Brandi M Ziegler

Walking the path to publication one step at a time.

Category: Road Trip Wednesday

RTW: Best May Read

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read. 

~ Groucho Marx

What’s that YAHighway? What’s the best book I read in May?

Sadly, I didn’t get a whole lot of reading done last month, but that’s okay because I know the winner! Definitely Brigid Kemmerer’s STORM. Here’s a blurb from her very own blog:

Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread lies about her, Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys—the ones she doesn’t want. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water—just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They’re powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death.

And now that she knows the truth, so is Becca.

When Hunter, the mysterious new kid in town, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time, Becca thinks she can trust him. But then Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris, and Becca wonders who’s hiding the most dangerous truth of all…


I’ve said in a recent post that I’ve had my eye on Brigid for some time now because she writes about Elementals – just like me! I love how she incorporates the Elements into the life of modern teenhood. My favorite Merrick Brother by far is Michael, but I’ve loved him ever since I read about him in Brigid’s novella ELEMENTAL.

If you’re looking for a story with hot boys and a bit of “magic”, STORM is it! I cannot wait for Book II SPARK.

Can your best read of May top mine? Let me know in the comments!


YA Chatting

One has to live a life that creates a writer.

~ Erno Paasilinna

There was a YAHighway prompt earlier this month that I didn’t get a chance to participate in, but it’s stuck with me all this time: who IRL can you talk to about YA? I haven’t really had an IRL YA friend until recently. Her name is Naomi and she’s a fellow YA writer, fellow mom, and all around awesome!

Naomi convinced me to finally join Twitter. I cannot believe it’s taken me this long. I feel so much more connected to the writing community. Naomi also got me involved in a local critique group. Right here in town! We meet bi-monthly at a bagel shop and spend a few hours dishing constructive criticism over coffee.

It’s been a pleasure to watch Naomi get an agent (like recently, guys), and I cannot wait to hold her book in my hands. She has been such a giving, supportive friend. I feel so blessed!

All right, enough gushing. Maybe I’ll go see what Twitter’s up to…

Happy writing!

RTW: Best April Read

Books can be dangerous.  The best ones should be labeled “This could change your life.”

~ Helen Exley

One of my fav RTW prompts:

What was the best book you read in April?


These last few months of reading have blended together, but I think I read this in April: Melina Marchetta’s FROI OF THE EXILES. The first in her trilogy, FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK, is one of those will-never-forget, changed-my-life novels that have a forever home in my heart. Snuggled next to it is Book II.


Three years after the curse on Lumatere was lifted, Froi has found his home … or so he believes. Fiercely loyal to the Queen and Finnikin, Froi has been taken roughly and lovingly in hand by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper with a warrior’s discipline. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds in its surreal royal court. Soon he must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad princess in this barren and mysterious place.

It is in Charyn that he will discover there is a song sleeping in his blood … and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen.


I was interested in Charyn when it was briefly mentioned in Book I. Marchetta’s world-building skills are epic. At times it can make the story slow, but she manages to tie all of her sometimes info-dumpy history lessons into the plot. Also, usually I’m not a fan of following characters going through life in completely different places. Marchetta goes back and forth between the countries of Lumatere (I want to live there!) and Charyn. But all the characters and their journeys are so intriguing. She’d leave Froi and his gang at one breath-taking moment and bring you back to Finnikin and his troubles which are just as intense. This was definitely my best April (or March?) read.

What about you? What’s your best book of April?

RTW: Inspiring Images

Don’t loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club.

~ Jack London


Fun, visual RTW topic from YAHighway this week.


What images inspire/ represent your WIP or favorite book?


Most of my favorite books are fantasy. My WIP is an epic fantasy filled with forbidden love (I’m a sucker for forbidden love!), elemental magic, and heavy on the battle scenes. So these types of images inspire me:








I’m itching to open my WIP (set in the same world as Elemental Sacrifices: The Gathering) and write after looking at all these. What images inspire you?

RTW #115: Best Book! (So Far)

Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere.

~ Mary Schmich

Check out’s Road Trip Wednesday topic this week:


What was the best book you read in January?

Like before, this one’s a no-brainer for me. I finally got my hands on Tamora Pierce’s MASTIFF. Here’s a description from Goodreads:

Beka and her friends will face their greatest and most important challenge ever when the young heir to the kingdom vanishes. They will be sent out of Corus on a trail that appears and disappears, following a twisting road throughout Tortall. It will be her greatest Hunt—if she can survive the very powerful people who do not want her to succeed in her goal.

One word: Epic. This is a fantastic ending to the Beka Cooper series. Beka describes her world so vividly in her journal entries. I’m sucked in every time. Plus Tamora did a great job incorporating her other series that have/will take place in the land of Tortall.


I cannot recommend this book (this series!) enough.


My Nook needs some additions. Anyone have any recent favorites to recommend?

RTW: Go the Distance – Publication

The great thing about revision is that it’s your opportunity to fake being brilliant.

~ Will Shetterly

Road Trip Wednesday. It’s been too long. Every Wednesday, YAHighway posts a weekly writing- or reading-related question. They answer on their blogs and encourage reader participation! This is a good one!


This Week’s Topic:

How far would you go to get published?


I can’t jump on the trend train because my ideas don’t jump on command. So I definitely can’t switch to a well-selling genre either. I’m willing to make revisions, whether minor or major, especially if it improves my novel and my chances of publication. Revisions are a necessity in this business, and I’ll be happy to make them for an editor. I’ll be stoked when I have an editor. This is a humbling question for me as I tavel through the querying trenches. If you’re with me – hang in there.

What about those past this stage? How far did you go?

Happy holidays! Wow, it’s that time of year…




RTW #85: June Fav

The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.

~ Abraham Lincoln

I forgot to post for RTW last week. Seriously, I typed it out and just forgot to put it on the blog. Silly me. For those of you who don’t know, the ladies over at have a weekly prompt on Wednesdays and they encourage bloggers everywhere to partake in the fun. Hence: Road Trip Wednesdays.


This week’s prompt:


What’s the best book you’ve read this month?

Ha, this one was a total no-brainer for me.


ROOM by Emma Donoghue – this was one of the best books I read this year let alone this month! The voice reminded me of the innocence in another heartbreaker, A CHILD CALLED “IT” by Dave Pelzer. I recommend that book too.


Here’s a description of ROOM from its official website:


To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world….

It’s where he was born, it’s where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn.  There are endless wonders that let loose Jack’s imagination-the snake under Bed that he constructs out of eggshells, the imaginary world projected through the TV, the coziness of Wardrobe beneath Ma’s clothes, where she tucks him in safely at night, in case Old Nick comes.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it’s the prison where she’s been held since she was nineteen-for seven long years.  Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in that eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But Jack’s curiosity is building alongside her own desperation—and she knows that Room cannot contain either indefinitely….

Told in the inventive, funny, and poignant voice of Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience-and a powerful story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible.


I laughed, I cried, I squirmed, I applauded Donoghue’s boldness. This is an A-MAZING book, you guys! Lately I’ve been reading a lot of YA fantasy and contemporary novels with romance and adventure and happy times galore. As a writer, I feel it’s important to read books that focus on the ugliness of the world too. And the voice of Jack – totally reminded me of my step-daughter when she was five. Spot on, Emma!


If you want something real and in your face, something that immerses you in an awful nightmare of someone else’s reality: read this book. If you don’t want something like that read this book anyway, especially if you’re a writer. Maybe I’m crazy but my favorite kind of research is reading books about whatever subject I need info on instead of surfing the interwebs. That way I get a lesson on good writing too. I never knew what it was like to be kept prisoner in modern America while the world passes you by. Thanks to Emma, I do now. One more thing to add to my armory…


Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox. How ’bout you guys? Read any good ones this month?





RTW #78: Read My Words

It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it. 

~ Oscar Wilde


Time for another Road Trip Wednesday! I love this week’s topic:


Some audiobooks are read by celebrities. Most recently, Cassandra Clare’s CITY OF FALLEN ANGELS was partly read by Ed Westwick of Gossip Girl.

So, if you got to choose a celebrity narrator for the audio book of your WIP or your favorite novel, who would it be and why?


I can’t think of a celebrity whose voice I’m in love with. Well, there’s Mike Rowe from the Discovery Channel show Dirty Jobs. But his voice isn’t right for my book.

So, my pick was a celebrity more so in the UK than here in the States. His name pops up for those who understand the esoteric phrase “Don’t Panic”. Many people recognize his book. Seriously, if you haven’t read The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy you are so missing out. I would love for Douglas Adams to narrate the audio of ESTG, my completed manuscript that I’m currently querying.

He did an amazing job with his own book. I felt completely absorbed in his world as he told me about the life of Arthur Dent. I’m sure Adam’s years as a radio host helped. And his UK status works out because ESTG is epic fantasy and an English accent would be perfect. Too bad Douglas Adams is no longer with us. So long and thanks for all the fish, Sir.

Anyway, which celebrity would you pick to narrate your WIP or favorite novel?


RTW # 75: My Best Scar

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say. 

~Anaïs Nin


YA Highway makes my Wednesdays with their weekly Road Trips. This week’s prompt is a little different, albeit fun.

What is the story of your best scar?


I have a scar on the outside corner of my right eyebrow. It’s from two injuries. Alas, the details are pretty vague.

First injury occurred when I was four. While playing on my mom’s chairs in the formal dining room – a big NO NO – I fell headfirst onto the hardwood and cracked my head right open. I remember being scared of two things at the time: my mother’s wrath, and the hospital.

I have severe white coat syndrome. My experience in the hospital and the stitches I had to endure traumatized me way more than the buckets of blood pouring from my head.

The second injury is slightly more graphic. My little sister and I were in this physical fight at the age of five and eight. Suddenly she pinned me in an epic death-grip and bit the skin clean off my temple. I think all I got that time was a lecture and a band-aid.

Let’s see if you can outdo my scar story in the comments.

RTW #73: KidLit

I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. 

~Anna Quindlen


If you haven’t heard of YAHighway and their Road Trip Wednesdays then you’re not reading my blog enough. Every week they post a writing- or reading-related question. This week’s topic:

What books were you obsessed with as a kid?



I devoured Dr. Seuss as a kid. I loved them so much I’d sit and copy his delightful rhymes in my best handwriting and then recite them to my little sister.

When I wasn’t transcribing Dr. Seuss I was reading this children’s bible my mother gave me. It contained 95 bible stories and I read every one.

I loved THE BERNSTEIN BEARS growing up!

I’ve read this series featuring Ralph the Mouse more times than I can count.

My first brush with horror. THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DUMMY series still haunts me to this day!

THE SONG OF THE LIONESS series for the win! The first kick-ass heroine I ever fell in love with. All girls should read this series.

I became a sucker for horror and fantasy, so eventually I got into these.

At a young age I fell in love with Stephen King because of the way he develops an entire world around your worst fears and then traumatizes you with it. And who doesn’t love Harry Potter?


So – what books were you obsessed with as a kid?