Tuesday, May 31, 2011

MMM: Nightspell Giveaway

Nightspell by Leah Cypess

A stand-alone companion novel to the much-acclaimed Mistwood. When Darri rides into Ghostland, a country where the living walk with the dead, she has only one goal: to rescue her younger sister Callie, who was sent to Ghostland as a hostage four years ago. But Callie has changed in those four years, and now has secrets of her own. In her quest to save her sister from herself, Darri will be forced to outmaneuver a handsome ghost prince, an ancient sorcerer, and a manipulative tribal warrior (who happens to be her brother). When Darri discovers the source of the spell that has kept the dead in Ghostland chained to this earth, she faces a decision that will force her to reexamine beliefs she has never before questioned - and lead her into the heart of a conspiracy that threatens the very balance of power between the living and the dead. Published on May 31, 2011 - today!


Darri looked around, not bothering to be surreptitious about it. They were in a small clearing, surrounded by grim gnarled trees and a darkness so thick it felt solid. The torch cast flickering light over tangles of roots and rocks and brambles. Even if she knew where to go, there was no way she could outrun a ghost who could simply float over all those obstacles. And apparently Varis hadn’t thought to bring his silver dagger along on this lark.
She couldn’t run. She couldn’t fight. She cleared her throat. “Then whose idea was it?”
The ghosts both looked at her, surprised and -- she hoped -- disappointed. They wanted her terrified. She was, but she shoved it deep and faced them. Diplomacy had never been among her talents, but right now it was her only chance.
“I don’t see how that information is of any use to you,” Jano said.
“I don’t see how our deaths will be of any use to you,” Darri retorted. “Unless you’re trying to give my father an excuse to attack your kingdom.”
“That would be fun,” Clarisse said. “Nothing keeps you sharp like the constant threat of invasion.”
Darri glanced at Varis, who stared at her dumbly, then tried again. “Or are you trying to keep us from taking Callie home?”
“Actually,” Clarisse said, “I thought Callie was going to be with you. I guess we’ll have to take care of her later.”
Rage surged through Darri in a wave of heat, harder to hide than the fear. She forced it down -- forced them both down. She had to think.
Jano went red. “I couldn’t find her.”
“Very convincing, Jano. I’m beginning to suspect you actually like your little barbarian amusement. Do you think she’ll never find out it was you who killed her siblings?”
Jano brushed twigs out of his hair and scowled. “I don’t want her to have to watch. I find it annoying when the living cry.”
“Really?” Clarisse said. “I rather like it.”
“Sorry to disappoint,” Darri said.
“Don’t be.” Clarisse jerked her head at Jano, who pulled a knife from his belt sheath. A silver knife, which he held gingerly by its wooden handle. “I don’t think I’ll be disappointed for long.”

Interested? Well, Leah will let one of you lucky readers win an autographed hardcover of her new book!

Open to the USA only. Ends on June 16.
Extra entries for being a wonderful blog follower, commenting
on the author interview, and advertising about this giveaway.
One winner will be randomly chosen and emailed;
they will have 5 days to claim the prize.
Fill out the form to enter, but comments are appreciated!

Click here to fill out the form!

ORDER THIS BOOK ONLINE: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Monday, May 30, 2011

MMM: Leah Cypess

Interview with Leah Cypess, author of Nightspell

What can those who fell in love with your first book, Mistwood, be expecting from this next novel of yours?

Some similarities with
Mistwood, but also a very different story. As in Mistwood, the book is set in a fantasy world based loosely on late-medieval Europe, there is a lot of intrigue and double-crossing, and royalty and castles are featured prominently. But Darri, the main character, is very different from Isabel, and the country in which Nightspell is set is very different as well. You will be seeing more of Clarisse!

How are you similar and different from Darri?

Darri's stubbornness is definitely something I can relate to, and I am also an older sister. As for differences... well, where to begin? For one thing, I've never thrown a knife in my life. More generally, I am far less brave than she is.

Which scene in Nightspell did you enjoy writing the most?

Wow, that's a hard one; there were so many scenes in it that were fun for me. I think the most enjoyable might have been the hunting scene near the beginning of the book.

Share about your writing process! Drafts? Research? Outlining or just letting the story take shape as it goes?

I start out by letting the story take shape as it goes, then go through multiple drafts while I whip it into shape. I research as I go along, so my first draft usually has big empty spaces that say things like "figure out how a hunt would work and how she could SPOILER". Nightspell was a little different, because it was a re-attempt at a book I first tried to write more than ten years ago. I did start from scratch, but some of the major plot elements were in my mind from the beginning, which usually isn't the case for me.

If you could be any paranormal creature, what would it be and why?

A shapeshifter! Then I could be any of them whenever I wanted.

Top five favorite songs?

This changes a LOT -- I have a tendency to pick a song I like, listen to it over and over, and then get sick of it. But here are some random selections from my current playlist:

1. Dreams - the Corrs

2. White Horse - Taylor Swift
3. Vapor - Jennifer Paige
4. Nobody Drinks Alone - Keith Urban
5. Everybody Does - Martina McBride

What can your fans be expecting from you next?

More books, I hope! I have a ton of projects I'm excited about, and I'm currently almost at the end of the first draft of a new book. I tend not to talk much about my work while I'm writing it, but I can say they're all fantasy -- some high fantasy like Mistwood and Nightspell, and some fantasy set in our own world.

Have an interesting fact about yourself that not too many people know?

Oh, sooo many! ;) Let's see... I once spent a night in the back of a police car. (Okay, it was for a journalism assignment. Still, it was interesting.)

Any advice you have for aspiring authors?

From my own experience, my best advice would be not to get too focused on any single manuscript as the one that must be published. I wrote five manuscripts before getting an offer for Mistwood, and I don't regret any of them.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog!

Thanks for the interview, Leah!

FIND LEAH ONLINE: Website | Goodreads | Twitter

Sunday, May 29, 2011

MMM: Starcrossed Giveaway

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she's haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history. As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart. Will be published on May 31, 2011.

Giveaway time! Now's your chance to win an ARC of this fabulous novel, courtesy of Josephine. You can read my 5 star review of it by clicking here! I'm telling you, you DO NOT want to miss out reading this book.

Open to the USA only. Ends on June 15.
Extra entries for being a wonderful blog follower, commenting on
the author interview, or advertising this giveaway.
One winner will be randomly chosen and emailed;
they will have 5 days to claim the ARC.
Fill out the form to enter, but comments are appreciated!

Click here to fill out the form!

ORDER THIS BOOK ONLINE: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

Saturday, May 28, 2011

MMM: Josephine Angelini

Interview with Josephine Angelini, author of Starcrossed

What were the feelings and thoughts that ran through your head when you first heard that your stories would soon become a published series?

"Don't drop your phone, dummy! You can't afford another one until they pay you!" The rest of me was too stunned and grateful to feel or think anything else.

The cover of your novel is gorgeous! Did you help in its creation?

I did have a lot of say, but only in a "yes/no" capacity. The design came from the team at Harper Collins. They are very talented. They even came up with a brand new font for me with a lightning bolt in the center of the O! I love it.

If you could pair Helen up (romantically or as best friends) with any character from another book who would it be?

I think Helen would get along really well with Hermione Granger from Harry Potter. Helen likes to hang out with smart, bossy girls. She admires their spunk, and Hermione definitely fits that bill.

You graduated from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in theater. So what sparked your interest in writing a book?

Hunger? Just kidding. Although it may seem like a big switch, you'd be surprised how closely related studying theatre is to writing: understanding pacing, character development, and dialogue. The difference is that when you are a writer you get to be all the characters and create the world to boot. It's a much better deal all around, I think.

Growing up with six sisters must have been a very interesting childhood for you. What were the pros and cons of having so many siblings?

One of the biggest pros is that there is always someone else to blame for what you broke. But the con is, as the youngest, I was usually the one that got blamed for breaking everything.

If you could travel to any place in the world where would it be and why?

Right now I'm going to say Fiji. I just want to go to an island with lots of fish to look at and take a long nap. Maybe get a tan, eat some fruit. Unfortunately, I owe Harper Collins a third book, so there will be no Fiji for me for quite some time.

What project(s) are you currently working on that you'd like to share?

Book 3! I have over 30 pages of outlines, character arcs, timelines, and moment-to-moment beats. Now I just have to break the seal and write 'Chapter One' at the top of the page. Man, I wish I was in Fiji.

Have an interesting fact about yourself that not too many people know?

I have all four of my wisdom teeth.

Anything else you'd like to tell the readers?

I need to get my wisdom teeth taken out immediately!

Thank you so much for letting me interview you, Josephine! Best of luck with your release.

FIND JOSEPHINE ONLINE: Website | Goodreads | Blog | Twitter

Friday, May 27, 2011

MMM: Die For Me Giveaway

Die For Me by Amy Plum

In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity. When Kate Mercier's parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life--and memories--behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent. Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate's guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he's a revenant--an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again. Published on May 10, 2011.

Wanna win an ARC of
Die For Me? Well you certainly came to the right place!

Open to the USA only. Ends on June 13.
Extra entries for being a wonderful blog follower
or spreading the word about this giveaway.
One winner will be randomly chosen and emailed;
they will have 5 days to claim the ARC.
Fill out the form to enter, but comments are appreciated!

Click here to fill out the form!

ORDER THIS BOOK ONLINE: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Indie Bound

Thursday, May 26, 2011

MMM: Amy Plum

Thanks, Ashley, for inviting me to guest post on Books Obsession. Before writing Die For Me, I was really into essay-writing. This is one that I wrote in January, 2009, soon after Obama was elected president and the topic of race and racism was at the forefront of my thoughts. I hope you and your readers enjoy it!

The Black Boy Talk

by Amy Plum, author of Die For Me

When my sister and I were teenagers--in 1980s Birmingham, Alabama--she developed a crush on a guy that she met at church. Hearing her speak of him at home, my father and mother decided it was time to give us The Talk. The Black Boy Talk.

They sat us down and explained that they weren't racist. But that they wanted us to understand what would happen if we dated a black boy. People would shun us. Society would reject us. Life would be extremely difficult. And let's say things progressed and we got married and had kids. Our children would be outcasts. They wouldn't fit into white society, and they wouldn't fit into black.

And what about spending holidays with the guy's family? Their customs are different and their beliefs aren't the same as ours. We would be like a foreigner in their home, and they in ours. They're just too different from us. That's the way it is, they concluded. However the choice was up to us.

I don't know if it was because of The Talk, or if the boy had just been a passing fancy, but nothing ever came of my sister's crush. And though I never had the opportunity to date a black guy, my rejection of my parent's anti-diversity stance was manifested by the next best thing:

I brought home a dark-skinned French atheist whose didn't even speak my own language.

At the time, Laurent's English was so basic that he couldn't understand my father's questions about his relationship with “the Lord”. Poor Laurent's response was something like, “I am God. You are God.” Which confused my father enough to stop the grilling and settle for giving Laurent a “Four Spiritual Laws” pamphlet.

I hadn't thought of the Black Boy Talk for years, and then all of a sudden when Obama was elected, the story popped back into my consciousness and I've been thinking about it ever since. Some people would say my parent's attitude was a generational thing. I think it was plain old racist.

But, as for me, I cherish the diversity in my new family. Sometimes the cultural and linguistic differences lead to miscommunication between me and my Frenchman. In fact, misunderstandings happen on a pretty regular basis.

But more frequently, I find myself coming across a saying or a custom that I haven't experienced before, and marveling about how this one tiny thing had some contribution, however minor, to making my husband who he is. And that that same word or gesture will also become a part of my half-American half-French children's psyches. Just as much as the tornado drills and MoonPies and “yes ma'ams” of my childhood went into creating who I am today. And just as much as the Black Boy Talk opened my eyes and resulted in the opposite of what my parents wanted: a craving for diversity.

How can anyone fear diversity? It's the sugar that makes life sweeter. It's the broom that sweeps the cobwebs from our minds. It's the key to broadening our experience.

It's the dark stranger who sweeps us off our feet and offers us the chance for a fuller, more interesting life. Who would be dumb enough to turn down a date with him?

Absolutely loved what you had to say, Amy. Thank you!

FIND AMY ONLINE: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

MMM: Sloane Tanen Giveaway

Are You Going to Kiss Me Now?
by Sloane Tanen

High school junior Francesca Manning is an outsider, an aspiring writer and secret devourer of celebrity gossip mags. A fake essay to Seventeen wins her the celeb-schmoozing opportunity of a lifetime, but after the plane crashes, she's stranded on a desert island with five of the most clueless, self-involved headcases to escape Hollywood. Happily skewering their foibles in witty observations on her iPhone proves surprisingly educational for Francesca. The group must work together to survive-if they don't insult each other to death first.
Published on May 1, 2011.

Are you interested? One person will win their own copy of this novel!

Open to the USA only. Ends on June 10.
Extra entries for being a wonderful blog follower
or advertising about this giveaway.

One winner will be randomly chosen and emailed;
they will have 5 days to claim the prize.

Fill out the form to enter, but comments are appreciated!

Click here to fill out the form!

ORDER THIS BOOK ONLINE: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Winners (Part 1 of 4)

With only one week left of my Marvelous May Masterminds event (it's gone by so fast!), be sure that you enter all of my giveaways and contests before they end! I thought I would make a short little post with the winners from my first few giveaways, for those that are interested. All of the winners have already responded to my emails and will get their prizes soon. Thank you everyone!

Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson + a journal goes to...

Tezza V from Spades High Reads

Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti goes to...

Sana N from Novella Vialli

The Lucky Kind by Alyssa B. Sheinmel goes to...

Greg C

Big Lynn Viehl giveaway: 6 YA books + tote bag goes to...

Marg K from Clockwork Reverie

Girl Wonder by Alexa Martin goes to...

Jean from Tuning Into YA Books

SWAG goes to...

Jenn W from Books At Midnight

This wraps up my first post of winners! But don't be discouraged if you didn't win because there will still be THREE more posts bursting with new winners' names. Thank you for participating in my event!

MMM: Tessa Gratton

Nick is a city boy angry at being forced to move back to the nowhere town of Yaleylah, Missouri where he grew up. He can’t help remembering his mom and the blood magic she practiced – memories he’s tried for five years to escape. Silla, though, doesn’t want to forget; her parents’ apparent murder-suicide left her numb and needing answers. When a book of magic spells in her dad’s handwriting appears on her doorstep, she sees her chance to unravel the mystery of their deaths. Together they plunge into the world of dark magic, but when a hundred-year-old blood witch comes hunting for the bones of Silla’s parents and the spell book, Nick and Silla will have to let go of everything they believe about who they are, the nature of life and death, and the deadly secrets that hide in blood. Published on May 24, 2011 - today!

Guest Post by Tessa Gratton, author of Blood Magic

I’ve heard from some early readers of BLOOD MAGIC that it’s a little bit scary. I didn’t intend for it to be horror… but it does have the word “blood” in the title, takes place largely in a cemetery, and there are witches, body-snatchers and… yeah. Ok. I can see how it’s scary.Whenever a reader tells me Blood Magic kept them awake at night because they couldn’t put it down or because it was just plain scary I think about the first time I read JURASSIC PARK by Michael Crichton.

I was ten years old, and grabbed my parents’ copy because they loved it, and hey – dinosaurs! I started it in bed, when the house was dark except for my bedside lamp. From what I remember, the prologue takes place in Costa Rica, and has images of tiny little dino-monsters sneaking into a baby’s cradle. Little footprints. Very creepy. Then you’re at a hospital, where a private chopper brings a man to a little run-down hospital with huge gashes all over his body, like he’s been mauled. He murmurs “raptor… raptor” over and over again, and once he’s gone (dead I think) the doctor looks the word up. I so very clearly remember the end of that chapter, because it was the translation:

“Raptor: bird of prey."

I shivered in my bed, and at that exact moment there was a soft scratch at my closed bedroom door. Pretty sure I screamed. It was only my cat, but I couldn’t put the book down. After reading a little bit longer in bed, shivering, I decided to go get in a warm bathtub. It was bright and safe in the bathroom, and best of all, warm. No dinosaurs could sneak up on me in there! I very distinctly remember staying up all night long reading that entire book – to the point where when the water got cold, I drained it and refilled it with hot water again. Over and over. I’m not sure how I made it through school the next day.

But I’ll always remember that night, and that book, for being the first time I was so scared and excited by a book I couldn’t even imagine putting it down. I can only hope that BLOOD MAGIC has such an effect on readers! Thanks for having me!

Thank you, Tessa! Best of luck on your release!

FIND TESSA ONLINE: Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook
ORDER THIS BOOK: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Indie Bound

Monday, May 23, 2011

MMM: Heidi Ayarbe Giveaway

Compulsion by Heidi Ayarbe

Today has to be perfect.
I look at the clock.
10:14 am.
Ten fourteen. One plus one is two plus four is six plus ten is sixteen minus one is fifteen minus two is thirteen. OK.
I turn from the clock and walk into the hallway. "Ready.”

Saturday will be the third state soccer championship in a row for Jake Martin. Three. A good number. Prime. With Jake on the field, Carson City High can’t lose, because Jake has the magic: a self-created protection generated by his obsession with prime numbers. It’s the magic that has every top soccer university recruiting Jake, the magic that keeps his family safe, and the magic that suppresses his anxiety attacks. But the magic is Jake’s prison, because getting it means his compulsions take over nearly every aspect of his life.
Acclaimed author Heidi Ayarbe has created an honest and riveting portrait of a teen struggling with obsessive compulsive disorder in this courageous and breathtaking novel. Published on May 3, 2011.

Heidi has generously offered a SWAG giveaway for one lucky blog reader. She lives in Columbia, South America and will give the winner some Colombian treats (coffee candies, sweets, etc) along with signed bookplates, bookmarks, postcards, and a surprise!

Ends on June 7.
Extra entries for being a wonderful blog follower, commenting
on Heidi's interview, or spreading the word about this giveaway.
One winner will be randomly chosen and emailed;
they will have 5 days to claim the prize.
Fill out the form to enter, but comments are appreciated!

Click here to fill out the form!

ORDER THIS BOOK ONLINE: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

Sunday, May 22, 2011

MMM: Heidi Ayarbe

"Growing Up With" Interview with Heidi Ayarbe, author of Compulsion

What is the first book that you can remember reading?

Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel. I remember reading them over and over again. They’re still great to read! (40 years later)

When you were little, how did you answer when people asked what you wanted to be when you grew

I wanted to be a pilot-slash-veterinarian and fly from farm to farm (I was determined to live on my grandma’s farm in North Dakota) to cure sick cows. Yes. Just cows. I also wanted to marry a Labrador retriever.

What made your favorite teacher, Mr.Glanzmann (what a cool name!), so special?

Ahh, you’ve done your research! Mr. Glanzmann was the algebra-trig teacher at my high school. He was a wiry man who wore a tie to school every day. He walked to school every morning before dawn. Once he was pulled over by the police and he had to call the principal to prove he was a teacher and not some creep. (This may or may not be true. It was kind of school lore, though.) He was the first teacher at school, ready to help students who just didn’t get it (me!) and would stay late, AS LONG AS YOU NEEDED HIM, to explain, over and over and over again the concept of slope. He would collapse on the floor in his classroom when a student made a mistake while correcting a problem on the board.

Basically, he loved math and he loved kids and he believed he had purpose and he did. I truly loved that man.

What is your most memorable summer?

Every summer my family would drive from Nevada to my grandma’s farm in Rugby, North Dakota (the geographical center of North America, btw). We’d pile mattresses in the back of my parents’ green Ford pickup (this was WAY PRE-SEATBELT LAWS) and my sister and I would hang out in the back of the truck
for the three-day drive to get to our second home – my grandma’s farm. There we’d eat homemade fudge, kringle, lefse (she was Norwegian), fried chicken... everything so so delicious. We’d play hide-and-seek with my cousins, softball, have a big barbecue. It was heaven! She had a sunflower farm, and if we went in August, it was like looking out across a sea of sunshine. Beautiful! Great memories.

When did you fall in love with your husband, Cesar, and how did you two meet?

Alas, this is what we can call “the stalker years”.

I’d moved to Colombia when I was 23 and only planned to stay two years. Well, a year and a half into my contract, I met Cesar. I’d actually met him the year before (his Australian girlfriend worked with me for a week), but I didn’t remember him. So when we “met” again, he asked me out, and I thought he was pretty adorable and got all melty and gaga.

I was smitten early on. He wasn’t. That’s okay. I pretty much tagged along (nicer than “stalked”) for five years through over twenty countries until he buckled and agreed to marry me. (I asked him!) I kind of think he married me because he felt guilty for “convincing” me to go river rafting on a Rapids 4-level river, and I fell out of the boat and went through a rapids called THE FROG BLENDER on my behind, broke my tailbone, and swallowed half of the Bhoti Khosi river in Nepal. We got married a few months later (after a couple rounds of Ciproflaxin and all sorts of meds to get my stomach back in order.) We’ve been together thirteen years now. (We’re on our fourth Colombian president!)

What are the top three things on your bucket list?

1. Go backpacking in the National Parks in the States with my husband and daughter. SOON! (She’s only 3, so when she can carry a pack.)
2. Go to the Sundance Film Festival. (Ahh… that’d be heaven).
3. Spend a girls week in New York with my sister.

Anything else you'd like to say to the readers?

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you have a year of wonder and unforgettable memories.

Heidi, thank you very much for answering my questions! You have such an interesting life! :)

FIND HEIDI ONLINE: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

Saturday, May 21, 2011

MMM: Libba Bray

From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island. Teen beauty queens. A "Lost"-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to email. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count. Published on May 24, 2011.

Interview with Libba Bray, author of Beauty Queens

What's the inspiration behind Beauty Queens? Where did the idea of the novel come from?

The idea came from David Levithan, actually. We had lunch a few years ago and he said, “I have this idea for a book and you have to write it.” (He’d offered me food. How could I say no?) Anyway, the minute he said, “A plane load
of teen beauty queens crashes on an island,” I knew I was in. It was just one line but I had to see where it would go. I had felt for some time that I’d really wanted to explore our assumptions and societal expectations around gender. And, apparently, I’d also longed to write a faux James Bond novel featuring girls who also knew how to stage Bollywood dance numbers about plane crashes.

What would be the first thing you'd do if your plane crashed on a desert island?

Freak out.

Are you a fan of the LOST television show? What other TV shows do you like?

I only watched the first three episodes of LOST. This was back before I had that miraculous invention, the DVR, and the show came on during my son’s bedtime routine. So I had to give up on LOST. I think I would’ve been absolutely addicted to the show, though. Maybe I’ll get the episodes on DVD at some point and go through all of them until I’m disoriented and babbling.

Believe it or not, I don’t actually watch much TV, which is hilarious considering how much TV I watched as a child and teen. Right now, my can’t-miss TV shows are “Dr. Who,” “Game of Thrones,” and when it comes back, “Sherlock.” I do also love to catch the occasional “House Hunters International” so I can live vicariously in all those places. Favorite TV show of all time?
“Monty Python’s Flying Circus.”

At some point all writers will have their doubt days. How do you overcome these and what motivates you to keep on writing?

I can’t imagine not writing. When I wake up every morning (and I’ve had a sufficient amount of coffee to make me resemble a human), I start thinking about how to tackle whatever it is I’m working on. Writing helps me make sense of myself and the world and the human condition. It keeps me connected. That said, I have moments of doubt every day, and some days, it’s a real slog to get ten words on the page that don’t feel like a postcard from Suckville. I hate to say it, but the only cure I’ve really found for getting past those tough spots is just to keep writing through them. It reminds me of when I was a cross-country runner. My coach would talk about the difficulty of “the middle mile.” At the start of the race, you have all that energy and adrenaline to go on; at the end, you can see the finish line and know you’re close to the end. But in the middle, all you can do is put one foot in front of the other and keep moving, keep breathing. It’s a mental game.

Honestly, I’m waiting for some other writer to tell me how they get through those days. I rely on chocolate, complaining, and a stubborn streak.

On your bio I read that you love to be scared. What are the scariest books and/or movies that you've ever read or seen?

It’s true—I was a morbid kid with a love of the creepy. I cut my teeth on TV shows like “Dark Shadows,” “Night Gallery,” and “Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” followed by Hammer Horror films, horror comics, Grimm’s fairy tales, and the wonderful ghost stories my great-grandmother Kutz told me. I know you’re shocked to hear that I was a creepy kid.

Okay. This will be a partial list, based on what comes to mind right this second.

Of books, I’d include
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin, Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi, Salem’s Lot and the short story, “The Raft,” by
Stephen King,
The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson, which turned out to be a hoax but which terrified me at age twelve, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, Ghost Story by Peter Straub, Dracula by Bram Stoker, Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice.

Movies: Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining, The Haunting (original), The Omen (original), Suspiria, Alien, The Stepford Wives, The Ring, The Exorcist, Candyman, The Orphanage, Don’t Look Now, Psycho. And Showgirls, of course.

I’d probably have to include “Trilogy of Terror” starring Karen Black (based on the story by Richard Matheson—no slouch himself at horror), which is probably a silly movie but when I was nine, it scarred me for life. Also, there is a doll in it. Dolls are evil. Period. Don’t turn your back on them. Ever.

I always feel that the best horror is not a mindless thrill-a-minute slash-‘em-up but is psychological and has at its core some sense of the repressed—anger or sexuality or deep loss. There’s usually a subtext of tremendous sadness. Some horror is almost elegiac.

What's the most outrageous or fearless thing you've ever done?

Get married and have a baby.

Have a fact about yourself that not too many people know?

I have a fear of small elevators, especially in apartment buildings. I have been known to walk up twelve flights of stairs rather than take a questionable elevator. My brain thinks I am a wuss. But my butt is grateful for the toning.

Thank you very much for the interview, Libba!

FIND LIBBA ONLINE: Website | Goodreads | Twitter
ORDER THIS BOOK ONLINE: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

MMM: The Sweetest Thing Giveaway

The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski

In the world of Sheridan Wells, life is perfect when she's decorating a cake. Unfortunately everything else is a complete mess: her mom ran off years ago, her dad is more interested in his restaurant, and the idea of a boyfriend is laughable. But Sheridan is convinced finding her mom will solve all her problems - only her dad's about to get a cooking show in New York, which means her dream of a perfect family will be dashed. Using just the right amount of romance, family drama, and cute boys, The Sweetest Thing will entice fans with its perfect mixture of girl-friendly ingredients. Published on May 10, 2011.

I know there are many of you interested in this adorable book. One reader will win a signed copy of Christina's novel!

Open to the USA only. Ends on June 5.
Extra entries for being a wonderful blog follower, commenting
on Christina's guest post, or advertising about this giveaway.
One winner will be randomly chosen and emailed;
they will have 5 days to claim the prize.
Fill out the form to enter, but comments are appreciated!

Click here to fill out the form!

ORDER THIS BOOK ONLINE: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

Friday, May 20, 2011

MMM: Christina Mandelski

In Which I Attempt to Bust Some Publishing Myths
By Christina Mandelski,
author of The Sweetest Thing

Around my house, we watch a lot of MythBusters. That’s the show where they take common urban myths (can pop rocks and diet soda kill a person when consumed simultaneously, for example) and try to prove or disprove them. If you haven’t watched it, it’s very entertaining…

There are also some big time myths surrounding being a first time published author. Sadly, none of them (that I’m aware of) involve blowing things up. But I think I’m semi-qualified to take on a few of these myths right here at my computer. Here we go:

Myth #1:
If a publisher offers to acquire a manuscript, that manuscript is in perfect shape and ready to go to print.

Nope. Not true at all. Or if there have been some books that needed minor editing, I don’t want to know. My book, and the books of most authors that I am acquainted with, all went through some big-time editing in the time between acceptance and printing. Yes, the acquiring editor loved the story enough to buy it, but he or she still may want you to cut a few chapters, a few characters, change the title or resurrect a dead mother (ahem, not naming any books in particular here).

After the first editorial round there may be a few more go arounds. In my case, I had one big edit and then a few smaller revisions, but even in copyedits (which come toward the end) we were still tweaking the language here and there.

Besides the other things going on like interior design, cover design, marketing plans, and the fact that this is not the only book your editor is working on, the editorial process is a big part of why in most cases when you sell a novel, it won’t be out for a long while.


Myth #2:
You’ve sold a book, you must be really rich.

Nope. Not really, especially not before your book is published (okay, or after). Traditionally, when a manuscript is acquired, the publisher offers an advance on royalties. In other words, if you are offered a $40,000 advance, you might get half of that up front (minus your agent’s fees) and then half after the final edited manuscript has been accepted (sometimes it’s broken into thirds). Take out the money you need to set aside for taxes, and it’s still a chunk of change, but not exactly enough to buy you a mansion in Beverly Hills. After that, you don’t get any more money until you’ve earned your advance back in royalties. All the more reason for an author to do everything they can to promote their books. And sell another one. And eat mass quantities of ramen noodles.


Myth #3:
Becoming published means you are part of an elite society of writers and you are not intimidated by famous authors in any way.

Ha. Ha. I am in awe of my fellow writers, am the biggest fangirl in the world, and an utter dork when I meet authors who I admire. Recently I went to the Texas Library Association conference and met some of the biggest names in children’s literature. The experience was wonderful, and inspiring and fun. But it was almost like an out-of-body experience, like I was floating above myself and thinking, “I cannot believe I am standing next to so-and-so trying not to faint.”

It’s true that writers of books for children and teens (the circle in which I roll) are by and large the most generous, kind and humble group of people in the professional world, whether they are published or not. So they will seldom let you treat them like gods. Even if you really want to.


Myth #4:
The topic/theme of your book can be potentially bad for you.

Okay, so when I started writing a book about a teenaged cake decorator, I swear I had no ulterior motives. I was simply telling the story of someone with a passion for making beautiful cakes. I wasn’t trying to get people to send me cake, bring me cake, or imply that I should have cakes at every signing and event in which I participate.

But it happened. At my book launch this weekend, there were cupcakes, thousands of them, it seemed. How could I not eat one (or four)? Even my critique group took to calling themselves Will Write for Cake after my novel sold. Now we have cake for every bit of good news we get, and bad news, and, well, sometimes no news is good news. Basically we have cake all the time. I wonder what it would’ve been like if I’d written a book in which the main character was gifted in, say, golf? Yeah, that wouldn’t have been nearly as exciting.

On the other hand, I also would probably be maintaining my weight and maybe have a nice tan if I spent more time on the golf course and less time eating delicious sweets. But what fun would that be?


There are a lot more myths floating around this business, and I’d be happy to help bust any others that you might have. I’ll get to them right after I finish this piece of cake. ;)

Christina, thank you so much for sharing with us!

FIND CHRISTINA ONLINE: Website | Goodreads | Facebook

Thursday, May 19, 2011

MMM: My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies Giveaway

My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies by Allen Zadoff

High school sophomore Adam Zeigler, who lost his father to a sudden accident two years ago, thinks the best way to live life is behind the spotlight. As a member of the theater crew, he believes he's achieved it all when he wins the coveted job of spotlight operator. But that was before a young actress, Summer, appeared in his view. Instantly smitten, Adam is determined to win her over. But to do so, he'll have to defy his best friend and break the golden rule of his school: techies and actors don't mix. Set against the backdrop of a high school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Zadoff's latest is a bromance, a love story, and theater story in one. The politics of love and high school collide as Adam struggles to find the courage to step out of the shadows and into the light. Published on May 10, 2011.

Allen is offering a copy of his book to one of you lucky readers!

Open to the USA only. Ends on June 3.
Extra entries for being a wonderful blog follower, commenting on
the interview with Allen, or advertising about this giveaway.
One winner will be randomly chosen and emailed;
they will have 5 days to claim the prize.
Fill out the form to enter, but comments are appreciated!

Click here to fill out the form!

ORDER THIS BOOK ONLINE: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Indie Bound

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tighter by Adele Griffin

Title: Tighter
Author: Adele Griffin
Published: May 2011 by Knopf Books

My Rating: 4.5 stars
Tags: YA | Suspense | Romance | Ghosts
Includes: Sexuality

First Lines: The last thing I did before I left home was steal pills. "Wait!" I raised my finger and did the oops smile, then sprinted back inside while Mom stayed in the car to take me to the train station.

Jamie, seventeen years old, is sent to Little Bly, Rhode Island, to work as an au pair over the summer. Jamie is a little messed up, popping random pills for her back injury more than necessary. She arrives at the enormous mansion where she'll be babysitting eleven-year-old Isa. It isn't long before Jamie notices the odd stares and whispers from the island locals, and she soon learns about what happened to Isa's au pair, Jessie, last summer. She died in a plane crash with her boyfriend. The weirdest part of it all is that Jamie looks almost exactly like Jessie. Soon, Jamie begins seeing a young couple that no one else seems to see. Could it be the ghosts of Jessie and her boyfriend?

This book was unlike anything I have ever read before. I started it hoping for just an enjoyable, quick thriller to entertain me... and wow, could I have been more wrong? I don't want to spoil a single thing about this book, so my review might be a little vague. First of all, Adele's novel is based on the short story The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I've never read it before and don't even know what it's about, so I won't be able to compare the two. This book had literally everything: suspense, romance, adventure, paranormal, and more. I'll start off with Jamie's character. If there's one thing I love, it's a complex and memorable protagonist, and Jamie was the very definition of just that. She had attitude and sarcasm like most teenagers, she was curious and brave, and was the very kind of character that we usually hate to read about. But strangely, I think she was perfect for the role in the book and absolutely loved getting inside her mind. Which brings me to my next point: Jamie is so messed up. She steals her family's pills and medications to take on the trip, and pops one whenever she needs to take the edge off things. This is one of the most stupid actions a person can do, especially having no idea what kind of pill it is. Soon, Jamie is never really sure what's real and what's her imagination because of the side effects of all the pills. And of course, reading from her point of view, the reader is never quite sure what is reality and what's all in her head.

This novel had stellar characterization. Seriously, every single character was developed brilliantly and took on a life of their own...even the ghosts! I think the housekeeper's lisp was really funny, and I've never seen another author write dialogue from someone with this speech impediment. Every single 's' was written with a 'th', and I usually had to read out loud when the housekeeper was talking to understand what she was saying. (No wonder my family kept giving me weird looks...!) Isa, the young girl that Jamie is an au pair for, tugged on my heart strings. She is so innocent and still searching for herself, figuring out who she is. Whereas her vain, snarky, and flirtatious brother, Milo, was just the opposite. I thought their relationship was really interesting and I never knew what to expect from them since they were so unpredictable.

Don't even bother making predictions of what will happen while reading, because the ending is a complete shocker. Twists and surprises were just jumping off the page while my mouth hung open in astonishment. I was tearing through the pages, gobbling up all of the words as fast as I possibly could, needing to know what would happen next in this thrilling book. I think the scariest kind of horror is not a slasher-who-kills-everyone-in-every-way-imaginable, but the psychological stuff. And this one is very intense that will mess with your head and keep you on edge in the middle of the night. It was the best ghost story I've ever read and have been thinking about it ever since I finished reading it. I think that's another great aspect about the book. It wasn't just a quick read to enjoy, and then move on to another book. No, this one will stay with you. It will literally haunt you.

Cover Thoughts: It creeps me out but it's a really awesome, eerie photo for the cover.

Book Supplied by: Author for review.

MMM: Allen Zadoff

Interview with Allen Zadoff, author of My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies

When did you decide you wanted to be an author?

It chose me; I didn’t choose it. When I was young, I dreamed of being an actor, but I was one of those actors who thought about things that were none of my business, like how plays were constructed and how the production came together.
That was the first clue that something was up. I started writing plays my senior year in high school. I was even a semi-finalist in the Young Playwrights Festival, and I got a congratulations letter from Stephen Sondheim! But when I got to Cornell my freshman year, the playwriting class was not popular and was only being taught every other year, so I talked my way into the Directing class instead. That started me on ten year run as a stage director. With the exception of some adaptations, I mostly forgot about writing during that period.

Then, when I was 28, writing came back into my life.
I journaled, I wrote poetry, I kept a log of my dreams. And slowly, very slowly, I realized that I’d been a writer in some form all along. By then I had experience as an actor and director. I’d spent years listening to characters talking on stage. So I had a really interesting skill set to bring into writing.

But I never imagined I’d be an author. I thought you had to be brilliant to be an author.
Now I know that’s not true. In any case, becoming an author was a long journey for me. But I always loved to create things.

How did you come up with the idea of My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies?

I was thinking about my own life in the theater, especially during high school. When I was fourteen, I worked with a brilliant stage director who let me stage manage a show for him. That’s when I became fascinated by what was happening backstage as much as what was in the front of the stage. I saw that there were parallel worlds at work—the world of the techies, the world of the actors, the world of the director and design team. That’s why My Life, the Theater tells its story from the techie perspective. It’s about what happens when backstage and front of stage collide in a forbidden love affair.

Describe Adam in three words.

Funny, shy, brave.

Did you learn anything from writing your book?

In My Life, the Theater, Adam is hiding from life, afraid to participate. It got me thinking about my own fears. I asked myself: Are you taking enough risks in your life or are you playing it safe? Who do you want to be in the world, and what do you need to change to be that person?

What can fans be expecting from you next?

Fans can expect a new novel published by Egmont in about a year. It’s the story of a kid stuck in Jewish school who doesn’t want to be there. It’s really funny and sort of deep, too. I’m writing it right now.

What's it like as a stage director?

Orson Welles said, “A writer needs a pen, a painter needs a brush, and a director...needs an army.”

Directing is about guiding a very large group of people. You have to inspire them, share your vision with them, adjust yourself to the dynamics of the group. It’s a highly collaborative process and also very exciting.
Writing, in comparison, is quiet and solitary. In writing, I’m dealing with my own difficult personality and creative idiosyncrasies. There’s collaboration, too, when it comes to the editorial process, but a lot of it is you vs. you.

Directing is like playing a team sport, and writing is like mountain climbing.
Sometimes I wish I were a director again. At least then you’ve got someone to blame other than yourself.

Share an interesting fact about yourself that not too many people know.

I was born a blond. You can check my blog
for proof!

Thank you, Allen, for answering my questions!

FIND ALLEN ONLINE: Website | Goodreads | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

MMM: Win Jane Jones: Worst. Vampire. Ever.

Jane Jones: Worst. Vampire. Ever by Caissie St. Onge

For Jane Jones, being a vampire is nothing like you read about in books. In fact, it kind of sucks. She's not beautiful, she's not rich, and she doesn't "sparkle." She's just an average, slightly nerdy girl from an ordinary suburban family (who happens to be vampires.) Jane's from the wrong side of the tracks (not to mention stuck in the world's longest awkward phase), so she doesn't fit in with the cool vampire kids at school or with the humans kids. To top it all off, she's battling an overprotective mom, a clique of high school mean girls (the kind who really do have fangs), and the most embarrassing allergy in the history of the undead, she's blood intolerant. So no one's more surprised than Jane when for the first time in her life, things start to heat up (as much as they can for a walking corpse, anyway) with not one, but two boys. Eli's a geeky, but cute real-live boy in her history class, and Timothy is a beautiful, brooding bloodsucker, who might just hold the key to a possible "cure" for vampirism. Facing an eternity of high school pressure, fumbling first dates, or a mere lifetime together with Timothy, what's a 90-something year-old teen vampire to do? Published on May 10, 2011.

Time for a giveaway! If this humorous vampire book sounds like your kind of read, enter to win an ARC of Jane Jones: Worst. Vampire. Ever.

Open to the USA only. Ends on May 31.
Extra entries for being a wonderful blog follower, commenting on
the interview with Caissie, and advertising this giveaway.
One winner will be randomly chosen and emailed;
they will have 5 days to claim the book.
Fill out the form to enter, but comments are appreciated!

Click here to fill out the form!

ORDER THIS BOOK ONLINE: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Monday, May 16, 2011

Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson

Title: Instructions for a Broken Heart
Author: Kim Culbertson
Published: May 2011 by Sourcebooks Fire

My Rating: 4 stars
Tags: YA | Romance | Realistic
Includes: Sensuality

First Lines: The costume barn wasn't much to look at. Just an old, rusting shed out behind the theater. Years ago, some realtor guy in town had donated it.

Jessa's heart is broken just days before she leaves on a school trip to Italy. She caught her boyfriend, Sean, making out with another girl. To make matters worse, she has to watch her now ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend pair up because they're going to Italy, too. On the plane ride, Jessa's theater friend, Tyler, gives her a stack of envelopes that her best friend Carissa wrote. There are twenty envelopes, enough to read two a day, for the entire ten days that Jessa is touring Italy. Inside each envelope is a reason why Sean is a cheating jerk that doesn't deserve Jessa, along with an instruction for Jessa to do. Through using these envelopes and discovering new things about herself, Jessa is able to slowly mend her broken heart.

I'm a sucker for lists and staying organized, so I was instantly drawn into this book. I liked the idea that there were twenty different envelopes for Jessa to read and it worked as a system - two letters a day. The pace of the story was perfect and Jessa's grieving over Sean was very realistic. She would act like she was over him when he tried talking to her, when really she was craving to hug him. I liked Jessa's character and enjoyed watching Carissa's instructions take her out of her comfort zone. Whether it was announcing something in a public place or doing a bold move, Jessa did it. Even at times when she thought the envelopes were just plain stupid and wanted to throw them all away, she stuck through with them to the end and I thought that showed commitment.

There were a few side stories in the book that could have been developed better. I wish the random romances between characters that showed up near the end were described more. However, each character in the story had depth and substance. They were complex, and I grew so familiar with even the minor ones that only showed up in the story a few times. The writing in this novel was just breathtaking! I really liked the author's gorgeous, descriptive sentences. It was so poetic at times.

From page 130
The disco throbbed with techno music, mostly hits from the early nineties, tinny and hollow in the way that kind of techno pop could give the brain its own pulse. Tyler handed her a lukewarm soda, his head bobbing. The kids from the other group were decked out in full glamour gear. They gyrated and writhed on the dance floor, their bodies sending up a steamy haze in the smoky room.

I adored all of the theater references! The backstage stories, the songs from musicals mentioned, it was all so interesting to read about in a young adult book. High school theater is not given the appreciation it deserves, so I especially liked how stressed it was in this story. And now stating the obvious, the setting! Ahhh Italy, the perfect place to heal a broken heart right? Wrong. Jessa was completely surrounded by love and couples, yet she pushed through it. I liked reading about all of the many landmarks and different places that her theater group visited. It was so interesting and the author hit the nail on the head during the scene in the book where the students are so busy texting, that they're missing all of the beauty around them. Even though this was just a minor scene, it left a big impression on me. Humans are so busy nowadays with their fancy gadgets and high-tech gear, that sometimes we just need to stop, put it away, and look at the world with fresh, new eyes. And that's exactly what the students did.

I definitely recommend this book for those who like realistic chick-lit and books by Sarah Dessen. Jessa was a mess at the beginning of the book, and grew into an entirely new person by the end. Speaking of which, the ending I didn't see coming at all! There were two or three twists in the story, and I was literally smiling on the last page. Everything just worked out so perfectly, yet it wasn't cheesy or unrealistic! You'll just have to read the book to find out what I mean...

Cover Thoughts: I really like it! The colors are vibrant, the text is pretty, and I like the Italy backdrop.

Book Supplied by: Publisher for review.