Friday, June 28, 2013

Feature Friday: Kady Cross

In her other life Kady Cross is a USA Today bestselling author of more than 20 books. She is lucky enough to have a husband who shares her love for the slightly twisted, and all things geek, and a houseful of cats with whom she shares her darkest secrets.  When she’s not listening to the characters in her head she’s either trying to formulate the perfect lipgloss or teaching herself to solder. She has a weakness for all things girly, sugar skulls, and boots. Her love of books and makeup borders on addiction – from which she never, ever wants to be cured.

Interview:
A.L.:
What piece of advice would you give to a budding author?

Kady:
Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Trite, but true. Study your favorite authors, write until you find your own voice. Listen to your instincts and always keep striving to improve your work.

A.L.:
What's your favorite book and why?

Kady:
Oh, I don't think I could pick a favorite! That's like asking someone to pick their favorite star in the sky, or their favorite snowflake. There are so many beautiful books out there. Maybe I haven't found my favorite yet.

A.L.:
Where did you get the idea for The Girl with the Iron Touch?
Kady:
My husband. He was the one who thought it would be 'cool' to have a group of sentient automatons pop up. I thought it was the perfect way to continue the Machinist story line (and arc of the series) and also give Emily and Sam their time in the spotlight.

A.L.:
Did you hit any snags while writing The Girl with the Iron Touch? What were they and how did you fix them?
 
Kady:
No snags except what to do with Jasper, who is still a little out of sorts after the events in New York. Then, Cat showed up and I sent them off on their own adventure (look for the 'Wild Adentures of Jasper Renn' short storyin a few months)!

A.L.:
Which one of the characters in The Girl with the Iron Touch is your favorite and why?
Kady:
Mila. I think because she was new, and just so odd! lol. She was a lot of fun to write in that book, and it's been interesting watching her evolve.

A.L.:
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as an author?
 
Kady:
It's not terribly exciting! I've known I wanted to do this since I was 8, which was hundreds of years ago, now. I was 28 when I sold my first book. What I did was look at my favorite authors and check for any repetition of publisher. Turned out about 3/4 of them were at the same house. Then, I compared my style to theirs, picked the ones I thought I was most compatible, and researched if any of them shared the same editor. And what do you know, most of them shared the same editor! I sent that editor my book, which she then gave to her assistant and with permission to buy it if she wanted it. Lucky for me, that editor did indeed want the book!

A.L.:
What are you working on now? Sequel? Something new?
Kady:
I'm working on the last book of the Steampunk Chronicles (insert sad face) and pitching a brand new series (insert manic face) that I think readers will love! It's different from the SC, but I'm really excited about it.

A.L.:
You write both adult and YA in a couple of different genres. What do you prefer writing?
Kady:
It depends on the day! lol. If I'm writing YA I prefer adult and if I'm writing adult I prefer YA. I think it's a weird neurotic thing that most writers have to keep them pushing forward.

A.L.:
Out of all the Steampunk Chronicle books you've written so far (including your novellas) what's your favorite story-line and why?
Kady:
Now you're asking me to pick my favorite child!? lol. Hmm. I think the evolution of Finley and Jack's friendship has been my favorite. Certainly very interesting for me. Also, Griffin's arc from boy afraid of what he is to (spoiler alert!!) embracing his power in book 4.

A.L.:
What's your favorite set of cosmetics right now? (brand, color, etc.)
Kady:
You're killing me. If you could see my makeup collection you would not be asking me this! OK, right now I'm totally in love with Inglot eyeshadows and MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation. Fab for summer. Oh, and Benefit 'Fakeup' concealer. It is amazing!

The Giveaway:
Oh, you guys are so lucky this week.  Kady is giving away the entire series (thus far) of The Steampunk Chronicles -- signed.  AND it's international!  I've read a good chunk of this series and met Kady (she's a CT author like I used to be) and I love both the books and the author a lot, please support her! :D

The Girl in the Steel Corset: In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one...except the "thing" inside her.When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no "normal" Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch....

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of "them." The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help--and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on--even if it seems no one believes her.


Read Goodreads Reviews.
Buy on Amazon.
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The Girl in the Clockwork Collar:  In New York City, 1897, life has never been more thrilling-or dangerous Finley Jayne and her "straynge band of mysfits" have journeyed from London to America to rescue their friend Jasper from the clutches of a devious criminal demanding a trade-the dangerous device Jasper stole from him...for the life of the girl Jasper loves. One false move from Jasper, and the strange clockwork collar around Mei's neck tightens and tightens. From the rough streets of lower Manhattan to elegant Fifth Avenue, the motley crew of teens follows Jasper's elusive trail. And they're about to discover how far they'll go for friendship. More than ever, Finley must rely on powerful English duke Griffin King to balance her dark magic with her good side. Yet Griffin is at war with himself over his secret attraction to Finley...and will risk his life and reputation to save her. Now, to help those she's come to care for so deeply, Finley must infiltrate the criminal gang. Only problem is, she might like the dark side a little too much....

Read Goodreads Reviews.
Buy on Amazon.
Buy on Barnes and Noble.

The Girl with the Iron Touch:  In 1897 London, something not quite human is about to awaken

When mechanical genius Emily is kidnapped by rogue automatons, Finley Jayne and her fellow misfits fear the worst. What's left of their archenemy, The Machinist, hungers to be resurrected, and Emily must transplant his consciousness into one of his automatons—or forfeit her friends' lives.

With Griffin being mysteriously tormented by the Aether, the young duke's sanity is close to the breaking point. Seeking help, Finley turns to Jack Dandy, but trusting the master criminal is as dangerous as controlling her dark side. When Jack kisses her, Finley must finally confront her true feelings for him...and for Griffin.

Meanwhile, Sam is searching everywhere for Emily, from Whitechapel's desolate alleyways to Mayfair's elegant mansions. He would walk into hell for her, but the choice she must make will test them more than they could imagine.

To save those she cares about, Emily must confront The Machinist's ultimate creation—an automaton more human than machine. And if she's to have any chance at triumphing, she must summon a strength even she doesn't know she has....


Read Goodreads Reviews.
Buy on Amazon.
Buy on Barnes and Noble.

How to Enter:
Enter the giveaway using Rafflecopter. Hit the arrow buttons, follow the prompts, and hit the enter buttons when you're done. (You may have to log in using Facebook to do this). There will be one winner (selected by Rafflecopter). I will contact the winner via email. This contest is open to international entrants. 


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Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Muse: Fall Out Boy -- My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark

This video makes me want to write something terribly epic. Fun Fact about your hostess and this band: Way back in high school, I used to go to a little underground dive to hear bands. Fall Out Boy was one of them (before they became famous) and there was rubbing elbows to be had cause her bestie worked there. Score for me. But wow, their music has changed a lot since then!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Feature Friday: Demitria Lunetta

Don't forget to check out my Midsummer's Eve Giveaway Hop!
Demitria Lunetta writes young adult science fiction and fantasy. A Chicago native, she holds a BA in Human Ecology and has spent countless hours studying the many ways in which people are capable of bringing about their own destruction. In case the end is near, she always carries a good book and a chocolate bar--the two items essential for post-apocalyptic survival. IN THE AFTER is her debut novel.


Interview:

A.L.:
What piece of advice would you give to a budding author?

Demitria:

The best advice I've ever gotten is to read more than you write, and I would shout that from the rooftops if it wouldn't make me seem crazy cakes. Read everything. Read what you love and what you hate. Keep reading. It will make you a better writer.

A.L.:
What's your favorite book and why?

Demitria:
There are so many! I love anything YA or anything Sci-fi or Fantasy...and combine them both and I'm done. I used to read THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA compulsively as a child, and as an adult I love THE ABHORSEN TRILOGY by Garth Nix, and the BARTEMAES BOOKS by Jonathan Stroud. And of course, anything by Margaret Atwood.

A.L.:
Where did you get the idea for In The After?

Demitria:
I love horror books & movies, especially those that feature scary creatures. Most of these creatures stick to the shadows and use night as a cover…and I thought about taking these norms and flipping them. These creatures (referred to as They) are ravenous, flesh-eating monsters, but they have poor eyesight, making them more active during the day when it’s light out. They also hunt by sound. This means that my MC, Amy, lives in a world of silent darkness. She only goes out at night, making the usual world of frightening shadows her comfort zone. The day becomes a time of terror, when They own the world.
A.L.:
Did you hit any snags while writing In The After? What were they and how did you fix them?

Demitria:
When writing Sci-fi, there’s always logistical problems…would something really work the way you imagine it would? Other than that I had a few too many characters. My editor suggested cutting out a love triangle (so glad she did) and getting rid of another extraneous character. This tightened up the novel and I was able to better flesh out the characters I kept.

A.L.:
Which one of the characters in In The After is your favorite and why?

Demitria:
This may sound strange, but one of my favorite characters is Amber. She’s not a hero, by any means, but she’s very real. She’s a survivor, though not the kind most readers are used to. Her survival technique is to fit in and follow. She wants to be protected and are willing concede a few freedoms to be safe. She knows that survival is a tricky game, and she’s learned to play it to perfection.

A.L.:
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as an author?

Demitria:
I’ve always wanted to be writer. I blame my overactive imagination and my love for reading. Becoming a writer is not easy, though, you have to learn a lot more than just how to write. I tried to query a fantasy novel a few years ago that only got rejections. I loved that book and it was hard to move on, but I decided I had to keep going forward. In case all the rejections were because of a problem with my query I decided to do a ton of research on successful queries. The work paid off when I tried to query a travel book. Unfortunately, that was also when the economy was in the gutter so it was a no go for travel books. My third time was the charm.

For IN THE AFTER I queried for about a month before I got my first offer. I then contacted the eight or so agents who had partials and fulls and let them know I was offered representation. I got three passes and five “Holy crap, I’d better hurry up and read so you can make your decision!” Then I spoke to those five agents and chose the one I thought best suited me. My awesome agent sold my MS to Harper Teen and the rest is history!

A.L.:
What are you working on now? Sequel? Something new?

Demitria:
I currently editing the second book in the IN THE AFTER series, IN THE END.

A.L.:

Was it difficult writing a book where the protagonist has to deal with a toddler? How did that affect dialogue and action?

Demitria:
When Amy finds Baby, she is concerned about how to deal with a toddler during the apocalypse. I thought this difficulty was an important part of the story and allowed Amy and Baby to grow together as characters, forming a strong bond between them. Most of the action happens three years later, when Baby is six. Six year old Baby has learned to live in the After, and is a very capable “sidekick”. Since Amy and Baby have only had each other to “speak” with for years, they also have a special understanding of each other, making communication easier.

A.L.:
Why did you choose to study human ecology in college?

Demitria:
I’ve always wanted to know how our world works. Human ecology is a very broad discipline, and allows you to study a wide range of subjects. At the time, I was interested in becoming an environmental lawyer, but I found myself taking more language and literature classes than law classes.

A.L.:
In your post-apocalyptic survival back-pack, there is a book and a chocolate bar. What book is it and what kind of chocolate bar?

Demitria:
The book is always changing, I love to read, so the book in my bag changes weekly, if not daily. As for the chocolate bar, my absolute favorite is a Milky Way bar, but let’s be honest, I love all chocolate. When people say they don’t like chocolate my draw drops. It’s like they’ve just told me the world is flat. It’s the same look I get when people say they don’t like to read!

The Giveaway:
Demitria is giving away a signed copy of IN THE AFTER.

In the After:  They hear the most silent of footsteps.
They are faster than anything you've ever seen.
And They won't stop chasing you...until you are dead.

Amy is watching TV when it happens, when the world is attacked by Them. These vile creatures are rapidly devouring mankind. Most of the population is overtaken, but Amy manages to escape—and even rescue “Baby,” a toddler left behind in the chaos. Marooned in Amy’s house, the girls do everything they can to survive—and avoid Them at all costs.

After years of hiding, they are miraculously rescued and taken to New Hope, a colony of survivors living in a former government research compound. While at first the colony seems like a dream with plenty of food, safety, and shelter, New Hope slowly reveals that it is far from ideal. And Amy soon realizes that unless things change, she’ll lose Baby—and much more.

Rebellious, courageous, and tender, this unforgettable duo will have you on the edge of your seat as you tear through the pulse-pounding narrow escapes and horrifying twists of fate in this thrilling debut from author Demitria Lunetta.


Read Goodreads reviews.
Read A.L.'s Review (coming soon!)
Buy on Amazon.
Buy on Barnes and Noble.

How to Enter:
Enter the giveaway using Rafflecopter. Hit the arrow buttons, follow the prompts, and hit the enter buttons when you're done. (You may have to log in using Facebook to do this). There will be one winner (selected by Rafflecopter). I will contact the winner via email. This contest is open to international entrants.




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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Midsummer's Eve Giveaway/Hop

Don't forget to enter yourself in a chance to win THE STEAMPUNK CHRONICLES series by Kady Cross (ends 7/5)
A random giveaway/hop!  Just because!


The Giveaway:
One winner can choose from any one of the books below!


Allegiant:  One choice will define you.

What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?


The explosive conclusion to Veronica Roth’s #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.





Far Far Away: It says quite a lot about Jeremy Johnson Johnson that the strangest thing about him isn't even the fact his mother and father both had the same last name. Jeremy once admitted he's able to hear voices, and the townspeople of Never Better have treated him like an outsider since. After his mother left, his father became a recluse, and it's been up to Jeremy to support the family. But it hasn't been up to Jeremy alone. The truth is, Jeremy can hear voices. Or, specificially, one voice: the voice of the ghost of Jacob Grimm, one half of the infamous writing duo, The Brothers Grimm. Jacob watches over Jeremy, protecting him from an unknown dark evil whispered about in the space between this world and the next. But when the provocative local girl Ginger Boultinghouse takes an interest in Jeremy (and his unique abilities), a grim chain of events is put into motion. And as anyone familiar with the Grimm Brothers know, not all fairy tales have happy endings. . .

Young adult veteran Tom McNeal (one half of the writing duo known as Laura & Tom McNeal) has crafted a novel at once warmhearted, compulsively readable, and altogether thrilling--and McNeal fans of their tautly told stories will not be disappointed.


Siege and Storm: Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.


Boy Nobody:  Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about. He shows up in a new high school, in a new town, under a new name, makes few friends and doesn't stay long. Just long enough for someone in his new friend's family to die -- of "natural causes." Mission accomplished, Boy Nobody disappears, and moves on to the next target.

When his own parents died of not-so-natural causes at the age of eleven, Boy Nobody found himself under the control of The Program, a shadowy government organization that uses brainwashed kids as counter-espionage operatives. But somewhere, deep inside Boy Nobody, is somebody: the boy he once was, the boy who wants normal things (like a real home, his parents back), a boy who wants out. And he just might want those things badly enough to sabotage The Program's next mission.



Naturals: Tess is finally safe from the reach of the Council, now that she is living in the Middlelands with the rebel Isolationists. With James having returned to Templeton, she easily falls back into her friendship with Henry, though her newfound knowledge of Robert’s chosen one status still stings. Even surrounded by people, Tess has never felt more alone. So she’s thrilled when James returns to the settlement, demanding to see Tess — until she finds out that it’s because her sister, Louisa, has been recruited into Tess’s old position at Templeton, and that the dangerously sadistic chosen one George has taken an interest in her.




Reboot:  Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).

Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.

The perfect soldier is done taking orders.


Born of Illusion: Anna Van Housen is thirteen the first time she breaks her mother out of jail. By sixteen she’s street smart and savvy, assisting her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and sĂ©ances, and easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums and mentalists in 1920’s New York City. Handcuffs and sleight of hand illusions have never been much of a challenge for Anna. The real trick is keeping her true gifts secret from her opportunistic mother, who will stop at nothing to gain her ambition of becoming the most famous medium who ever lived. But when a strange, serious young man moves into the flat downstairs, introducing her to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, he threatens to reveal the secrets Anna has fought so hard to keep, forcing her to face the truth about her past. Could the stories her mother has told her really be true? Could she really be the illegitimate daughter of the greatest magician of all? 

How to Enter:Enter the giveaway using Rafflecopter. Hit the arrow buttons, follow the prompts, and hit the enter buttons when you're done. (You may have to log in using Facebook to do this). There will be one winner (selected by Rafflecopter). I will contact the winner via email. This contest is open to international entrants.


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Check out the rest of the hop!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday Muse: Finch -- What It Is To Burn


Remember these guys? They were my favorite thing for a short period in my life. I forgot how much I love this kind of music...

Friday, June 14, 2013

Feature Friday: Imogen Howson

When I was little, I loved reading so much that I not only read in bed, at the table and in the bath, but in the shower and – not so successfully – on my bicycle.
I enjoyed books in a slightly unorthodox way, too – many of my childhood books have ragged edges where I tore paper from the margins in order to eat it.
I live with my partner, our two teenage daughters, and three cats, near Sherwood Forest in England. I still read in most places, but I no longer eat paper.

Interview:
A.L.:
What piece of advice would you give to a budding author?

Imogen:
Read a LOT. Read the sort of books you think you’d like to write, and read other types of books too—everything you read can teach you something about how to be a better writer.

A.L.:
What's your favorite book and why?

Imogen:
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.  It’s inventive, funny, and continually surprising—and the heroine is one of the best YA heroines ever written.

A.L.:
Where did you get the idea for Linked?

Imogen:
I read an article in a magazine belonging to my teenage daughters, about a pair of twins who had some kind of telepathic link, and it was so fascinating I knew I had to write about it.

A.L.:
Did you hit any snags while writing Linked?  What were they and how did you fix them?

Imogen:
Looking back, the main snag was that I didn’t get the development of the romantic sub-plot right.  When my now-agent saw an early version of Linked, she pinpointed exactly what needed to happen to make it better, and she was SO right.

A.L.:
Which one of the characters in Linked is your favorite and why?

Imogen:
I kind of love Cadan, who’s the irritating and arrogant best friend of the heroine, Elissa’s, older brother.  He came to life for me after my agent made a ton of suggestions to improve him.

A.L.:
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as an author?

Imogen:
I started off, really, telling my younger sister stories when we got bored on trips out.  I used to tell her about the fairies that lived in the woods (they ate roast acorn for their Sunday lunches, as I remember), and the “people who live inside your body”.  When I got older I knew I wanted to write books and get published, but it didn’t take off for me until I realized I wanted to write a) romance and b) anything that wasn’t set in the real world.  I’ve tried to write realistic-type books, and I just can’t do it!

A.L.:
What are you working on now?  Sequel?  Something new?

Imogen:
I’ve just finished working on the sequel to Linked, which is called Unravel and which will be out in 2014.  I’m now working on something totally new.  It has cheerleaders in an anti-gravity globe, and subterranean mutants, and a life-or-death contest, and whenever I mention it to my daughters they look at me as if I’ve gone crazy.  I’m having a lot of fun writing it, though!

A.L.:
How did you go about writing a book involving twins with a special connection?  Did you do a lot of research involving twin connections?

Imogen:
The nice thing about writing science fiction and fantasy is that you can make it all up, so I did very little research!  When I came to write about the relationship between the twins, though, I realized I drew a lot from my own relationship with my sister, and probably some from watching the relationship between my daughters.

A.L.:
If you still ate books, what do you think your favorite book would taste like?  What about your own books?

Imogen:
Howl’s Moving Castle would taste of bacon and eggs, with a strong hint of woodsmoke, courtesy of Calcifer the fire demon.  It would be delicious.  Linked would taste entirely of strong coffee—and not very nice coffee, I’m afraid.  The characters spend a lot of time on the run, mostly on a spaceship, and they’re tired and sleep-deprived and dependent on the instant coffee in the ship’s drinks machine.

A.L.:
You've written quite a few books so far.  I know it's hard to pick between all your "children," but Which one was your favorite to write and why?

Imogen:
I wrote a YA fantasy novella, Fire and Shadow, a few years ago, although it’s no longer in print.  It’s not my favorite now, because I think other books are better, but I loved writing it.  As you can tell from the title, it has a theme of light and darkness, fire and shadow, and I had a great time writing the descriptions.  It also has a bit of a superhero theme—a reviewer mentioned it was similar to X-Men—and thinking of superhero powers is always fun.

The Giveaway:
Imogen is giving away a copy of LINKED.

Linked: Elissa used to have it all: looks, popularity, and a bright future. But for the last three years, she’s been struggling with terrifying visions, phantom pains, and mysterious bruises that appear out of nowhere.

Finally, she’s promised a cure: minor surgery to burn out the overactive area of her brain. But on the eve of the procedure, she discovers the shocking truth behind her hallucinations: she’s been seeing the world through another girl’s eyes.

Elissa follows her visions, and finds a battered, broken girl on the run. A girl—Lin—who looks exactly like Elissa, down to the matching bruises. The twin sister she never knew existed.

Now, Elissa and Lin are on the run from a government who will stop at nothing to reclaim Lin and protect the dangerous secrets she could expose—secrets that would shake the very foundation of their world.

Riveting, thought-provoking and utterly compelling, Linked will make you question what it really means to be human.


Read Goodreads Reviews.
Buy on Amazon.
Buy on Barnes and Noble.

How to Enter:
Enter the giveaway using Rafflecopter. Hit the arrow buttons, follow the prompts, and hit the enter buttons when you're done. (You may have to log in using Facebook to do this). There will be one winner (selected by Rafflecopter). I will contact the winner via email. This contest is open to international entrants.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wednesday Double Feature: Anne Michaud

She who likes dark things never grew up. She never stopped listening to gothic, industrial and alternative bands like when she was fifteen. She always loved to read horror and dystopia and fantasy, where doom and gloom drip from the pages.

She, who was supposed to make films, decided to write short stories, novelettes and novels instead. She, who’s had her films listed on festival programs, has been printed in a dozen anthologies and magazines since.

She who likes dark things prefers night to day, rain to sun, and reading to anything else.

She blogs http://annecmichaud.wordpress.com

She Facebooks: http://www.facebook.com/annecmichaud

She tweets @annecmichaud

Buy it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CCQ1Q6W

Girls and Monsters Goodreads page: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17335353-girls-monsters

Interview:
A.L.:
What piece of advice would you give to a budding author?

Anne:
Play with story length to really test your abilities and expand your own voice – believe me, when you know you've got a short frame to world-build or develop plot, there's no more wasted words. Some say the best way to learn how to write is by starting with short stories, and I couldn't agree more. How can you expect to finish a full novel if you can't write its shorter version?

A.L.:
What's your favorite book and why?

Anne:
It changes every week!! Right now, it's The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. The POV cannot be fully trusted, the mansion comes alive on the page, and I can almost hear the old dog panting as an echo in the halls... People who like ghost stories and don't mind being left to mourn a few characters should read this book. By far one of my favorite horror book, with Let the Rigth One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist – and yes, that movie, but the Swedish version is the only one that counts.

A.L.:
Where did you get the idea for Girls and Monsters?

Anne:
Very easy: I had a bunch of homeless short stories dying in my computer when I realized they were pretty good but needed some expansion, so I started lengthening them into novellas and pretty quickly, I noticed two things in common: Girls & Monsters. VoilĂ , I had found my title, too.

A.L.:
Did you hit any snags while writing any of the stories for Girls and Monsters? What were they and how did you fix them?

Anne:
I did have some bumps writing A Blue Story, because trying to find a middle between being cruel to animal (which is true terror for me) and having enough horror to spook the reader was hard to balance. My betas did a terrific job to keep it YA friendly, which was also a challenge.

A.L.:
Which one of the characters in Girls and Monsters is your favorite and why?

Anne:
Scarlet for Black Dog, because she was the most fun/hard to write about. I used to have a friend who cut herself and heard voices, and she unknowingly became great inspiration for this story – which is the darkest of the collection, which also explains why this character is my favorite.

A.L.:
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as an author?

Anne:
Well, it started on a very cold night in London while I was completing my Master's in screenwriting – this is when I feel in love with pounding the keyboard with my frozen fingers, writing down the images flashing in my head, giving voice to characters who begged to come out. Then I directed three short films to realize being on a set surrounded by actors and technicians wasn't my thing, that I preferred being alone in a room full of people coming out of my imagination. So I wrote short stories, got them published in magazines; I wrote novellas, got them published in anthologies; wrote novels that never found agents, let alone publishers. So what was a girl to do? Approach small presses with dark tendencies and see what would come of it... enters DarkFuse.

A.L.:
What are you working on now? Sequel? Something new?

Anne:
I'm finishing up Girls & Aliens, another collection of five very dark novellas with soft sci-fi elements. I'll be starting my YA thriller Killer Girl right after I finish my French novella about a Little Boy in Hiroshima. And then, Girls & Ghosts.

A.L.:
Which is your favorite of the novellas in Girls and Monsters and why?

Anne:
We Left at Night would be my second favorite, just because when I dreamt it, it was so real and sad and became part of one of my main observation regarding the apocalypse: yes, surviving is key, but what about what you're leaving behind? What about your dreams, your future, the aftermath? I've been thinking about it so hard, I'm afraid it'll be printed into every other stories I'm writing.

A.L.:
What's your favorite scary movie and why?

Anne:
I've worked in film so I don't get easily scared, but the first Paranormal Activity scared the sh*t out of me, like The Strangers with the creepy masks and the day-killings. They're not favorites, but just thinking about them makes me switch open the light by my bed, which is why we see scary movies in the first place, right?

A.L.:
What's your most favorite depressing/dark song?

Anne:
From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea by my beloved The Cure. One of my favorite song from my favorite band, you can actually hear the waves through the melody. I love everything they do, but that song just tears me apart every time I hear it, which isn't often because I just can't take its heartbreaking beauty.

The Giveaway:
Anne is giving away an autographed copy of GIRLS AND MONSTERS.

Girls and Monsters: This dark but uplifting collection of five Young Adult novellas includes:

Death Song: Liz is in love with Joe, but the monster of the lake has other plans for them.

Black Dog: Scarlet is engaged in a struggle for her sanity, but according to the voice in her head, she may be too late.

A Blue Story: When Katherine's beloved dog goes missing, she fears her strange new neighbor might be involved.

Dust Bunnies: Christiane faces her childhood arachnophobia and ends up confronting even greater fears in this test of sisterhood.

We Left at Night: Brooke and her family must abandon their home and their lives to make it out of a disease-plagued town overrun by zombies.

Girls & Monsters is for everyone who has ever been brave enough to confront their childhood fears...and lived to tell about it.


Read Goodreads reviews.
Read A.L.'s Review.
Buy on Amazon.
Buy on Barnes and Noble.

How to Enter:
This is NOT a rafflecopter run by me, so make sure that you read the entry options!  Open to international entrants.

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Friday, June 7, 2013

Feature Friday: Amanda Sun

Amanda Sun was born in Deep River, a small town where she could escape into the surrounding forest to read. An archaeologist by training, she speaks several languages and will write your name in Egyptian Hieroglyphics if you ask. Her debut novel, INK, is the first in the Paper Gods series and is inspired by her time in Japan, with a paranormal twist. She loves knitting, gaming, and cosplay, and lives in Toronto with her family. Find her on Twitter @Amanda_Sun or on Goodreads.

Interview:
A.L.:
What piece of advice would you give to a budding author?

Amanda:
Finish what you write! This held me back for a long time. You learn so much by finishing a novel—how to wrap up all the ends and how to scale down from the excitement. Once I hit the middle of a novel, sometimes it’s all I can do to crawl forward sentence by sentence. It can be a painful time in the book’s life, and mine. But you have to keep going or you'll never reach the end. You just can’t stop in the middle, no matter how tempting it is, or you’ll never be at the point where you can share you work with others. :)

A.L.:
What's your favorite book and why?

Amanda:
I have a couple favorite books. One is Mort by Terry Pratchett. I love how Pratchett keeps you laughing, and yet invites you to contemplate deeper questions in his novels. Mort is about an awkward boy becoming Death's apprentice, and what happens when he doesn't want to carry out his duties...but of course, on a deeper level it's about mortality, and choices we make in life. I love the balance of authentic and entertaining.

My other favorite book is The Knife of Never Letting Go. That novel wasn't afraid to go into the dark places or to push the limits of fiction. I found myself constantly amazed that the story went where it did, always taking me to the edge of cliffs and then dropping me off them! As the Chaos Walking series progressed, it showed, too, how circumstances can push us as humans to make decisions we never thought we would. So I love the insight into the human character in this book.

A.L.:
Where did you get the idea for Paper Gods?

Amanda:
Well, I lived in Japan on exchange in high school, and I knew I wanted to combine my love of YA with my love of Japan and my experiences there. On top of that, I was really interested in Japanese mythology and bringing those elements into a YA. I watch a lot of J-dramas, and I like how you're not guaranteed a happy ending, or an always-positive outcome, so that played into it as well. But believe it or not, a huge influence for INK was Egyptian history! I studied Middle Egyptian in university, and I learned that the scribes used to chisel lines through the snake hieroglyphs because they were worried that the drawings would come alive and bite those entombed in the After Life. Japanese characters, as well, have their roots in communicating with the spirit world, so it all seemed to fit. And on top of that, as a kid I loved the children's cartoon Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings. Haha! So I guess you could say the idea's been building my whole life. ;D

A.L.:
Did you hit any snags while writing Paper Gods?  What were they and how did you fix them?

Amanda:
So originally INK started as a contemporary YA! I pictured this boy who wanted to be an artist but couldn't because of his family's wishes, and this girl who had suffered a loss in her life. I saw them connecting and helping each other. But one day, while I was watching Tomohiro sketch, his drawing moved across the page. I was really shocked! Slowly, Tomohiro started to tell me who he really was, and then I realized that my novel was about something else entirely. So it was a snag, but an exciting one. The plot changed dramatically as I saw the limited choices Tomohiro had to survive.

A.L.:
Which one of the characters in Paper Gods is your favorite and why?

Amanda:
I'd have to say Tomohiro. I really love dark characters who have demons to overcome, and Tomohiro has those in spades. Between the nightmares and the strange skills he's been cursed with, it takes a lot of strength for him to fight against his own fate. But despite all the darkness that surrounds him, he has a good heart, and wants to do good in the world. So I really admire him and appreciate the struggle he has--that we all have.

A.L.:
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as an author?

Amanda: 
Sure! I always wanted to be a writer, as long as I can remember. :) I actually majored in Archaeology in university, and took every course under the sun, so I would have a broad background for developing realistic worlds, histories, and characters. Good thing the writing thing worked out! *laughs* I sold my first short story in 2007--actually, I won a fiction contest and publication. That story was set in Kyoto, but was literary fiction. After that I sold two more stories, a YA Dystopian and a YA Urban Fantasy. My first novel, an epic fantasy, couldn't find an agent, however, so I put it in the drawer and spent a year reading all the YA I could get my hands on. It really helped to know what was current in YA! Not that you should write to the market, but it's a good idea to know what's out there and what's going on. With my new knowledge and my love for YA reignited, I wrote INK in 2009-2010, polished it for a while, and then signed with my agent in 2011. INK sold later that year--hurray! ^_^

A.L.:
What are you working on now?  Sequel?  Something new?

Amanda:
I'm currently working on edits for Book 2 in The Paper Gods. Lots more strange ink happenings, more Japanese culture, and more Japanese food! *laughs* I also have a couple Shiny New Ideas(TM) floating around that I'm starting to plot out.

A.L.:
How did you go about writing a book set in Japan?  How did you go about making it relatable to American readers?

Amanda:
When I lived in Osaka, I kept a daily journal, which I looked back on before writing INK. I also traveled back to Japan and really studied Shizuoka City, taking a ton of photos of Sunpu Park and all the locations where INK is set. I checked in with my Japanese friends to make sure as many details as possible were accurate, like how Japanese boys talk, school life, and so on. I wanted as authentic an experience as possible.

The decision to make Katie an outsider was largely to make the novel accessible to readers who aren't familiar with life in Japan. I didn't want to hit readers over the head with the culture, but integrate it slowly in the background. Hopefully that comes across as you read :) Also, Japanese teens grow up in a different society than American or Canadian or Australian, and I wanted to make sure the world was accessible while still being understandable. There are times that the Japanese characters react in a way that might not feel familiar to outside readers, and I'm hoping that Katie will help bridge that gap by asking the questions readers might have about those situations. But I really hope that what comes across most clearly is not the differences, but the similarities, the way we are the same. :)

A.L.:
What's the most epic cos-play outfit you've ever made?

Amanda:
Oh! Well, there are two. One is Fran from Final Fantasy XII, aka Warrior Bunny. I spent four months cutting out teeeeeny strips of craft foam and layering them to create her intricate-looking armor. It was an awesome experience wearing the finished product, though. The other I just finished--Vanille from Final Fantasy XIII. I used over 1600 beads on the costume, 500 of which were handpainted one by one. Often I didn't have the right beads, so I made them out of clay. I performed on stage and won a Workmanship ribbon for my beading, which was so rewarding after all those months of work! It's a time-consuming hobby, but I just love cosplay. I learn something different about myself from recreating each of those characters, and I love learning from the painting, sewing, and crafting that goes into each costume.

If you want to see my cosplays, I keep some photos on my pinterest page: http://pinterest.com/amandasunbooks/my-cosplay/

A.L.:
During your travels in Japan, what was the most memorable thing that you did?

Amanda: 
I think my trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima Island really stayed with me. Seeing the buildings frozen in time by the bomb that dropped there...it was such an eerie reminder of the darkness humans are capable of. And Itsukushima Shrine plays an important role in INK, just as it moved me the first time I saw it. The endless hallways of orange and white beams are almost dream-like to walk through, and the giant O-Torii gate is so beautiful as the tide laps against its base.

Another memorable thing was climbing Mount Fuji. Unfortunately I didn't make it all the way to the top--maybe someday! We were very close to the summit when an Australian girl I'd met that morning fell on the loose red rocks and hurt her leg. I remember walking alongside her as we descended, sharing wonderful conversation as she hobbled down the mountainside. I'll never forget that feeling of friendship, and how quickly we grew together through that experience. Later that night we went to the beach of Kamakura and lit small fireworks and sparklers, laughing as the tide lapped the shore around us. That was a moment of togetherness I can't forget. We were a mix of exchange students and Japanese teens, and despite all our different backgrounds, we came together through what we had in common. That is the spirit of INK that I hope comes across, that we're really not that different from one another after all. :)

Thank you so much for having me on the blog! ^_^

The Giveaway:
Amanda is giving away a signed ARC of INK.

Ink:  I looked down at the paper, still touching the tip of my shoe. I reached for it, flipping the page over to look.

Scrawls of ink outlined a drawing of a girl lying on a bench.

A sick feeling started to twist in my stomach, like motion sickness.

And then the girl in the drawing turned her head, and her inky eyes glared straight into mine.


On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.


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How to Enter:
Enter the giveaway using Rafflecopter. Hit the arrow buttons, follow the prompts, and hit the enter buttons when you're done. (You may have to log in using Facebook to do this). There will be one winner (selected by Rafflecopter). I will contact the winner via email. This contest is open to international entrants. 

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What's In A Name?

Hi everyone!
You want some exciting news?  One of my YA novels is FINALLY coming out soon!  The only problem?  I need a new name for this fantastic piece.  The "board" and I have come up with two that we think will be perfect for this story.  Can you help me narrow it down?

Here's the summary:
P.S. If you like the sound of this book, please add it to your To Be Read list and send this link to your friends!

Experience THE BALLAD OF TAM LIN like you’ve never read it before…

It has been seven years since Jeanette Sauderheim followed her best friend into Carver Hall Park...and came out alone. Jeanette has never gotten over his mysterious disappearance nor has she gone back into the park. While that traumatic night still haunts her, Jeanette distracts herself by balancing her time between trying to pass Spanish, hanging out with her friends, and reading the latest manga.

But, when a promise to a friend drives her back into the park, she's forced to re-live the memories of that night. Lost and confused, Jeanette crosses paths with Tamrin, whose the violent reaction to her provides yet another reason to avoid the park.

Tamrin, a knight of the Summer Court, has been sent to earth to guard a patch of roses that hold special meaning to the queen of the faeries. When his distraction at meeting Jeanette leads to her picking one of the Summer Queen’s roses, Tamrin vows to right his failure to do his duty.

However, the equivalent of one of the queen’s roses is a human heart and Tamrin’s reluctance to readily exact the sum from Jeanette sets in motion a spiral of love, betrayal, and magic that could mean damnation for them both.



Now you vote!
Note: the options below are the actual two title suggestions.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Monday Muse: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Ain't No Easy Way


So, this is thanks to my cousin-in-law who has joined forces with my rock/metal-head husband and made living in my new state a little more hard core.  Also, this is dedicated to our recent exodus across the United States -- which included a beloved 95 Honda Civic with over 300K miles on it, two cantankerous cats, a crap load of stuff that didn't fit in the Uhaul, me with the plague, and my husband on a Harley...driving through 100 degree desert heat, dodging hurricanes, and braving questionable hotels.  And you all wondered why I was so quiet on Facebook and Twitter....