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Thursday, May 30, 2013

More Author Insight: Reality TV Character Casting

What reality TV show would your main character most likely appear on and why?

"Kira is way too busy saving the world to bother with a reality show. Even after the world is saved, she'd just throw herself into something else with obsessive dedication. It's who she is; I don't think she could survive without a cause." - Dan Wells, author of Fragments. 

"Stan Lee’s Superhumans, naturally. It’s a little known series, but was a huge inspiration for me while writing a novel about human mutations." - Natalie Whipple, author of Transparent

"I Was a Teenage Gargoyle. Oh wait…that’s not a real reality show??" - Page Morgan, author of The Beautiful and the Cursed

"The character I’m writing now could very well be featured in a special juvenile edition of Lockup: Extended Stay. That’s all I’ll say." - Nova Ren Suma, author of 17 & Gone.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Release Date: April 14, 2011
Publisher: Dutton
Age Group: Adult
Format: E-book
Source: Purchased
Pages: 336
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Google
Description: Goodreads
Beth and Jennifer know their company monitors their office e-mail. But the women still spend all day sending each other messages, gossiping about their coworkers at the newspaper and baring their personal lives like an open book. Jennifer tells Beth everything she can't seem to tell her husband about her anxieties over starting a family. And Beth tells Jennifer everything, period.

When Lincoln applied to be an Internet security officer, he hardly imagined he'd be sifting through other people's inboxes like some sort of electronic Peeping Tom. Lincoln is supposed to turn people in for misusing company e-mail, but he can't quite bring himself to crack down on Beth and Jennifer. He can't help but be entertained-and captivated- by their stories.

But by the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late for him to ever introduce himself. What would he say to her? "Hi, I'm the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you." After a series of close encounters and missed connections, Lincoln decides it's time to muster the courage to follow his heart . . . even if he can't see exactly where it's leading him.

Written with whip-smart precision and charm, Attachments is a strikingly clever and deeply romantic debut about falling in love with the person who makes you feel like the best version of yourself. Even if it's someone you've never met.

One of the most buzzed about (and completely worth the buzz) books of the past few months is Rainbow Rowell’s heart-breaking-and-heart-lifting story of first love, Eleanor & Park.  It deserves every bit of exaltation it’s received.  According to very in-depth research I’ve done (aka looking at my Twitter feed), the immediate reaction after finishing E&P is MORE?!  Which leads me here, to Rainbow Rowell’s first book, 2011’s Attachments.  Disclosure: this is not YA.  However, it’s got enormous crossover appeal for an older teen looking to branch out to new horizons or the YA-reading adult who has grown weary of teenage vampires making teenage vampire choices.  The best part (to me) is that this is different from yet similar to E&P in all the ways that matter.

Lincoln is 28, living with his mother after years and years of garnering college degrees, and working as the IT guy for a local Omaha newspaper in the distant past of 1999.  His specific job is reading through and warning the senders of any and all emails that have been flagged as inappropriate by their system’s Webfence.  In doing this, he comes across multiple exchanges between copy writer Jennifer and film critic Beth.  Their emails are witty, personal, sweet, and harmless so he doesn’t send them a warning.  Many exchanges later, things start to get a little more complicated.  Attachments is about being yourself, even when it seems like that is beyond impossible.  It’s hilarious and romantic and nostalgic and deep.  It’s also the most fun I’ve had reading someone else’s emails since Meg Cabot’s The Boy Next Door.

There’s something so compelling about Lincoln, about his awkwardness and somewhat arrested development, that keep this from edging over to creepy.  Yes, he shouldn’t be reading Beth and Jennifer’s emails without warning them.  Yes, he definitely shouldn’t look forward to hearing what they have to say.  But it’s so obvious that Lincoln is completely non-threatening (despite his large stature), and he means well.  Lincoln is still recovering from an age-old broken heart in a way that shows how deeply he feels things and how important his relationships are to him.  His mother takes advantage of that situation too much for me to ever totally forgive her, but it’s not really my place to worry about forgiveness.

It’s also quite easy to see why Lincoln falls for Beth just by her words.  The girl is a writer by trade, but she is equal parts quick, funny, and nerdy.  I’d be friends with Beth in a heartbeat.  The story flows easily between the emails and a third person narrative of Lincoln, and Rowell’s writing shines once again.  She can drop a quip that makes you snort, and two pages later she hits you with phrases worthy of their own tumblr posts.

I also have lots of personal reasons to love Attachments.  1999 was my last year of high school, my first year of college.  I worked in a television newsroom, so there were many asides to which I could relate.  The quote that goes straight to my heart, though?  “I knowingly got involved with a guy who plays the tuba.”  Yep. Me too, Jennifer.

If you’re looking for something a little different, something smart, something not so light but not so dark either, something that will make you smile and warm your heart, then I highly recommend Attachments.  This is how we’ll tide ourselves over until Fangirl arrives this September.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Author Insight: Reality TV Character Casting

What reality TV show would your main character most likely appear on and why?

"The main character of my most recent published novel, Rafe Goldberg, would probably have gone on that Gay or Straight show, where a contestant would have had to guess which of four guys is gay. He would have lost, since they would have guessed him fairly easily, much more easily than he’d like." - Bill Konigsberg, author of Openly Straight

"Is Survivor still on? (I really don't watch TV anymore) I can see Tavia on Survivor." - Aprilynne Pike, author of Life After Theft and Earthbound.

"Pawn Stars, maybe. I could see our character, Will, trying to hock something he thought was valuable, and getting $5 for it." - Lex Hrabe , co-author of Quarantine: The Loners

"Oh, God. Dante Walker would probably be on The Bachelor or something. He’d enjoy being surrounded by all the girls and cat fights." - Victoria Scott, author of The Collector.

Friday, May 24, 2013

More Author Insight: The Write Mood

Apologies that this post is a day later than usual. 
Life reared its ugly head and post scheduling did not occur.

Sometimes the simple act of writing becomes challenging. How do you make yourself write when you aren’t in the mood? Do you ever reward yourself at milestones?

"Moving to Germany took me away from my board game group, so I've filled the void with the more solitary aspects of gaming, like deck-building for card games and painting miniatures for tabletop wargames. If I hit my work goal for the day I get to play at night :)" - Dan Wells, author of Fragments. 

"Usually I only have a couple hours to write a day, so I don’t really have time to think about my mood. I just have to get as much done as possible with the time I have. This works for me, though. I’ve learned to be efficient and how to focus when I need to." - Natalie Whipple, author of Transparent

"I’m always in the mood to write. If I’m not writing something or working on a project I get restless and cranky!" - Page Morgan, author of The Beautiful and the Cursed

"Truth? I don’t force myself. If I write from a place of despair or annoyance, the pages show that clear as day. The writing is crap, and I have to throw it out later. What I do instead is something physical that doesn’t involve writing. So then I’m suds deep in the dishes or sorting all my striped socks in the laundry (I like stripes) or shredding old failed manuscripts so trash foragers can’t find legible passages of my awkward drafts in the garbage cans out behind my building and it’ll hit me: the perfect line. And I’m back to writing again. As for milestones, I have a way of not rewarding myself when I accomplish something because I am never, ever satisfied. There is always something new to complete or attack or strive for. I need to stop sometimes and have a slice of cake." - Nova Ren Suma, author of 17 & Gone.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tips for tackling BEA

Book Expo America is a week away, and we know a lot of you are headed to NYC to attend. We've thought back on past experience and each of us has come up with some last minute tips that could help if you prepare and have an enjoyable show.

  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Have a plan. 
  • Be ready for that plan to fly out the window. (AKA Be flexible.)
  • Pack snacks. 
  • Always bring back-up. (i.e. a friend or blog partner)

  • Pace yourself. BEA is a marathon, not a sprint. Do everything you can, but remember it's supposed to be a good time. 
  • Keep your eyes and ears peeled. Look for signs listing signings or galley drops. Listen to people chatting next to you in line to learn what signings and books have them excited. You may find something to add to your list. 
  • Be bold. Approach people working the booths and ask about a forthcoming title you're anxious to read. Better yet, ask them what upcoming book they adore. Who knows? They may just put a copy in your hands. 
  • Stay hydrated. Bring a water bottle you can refill and drink up. It's easy to get caught up walking the floor or waiting in lines then suddenly realize you haven't had a beverage in hours. 
  • Remember where you are and that you're representing yourself or your blog because other people will remember how you act. I won't belabor the point, but like the saying goes "you never get a second chance to make a first impression."

  •  Acquire effective cab-hailing skills for easy travel. I cannot provide tips, as I have poor cab-hailing skills.
  • Pack comfy footwear in the event that #1 does not occur. 
  • Have backup coffee vending locations for when the Javits Starbucks has a line of 900 people. You may not know my backup coffee location.
  • When someone takes the last copy of the book you want, suddenly stops in front of you, or bites you, remember this simple stress-reduction motto from Bad Boys 2: wooosaaah. 
  • Have a great time. It's New York City and more books than you could ever hope to read. 

We'll see you at the Javits!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Author Insight: The Write Mood

Sometimes the simple act of writing becomes challenging. How do you make yourself write when you aren’t in the mood? Do you ever reward yourself at milestones?

"I find that the 'reward' system isn’t very effective for me. Like most writers and other addicts, I tend to give myself rewards whenever the hell I feel like it, making it pretty hard to fool myself into thinking I’ll only get that piece of chocolate after 10 pages. I mean, why not now, this very moment? Mmm. Thanks, Bill. Thanks for the piece of chocolate." - Bill Konigsberg, author of Openly Straight

"My writing time is so limited, that when I have it, I just simply have to write. I'm not sure how, really. I just put my fingers on the keys and write very bad prose. Chocolate is helpful.:)" - Aprilynne Pike, author of Life After Theft and Earthbound.

"I’ve spent years forcing myself to burn the midnight oil and write and write and write, and I don’t think it’s actually been that productive. Recently, I’ve learned to be more in tune with my creativity. To listen to it. Be sensitive to it. Slow down. If it’s not happening, it’s better to step away from the desk. My biggest discoveries, the best fixes, have come to me when my brain is at rest." - Lex Hrabe , co-author of Quarantine: The Loners

"I write 2,000 words a day, M-F when drafting. I don’t know how I make myself write when I don’t want to. I just do. It’s a job, and everyday people get up for work when they don’t want to. Writing is the same." - Victoria Scott, author of The Collector.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth

Release Date: February 7, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: E-book
Source: Purchased
Pages: 354
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Google
Description: Goodreads
When Cameron Post's parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief they'll never know that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl.

But that relief doesn't last, and Cam is soon forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth and her well-intentioned but hopelessly old-fashioned grandmother. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and leaving well enough alone (as her grandmother might say), and Cam becomes an expert at both.

Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful, pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. She and Cam forge an unexpected and intense friendship--one that seems to leave room for something more to emerge. But just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to "fix" her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self--even if she's not exactly sure who that is.

The first two parts of The Miseducation of Cameron Post didn’t do much for me. Saying that feels sort of strange because I enjoyed a lot of the details packed into both sections, like Cameron’s absolute certainty that her awkward ride home with Mr. Klauson was because she’d kissed Irene. That, somehow, he just knew, even though he couldn’t. It’s one of those nonsensical, world-revolves-around-me, very human thoughts that makes no sense, but we can never quite help but shake.

Danforth also has a knack for sliding into a paragraph-long aside or just tossing in that one extra detail, like calling something, “dried-hay itchy” instead of just “itchy,” that makes things pop to life. She uses these tricks to somehow make you believe in an entire childhood friendship between Cameron and Irene, even though Irene is around for all of about 30 pages. Despite my appreciation of  Danforth’s style, the subject of the first two parts didn’t much connect with me. It felt very much like a typical coming-of-age novel, but with a gay main character. I can absolutely see why that would be useful for a teenager or young adult who’s struggling with the same stuff as Cameron; it just didn’t connect with me.

Like Cameron’s life, that all changed with Coley Taylor. More specifically, the aftermath of their night together. In the kitchen moments afterwards, when Coley’s brother arrives, the venom and fear in Coley’s actions is heartbreaking, but also completely believable. It only gets worse when she betrays Cameron and I could instantly relate with Cameron’s reactions: The part that wanted to tell everyone, the part that wanted to hate Coley, and the part that knew that she didn’t hate her even a little bit.

Sadly, Cameron, never gets that kind of closure, no matter how much I’d’ve liked to see an eventual confrontation. I suppose the lack of closure is a theme with Cameron’s partners, aside maybe from Lindsey, but that doesn’t make it sting any less. That said, it’s hard to fault Coley too much for being a scared teenager who caved to peer pressure and did what every authority figure in her life told her was right. She’s not a lesbian and never was (hell, even in bed, it was Cameron who did everything), but Cameron also gave her every chance to stop, no matter what Coley might think.

Which brings us to the third act, which is mostly an enjoyable exercise in irony, with the staff meaning the best without realizing how off base they are. Every lesson they try to teach Cameron to “cure” her just ends reaffirming her belief that her “condition” isn’t something that can be “fixed.” The staff of God’s Promise, much like every adult figure in her life other than her Grandma, do help Cameron, but not in the way they intended. It’s an almost-sad moment when Cameron realizes the reason behind Lydia’s inability to help her. The epiphany comes when Cameron realizes the reason Lydia has stupid little rules for everything: It prevents Lydia from ever having to confront something that makes he uncomfortable. She can’t possibly help Cameron because she will never even really try to understand Cameron’s struggle.

I absolutely love the final scene. There’s a sense of serenity that permeates the entire chapter that I don’t know how to describe. It’s this weird sort of ritual that  culminates in a swim through a lake. Danforth manages to stack at least three layers of symbolism into this single act (freedom from God’s Promise, acceptance of herself, and making peace with her parents’ death) while managing to impart to the reader Cameron’s own calm.  If nothing else, I’m glad I read the book just so I could experience the last 10 pages or so.