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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Author Insight: Book Blurbs

What does a book blurb mean to you as a reader and a writer?

"Not much, usually. As a reader I try to avoid reading them, because they give away too much. As a writer, I try to write them myself instead of leaving them to the marketing folks, for the same reason." - Amy Kathleen Ryan, author of Glow.

"As a reader, I always notice the book blurbs on jackets and covers. As a writer, I feel so honored that these amazing authors would take the time to read an early version of my work and feel confident enough in my abilities and my story to lend their words and their names to my cover. It's thrilling, really.  And humbling." - Brodi Ashton, author of Everneath.

"They mean as much or as little as they say. Mostly they will help with the genre and feel of the story." - Anna Sheehan, author of A Long, Long Sleep.

"They're huge for me as both a reader and writer. If an author I respect blurbs a book I'm definitely more likely to check it out. As a writer it's great to have that vote of confidence from another writer. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to adequately thank Suzanne Collins for the blurb she offered for The Eleventh Plague. - Jeff Hirsch, author of The Eleventh Plague.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

More Author Insight: Accomplishments

What was one thing you hoped to accomplish as a writer that you already have? What is one thing you still hope to do?

"I'm amazed that I've gotten this far. It's hard to view my journey as an 'accomplishment' - I feel incredibly lucky and almost randomly chosen. I don't feel I've done anything to deserve all this. But, looking forward - I'd really love to see a Dearly, Departed video game. Or a musical. I think I'd take either one of those over a movie! And I'd love to be involved in the creation of either. Realistically, I just hope to finish out a solid series." - Lia Habel, author of Dearly Departed.

"I really wanted to publish multiple books.  That's going on (whoa, crazy).  I want people to hire me to read live, just because I'm funny (maybe I want to be a stand-up comic?).  (Yes.)" - Geoff Herbach, author of Stupid Fast.

"The one thing I hoped to accomplish... write my first novel.

The one thing I hope to still accomplish... write my next novel!

Seriously, it's all about the writing.  That's the part of the job that wakes me up in the morning and that I go to sleep thinking about at night.  I plan to continue writing books for as long as I live.  Any other accomplishment is just icing on the cake." - Sarah Beth Durst, author of Drink, Slay, Love.

"I hoped that someday I’d be able to write full-time. Now I do, and I’m very grateful for it! My next dream is to get mail from actual teen readers who love my book. That would be so exciting!" - Jessica Spotswood, author of Born Wicked.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally (...and giveaway!)

Release Date: December 1, 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Author
Pages: 288
Buy: Fountain Bookstore / Amazon
Description: Goodreads

What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though - she leads them as the captain and quarterback on her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys, and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university. But now there's a new guy in town who threatens her starring position on the team... and has her suddenly wishing to be seen as more than just a teammate.
Catching Jordan is a hilariously fun book with a kick-ass heroine.  Jordan Woods has always been the girl on the football team, and she’s good enough to be the quarterback of her high school team in Franklin, Tennessee.  Her teammates (and the boys she’s grown up with) trust her and treat her like the captain she is, including her lifelong BFF Sam Henry.  Suddenly, a new (and super-cute!) guy named Ty Green comes to town, and he’s looking to play QB too.  She can’t have this, not while Alabama is talking about scouting her or before her NFL QB father, the great Donovan Woods, can finally come to see her play.  Dealing with her feelings for Ty, her anxiety over the upcoming Alabama-scouting game, and some odd things she’s hearing about Henry’s more-than-friendly feelings for her, Jordan’s got an interesting couple of weeks ahead of her.

Honestly, I love Jordan Woods for tons of reasons.  She is who she is, take it or leave it.  She’s always the girl with all the boys, and she more than holds her own against them.  I love how open she is about her sexual side and her slight pottymouth.  I haven’t found another girl like her in the other books that I’ve read, and I find Jordan to be so refreshing in that way.

Working perfectly in Jordan’s favor is Miranda Kenneally’s no-frills writing style.  It’s uncomplicated and straightforward, and it is excellent as Jordan’s voice.  Occasionally, I wish there would have been more details and description about how she felt during important conversations with Ty or Henry, but the more I think about it, the less that makes sense for Jordan.  She isn’t the type to get frivolous with her words; she says what she means, and she doesn’t feel the need to elaborate.  One of my favorite scenes (and the best example of this style) is Jordan getting ready for school and trying to make herself “girly” so she impresses Ty.  I think it’s great because it is the perfect snapshot of Jordan’s personality.  The best part is that her interpretation of “girly”- Chapstick, shea butter lotion, a fitted tee, and actual brushed hair- is the average 17-year-old girl’s definition of “every day.”  (I also love that Jordan’s girly look blows her teammates away!)  Because this style fits Jordan so well, I am curious to read Kenneally’s next book.  I am interested to see how her style will translate to a character that isn’t Jordan.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Author Insight: Accomplishments

What was one thing you hoped to accomplish as a writer that you already have? What is one thing you still hope to do?

"I wanted to be able to make a living as a writer, and I’m thrilled to say that I have done that. And though it is vain, I do really want to be a finalist for a national award someday." - Amy Kathleen Ryan, author of Glow.

"I always hoped to accomplish getting a really good cover, and I did. Although I can't really claim that as my own accomplishment. One thing I still hope to do is write a book that makes my husband cry. He is a heartless man with cork eyes, and if I could make him cry, that would be awesome." - Brodi Ashton, author of Everneath.

"I hoped to make a difference in someone’s life, and almost immediately I started getting letters and reviews saying that I had. My book had offered hope or support to someone in a bad situation, and I feel if you can do that for even one person, you have fulfilled your role as a writer. I’d love to become a wildly popular bestseller, but not so much for the fame and the money. The more people who have heard of you, the more likely it is that you can reach someone who needs your story... and I then I could make a difference in a lot of people’s lives." - Anna Sheehan, author of A Long, Long Sleep.

"Well, being published was a pretty big hope. From here on out I hope to keep getting published and keep getting better with every book." - Jeff Hirsch, author of The Eleventh Plague.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

More Author Insight: All I need...

What are five things that you always have on hand when writing, either physically or virtually?

"Caffeine (did you know that they make caffeinated lollipops?), a snack, a hair clip, lip balm, and at least one totally blank Word page." - Lia Habel, author of Dearly Departed.

"Something to drink. Nicotine lozenges.  Sometimes a little buddha.  My cell phone (where I can read a little message to myself that says: get back to work, slacker dork). Notebook for notes." - Geoff Herbach, author of Stupid Fast.

"1. A computer -- I have to type to write.  Often, it feels like my fingertips are the first to know what will happen in a scene.

2. At least one free hand (two is preferred) -- See #1.

3.... hmm...

I like to write at a desk in a comfortable chair.  But I have written on the floor and in a bed and on a couch and outside on a mountaintop.  (Not recommended.  Way too much wind and glare on mountaintops.)  I like to have chocolate nearby, but it isn't essential.  (Shhh, don't tell my husband that.  He buys me fudge during particularly challenging revisions.)  Really, the only other necessary thing is:

4. Sheer pig-headed stubbornness -- Sometimes life is busy or the writing doesn't flow or you're tired/sick/grumpy/whatever.  To be a writer, you have to do it anyway.  I firmly believe that the most important trait for a writer to possess -- more important than talent or intelligence or a sense of humor or nice hair -- is perseverance." - Sarah Beth Durst, author of Drink, Slay, Love.

"Tea: Earl Grey in winter, apricot iced tea in summer. Relative quiet. My Macbook Air. Microsoft Word and either Write or Die, which I find very helpful while first-drafting, or Mac Freedom." - Jessica Spotswood, author of Born Wicked.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Author Insight: All I need...

What are five things that you always have on hand when writing, either physically or virtually?

"Coffee, tea, or some other liquid medium by which I can deliver caffeine to my system. My trusty MacBook. A dog nearby, for moral support. I usually have some kind of snack on hand –right now gummy bears. A window I can gaze out when I want to look contemplative." - Amy Kathleen Ryan, author of Glow.

"Music, Diet Coke, cherry tomatoes, a space heater... and... a laptop." - Brodi Ashton, author of Everneath.

"A thesaurus. Very useful when you find yourself repeating a word.

A rhyming dictionary. At least when I’m writing poetry.

Water or Earl Grey Tea. One needs to stay hydrated, and Earl Grey always makes me think of writing conferences.

Music – mostly instrumental, and mostly to drown out other noises.

Edward Gorey’s The Unstrung Harp. I keep it by my computer and look at it when I’m stuck, or feeling hopeless. It’s a story of an author trying to write a book, and it’s very funny and VERY telling." - Anna Sheehan, author of A Long, Long Sleep.

"I try pretty hard to not rely on having anything particular on hand to write, cause you never know when it's not going to be there. I just need a working computer and as much peace and quiet as possible. Sometimes a cat hops into my lap to offer editorial assistance and that's always appreciated." - Jeff Hirsch, author of The Eleventh Plague.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Swoon/Swear Winner

Who's taking home signed copies of Swoon and Swear by Nina Malkin?

Lethea B.

Congratulations! I will ship the books out to you ASAP. Thanks to Simon & Schuster for donating these great prizes and to everyone who entered. Stay tuned for more giveaways.

More Author Insight: Leave your mark

All artists and writers hope to leave their mark in the world. When you're gone, what would you like yours to be?

"Oh, gosh, I'd just be happy if someone found my book in a used bookstore a hundred years from now and eagerly opened it, being as obsessed with the past as I was. I read books from antique shops all the time - obscure pulp novels by virtually forgotten writers, especially. I'd be honored to become one of them." - Lia Habel, author of Dearly Departed.

"Showing that kindness and compassion wins.  I really think that's where happiness comes from." - Geoff Herbach, author of Stupid Fast.

"I'd like to be remembered for telling stories that make people happy.

I have a Post-It stuck to my desk that says, 'MAKE IT FUN.' I believe that first and foremost, stories should be entertaining. They should take you out of your life for a little while, whip you around on a tour of someplace awesome with people who are awesome, and then deposit you back into the real world with a smile on your face. So I'd like to be remembered as someone who did that -- who created an escape for people who needed to flee for a few hours." - Sarah Beth Durst, author of Drink, Slay, Love.

"I want readers to fall in love with my characters and count them among their favorites. Really, I would like to be known for writing independent, interesting girls and swoony kissing scenes." - Jessica Spotswood, author of Born Wicked.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Author Insight: Leave your mark

All artists and writers hope to leave their mark in the world. When you're gone, what would you like yours to be?

"I’d like to be remembered as the first children’s writer to be a recipient of the Noble Prize in Literature. That's attainable, right? But seriously, if even one of my books is still in print when I’m on my deathbed, I will be happy with that. For all I know, one is as likely as the other." - Amy Kathleen Ryan, author of Glow.

"Brodi Ashton: She never gave in to the temptation to spend her days sitting in a recliner, stuffing her mouth with potato chips, tin foiling the windows, and reading her bad reviews." - Brodi Ashton, author of Everneath.

"Helping people feel less alone. To give someone a reason to live. An author did that for me once, and I want to return the favor, and pass it on to someone else." - Anna Sheehan, author of A Long, Long Sleep.

"I'd like to be remembered as a hard working professional who got better with every book." - Jeff Hirsch, author of The Eleventh Plague.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bunheads by Sophie Flack

Release Date: October 10, 2011
Publisher: Poppy
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Pages: 304
Buy: Fountain Bookstore / Amazon
Description: Goodreads
 As a dancer with the ultra-prestigious Manhattan Ballet Company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward juggles intense rehearsals, dazzling performances and complicated backstage relationships. Up until now, Hannah has happily devoted her entire life to ballet.

But when she meets a handsome musician named Jacob, Hannah's universe begins to change, and she must decide if she wants to compete against the other "bunheads" in the company for a star soloist spot or strike out on her own in the real world. Does she dare give up the gilded confines of the ballet for the freedoms of everyday life?

Before I even cracked the spine on Bunheads, I knew I would enjoy it.  Why?  Firstly, I have a ballerina past, in which I spent 7 years taking all sorts of dance classes (though I ultimately gave it up, which is still one of my biggest regrets).  Secondly, one of my guilty pleasure movies is Center Stage, and I originally thought this would be a YA version of that (what YA book reviewer doesn’t love a book version of their favorite Saturday afternoon movie?).  However, while there are a few similarities to that guilty pleasure, Bunheads is not cheesy in the slightest- it’s a beautifully written, sweet, hilarious, entertaining story of the life of a corps dancer at the Manhattan Ballet Company.  It’s the tale of don’t-call-me-a-ballerina Hannah Ward, a self-proclaimed bunhead whose life gets knocked a little sideways when she meets handsome college student and musician Jacob Cohen.

What I love the most about Bunheads is that it’s not about the star prima donna fighting to stay on top or even about an up-and-comer trying to push her way to the top: it’s about a member of the corps, the background line.  This isn’t just her passion- it’s also her livelihood.  Since Sophie Flack is a former corps dancer, she knows all the dirty little secrets, and she doesn’t gloss over any of them.  Every painful injury, every back-stabbing moment, every insinuation regarding weight is included in perfect detail, just like reality.  Ballet is a tough business, open to only an elite few for only a handful of years, and it’s not always as pretty as it seems.  Hannah can barely make time to breathe, let alone see Jacob who longs to know her better.  Her struggle to maintain what we would call a normal life while still staying on the top of her game is painful at times, fantastic at others, but it’s so very real.

At its core, however, Bunheads is about a girl who simply loves to dance.  Period.  This is a love story for ballet.  Hannah dances for no one but herself.  Hannah exudes ballet, and she never feels quite like herself unless she’s on the stage.  As a former ballet dancer, I knew a ton of the terminology and dance steps without having to research, but I found that it didn’t really matter if I didn’t have the knowledge.  Listening to Hannah describe how she felt while doing the steps made each one come alive.  I could close my eyes and be there in the audience, awed and amazed by every moment.  Flack’s words practically draw a picture for you in your mind.  It’s gorgeous.

This is a wonderful debut by Sophie Flack, and I look forward to anything else she may write in the future.  Seriously, anything.  You just let me know, kay, Ms. Flack?  Also, fun side story: I tweeted Sophie about how much I was enjoying this, and not only did she immediately write back her sincere thanks, her mother also retweeted me!  I just love that.  I just love Bunheads.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Books for Sale & Giveaway

I'm clearing out some books at home and thought I'd give you guys and gals a shot at them before I donate them or toss them out entirely. There are recent ARCs and  a few hardcovers and paperbacks. My hope is that they'll find a good home!

There's no charge for most of the books since they are ARCs, but I am asking the recipients pay shipping. The cost will be $3 per book or $5 for every two books. Remaining funds over and above shipping costs will be used for shipping in future contests.

Take a look at the LIST and see if there's anything you're interested in!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Giveaway: Swoon & Swear

Thanks to the awesome folks at Simon & Schuster I have signed copies of Nina Malkin's novels Swoon and Swear to give away to a lucky reader! Just fill out the form below for your chance to win.

Torn from her native New York City and dumped in the land of cookie-cutter preps, Candice is resigned to accept her posh, dull fate. Nothing ever happens in Swoon, Connecticut...until Dice's perfect, privileged cousin Penelope nearly dies in a fall from an old tree, and her spirit intertwines with that of a ghost. His name? Sinclair Youngblood Powers. His mission? Revenge. And while Pen is oblivious to the possession, Dice is all too aware of Sin. She's intensely drawn to him -- but not at all crazy about the havoc he's wreaking. Determined to exorcise the demon, Dice accidentally sets Sin loose, gives him flesh, makes him formidable. Now she must destroy an even more potent -- and irresistible -- adversary, before the whole town succumbs to Sin's will. Only trouble is, she's in love with him.

What do you do when the boy of your dreams is too bad to be true?

It’s been six months since ghost-turned golem Sinclair Youngblood Powers confessed his love, stole Dice's heart, and disappeared from Swoon, perhaps from existence. Despite the hurt, Dice has been moving steadily toward ordinary. Dreams of Sin still plague and pleasure her sleep, and the mark of Sin's love remains on her skin, still sore. But Dice has been throwing herself into music, finding solace in song and sometimes even in the arms of her band mate, Tosh. Life seems almost…normal. The last thing Dice wants is to mess with anything remotely supernatural. But when her best friend’s boyfriend goes missing, Dice has no choice but to become very much involved. She knows that his disappearance was no accident, and it somehow has everything to do with Sin. Because Dice can feel it: Sin is back. And the promises and deceptions he left in his wake have returned to haunt him.

What do you do when an oath of devotion threatens to destroy the one you love?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

More Author Insight: Research (Yes, I Googled it.)

What is the weirdest thing you've researched for a novel, and did it spark any sketchy Google searches?

"Oh God, if my Google history is ever laid bare for the world to see, I am screweeeeed. Probably the rotting. I do a lot of research into body rot. Alternately, the weapons research - which may or may not be connected to the body rot." - Lia Habel, author of Dearly Departed.

"It isn't weird, except I'm a forty-year-old dude... I was going to have one of my female characters be a cheerleader, so I researched cheerleader outfits and... uh, apparently there's some kind of serious naked cheering cheerleader fetish out there.  Yeah, very, very uncomfortable (my kids were hanging out in the living room).  I decided not to make Abby a cheerleader after that." - Geoff Herbach, author of Stupid Fast.

"Thank goodness for Google. If I had to ask someone all the things that I've looked up online... for example, 'What does it feel like to be stabbed?' And "How many pints of blood can you drain from someone before they pass out?"

My new book, Drink, Slay, Love, is about vampires and were-unicorns. So my Google searches tended to turn up a fair amount of blood and gore, as well as lots of unicorn/virgin jokes of dubious taste. But I did discover a set of unicorn-head-shaped corn-on-the-cob holders that I totally want..." - Sarah Beth Durst, author of Drink, Slay, Love.
"Oh, I haven’t researched anything very strange…yet. I did spend a lot of time examining Victorian ladies’ undergarments." - Jessica Spotswood, author of Born Wicked.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Guardian Book Trailer

Sherrilyn Kenyon's latest Dark Hunter novel, The Guardian,  was just released yesterday! Read the description and take a look at the trailer below...

As a Dream-Hunter, Lydia has been charged with the most sacred and dangerous of missions. She’s to descend into the Nether Realm and find the missing god of dreams before he betrays the secrets that could kill all of them. What she never expects is to be taken prisoner by the Realm’s most vicious guardian.

Seth’s time is running out. If he can’t hand over the entrance to Olympus, his own life and those of his people will be forfeit. No matter the torture, Seth hasn’t been able to break the god in his custody. Then there’s the beautiful Dream-Hunter Lydia: She isn’t just guarding the gates of Olympus—she’s holding back one of the world’s darkest powers. If she fails, an ancient curse will haunt the earth once more and no one will be safe. But evil is always seductive...

Find out more about Sherrilyn Kenyon and her novels at http://www.officialsanctuary.com/ or http://www.sherrilynkenyon.com/.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ignorance doesn't kill, NaNoWriMo does

Glutton for punishment, table for one?

Yep, that's me. I know what you're thinking. "Haven't we been through this before? Don't you despise NaNo with the fire of 1,000 suns?" The short answer would be yes. Sadly, it has the same sort of appeal as reality TV, pizza-flavored chips, and a multitude of other things we as a society can't shake know matter how many times we recognize that these ideas and concepts are just a bad plan. (I really want pizza-flavored chips to work. Truly.)

And thus, NaNo's strange gravity has sucked me in again.

Oh sure, I work 12 hours a day during the week, have a dog who just had two tumors removed, a mountain of housework, a blog to maintain, a TBR stack to tame, and a social life to fake. I can write about 2,000 coherent words a day, building a solid story with well developed characters and an air-tight plot. I can do that, right?  As long as I cut out, eating and sleeping I should be fine.

Don't mistake my light-hearted and somewhat cynical attitude as a set-up for failure. That's not what it is at all. I'm just not turning my back on NaNo this year for she is a fickle mistress, and I've been burned before. No, no. This time I am not buying your pretty lies.

It's on like Donkey Kong, baby. Your move, NaNo. Your move.

Words: 1,301
Mood:  In the mood to kick a little ass.
Music: All Time Low - I Feel Like Dancing

Author Insight: Research (Yes, I Googled it.)

What is the weirdest thing you've researched for a novel, and did it spark any sketchy Google searches?

"I do enjoy reading up about poisons, electrocution, decompression illness, and other horrible things that can happen to the human body. Then I enjoy writing about them in grim, gory detail." - Amy Kathleen Ryan, author of Glow.

"When I was working on the description for a Spanish male protagonist in one of my books, I was trying to go off of a picture, so I Googled 'Hot Teenage Latino Boys'. It was not my proudest moment." - Brodi Ashton, author of Everneath.

"You know, I’ve looked up strange sexual practices at one point for a story, and unfortunately some of the links that were presented to me for weeks afterward were pretty sketchy. Fortunately, I seem to have lived it down, since I never clicked on them." - Anna Sheehan, author of A Long, Long Sleep.

"Not sure how weird it is but I did have to do a lot of research on precisely what crops and animals a community like the one in the book would need to be viable, as well how much land and people it would take to maintain it. Luckily my Dad grew up on a farm in Colorado so he had all the answers. No questionable google searches needed." - Jeff Hirsch, author of The Eleventh Plague.