Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What's Cookin'

Image courtesy of thyroidu.com

We writers tend to keep things close to our chests when it comes to what's bubbling in the writing pot. For the most part, we all know that if a wildly excited announcement of agent or book publishing news doesn't show up, it means it's just business as usual. Be that querying, struggling with a synopsis, writing a new ms, revising one, etc.

So I thought I'd give you all an update of what I've got going on. I know I'm curious about other people and how their writing lives are progressing, so I thought you guys might be, too. If not, then just ignore this post!

1) Querying. I took a bit of a break from it, but I'm gearing up to head back into it. As we all know, it's up and down, and sometimes fun and sometimes not, but that's part of it. Querying feels sort of like... life, sometimes. But even if this querying journey doesn't end up w/an offer of representation, I have learned tons and feel grateful for the requests that have came in. I am actively living my dream and that feels good.

2) I've only got one thing under my WIP tab right now. A sci-fi short story. It's been fun as I've not written  science fiction before and I'm enjoying just pulling tech descriptions out of thin air. I mean, it's science fiction so that means it doesn't have to make sense, right? *Hush. That's what I'm telling myself, okay?*

3) Come Nov, I'm going to try and pull off an epic undertaking. Which is writing a first rough draft in two months. Eep. I have close to 8K done on an MG, and I'm going to see if I can possibly finish it by the end of Dec. Doable? We shall see! Also, you know how you hear people mention secret writing projects? That they feared talking about because it would take away some of the magic? I never understood that. But... I do now! Not even my oldest CP knows anything about this one! (Did I just shock your socks off, Kimberly?) ;)

So that's what's been brewing and bubbling lately. Anyone care to share what's cooking in your writing life?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Author Stop: Kelly Hashway

Yay! Today we've got Kelly Hashway(writing as Ashelyn Drake) on the blog! Kelly's a great gal in the writing community that many of you may know. She writes wonderful books and is super nice-- and has answered some questions for us! 

1. If you could sit down and have a beverage break w/any two authors(alive or dead), who would you pick?

Rick Riordan is my idol, so he'd be number one. I just love the Percy Jackson series, and having the opportunity to pick Rick's brain would be awesome. I'd also like to sit down with F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby is my all-time favorite classic.

2. When you write, do you set a word count for yourself or a page limit you have to hit before stopping?

Yes, I'm very strict with myself that way. I set a word count minimum and challenge myself to top it before stopping for the day. I even eat at my laptop so I can keep typing. ;)

3. It's out to eat night! Would you go for burgers, tacos, or pizza?

Tough choice, but I'd have to say burgers. I prefer to make my own pizza, and while I love tacos, I have to be in the mood for them.

4. Did you do any sort of research on fire while writing INTO THE FIRE(like would someone have thought you were a pyromaniac from your search history)?

Lol. My research centered more on phoenixes than fire, but they kind of go hand in hand. I don't think the government will be hunting me down based on my search history for this book. ;)

5. Phoenixes! *hearts* Are there any interesting tidbits you could share w/us on these mythological creatures? 

My favorite part of my phoenix research was discovering a connection between phoenixes and cinnamon. Some myths say the phoenix lined its nest with cinnamon. Others mentioned how cinnamon is often associated with the sun (because of how easily it burns) just like the phoenix. I happen to love cinnamon, so I ran with this, and the phoenixes in Into the Fire all smell like cinnamon. This is something that makes them targets for Phoenix Hunters, so they have to try to mask that scent.

6. What is one of your fav sentence(s) from INTO THE FIRE?

It's hard to pick just one. Here's a snippet from chapter one when Cara watches her younger brother be reborn: What’s so beautiful about watching my sixteen-year-old brother burst into flames, turn to a pile of ashes, and rise up out of them, reborn? I can still smell the smoke. See it in the air, like a dark cloud waiting to take me next.
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I absolutely love the cinnamon aspect and so I had to incorporate it in a giveaway. One lucky commentor will receive this car smell-good thingy in Sparkling Cinnamon. As always, please just follow Kelly at one or more of her social media sites listed below. Winner will be announced 9/12 via Twitter and updated in the comments. 

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Kelly Hashway grew up reading R.L. Stein’s Fear Street novels and writing stories of her own, so it was no surprise to her family when she majored in English and later obtained a masters degree in English Secondary Education from East Stroudsburg University. After teaching middle school language arts for seven years, Hashway went back to school and focused specifically on writing. She is now the author of three young adult series, one middle grade series, and several picture books. She also writes contemporary romance under the pen name Ashelyn Drake. When she isn’t writing, Hashway works as a freelance editor for small presses as well as for her own list of clients. In her spare time, she enjoys running, traveling, and volunteering with the PTO. Hashway currently resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter, and two pets.

Hashway is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency.
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Pinterest 

Seventeen-year-old Cara Tillman’s life is a perfectly normal one until Logan Schmidt moves to Ashlan Falls. Cara is inexplicably drawn to him, but she’s not exactly complaining. Logan’s like no boy she’s ever met, and he brings out a side of Cara that she isn’t used to. As the two get closer, everything is nearly perfect, and Cara looks forward to the future.

But Cara isn’t a normal girl. She’s a member of a small group of people descended from the mythical phoenix bird, and her time is running out. Rebirth is nearing, which means she’ll forget her life up to this point—she’ll forget Logan and everything they mean to one another.. But that may be the least of Cara’s problems.

A phoenix hunter is on the loose, and he’s determined to put an end to the lives of people like Cara and her family, once and for all.

* * * 

Congrats on your newest release, Kelly! 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Big Three

There are three books coming out soon that I am DYING TO GET MY HANDS ON. When I get them, I am going to do nothing but read them. Forget writing that day, forget laundry, and forget healthy eating because I'll be parking myself on the couch with unlimited chips and dip and vanilla pop.

In honor of these books I'm DYING TO GET MY HANDS ON I've decided to compile love lists for them. As I've not read them yet, my love lists will be about the previous books before them in their series. 

The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co.) by Jonathan Stroud, coming 9/16/14

A company ran by teenagers
Numerous references to donuts
Scary ghosts!
Historical houses
A boy who goes by his last name
Murder mysteries
An alternate London setting

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle) by Maggie Steifvater, coming 10/21/14

A band of boys who are like brothers
Unusual mythology 
A car nicknamed The Pig
A journal stuffed full of notes and research and ideas
A raven from a dream
An abandoned factory turned into a home
A loving family of strong & unusual women
A beautiful farm
Street races
A girl who can't have what she wants

The Inquisitor's Mark (The Eighth Day) by Dianne Salerni, coming 1/27/15

Hungry teenage boys
Loyalty from unexpected sources
Charred hamburgers
Yard picnics that start a friendship
Ancient pyramids
Garden gnome statues
Shopping carts shoved in bushes
Bloodlines of legends

There you have it, my Big Three. Are there any books you all are DYING TO GET YOUR HANDS ON? 

Monday, September 1, 2014

YA Pics & Mugs & Books

I love when I come across neat bookish things on the Internet. And one of the neatest I recently discovered is The Real Fauxtograhper. Margot Wood takes pictures inspired by YA books. Ahhh! How cool is that? Besides the fantastic pictures she takes, she talks about what she had to buy in order to create the scene, and sometimes the exact line that inspired her. 

Code Name Verity, originally uploaded by margotwood.

I've been meaning to read CODE NAME VERITY as I've heard nothing but raving about this book, but after seeing this pic-- yeah, totally going to be reading it soon. 

Across The Universe, originally uploaded by margotwood.

Now, I have read ACROSS THE UNIVERSE and think this captures the cryogenically freezing required to be shipped into space absolutely perfectly. And reading how Margot achieved this affect was pretty cool too.

Tiger Lily, originally uploaded by margotwood.

A gorgeous and fierce interpretation of Tiger Lily, from TIGER LILY. There are many more pics inspired by YA books on Margot's website. And I, for one, can't wait to see what Margot does next! 

As for another fun bookish thing I enjoy, that would be mug & book combos. I came across this on Erin L. Funk's blog and was just totally charmed by it. See, see!

Originally uploaded by Erin L. Funk

I love this creative idea of mixing two comforts(reading and hot beverages) and decided to try my hand at it. I only own two mugs, matching yellow Longaberger ones. Though not nearly as cool as Erin's matches, here's mine:

I hope you all enjoyed these two bookish features I stumbled across. If anyone has any that they enjoy, feel free to hit me up a w/a link in the comments.  And lastly, to all of you who celebrate Labor Day, I hope it's full of fun, family, & good eats! 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Author Stop: Jonathan Maberry

I'm very thrilled to welcome Jonathan Maberry(in celebration of the paperback release of Fire and Ash) to the blog so that we can pick his brain! Uh...never...mind? Er-- lets just get to the interview! ;)

1. You're a frequent speaker at conferences: If a writer could only go to one conference a year, which would you most highly recommend?

That’s an unfair question. It’s like asking a parent to choose a favorite child. I go to conventions across America and in other countries. I don’t really have a favorite. Each has certain things they do really well. My sentimental favorite, though, is my hometown conference, the Philadelphia Writers Conference. It’s the first one I ever went to, and I’ve been back there many times as a teacher and speaker. I made a lot of friends there.

On a similar note, the very first genre con I ever went to was DragonCon in Atlanta. I’m not a regular guest there and I absolutely love it. In fact I set the big, horrible disaster ending of my latest novel, CODE ZERO, there. (You only hurt the ones you love.)

2. Do zombies fascinate you more than the scare you? (I'm of the scared variety!):

Shocking as it might sound, I’m not scared of zombies. Or vampires and werewolves. I love writing about monsters, and I love reading monster books and comics, and watching horror movies and TV, but it’s been a long time since one actually scared me. I think the last real jolt I got from fiction was the indie ghost movie, BELOW.

What scares me is what zombies represent. They’re metaphorical storytelling constructs, so each writer tends to use them to tell a story about what really scares them. For me, zombies represent science that is either deliberately misused (as in my novels PATIENT ZERO and the ROT & RUIN series) or science that’s been mishandled and therefore ‘gets out’, as in DEAD OF NIGHT. I love science, I geek out about science, but I’m also deeply afraid of how ineffectual we are at managing it safely, and how unethical we can be in employing it. So, yeah, that scares the crap out of me.

Zombies definitely fascinate me. I was first introduced to the Haitian zombie legends by my grandmother when I was seven or eight. She told me about strange belief systems all over the world. Then when I was ten I encountered the cinematic versions when a buddy of mine and I snuck into the Midway Theater in Philadelphia to see the world premier of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. I was infected right away.

What fascinates me most about the monster is that it truly does mean something different to everyone. In a way it’s that stand in for everyone’s personal boogeyman.

3. Donuts or pancakes? And if neither of those float your boat, what do you eat for breakfast?

I’m an egg man. Ideal breakfast is a goat-cheese and mushroom omelet and a whole lotta coffee. There’s a nice little breakfast place called La Champagne near where I live in Del Mar, California. I go there a few mornings a week and start my day’s writing on my iPad while having a leisurely breakfast. Of all the components in a good breakfast, though, coffee is the centerpiece. I’m searching for that restaurant that will hook me up with an IV drip of it to get my day started. And don’t give me any of that decaf sacrilege or I’ll sick my dog on you.

4. If Benny hadn't taken to killing and lived in a normal world(where your fellow beings didn't try to eat you) what kind of job do you think he'd have ended up doing?

Benny would probably work at a Taco Bell or maybe work as busboy in a restaurant. When we first meet him he’s a long way from being ambitious. He’s not looking for a job because he has a fully functioning work ethic –it’s simply a matter of the town having the regulation that if you’re fifteen or older and you don’t have a job, they cut your rations in half. Once Benny begins (reluctantly) apprenticing with his brother, he discovers his calling and that makes him rise to it. He’s an entirely different person at the end of the fourth book, Fire & Ash.

5. Would you mind sharing one of your fav sentences from Fire & Ash?

It’s more than a line. It’s part of a paragraph, and it’s the key to the final step of Benny’s evolution from feckless boy to powerful young man. It’s something the old ranger, Joe Ledger asks him: “So…I guess you have to ask yourself, young samurai, how far would you be willing to go to stop Saint John if he was coming after you and yours? How scary are you willing to be in order to take the heart out of the enemy? Are you willing to be the monster in the dark? Are you willing to be the boogeyman of their nightmares? If you can look inside your own head and see the line that you won’t cross, the limit that’s too far, then I can guarantee you Saint John will win. No question about it.” Benny goes to a very dark place in order to answer that question.

* * *

Benny Imura and his friends have found the jet and Sanctuary—but neither is what they expected. Instead of a refuge, Sanctuary is a hospice, and the soldiers who flew the plane seem to be little more than bureaucrats who have given up hope for civilization’s future. With Chong hovering between life and death, clinging to his humanity by a thread, Benny makes a startling discovery: A scientist may have discovered a cure for the zombie plague. Desperate to save Chong, Benny and his friends mount a search and rescue mission. But they’re not the only ones on the hunt. The reapers are after the cure too, and they want to use it turn all the zombies into superfast shock troops—and wipe humanity off the face of the earth.

In this riveting conclusion to the Rot & Ruin series, the battle to end all battles is just beginning.

B&N | Amazon

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JONATHAN MABERRY is a New York Times best-selling and multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning horror and thriller author, editor, comic book writer, magazine feature writer, playwright, content creator and writing teacher/lecturer. He was named one of the Today’s Top Ten Horror Writers. His books have been sold to more than two-dozen countries.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

If you'd like to be entered to win a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment(it doesn't have to be about brains) and follow Jonathan at one or more of his social media sites. Winner will be announced via Twitter on 8/29. Congrats to Jonathan on Fire and Ash's paperback debut!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Ready. Set. WRITE! (Week 12)

How I did on last week's goals: My goal was to write 2,500 words. But then that goal changed when I realized I was in the last week of RSW! How did that happen?! Which meant I needed to put the pedal to the medal. I wrote 8000 words...  !AMENDMENT! I was at work when I wrote this, and I knew roughly around the last time I'd counted words, so I went w/that. Now at home, I just did a word count and I actually wrote 13,100 words last week. *squee!*

A fav line(s) from my story:

I dream that night of the farm. Not unusual. What's unusual is that it's a nightmare. I'm in the barn, lying on haybales. A bright, blinding light shines down on me. A form moves out of the dark. It's dad. He holds something up for my inspection. It's not much bigger than his hand, a conglomeration of cogs and gears, screwed together. Then he slams it down into my chest. I scream as it punches through skin, crunches past bone.

"You came back without a heart, Tam. No tim!" He shouts. "I'm fixing you, I'm fixing you!"

The biggest challenge I faced this week: Racing to beat a deadline...

Somthing I love about my WIP: That it's not called that any longer... (Are you guys loving my mysterious use of ellipses yet?)

Summer Recap: My goal for this summer was to finish my WIP, Chain Gang. And...(tee-hee)...I DID IT!!!! This past week was a mad dash of frantic writing. I thought I'd be done on Sunday night and was I so close. I went to bed around midnight and then got up this morning and FINISHED it!!! But I just realized I forgot to write The End, so I need to go back and do that. =) I am so happy guys. SO INSANELY HAPPY. And I'm already looking forward to when I can start tearing it apart in an effort to make it readable. 'Cuz the form it's in right now? *shudders* But I also know revisions won't happen for several months, as me and this word baby need to take a break for awhile.

Many thanks to the ladies who hosted Ready. Set. WRITE!. Erin L. FunkJaime MorrowAlison Miller, & Katy Upperman-- mad props to you for sacrificing your time and talents to make this happen. You all make the writing community just that much more awesome.  I am quite confident that without this summer writing intensive I wouldn't be finished with CG right now. Having people to cheer you along and celebrate your successes(no matter how big or small) is such an inspiring thing. Thank you to everyone who stopped by and left an encouraging comment, as it was much appreciated.

And I shall leave you today w/this quote sign on my desk(courtesy of the superific writing care package I won thru RSW!- Thanks tons, Alison!):

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Book Party

Last week I attended an Usborne Book Party at my sister-in-laws. I can never resist a chance to help decorate, and a get-together centered around books? I'm there! =) Here are a few pics(plz excuse the cell phone quality):

For food there were mini pork bbq sandwiches(very yummy!), chips and (homemade) salsa, veggies & dip, and berry bites(white choc. cream cheese & assorted berries atop nilla wafers). 

A selection of Usborne books. 

Close up of the quote sign and flowers on the food table. 

Rachael recently became a consultant and if anyone would like to check out her website, I know she'd really appreciate it. She also wanted you all to know that if you become a hostess for a party right now, you can receive double free books...(ooh!) And that's not just for home shows, but eshows as well. Which are pretty convenient b/c you can invite ppl through Facebook and what not. 

As for me, I wanted to share some of the kidlet's Usborne books w/you guys. He really likes them, especially this one:

It's one of the Wipe-Clean books they offer. Since the kidlet is a ninja terror w/pens(you should see the 'artwork' he's left on my walls and the couch...) these books are great. They come w/a marker, but you can even use crayons on it.

This is I'm A Dirty Dinosaur. So cute and I love the juxtapostion of the mud and the bright letters.

Now this book, Big Book of Little Stories, I fell in love w/as soon as I started flipping through it. It's such a gorgeously put together collection. The stories in it are illustrated by different artists, so you get something fresh w/each one.

Look at those endpapers! *sigh* And below you'll find a smattering of the variety of artwork in this book. 


And Usborne also has a huge selection of educational books, which is always great if you're looking to beef up your child's non-fiction selection. The kidlet has this one:

{My camera died, so I pulled this one off the web. And trust me, when they say giant fold-outs, they really mean it...}

Anyhoo, I could go on and on (I love picture books!) but for the sake of not creating a monster post, I shall stop here. But if any of y'all think you'd like to host an ebook show, I know Rachael would love to hear from you. There's a contact form at the bottom of her website. Or if you're not into shows and would like to order a book directly on the website, you can do that as well. I figure I'm going to find that handy-dandy come Christmas time... Because as you can see, the kidlet is totally hurting for books! ;)
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