Friday, May 31, 2013

The time it was about Sky on Fire

When I received the email inviting me to join Emmy Laybourne's blog tour for Sky on Fire, I had just finished reading the arc.  I enjoyed the story and was thrilled to be a part of it.  Even more so when I was able to send Emmy some questions for an interview.

But before we get to Emmy, let's check out Sky on Fire, yes?

The world hasn't ended...yet.

In this sequel to MONUMENT 14, the group of survivors, originally trapped together in a superstore by a series of escalating disasters, has split in two. Most of the kids are making a desperate run on their recently repaired school bus for the Denver airport where they hope to reunite with their parents, be evacuated to safety, and save their dying friend.

But the world outside is dark and filled with dangerous chemicals that turn people into bloodthirsty monsters, and not all the kids were willing to get on the bus. Left behind in a sanctuary that has already been disturbed once, the remaining kids try to rebuild the community they lost. But when the issues are life and death, love and hate, who can you really trust?

Sounds good, right?

1. Where did the idea for Monument 14 and Sky on Fire come from?
 I think the seed of the Monument 14 series comes from two of my great loves: survivalist planning and superstores! I love to wander the aisles of superstores, checking out the goods and seeing how I would set up camp in the store, if I had to.
And I’ve always enjoyed “worst case scenario” thinking. It’s the worrier in me, but I’m always thinking of how I will save my kids lives if we’re in some terrible crisis...
I put those together and there was the central idea of Monument 14 -- fourteen kids stranded in a superstore while civilization collapses.
2. What sort of research did you have to do?
Google makes it so easy for authors these days. It’s hard to imagine how different research must have been for authors before the internet.
My habit is to write first, research later. If I let myself read too much, I end up changing the shape of the plot to accommodate the cool things I’ve learned. It’s better, for the books I’ve written, to write first and then go back and make sure everything works.
3. Was it easier for you to write from a boy's POV?
Dean’s personality made it easy for me to write as him. It’s weird, but the character Dean was just there when I started writing the book. Maybe I found it easy to write as him because he, himself, is easy to know. He’s such a truthful, upright guy. He’s doing his best, and sometimes he fails. Maybe that’s what makes him so accessible.
4. Describe Monument 14 in 5 words.
Torque. Danger. Love. Blood. Choose.
5. What's next for you?
Oooh, I’m torn between two ideas. One is a horror with a comic tone set on a cruise ship about the product launch of a new sweetener that goes terribly wrong. The other is a fantasy series about a girl who protects her divinely gifted brother from royals who seek to abuse his powers. What do you all think?! Help me pick!
Speed [ish] round:
1. What's your go to guilty pleasure thing to eat?
Fresh blackberries. Oh my god, are they delicious!
2. What are you reading right now?
I just read “The Giver” for the first time. It broke my heart. I’d like to start something new, but I think I need a few days just to absorb it.
3. Who are your favorite swoony boys?
I will watch Ryan Gosling in anything. He has such intensity – he’s like a smoldering volcano! I’m also big on Matt Damon (who’s more my age). But truthfully, the swooniest guy I know is my own husband, Greg Podunovich. Most of my boyfriends before I met Greg were the intellectual type. They all looked different, tall, short, black, white - but they had one thing in common – none of them knew how to hang a shelf properly. They weren’t builders. Well, my husband is a real mountain man. He can build or fix or lift just about anything. Our 6 year old son boasts that his Dad can pick up a Smart car – and I actually think Greg could! There’s nothing more sexy than a guy in a toolbelt!
4. Are there any authors that you fangirl over?
Omigod yes!!!!! I met Lish McBride last summer (Hold Me Closer., Necromancer) and I was like a giddy goofball. I also revere writers Kristin Cashore, Shanon Hale and Laurie Halse Anderson. I will totally flip out if I get to meet them.
I’d also give just about anything to meet novelists Kent Haruff, Tony Early and Ivan Doig. They’re not YA writers, but if you haven’t read them yet- get thee to a library post haste!
Also, I met Anne Lamott once and I burst into tears. Nice. Very classy, right? If I ever see her again, I’ll probably do it again.

Huge thanks to Emmy for taking the time and Macmillan for the invitation!

Find Emmy on her website, blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts.  And add her books on GoodReads!


Haven't been able to pick up a copy of Monument 14 or Sky on Fire? 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 for the giveaway are on "terms and conditions" on the Rafflecopter widget.
**Good luck!!**

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Be sure to check out the previous blog stops on the tour for all sorts of fun stuff...

Monday 5/20
Squeaky Books

Tuesday 5/21
Reading Teen

Wednesday 5/22
Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf

Thursday 5/23
Book Haven Extraordinaire

Friday 5/24
Chick Loves Lit

Monday 5/27
Jean Book Nerd

Tuesday 5/28

Wednesday 5/29
Princess Bookie

Thursday 5/30
YA Romantics

Friday 5/31
Adventures of a Book Junkie

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The time it was about Daniel Sheridan

I had the delight of meeting Susan Dennard at Comic-con last year.  It was before Something Strange and Deadly was released and I was so so so happy that it was for sale before her signing.  I got my book signed, got a picture, made an ass out of myself in front of her [and Sarah J. Maas, who happens to be Susan's BFF].  You know, normal things.

So, when I saw that she didn't file a restraining order there was going to be a novella, I knew I wanted to help promote it.  I emailed Susan and asked if she would do an interview. She said yes [hooray!!] and as far as I know, still hasn't filed anything with the cops. That may change as I keep entering her arc giveaways.

Now, before we get to Susan, check out Daniel's story in A Dawn Most Wicked.

Daniel Sheridan is an engineer’s apprentice on a haunted Mississippi steamer known as the Sadie Queen. His best friend–the apprentice pilot, Cassidy Cochran–also happens to be the girl he’s pining for…and the captain’s daughter. But when it looks like the Sadie Queen might get taken off the river, Daniel and Cassidy have to do whatever they can to stop the ghosts that plague the ship.

Fortunately, there happens to be a Creole gentleman on board by the name of Joseph Boyer-–and he just might be able to help them…

Sounds good, right?

1. Where did the idea for the series come from and what prompted you to combine all of the elements you did?
So, as lame as it is, the idea for the series came from a dream. I dreamt my brother was missing and I would have done anything to get him back. Yet he'd been taken by supernatural forces, and I was totally NOT equipped to deal with that. For help, I turned to a ragtag team of supernatural-fighting outcasts (who had a super cool lab and skills). My dream was vague on setting, though, so I actually spent weeks and weeks just scouring history for a time period that jumped out at me as The Time and The Location for this story idea. :) As I wrote, the necromancy, ghosts, Dead, and electricity-inventions just sort poured out. It was as if the world and all its components had always been in my brain, I just had to tap into them and discover it as Eleanor did. In books 2 and 3, we get to see more of that supernatural world--other creatures, spells, and a lot more darkness. And of course, the novella shows a different side of this ghost-filled alternate 1876 too.
2. Let's talk Eleanor. I'm a sucker for a smart girl who gets things done and I adore her. Did writing her come easily?
At first, I made Eleanor way too fluffy. I always do this! I can't help it--when I sit down to write a first draft, my heroines are always too nice, too good at everything, and too happy. Usually I have to start the book a few times before I finally hit on the right balance of darkness, flaws, and likability. But once I have the voice, I have it. ;)
3. Daniel. He's swoony in a gruff sort of way and it absolutely works. Did he evolve on his own or in response to Eleanor?

Daniel definitely evolves throughout the series in response to Eleanor. A big part of his character is that he's volatile--he knows he's short-tempered and sometimes cruel--but he can't seem to control it. Yet he so desperately wants to be a better person, and as the series progresses... Well, I'll let you see how he does at improving his character. ;) I knew who Daniel was from the get-go. He was in my dream, actually--an angry inventor with a super shady past--so I had his character worked out from the start.

4. When you wrote the ending for Something Strange and Deadly, did you sit back and laugh, knowing all of the people you were going to drive crazy?
Ha! NO! Not at all! It was just the natural, appropriate ending based on who Daniel is and how the time period works. Heck, had I known how many people would be furious, I might've changed it. But I'm so glad I didn't--more often than not, people like that the ending is just so...up in the air. That said, there will be a ton of closure once readers have the novella in their hands. They'll at least understand Daniel's character a lot more.
5. You're killing me with the relationship between Eleanor and Daniel [Empress? *swoooon*]. Is there anything you can tell us about what happens between them in A Darkness Strange and Lovely?
Um....Hmmmmm. All I'll say is that it takes a bit of time for Daniel to appear (he doesn't show up until about halfway through), but once he's on the page, the sparks are FLYING. Like I said, the novella explains so much about his character, but Eleanor doesn't know all that info. So though the chemistry is high, so is her frustration. ;) I think readers will like it, though.
Speed [ish] Round:
1. What is your go-to guilty pleasure thing to eat?
Cookies. Any shape, flavor, size--I don't discriminate.
2. If you could wake up one day, just knowing how to do something, what would it be?
How to draw! Oh goodness, that is the one thing I wish I could do!!
3. What are you reading right now?
I'm reading (admittedly slowly thanks to deadlines) Archangel by Sharon Shinn. I adore her books.
4. Are there any authors that you fangirl over?
Omg, I made a HUGE fool of myself in front of Robin Hobb. Twice. I first met her at Comic Con and started crying. So. So. SO EMBARRASSING. Then I met her again at the Decatur book festival and flailed like an idiot. I was mortified. Fortunately, she didn't seem to hold it against me, since she invited me (and the less flail-y Sarah J. Maas) to dinner. It was amazing and insightful. Turns out my idols are just normal people too. ;) If I ever met Garth Nix or Sherwood Smith, I would probably have the same ridiculous meltdown reaction.
Huge thanks to Susan for dealing with my fangirling answering my questions!

Find her on her website, blog, and Twitter pages.  And go add all of her books on GoodReads.


Haven't read any of Susan's books? Wellllll, that's where I come in. 

To celebrate the release of A Dawn Most Wicked, I'm giving away stuff! There will be three winners. The grand prize winner will win a hardcover copy of Something Strange and Deadly, an e-book of A Dawn Most Wicked and a hardcover copy of A Darkness Strange and Lovely [when it is released on 7/23/13]. Two winners will get an e-book of A Dawn Most Wicked.

The grand prize winner will get books from The Book Depository [so make sure it ships for free to you before entering!]. Winners of the e-book copies will choose between Barnes & Noble or Amazon for delivery.

Rules for the giveaway are listed under the "terms and conditions" on the Rafflecopter widget.
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

The time it was quick and dirty -- 2

So.  Here we are again for another quick and dirty giveaway.  I don't have any signings planned for a couple of weeks.  While I do have special things planned in the next couple of days, I figured I'd keep you guys around and share more of the arcs I picked up while in the super secret back room.
First up for grabs, just because:
Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature—freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.

At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she's heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.” They say it’s a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.

But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson to take her there. Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes find themselves inexorably drawn to each other. But can true love survive the lies? Fiery hearts collide in this fantastic tale of the evil men do and the awesome power within us all.
And then...
Love, power, and magic collide with war in the second book of the Falling Kingdoms series

Auranos has fallen and the three kingdoms—Auranos, Limeros, and Paelsia—are now united as one country called Mytica. But still, magic beckons, and with it the chance to rule not just Mytica, but the world...

When the evil King Gaius announces that a road is to be built into the Forbidden Mountains, formally linking all of Mytica together, he sets off a chain of events that will forever change the face of this land, forcing Cleo the dethroned princess, Magnus the reluctant heir, Lucia the haunted sorceress, and Jonas the desperate rebel to take steps they never could have imagined.
Sounds good, right?

Rules for giveaway are on the "terms & conditions" on the Rafflecopter widget.
**Good luck!!**
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 17, 2013

The time there was talk of abs

If you even semi-regularly read this blog, then you know how elusive Kimberly Derting has been for me. Jennifer has been beyond awesome and has always gotten things signed for me. So just imagine my excitement when I saw that Kimberly was going to be coming to SoCal. And to MGRB no less.

Don't get me started on the other ladies, because the touring group is nothing short of amazing: Jessi Kirby, Sarah Ockler, Morgan Matson, Shannon Messenger [who has to be sick of me by now] and Suzanne Young.

Suzanne was also extremely exciting because I was unable to make the drive over to AZ for her launch party at Changing Hands. I had gotten an arc of The Program when we sat in the back room with Danny Marks. He raved about it [and Suzanne]. He was right, it's phenomenal. 

We got up to the store around 5:30. Thankfully, traffic wasn't too bad. I had plenty of time to peruse the super secret back room [quick and dirty giveaway to come] and buy the books I needed for the signing and book club next month [The 5th Wave! Finally!]. 

Also? I was finally able to meet up with Allison and Morgan of Stephenie Meyer signing line fame. :D 

The ladies got to table right at 7:30. Each author introduced themselves and gave a brief synopsis of their book. 

When Shannon gave her introduction, she mentioned that Vane has hot abs as a selling point. It then became something that the other authors added. They decided the tour should be called "The Abs Tour". Jessi said, "You can't tell from the cover, but it is about abs and a dog."

When talking about Jay, Kimberly mentioned that he was only supposed to be a minor character. Yet, the more that she wrote him, the more she loved him and he became a bigger character. 

After the introductions, they told us that they had decided to play a game: two truths and a lie. Whoever guessed would get candy and it would [probably] be thrown badly.


Sz: Dogs are named after 80s characters, champion of forensics for debate [there was more to this, but I didn't get it], took a picture of the cast of Growing Pains. [Actually was the cast of  Family Matters]. 

Sh: Sat in the row for nominees at the Academy Awards, played a trivia game and failed horribly [there's more to this], had a coherent conversation with Brad Pitt when he was shirtless. [Actually Rob Lowe.]

M: Was a cheerleader in high school, first concert at 9 or wrote first book at 16. [Book was written at 26.]

Sa: Skipped prom for New Kids on the Block, wore pjs to school for an entire year, couldn't publish first book because it was a total rip off and would have been sued for copyright. [skipped prom for Grateful Dead]

J: Never ditched in school, drafting is favorite part of writing, 2 weeks ago Sarah Dessen gave her a bag of potato chips. [She hates drafting.]

K: Went 5 years without chocolate, was the fast pitch softball player of the week, in a house during a drive by shooting. [fast pitch player of the week.]

After candy was thrown, they opened the floor to a Q&A.


Who inspired you?

Sz: Started writing in junior high. Wrote murder mysteries with her friends as the characters and killed them off one by one. Read a lot of Stephen king

Sh: Started writing screen plays. Read something by Cameron Crowe and that was what she wanted to do. Wondered if she could write for kids. Read Ella Enchanted. Cinderella is favorite character and loved how she was stronger. 

M: Worked in children's department in an independent bookstore, they wanted her to read everything. Started reading a lot of YA. Loved Traveling Pants and Sarah Dessen books. Very inspiring and realized story doesn't have to have magical things. Just abs and kissing. 

Sa: ET [obviously, that's what her copyright infringement book was based on.] Family member passed away and family had to have yard sales when she was a high schooler. Read Stephen King while hiding. In college, took a YA Lit course, had to read Sarah Dessen, Deb Colletti, Laurie Halse Anderson and Traveling Pants.

J: Decided when 8 wanted to be a writer because of Judy Blume. Wrote a bit in high school, mostly bad poetry about boys who didn't like her. Didn't try stories until teaching. Sarah Dessen had the first stories where it felt like she could tell a story like that. Started on 30th birthday. 

K: Wasn't any good YA while growing up. Went from Charlotte's Web to Stephen King and John Saul. Likes to be afraid and thought it would be awesome to scare other people. Wrote a "horrible" book out of high school and worked on it for 10 years [got an agent with it] and learned how to revise.

Do you have any writing quirks? Something you have to have?

Sz: Candy corn, buys it year round. Wants tiny food. Pretzels. Cheese it's. 

M: Likes to have several drinks in front of her. Smoothie, latte, diet coke. Then there can't be an excuse, "I can't write right now because I don't have a fruity drink."

Sh: First two books, needed music. Then no music. For LtSF 2, listened to only one cd. Doesn't snack. Forgets to eat. 

Sa: Loves white cheddar popcorn. Then types with one hand while eating. Can write anywhere with pen and paper. 

J: Needs quiet. No background noise at all. Caffeine and chocolate, preferable combined, like chocolate covered espresso beans. 

K: A lot of caffeine. Has an entire drawer of nerds gum balls. Orders them from amazon and UPS guy has to believe she's a shut in. He always sees her in the same clothes [even though they're duplicate pairs of the same pants, one has a bleach stain] and probably thinks she peeks out the blinds, telling them to leave the package on the porch. 

After that question, it was around 8:15. They had to be on the road by 9, so they decided to end the Q&A and start signing. I went to the end of the line because I had so many books.

I got up to Suzanne first. I had arcs from Jaime & Erin and we talked about how they were the newer versions from the one that I had. She then showed me the cover of the finished copy... You guys. Have you taken your dust jackets off? Because I didn't and I was floored. 

We talked about how Danny gushed about the arc and that he was the reason that I took it. 

We also talked about Doctor Who and how she loves my twitter avi [who doesn't love David?]. She told me that her daughter refuses to watch the Matt Smith episodes because she wants David back.  I then explained how I wanted to kidnap David when we saw him for MAAN. Suzanne was excited to meet John Barrowman at the Phoenix comic con to see if he was really made out of plastic. 

Of course she signed my books and we also took some pictures. *sigh* I just love her. 

While waiting for Suzanne, I said hi to Shannon. I explained that I had nothing for her to sign and she said she'd forgive me because she knows I've been buying multiple copies. I told her that I was building a room addition, just in copies of Let the Sky Fall. She gave me some awesome bookmarks. And I don't think I thanked her. So, on the off chance she reads this, THANK YOU, SHANNON!! 

I then went down to Kimberly. She was the first author I've actually gone up to and introduced myself. Annnnd, she knew who I was in the crowd. We talked about how awesome Jennifer is and how the internet/twitter can be the devil, but just as awesome as well. 

She signed my books and we took a picture. And I may have made a damn fool of myself just gushing and fangirling all over her. She hugged me [squeeeee] and who knows what other gibberish I spewed out. I can't explain how happy I am to have finally met her. 

The last books I had were Jessi's. I snuck in between the people at the table to hand her two copies. I thanked her for coming. She really is so sweet, I can't wait to read her book!

Overall, the night was fantastic. There were laughs and candy and bad throwing and all sorts of mentions of dogs, abs and kissing. Oh! And I got one of these awesome lobby cards that each author had signed...

Separately, these ladies are amazing, but together? They're phenomenal. There's such a perfect dynamic between all of them that it made for one of the best times I've had at an event. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The time it was delightfully snarky

I knew Rachel Hawkins was going to be at SDCC, so when I saw that she was announced to appear at the BN in Glendale I was so happy. Less books I would have to take with me and more time hearing Rachel on her own.

Getting up to Glendale was a horrible nightmare. It was accident after accident and broken down car after broken down car. We left San Diego before 3 and barely got up to Glendale at 6pm.

When we were about 15 minutes away, Anasheh messaged me on GR and asked if I needed her to save seats. When we finally got up there, only Anasheh and her friend were there, so I was able to secure front row seats. 

Rachel got there just after 7 and jumped right in. 
Gonna use the teacher voice and not use the mic.

Professional writer for 5 years, was a writer before knew how to write. Most intense Barbie stories. Most girls were like "ooh, barbie and ken go to prom!" Hers were abducted by aliens.

Parent supported "creative/weird" and went to a young author conference.  Met Katherine Tucker Windham. When getting autograph, the ghost "signed" the book. That was the beginning of wanting to write supernatural.

In college for criminology and left because needed to take statistics. So happy not at a school visit because afraid of getting jumped and stabbed with compasses and protractors by math teachers when she says "boring math classes".

Switched to English and then found out had to take statistics. Lesson learned: math is always waiting for you.  Has degree in English Lit, speciality in 19th century [something something. Rachel talks fast]. Want to identify all of the phallic symbols in the room? Done. 

Saw husband teaching and shaping young minds and thought, "Wow. I want summers off too." Became a teacher. Kids and books, yay! Grading and bureaucracy, boo!

Really good at starting books, wrote 20k words and though this is hard, means the book is bad, so quit. Started reading YA and thought she could write that.

Lots of YA is about how two people see each other across the room and instantly they're like "I barely know you, but I would DIE for you." How about let's make out a little instead? Started thinking about a book to balance that out.

Books set at boarding schools or with MCs that are orphans are done because no one really wants to write parents. It would be a killer.  "I don't let my kid ride his bike to the end of the street, I'm not going to let him fight the dark lord of evil. That sounds dangerous."

Oct-Feb wrote Hex Hall. Got Holly and sold to Disney Hyperion in April. Went from rock bottom, about to starve to dream job in 6 months.

School Spirits is a spin off. Sophie needed a vacation. "Did you read the last book?" Liked the idea of following the monster hunters.

Other than the misogyny aspect, Supernatural is a good show. Everywhere she goes, people go insane over it.

School Spirits was fun because Izzy has to go to high school. She never had to deal with bells and lockers. How would it look to someone who's never been to school? A girl who can physically kill monster but a boy asks for her number and she's like what is that?

All of that was part of Rachel's "origin story". The Q&A started after that.  

Favorite piece of writing advice? 

Read a lot. And read vastly. You want to write YA? Great. Don't just read that, you need to see how other people are telling their stories. And yes, just do the work.

Did you have Hex Hall series planned? Or were sequels added after it sold?

It was always meant to be a bigger story. Likes to have a tv type structure.

What does your son think?

Was in Sam's and he saw the book display and said, "Did you write this one too?" And it was Dan Brown. "Pfft. You wish, we'd be living in a castle."  

Ending of Demonglass planed? Did you want to make readers cry?

Yes. That's how I stay young and strong. I'm really 65. 
If it makes the reader cry, most of the time it makes the writer cry too. 

Do you ever rewrite?

Yes. For myself and my editor. Young writers look at what they're writing and then a book on the shelf for comparison. That's not fair, so many eyes see it before it gets to the shelf.


Fave supernatural character?


Who are your favorite authors?

All time favorite is Roald Dahl. Started going through them with son and realized how dark they are.

What are you reading?

Writing a book set in Edinburgh, so reading a lot of historical set there. As research so can just use their street names.

[She listed 2 others, but I didn't get them down fast enough]

Fave character written?

Archer. Not just because he's dreamy because he came with so much baggage.

Dex in School Spirits. First metrosexual asthmatic in YA. No one loves their purple blazer as much as Dex does.

With Rebel Belle, very invested in it, so in love with those characters.

Trick for getting through blocks?

It depends. Used to say it doesn't exist, but it's sort of douchy. Every time sat down to write, after 30 minutes, it was bubbling out. If the book feels broken, take a week off. Now knows to talk things out with scientist hubs.

Do you stock pile things that don't work?

Never deletes anything. Has an "orphans" file. Used stuff from Rebel Belle for the sequel.

Favorite and least favorite part of writing process.

Being done. When a book is really working, literally feels like you've been living in a dream, it's amazing. Hard to say least favorite. It's all wrapped up. That's what authors are so masochistic

When you're done writing, are characters still in your head? 

Doesn't understand when authors say, "Oh my character would love that!" Doesn't judge, has friends like that, but it's not for her. Characters are sort of like puppets: they did what I wanted and that's all.

Is School Spirits a stand alone? 

For now, yes. Very episodic.

Fave part of School Spirits?

Anything dealing with high school.

How do you come up with names?

"I don't. I'm the worst titler. Do you mean character names?" Sophie Mercer was always Sophie Mercer. Like Isolde and Isabella. Uses baby name books. If the name isn't right the character isn't right. 

After that last question, Rachel went to the signing table. I had many books, so I went to the back of the line. 
When I got up to Rachel, I started unpacking the books onto the table so I could sort of help with them. I thanked her for coming and apologized for so many. She laughed and said something along the lines of how horrible it was that I was buying multiple copies of her books and feeding her kid. 

When I opened my copy of School Spirits, I had forgotten that I had asked for Dex on the post it. Or that I had put my Twitter handle under my name. Rachel said, "Oh you're Stacee" and how it was exciting to put a face to the twitter name. 


We chatted a bit about different things: her recent trip to Scotland, the driving distance and geography of California and how Atlanta had lost its southern mystique. We took a picture and [I think] I thanked her again. Before we left, I chatted with Anasheh and her friend [whose name I didn't get] again. 

Rachel Hawkins is hilarious. She's just as snarky and delightful as the characters she writes. Perhaps even more. She is definitely one of those authors I will always go see.  I can't recommend her and her books enough, so go read them now. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The time it was a love in bloom hop

Well.  Here we are with another amazing blog hop.  This one is hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Portrait of a Book.

When I saw the description being a "lighthearted/contemporary YA romance", I immediately thought of Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill.

Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.

It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").

But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

Sweet, swoony and set in London.  What more could you possibly need?

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

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Now that you've entered here, check out all of the other blogs on the hop [listed below] for a bazillion chances to win other phenomenal books! You can also check out the host blogs at:  I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Portrait of a Book
**Good Luck!!**

The time it was about an alien in high school

I picked up The Rules from the super secret back room at MGRB.  It looked interesting and I ended up really enjoying the story.  So, when I was contacted to be a stop on Stacey's blog tour, I jumped at the chance.  And Stacey was nice enough to answer some questions...

First off, the book:

1. Never trust anyone.

2. Remember they are always searching.

3. Don’t get involved.

4. Keep your head down.

5. Don’t fall in love.

Five simple rules. Ariane Tucker has followed them since the night she escaped from the genetics lab where she was created, the result of combining human and extraterrestrial DNA. Ariane’s survival—and that of her adoptive father—depends on her ability to blend in among the full-blooded humans in a small Wisconsin town, to hide in plain sight at her high school from those who seek to recover their lost (and expensive) “project.”

But when a cruel prank at school goes awry, it puts her in the path of Zane Bradshaw, the police chief’s son and someone who sees too much. Someone who really sees her. After years of trying to be invisible, Ariane finds the attention frightening—and utterly intoxicating. Suddenly, nothing is simple anymore, especially not the rules…

Sounds good, right?

1. Where did the idea for The Rules come from?

It was really a couple of things that acted as a trigger. I LOVE earth-based science fiction set in our world (X-Files, Roswell, Starman, etc.) And I wanted to explore this idea of an alien hiding in high school. I vividly remember feeling like a complete outsider in high school and the overwhelming sensation that if I did or said something wrong the secret of my "outsider-ness" would be revealed. I think a lot of people feel that way during those years. So, I wanted to play with that idea, only I wanted the stakes to be much, much higher for Ariane. If I said the wrong thing, I'd be outed as a dork (not a secret, trust me) but if Ariane does or says the wrong thing, she'll be taken back the lab, where a horrible fate waits for her. 
2. Ariane is an interesting character and I love how she loves expensive jeans. How did she develop as a character?

Actually, Ariane was a bit tricky. Obviously, her upbringing is spectacularly different from mine (and everybody else's, hopefully). Plus, I really wanted to make sure she didn't come across in the way aliens are typically depicted on TV shows (goofy and not understanding words and customs, which is then played for humor). I wanted the fear and seriousness of her situation to really come through. And the fact that she's not completely human. But it was my brilliant editor at the time, Christian Trimmer, who gently reminded me that she IS partially human and has been raised among humans. So, Ariane needed to be a mix of alien and human. And it was fun to figure out what elements of human culture she would take and make her own.

French fries, Superman movies, expensive jeans! All with a certain logic behind them. She'd never had fried food before in the lab. She relates to Superman's conflicted identity. And the jeans, well, creature comforts weren't exactly a big priority in the lab! 
3. You wrote The Rules from two different POVs. Which was easier for you?

Zane's, believe it or not. His initial scene, the one with him by the pool at Rachel's house, was the first one that came to me for the book, even though it's actually the third scene in the story! 
4. Describe The Rules in 5 words.

Hmm. That's hard! How about this: Conflicted hybrid girl must choose.

5. What can you tell us about book 2?

Oh, boy, I think I have to be careful here, so as not to spoil anything. :) I'm in the process of revising it now. And I have to confess, I had SO much fun writing this one.

I can tell you we're going to meet some new characters, some of whom were referenced in The Rules but never seen "on screen" (including a parent). I can also tell you that the second book picks up pretty much immediately after book one, just a few hours later. And sadly, no Rachel Jacobs in book two. I'm saving her for book three. :D 
Speed [ish] round:

1. What's your go to guilty pleasure thing to eat?

 Raw cookie dough. I know, I know, salmonella. But I can't help it! :)

2. What are you reading right now?

A.G. Howard's Splintered. It's fantastic!

3. Who are your favorite swoony boys?

Love Rachel Caine's Shane, Tammara Webber's Lucas, and Jennifer Echol's John After

4. Are there any authors that you fangirl over?

Oh, gosh, yes. Too many to name! :D I try really, really hard to keep myself contained because you never know when you might be on a panel or at a meal with someone, and I don't want to freak them out. Sometimes, though, I can't help but gush a little. I will say this, my ultimate, all-time favorite YA author is Meg Cabot. And I've never met her. If I do, I will probably set new records for fan-girl babbling and gushing.


Huge thanks to Stacey for taking the time.  And of course, for the invitation!

Catch Stacey on her website or Twitter and add her books to your GoodReads.


Haven't been able to pick up a copy of The Rules? I've got one for you. Well, I don't have one, but I have people who have one. :D Winner will receive the book directly from Hyperion. 

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

**Good luck!!**

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The time it was standing room only

I wasn't planning on going to the Joe Hill signing. One of the guys from MG, Rob, would always mention the signing when I was at the store for other events. My answer was always that I would try to make it, but I'm not sure I ever actually meant it.

And then, at one of the events, Michelle also started telling me how I had to attend. She even took it one step further by buying me a copy of  Locke and Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft. I caved and on the day the book [and tickets] went on sale, I called the store to get a signing ticket. I was number 34. 

I got down to Mysterious Galaxy around 5pm, but didn't go in right away. I had a book to finish, so I stayed in the car and watched people go in and out of the store. Intending to just peek my head in, I walked into the store just before 5:30. Not only was the event area set up, but there was several people already sitting down. I was able to get a second row seat and proceeded to wait.


It quickly became standing room only while people waited and by 6:15, there were people everywhere. 

Joe got to the store around 6:30 and left to do an interview/podcast with someone who was in the crowd. He came back to the store just before 7 and we for started right away. 


Talked about starting a drive-thru window at MG. You go up to the window and say you'd like a full order of sci-fi with a side of fantasy. Get the bag and your order is filled with books.

Normally reads a portion of the book and  then does a Q&A until he sees the glazed look on the faces of the crowd.


License plate is a German word for vampire. You meet the bad guy right away at a bad time in his life. Uses children to sustain his youth. Victoria also has a special ride. The two do find themselves in opposition over decades and many miles of road. 

Ready to talk about writing or his graphic novels. Relationships. Politics. Where the Red Sox will end up. If no one asks, he'll ask questions. Like what is the capital of Guatemala? 

If you're not confident in your knowledge of maritime history and your answer, you better ask a question. 

Why use the term "gorks"?

I talked to an doctor and that was their answer. 

What year is the Triumph?

Vic has a 1958, like Steve McQueen. Or Evel Knievel before he was getting paid to jump Harleys. Planned to do the entire tour in an Evel Knievel suit, but his brother asked how will the crowd know he was supposed to be Evel and not fat Elvis?

What is the genesis of story, especially the title?

By the end of the tour, will come up with an awesome origin story. A friend was fixing Triumph. Spent 2 weeks holding wrenches. Got idea about a girl and an awesome bike. 700 pages later...

New Hampshire people are really weird about vanity plates. Everyone has one.


Favorite part of Locke and key?

On going comic series. Wrote comics before novels. Was asked "do you ever dream of guys in tights?"  Answer was: every night. Pitched baby hulk, but they said no. 

Pitched the mansion with different keys. They said no, but he kept thinking about it, even when buying diapers at 11pm.

Told British publisher [I think this is what was said.  Joe talks fast.] about his great idea. Could tell the entire story in 6 issues, they bought that shit. And he's just finishing after 40 issues. Most satisfying was killing everyone off [laughs]. 

Sparrow is a stand alone and it's a tribute to Calvin and Hobbes. 

Going back to getting diapers at 11pm, you never realize how punch drunk you'll be after having kids. Pulled into Walgreens one night and everything is hallucinogenic. Loud speaker goes off, announcing  LUNCH MEAT is 50% OFF.  Walking around the store saying lunch meat.  Said it in front of a lady and then ran out after she appeared to be scared. Got into the wrong car and after it wouldn't start, figured it would be the woman's car. By then she would have called the cops because it started with him talking about his lunch meat. 

The time I almost went to jail. 

How much of a hand picking the narrator in audio books?

Picked the person who recorded for NOS4A2. She read another story in a compilation and loved it. Emotionally smart and funny. Always wants Stephen Lang when it's a male protagonist. Kate when it's female. They can take a good story and make it better. 

Any interest from Hollywood?

Second story is Horns. Character, Ig, is accused of killing his girlfriend. Gets drunk, goes to sleep cursing God. Wakes up with horns and all of the power of the devil. 

Was filmed last year. Stars Daniel Radcliffe. Hasn't seen it, just clips. Read the script in several stages and thinks it captures everything. Daniel is perfect for the part and loves to see Harry Potter struggle.


Make a lot of references of pop culture and self references. Will the the characters ever reappear?

One novel shadows the other. Best to address it. Heart Shaped Box -- Horns -- boom box with Jude's Hammer playing. Ig and Merrin -- treehouse of the mind -- NOS4A2

Usually the story that is told is the one that needs to be told. If it needed to be done, it would have been done in the original story. 

Locke and Key is episodic. On purpose. 

Charlie Manx will have a 5 issue comic that tells before the novel.  And more uses for Maggie. 

Planning another read along on twitter?

One reviewer said they were surprised that there was enough time off twitter to write 700 page book. All tweets would be a stupid book. 

Previous read along was called The Big Read Along and everyone read Moby Dick

What's easier to write? The internal struggle of characters or the concept?

You know how Juicy fruit for the first 15 seconds is the best ever. Then like chewing an eraser. Cares about character. Needs a character to root for. 

Always gets asked why give away the killer in Horns on page 60. More interested in who are they than who done it. Character not concept.

[There was a question about a novella called Gunpowder, but I didn't get it.  Or the answer] 

Speed round:

Do you dream these books?: no

Harry Potter fan. Very influenced by JK? Harry should have hooked up with Luna, that's the only misstep in the series. 

Naming character?  Sound like a human name. Don't think about it. Just flings on the page. 

Discipline for writing: it's a job. Do it every day. 

Want to work with other people's things? Like Doctor Who? Other characters would be fun to play with. 

When writing do you think in terms of comic books? Very comic book style imagination. 

Loved the interview with Scalzi any plans on working together? Choking Scalzi? Eating him? I didn't hear the questions.

When writing books do things surprise you? One thing in NOS4A2 did. And if it surprised him, knew it would surprise readers. 

How did you come up with Endscapes? Explored extensively in NOS4A2. The idea that people live with their feet in 2 worlds. One in the real world, the other is a private world of thought where imagination is physics. Imagination powerful enough to split the words and bring over. 

Keith Richards heard a lick in his head, plays it on guitar and a couple months later, everyone else has it in their head. 

At SDCC last year at signing panel and no one was in line for you. Are you amazed how fan base has grown?

Fucking amazing. Do you realize that Iron Man 3 playing down the street. Do you know how many fun cat videos are on the Internet? Anyone who shows up for a reading or event where someone talks about words on a page is worth their weight in gold. 

Before we left the store to line up, Joe took a picture of the crowd for twitter. 

They lined us up just before 8 and in numerical order. There were so many people, we were let into the store 25 at a time.

I spent time trying to edit this monstrosity of a post [and yet, it still looks like this] and tried not to have conversations with strangers.  That latter part didn't work so well.  I ended up chatting with the guy in front of me about YA books and what I thought his wife should read.

I got up to Joe around 8:50.  I had asked one of the MG employees if I could grab a copy of Horns to have signed and then I would pay for it.  She ever so nicely grabbed me a copy and then took my phone to take the picture for me.

I thanked Joe for coming and then after he signed my books, we posed for a picture.  He had this little devil doll and had me move my hair out of the way so the devil could sit on my shoulder between us.  After the picture was done, the MG woman gave me my phone back and asked if I wanted another picture.  Joe wanted to see the picture, so I showed him and he asked if I wanted another one.  I asked if he wanted a new one.  He said it was my picture, so he wanted me to be happy.  And I am.

I left after paying for my book... I imagine that even as I type this post up, there are still people waiting outside in line.  And Joe was definitely worth the wait.  Huge thanks to Michelle and Rob for forcing my attendance.


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