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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Rebel Heart Blog Tour Interview & Giveaway

Last week, I had the amazing opportunity to interview Moira Young, author of the Dust Lands series, by phone along with a couple of other bloggers. Chatting with her and getting some very specific insights into the world of the Dust Lands, the characters and particularly the language of the books was, in a word, awesome. I adore this series and cannot wait to see what happens in Book 3.

Below is the transcript from my conversation with Moira. Check out Mundie Moms, Page Turners Blog and Supernatural Snark to see their interviews.

Moira Young
Moira Young: Blood Red Road tells the story of Saba, an 18 year old girl living in the Dust Lands, a vast, dry, lawless place.  It starts off with her search for her kidnapped brother and goes on from there.

And it's basically a hero's journey. A western set in the future, I think, I would describe it as, amongst other things.

WPP: Ever since I started reading the series, I've been particularly interested in sort of the dialect and speech patterns and how that's reflected on the page. How did you get to that point?  How did you sort of transcribe your characters?

Moira Young: Well, let me think now.  What's the best way to talk about this?

You will have heard me talking about that early draft, which was in the third person.  I didn't realize what I needed to find was her voice.  And that’s why I was dissatisfied with that early version.  It didn't feel authentic to me, it didn't feel like I was saying what I wanted to say, even though I wasn't quite sure what that was.  I was searching for a way to tell this story about a girl whose brother had been kidnapped at some time in the future.  That was the basis for it.

And I really had to, through my very long first draft, the one that took me so long to write, I started off, you know, in the third person.  And by the time that draft ended up, I was inching towards Saba's voice.  I had gone through periods of having her be eight years old, and she just gabbled.  She would gabble in long, long, long sentences without any commas. I was trying to get into her head, I was trying to hear her.

Waiting on Wednesday (32)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine 
that highlights eagerly anticipated books.

The Wrap-Up List by Steven Arntson

Release Date: January 8, 2013
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Pre-order: Amazon / IndieBound / Barnes & Noble

In this modern-day suburban town, one percent of all fatalities come about in the most peculiar way. Deaths—eight-foot-tall, silver-gray creatures—send a letter (“Dear So-and-So, your days are numbered”) to whomever is chosen for a departure, telling them to wrap up their lives and do the things they always wanted to do before they have to “depart.” When sixteen-year-old Gabriela receives her notice, she is, of course devastated. Will she kiss her crush Sylvester before it’s too late?

Friendship, first love, and fantasy artfully mesh in this magically realistic world that ultimately celebrates life.

Why can't I wait? 
I don't really prefer one genre over another, but I'm always interested in reading a story that combines contemporary with a bit of supernatural.  And how creepy would it be to receive your own death letter?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Author Insight: Self-publishing

Do you think the stigma often attached to self-publishing outweighs any benefits or would you consider it under certain circumstances?

"I’m considering it now. I like that there’s an option for further diversification as a freelance writer. This is a dangerous time to be stuck in the mindset that NY publishing is the pinnacle of success. As much as I like seeing my books in stores, I prefer food on the table." - Daniel Marks, author of Velveteen.

"It seems that the stigma of self-publishing is lessening daily, and there are circumstances where it can make sense, especially for traditionally published authors who have built an audience. It’s not something I’d consider at this early point in my career, but never say never." - Lenore Appelhans, author of Level 2. 

"I don’t know how to answer this question because I don’t know enough about self-publishing. My sense, though, is that it’s a viable option these days. The publishing industry is so rough, can be just brutal. If the gatekeepers are blocking you, it’s great to have another way of getting inside the kingdom. That said, an actual publishing house is hard to beat because the people there take care of the business end for you: distribution and marketing and publicizing and all that. Plus, they edit you. Which in my case, is a serious boon." - Lili Peloquin, author of The Innocents

"In a sense, I came out of the self-publishing world. For years I produced zines, which included stories, comics, and art. I traded them with other zinesters. It's a great way of finding an audience on a local level, and I highly encourage it. I guess there is a stigma there, but it seems foolish to stigmatize people for trying to get their work into the world. These days my zinester spirit has largely moved to my website at stevenarntson.com, where I post book reviews, art, and other things that are smaller than books." - Steven Arntson, author of The Wrap-Up List.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Dear Teen Me Blog Tour & Letter

I'm so excited to be part of the Dear Teen Me Blog Tour hosted by Zest Books. This book really struck a cord with me because it's not only a collection of undeniably real letters that gave my emotions a workout but also extremely relatable. Whether or not you can relate to the specific experience, it's easy to understand the struggles these individuals faced and the significant, sometimes life-changing moments they reflect on because we've all had them. The highly personal nature of the content is the man reason I can't review it. This book is to be appreciated, not critiqued.

I was so inspired that I decided to write my own letter. There were plenty of things I would have liked to tell teen me, but one thing jumped out at me -- my boyfriend. We've been together almost nine years now, but there was a time when we parted ways, well before me got romantic, and I thought I'd never see him again. Boy was I wrong!

Dear Teen Me,

Sometimes best friends aren’t forever, and your first one won’t be. She will, however, give you a gift. No, it’s not an awesome birthday, Christmas or Happy Friday present. It’s not even a thing, and it won’t have the slightest impact on you until you’re a senior in college. Maybe even a little later.

You’re fifteen when you agree to help you’re friend move, and when you get to the house she’s moving into there are two other helpers. Her boyfriend is one of them.

You’ve heard so much about him by now that shaking hands doesn’t seem fit for the occasion. In your signature style, you tackle him in the driveway. Remember to thank him for catching you and not letting you slam face first into the gravel.

First impressions aren't always spot on. I know what they tell you, but it’s all lies. At least when you’re fifteen and full of unnecessarily harsh judgments. Yes, he’s a nerd. He’s not in the best shape. The lenses in his glasses could double as a pair of those round winter sleds. Talking is not his strong point but neither is physical prowess.

You’ll spend the next four years dancing around each other until your friend calls off the engagement and breaks his heart in the process, doing damage that won’t become apparent until much later.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

To Kill A Mockingbird 50th Anniversary Giveaway

You’ve read the book…now see it come to life on movie screens nationwide!

For one day only on Thursday, November 15th, select movie theaters nationwide will show the award-winning film version of Harper Lee’s classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird, in an event in honor of its 50th anniversary. In partnership with Fathom Events, Harper Perennial is offering YOU a chance to win 2 tickets for this event, plus a copy of the book!

PRIZE PACK: 2 tickets to the event at the movie theater nearest you and a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird

First: Click here for a list of participating theaters to confirm there is a screening of the event near you.
Second: Comment on this post and share it with your friends on your own blog/Facebook/Twitter! 

**A winner will be selected at random by end of day Sunday, October 28th
Please, first CONFIRM there is a movie theater in your area.

Friday, October 26, 2012

My Favorite Mistake by Chelsea M. Cameron

Release Date: Oct. 3, 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace
Age Group: New Adult
(Mature Content Warning)
Format: E-book
Source: Purchased
Pages: 374
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Description: Goodreads
Taylor Caldwell can't decide if she wants to kiss her new college roommate or punch him.

On the one hand, Hunter Zaccadelli is a handsome, blue-eyed bundle of charm. On the other, he's a tattooed, guitar-playing bundle of bad boy. Maybe that's why Taylor's afraid of falling in love with him, or anyone else. She doesn't want to get burned, and even though her other roommates adore him, she wants him gone before it's too late.

Hunter himself has been been burned before, but the fact that Taylor calls him out on his crap and has the sexiest laugh ever make him decide maybe love isn't a lost cause. They make a bet: if she can convince him she truly loves or hates him, he'll leave the apartment--and leave her alone. The problem is, the more time they spend together, the less she hates him, and the more she moves toward love.

But when the man who holds the key to Taylor's fear of giving up her heart resurfaces and threatens to wreck everything, she has to decide: trust Hunter with her greatest secret, or do everything in her power to win that bet and drive him away forever.

I’m on a bit of a “New Adult” or “Older YA” kick at the moment and it surprises me how many of these books are written by independent authors who self publish their work. I’ve really done a 180 on my views of self published books lately, and My Favorite Mistake by Chelsea M. Cameron has contributed to this.  As this book is aimed at the older end of the YA market, naturally it does contain mature content such as sex, swearing, violence and a scene containing sexual assault. I’m only putting that out there because I know someone people are sensitive about these subjects and it might be a deal breaker for you.

So, we have three college roommates looking for a fourth to share a house with and in walks Hunter Zaccadelli, who has been sent by the school’s housing office. The only room available is sharing with Taylor and she’s all “HELL NO”. Boy with tragic past meets girl with tragic past, although at first their interactions are quite entertaining, for the most part thanks to Hunter’s cocky, flirty attitude and Taylor’s sassy retorts. Taylor is determined to get rid of him and he ends up making a bet with her – he will leave if she can convince him that she either truly hates him or truly loves him. There’s a fine line between love and hate, it would seem.

Hunter Zaccadelli is a walking, talking cliché of a bad boy and whilst he too had a tragic past, he didn't seem to suffer for it other than wanting to keep his secrets.  He seemed relatively unaffected in fact judging by his behavior and if I’m honest, I would have liked more depth from him as a character. Taylor was a very sassy girl who had toughened up her exterior quite considerably since being attacked some years previously. She decided that she would not let any guy close to her ever again and was known as “The Ice Queen” in high school.

I liked the way Taylor’s resolve was gradually broken down, how she felt conflicted a lot of the time and generally tried to fight her growing attraction towards Hunter. She would get mad when she was uncomfortable and used that as a deflective technique, and I understand that part of her character. I did question some of her motives at time, and I won’t go into that for fear of spoiling the entire book for you but I will say that I didn't agree with how violent Taylor was. I mean, she attacks her new roommate within hours of meeting him and what did he do wrong?  He was just play flirting with her. I guess Taylor lashed out because he backed her into a corner and she felt threatened and I understand the girl has issues but to physically punch a guy you’ve just met in the nose and then grab his balls is perhaps a little too far.

The writing was fast paced and flowed really nicely but one of the things I did pick up on was that some of the dialogue seemed to span half a page at times with no actions or descriptions added – it was just dialogue and that felt a little weird to me as the characters would be doing SOMETHING physical like looking away, staring, looking nervous or whatever.

Now, admittedly I will say that it was probably a massive mistake on my part to read this just after reading Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire because I loved that book like woah and I was worried that it had ruined me for other books (the jury is still out people). Anyway, what I found in this book was a similar story that was lighter in places, very funny at times but ultimately...not as good I’m afraid.  However, it was highly entertaining, and I appreciated the multiple laugh out loud moments. Overall, My Favorite Mistake held my attention, made me laugh and I would definitely read something from this author again.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

More Author Insight: Sequel Stand-In

If you had to let another author step in for you and write a sequel or companion novel, who would you chose to delve into your fictional world?

"I’d ask Margaret Mitchell (Gone with the Wind), because she did character, drama, romance, and world building like no one else." - Sara Walsh, author of The Dark Light.

"Phillip Reeve of Larklight and Mortal Engines fame. In fact, he could just write all my books for me if he wanted to." - Stefan Bachmann, author of The Peculiar.

"Someone who turns fantasy into poetry, someone whose very words conjure magic. I would choose a writer of magic realism, like Alice Hoffman or Toni Morrison. It would end up a very different novel from the ones I’ve written, but I think it would be beautiful." - Robin Bridges, author of The Unfailing Light.

"That’s such a crazy question! And yet, I know the answer. Andrew Smith. Why? Because he thinks outside the box, doesn’t hold back for anyone’s sake and writes damn great books." - A.S. King, author of Ask the Passengers.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (31)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine 
that highlights eagerly anticipated books.

Falling for You by Lisa Schroeder

Release Date: January 1, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pre-order: Amazon / IndieBound / Barnes & Noble

Rae's always dreamed of dating a guy like Nathan. He’s nothing like her abusive stepfather—in other words, he’s sweet. But the closer they get, the more Nathan wants of her time, of her love, of her...and the less she wants to give. 

As Rae’s affection for Nathan turns to fear, she leans on her friend Leo for support. With Leo, she feels lighter, happier. And possessive Nathan becomes jealous. 

Then a tragedy lands Rae in the ICU. Now, hovering between life and death, Rae must find the light amid the darkness…and the strength to fight for life and the love she deserves.

Why can't I wait?
Because I'm a huge fan of Lisa's work! I read I Heart You, You Haunt me before I started blogging, and I've been hooked on Lisa's writing and unique voice ever since. Her books are also full of strong emotions expressed in a clear and relatable way, which I adore. I'm anxious to see what Lisa has in store next. 

Kiss N' Tell Blog Tour & Guest Post

Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler
Coming up for Air:  Janet Gurtler explores her inspiration for the book and her character development of a girl who has to learn to forgive herself for a tragic mistake that upends so many lives.

I haven’t made a secret of the fact that this book was inspired by my son, Max, 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 Max 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 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 a death. 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.  Plus there’s hot boys. I like them too.

An avid reader and chronic journal writer as a teen, after college Janet worked as a copywriter in radio and television. Somehow she was lured over to corporate sales and marketing where she worked for top consumer good companies until her son was born. Eventually Janet returned to her first love of writing and once she found Young Adult books she has never looked back.

Her first Young Adult book, Waiting to Score was published by Westside Books under the pseudonym J.E. MacLeod.

Janet Gurtler lives in Calgary, Canada, deliciously close to the Canadian Rockies with her husband, son and an untrained dog named Meeko. Janet does not live in an Igloo or play hockey, but she does love maple syrup and says “eh” a lot.
*Bio from Herman Agency Inc

Where to find her...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Author Insight: Sequel Stand-In

If you had to let another author step in for you and write a sequel or companion novel, who would you chose to delve into your fictional world?

"Christopher Moore. I’d be comfortable that his comic style and ability to balance horrific scenes and world-building would be respectful to my crazy work. Oh hell, he’d improve it!" - Daniel Marks, author of Velveteen.

"Such an intriguing question! I recently read Through to You by Emily Hainsworth and I could tell that we’re on the same wavelength.  So if someone were to take over The Memory Chronicles, I would trust her with it." - Lenore Appelhans, author of Level 2. 

"I’d pick the English writer, Sarah Waters. I just read her book The Little Stranger. It’s a cross between a gothic ghost story and a psychological thriller, which is how I view The Innocents. - Lili Peloquin, author of The Innocents

"That would be an amazing circumstance to stumble into! I hope it happens one day. My primary criterion would be skill at developing large themes. Ursula K. Le Guin would probably be my top choice. Can I bring back a dead author to write this sequel? I would consider revivifying Octavia Butler. Secondarily, I'd choose a writer who had a good sense of humor--I might pick M.T. Anderson or (again from the grave) Tove Jansson, who wrote the Moominvalley books." - Steven Arntson, author of The Wrap-Up List.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Speechless Blog Tour & Giveaway

In honor of National Anti-Bullying Awareness month and Teen Reading Week, which was celebrated last week, we’re talking about Speechless by Hannah Harrington, a young adult novel about bulling. This tour, hosted by Kismet Book Tours, is also in partnership with Love is Louder.

The Love is Louder movement was started when the Jed Foundation, MTV and actress Brittany Snow decided to do something to help those feeling mistreated, misunderstood or alone. Now hundreds of thousands of people around the world have joined the Love is Louder movement and are using their actions to make their communities and schools better places for everyone.  Come join the Love is Louder movement with us. Get started now at LoveisLouder.com/SPEECHLESS

Check out Jessica's Speechless review, and learn about her Speechless moment below...

This isn’t your typical book tour.  You won’t find a Q&A or guest post by Hannah Harrington.  Instead, you get a moment of honesty from the resident nerdfighter (aka me).  My Speechless Moment isn’t nearly as serious as Chelsea Knot’s.  It didn’t cause any physical harm to anyone nor did it involve any fierce bullying.  It’s simply a defining moment for me: a girl who couldn’t keep her mouth shut.

I’ve always been very talkative.  My parents don’t know my official first word because I used to “talk” incessantly in a language that was all my own, and somehow I went from that to speaking in full sentences seamlessly (though they claim my first understandable sentence was, “Omigosh! ET!”).  In addition to my chatterbox ways, I’ve also always been a terrible secret-keeper.  As soon as I hear the words, “You can’t tell anyone this but…” I immediately feel the need to tell anyone what I’ve just been told.  I just assumed it was part of my nature and did nothing to quell that urge.