Wednesday, December 17, 2014

This Shattered World Review

To see the entire tour schedule, visit The Midnight Garden.

The second installment in the epic Starbound trilogy introduces a new pair of star-crossed lovers on two sides of a bloody war.

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet's rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn's blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

Visit the These Broken Stars website for the latest news on the series and follow the authors on Twitter at @AmieKaufmanand @MeaganSpooner. This Shattered World is available for pre-order (with fun swag!) and will be released in North America on December 23, 2014.

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I'll admit, I'm a bit tired of kick-butt girls with a chip on their shoulder. They've experienced a huge surge in YA in the last several years. So I wasn't sure at first about this book, even though I knew I wanted to read it as I'd heard nothing but raving about its companion novel, These Broken Stars.

So I thought I'd give it a try... and I'm so glad I did!

I liked Jubilee, despite her being the girl that everyone knew to avoid b/c she could totally kick your butt with one arm behind her back and a wet paper sack over her head. Right off the bat there was enough characterization for me to begin to connect to w/her. Like in the opening scene, where she's at the bar. She'd ordered a girly drink with a hot pink olive-piercing sword b/c she knew the bartender didn't get much reason to flex his drink mixing skills with all the soldiers drinking nothing but manly beers. So-- doing something nice for someone-- is something that I can empathize with. Whereas being an unstoppable soldier (me, who can manage five girl push-ups at best?), not so much.

Then there were the small flashbacks of her childhood in between chapters. This definitely fostered a connection between me and Jubilee's character. We're not told why she's like she is, we get to see it. And it's done with some pretty lyrical writing too.

As for the setting, that gets two thumbs up. The authors did a great job of painting a bleak world where the sun doesn't shine. Hate grey days? Then Avon isn't for you! There's also this thing where non-natives are affected by The Fury. It's some unknown affliction that makes you go violent and bonkers. You'd kill your own grannie w/out thinking twice.

Now before you're all like-- this book sounds depressing, no thanks-- let me tell you about the other main character, Flynn. He's an Irish-type hottie with a firm chin who knows a thing or two about flirting.
Jubilee and Flynn eventually come to trust each other, and watching this long, painful journey was my fav part of the book. Trust me folks, no insta-love here. 

Towards the middle of the book, there's a huge, heart-wrenching twist that I hated reading. And things don't let up after that. Because there's a mystery to figure out about the Fury, and then there's another twist-- this one made me SO happy-- and another and another and... let me just say this book takes you for a ride. Highly recommended! Five luminous balls of gas from me. And I meant that like, in yanno, stars... ;) 

So for a stab at creativity to go along w/my rambly review(like I could write any other kind), I've put pictures along with some excerpts from TSW. Hope you like! 


It's a crappy bar on a crappy makeshift street, wistfully named Molly Malone's. 



We were taught there are a couple of moons up there too, somewhere, coaxing the waters to flow this way and that. But I've never once seen them-- only the clouds, always the clouds. 

Avon's sky is grey. 


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So I splash some of the water on my face, scrubbing my hands over my cheeks, my eyes, my mouth. Trying to rid myself of the smell of him close to me, the feel of his fingers against my cheek, the soft feather touch of his breath. 

But no amount of scrubbing will get rid of that tired longing in his voice, the memory of how he looked at me.


(source)

I recognize the choking, acrid smell of smoke. Something, somewhere, is on fire. 

My head snaps up. I can see thick black smoke billowing up in the distance, and automatically I break into a sprint.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

2nd Annual First Line Christmas Contest WINNERS!!!

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First, a great, big, huge thank you to everyone who participated! This is one of the things I really look forward to doing on my blog, and you all make it so much fun. And a second great, big, huge thank you to Jessica Lawson & Kathryn Purdie, for being amazing guest judges. Now, onto our winners! 

Jessica's top pick was Kelly Hashway's entry:

It's not every day you see Santa holding a bloody icicle.

I ended up choosing this sentence for its strength of brevity and tension/page-turner quality. Even though I'm a weenie when it comes to anything coming close to horror, this one stood out to me as a killer sentence (pun intended :)). ~ Jessica


Kathryn's top pick was Beth Ellyn's entry:

It was always Mom's job to light the menorah and I definitely lack her steady hand: one candle sits slanted, flickering merrily, and another just dropped to the ground, dangerously close to Dad's Christmas tree. 

This really gripped me. There’s a lot of character development here, a lot of yearning, and a lot of intrigue. It hints that Mom is now gone, that there is emotional upset over that, and perhaps it had something to do with two conflicting traditions and therefore types of people. I’d definitely keep reading a book that started this way! Great job, everyone! I loved the humorous entries, as well. ~Kathryn 

Super congrats to Kelly & Beth! Just email me at leandrawallace@gmail.com whether you'd like your copy of My True Love Gave to Me sent through Amazon or B&N. 

And the fun isn't quite done yet. Kathryn & Jessica also crafted first lines for our enjoyment, yay! And me too, I couldn't resist! =)  

The worn wooden sleigh was empty of presents, but filled with piles of holiday cheer as the four Garland children caroled their way to the village charity stall, snowflakes swirling among them like frosty stars that had been wished down from the night sky.  ~Jessica 

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Jack insisted I wear at least one of his mittens, but his now lays abandoned at the manger scene, dusted in a fine layer of snow.  ~Kathryn

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My ice skates glided over the ice, cutting thin lines like scars on the translucent surface.  ~Leandra 
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So that concludes this years First Line Contest! I wish everyone peace and goodwill with the coming days of shopping, baking, and present-wrapping. ;) Also, that you all have a truly wonderful holiday season with friends and family. 

Merry Christmas!
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Monday, December 8, 2014

2nd Annual First Line Christmas Contest!!!

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It's back! I had so much fun w/this last year, that I've decided to make it an annual thing. I've always loved reading first lines and I love doing giveaways, so the two combined have become the First Line Christmas Contest. A list of Christmas/holiday/seasonal words is provided and you pick one(or more, if you wish) to put in the first line of a story. Leave your first line in the comments, and two winners will be picked to receive an ecopy of My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories, through either Amazon or B&N.

  
And this year I will not be a judge. It was so hard to pick a winner last year when there were so many good first lines. Plus, you guys are my friends, which makes it tougher. So I am pleased to announce that Jessica Lawson and Kathryn Purdie will be our guest judges this year!




Jessica Lawson enjoys living/playing in the mountains of Colorado with her husband and children. She has to seasonally inform the landlord about bear damage to the trash bin at the end of her driveway and regularly sees a fox family trotting around the neighborhood (which makes her feel like she’s in one of her favorite Roald Dahl books). Her first book, The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher, came out in July 2014. Her second book, Nooks & Crannies(also with Simon & Schuster), will hit bookstores in June 2015.



 




Kathryn Purdie is the author of Auraseer, the first in a young adult fantasy trilogy releasing in winter 2016 from Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins. Kathryn’s love of storytelling began as a young girl when her dad told her about Boo Radley while they listened to the film score of To Kill a Mockingbird. Her own attempts at storytelling usually involved writing plays to perform with neighborhood kids or making home video productions featuring her younger sister as a nerd. In high school and college, Kathryn focused on acting, composing sappy poetry, singing folk ballads on her guitar, and completing at least ten pages in her journal every night. Years later, when she was in recovery from donating a kidney to her brother, inspiration for her first novel struck. She’s been writing darkly fantastical stories ever since. Kathryn is represented by Josh Adams of Adams Literary.

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{To read more about Jessica & Kathryn's books, please click on their book titles. Thanks!}

Now, on to the list of words!

gingerbread
snowman
ornaments
chocolate covered cherries
Santa
bow
holly jolly
angel
ice skates
Christmas tree
dreidel
frost
advent calendar
tinsel
manger scene
poinsettia
menorah
reindeer
penguin
roasted chestnuts
presents
kinara
stocking
candy cane
eggnog
Jack Frost
star
caroling
sleigh
icicle
nutcracker
mittens
snowflake
cheer
hot chocolate
garland
 
{Also, any of these words can be made singular or plural.}

The first lines can be for any genre: Adult, MG, YA, Picture book, Poetry, etc. The only thing I ask is for it to be clean, of course. The winners will be announced via a new post on 12/15. So have fun, everyone, and I'm looking forward to reading all your crafty, creative, and festive first lines!

Contest is now closed, as the judges are deliberating on their picks. Thanks, everyone!

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Author Stop: Sarah Negovetich


Please welcome Sarah Negovetich, whose debut novel, RITE OF REJECTION, just recently released!

1. Christmas will be here soon! What is one of your fav holiday treats/traditions?

Oh gosh, I love Christmas. We live far away from family, but every year we drive (DRIVE) for two days so we can visit everyone. My family is big and loud and we love playing cards. When all the presents are opened and the dinner is eaten, we play a weird version of Rummy that takes hours to play with so many people. Everyone pours a drink and we leave the food out so we can snack all night, play cards, laugh at each other and catch up on life. I look forward to it every year.

2. Which writing do you find easier-- first drafting or revising?

Revising is definitely easier for me. I tend to write really sparse first drafts so it’s hard for me because I know just how bad it is while I’m writing it. I never have one of those moments where I think ‘The words I just wrote are pure genius.’ Instead, I usually finish a scene and then type a comment in the margins on exactly what needs to be cut and how awful sections are. I’m not very nice to myself when I draft.

With revising, there’s this sense of relief that I got the story out and I get to go in and have fun. I have no issues gutting entire scenes and love going back in to discover new quirks of my characters. Revising is really when the story comes alive for me.

3. Having written a dystopian yourself, what are some of your fav books in this genre?

Wow, there are so many. One of my favorite books of all time is 1984. I love how dark the whole book is, yet there is this underlying presence of hope that just can’t be shaken. Alas, Babylon is a really great, post-apocalypse book that one of my cousins gave me when I was probably too young to read it. It fallows a tiny town after a nuclear strike and is such a magnificent study of all the different ways that people react to crisis. For more recent books, I loved Hunger Games, of course. And The Giver quartet. I’m too old to have read them in school, but reading them as an adult left a lasting impact on me.

4. Stripes, plaid, or polka dots?

I am currently wearing fuzzy, pink plaid pants so we’ll go with that. I am the least fashion conscious person I know. Almost all of my clothes were bought for me by other people (I hate shopping), so I tend to just wear whatever is clean in my closet.

5. What is a fav line(s) from RoR?

This is soooo hard. It took forever, but I finally narrowed it down.

If everything had gone the way I expected at my Acceptance ceremony last year, I would be outside right now, living the boring life planned out for me and never know what true love is like. Life might be safer on the other side of the fence, but that doesn’t equal better anymore.

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And don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win this fun prize pack!

#RiteOfRejection Reader Survival Pack


Chapter 17 tissues (because that’s when you’ll need them), a jumbo sized chocolate bar (a hot commodity inside the PIT), an orange scented candle (courtesy of Rebecca’s fondest memory from home, a dandelion pen (as featured on the cover), handcrafted Molly bag (named after the character responsible for sewing them in the book, these are the bags used extensively by the main characters), and a $10 Amazon gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


About the Author



Sarah Negovetich knows you don’t know how to pronounce her name and she’s okay with that.

Her first love is Young Adult novels, because at seventeen the world is your oyster. Only oysters are slimy and more than a little salty; it’s accurate if not exactly motivational. We should come up with a better clichĂ©.

Sarah divides her time between writing YA books that her husband won’t read and working with amazing authors as an agent at Corvisiero Literary Agency. Her life’s goal is to be only a mildly embarrassing mom when her kids hit their teens.
You can learn more about Sarah and her books at www.SarahNegovetich.com or follow her antics on Twitter @SarahNego.







Straight-laced, sixteen-year-old Rebecca can’t wait for her Acceptance. A fancy ball, eligible bachelors, and her debut as an official member of society. Instead, the Machine rejects Rebecca. Labeled as a future criminal, she’s shipped off to a life sentence in a lawless penal colony.

A life behind barbed wire fences with the world’s most dangerous people terrifies Rebecca. She reluctantly joins a band of misfit teens in a risky escape plan, complete with an accidental fiancĂ© she’s almost certain she can learn to love.
But freedom comes with a price. To escape a doomed future and prove her innocence Rebecca must embrace the criminal within.


Available now at Amazon, B&N, Kobo & iTunes



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Lastly, one lucky commenter will win a $5 Amazon gift card(announced 12/8 via comments). Please just follow Sarah at one or more of her social media sites. Sarah's also a literary agent/marketing lady, so I definitely recommend following her blog. She offers all kinds of handy tips and tricks that you won't want to miss out on! 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

WIP Tag & Good News

So the awesomesauce Sarah Ahiers tagged me to answer some questions about my WIP, of which I'm always happy to gab about. Also, Sarah has a book coming out next year, All That Remains. What you need to know: Assassins! And I all ready feel a connection to her main character because I'm a stone-cold killer 'cuz her name is a bit similar to mine. Curious? Go check out that Goodreads link... ;) So. WIP Questions. Answered.
What is your WIP about?
The Holly Berry Murders is about an 11 yo girl who lives in a huge apartment complex. Due to a social anxiety disorder, she keeps mostly to herself, wandering through the complex. Because of this, she knows the place- and people- better than anyone. 

How long have you been working on your WIP?
A month, and then I took a few months' break to finish something else and now I've been back at it for a couple of weeks.

Who is your MC?
Hollister Graham.

What are some of the themes you're exploring?
Life after death, and the aforementioned social disorder.

What song would represent your story or MC?
Ah, crap. Nothing has really jumped out of the radio to me w/this story, except for Love Don't Die by The Fray. And that's just b/c of the main chorus where they sing, "Love don't die, no matter where we go- ahhahahaaah." Or something like that. *grin*

If you were casting your story as a movie, who would play your main character? 
I don't have real clear images of my characters' faces in my head(is this weird?) so finding someone that looks just right isn't really possible. But I imagine she'd look somewhat like this tween actress, Helen Colliander.

What is your favorite line in your WIP so far? 
Things were busy and normal and just the way life was in Cherry Hill, until, like normal, it wasn't.

If your MC were to have a pet, what would it be?
A bunny rabbit.

When do you think your WIP will be "done?"
I'm hoping the end of Dec. But that's going to take some major butt in chair.

Who's your favorite side character in your WIP and why?
I have two, Ryce and Ross. They're twins, so it's sort of impossible for me to pick just one. As for why? They're twins. 'Nuff reason.

What's your MC's favorite food?
Spaghetti w/fresh grated Parmesan and Romano cheese over top.


Now, to nominate someone else. Like lovely ladies, Donna McDine and Christine Rains. And b/c I'm lazy, and also b/c I think Sarah provided good questions, if you so choose to be tagged, the above questions will be what you answer. Have fun!

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So, onto my good news! You might remember me mentioning the sci-fi short I was working on, or saw the description for it on my WIP tab at some point. Well... it was accepted! Woo-hoo! The Mad Scientist's Daughter will be available to read in 2015 in Brave New Girls: Tales of Girls and Gadgets. I'm pretty sure it's going to be surreal to open a real-live book and see my words printed there. Surreal, and pretty great.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

My 6-Month Bookaversary: A Reality Check


Today is my six month bookaversary. Grunge Gods and Graveyards is slightly younger than the crying infant who is laying beside me as I type this post. (She’s peeved I’m typing -- I don’t think she likes the clickety clack of the keyboard.) Leandra had asked me if I wanted to talk about what it’s like being a newly pubbed author and I said, yes! I’m very appreciative when authors are transparent. Fair warning though-- this post details my experience. I have no idea what it’s like to be published by a large press with a large marketing budget. Your miles may vary.

First, GG&G has been out in the wild for six months and I’m pretty sure every family member, friend, friend of friend, mother-in-law of friend, cousin’s friend has read the book. Seriously, I am truly blessed. It’s awesome, but I’ve exhausted that group of people-who-know-me. I kinda need some strangers to read it. Right now, my sales have trickled down to a few a month, if I’m lucky. That’s right. A few a month. And part of me thinks it’s my mother buying extra copies.

It is crazy hard to sell a book and gain visibility, especially if you’re pubbed by a small press like me (a fabulous small press, but small nonetheless). My book cannot be found in Barnes and Nobles brick and mortar stores (right now, I’m selling the paperbacks at the local gym where my son takes swim lessons) nor is it likely to get reviewed by a major trade publication. I don’t think I’ve sold one copy on Barnes and Noble in the last month. My Amazon author rank is in the 700,000s. According to Goodreads, no one is reading it. My only hope for some momentum is to get a Book Bub ad which is very hard to come by, but I am keeping my fingers crossed. Getting a Book Bub ad is like winning the lottery.

For the last six months, I’ve been hustling trying to get book reviews. I’ve implored anyone who has read the book to review it on Goodreads and Amazon and I’ve been contacting bloggers. For every 20 review requests I send out, I’m lucky if I get one acceptance. It’s just how it is.

For awhile, I was constantly checking Twitter to see if anyone had mentioned my book in a tweet (rarely) or Googling the title to see if someone had written a review and I missed it (nope). I’ve stopped doing that.

Truthfully, I am not shocked or surprised by how things are going. I have written only one book and I am utterly unknown. I’m just glad to see my name on that beautiful cover. The only thing I can do right now to help my writing career is write, which I do, painstakingly slow. I’m currently working on a novella spin-off to GG&G. I’m half-way through a horrendous first draft of another YA mystery and I’m outlining a few other projects.

The last six months have been fun. It feels crazy good when someone says they read my book and loved it. Or that they recommended it to their friend. I even had a fan at my most recent book talk at the library. Now, that was awesome. My book can be found in five NJ public libraries. Granted, two libraries received donations from my mom and brother, but still...that’s something. Maybe someday, I’ll hit the lotto and become a literary sensation, but for now, I’m right where I figured I’d be.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Celebrating Black Beauty by Anna Sewell



One hundred and thirty seven years ago, Black Beauty by Anna Sewell was published. It completely boggles my mind! So long ago, and still a much loved classic(with much reason to be so). I was a huge horse lover growing up. I took riding lessons for two summers, subscribed to Horse Illustrated, plastered my walls in horse posters, and read the Saddle Club and Thoroughbred series. And King of the Wind and Misty of Chicoteague and Man o' War and The Black Stallion series. 
 
At one point I was the almost-owner of a twenty-one-year old Arabian mare. It fell through, but I can still remember buying grooming equipment and being so excited that I was going to realize my dream of owning a horse. With my horse craziness, Black Beauty has always been a favorite. I honestly can't remember if I watched the movie or read the book first, but both made me teary-eyed. 
 
So in honor of the anniversary of Black Beauty, I'm giving away this sketch. 
 
 
I drew this from an illustration I found in my hometown public library's copy of Black Beauty(I can only draw if I have something to look at). If you'd like to own this sketch, as always, leave a comment(and if you'd be so kind as to give us a follow at the group blog I belong to, that'd be totally awesome-- there's a link to it on the sidebar, thanks!) Winner will be announced 10/28.
 
And for fun, feel free to let me know what your favorite breed of horse is. Mine are(like chips, I can't just have one):
 
Arabian
Friesian
Thoroughbred
Appaloosa
 
And for even more additional fun(there's just so much today!) also feel free to mention which of these Black Beauty covers is your favorite.
 
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