Thursday, July 24, 2014

Interview w/Charlie Holmberg + Giveaways!

I'm excited to welcome, Charlie Holmberg  First things first! That cover. It makes my visual-loving heart happy. The diagrams, the flow of the dress, the font(I could stare at that 'the' 4evah), and the way the font fits just so into the dress. Yeah. I love it. Now where was I? Oh, yes!

I'm excited to welcome, Charlie Holmber to the blog today! =) 

1. While writing TPM, did you attempt any paper magic of your own? Origami, paper cutting, strange rituals at midnight...?

Ha! Unfortunately nothing I fold actually works. ;) I know a small amount of origami and paper weirdness, all of which I used in the book (well, one is in the sequel, The Glass Magician. It’s a weird jellyfish thing I learned how to do in elementary school). Anytime I go into detail about how a spell is done, you know I’ve actually created it at some point in my life. (None at midnight, mind you.)

And yes, the book has paper airplanes. (Well, “gliders,” since airplanes haven’t been invented yet.)

2. If you could wear only one color for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Oh gosh. My first instinct is pink because it’s my favorite, but I’d probably wear black. People would think I have a dark soul and I’d always look skinny.

3. Besides your main character, which character in TPM is dearest to your heart?

Definitely the male lead! I may or may not be secretly in love with him. That’s a good thing, right? Emery Thane can teach me magic any day.

4. Snack attack-- what do you grab?

Chocolate chips!

5. When writing, what sort of scenes do you enjoy crafting the most-- action, romance, witty dialogue?

I’d have to say “reveal” scenes—any scene where I get to showcase a secret. I tend to get the most excited for those and look forward to them weeks in advance. I love witty dialogue, but I feel like my characters tend to be wittier than me, and that’s stressful. I definitely like reading romantic scenes the most, but it takes me years to write them because I nitpick every movement and word.

6. What is one of your fav lines from THE PAPER MAGICIAN?

Hmm… the first that came to mind was, “I have a personal motto to never Fold on one’s lap.”

* * *

Homegrown in Salt Lake City, Charlie was raised a Trekkie with three sisters who also have boy names. She writes fantasy novels and does freelance editing on the side. She's a proud BYU alumna, plays the ukulele, and owns too many pairs of glasses.

Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined—animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic—invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.

Release date: September 1st, 2014
Preorder: Amazon

* * *

And Charlie has very awesomely offered a copy of THE PAPER MAGICIAN to one lucky commenter! The winner will be announced on 7/28 on Twitter and updated in the comments. The winner will receive their prize once Charlie has her copies. So, yay, something to be surprised w/in the mail! 

There's also a $5 Amazon gift card up for grabs. As always, comment to be entered and please follow Charlie at one or more of her social media links above. Also, guys, you've totally got to check out her website header- I LOVE IT! I would like to steal it.  

Congrats, Charlie, on your imminent release of THE PAPER MAGICIAN! 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summertime Magic

Playing in the grass,
sun warm on my back.
See-through circles
that pop,
making me laugh.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ready. Set. WRITE! (Week 7)

1. How I did on last week's goals: Goal was 3000. I made 2,900 on my WIP. And then on a short story and a MG I wrote a combined amount of 1,860. {So total: 4760} Which reminds me! The short I'm working on is for this anthology. If any of you have a short sci-fi story in you featuring a female protagonist, you might want to check it out. It's for a good cause!

2. My goals for this week: 2, 500 wordy-words. 

3. A fav line from my WIP: This comes from my MG:

Their apartment bordered the parking lot and she wove past dented minivans, trucks with cans littering the bed, and endless cars in candy colors. 

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week: A big ol' lack of motivation. Most of my writing on my WIP got done on Sunday as I was desperately cramming to try and hit my goal. 

5. Something I love about my WIP: Heh, right now, not much. Ask me again next week! ;)

RSW! is a summer writing intensive hosted by Erin L. FunkJaime MorrowAlison Miller, & Katy Upperman. Visit any of these lovely ladies' blogs for a full list of RSW! participants. Have a great week of writing everyone!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Guest Post by Kell Andrews— The Lost Squirrel: Losing a Character and Gaining Depth

When I first had the idea for my middle-grade fantasy/mystery Deadwood (Spencer Hill, 2014), I knew it was about a cursed tree with messages carved in its bark. But one of the challenges of this scenario is that trees are not the most active characters. Sure, they’re great at photosynthesis, removing pollutants from the air, and providing the oxygen we breathe, but they’re terrible communicators and they tend to be, well, rooted. They don’t get around much.

So when I began writing the story, I introduced a talking squirrel character who acts as the tree’s representative – its Watcher. That makes sense, right? A squirrel is much more likely to be able to talk than a tree because they actually have mouths. They are scrappy little critters, able to leap from tree to rooftop in a single bound, probably excellent at eavesdropping, which is handy in a mystery. And who doesn’t love talking animals?

Apparently, many people do not, beginning with my agent at the time. When I told her about the story I was working on, she was lukewarm. Lose the squirrel, she said.

But but but. How could I lose the squirrel? Without him, the story seemed so drab, so colorless, so rodent-free.

And then I came up with a better way for the tree to communicate – through the carvings on its bark. It couldn’t talk, but it could light up the letters to write text messages. And once the tree had a voice, the story – and the Spirit Tree itself as a character – came into focus.

Then in honor of my cruelly deleted squirrel character, the town high school mascot became the Black Squirrels. About 25% of the Eastern gray squirrels in the Philadelphia lower Main Line suburbs are actually black, and Haverford College also uses the nickname Black Squirrels for some sports teams. So the black squirrel helps place the story in a very specific geography.

But was my former agent right? Maybe. She closed off one avenue, and I had to rethink the entire story. And that made it better – tighter, maybe scarier, with more focus on my main characters Hannah and Martin and on the tree itself as a living entity. I like having the tree speak for itself – it may be a plant, but it still has agency.

Then again, a squirrel character didn’t hurt Kate DiCamillo’s Flora and Ulysses, or Daisy Whitney’s Ben Fox, Zombie Squirrel Hunter, another middle grade book from Spencer Hill.

You can judge for yourself whether the squirrel deserved a place in the story before I so brutally wrote him out. Here’s a deleted scene where the squirrel first showed up.

First Draft: The Squirrel

Crack! Splintered branches and wet leaves rained down on them, and Martin was engulfed in a whirlwind of sharp claws, white teeth, and wet fur. He beat the animal off, screaming manfully, until his arms were beating at empty air.
“Stop, stop!” Hannah cried, taking his arm. “It’s just a squirrel.”
Martin peered through his arms. A small black squirrel stared back, twitching its tail.
“I never saw a squirrel fall out of a tree. Maybe the lightning or fire hurt him.” Hannah bent down, moving in slow motion, to take a closer look. “Easy, little guy.”
Martin jumped behind her. “Watch out! It could be rabid. I think it even bit me!”
The squirrel sniffed banefully. Then it said, “I most certainly am not rabid.”
Hannah leapt to her feet, stumbling backward into Martin.
The squirrel worried its hands and continued creakily, “I wouldn’t have bitten you if you had been more polite. This is my home, you know.” The squirrel chewed its words, spitting them out with great concentration.
Hannah reached out again, looking as if she meant to pass her hand straight through the little animal. The squirrel hopped backward. “You … you talk.”
“I do now. I didn’t until that lightning struck. Pardon me if I’m a little hoarse, but. I understand English well enough after listening to you humans jabbering on for the past twenty-five years. You all talk entirely too much.”
“What are you?” Hannah asked, wide-eyed and unsure. Martin couldn’t bring himself to address the pointy little creature yet. “You can’t be a squirrel. You can’t be talking.”
“What else would I be? In fact I’m the animal watcher for this tree. You call it the spirit tree, I believe, but its spirit has existed far longer than your destructive school traditions. Violent creatures, you are. Stomping and crashing, slashing with your knives and shouting with loud voices. All the same.”
Angry, Martin found his voice. “I’m not one of them. I tried to help!”
“You’ll have to do better than that.”
“Me? Some watcher you are. I was trying to stop those kids from carving it. You should have bit them!”
“I watch. I don’t guard. The curse will bite them harder than I ever could.”
“The curse?”
“Yes, the curse. The moment this tree was defaced, this town was cursed. The curse follows all who are complicit.”
“You cursed them?”
“Not I. The witch. I was cursed along with the tree to be its watcher. And not them.”
Hannah waved her arms. “Hold on. Talking squirrels, a curse, now a witch?”
“Yes. A witch cursed the town, and the curse remains until the tree is healed.”
“You mean my brother is cursed? We’re cursed?”
The squirrel paused. “Unless you can heal the tree. The tree has spoken – maybe you’re the ones meant to lift the enchantment. And I’ll help you. Twenty-five years of acorns is far too many. I am as cursed as the rest of you.”
“No.” Hannah closed her eyes and shook her head. “This can’t be happening. I must be dreaming.”
“Then I’m dreaming too,” Martin said.
“This can’t be real. I’ve got to get out of here.”
“You can’t leave me with this creepy little thing!” Martin called after her, but Hannah had already swung a leg over her bike. She hurtled down the hill in a spray of mud. He lost sight of her in the trees and driving rain before she reached the bottom.

About Kell Andrews: Kell always wanted to be a writer, but before she rediscovered her love of children’s books, she mostly wrote and edited trade magazines, websites, textbooks, and marketing copy. That was fine except that magic is frowned upon in math textbooks and business press. Today she writes fiction for children and nonfiction for adults. Her first novel, Deadwood (Spencer Hill Press), was published in 2014, and her short fiction will appear in an upcoming issue of Spider Magazine. A member of SCBWI, Kell holds a humanities degree from Johns Hopkins University and a master of liberal arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she now lives in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania.

Contact Kell here. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or Goodreads.

Deadwood, by Kell Andrews
Spencer Hill Press
Ages 9 and up

Sometimes a lucky ritual becomes a curse.

Seventh-grader Martin Cruz hates his rotten new town, Lower Brynwood, but with his mom fighting a war in Afghanistan, he has no other choice but to live with his crazy aunt. Then he gets a message from a tree telling him it’s cursed—and so is he.

It’s not just any tree either, it’s the Spirit Tree, an ancient beech the football team carves for good luck before the season opener. But every year they lose.

Now the Spirit Tree is dying, and the other trees in the park are toppling around it like dominoes. The town is plagued with unexplainable accidents and people begin to fade, drained of life.

Martin must team up with a know-it-all soccer star, Hannah Vaughan, if he has any chance of breaking the curse. If they fail to save the Spirit Tree, it could mean the destruction of Lower Brynwood and a permanent case of bad luck.

Order from Deadwood, Barnes and Noble, BAM, or from your favorite independent bookstore.

* * * 
Thanks so much for a wonderful guest post, Kell! I loved getting to meet this plucky little squirrel. =) 
Wishing you and DEADWOOD much success!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Ready. Set. WRITE!(Week 6) + SOULLESS Cover Reveal

1. How I did on last week's goals: My goal was 2,500 words. I wrote 7,300! And the majority of those was written on Tues, when I wrote 6300 words. In a day!! I never do that. So it was pretty cool. =)

2. My goals for this week: 3000 words.

3. A fav line from my WIP: 

She and Lauren have stepped back and are considering me. Then Lauren snaps her fingers. “I know! How about that long tank top tee you got at the market last time we were out. She’s short enough it could be a dress on her."

Florida dives for her closet and emerges with something that is definitely not a dress.

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week: Laziness(the usual w/me!). Busting out my goal in  one day meant I just wanted to surf the Internet the rest of the time.

5. Something I love about my WIP: My villain. So far, she's probably one of the most complex I've ever attempted. I got to see a little more into her background this past week.

RSW! is a summer writing intensive hosted by Erin L. FunkJaime MorrowAlison Miller, & Katy Upperman. Visit any of their blogs for a full list of RSW! participants. Happy writing everyone!

* * * 

Have you met the Soulless and Passionate? In the world of 1770 where supernatural beings mix with humanity, Alexia is playing a deadly game.

SOULLESS, Book 2 in the Maiden of Time trilogy

Alexia manipulated time to save the man of her dreams, and lost her best friend to red-eyed wraiths. Still grieving, she struggles to reconcile her loss with what was gained: her impending marriage. But when her wedding is destroyed by the Soulless—who then steal the only protection her people have—she's forced to unleash her true power.

And risk losing everything.

What people are saying about this series: 

"With a completely unique plot that keeps you guessing and interested, it brings you close to the characters, sympathizing with them and understanding their trials and tribulations." --SC, Amazon reviewer

"It's clean, classy and supernaturally packed with suspense, longing, intrigue and magic." --Jill Jennings, TX

"SWOON." --Sherlyn, Mermaid with a Book Reviewer

Crystal Collier is a young adult author who pens dark fantasy, historical, and romance hybrids. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, three littles, and “friend†(a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her blog and Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

COMING October 13, 2014

PREORDER your print copy
Sign up for Crystal Collier's newsletter to receive release news and freebies.

* * *

SOULLESS looks beautiful, and I love how great  it goes w/the first book in the series, MOONLESS. And there's a flight of steps that make my architectural-loving heart happy, and a sword, which makes my uh...blood-loving heart happy? ;) Congrats to Crystal!

P.S. There's still time to get your name in to win a cupcake pin! If you haven't checked out Tara Dairman's interview, go here.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Interview w/Tara Dairman + A Giveaway!

I am super pleased to welcome Tara Dairman to the blog today! I have long been in love w/the cover for ALL FOUR STARS. It features desserts(which I love) & buildings(which I love). So lets get started!

* * * 

1. What would be your most scrumptious meal, followed by the most fantastic dessert?

Wow, what a tough question! It really depends on my mood, since there are so many different cuisines that I love (Indian, Ethiopian, Middle Eastern, Malaysian...) But great Italian has always tasted like comfort food to me, so I guess I would go with a bowl of light-as-air gnocchi in a delicious basil pesto sauce. And for dessert, rhubarb crumble with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream.

Now I'm hungry.

Gnnochi from Frasca

2. One of the things you hear about writing MG is that if an author isn't careful, an 'adult' voice can start to creep in. Do you have any problems w/this, and if so, how do you identify it? 

Great question, and yes, I've had issues with this. I love to write long, winding sentences full of em-dashes and parentheticals-- and use big, multisyllabic words to boot, as you can see in this very sentence. :) So when I revise, I try to keep an eye out for these and simplify whenever possible. I certainly don't want to dumb things down for my readers, but not letting my sometimes-convoluted style get in the way of the story has to be my first priority.

3. Your main character, Gladys, won a letter C cookbook giveaway! Would she pick a cupcake, a chicken, or a cake cookbook?

I'm going to cheat and say that she would pick a chickpea cookbook, just because chickpeas are one of my favorite foods. Hummus! Chana masala! Pasta e ceci! Okay, now I kind of want to write this cookbook...

Channa Masala

4. When writing All Four Starts what were some of the things you researched?

I definitely researched Indian food, because I wanted to get the combination of dishes served at the dinner at Parm's house right. I also had to survey journalist friends to find out how much money a freelance restaurant critic might make for publishing a review with a major newspaper.

5. If you could turn a fav book into a movie, what would you pick?

I'm pretty luck that two of my very favorite books-- Pride & Prejudice and Jane Eyre-- have been turned into movies over and over again! So for now I'll go with one of my favorite recent middle grade books: Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle. Though maybe that one needs to be a Broadway show!

6. What is one of your fav lines from All Four Stars?

I sort of love the irony of Charissa's line when she's bragging to everyone about how great her birthday celebration will be.

"I'm going to have an adult party," Charissa continued. "My parents are setting the whole thing up!"

Because what could be more grown-up than letting your parents plan a birthday party for you? Oh, Charissa-- you have a lot to learn.

* * *

Tara Dairman is a novelist, playwright, and survivor of the world’s longest honeymoon (2 years, 74 countries!). With the traveling bug appeased (for now), Tara has finally settled down in Colorado, where she lives with her husband and their trusty waffle iron. ALL FOUR STARS is her debut middle-grade novel.

Book Description:

Gladys Gatsby has dreamed of becoming a restaurant critic for New York's biggest newspaper--she just didn’t expect to be assigned her first review at age 11. Now, if she wants to meet her deadline and hang on to her dream job, she’ll have to defy her fast-food-loving parents, cook her way into the heart of her sixth-grade archenemy, and battle Manhattan’s meanest maitre d’.

GIVEAWAY TIME: I have for one of my lucky lovely readers, a little something that I think coordinates so well w/an element of AFS's cover. Sorry, it's not your own building, but rather...a cupcake pin!

To be entered to win, simply comment and please follow Tara at one or more of her social media links. Winner will be announced on via Twitter on 7/15 & also posted in the comments.

Congratulations on AFS's release, Tara! Wishing you both much success!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

PHOBIC Cover Reveal

Series: The Forbidden Doors #1
Genre: YA Horror

Release date: September 2014
Fifteen-year-old Piper Crenshaw knows her house is strange. It’s never needed repairs since it was built in the 1800s, and the lights flicker in response to things she says. As if those things aren’t creepy enough, it’s also the place where her mother committed murder.

To prove she’s not afraid of where she lives, Piper opens a forbidden door, which hides a staircase that leads to the ceiling. That’s when the flashbacks of the original residents from 1875 start, including a love affair between two young servants. Each vision pulls Piper deeper into not only their story, but also her house. Piper confides in her best friend, Todd, whom she's gradually falling for, but even he doesn't believe her. At least, not until her house gets axed during a prank, and the act injures Piper instead, cutting a gash the size of Texas into her stomach.

Piper realizes her house isn’t haunted—it’s alive. To sever her link to it, she must unravel the clues in the flashbacks and uncover the truth about her mother’s crime, before she becomes part of her house for good.

ALSO! For the chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card, enter this Rafflecopter giveaway.

* * *
And now, here's a word from the author, Cortney Pearson!

As writers we are constantly gathering inspiration (whether we know it or not). An overheard conversation, watching people interact, teenagers laughing together, hearing others tell stories. I believe we subconsciously refer to our life experiences as we write and create stories. We have to. In order to generate realistic emotion and detail that readers can relate to, we have to have some kind of jumping-off-point to base them on. I'd like to share just a few things that sparked ideas for me as I created the world of PHOBIC, a world which is based on the ethereal aspect of seemingly ordinary places.

Inspiration #1 My great aunt lived alone in this fantastic old house built by her father, my great-great grandfather. And it felt like stepping back through time every time I walked through the door. BUT. Right off from her back door--the entrance we always used--was a staircase. It wasn't long. It wasn't even hidden like those in my story. But this staircase led to Aunt Vay's basement with its concrete floor and old cast iron stove and that pair of metal roller skates that always sat alone on a shelf. I hated going in that
basement, especially by myself.


Looking back at these pictures now I wonder why I'd been so scared, but as a kid that basement was terrifying!

The basement in PHOBIC plays a huge part in the mystery of the house Piper lives in. It's a place she's been forbidden from entering, but this time she's determined to find out why.

Inspiration #2 Another instance happened at Aunt Vay's when my mom, sister, and I had pulled in late at night to sleep after traveling from California to Utah all day long. We were tired. It was cold and windy outside. And my mom couldn't find her key to the back door. We tried that knob several times and then as I went to reach for the knob again, the door opened. All on its own. OPENED. My mom, sister, and I all exchanged looks and when I checked the knob (on the now open door), it was still locked. True story! So it prompted the opening and this scene in PHOBIC:

My best friend Todd’s red pickup appears at the curb, spewing exhaust like the truck has a cigarette up its backside. I jerk up. My pulse kicks at the sight of him. That’s been happening a lot more lately, my insides flaring up and doing some sort of spastic dance whenever I catch sight of his alluring smile and dark curls. Leaving the second Pop-Tart on the table, I stuff my phone in my pocket and snatch up my backpack and clarinet case.

I dart past the round, velvet-topped table in the wide hallway to the front door. I reach for the knob. It won’t turn. Heart pounding, I try again. One way, then the other. Chick. Chick. The lock mechanism is vertical. The door isn’t locked. “Not now,” I say under my breath. “Please not now.” The hairs at my nape skulk up one by one until they all stand on end. My wrist flicks, and the obstinate knob makes the same chick chick sounds. The eerie feeling spreads down the length of my arm, making the knob cold under my touch. What is going on? I’m used to my house doing strange things, but why won’t it let me out?

Inspiration #3 The Winchester Mansion in California has also been intriguing to me, especially the staircase that leads to the ceiling. This whole house is completely creepy, but especially this:

Piper's house also has a hidden staircase similar to this one. Her discovery of it knocks her sense of reality way off course, and she begins seeing flashbacks of the original residents of house. Which leads to...

Inspiration #4 I LOVE romances, along with Victorian/Regency-era stories. So my final inspiration for the story--particularly the flashbacks that Piper has to the past--is:

Downton Abbey (I know it takes place after the two eras above-mentioned. But still, inspiration.) It was after watching the first few episodes that my two star-crossed servants in love sprang into my head. There were many other sources of inspiration as well, but these are the main ones. What about for you? What inspires you when you write?

Cortney Pearson is a book nerd who studied literature at BYU-Idaho, a music nerd who plays clarinet in her local community orchestra, and a writing nerd who creates books for young adults. She lives with her husband and three sons in a small Idaho farm town.

And last but not least, congrats to Cortney on PHOBIC'S cover reveal! It's so wonderfully creepy, and I can't wait to read it!
site design by designer blogs