Sunday, October 31, 2010

In My Mailbox (1)

Ah, my very first IMM (a meme hosted by the fabulous Story Siren)! I'm joining the dark side...mwahahaha! (It is, after all, Halloween. I've got to get my evil cackle on while I can. Though my students would probably tell you I cackle evilly when I give them tests and projects...)

All cackles aside, I had a great book week (actually it's two weeks but, despite my best intentions to start IMM last week, I...didn't).

Wanna see?

For review:
Grave Witch by Kalayna Price
In the Company of Vampires by Katie MacAlister
Spun in Sorcery by Marbara Bretton
Confessions of a Vampire's Girlfriend by Katie MacAlister
Unbound by Kay Danella
Ghost Town by Rachel Caine
Side Jobs by Jim Butcher
Dust by Joan Frances Turner
Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn
(not pictured)
The Bite Before Christmas by Holly Betts
Harvest Hunting by Yasmine Galenorn
(Thanks, Book Binge! I'll get these reviews to you soon, I promise! Some of these will be cross-posted to The Book Swarm but the more adult, romance-y ones will be reviewed on The Book Binge, where I'm a guest reviewer.)

Everything is Going To Be Great by Rachel Shukert
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook
Heaven's Spite by Lilith Saintcrow


Crossroads Blog Tour: Lucienne Diver

Don't forget to go to The Crossroads Main Page 
for the question of the day and 
links to all the other blogs (EACH of us has swag to give away!! 
Go HERE to enter to win one of my two piles of lovely treasures!)
OH--and don't forget to comment on one (or more!) of The Crossroads Tour posts for a chance to win a SIGNED copy of ghostgirl:LOVESICK by Tonya Hurley (sooooo awesome!!)!

On the very last day of our fabulous Crossroads Blog Tour, the amazing Lucienne Diver joins us. Why so amazing, you might ask. Well, according to her bio, she is a literary agent by day, a writer and journeyman jeweler by night (see, amazing!). She started writing in her teens because talking back to the voices in her head wasn't socially acceptable—and she already had enough to deal with being a drama and AP English geek.

Her credits include short stories and a romantic comedy written under the pseudonym Kit Daniels. With her young adult novel VAMPED (and REVAMPED, too!), she's taking off the mask and stepping into the full glare of ... indirect sunlight. Because as her heroine would tell you, anything else is hazardous to your health, especially once you've been Vamped. Read more about Lucienne and her books on her super-cool website HERE. 

What character traits do you share (or wish you shared) with your main character, Gina?

I’m a bit of a fashionista…now.  Growing up, though, I was a tremendous geek who played D&D, sang in the chorus, acted in school and community theatre and took as many extra AP English classes as I could cram into my schedule.  I’m still a tremendous geek, I’ve just given up the oversized T-shirts for something a little more stylish.  I wish I’d had Gina’s confidence growing up.  She could definitely have spared me some.

What kind of music does Gina listen to?
Her favorite singer is one I made up for the series named Su Surrus. Think Pink... only not.

Gina’s a pretty sassy, fashionable character. What was the inspiration behind her fabulosity?
Actually, Gina was originally based on my sister’s arch-nemesis from high school.  I think in all honesty that the reason Vamped took off when so many of my manuscripts will never (mercifully) see the light of day is that I learned to torture my characters in that novel.  For the first time, I chose a persona…or, more accurately, she chose me… that was totally alien to me.  Someone whose mind it would be fun to mess with.  And what’s more horrific for a fashionista than to wake up one day with no way to fix her hair and make-up?  In ReVamped, I had to amp things up a notch.  Not only is she still sans reflection, but she’s now working for the Feds, who’ve made her an offer she can’t refuse.  Worse, her first undercover assignment is to go goth to get in with a gang of kids in a New York high school her handlers suspect may be messing with the magic in the area and causing the outbreaks of violence among the teens.  Black is so not her color, and platform Mary Janes, she thinks, are a travesty of epic proportions. 

Besides a published author, you’re also a literary agent and a journeyman jeweler. How do you make time for it all and stay organized?
That’s right, I used to have hobbies!  Sadly, making jewelry, scrapbooking and generally having any sort of life fell away when my books started selling and suddenly I had deadlines, revisions, copyedits, promotion and all to take care of.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world, though!  I’m such a classic Type A personality with the whole time-urgency thing that I have a constant schedule running in my head, and I keep on it, waking up at 6 a.m. to write and not allowing myself to do anything else with that block of time.  Usually, I go back to sleep for a bit after that and wake up again with my work brain engaged, ready to launch into literary agenting for the day.  The trick for me is definitely waking up before my inner editor.  Otherwise, I’m too much a perfectionist for the words to come pouring out with any fluidity.  I’ll overthink myself into a stalemate with progress.

What advice can you pass on to aspiring authors?
Write.  Write every day.  Even if you throw it out, even if you don’t, at first, have anything to say.  Creativity is like a muscle…you definitely have to exercise it or it atrophies.  Keep at it.  If you love it, don’t let anyone else discourage you.  Don’t compare yourself to others. I used to have a wonderful poem called The Desiderata hanging on my wall in college.  To this day, it’s probably the single most peaceful, helpful, inspiring piece of writing I’ve ever read.  [Link:]

Please tell us about your journey to publication.
Where do I start?  Back in fifth grade, I had the most wonderful teacher, Mr. Hart.  It was clear that his great love was writing and literature.  He used to read to us regularly, wonderful things above our grade level that would challenge us.  He gave us free-writing assignments on a nearly daily basis, starting us off with a first line or a premise and insisting that our pencils keep moving at all times, even if all we were  writing was “nothing at all, nothing at all.”  We’d read our work to our group or to the class, get critiques, revise, resubmit….  It was all wonderful practice for being a writer, and I fell in love with it right then and there.  It didn’t hurt that Mr. Hart was very encouraging and that I felt like I finally found that place that was mine, that thing that really engaged me and at which I might excel.  It took me years and years more to get good, of course.  I have a trunk full of stories and novels full of clich├ęs, telling rather than showing, tense-shifts and other no-nos. 

My first paid publication was a short story called “The Problem with Piskies,” which won third place in Quantum Barbarian’s fiction contest and was published in the final issue, I think back in 2005 or 2006.  After that, there were one or two more “Kit Daniels” stories and even a hardcover romantic comedy, PLAYING NICE, which is now out of print.  VAMPED came a few years later, after I’d gotten myself an agent (knowing how invaluable they can be!) and she convinced me to write under my own name, which has certainly made promotion a lot easier.  I was never cut out to lead a double life!  

Where do you do the majority of your writing?
I do most of my writing in spiral bound notebooks propped up in bed.  I freehand everything first and then type it into my computer, revising as I go, so that by the time I hit “save” I have what amounts to a second draft, though there are always many more!  A pic of the room is below.  Wish I could say that it looks like this all the time!

Lucienne, it's been a treat having you here--thank you so much for joining us!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Crossroads Blog Tour: Amy Brecount White

Don't forget to go to The Crossroads Main Page 
for the question of the day and 
links to all the other blogs (EACH of us has swag to give away!! 
Go HERE to enter to win one of my two piles of lovely treasures!)
OH--and don't forget to comment on one (or more!) of The Crossroads Tour posts for a chance to win a SIGNED copy of ghostgirl:LOVESICK by Tonya Hurley (sooooo awesome!!)!
Almost there, my friends! Today, we have the lovely Amy Brecount White visiting the Book Swarm. Her debut YA novel, FORGET-HER-NOTS, was published March 2010. Currently, she lives with her husband, three kids, and Jessie the wonder dog near some woods and a stream in Arlington, Virginia which is the inspiration for her second novel, tentatively titled STRING THEORY. You can read more about Amy and her books on her website HERE.

What inspired you to create Laurel, whose connection to flowers is magical?
After researching the language of flowers for an article I wanted to write for a magazine, I made a tussie-mussie (a symbolic bouquet) for a friend of mind who was very ill.  I wanted so much for my flower wishes to come true!!  When I started to imagine a whole novel about the language of flowers, I knew I needed a main character who wanted something very badly, who was mourning the death of someone close to her, and who needed for her life to be transformed in a major way.

How did you go about researching your story?
I read every book I could find about the language of flowers.  I hung out in gardens and observed them.  I stuck my nose into lots of blooms to try to translate their fragrance into words.  It was all so much fun!

Describe your journey to becoming a published author.
I usually say that it was a long and winding road with lots of potholes.  It definitely wasn’t instant and my learning curve as a novelist was a lot steeper than I’d planned. (I’d freelanced for newspapers and magazines, so I thought it would be a breeze.) I also had some agent issues (not with my current one), but that’s pretty typical.  And I must say I’m awfully thrilled to be here!

Tell us about your writing process—are you a plotter or a pantser?
A plotter light.  I like to have a very loose plot to go by, especially in the early writing stages.  It gets more technical and structured for me the closer I get to a final draft.  Writing a novel is similar to putting together a giant floor puzzle.  You have to make sure it all fits, and sometimes it’s tough to see the big picture. :)

Where do you do the majority of your writing?
In my basement office, but it’s not dreary at all.  The back of our house opens into a woods, so I like to watch the seasons change as I write.

Since you’ve been published, what’s the coolest thing that’s happened to you?
Definitely fan mail. I never expected it, and it’s so cool to connect to readers.

Finish this sentence: When I’m not writing, I am… thinking about what I should be writing next, preferably while biking, roller blading, or gardening.

White bellflowers and snowdrops to you, Mary! Thank you so much for stopping by, Amy. Write hard!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Crossroads Blog Tour: Angie Frazier

Don't forget to go to The Crossroads Main Page 
for the question of the day and 
links to all the other blogs (EACH of us has swag to give away!! 
Go HERE to enter to win one of my two piles of lovely treasures!)
OH--and don't forget to comment on one (or more!) of The Crossroads Tour posts for a chance to win a SIGNED copy of ghostgirl:LOVESICK by Tonya Hurley (sooooo awesome!!)!
Only three days left and we're lucky enough to have Angie Frazier visiting today. Her book, EVERLASTING, is fabulous. And, as for Angie, she lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two daughters, their big black lab, and a pair of highly destructive cats. Her debut young adult novel, EVERLASTING, is the result of an overactive imagination, an addiction to historical research, and dozens of vintage travel posters plastered to the ceiling of a cottage she rented one long, snowbound winter. To read more about Angie and her novel, visit her website HERE.

I understand you have a fascination with Indiana Jones. Why such a fangirl? (Though I completely agree!) 
Reason one: Harrison Ford in a fedora = handsome. Reason two: He’s a scholarly adventurer who always wants to put some priceless relic in a museum. And I love museums. Reason Three: He has a great sense of humor. Funny wins every time. Reason Four: Did I mention he’s handsome?

You have a new book, THE MIDNIGHT TUNNEL, coming out next year. What inspired this mystery novel? 
On a trip to St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, a seaside town in New Brunswick, I stayed in a gorgeous grand hotel and knew it would be a perfect setting for a story. At first it wasn’t a mystery, but just a coming-of-age middle grade. But as I wrote and developed Suzanna’s character, it evolved into a mystery.

What character traits do you share (or wish you shared) with Camille and/or Zanna?
Let’s see…Camille and I are pretty different, but I do have a great relationship with my father and adore him the same way she loves her father. As a kid, I was much more like Zanna, I think, and definitely shared her longing for something “big” and “important” to happen in my mundane life!

Where do you do the majority of your writing? 
I do most of my writing on my living room couch. It’s so comfortable that I don’t even care that’s ergonomically incorrect :)

What’s the coolest thing that’s happened to you since publication? 
Oh wow, so many cool things, really. One of the best was hearing from a girl in Australia who had read Everlasting, loved it, and had decided to write a book of her own. To know that my book helped inspire her to write is amazing.

What’s your favorite thing about writing and why? 
I think the best thing about writing is being able to step out of my life story for a little while and into a totally different story. I think of it as an exploration, so for me, writing is an adventure.

Finish this sentence: When I’m not writing, I… am usually knee-deep in mommyhood, reading, cooking, or watching old shows via Netflix!

Thank you so much for stopping by, Angie! Great answers & I look forward to your next novel!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Teen Review: BREAK by Hannah Moskowitz

Final Grade: 93/A
YA Contemporary
272 pages
Available Now
Rated PG-13
Reviewer's copy

BLURB: Jonah's brother is sick. Very sick. And things are hard all over. With his parents always arguing and the everyday challenges of growing up, the only constant in Jonah's life seems to be Charlotte, the girl of his dreams...her and breaking. The process of breaking a bone and healing back stronger seems to keep Jonah moving forward with his life. But when his goal of breaking every bone in his body is taken to the next level, his world is turned upside down. If he can find the strength in himself to fix things, he may also find himself along the way.

REVIEW: Overall, BREAK was an awesome read. I'd have to give it a 93/A. From the second I picked up the book, I was engulfed in Jonah's suspenseful world. I loved how during the story, Hannah Moskowitz managed to slip in bits and pieces of symbolism. In fact, the entire book is somewhat of a symbolic gesture. I definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a relatively short read that is packed with drama.

I truly don't recall anything I didn't like about BREAK. It was great, and the story will surely be etched in my mind for years to come. Once again, another reason to read it.

TEEN REVIEWER JACOB: I'm a fourteen-year-old BMX rider who loves music. Life is good...

Crossroads Blog Tour: Rosemary Clement-Moore

Don't forget to go to The Crossroads Main Page 
for the question of the day and 
links to all the other blogs (EACH of us has swag to give away!! 
Go HERE to enter to win one of my two piles of lovely treasures!)
OH--and don't forget to comment on one (or more!) of The Crossroads Tour posts for a chance to win a SIGNED copy of ghostgirl:LOVESICK by Tonya Hurley (sooooo awesome!!)!

OMG-OMG! It's Rosemary Clement-Moore! She's the bestselling author of the MAGGIE QUINN: GIRL VS EVIL series and THE SPLENDOR FALLS, y'all! And she's dropping by this little ole blog to chat. On her website, she says, "I've been writing stories all my life, even when I should have been doing other things, like studying Algebra. My first paying job was Chuck E. Cheese. I worked in theatre for years, and now I'm writing full time, which is my dream job, because I get to work in my pajamas and take a break every afternoon to play Guitar Hero." Read more about her and her books  on her website HERE.

What character traits do you share (or wish you shared) with Maggie?

Her self-assurance. Even though she has normal insecurities, when Maggie sees something that needs doing, she jumps right in with a plan. Even in her normal, pre-supernatural life, she’s very certain of what she wants, and how she plans to achieve it.

What was the inspiration behind your MAGGIE QUINN: GIRL VS EVIL series?
I pitched the series as “Nancy Drew meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer” but I actually had an older series that inspired Maggie: Kolchek the Night Stalker. He was a newspaper reporter who investigated supernatural things--vampires, werewolves, zombies--and always getting in trouble with his editor. I envisioned Maggie as a girl version of him.

You’ve written a series as well as a stand-alone. How is writing a series different than writing a stand-alone?
With a series, you have to think about tying up the story in a satisfying way, but still leaving yourself someplace to go in the character’s personal journey and the overreaching story arc. And when you invent new parts of the world, you have to make sure it goes with everything else you already wrote. With a stand-alone, you can tie up all the loose ends. Especially where relationships are concerned. 

Where do you do the majority of your writing?
I have an office with a desk and a couch. You can guess where I actually spend most of my time. I usually do rewrites at the desk and write new stuff on my couch, when my dogs let me.

Here’s a picture:
(Aw! Look at them--so cute and innocent-looking!)

What’s your writing routine?
I do my best writing late at night, after everyone goes to bed. I usually write between 10 pm and 2 am. I’m not sure why those are the magic hours, but they are. I admit I’m not the most consistent as far as daily page/word count goals go. Some days are gangbusters, some less so. But I work every day.

Rosemary's newest (out July 2011)
looks great! Can't wait.
Favorite writing fuel:
Coffee, coffee, coffee… and occasionally some coffee.  And Smarties candy.

Finish this sentence: When I’m not writing, I…am thinking about writing!

Amy Goodnight's family is far from normal. She comes from a line of witches, but tries her best to stay far outside the family business. Her summer gig? Ranch-sitting for her aunt with her wacky but beautiful sister. Only the Goodnight Ranch is even less normal than it normally is. Bodies are being discovered, a ghost is on the prowl, and everywhere she turns, the hot neighbor cowboy is in her face.

Rosemary gives a quick teaser of TEXAS GOTHIC on her blog--click HERE to read it.