Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The time there was a guy with antlers

When the Fierce Reads tour was announced as with a stop in San Diego, it was a sure thing. And then Macmillan asked me to be designated blogger and sent me a box filled with pretty books to giveaway AND set me up with an interview time with the

I met Michelle at Starbucks, as usual. We took over a couple of tables and waited until the ladies showed. 

Everyone showed up just after six. We decided to sit outside to not irritate the inside guests. 

As with the last interview I did, I intended to record this and then figure out some way to make it a sound file for you to choose whether or not you wanted to listen. As I am complete and total fail at technology, instead there is a wall of text. And to keep the wall of text as small as possible, I kept out all of the tangents and giggles. Just believe me when I say these four women are hilarious. If you want to get straight to the event, scroll past the block quote. 
What's the hardest book to write: your first or your last?

G: The second.  They buy a finished book and are like, "You're amazing!" and then you turn in your second one and they're like, "Wellllllll....we've revised our opinion." No, I'm joking, but I couldn't count on my hands anymore how many people I know who have had to rewrite their second book and I was one of them.  I flew through the third book and it got through revisions really fast and everyone loved it.  So for me, it was the second book.

J: I would have said the second book about three months ago, until I started writing the third book and it is impossible. I think the problem with the third book is that you have to solve every problem that you set up.  And through out, I've been very nice to my future self, going "Oh, future Jessica will deal with that. I'm going to set it up here and then she's going to solve it in a really cool way in the third book." Now I'm getting to those problems and I'm like, "Damn you, past Jessica!" so I'm going to say the third one.

L:  Book two was the most intense, but book three was the most challenging. I thought it was going to be the easiest because I had everything mapped out and I thought it would be the fun part. I knew where everything was going and I thought I would just enjoy myself.  And it could not have been less true. I think that in books one and two, you're opening doors and in book three, you're closing doors.  For me, that was sort of a new experience and not one that I enjoyed.

A: If you're comparing the first book to the last, I think they each have their challenges.  The new idea is always sexiest.  You run with it, you can do anything you want and it doesn't matter how crazy it is because the sky is the limit. But, like Jessica said, in the third book, you absolutely have to make everything make sense and if you weren't completely logical with some of your decision making, you have to deal with those consequences. By the same token, I didn't really have a hard time with the first or the third book. 

With the first book, there was no expectation.  I wrote the YA because my kids were bugging me to write a book that they could read. I just wrote it to have fun and with book two, I was kind of freaked out.  I didn't really expect that it would sell and then it did. And then it did kinda well and then it did better and people were excited for the second one.  That's when I realized that I was going to have to make lightening strike twice.

So, for me, I'd have to say that Outpost was the hardest to write because I was struggling with the weight of reader expectations and I was afraid that they wouldn't like it as much. I couldn't, from a plot sense, duplicate the excitement of discovery from Enclave because everything is brand new. In Outpost, you're returning to the world, they're getting the second look and maybe they'll look a little closer.  What I tried to do instead of offering breakneck, relentless action was I tried to intersperse that with more emotional development and emotional growth. Some people called that book slower, in comparison.  Some people liked that and said that it was good to get to know the characters and care about them.  It was an absolutely necessary maneuver because if you don't care about the characters, you don't care when I raise the stakes in book three. So, for me, book two was the toughest.

What is the most stressful thing about writing?

G: When you get out of the habit of doing it. I'm always like, "Oooh, I finished a book, I'm going to take a week off.  I'll start all of these sewing projects and I'll bake things and I'll take care of the children for once and I'll clean my house." The next thing you know, I've turned into some domestic person, which is not me. And then I'm like, "How do I write again? What do I do? What is a computer?" That is the hardest thing, just getting back into a groove if I left myself stop.

J: I think one of the most stressful things is when you sell a book on proposal. When I write a proposal, I feel like a rock star. They buy it and I'm thinking, "This is going to be EPIC!" You get to put all of the really cool stuff in a proposal, but you don't have to put all of the garbage that gets in the way of the cool stuff. Every time I turn in a book, I think they're going to say it isn't the book they bought.

A: If I can dovetail or piggy back or whatever on that answer, I hate selling on proposal. I find it stressful for slightly different reasons. Generally, I'm really excited when I write the proposal and the sample chapters and then I just want to finish it.  But then, I have to send it away and I have to wait.  I'll have other deadlines, but eventually I'll hear back.  They're going to buy it, but they don't actually need it until December, 2016;, so the book I'm really excited about, I can't write right now. By the time December comes along, I don't even want to write it any more. I don't even know what I was thinking or where I was trying to go with it.

L: For me, I have a very strong streak of self-doubt and that is sort of with me through everything. On the days where it gets the better of me, those are the worst days. Those are the days where I feel like a hack and a fraud and I regret every negative review I ever read because I have all of those voices that are like a Greek chorus saying, "That's right, you're terrible!"

What do you like more: drafting or revising?

G: Whatever I'm not doing at the time. "Oh, if only I were drafting and I could just create and I didn't have any notes!" When I'm drafting then it's, "This is terrible! When I revise, everything will be magical and I'll make everything beautiful!"

L: I like drafting more.

J: I like drafting more. Until about three months ago, when I started something called Book Three.

A: I say revising.  It takes so much more mental energy for me to create something out of nothing. Once I have a book, even if it's kind of crappy, I can work on it and work on it and work on it and I can make it not crappy. It's not as exhausting because I have a place to start.

Is it ever too late to start writing?

L: This actually drives me insane. Ask someone who didn't manage to write their first book until "late in life". No, it's not too late. I think one of the problems we have, not just in publishing, but in everything is this weird sort of festishization of youth and being the first to discover a talent. The fact is that there are a lot of writers and artists and even actors who started later in life. The only issue is that, if you're anything like me, you feel like you're going to have to play catch up forever because there are people who have backlists when they started at twenty-five years old. We live in a culture that celebrates youth and celebrates the first book, the first starring role, the first whatever it is.  That's not what is important. What's important is the story that you write and how you connect with your readers.

J: I've had people say that they're frustrated that they haven't hit that certain point by a certain age.  I think what's important is to not compare yourself to anyone else.  Everyone is on their own path and their own road to publishing or success or however you want to define what you want. If you start comparing yourself to people, you will just set yourself up to fail. I wanted to be published by a certain age too and I didn't get there.  Everyone gets there when they're meant to get there.

L: I have one more thing to say.  I think we do this tremendous disservice to kids when we say things like, "You're so smart for your age" "You're so talented for your age." because as some point, you stop being the youngest, smartest person in the room and you really need to learn who you are and to rely on your talent and hard work. I think it would be great if we could distance ourselves from this idea that somehow being a prodigy or having some inherent gift is somehow a great boon. A lot of people do publish when their really young and then never publish again. Or it takes them ten years to write another book because of all of the pressure. There's no right way to do it, just write the book.

A: I would add that we live in a culture that sort of glamorizes writing. From the outside, it looks extremely glamorous and it looks like an easy thing to do and an easy way to make money. I would ask anyone who is an aspiring writer: where do you see this going? What are your expectations? A lot of people who think they want to write, if they knew how many late nights, how many days in your pyjamas, how many showers you skip, you eat crackers and olives for a whole day... If they knew the reality of it instead of what's shown on Castle. I think he's been at his keyboard maybe twice in six years.

J: Well, even with Carrie Bradshaw in Sex in the City. She's shopping all the time and she writes a column once a week. What does is pay? $25,000 a piece?

A: If you want to write because you love it and it's always been in the back of your head that you wanted to try it and you think you would enjoy it and you want to tell stories... if that's your parameter, then go for it. But, if you're expecting glamor and fame and buckets of money and your publisher to fly with you to Martha's Vineyard to have a holiday weekend... If their expectations are realistic, then absolutely. 

You get the call/email/letter saying that you're going to be published for the first time. What happens in the next five minutes?

A: Since I'm international, I got an IM from my agent saying "Are you there?" I was away when she sent it. I knew we had a proposal out. It had only been ten minutes, but she had gone to lunch. I sat there and stared at the IM for about an hour. She finally came back and said that we had an offer and it was a good offer and I wanted it.  I just started screaming and jumping around and crying because at that point, I had been trying for twenty years and I had around twelve books rejected. She was my third agent and I was at the point where I believed it just wasn't going to happen for me.

So, I burst into really loud, sobbing tears.  We had a part-time housekeeper, who came running in terror because she thought I was having a brain aneurysm.  I was snotting and crying and barking out in Spanish what happened and it's absolutely indecipherable. She calls my husband and she tells him that I'm having some sort of a fit. My husband calls me all panicked and I'm finally able to tell someone in English that I sold a book.  He asked to talk to the housekeeper so he could tell her that I wasn't dying. So, he does and then she just leaves! She didn't even congratulate me.

L: I was in Whole Foods and it was Thanksgiving time and I had had an idea that the way I was going to get through the waiting for the submissions was that I was going to cook and bake up a storm. I am neither a good cook or a good baker, so it was good to be challenging myself. I had a cart filled with groceries and I was standing in the produce section.  I didn't expect to hear from anyone and we had gotten an offer before Thanksgiving and I shrieked. Then I left my entire cart of groceries so I could go outside and hyperventilate on the curb. It was there when I got back.

J: I just remember it being really surreal. I think I expected to be more excited than I was, not that I wasn't excited, but I expected it to be some huge emotional fireworks.  I didn't know a lot about the publishing industry at that point, but it was for my first adult book and when she told me that we had an offer from St. Martins Press and I was like, "I've heard of them!" I was excited that I had heard of the publisher and figured that it must be good.  It didn't become real until later that night.  I was producing a really horrible indie film at the time and I went to the editing studio and told all of them that I got an offer on my book and they got excited.

G: It was the night of my son's fourth birthday on the night that the final offers came in from auction. We had taken him to Chuck E. Cheese because it had been a crazy month with submission and I didn't make any birthday plans.  I was feeling like a horrible mother and I had to sneak out and my agent and I had this whole conversation while I was standing behind one of the Chuck E. dolls. She was in a closet at some dinner for her father and we were trying to discuss the pros and cons of who to sign with and it was just a little ridiculous.

We finished the interview around 6:50 and I left them to take a few moments and get my eleventy billion books to have signed. [Thank you, Jennifer for saving seats!]  The ladies got to the store and the event started right at 7. After the store introduction, each author briefly talked about their book [it was the first time Ann had seen finished copies of Horde] and then the Q&A started.

What is the most drastic thing you've done for a deadline?

L: I killed a man

G: Because I needed to see how the blood pooled. 

L: I go into the bunker. I guess I just go into my house and give up any social life. Oh and I take a lot of showers because that's where I get ideas.  So I am very very clean.

J: I locked myself in a cabin for four days. 

L: I thought you were going to say a cabinet. 

G: I do that often. My husband will book me a hotel and I'll get a lot of words down. Actually, I'll write for about 5 hours and then I'll read a bunch of books. 

A: I tend to be really obsessive. The closer I get to finishing the more obsessive I'll get. I don't want to do anything else. That includes eating or sleeping or bathing or seeing my family. Sometimes my husband will poke me to make sure that I'm still alive. My record is 16k words in 24 hours. But my hands were tired and I had to take pain medication. I didn't know what day it was.

What's your process: pantser or plotter?
G: The first time I ever finished a book was with NaNo. That made me think I was a pantser. And then I had to write the second book. I came to the realization that it depends on the book. I'm currently working a historical book and I need to do research otherwise it's going to be a hot mess of things that didn't actually happen.

J: I'm a plotter. Anyone who follows me on all of the things know that I'm a big fan of Save the Cat. I say that I outline just so I can deviate from it. I'm like a plotter with a side of pantsing. 

L: I'm a plotter. Jessica says there's 15 beats and I have 12. There's a skeleton and it gets better. That helps me if I get stuck somewhere, I can go somewhere else. For example, in book two, I was planning on killing someone and I decided not to. I call it the reverse George RR Martin. 

A: Depends on whether or not I'm writing with my husband. We didn't talk about things beforehand and I got us started while he wrote a bunch of crap. I would tell him "No, you can't have them doing that there." and he would say, "Well, I just did." Instead of working on the scene, we fought. 

In conclusion, if I write with my husband, I have to plot because we'll fight. And I don't want to fight because I want to stay married. For myself, I'm more of a pantser. I need to know the end. If I don't know the ending, I don't know how to get there. 

Since Allegiant came out, there's been a lot of fan opinion, how do you guys plan for reader reaction?

L: I think readers have the right to react however they want. And authors have the right to finish the way they want. The problem I have is when people say "if you do this, I'm going to punch you in the face or kill you". You can't please everyone. Forced creators make horrible product. 

A: You can react however you want, just don't bring it to my yard. You can write fan mail, but don't send me hate mail or chicken heads. I respect readers to have their own forums and opinions, but to start a discourse with the person who created it? What do you think is actually going to come of that?

J: What's the saying? Love and hate are different sides to the same coin. If you create something that makes that sort of reaction, it's amazing. When I get things in my head, like from reviews, I go to GoodReads and I read the one star reviews of my favorite book. It makes me realize that with a billion people in the world, there's always going to be someone who doesn't like it.

Have you ever created a character for your protagonist?

L: Sturmhond was the first character that actually leapt off the page and wouldn't shut up. There was so much darkness and OMG CAN I DO THIS? with every character. And Sturmhond says I got this. 

How did you build your magic?

L: It is sort of molecular chemistry. It answers the question of what happens if you take a gun to a magic fight. 

J: I tried to keep mine in a bit of a "it could happen". In the outline, I thought it would take maybe a page or two to tell her everything and then I found that I had to make up some of the technology to get what I needed.

G: Mine came from a painting [I didn't get the name!]. Or a series of paintings that show people at looms, weaving and the fabric is going out the window, creating the world. In all of them, there's one girl who is looking at the audience and I wanted to know what that girl was thinking. I like to sew and I love sci fi like Doctor Who and Star Trek. It took a lot of physics which would be surprising to my teachers. It started with what would the world look like and then what would the women think about this. 

A: The freaks started because I have an obsession with zombies. I've always been totally into zombies. When I was ten, I snuck into a movie and saw Night of the Comet. I came from a strict religious family, we were the last to get a microwave because it was run by demons. So, I snuck a lot of zombie stuff and it was inevitable that I was going to write something with zombies. And I did some research on genetics and genetic memory.

The signing started around 8:15.  They had all of the people who were standing go outside and start a line and the people who were sitting were asked to fold their chairs before getting in line.  Jennifer handed Michelle and I post-its for personalization and we tackled the line.  I also saw KEIKO and Crystal from the BN store in Vegas.

And this happened too... Yah. That guy is wearing antlers.

While we were waiting, we ended up getting behind the counter and chatting with Jennifer and Kate about a variety of things.  And then....Jennifer took Michelle and I to the super secret back room.  It was the first time I had been in the one at the San Diego location.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take anything without discussing it with Patrick first.  But to see it....sigh.

We eventually got in the line, at the back of it. When it was our turn, I ended up in a serious conversation about Doctor Who with Gennifer and Jessica [who has just started watching it]. See, Gennifer has the most amazing Doctor Who lunch box and it has River on it.  Somehow, that lunch box led to me showing them my tattoo and talking about how my license plate says TARRDUS [yah, that was the only spelling left]. Annnnnnd due to this captivating conversation, I didn't get any photos of the ladies signing my books.

So, here's just the books!


Then there was a bit of a photo shoot.  There were about 15 people left over to take photos.  First it was just the authors holding their books.  Leigh said it was like the paparazzi.  Gennifer said that someone should say "Marco" and everyone would know where to look. 

Michelle took a photo for me and then I thanked the four of them for taking the time to do the interview.  Jessica thanked me for driving down and I said that I lived about 15 minutes away and she said, "well then, never mind." And then thanked me [again] for driving to Vegas. Before we walked out, I also found Molly [who was their handler/publicist/tour manager/HBIC] and thanked her for letting me do the interview.

Ann, Leigh, Jessica and Gennifer are quite the charismatic group.  Their stories are funny and the camaraderie is delightful and entertaining.  I can't recommend them enough.


Macmillan was awesome enough to send me this pretty stack of books to giveaway.  All of them are signed. I'm sorry, but this giveaway is US only.  It's a pretty hefty stack and I'm a little scared to find out what international shipping would cost me. 

There is a side note: I didn't get the arc of Unforgotten in time to take it with me, the one pictured in the stack is mine.  The arc is included in the giveaway, I just don't have it yet.  If it doesn't show up before the giveaway is over, it will be sent separately. Anyhoo.

Edit 11/5: I have found another stack of books from previous Fierce Reads tours and will be including them in this giveaway.  There will now be two winners. The first winner will win the books pictured above.  The second winner will win the books pictured below.  All of the books in the second group are signed, except for The Fallout.

Rules for the giveaway are under the "terms & conditions" on the Rafflecopter widget.

**Good Luck!!**

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 28, 2013

The time it was about a player

I know Lauren Billings and Christina Hobbs [AKA: Christina Lauren, AKA Lo & C] from the Twilight fandom.  It's been awesome seeing them on this whirlwind journey of success and I'm beyond thrilled to finally be helping them promote their newest addition to the Beautiful series. 

Before we get to their interview, let's check out the book, shall we?
In the third book in the Beautiful Bastard series, an agreement between a venture capitalist and a bookish woman quickly becomes a very NSFW version of My Fair Lady.

When Hanna “Ziggy” Bergstrom moves to New York City for graduate school, Will Sumner thinks his responsibilities to his best friend’s nerdy little sister will be limited to the occasional dinner and check-in. Little does he know that Ziggy is ready to break out of her bookworm academic shell and move more into bombshell territory. Of course she figures the gorgeous womanizing venture capitalist Will is the best person to help mentor her in this new field of study: dating.

Will takes on the challenge with more than a healthy dose of skepticism and humor, but soon finds that Ziggy just needed a tiny push, not a world of change, to reveal a woman every man seems to notice. Soon “Ziggy” is gone and the unfiltered, innocently seductive Hanna Bergstrom is hijacking his dreams, his moods, and even his orderly no-strings-attached dating life—beginning the night his mentoring activities move between the sheets.
Sounds delicious, right?

1. By now everyone knows how Beautiful Bastard came to be, but what about Stranger and Player? Where did those ideas come from?

Stranger was the second book in our first contract, and it was due about two months after we signed with Gallery. We knew that we had to do something really fun and different to follow up Bastard, but it had to have the same heat level. One day, we were at the beach and Christina said, "What if we start with the age-old, 'Two people meet in a bar' and try to make it memorable?" Stranger just took off from there.

Player was the idea we had considered doing right after Bastard, but we chose Stranger instead. In Player, the idea was more the brother's-best-friend trope, but we really wanted Hanna to be a quirky character who is distinctly different from Chloe and Sara. Honestly, we had so much fun writing both books, and looking back we are proud of all three of them for being fun, and silly, and different enough from each other that they can stand alone.

2. What is your writing process like as a partnership?

We've been writing together for so long that sometimes it's hard to describe how it works. In some ways, it's easier to describe how it would be difficult to do it any other way. Who would we text in the middle of the night when we have an awesome idea? Who would drop everything to read a new scene we're excited about? Who would fly to CA to plot with Lo, and who would make all the spreadsheets?

The thing is, writing can be lonely and having someone who is always just as excited, who is just as invested, who thinks about it just as much and feels everything as strongly -- that's what makes it a partnership. We outline together, we split up the writing duties, and we write in shared docs where we can always see what is happening when we need to. It

3. Describe Player in five words.

Slow burn, realistic hesitation. Goner.

4. What three things would you take to a desert island?

Lo: a boat, a satellite phone, sunscreen.

Christina: How could my answers possibly beat Lo's? I'd also add: Bear Grylls.

5. Who are your favorite swoony boys?

Lo: Joe Fontaine from The Sky is Everywhere, Prince Po from Graceling. Ed from Graffiti Moon, Peeta from Hunger Games.

Christina: Joe Fontaine from The Sky is Everywhere always and forever amen. Adam Kent from Shatter Me and Peeeeeeta!

6. You can only read one book for the rest of your life. What is it?

Lo: Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K Massie. I could write stories forever based on her extraordinary life.

Christina: This question is so not fair. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, all of the feels.


Huge thanks to Lo & C for taking the time to do the interview.  Make sure you check out their blog and Facebook and follow Lo and Christina on Twitter.


Haven't pre-ordered your copy of Beautiful Player? I've got them for you. Well, I don't have them, but I have people who do. :D There will be two winners and they will receive the books directly from Gallery Books. 

Rules are listed under the "terms & conditions" on the Rafflecopter widget.

**Good Luck!!**
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 25, 2013

The time it was about Horde

Horde was one of the first arcs sent to me by Macmillan and I almost wept tears of joy when I got it.  I was so so so excited to finally read the ending of Deuce and Fade's epic story.  And oh man, it didn't disappoint.  So, of course, when I got the invite to be part of the blog tour for Ann Aguirre, I jumped at the chance.

But, as always, before we get to Ann's interview, let's check out the book.
The horde is coming.

Salvation is surrounded, monsters at the gates, and this time, they're not going away. When Deuce, Fade, Stalker and Tegan set out, the odds are against them. But the odds have been stacked against Deuce from the moment she was born. She might not be a Huntress anymore, but she doesn't run. With her knives in hand and her companions at her side, she will not falter, whether fighting for her life or Fade's love.

Ahead, the battle of a lifetime awaits. Freaks are everywhere, attacking settlements, setting up scouts, perimeters, and patrols. There hasn't been a war like this in centuries, and humans have forgotten how to stand and fight. Unless Deuce can lead them.

This time, however, more than the fate of a single enclave or outpost hangs in the balance. This time, Deuce carries the banner for the survival of all humanity.
Sounds good, right?

1. Where did the idea for the Razorland series come from?
First, I was a child in the 80s, when we lived with the constant fear from nuclear stockpiling and the cold war. In grade school, they actually showed us films on what we should do if the bomb dropped. As a result, I've always had some issue from that constant anxiety. When I'm afraid of something, I tend to work it into my books, so it was natural that I would, someday, write about the end of the world as we know it.
Before I wrote the Razorland trilogy, I hadn't read extensively in the genre, mostly because I intended to take a crack at it, and so I wanted to be able to say, honestly, that any similarity came from a collective zeitgeist. Before I finished the series, I had only read A Canticle for Leibowitz, which is post-apocalyptic but not YA and Lord of the Flies, which is more about the savagery that lurks close to the skin. Since completing the Razorland saga, I've discovered a long list of dystopian authors I cheerfully recommend: Paolo Bacigalupi, Veronica Rossi, Patrick Ness, Courtney Summers, Meg Rosoff, and more.
For me, every book starts in the same place -- with the characters. They tell me their names and then I listen as they share their stories. I write them down. So far, it's working really well.
2. What do you love most about Deuce and Fade and why should we root for them?
I'm really bad at this sort of thing. When I'm asked to pitch my books or describe my series, I usually give a quick tagline and then mumble. So I turned this query over to Twitter, and the readers have spoken.
"Deuce and Fade are awesome because they always have each other's back. They're perfect partners, fighting and more, and the tension between them is brilliant. You should root for them because they've been through so much and they deserve to be happy. Together."
3. The Freaks are quite creepy. Tell me how they developed as characters. Was there anything odd that you had to research for them?
I tried, but there's not a lot of information regarding genetic mutations due to biological and chemical warfare. In the end, I made a lot of it up, based on bits of science I could find, and then I extrapolated, given certain theories about how humans developed intelligence that separated them from animals.
They definitely have an arc, however, and I can't wait until readers read about it in Horde. I did my best to foreshadow, but it wasn't easy since I was locked into Deuce's head, and I couldn't show scenes from any other points of view.
4. What was your favorite part of writing this series?
Finishing it. That sounds a bit glib, but when I start a big project, a three book arc, I have all these ideas tangled up with the fear that I won't be able to do them justice. Is my ability equal to my vision? I have no idea. Until I power through and complete the series. Once I do that, it's the biggest rush and I just savor it. When I wrap up a book, that's a thrill, but when I write the final volume in a series, it's indescribably delightful.
5. Explain the series in five words.
The Walking Dead meets Fallout.
Speed [ish] Round:
1. What three things would you take to a desert island?
Kindle. Solar Charger. Emergency Kit.
2. What are you reading right now?
Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton
3. Who are your favorite swoony boys?
Park -- from Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.
Varen -- from Nevermore by Kelly Creagh.
Tom -- from When the World was Flat (and We Were in Love) by Ingrid Jonach.
Naji -- from The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke.
Matt -- from Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park.
4. Are there any authors that you fangirl over?
Not in person. I try to be cool when I'm meeting rockstar-famous authors. Then I do a crazy dance as soon as I'm alone. Frex: I just had breakfast with Rachel Caine! Charlaine Harris just talked to me! I've been idolizing Sharon Shinn for a really long time and I recommend her books to all and sundry. Her command of language is gorgeous.
Huge thanks to Ann for taking the time and Macmillan for the invite!

You can find Ann on her website, Facebook and Twitter accounts.  Make sure you add her books on GoodReads and go see her on the Fierce Reads tour.


Haven't been able to pick up a copy of Enclave, Outpost or Horde? I've got them for you. Well, I don't have them, but I have people who do. :D Winner will receive the books directly from Macmillan. 

Rules are listed under the "terms & conditions" on the Rafflecopter widget.

**Good Luck!!**

And be sure to check out all of the other tour stops for other goodies:
Horde Blog Tour Schedule
Monday 10/14
Tuesday 10/15
Wednesday 10/16
Thursday 10/17
Friday 10/18
Monday 10/21
Tuesday 10/22
Wednesday 10/23
Thursday 10/24

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The time I left without my books

Michelle and I were looking for a reason to have a date and what better reason than a book signing. Abbi Glines, Colleen Hoover and Jamie McGuire were appearing at Mysterious Galaxy and we decided to go. We met up at 4:30 for coffee and we were in the story by 5pm. There were so so so many people already lining up in the store.

They announced that the authors were going to do a quick talk and Q&A and then everyone would be lined up for the signing. And then it was just time to wait. 

There were a lot of people. A lot. A lot. A lot. So many that when Rob starting handing out post it's for personalization, Michelle and I each took a stack and a marker and set out in opposite corners of the store to help. 

The ladies came out right at 7pm. They were introduced with information on their books. And then the talk began...

Jamie started talking about how her new book we as something different, but still had feels. She admitted that she had no idea what "the feels" were, but wanted to say that. 

Colleen said that she wasn't going be that chatty. Jamie said she was just trying to sell her books, so at the end of Colleen's and Abbi's self-introduction, they each said, "buy Red Hill".

Q&A started right away. 

To Abbi: Any chance you'll kill off Nan?
I like Rush and he's already lost a friend, so that would devastate him. I've already planned something for her, so I can't kill her.

Who's been your favorite character?
A: It has always been Beau Vincent. He taught me a lot of things. And then I wrote Harlow and she took the spot. She's different than any other character I've written and I love that.

J: Skeeter McGee is so much fun. He wasn't in the plans, he just happened and I'm so happy. 

C: I think it changes with every book. Right now, it's Ridge and I can't wait for you to meet him. 

For Jamie: the Beautiful Disaster movie, where is that?
J: We optioned it almost a year and a half ago. There's a script and I've read it and there's a producer attached to it. Just because there's an option, doesn't mean it'll be made. In February, the rights will revert back to me, so if they don't do anything by then...

For Colleen: any word on the Hopeless movie?
C: The script is being written now. 

For your latest books, what actor would play your male lead?
A: With actors who have done other things, you see them as those characters. I would want something new. 

J: I agree

C: I think casting would be so hard.

How much do the people in your immediate life get into the book? 
J: Travis is based on someone I had a huge crush on. And Red Hill is filled with people I know. I bring in people all the time. 

A: I don't. Ever. I'm afraid that people will read the book and know it's them. My mom has a complex because all of my moms are mean. 

C: I don't. I do have a few scenes that have happened in real life. 

Where did you get the name Halle at? 
J: Scarlett's daughters are basically my daughters. They got to see themselves in my eyes and it was really cool.

How hard was it to do self publishing?
J: It's not easy. The main thing is to do your research. Google is your friend. Don't expect someone to set everything aside to do it for you. 

How did all of you meet?
C: We've been good friends for about 2 years. 

A: I saw Beautiful Disaster on Amazon. I don't know how it happened. 

C: Back then there wasn't a lot of self published authors, so we would talk on Facebook. Now there's a big group. Now we're here promoting Red Hill

Do you think there was a pivotal point that made NA popular?
A: The books took over the NYT.

C: When I had to categorize my book on Amazon, I put poetry and drama. I didn't know what to put it under.

J: Beautiful Disaster was listed as women's fiction.

Do you guys answer the questions on FB?
A: Yes. If you stop asking questions, we'll think we need to stop writing. 

Hardest thing you've done for a deadline?
C: I turn my stuff in early. I do have a book due in January and I haven't done anything. I don't even know what it's going to be about.

A: I can top that. I have something due on 11/1 and I haven't written a word. I do know what it'll be about, though.

J: I can top that. I turned in my book in the morning and gave birth in the evening. I promised them it would be finished before I had my baby.

At this point, a friend started texting me about something that she sent me, so my notes sort of stopped.  Sorry. :(  In my defense, I don't think there were very many questions after the one I had.

The signing started around 7:30.  Beforehand, I had talked to Rob about Michelle and I dropping our books off to be signed.  He so awesomely said yes [seriously, I love this guy], so we were able to leave the masses [I can't even express how many people were there] and head home.  I'm convinced there are still peopled lined up right now.


These three ladies were a lot of fun.  There were giggles and a great crowd passionate about their books.  I wish I would have had the patience to wait through the line to actually meet them.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The time I wanted your questions

Hi guys! I have a bit of a challenge for you today....

See, next week is the Fierce Reads tour stop in San Diego and I'm going to be the designated blogger for Macmillan.  Besides them sending me all of the pretty books for a giveaway, they've so awesomely set up a chance for me to interview the authors!

I will be seeing:

Ann Aguirre

Gennifer Albin

Jessica Brody

Leigh Bardugo

It's all very exciting and maybe a little nerve wracking.  Instead of coming up with questions, I thought I would ask you guys to come up with some.  Is there anything you've always wanted to know about these four ladies?  Curious about their writing habits or favorite tv show or what their favorite drink from Starbucks is?  You tell me and I'll ask 'em.

Just leave a comment before the event on October 29th!

Oh and remember that comment about giveaway books?  Yep.  Here's the pretty stack Macmillan sent me today.  They'll be signed and up for grabs on the recap post.

Now... ask away!

Friday, October 18, 2013

The time it was quick and dirty -- 5

The last couple of days I've been amassing the books I'm going to take for the Vegas Valley book festival.  In fact, the piles are sort of taking over my office area and it's out of control.  Sooooo, I decided to do another quick and dirty just because giveaway to help clear off my shelves.

And this time, all of the books are 2014 arcs. [Thank you. SDCC and super secret back room at MGRB!]

Ready to see what's up for grabs?

Book one:
Endings and beginnings sit so close to each other that it’s sometimes impossible to tell which is which.

Nothing lasts forever, and no one gets that more than Tessa. After her mother died, it’s all she can do to keep her friends, her boyfriend, her happiness from slipping away. And then there’s her dad. He’s stuck in his own daze, and it’s so hard to feel like a family when their house no longer seems like a home.

Her father’s solution? An impromptu road trip that lands them in a small coastal town at Tessa’s grandmother’s. Despite all the warmth and beauty there, Tessa can’t help but feel even more lost.

Enter Henry Lark. He understands the relationships that matter. And more importantly, he understands her. A secret stands between them, but Tessa’s willing to do anything to bring them together—because Henry may just be her one chance at forever.
Book two:
Growing up in privileged, Manhattan social circles, Caggie’s life should be perfect, and it almost was until the day that her younger sister drowned when Caggie was supposed to be watching her. Stricken by grief, Caggie pulls away from her friends and family, only to have everyone misinterpret a crucial moment when she supposedly saves a fellow classmate from suicide. Now she’s famous for something she didn’t do and everyone lauds her as a hero. But inside she still blames herself for the death of her sister and continues to pull away from everything in her life, best friend and perfect boyfriend included. Then Caggie meets Astor, the new boy at school, about whom rumours are swirling and known facts are few. In Astor she finds someone who just might understand her pain, because he has an inner pain of his own. But the more Caggie pulls away from her former life to be with Astor, the more she realises that his pain might be darker, and deeper, than anything she’s ever felt. His pain might be enough to end his life…and Caggie’s as well.
Book three:
Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him--and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y'all beg for more.
And last, but certainly not least.... Book four:
 Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.
Have you stopped flailing?

Here's the not-so-fine print: This contest is international and there will be four winners.  The first winner will get to choose from all four books, the second winner will choose from the three left, etc.  I will be contacting the winners one at a time and each will have 72 hours to answer my email.  Keep in mind, it could be almost 10 days before the fourth winner is contacted. 

And now? Have at it!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The time I reviewed a book -- 4

Here we are for week 5 of the Sassy Girl Swoony God Tourney.  The challenge this week was to read and review My Date from Hell, which is book 2 in the Blooming Goddess series. 

Now, this challenge is sort of bittersweet for me.  Yes, I adore reading and reviewing, but if any of you are friends with me on GoodReads, I'm sure you've noticed that the more I like a book, the less I have to say about it.

Before we see what sort of incessant rambling I'm going to try and pass off as a review, let's look at the book, shall we?
Sophie Bloom’s junior year has been a bit of a train wreck. After the world’s greatest kiss re-awakened Sophie’s true identity as Persephone (Goddess of Spring and Savior of Humanity), she fought her dragon-lady guidance counselor to the death, navigated mean girl Bethany’s bitchy troublemaking, and dealt with the betrayal of her backstabbing ex, Kai (sexy Prince of Darkness). You’d think a girl could catch a break.

Yeah, right.

With Zeus stepping things up, it’s vital that Sophie retrieve Persephone’s memories and discover the location of the ritual to stop Zeus and Hades. So when Aphrodite strikes a deal that can unlock Sophie’s pre-mortal past, what choice does the teen goddess have but to accept?

The mission: stop media mogul Hermes from turning Bethany into a global mega-celebrity. The catch? Aphrodite partners Sophie and Kai to work together … and treat this suicide mission as a date. Which could work out for Sophie’s plan to force Kai to admit his feelings for her–if she doesn’t kill him first.

Add to that the fact that BFF Theo’s love life and other BFF Hannah’s actual life are in Sophie’s hands, and suddenly being a teenager—even a godlike one—seems a bit like … well, hell. Whatever happened to dinner and a movie?

The YA romantic comedy/Greek mythology fireworks continue to fly in My Date From Hell. Love meets comedy with a whole lot of sass in book two of this teen fantasy romance series. Breaking up is easy; dating is deadly.
**Thanks to my prancy PA, Christina, from The Book Hookup, for letting me steal borrow her review format!**

Rating & First Reaction:

5 stars. I also added it to my "I want to hang out with these characters" and "snark fest" shelves.  I reread My Ex From Hell before reading Date and absolutely loved being back in this world with these characters.  Sophie's inner monologue is one of the best out there and coupled with her awesome friends, Date was a lot of fun.


Sophie: The snark is strong with this one and it's one of my favorite attributes of Sophie's. She does struggle with the memory of Persephone, or more that she struggles with everyone else remembering someone that she doesn't know.  To me, that just made her more relatable. What girl doesn't struggle with self-confidence at some point in their life? However, Sophie doesn't let it get her down.  She uses the skills she has to get through the challenges of the book [I'm being intentionally vague] while maintaining her epic awesomeness.  Did I mention that she's awesome?

Kai: There was a lot more of Kai in this book and the chemistry between him and Sophie was pretty much off the charts. There's a lot going on with Kai this time around and it's humorous to see the situations that he's put in. However, he's the same delightfully cocky Kai that he was in Ex. Well, maybe not exactly the same, but...spoilers.

And the swoons? They're plentiful, but I'll let you find those on your own.

Secondary Characters:

Hannah and Theo: Yep, they're still awesome. Did you like them in Ex? Then you'll love them in Date.

Festos: OMG, I want one.  Festos was my favorite character of this book and I wanted him in every single scene.  He's feisty and fierce and loyal to a fault and a perfect addition to the cast of characters. Festos breaks up a lot of the tension by injecting comments here and there. His dialogue was the main reason for all of my cackles and I found myself rereading a lot of his scenes. FYI: if you don't like him, I'm pretty sure we're not friends.

Persephone: For a character who isn't really on the page, Persephone certainly does have a presence in the book.  Tellulah does an excellent job of inserting her in the most interesting scenes and sitting back to watch the sparks fly.

Plot & Pacing:

Date picks up pretty much right after the end of Ex [which I loved] and the fun starts right away. We also don't have to wait forever for Kai and Sophie to interact, it's within the first couple of chapters.  As soon as the gang is all together, it's non-stop action and adventure.  The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger.  There's two huge reveals and then a WTF moment all in the last 10 or so pages.  I need book 3 like yesterday.

Rec It?

A million times yes. My Date From Hell continues the awesome journey that Sophie is on.  If you love snarky girls, swoony gods and delicious banter on almost every page, this is for you.


Huge thanks to Tellulah, not only for inviting me to be part of the challenge, but for the e-arc.  You guys really should check out her blog and be following her on Twitter and Facebook.  And don't forget to add all of her books to your GoodReads TBR shelf.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The time it was week 4 in the tourney

Here it is, week four in the Sassy Girl Swoony God Tourney. I have been total fail on these challenges.  Week two was a playlist challenge and I just plain forgot about it.  Week three was a tattoo challenge and I have absolutely no artistic ability whatsoever, so I skipped it...

For this week, we were tasked with the challenge of casting our choices for Sophie and Kai.  And for some reason, they both came to me right away.

My Sophie is Hailee Steinfeld.  That glint in her eye and the slight smirk just screams Sophie to me.

And my Kai is Taylor Kitsch. I just don't really have words for this picture... I mean....

Who would you cast for Sophie & Kai?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The time I went to Berkeley

I convinced Hubs to take me to San Francisco for Tamara Ireland Stone's launch party for Time Between Us, so it only made sense [to me] that I would head back up there when Time After Time launched. He was unable to take the time off work, so I headed up alone. 

You think the drive to Vegas is boring? This is worse. The only good thing about it is that drivers on the 5 like to drive fast, so even though it was 2 lanes the majority of the way, I maintained a good speed. 

I got up to the bookstore just before 5pm and was lucky enough to find parking right next to the door. I am horrible at parallel parking, so I was a little anxious at the idea of there only being street parking available. 

I went into the store and found this delightful display for the event. Of course, after I walked right passed it and had to ask where the display was.... 

I completely ruined it by buying all of the books. I may or may not have knocked a few things over. As soon as I told the girls behind the counter that I drove up from San Diego, I got the blank stare. [When am I going to learn that people just don't do things like this normally?]

They set the event area up early so I would have somewhere to camp out. I [like always] had eleventy billion books to flap, so I settled into the front row, got organized and started to wait. 

Tamara got to the bookstore around 6:45. She saw me, hugged me, asked about my drive and introduced me again to her husband. I gave her the gift I had for her [Bri, she LOVED them!!] and we chatted for a minute or so before she started making the rounds. 

And there were cupcakes with the book titles on them!

I met Anna and Keiko [who also came up from San Diego] before the signing and it was so awesome to FINALLY meet them both!!

The event started just after 7 and it was kicked off with Gayle taking her shoes off because so many people wanted to see them. They both have duets [Gayle: I have a duet of duets] and talked about how they were going to read parts of their books.

G: I just finished Time After Time on the plane, did you know you were going to do that? You're juggling so many things and how did you do it?

T: And was it really hard? Yes. I wrote the first book hoping it would be a series. I was so invested in the characters I felt like I could write them forever. And by the time I got done with TBU, I was done with it. But I was so happy that they picked up a sequel. How about you?

G: With If I Stay, no. I didn't think it was going to be a viable book and definitely didn't think it was going to be a sequel. And then the characters started waking me up and I started feeling a responsibility to them. I didn't want to deal with the immediate future and as soon as I made that decision, Adam's story came out. 

For Just One Day, there was a week where there wasn't going to be a sequel. And FYI, I was going to end it exactly where it did. 

As I was writing Just One Day, I had to figure out a lot about Willem. I had to figure out a deep backstory. Why was that day so important? You have to plant the seeds in book one if there's going to be a book 2. 

T: I had a lot of fun with writing a new point of view, writing similar situations from another point of view. 

Tamara talked about Time Between Us and then read from it. She read a scene about Maggie's house first from Anna's POV and then from Bennett's. 

G: The shift of perpsective was fun. It changes everything. You see the entire year and you learn more about the characters and all of these moments where they could have passed each other. 

Gayle read a piece from Just One Day that dealt with the watch and then another piece from Just One Year that also dealt with the watch. 

They talked about both being pantsers. I missed most of this conversation because I was taking pictures....

G: Do you feel that each book has their own arc and then together tell a bigger story?

T: Yes. Absolutely. TBU is mostly Anna's story and how she started strong and got stronger. And Bennett's is the same way. His life is in no way miserable, he's not missing anything. It's how he is seen in her eyes. 

G: I called mine books Trojan horse romance. I've got the army in there and look they're in Paris and now they're kissing and now they're more than kissing and then bam!

[Then there was a topic about family.  I blame these two ladies for being so charismatic that I couldn't focus on anything but them talking.]

T: In all 4 books, there's a part of family. Bennett is attracted to Anna's normal stable family and Anna is attracted to Bennett's adventure and fly by the seat of your pants life. 

G: Maybe it's because I was a mother when I started writing. 

G: Do you get a lot of people asking about the third book?

T: All the time! Maybe it's because they're conditioned to trilogies. 

G: How many people want a third Mia and Adam book? [I raised my hand] It's so flattering, but let's look at what it would be. It's a book for the sake of being a book. Mia and Adam cook breakfast. Mia and Adam go for a walk. Mia and Adam kiss, but they've been together for a while, so it's not that hot. Or there's conflict.  Mia and Adam have a disease. Mia and Adam have a baby and it dies. Does anyone want that? If you do, there's something wrong with you. 

T: With Time After Time, I had all of the readers in my head. I had to figure out a way to get everyone out. [I missed most of her answer, surprise, surprise]

G: Why do you always write girls POV first?

T: It never occurred to me to write it from his POV. And it's his gift... I loved the idea of a reluctant hero. I though that would be more interesting to show from the POV from the girl who loves him POV. Think Spider-Man from Mary Jane's POV. 

And with the second one, it made sense. Once I got to know him so well, I thought it would be just fun to tell the story from his POV. 

Was it hard? Yes. I don't think I would have done it if my editor hadn't pushed me to do it. FYI I've never been a 17 year old boy. I can get in the mindset of a 16 year old girl in high school. My husband read all of my drafts and told me when a guy wouldn't say those things. I had a hard time with the general male to male interactions. [At this point, there was a comment from Gayle about Tamara scratching her balls in public or something like that.  Seriously, my notes are shiteous.]

T: How about you?

G: It never occurred to me to write a male POV. Adam was easy to access because he's most like me. Especially the mean Adam in the beginning. 

T: Let's talk settings. You have some great ones in your books, have you been to all of them?

G: Yes. India sort of sticks with you, but I made the entire family go to Mexico for Spring break. What about you?

T: Yes. We had to go to Paris for "research". I wrote 3 chapters and then told my editor to put them on hold. They were the last 3 chapters I worked on to make sure they were authentic.

G: I don't like reading travel books and it's important to me to have little details that make the location.  It's not an information dump like in a travel book.

And then the floor was opened up for Q&A.

What are you working on now?
T: I just told a book and it's awesome. I was feeling a little sad, missing Anna and Bennett, so it's been great working on that. And it'll be out Spring 2015. [Too. Far. Away. I also might have said that out loud.]

G: I worked on If I Stay for myself. It was saved under "why not". This is a book that I've cheated with, it feels amazing. I don't have a title, but I will tease by saying that it's the hottest guy I've ever written. 

Do you have some routine when writing?
T: I can write anywhere as long as I have headphones. I don't listen to music a lot, I can't get the words down if there are other words in my head. I listen to a lot of movie soundtracks. 

G: Get the kids out the door and coffee. Sometimes I will actually put on clothes and go to the cafe. It's not always productive, but it needs to be done. People always ask how do I find the time. It's like closet space, you work with what you have. 

Do you write a requisite amount of words?
G: No. I write until I feel like there's almost nothing left. And then the next day I go back through everything I've done.

T: I do the same.  Sometimes I just spend the day editing what I wrote the day before.

G: Yes, because it's all crap.


Fan cast for your books?

G: I don't have one for If I Stay. And then when they did cast it, it was perfect. And the guy who is playing Adam? He's even hotter. Willem is the guy from the Lumineers, but not as pretty. 

T: I don't have an Anna. [Her son said Lorde and then Tamara said maybe because she has long curly hair]. Bennett is kind of Jeremy from TVD. I like the nice guys. Anna's father will definitely be George Clooney. 

What inspired you to be a writer?
T: I've always written for myself. It's cathartic. I wanted to write something that was for me, something that wasn't watching tv or going to the movies. Writing for young adults, I have to credit Judy Blume. In my dream of dreams, I want to create stories that people read over and over again. 

G: The romantic answer would be that the stories inspired me. The realistic answer is that poverty inspired me. I was a journalist and we had bought and apartment and then I had a baby. I had 3 pieces killed in one month. Someone told me that I should write and it was like a light bulb went off.

There were more questions, but I just couldn't take my eyes off of these two ladies. I do remember someone asking if Tamara was attached to Cyndi Lauper and that's where she got the title for Time After Time. Gayle and Tamara instead bust out into the song.

The signing started around 8:15. I got up to Tamara first and told her that I had to ration what I had for her, that's why there was only 3.


I gave Gayle her huge pile and she started working on them. She asked where I came from and when I said San Diego, she said that she saw my tweet about it. And also mentioned how I was a really good friend for getting all of the books for other people. I calked myself a pack mule [thank you, Kami Garcia] and Gayle started laughing. We talked about my necklace [hand stamped charm that says "Book Boys are Better" from Charmed by Books] and how much she liked it.  Meanwhile, I loaded up on swag...


And then Tamara asked if I was leaving right away.  I said yes.  She asked if I could wait a minute and sent her husband out to the car... When he came back, she showed me four different foreign editions of Time Between Us and told me to pick one.  I grabbed the pretty pretty oversized UK version.


While Tamara was signing it, she was telling Gayle that I'm her Kevin Bacon.  She can connect around 100 readers of Time Between Us back to me.  This woman....she slays me in the best way ever.

After another round of hugs, I made my way through the store, saying goodbye to everyone I had met.  And I didn't get pictures with anyone. *face palm*

Tamara and Gayle are magical together.  This ridiculous recap and lack of good note taking is mostly my fault and partially theirs.  If they weren't so damn entertaining, perhaps I would have been able to do better.

Now. Go pick up all of their books.  You won't be disappointed.

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