Introducing author Erin Fanning and her new book, BLOOD STITCHES!

Erin Fanning, author of BLOOD STITCHES

It’s been a few weeks since my last post here on Sensibility and Sense, and I’ve missed you all! Life breaks in with so many wonderful things, that sometimes, blogging and writing just have to take a back seat. My son graduates from college tomorrow, and my daughter had her last day of high school today! She graduates in just two weeks, and the last month has been filled with final concerts, recitals and awards ceremonies. So much joy, so much fun!

Today I have a special treat for my readers. Author Erin Fanning was kind enough to stop by Sensibility and Sense today as part of her current blog tour. Erin’s new book, BLOOD STITCHES (Kensington Publishing/Lyrical Press) was released on May 12th.  Erin divides her time between Northern Michigan and Idaho. BLOOD STITCHES is Erin’s seventh book.

Welcome to Sensibility and Sense Erin! Can you tell us a little bit about your new book?

Blood Stitches-highres (2)EF: It’s called El Toque de la Luna—The Touch of the Moon. At least that’s how nineteen-year-old Gabby’s older sister, Esperanza, refers to the magical powers she inherited from their Mayan ancestors. Esperanza says women with El Toque weave magic into their knitting, creating tapestries capable of saving—or devastating—the world. Gabby thinks Esperanza is more like touched in the head—until a man dressed like a candy corn arrives at their Seattle home on Halloween. But “Mr. C” is far from sweet…

Soon, Gabby and her almost-more-than-friend, Frank, find themselves spirited away to a demon ball, complete with shape shifters—and on a mission to destroy Esperanza’s tapestries before they cause an apocalyptic disaster… And before it’s too late to confess their true feelings for each other.

SS: Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

EF: In 2009, an Italian woman, trapped underneath her bed after an earthquake, kept herself occupied by knitting. I read about her around the same time I was learning how to knit. I imagined firefighters digging through the rubble and finding her wrapped in a knitted afghan.

The story tumbled around in my brain, somehow intersecting with my interest in Mexican culture. From there, I discovered the Mayan twin myth and the battle with the demon Vucub Caquix. Bit and pieces of Mayan mythology adhered themselves to my imagination, morphing into a history of magic and needlework.

Soon Gabby and her family formed, along with a question: what if you could not only knit your way to safety but also create a disaster through knitting. It wasn’t long afterward that Blood Stitches pushed its way through my fingertips.

SS: Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

EF: Never give up: the publishing world rewards hard work and dedication. Sometimes I think success in writing has more to do with patience, perseverance, and the ability to revise than raw talent.

SS: And now for a few fun questions… Who is your favorite literary character? Any why?

EF: It’s hard to pick just one character,since I love so many. But my favorite book is Persuasion by Jane Austen so the main characters, Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth, are among my favorites. Captain Wentworth writes Anne just about the most romantic letter ever written.

SS: If you could have any accents from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?

That’s easy—Italian. It has to be the smoothest, most melodic accent (and language) in existence.


Thanks so much for stopping by Erin, this was fun!


Learn more about Erin at www.erinfanning.com

See the BLOOD STICHES trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giNx53F7P3E


Sensibility- Getting to know authors and their books can help inspire your writing and improve your craft.

Sense- Set a goal to read at least one new author each month in your chosen genre.







Writing for Children

Seeing Your Shadow: Letting Go During Revision

Yesterday was Groundhog Day!

Punxsutawney Phil, photo courtesy of Allessandro M, Flickr

And of course, Punxsutawney Phil quickly let us know that winter was here to stay. Phil’s an expert at predictions based on one simple thing: seeing his shadow. Apparently, he’s scared of the blackish-gray blob that appears on the snow. When he sees it, he scurries back to his burrow as fast as his short, chubby legs can carry him. But I think Phil is onto something here. Something we writers can learn from.

How often do you see your shadow when revising? The familiar black blob that creeps over your computer screen and won’t let you get rid of all the unnecessary bulk in your manuscript. You know, the one who says, “That’s the best thing you’ve ever written. You can’t change THAT!”

Or how about when you know a character just isn’t pulling her weight and needs to go. Your shadow says, “But I LOVE her! The story can’t live if she dies!”

And there’s the one I really struggle wtih: the shadow of self-doubt. I’m sure you know her. She’s the shadow of the writer you were last year, a month ago, yesterday. Her favorite saying is, “All your best writing days are behind you. Why even BOTHER trying to make this story better. It’s TOTALLY yesterday’s news.”

As in the case of our favorite weather-predicting rodent, shadows can tell us things we need to know. They’re how our ancestors used to tell time. Shadows warn of us danger and bring us comfort as evening turns to night. But shadows can be a real nuisance to the revising process.

So don’t let your shadows scare you! Your best writing days aren’t behind you. If that character is dragging your story down give her a serious facelift or let her go. And if you think you need to slash 1000 words from your MS, you probably need to get rid of even more. Be honest with yourself. Send those shadows packing and bring your story into the light of day where it can really shine!

Sensibility- A shadow can be a friend or a foe. Let yours guide you in the revision process rather than slow you down.

Sense- As an exercise, remove as many words from your current manuscript as possible. When you think you’re done, take out 1000 more. For picture book writers, trim your manuscript to no more than 500 words. Then see if you can eliminate a 100 more.

What is the most difficult shadow you fight when revising?


Fall Picture Book Favorites Giveaway Winners!

bear-has-a-story Thanks again to everyone who made my Fall Picture Book Favorites series here on Sensibility and Sense a  success!

I enjoyed reading all of your comments each week and certainly have some new titles to add to my own fall picture  book collection! And now, without further adieu, the winners of the Fall Picture Book Favorites giveaway are…

Joseph Miller

Vicky Lorencen

Lisa Rose


I have one copy of each of my fall favorites to give away, so contact me with your pick  and your address, and Pumpkin-Moonshine-by-Tasha-Tudor-300x300then watch your mail! (First come first pick:)

And keep visiting Sensibility and Sense for more great writer tips, encouragement, resources and giveaways!

Happy Writing!





Sensiblity- Picture books hold our memories between the covers and inside the pages.

Sense- Add to your collection of picture books regularly to keep up with new trends and hone your picture-book                        writing skills.


Welcome to Teen Talk Tuesday on Sensibility and Sense!

I’m so excited to introduce my readers to a new feature on Sensibility and Sense! I’m calling it Teen Talk Tuesday, and it’s all about tweens and teens telling writers, editors and agents whey they really think of the books being written with them in mind! So if you’re a person in the publishing industry and wonder what’s working and if you are hitting the mark for your audience, stop in and check out Teen Talk Tuesday! I think you’ll be glad you did!

Our first book is The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green (Speak Paperback Reprint Edition, April 2014)

And here’s a little big about our first reviewer:

Name: Julia

Age: 17

Year in School: Senior

Hobbies and Interests: Playing the violin and piano, drawing and painting, reading and writing.

Take it away Julia!


What About The Fault in Our Stars? 

By Julia

The Fault in Our Stars is a fantastic story of young love, trials, and cancer. The book features two dynamic characters, Hazel and Gus, who both struggle with the effects of their disease, or as they put it, “the side effects of dying”. To be honest, I’m not one to fall for the average Young Adult romance, full of sappy words and one-dimensional characters, but something about this book appealed to me. The novel is fast paced and each character has their own set of anxieties, causing a sense of urgency because the audience knows one of the characters could die at any time. John Green is able to convey this urgency through quick, easy-to-read sentences and a lot of philosophical passages discussing death and dying. The problems these teens face are realistic, not some made up magic sorcerer or vampire, which makes for a refreshing, heart-wrenching read.

However, when I finished reading the novel, I wasn’t exactly sure how I felt about it. I know I loved the characters and the story was riveting, but something kept me from saying “I love it!!” One thing about this novel which really put me off was the language of the characters. Some of the words they used, especially curse words, seemed out of place. I could obviously tell it was an adult trying to sound like a teenager. I don’t know what it is about young adult novels, but a lot of them seem to be written by ‘actual adults’ causing them to sound stuffy and very unrealistic to actual ‘young’ adults. This book is no exception. The main character Hazel has been homeschooled for years and has had limited contact with kids her age; the only real conversations she has had is with her parents. So, it is very unrealistic that she would use words like ‘piss’ or ‘douche’ in her line of thinking.  Another issue is the character Gus. He uses an extreme amount of metaphorical and philosophical language, making his character very unbelievable. I think one of my friends said it best, “It was so strange because nobody talks like that!”

Overall, it was a very enjoyable read and I must admit, I did cry a little at the end of the book. I’d encourage anyone to read it because the story is fantastic and I really liked it, but I won’t go as far as to say I loved it.


Sensibility: Remembering what it’s like to be a teen reader can help you find the right voice for YA and Middle Grade Novels.

Sense: Take time to listen to what teens are saying and how they say it to make sure your voice is authentic for today’s teen reader.

What are some of your teen’s favorite books?