Sunday, February 15, 2015

Living with Severe Nut Allergies

Today a lovely blogger reposted an old review for WHO I KISSED. It included a Guest Post I wrote about peanut and food allergies. I am going to repost it because I need the reminder sometimes. And maybe some other people might too....

originally published here

Guest Post

Coming Up for Air by Janet Gurtler

I haven’t made a secret of the fact that this book (WHO I KISSED) was inspired by my son, a cool dude who happens to have a severe peanut allergy. This book takes my worst fears and puts them it into action. I used to joke with my son that before he kisses a girl, he has to ask her what she had for lunch. Or dinner. He doesn’t find it funny anymore.

We did have a talk when I decided to write this book. I told him that though it was fiction, it was partly to raise awareness of the dangers that kids with allergies face. And I told him of course, that it was something I never ever wanted to him to deal with. So no kissing girls. Ever. Ha ha. Not really on the last part. He didn’t find that funny either.

Long before the character of Sam came to life for me, I remember hearing a story in the news, similar to the storyline in WHO I KISSED, about a child dying from a ‘peanut butter kiss’. It stuck with me as a parent of a peanut allergy kid. How horrifying it would be for everyone. Including the child who accidentally caused a death. I also remember hearing a story about a kid at a birthday party who died when the knife used to cut the cake (peanut free cake) was tainted with peanut butter. I don’t know if that story was true, but when you have a child with allergies those types of things make an impression.

As a parent of a kid with severe food allergies, you get used to people who don’t understand the severity of the allergy. People who complain about not being able to take a peanut butter sandwich to a peanut free school when it is “all their child will eat.” On one level, I totally get that. Confession. I LOVE peanut butter. But on the other hand, something innocent has the potential to cause my child harm, or even cause death and I don’t want to let that happen. I’ve had to shake off my loathing to make people uncomfortable. I have to speak up. I understand that most people don’t mean harm when they send a peanut butter sandwich to school or open a bag of peanuts beside me in the airport. But I have to ask them to put away peanuts or nuts when my son is around. Or to ask their kids to wash their hands after eating something with nuts before playing with my son.

My strongest argument for why other people should care is — how would YOU feel if your child (or you) caused the death of my son. I know I would feel pretty darn awful (to put it mildly), but what would it do to your child and/or you? How could a child possibly deal with something like that? How could a parent possibly deal with their role in something like that? And the thing is, it’s possible.
It’s about taking ownership of that possibility, but also dealing with the consequences of a very honest mistake. WHO I KISSED looks at how an innocent girl, who unwillingly and unknowingly is involved in the death of a boy who dies. A boy who is allergic to peanuts. It’s about thinking how that would affect you? How would you cope? What would you do?

Ultimately, like most of the books I write, I think there’s also hope in this book. And some lighter moments too. I created two characters, Aunt Allie and Fredrick to help Samantha deal and also to help the reader deal with the emotional intensity of the book. But it also has a strong message to me, the author. And to my son.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Heartbreakers Blog Tour!

Once again a group of New Adult and Young Adult authors are on their Heartbreakers Tour, checkout the participating bloggers to read all about your favourite authors and for a chance to win the grand prize.

Grand Prize GIVEAWAY: one lucky winner will receive an ebook edition from each of our participating authors, as well as a $20 Amazon gift card. That’s 14 heartbreaking reads and moolah to buy more. ;)

Who can resist a heartbreaker?
Participating Authors:
Eileen Cook: Remember (Simon Pulse, 2015)
D.G. Driver: Passing Notes (Fire and Ice, 2015)
Laurie J. Edwards: writing as Erin Johnson. Grace and the Guiltless: Wanted Book 1 (Curious Fox, 2014)
Janet Gurtler:
Sara Hantz: Will The Real Abi Saunders Please Stand Up (Entangled Teen, 2014)
Brenda Hiatt: Starfall (Dolphin Star Press, 2015)
Denise Jaden: Foreign Exchange (Evernight Teen, 2014)
Jen McConnel: Her Secret Inheritance (Bloomsbury Spark, 2014)
Judith Tewes: My Soon to be Sex Life (Bloomsbury Spark, 2014)
Ashley Poston:
Dawn Ius: Anne and Henry (Simon Pulse, 2015)
Shari Green: Following Chelsea (Evernight Teen, 2014)
Vanessa Barneveld: This is Your Afterlife (Bloomsbury Spark, 2014)
LS Murphy: Reaper (J Taylor Publishing, 2013), Pixelated (Bloomsbury Spark, 2015)
Participating Bloggers:
Reading is My Treasure
YA Yeah! Yeah!
A Glass of Wine
Little Library Muse
Tales of Yesterday
The Reader Bee
Words of Mystery

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Happy New Year?

Okay, so it took me 3 weeks, but finally I'm here to shout out HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2015 sounds like an official year doesn't it?  I imagine all sorts of wonderful things are supposed to's hoping, for you and for me!

So far in 2015, I now have a son who can drive. Well on a learner's permit, so only with supervision but that's good because he's only 14! 14 seems really young to have a learners, but that's the age where I live. What about you? When can kids start to drive in your town?

We are loving living in Okotoks. It's a small little town, outside Calgary. (perfect for 14 year olds learning to drive. ;) )   I notice the difference now when I go to Calgary. "Oh, it's so busy in the city." I am a townie. I love it.

I have a new YA coming out in April in case I haven't whacked you with it over the side of the head over and over. It'll be my last YA for a while, which feels a little strange.  I don't have a new contract and I haven't been writing YA lately.  I started a romance series and have to get back to it, but got sidelined by a couple of women's fiction ideas that I'm super excited about writing. I think my writing voice translates better in women's fiction. I want to do the same thing I do in YA, but with more mature characters. So I'm working on that.

In 2015 I also plan on going back to work out in the "real" world. Meaning the world outside my home or a nearby coffee shop! I love writing but I think, with my Sourcebooks contracts being up, it's time to get back out in that big ol world and interact with people. I have worked in sales and marketing for many years, so I'm looking at getting back to that.  I have some obstacles to overcome, having worked from home for almost 4 years and ah hmm, being a little bit older now... but I was pretty good at sales, and am confident I'll find something. I do plan to keep writing, but on a part time basis instead of a full time one. So onward with that!

I'm also working on a couple more MERMAID KINGDOM stories for grades 2-5.  The Capstone series comes out in March this year, and some library versions are already available for the library markets. These books are super cute, and filled with brilliant illustrations (not by me of course). I'll post links to them another day.  This post is supposed to be a catch up, new year post.

So what about you? What have you got planned for 2015? What have you done so far?

Is it going to be the best year yet??

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Monkeys are Here!

Remember how I mentioned that people who pre-order THE TRUTH ABOUT US will get a BRAVE MONKEY key chain? Well. They arrived at my house yesterday. So. Much. Cuteness.  Remember to send me your proof of purchase and I'll send you out your own BRAVE MONKEY!!

Monday, October 27, 2014


Coming April 2015,  THE TRUTH ABOUT US!

Sometimes the person who's most different from you is the one who makes you feel like you belong.

When Jess is caught drinking and inappropriately face-timing boys, her dad orders her to spend the rest of the summer volunteering at the local soup kitchen. Thrust into a world where her own problems no longer seem so insurmountable, Jess meets Flynn, a guy from her high school who comes to the soup kitchen for meals with his adorable little brother. Slowly, Jess and Flynn begin to know and trust each other, despite their different backgrounds and the prejudice of their families. But as their relationship intensifies and outside pressures escalate, can they find the strength to stay together?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Jenny Hubbard- 2014 Contemporary Scavenger Hunt

As part of the 2014 Contemporary Scavenger Hunt I am so excited to welcome author Jenny Hubbard to my blog.  I was a big fan of  William C. Morris Debut Award Finalist book, PAPER COVERS ROCK and Jenny's new book, AND WE STAY sounds equally delicious. I've got it on the top of my books to purchase list!

Jenny has written a thoughtful and useful guest post about how she writes!

Please enjoy!

Guest Post:

Jenny Hubbard:  How I Write

 Every writer’s process is different.  There is no one path to follow that leads to a complete novel.  But here are a few things that I do that help me get the job done.

 I don’t try to write every day of the week.  That’s either too much pressure or, given my non-writing life, too unrealistic. I write five days a week. When I first started, I treated it like physical exercise: an hour or two in a single sitting.

At the end of a writing session, I leave off in the middle of a chapter, the middle of a paragraph, the middle of a sentence, even. That way, it’s much easier to dive right in the next time I sit down at the computer.  If I leave off at the end of a chapter, I’ve found that it’s harder to get started again, with all that blank space staring me in the face.

Before I reread what I’ve written, I produce at least 25 pages, and preferably 50.  I’ve learned the hard way not to edit myself too soon.  And I’ve learned to give myself permission for the first draft to be messy, weak, and flawed.

I’m often asked how to combat writer’s block. I have now three sure-fire weapons in my arsenal. 

1) I go for a walk with my dog Oliver to clear my head, where the story is jumbled, and, if I’m lucky, a thread will unravel itself so that by the time Oliver and I get back home, I’m able to sit back down and weave it neatly into the narrative.

2) Because I also write poetry and plays, I simply switch genres.  Working on an entirely different piece for a little while recharges me.

3) This is the one that works every single time:  I take ten pages of the book I’m working on and start over from a different point of view:  same story, but a different character telling it.  The voice in both of my published novels arose as a result of this process.  (In fact, I wrote the entire books over using different point of view, but if that seems too daunting, try ten pages.)  Finding the right voice, the right perspective, for your particular story is probably the most essential part of novel-writing.

And how do I get started on that very first day?  I start the story in the middle of the action, which automatically propels me and which will always place the reader right there with the characters. 

And what do I do once a finish a complete draft?  I set it aside for a week, and when I return to it, the real craft/work/fun begins.  The art of writing is in the rewriting.  Rinse, lather, repeat, over and over again, and you might very well have a novel in your hands.



If you'd like a chance to win an audio book of And We Stay, please comment below. (US only)

 Book Summary

When high school senior Paul Wagoner walks into his school library with a stolen gun, he threatens his girlfriend, Emily Beam, and then takes his own life. Soon after, angry and guilt-ridden Emily is sent to boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts, where two quirky fellow students and the spirit of Emily Dickinson offer helping hands. But it is up to Emily Beam to heal her own damaged self, to find the good behind the bad, hope inside the despair, and springtime under the snow.


Author Bio:

A former high-school and college English teacher for 17 happy years, Jenny now practices what she preached: the discipline of rewriting, which, in her humble opinion, is the key to a writer’s success.
Thanks so much to Jenny for a wonderful post!!
If you live in the US and would love to win a copy of Jenny's Audio Book, please comment below. One winner will be randomly drawn from comments on October 31 at midnight.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Road Trip

I'm off to Saskatchewan!

Road Trip.

Me and 28 of my favorite swimmers. And 2 coaches and another chaperone. And a bus driver. Wheee!

Yup, I'm one of the chaperones for the Foothills Stingrays Swim Club. One of the benefits of working from home.

Pack all these kids on the bus for an eight hour ride and then 3 days of fast swimming before we head back home.

It'll be a busy few day of making snacks (swimmers love to eat) and well, chaperoning. But also a few extra hours on the bus each way that I will be using to write!

Go Stingrays!

Don't forget to check in to the blog on October 26 as I'll be hosting an AMAZING author as part of the 2014 Contemporary Scavenger Hunt.

Look for my COVER REVEAL for THE TRUTH ABOUT US on Jennifer Brown's site.