnold Lim of Victoria News.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Interview with Judith Graves, Young Adult Author

Judith Graves writes 'young adult fiction to die for,' is a screenwriter, musician, dog-lover and so much more! When not co-writing a series for Orca Book Publishers, she's co-publisher and acquisitions editor for Leap Books, LLC.

Despite knowing how busy she is, I had the nerve to ask her for an interview, and she agreed! I am so glad she took the time to answer a few questions about her life and writing, as well as what ELSE she's up to! (And I thought I was busy!)

Read on.....

About Judith's writing...

Lisa: Thank you so much for visiting me here, Judith. What do you write?

Judith: I’m published in young adult and middle grade fiction, as well as a crossover between young adult / new adult fiction (under the pen name, Judith Tewes). I also write scripts for film, TV, and the stage, as well as freelance articles for writing magazine and library blogs / journals. I’m just getting a feel for composing picture books. I guess you could say I dabble in a bit of everything.

Lisa: Why do you write what you do?

Judith: Other than my script work, which is more mature and features adult characters, I’ve settled in YA/MG and those voices are the ones that seem to come quite naturally. Does that mean I’m stuck in adolescence forever? Lol. Maybe, but it’s also likely because my husband is a high school social studies teacher and basketball coach, and I work in an elementary school library. We don’t have kids of our own – we have three fur babies! – but we’re surrounded by tweens / teens - their stories, hopes, struggles, and dreams. It’s quite helpful to be on the frontlines with my target audiences.

Lisa: Do you get the munchies while writing and if so what do you crave/eat?

Judith: I do! I’m known to have a secret stash of Smarties in my desk drawer. They’re perfect for picking away at during revisions. This is also why I have to get on my treadmill at least three days a week.

Lisa: What are you working on?

Judith: I have several projects on the go at any given time. Some lead to publication, some get set aside for future development. I’m waiting to get revision notes on INFILTRATE, my second book in the Retribution series published by Orca Book Publishers and am excited for that one to get born. The Retribution series is unique in that it’s written by myself and two other authors, Natasha Deen and Sigmund Brouwer Our characters are an unlikely team of teens who band together to take down adults in their lives who have done them wrong, which in turn leads them into taking on “cases” for other kids in need of their specialized skills. I should mention, our characters are anti-heroes: a car thief, a boxer, a hacker, and an art forger. Such a fun series to write and plan and plot – all with two additional creative minds and talents to bounce ideas off of. The initial three stories, EXPOSED by Judith Graves, BURNED by Natasha Deen, and UNLEASHED by Sigmund Brouwer, launched last year and the second batch are set to go this spring (TERMINATE by Natasha Deen), fall (INFILTRATE by Judith Graves), and then spring of 2018 (ESCALATE by Sigmund Brouwer). Each of us pen individual volumes in the series, taking the characters on different adventures. We have a nifty website that features the books if you want to check them out: And here are a few pics of us hamming it up during a young writers conference.

I’m thrilled that EXPOSED has been nominated for a 2017 Golden Oak Award through the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading program. As both a library technician and an author – it’s a huge honour to be noticed by such an authoritative organization.

A bit about Judith....

Lisa: Do you have any hobbies outside of writing?

Judith: I love hanging out with my husband and our three crazy mutts (two Labrador Retrievers and an English Mastiff), trying to capture cool moments via photography, and I play bass / sing backup vocals in a two or three gigs a year folk-rock band.

Lisa: Have you travelled – even if in your own province or state – and what was your most memorable/favorite destination?

Judith: Travel – ah, that’s pretty much my thing. My dad was in the military and I grew up on the move. I have itchy feet, as they say. Although we’re pretty much settled in Alberta, thankfully my hankering for the road is well met, as my husband also loves to travel. We’ve seen much of Canada, Europe, the UK, and the US. But there are always more places and worlds to discover. We’re gearing up for an Italy trip and I’m forever researching sites to add to our itinerary.

My special interest is in tracking down abandoned structures, ghost towns, graveyards, tombs, crypts, and catacombs at the various locations we visit. I know, I know...even my last name is “Graves” I’ve always loved walking through graveyards and reading the headstones, imagining the lives of the people and the times in which they lived. Even if I visit a small town, I’ve likely checked out the dead folk before the living. Ireland has some of the most visually striking tombstones / burial sites I’ve seen thus far. But for emotional impact - I’d have to say our time spent at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial in Poland hit me the hardest. I’m still haunted by the things we saw there.

Here’s a pic of an abandoned old truck we discovered during a road trip in rural Alberta...

Book excerpt: EXPOSED (Retribution Series)

The trouble with most people? They never look up.

They keep their eyes dead ahead, fixated as they march forward and go about getting the day done. And like ants, they don’t notice that the darkness creeping over them isn’t just another storm cloud. It’s a freaking shoe. No. It’s a steel-toed boot on the foot of some beer-guzzling, asbestos-lunged construction worker, and the thing is going to stomp their lights out.

I thought I wasn’t most people.

Guess I was wrong.

I shifted my grip on the crumbled concrete, the pull of my weight stretching the tendons in my fingers like the string on a crossbow threatening to snap. Toes digging into the brick, I managed to snag an edge and relieve some of the pressure. I’d completed this route more times than I could count and that was the problem. I’d been using this building for training for weeks, its brick fa├žade perfect for an easy climb. But I’d become complacent. Forgotten my own rule. Keep your eyes on the prize.

Just like those dead-ahead ants I promised myself I’d never be.

If I had simply looked up while I’d made the climb, I would have noticed the awning I decided to rest my feet on was missing a bolt, or had rusted out, or whatever had made the metal bar pop from under me. Leaving me dangling by my fingertips fifteen feet above a major street.

Thank you again for the interview, Judith.

For more about Judith, I hope you'll check her out at:


Friday, February 3, 2017

Guilt and the Keeper Shelf

I have yet to meet an avid reader who doesn’t have a keeper shelf.

What’s a keeper shelf?

To bibliophiles – lovers of books – a keeper shelf is a shelf (or in my case ‘shelves’) bearing the most favored, treasured, and adored books. They are books that may or may not ever be re-read, but are books that simply canNOT be parted with.

Every reader has his or her reasons for what books get shelved on this most sacred of shelves. It could be one that made the reader laugh, cry, or sigh in happy satisfaction. Or maybe the words between the covers transformed the reader, helping him or her through a difficult time by giving clarity and answers when it felt like none would ever be found. Maybe the book is a reference book – an often-read, much jotted-in, dog-eared book of information. Or better yet maybe it’s a rare or signed edition in which the reader spent hours in the rain waiting at a book signing.

The keeper shelf is often the most sacred and cherished place in the house. Messy linen shelves? Who cares. Messy keeper shelf? Call in sick from work to straighten it out, PRONTO!

Whatever the reason – and there ARE no right or wrong reasons – the books on a reader’s keeper shelf are personal and ever-changing. Sometimes, and sadly at that, the collection needs to be thinned out – books are always being added, but there is (unfortunately) only so much space a person can have. It’s a hard task, purging books, a task often put-off for weeks, months and years.

As for my keeper shelf?

I have three – well, four.

My main bookcase is a compilation of keepers, reference books and my ever-growing TBR pile (To Be Read pile – another commonly known collection of books among readers). It’s a huge bookshelf, two and a half rows deep, and it’s one of my most prized possessions. I remember all the books stored there (well, most of the time – my memory is finicky), but when I do a little rearranging/digging around the shelves it’s often like Christmas morning when I find forgotten treasures! I try to keep my ‘keepers’ on their own shelf – space is always an issue - but I know I must be diligent and grant them the honour of allowing them their own rightful spot on the designated keeper shelf.

Then in my bedroom I have two keeper shelves (two small bookcases) designated ONLY to books I simply CANNOT part with, as well as a shelf in the closet. Sure I have clothes like any ‘normal’ person in there, but my keeper books on the shelves above my non-fashionable clothes? Worth more to me than any design on a fashion runway.

And every so often things get out of control and I have to get brave and summon the courage to do the dreaded GREAT PURGE. I have to pare down, thin out, and minimize what’s on my shelves – not out of anger or revenge, but out of necessity. I hate doing it – guilt gnaws at me like a dog on a bone – but sometimes ya just gotta take a deep breath and do it. Reading tastes change – there’s no doubt about it – and as a writer my reading tastes change a lot. What I read affects my writing, and vice versa. That’s not to say I’m as flighty, fickle and easily swayed to trends, but despite my resistance and denial of my own aging (read: I’m getting older but I don’t have to like it), what I read is always evolving

As I write this I’m gearing up to do a Great Purge. I’ve been building-up for it for two weeks – the excuse of ‘no time’ is perfect for avoiding the inevitable. I know I must do it – I want to, I need to, I must. There are some books I have noted SAVE FOREVER in the front cover – those will stay. But there are some that must go – they were a trend for me at the time (maybe I AM fickle), but not everything can be saved for all time.

In prepping for the Great Purge I did a quick review of my treasured books and they were like a time capsule – a timeline of my life. Where some books were relevant at different times of my life, now they are not. They served their purpose. That’s not to say I ‘used them’ and now I’m tossing them aside without thought – they ended up on my keeper shelf for a reason, didn’t they? And I honoured the author who wrote them – I bought the book and I finished reading it. Even books that don’t end-up on the keeper shelf are not to be forgotten – all books matter and have something to offer, even if only one spirit-changing, uplifting, mood-shifting sentence. Keeper shelf or not, I hate having to purge my books – but at least I’m passing them on to another reader to love (used book stores, libraries, and lunchrooms are the recipients). But still the guilt eats away at me.

My keeper shelves have books like classics – Jane Eyre is my favorite – a few favorites I read in my teens that I found in used book stores, a series or two I love, favorite authors who inspire my writing, a few historical biographies that make me think, a Danielle Steel translated to French, signed copies of books by authors I have met or know personally, and books that just simply made me sit back and sigh at THE END. I have books I love just for the sake of loving them, and books that were relevant in my life BACK THEN. It’s hard, but holding on to something for the sake of holding on to them – especially out of guilt – can weigh a person down.

So as I continue to mentally prepare for this great task of the Great Purge, I will work through my guilt. I know that I am doing it for the greater good – making room for more books, honouring past and present author’s and their work by reading the books, loving them, then passing them on. that I’m making room for more book, I’m honouring past and present authors and their work by reading them then passing them on, and will always be adding to my Keeper Shelf – and know I will have to go through all the guilt again.