Category Archives: giveaway

The Incredible Designers at {and a give-away for you}

Have you heard of I’ve been following them on Instagram for awhile, drooling over the gorgeous artwork and photography. I love this site. It’s a global art community for indie artists and designers who submit their work in competitions and then the minted community votes on what sells.

I am delighted to participate in a sponsored collaboration today. (and am still deliberating on that perfect something to order.)

Paige is getting baptized at the end of the month so we played around with way too many announcements…
MIN-SN0-BCR_A_FRTMy sweet girl.  Card design by  anupama of Bangalore, KA, with gold foil lettering.

MIN-UD2-FPS_A_FRTHere’s some Mother’s Day or simply saying-hello stationary.

Oh, the home prints…I loved this feature the most. Which one would you get?MIN-4UR-GNA-007_A_APZThis is called Under Water, a limited edition print by Chelsey Scott from Saint Paul, MN.

MIN-LOY-GNA-007_A_APZThis would look fabulous in the living room, don’t you think? Stare Down by Amy Carroll of Grand Rapids, MI

MIN-7HJ-GNA-007_A_APZGorgeous. Float by Betty Hatchett of Cincinnati, OHMIN-D27-GNA-007_A_APZThe colors! Love this. Organism No4 by VERY MARTA of Green Bay, WI. So stunning.

All this beautiful artwork and photography makes me want to break out the watercolors. If you have the same urge, you can enter the design and photography contests HERE. (1st place photography photo is $3000! Zowie.)

MIN-54F-MGA-007_A_APZProp by Smile Peace Love of East Stroudsberg, Pennsylvania. Beautiful.

MIN-4VW-GNA-007_A_APZCorner Bar in the Neighborhood, New Orleans by Mary Anne Tusa of Madisonville, Louisiana.

MIN-RZE-BSH_A_FRT Bookworm Baby by 24th and dune of Williamsport PA. So cute! (I forgot to tell husband: we’re having twins!)

MIN-SR3-QCE_A_FRTThis is my imaginary Quinceanera invitation, created by designer Lori Wemple of Huntersville, NC.

MIN-Q13-ANC_A_FRTHappy Everything Wedding Announcement by designer, Anne Clark of San Francisco

So what would you get? Minted has so many beautiful designs: check it out!

Leave your comment below, darlings. Minted is giving $25 to a reader. Please leave a comment by Friday, the 13th(!) so the random generator dealio can work its magic. And may the odds be ever in your favor!

All opinion ares my own, but thank you, Minted, for the sponsored collaboration. Good luck in this awesome venture!

Liz, commenter #6, you were the lucky winner. Please be in touch at amy (at) maisymak (dot) com. Congrats! 



Creepy Cemeteries, Caged Graves, and a Little Romance

I love writers. I love that they put their heart and soul into something that might never see publication, yet they do it anyway because they just have a story to tell. When publication actually happens, (it’s true, it can actually happen!) we must clap very loudly.  Leave a comment at the end to win a book!

Today let’s clap for THE CAGED GRAVES, a young adult novel by Dianne Salerni: 

The year is 1867, and seventeen-year-old Verity Boone is excited to return from Worcester, Massachusetts, to Catawissa, Pennsylvania, the hometown she left when she was just a baby. Now she will finally meet the fiancé she knows only through letters! Soon, however, she discovers two strangely caged graves . . . and learns that one of them is her own mother’s. Verity swears she’ll get to the bottom of why her mother was buried in “unhallowed ground” in this suspenseful teen mystery that swirls with rumors of witchcraft, buried gold from the days of the War of Independence, and even more shocking family secrets.”

Doesn’t that sound good? And it was! Isn’t “Verity” a great name for a protagonist?  I “met” Dianne through her blog, when she and Marcy critiqued the First Page of a novel I’m STILL working on. I’m very intrigued by writer’s habits and Diane so nicely accepted an invitation to chat. Here’s Dianne, with an exclusive author interview!

Hi Dianne!  Were you always a writer?

Absolutely. I was writing stories even before I could write – or at least I drew them and got my parents to write the words for me. I kept notebooks full of stories throughout my childhood. In fact, the only time of my life when I did very little writing was when my children were babies and toddlers. Parenthood diverted my creative energies into scrapbooking for awhile.

How in the world do you find time with a full-time job and family?
My children are 13 and 16 now and quite independent. My husband and my daughters support my writing habit and do whatever they can to help – cooking dinner and cleaning up most nights so I don’t have to. I get time to write after school (I’m a 5th grade teacher.) and in the evenings. I also write on weekends – and like a madwoman during all school vacations.
What is your process: Drafts? Writing group? Computer? Notebook?

I write on a computer. The only time I resort to paper is when I’m stuck in a faculty meeting and write notes for a story while … um … pretending to take notes on the meeting.
I don’t outline. Any story I try to outline comes out lifeless and dull. I work best starting with a premise, a beginning, an ending, and a few plot points in between. That’s not to say that the first draft doesn’t become a painful ordeal, because it does!
Two critique partners, Marcy Hatch and Krystalyn Drown, read my chapters as I write – and I do the same for them. They keep me on target during the torturous first draft. My husband also reads the first draft. He has a keen ear for dialogue and lets me know anytime a character starts talking “out of character.” In addition to the CPs, I also have a number of beta readers I call on for later drafts.
Why do you write YA? Do your students give you ideas? Do they think it’s cool you are a
published writer?

 We Hear the Dead, was the first YA novel I’ve ever written. I chose to write that book for YA because the main character, Maggie Fox, was 14 at the beginning and 23 at the end. Then I continued writing for YA, which eventually led to my second published book, The Caged Graves.

My first published novel,

However, when I submitted a YA contemporary fantasy to my agent about a year ago, she immediately saw that my premise would work better for MG and asked me to lower the age of my main character from 15 to 14. The book promptly sold in a 3-book deal to HarperCollins, but that same character had to drop to age 13. So, now I’m a MG writer, too!
My students think it’s cool that I’m a published author, and yes, they help me. When I needed a new title for my first book, which was originally called High Spirits, I threw idea after idea at my editor to no avail. I shared my dilemma with my class, and one of my 5th grade students came up with the title, We Hear the Dead.
Last year’s class was there when I got the email about the HarperCollins deal. (I was unable to function the rest of that class period.) They lived through several editorial letters with me – and complained more than I did about the revisions I had to make! They got a sneak preview of the cover, and HarperCollins actually changed something based on their reaction. Knowing how invested they were in the book, my editor gave a thumbs-up to my listing the whole class in my Acknowledgments.
Do you have any advice in the face of rejection?

My biggest successes have come after moments of devastating rejection. One double rejection was such a blow that I considered quitting and never writing again except for my own private amusement. It was only a few weeks later that I received an offer of representation from the most wonderful agent in the business, Sara Crowe.
And my biggest book deal to date, the 3-book deal with HarperCollins, came immediately after another double rejection of two manuscripts from a publisher.
Rejections are horrible. But if you let them stop you in your tracks, you’ll never find out what might happen if you keep going a few steps more.
Was your trip to Wales this summer mainly for research? Tell us about your latest book.

When my family was planning a trip abroad, Wales came up for discussion because my daughters wanted to visit the Doctor Who Museum in Cardiff. I realized I could combine Doctor Who (and a BBC studio tour) with King Arthur research in south Wales, and Cardiff officially went down on our itinerary!
My next book is the first in a series of MG contemporary fantasy adventures with a King Arthur connection.  Here’s a blurb:

When seventh grader Jax Aubrey wakes up to a world empty of people, he does what anyone would do: assumes it’s the apocalypse, ransacks the local Walmart, and fortifies his guardian’s house against zombies. When he wakes up the next morning to a normal Thursday, Jax wonders if he’s lost his mind.  But his 18 year-old guardian, Riley Pendare, also experiences Grunsday, an extra day squeezed between Wednesday and Thursday.  Jax learns that some people exist only on Grunsday, including the girl who’s been hiding in the house next door for the last 35 years — her life skipping over seven days at a time like a stone skimming across a pond.

A mysterious girl who knows nothing of the regular world? Jax can’t think of a better way to spend his extra 24 hours than trying to befriend her.  But Evangeline is the key to a 2000 year-old spell with its roots in Arthurian legend. Jax’s guardian is her reluctant jailor, sworn to keep her out of the hands of those who would use her – and kill her if he can’t. When Jax accidentally leads a pack of human bloodhounds to their door, it comes to a terrible choice: face a real apocalypse or sacrifice Evangeline.

Do you have any strange rituals or interesting quirks?

Well, I’m definitely strange and quirky. I talk to my characters a lot, and they talk to me. My family knows when they catch me muttering to myself, I’m usually talking through a piece of dialogue, testing it out to see how it sounds. That’s not to say that they don’t make fun of me. They do. But at least they don’t call for the men in the white coats.

Sounds like my kind of lady! 

Bio: DIANNE K. SALERNI is a fifth grade teacher by day and a writer by night. She’s the author of YA historical novels, We Hear the Dead (Sourcebooks) and The Caged Graves (Clarion/HMH), and a forthcoming MG fantasy series, The Eighth Day (HarperCollins 2014). In her spare time, Dianne is prone to hanging around creepy cemeteries and climbing 2000 year-old pyramids in the name of book research.

You can find Dianne here:


Thank you so much, Dianne!  

If you’d like to win a kindle version of The Caged Graves, please leave a comment…good luck!


A Book Winner and Books I Loved…Or Didn’t

MAGICAL JOURNEY Book Winners from!

#7 – Jess said…This post in itself was such an inspiration~ I can imagine the books are even more powerful 🙂 As a mother, I teared up more than once while reading this. Thanks for a fantastic interview!

#13 – Chelsea said…Sounds like a book I could use! Thanks for the interview and insight!
Please email me so we can send you a book:  amym (at)  I always feel bad when not everyone wins the book 🙁  But if anyone has one to pass along, let me know how I can help!

Thank you so much, Katrina, for the wonderful interview.  And thanks to all you readers who got your social media on to promote this book.  Thank you, awesome ones.

What other pages have I been turning?  A few reads the last couple of months:

It’s been a long time since I read a fiction book that I could not put down – love when that happens!  Except that I read far too late into the night and am a crabby mess in the morning…just one more chapter one more chapter.

This book is about a woman who wakes up every morning and doesn’t know who or where she is.  It’s right up my ally with the whole psychological thriller/brain trauma.  

S.J. includes some language, especially the F word, but he’s from London and most British/English authors seem to be very free with that word. Why is that?

But, I did enjoy it.  And I’m glad I know who I wake up to every morning.  (That would be Paige, the stealthy ninja warrior who sneaks into my bed every night.)

This is a fantastic resource for fiction writers.  I like the textbook and I like the workbook format, where I can take notes about what I need to fix in my own stories.  Donald Maass, literary agent extraordinaire just knows what he’s talking about and I learned A LOT – tension on every page!  

This is the book that got me hooked onto Katrina Kenison.  Every page has a mark, underlining, or a star.  Quote: As mothers today we are faced with a daunting list of responsibilities. How easy it is to simply rush headlong through our lives, slaves to our daily obligations, and in the process race our children through their childhood. But there is a better way… 
YES there is!  (I’m trying, really trying.)
Brynne, my 8-year-old really likes CLEMENTINE.  Hmm, I’m trying to figure out the ages of middle grade lit.  This was cute even though I didn’t actually finish…

I have a friend recently diagnosed with ALS.  A friend of mine recommended this read, written by Phillip Simmons who also lived with ALS.  He writes of living and finding joy. After all, we’re all terminal, right?  It’s wonderful and heartbreaking and a good read for any living human being.  I’m almost done with this one…

Delly Peterson tries to be good, but it’s just so hard!  Delly made me laugh out loud and looks for supresents (surprise + present) What’s it called when two words combine to make one?  I can’t remember, Julia!  Delly is the master of this little trick.  This book was a little over my 8-year-old’s head – but I loved it!  Again, the span of middle grade lit seems to span a long ways.  

The narrator is whip smart and keeps things light and funny, but serious regarding a sad and serious subject.

I skimmed this a little – but it’s a quick and fun read about a pretty amazing woman who encounters and swims with a lost baby dolphin.  Made me want to swim in the ocean!

I’m late to the party on this one, but after Julia’s recommendation, I finally read this Young Adult book.  Oh my goodness, what took me so long?  Who wants to read a “cancer book”?  You want to read this one!  The characters are so smart, so funny and witty and really make you think – “What mark do I want to leave on the world?”  This book will make you laugh and make you cry, and want to fall in love all over again. 

Couldn’t put this one down either. Gregor loved it and raved (huge), then my mother read it and raved and cried.  Yes, read it.  Loved it.  Thanks, Julia!

Here’s Augustus, age 17:

“The real heroes anyway aren’t the people doing things; the real heroes are the people NOTICING things, paying attention. The guy who invented the smallpox vaccine didn’t actually invent anything. He just noticed that people with cowpox didn’t get small pox…. 

What else? She is so beautiful. You don’t get tired of looking at her. You never worry if she is smarter than you: You know she is. I am so lucky to love her, Van Houten. You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.” 

I do, Augustus. I do. 
– Hazel Grace

I wish I had more time to read; there are so many great books waiting to be devoured.  It seems I only make time to read at night after the kids are in bed and I’m dead tired and about to fall asleep.  

Stephen King says he writes three hours in the morning and reads for three hours every afternoon.  Doesn’t that sound dreamy?

Okay, what’s next friends?  What have you been reading?  Whatchu got for me?

Happy Friday!  Hope you have lots of reading on the weekend schedule.


Deliberate Motherhood Book Winner

The good news is so many mothers want this wonderful book!

The bad news is that I only have one to give, chosen by

Congratulations to …

Andy and Robyn said…
I would LOVE this book! 🙂
Contact me – amym (at) proctornet ( dot com)with your address and I’ll get it in the mail.
Still want to order the Deliberate Motherhood book? Click herefor ordering information.  
Also, click here if you’d like to read some excerpts. Perhaps you could order it for another mom or to put in your own stocking…and after reading, pay it forward to another mama. 
Thanks for your wonderful comments.  Mamas, you rock.

Thanksgiving Book Love Giveaway

My husband cooks the turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and gravy.  He pores over Bon Appetit for days, visions of turkey and pie dancing in his head.  The Makechnie boys are the chefs in this house. And I like that just fine.
We mamas will wrangle children, roll out pie dough, try new recipes for green bean casserole, and laugh a million laughs around the table while making turkey napkin holders.  It’s grand.  We may go for a run too.  Even grander.
I love my womenfolk.  I love mothers.  And to share the love, I have one more book giveaway….leave a Thanksgiving gobble gobble comment of any kind before Saturday and Paige might just pull your name from the hat.
It’s such a good book with over 60 mothers contributing, including a forward by parenting guru extraordinaire, Linda Eyre, #1 NY Times bestselling parenting author.
Also…visit 71toes (beautiful write-up and where I get so many great parenting ideas) and sunnysideup (lovely, lovely home and family and mother) for the same Thanksgiving motherhood giveaway!  Three chances to win a great book.
Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends.  May the odds be ever in your favor.  I will never get tired of saying that.  If you don’t win but still really really want this book, let’s talk.  


Banned Book Week and a GIVE-AWAY!

Have I mentioned I have a book problem?
One of my favorites!  Found for a steal at a local second-hand bookstore.
Most of us will never go on an African safari, travel down the nile, or fly on a broom during a full moon.  And that is why we read; to go to those other, beautiful worlds.  We read books to go to brutal worlds too, where our brothers and sisters live.  They show us how truly lucky we are.  They show us beauty among ashes.  

Some books find their way onto Banned library lists.  Julia told me about a few and I was shocked – who could object to To Kill a Mockingbird? or Bridge to Terebithia?

Now, aren’t you glad we have educator who look out for our children?  I am.  I rarely say no to a book my child wants to read, but there are some my kids aren’t ready for yet; I’ve banned them – but just for a bit.

Aren’t you thankful to live in a country where expression is free?  Speech is largely uncensored, our children, male and female have the privilege of going to a free public school, where they are given books.  They learn to read and write.  We are the 99%.

Brynne is learning the art of words to get the things she has to have…

Paige is learning the letter A.  Here’s a great article on why reading by third grade is critical and what you can do to help children meet that deadline. 

Now, let us celebrate Banned book week by having a give-away!


Some of these books I absolutely love and a few I haven’t even read yet.  I want you to choose a book you want to win, read it, then tell me if you liked it, loved it, or want to ban it from your bookshelf.

The Rules:
In the comment section, tell me your 1st choice book and your 2nd choice.  If you want another book, leave another comment and tell me you shared info. via social media. That’s it!  Isn’t this fun?
The line-up:
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salenger:  Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with “cynical adolescent.” Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he’s been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists.

The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan (fave!) In memories that rise like wisps of ghosts, LuLing Young searches for the name of her mother, the daughter of the Famous Bonesetter from the Mouth of the Mountain….

How to Write a Thriller by Scott Mariani

The History of Love by Nicole Kruauss. A New York Times Bestseller

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.  A New York Times Bestseller

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (fave) #1 New York Times Bestseller

The Color Purple by Alice Walker.  A best seller and frequently banned book

The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie.  Mystery’s #1 Bestseller

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller.  An old 1961 edition, bestseller and frequently banned book

The Lost Children by Carolyn Cohagan.  A middle grade, captivating fantasy.

And….the last book…

The 12 Powers of Deliberate Mothering. The foreward is by #1 New York Times best selling author, Linda Eyre.  The rest of the book is a collection of essays by different mothers.  And yours truly (that’s me 🙂 has six whole paragraphs of contribution!  I know you want this book.  Honestly, the essays are really, really good. I haven’t even seen it yet…but you can be one of the first.

I tried to get a good mix to give, and it was really, really hard to choose. So.  Get your comments on and tell me what you want by Thursday, Oct. 4th.  I will announce the winners by Oct 6th, the last day of banned book week.


P.S.  These books are not brand new, but they are in excellent condition.  They have come right off my bookshelf.  And hey, if the pioneer woman can give away shirts from her closet and get 5,000 comments, I can give away my books, right???

P.P.S.  My race was great Saturday.  The write-up is coming!