Friday, July 26, 2013

Feature Friday: Hal Johnson

I don't think Hal Johnson is a very unusual sort of a guy. He's just -- well, the average American citizen and family man, the kind that are the backbone of the nation. I admire him and like him. I like his attitude. Until, that is, he gets behind the wheel of an automobile. At that point he changes. He changes from a careful, considerate citizen—to a menace.
–"Driven to Kill," 1948 driver's safety film.

but if you want something more normal (=lame!), you can use:

Hal Johnson lives in New York, where he writes books, sells comics, and plays Dungeons and Dragons.

The Interview:

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

Hal:
All my good ideas I had when I was a little kid. Back then I’d been drawing pictures of people that could turn into different animals—badgers and otters and such—and imagining what would happen if they had to fight. But the problem is that there would be no reason for them to fight it out as animals—they’d just shoot each other, and the shrew would be just as tough as the lion. This was unacceptable to my young brain, so I made up the proviso that the animals could only be killed by each other in animal form, by their teeth or claws of horns or hooves. Bullets would barely slow them down.

This made me happy enough at the time, and I drew a bunch of pictures that probably don’t exist any more of people turning into weasels against the backdrop of some sort of post-apocalyptic landscape. Then I forgot all about the concept for a couple of decades, until I was pitching book ideas to an editor, all of which caused him to purse his lips and shake his head, sadly. In a fit of desperation I threw out “immortal lycanthropes.” The rest is history.

But the rest is always history. That’s what history is, the rest.

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

Hal:
The big snag came right at the beginning. I fretted a lot because the idea of immortal lycanthropes—it doesn’t make any sense, does it? Where do they come from? What are they after? What are they for? I knew my basic story, with Myron trying to find himself while hunted from all sides—but I didn’t know what kind of world the story could take place in, and I consequently spent a lot of time chewing my nails and not writing.

What I finally figured out was that the self-styled immortal lycanthropes should only be one small part of this world. Once I realized I could throw in Rosicrucians and Freemasons, and a whole secret history of the world with the lycanthropes snaking through it but not controlling it, everything fell into place. They think they’re special, but no one else does. They’re not even the only immortals in the book! Suddenly I understood what the immortal lycanthropes were for, and it’s the same thing we’re all for. Nothing much.

The whole tone of the book came from that revelation. Once you have the tone, all you have to do is just make up a bunch of stuff, so the rest was more or less cake.

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

Hal:
The dirty little secret to writing is that it’s really easy. There’s the whole hurdle of literacy to get over, but once you can write, actually doing it is as easy as an exercise. Which means being an author is trivial.

Of course, becoming the author you want to be—writing the thing you want to write—is far from trivial. The whole question hinges on what you want to write. Almost all advice to writers you’ll read should be taken with a grain of salt because it assumes you’ll want to write one kind of book, the kind that advice is geared towards. Clarity in writing is usually fine, but not necessarily if you're a modernist. "Show, don't tell" is bad advice if you're writing a fable. These are pretty extreme examples, but the differences between literary fiction and a Doc Savage pulp are large enough that Thomas Pynchon would be fired if he tried to ghostwrite for Kenneth Robeson. Stone-cold fired.

So the only real advice is to write the kind of thing you want to write; if you are unable to write it, either change what you want to write, or change yourself until you become the kind of person who can write what you want to write (which can be a terrifying process). Just don't stop writing, because if you do, all other advice is useless.

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

Hal:
There are so many possible answers here—I love almost as many books as I hate. But the true answer is 5 Novels by Daniel Pinkwater. It’s an omnibus, so that’s kind of a cheat, but I am naturally dishonest, and don’t care.  I first read Pinkwater in fourth grade, and he’s had an immeasurable impact on both my life and my writing. All of his books have a similar plot—a kid who ranges from vaguely dissatisfied to full-on alienated gradually discovers another world that may be terrifying and may be beautiful but is at the very least not super-lame. I use “another world” in its broadest sense, as depending on the book it could be another dimension or it could be just a community of like-minded weirdoes congregating in all-night diners. The possibility of crossing over into any of these options sustained me through many a long and anxious night as a child, and years later I realized that almost all Pinkwater’s books can be read, with differing degrees of ease, as allegories for a mystical experience I’m still chasing after.

Myron’s escape from the humdrum world of suburban high school to a world of secret societies and were-mammals is a direct ripoff of Pinkwater’s plots. Many children’s authors before Pinkwater invoked two worlds—Barrie, Milne, Baum, Carroll—but in all of these the other world was if a metaphor for anything a metaphor for childhood or a child’s imagination, something that had to be abandoned ultimately if a child was going to reach adulthood. Pinkwater, in contrast, exploded the child/adult dichotomy by looking ahead to adulthood and offering an alternative. The alternative could be art and it could be time travel, but it was at the very least an option.

Anyway, 5 Novels contains three of his four best books, and two others that are just really good.

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

Hal:
Everyone assumes it’s Arthur the binturong, because he is (my friends say) the most like me. He gets to tell the story, after all, and his name is even close to “author” (that was an accident, or at least it wasn’t a conscious decision). But really, my favorite and the most fun to write was Mignon Emanuel. In many ways she’s a classic supervillain, training an army of henchmen in her secret lair, but she seems to have a real soft spot with Myron. She lies to him and manipulates him, but she always plays fair with him. What she says she’ll teach him, she teaches him; what she says he can get away with, she lets him get away with.

She’d almost seem like a decent person were it not that every time she appears in the book she has just murdered someone.

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

Hal:
All I do is read, so spilling over into writing only seems natural; but for a long time I didn’t seriously intend to be a writer. I mean, it’s not that I didn’t want to be a writer, it’s just that it sounded like a pipe dream, about as likely as becoming a pirate, a cowboy, or an astronaut. The fact that I almost never wrote anything was a serious stumbling block, but it’s not like I was practicing busting broncos, either. If I thought at all about the future, I assumed I would be a paleontologist or a drifter.

Reading Jorge Luis Borges’s Labyrinths changed all that. It’s not that it made me want seriously to be a writer; it’s just that it made me write. I found copying Borges’s experimental story structures—where the story proper may be no more than summarized inside an elaborate frame narrative—extremely liberating. I’ll admit to producing some straight-up Borges pastiches I’m not so proud of, but it got the ball rolling, so to speak.

You know what the rest is.

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

Hal:
I’m always a little worried about talking about a work in progress because so much can change along the way. Nabokov famously said that Lolita was inspired by an article he’d read about a gorilla the zoo’d taught how to draw, and the first thing it drew was the bars of his cage. Imagine if Nabokov had told his friends he was working on that book; and then instead of a gorilla novel they found he’d written something about a hyperarticulate sex offender. “Where’s the gorilla?”

 With that in mind, I just finished a sad book about two girls trying to escape their miserable existences into a fantasy land; and I’m now working on a book about a magic school. It’s like Harry Potter except the person who graduates last in his class gets eaten by the devil Makes the House Cup more competitive, like.

A.L.:
Why did you choose to make Myron, the main character, thirteen?

Hal:
In a way it’s the dumbest answer. I wanted to write a book for thirteen year olds, so I made the protagonist thirteen. Actually, I guess it turns out people usually read books about slightly older characters, so I probably should have made him sixteen or something. But when you’re sixteen in Pennsylvania you can drive, and it would have been a different book if Myron could have tooled around in a car to wherever he wanted to go.

Of course he’s actually several thousand years old. They should probably just let him drive.

A.L.:
Do you stay true to the typical lycanthropy mythos in this book or do you have your own unique spin on it?

Hal:
I had read a lot about lycanthropy, its history and folklore and potential scientific explanations, and then I threw everything out the window. In part it doesn’t matter because the idea that supernatural creatures should have a consistent set of powers is hardly more than a century old. Folklore (as opposed to romantic fictionalizations of folklore) gets vampires and werewolves all tangled up. For that matter it’s also filled with dragons who fight with swords and giants whose daughters are 5’4”. Consistency is not what oral tradition is good at.

But I grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons and making sure all monsters had stats. Werewolves with their 4+3 hit dice; werbears with 7+3. So I needed a series of rules that the characters in the book all would play by. These are the rules Myron needs to figure out as he goes.

 Phases of the moon and silver bullets are out. People do turn into animals. Everything else is a spoiler.

A.L.:
If you could be any paranormal creature, what would you be?

Hal:
THE TARRASQUE!

The Giveaway:

Hal is giving away a signed, personalized hardcover with a sketch of the winner's choice (people usually pick their favorite animal, but he can also draw pirates, ugly faces, or whatever).

Immortal Lycanthropes:  “A shameful fact about humanity is that some people can be so ugly that no one will be friends with them. It is shameful that humans can be so cruel, and it is shameful that humans can be so ugly.”

So begins the incredible story of Myron Horowitz, a disfigured thirteen-year-old just trying to fit in at his Pennsylvania school. When a fight with a bully leaves him unconscious and naked in the wreckage of the cafeteria, Myron discovers that he is an immortal lycanthrope—a were-mammal who can transform from human to animal. He also discovers that there are others like him, and many of them want Myron dead. “People will turn into animals,” says the razor-witted narrator of this tour-de-force, “and here come ancient secrets and rivers of blood.”






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 national entrants.
 

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway/Hop

Please make sure you check out the following:

Sizzling Summer Giveaway (for two Kindle fires loaded with YA and NA titles) HERE. (ends 7/27)

Giveaway of IMMORTAL LYCANTHROPES by Hal Johnson. HERE. (starts 7/26)

The Giveaway:
One lucky winner can choose from any one of the following titles:

Shadow of the Mark:  Their love could destroy them all.

Through the ages, Marked Ones have harnessed the powers of the four elements: Water, Fire, Earth, and Air. Much about the elements is shrouded in mystery, but one thing is certain: A relationship between two Marked Ones has the potential to cause widespread devastation.

Megan and Adam—Air and Water—are determined to defy the risks.

But the power that swirls inside Megan is growing in twisted ways. And the closer she is to Adam, the closer Megan comes to unleashing a dark force that could spell destruction for the entire Marked line.


This Strange and Familiar Place: These are the things of which Lydia is now certain:

The Montauk Project has been experimenting with time travel for years.

The Project's subjects are "recruits" from across time, recruits like Wes, Lydia's ally, friend, and love.

The Project is now responsible for the disappearance of two members of her family...

The conspiracy theorists were right about the Montauk Project all along. In this sequel to So Close to You, they're coming for Lydia next...



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.


Half Lives: Present day: Icie is a typical high school teenager - until disaster strikes and her parents send her to find shelter inside a mountain near Las Vegas.

The future: Beckett lives on The Mountain - a sacred place devoted to the Great I AM. He must soon become the leader of his people. But Beckett is forced to break one of the sacred laws, and when the Great I AM does not strike him down, Beckett finds himself starting to question his beliefs.

As Beckett investigates The Mountain's history, Icie's story is revealed - along with the terrifying truth of what lies at the heart of The Mountain.

Sara Grant's HALF LIVES is a dystopian chronicle of the journeys of two unlikely heroes in their race against time to save future generations.


Earthbound: Tavia Michaels is the sole survivor of the plane crash that killed her parents. When she starts to see strange visions of a boy she’s never spoken with in real life, she begins to suspect that there’s much about her past that she isn’t being told.

Tavia immediately searches for answers, desperate to determine why she feels so drawn to a boy she hardly knows. But when Tavia discovers that the aunt and uncle who took her in after her parents' death may have actually been responsible for the plane crash that killed them--and that she may have been the true intended victim--she flees for the safety of Camden, Maine, where the boy she sees in her visions instructs her to go.

Now, Tavia is on the run with no one to trust. No one, that is, except for her best friend and longtime crush, Benson.

Tavia feels torn between the boy who mysteriously comes to her at night and the boy who has been by her side every step of the way. But what Tavia doesn't know is that the world is literally falling apart and that to save it she will have to unite with the boy in her visions. Only problem? To do so would mean rejecting Benson's love. And that's the one thing Tavia Michaels swore she'd never do.
 


A Darkness Strange and Lovely: Following an all-out battle with the walking Dead, the Spirit Hunters have fled Philadelphia, leaving Eleanor alone to cope with the devastating aftermath. But there’s more trouble ahead—the evil necromancer Marcus has returned, and his diabolical advances have Eleanor escaping to Paris to seek the help of Joseph, Jie, and the infuriatingly handsome Daniel once again. When she arrives, however, she finds a whole new darkness lurking in this City of Light. As harrowing events unfold, Eleanor is forced to make a deadly decision that will mean life or death for everyone. 





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.
 


OR...Go on the waitlist to receive a free copy of my debut novel:
For Your Heart: 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 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 garden of roses that hold special meaning to the queen of the Summer 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.

*This is an Upper YA novel.


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 other blogs participating: http://www.iamareader.com/2013/07/lazy-days-of-summer-spontaneous-hop-book-of-choice-amazon-or-paypal.html 

Sizzling Summer Giveaway: Cherie Colyer



Cherie Colyer is the author of YA paranormal thriller/romance, EMBRACE (available now), and HOLD TIGHT (August 2013), from Omnific Publishing. Check out her website and blog for news on her books and bonus material. Follow Cherie on Twitter and/or Facebook for updates on writing, books and special offers.

Playlist for EMBRACE:

It’s great to be here! I love music, although I have to admit I don’t listen to music while I write. I tend to start singing along with the songs instead of increasing my word count. I’ve always found it funny that I can block out the TV better than I can the radio. Below are the songs that I’d include on a CD if Embrace came with one. I hear them whenever I reach specific scenes in the novel. They’re also songs Madison loves.



Embrace Playlist (Click here to listen to songs)
1         Crash into Me by Dave Matthews Band
2         Get Some by Lykke Li
3         Friends and Family by Trik Turner 
4         Is This Real? By Lisa Hall 
5         Far Behind by Candle Box 
6         Fallin’ by Alicia Keys
7         Glycerine by Bush
8         Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson
9         You Found Me by The Fray 
10     Silent Lucidity by Queensryche 
11     Higher by Creed


Each of these songs has an important place in the novel, but three of them had always come to mind, even in the early drafts.

Crash into Me is a favorite of mine. It takes me back to when my husband and I first started dating. He’d sing along with such passion and he’d give me this sultry gaze that weakened my knees. It’s a gaze Isaac inherited. Isaac plays this song the first time he’s alone with Madison.

You Found Me does a wonderful job of encompassing Madison’s feeling of being lost. One of the things I really like about her is that she’s not afraid to lean on her friends. This song can easily related to how much she needs Kaylee and Josh, how Kevin is willing to be there for her no matter what, and how Isaac will find Madison no matter how lost she becomes.

Like Scott Stapp in the song Higher, Madison is willing to let Isaac and her friends help her escape to a new world, one you can’t see through normal eyes.

It’d like to thank my host for having me on her blog today!

Embrace: Madison is familiar enough with change, and she hates everything about it. Change took her long-term boyfriend away from her. It caused one of her friends to suddenly hate her. It’s responsible for the death of a local along with a host of other mysterious happenings. But when Madison meets a hot new guy, she thinks her luck is about to improve.

Madison is instantly drawn to the handsome and intriguing Isaac Addington. She quickly realizes he’s a guy harboring a secret, but she’s willing to risk the unknown to be with him.

Her world really spins out of control, however, when her best friend becomes delusional, seeing things that aren’t there and desperately trying to escape their evil. When the doctors can’t find the answers, Madison seeks her own.

Nothing can prepare her for what she is about to discover.
   
Dangerous, intoxicating, and darkly romantic, Embrace is a thriller that will leave you spellbound.

Get EMBRACE today:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Add to GoodReads
Embrace | Hold Tight

The Giveaway:
The Sizzling Summer giveaway is a blog-hop for two Kindle HDs filled with the work of some amazing authors.  One has New Adult authors loaded on it and the other has Young Adult authors loaded.  Cherie Colyer's work is included on the YA Kindle!




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 national entrants.
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http://yaboundbooktours.blogspot.com/2013/07/blog-event-kick-off-sizzling-summer.html

Friday, July 19, 2013

Feature Friday: Stacey Jay

Stacey Jay is the author of numerous books for teens and adults, including "Juliet Immortal" and "Romeo Redeemed." Her latest, "Of Beast and Beauty" will release on July 23rd, 2013. Stacey lives in Northern California with her winemaker husband, two boys, and her beloved sewing machine. Learn more at www.staceyjay.com

Interview: 

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

Stacy:
Write because you love writing, write because the day feels incomplete until you've got something down on the page, write because you have stories floating around in your head and you NEED to get them out. Don't write because you want to be famous (even famous writers aren't famous, and from what I can glean from the famous people I know, fame is pretty lame). Don't write because you think it will make you happy to be published (being published will introduce neurosis into your life like you wouldn't believe, almost all the published writers I'm close with are on the verge of a nervous breakdown at least once a year). Don't write because you think you'll get rich doing it (almost NONE of we published writers are rich. Seriously. Even my most successful year is a year when I make less money than my friends who chose to use their brains in more conventional ways). So yeah--write because you are compelled to write and it gives you joy. Other assorted advice: Write every day. Read everything you can get your hands on. Pay attention to the world around you--engaged people make better writers (in my humble opinion).

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

Stacy:
I can't pick a favorite, there are just too many amazing books in the world. But today I'm wishing I could pick up my old copy of "Anne of Green Gables" by Lucy Maude Montgomery and spend the afternoon rereading it. It's one of my favorites because it reminds me that even the most down and out and lonesome among us can still find love/family, and I identify with Anne's overabundance of sass. I also suffer from sass-overabundance at times.

A.L.:
Where did you get the idea for Of Beast and Beauty?

Stacy:
I had a "Beauty and the Beast" themed dream where the roles of Beast and Beauty were reversed (Beauty took the Beast captive) on a terrifying foreign planet. The rest of the story grew from there.

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

Stacy:
There was one chapter near the end that I really didn't want to write. I knew it was coming and that I was going to have to do something terrible to one of my characters and I was dreading it, so I kept procrastinating, re-writing the chapters before it. For that entire week, I was a cranky, miserable wreck. So I finally made myself write the chapter in one afternoon, crying on and off the entire time. Aside from that, however, it was a pretty smooth drafting and revising process. I did a lot of brainstorming about the characters and story before I started, so I had a good idea where I was going.

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

Stacy:
I love Gem and Isra, Beast and Beauty, equally. They are two sides of the same coin, and both very loyal, fierce, and loving people (though in different ways).

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

Stacy:
I'm working on copyedits for my 2014 Young Adult book with Delacorte. It's a different spin on the twisted fairy tale, featuring the daughter of a famous fairy tale princess, but I can't say much more about that story at this time. After that, I'm hoping to have a chance to finish a Middle Grade book that's very close to my heart and am drafting a proposal for something scandalous that may get me in trouble if I'm allowed to write it. It's all very exciting stuff, and I'm feeling invigorated about writing in a way I haven't in awhile now!

A.L.:
Out of all the books you've written so far, which was easiest for you to write and why?

Stacy:
"Undead Much?", the second in the Megan Berry, Zombie Settler, series was a really quick write. I already knew the characters well at that point, I had a solid outline before I started, and I was still full of "beginning of career" fire. At that point in my writer's life I could draft an 80,000 word novel in a little over four weeks. I'm much, much slower now. "Of Beast and Beauty" took four months to draft and another two months to revise. It's the only book I wrote last year, which is strange for me. I usually write at least two full length novels a year.

A.L.:
Would you consider Of Beast and Beauty to be a retelling of Beauty and the Beast?  Why or why not?

Stacy:
Yes, I would. It contains all the elements of the original fairy tale. You may have to squint hard to see them, but they are there. There are other story lines weaved into the traditional story, but at it's core it is a retelling. (In contrast to my other recent books, "Juliet Immortal" and "Romeo Redeemed," which I consider re-imaginings using familiar characters, not retellings.)

A.L.:
You're written both adult and young adult literature -- which do you prefer?  Why?

Stacy:
Most of the time I prefer writing for young adults because I think that's such an exciting time in life, when a person is figuring out who they are, who they want to be, and who they might like to share all their big adventures with. And from a romance angle, while love is amazing at any age, there's nothing like falling in love for the very first time. It's pretty magical. Still, there are times when I enjoy writing for adults. I especially love writing adult books where jaded/downtrodden/damaged people get a second chance. I love redemption stories.

The Giveaway:
Stacey is giving away one winner's choice of JULIET IMMORTAL or ROMEO REDEEMED signed, plus some fun R&J temporary tattoos.  This giveaway is national only.

Of Beast and Beauty (not the giveaway):  In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret...

In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.

Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.

As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.


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 national entrants. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 18, 2013

FOR YOUR HEART -- Sneaky Peek #1

This is the first sneak peek (teaser) from my new YA novel FOR YOUR HEART.  If you like what you read, please make sure to go check it out here and don't forget to share it with your friends!
-Amanda (A.L. Davroe)


            He bites his lip.  “I would like to allow you that boon, Lovely, I would.  But I can’t wait that long.  I’m sorry.  You've got exactly one year.”  He stands, his expression determined and resolute.  “Until then, you will care for that heart like it is diamond encrusted and I shall make sure of it.”
            I stare at him, unmoving as he goes toward my bed, divests himself of his weapons, and stretches across the side I never sleep on.  He pluffs up my sushi pillow, shifts into a comfortable position, and settles his gaze on me.
            It takes a minute to compute what’s happening and then I push myself up on shaking arms.  “No,” I insist with a shake of my head.  “You are not staying here.”
            “I can't go back to Roxel, she'll want to know about the rose.”
            “Go pawn yourself off on some other chick.  You don't seem to have any problems with that.”
            Tamrin looks around the room.  “No, I like it here.  I'm staying.”
            I feel my jaw drop.  “You can't stay here,” I insist.  “You can't freeload off of my dreams and then steal my heart!”
            He cocks his head, regarding me with thoughtful eyes.  “I can pay, if you like.  I promise you'll be pleased.”  The tone of his voice is far too suggestive.
            I blink, then blush crimson.  “What?  No!”  My voice is too high pitched, scandalized as I am.  “I'm not,” I struggle for words, “I'm not that kind of girl.  I don't do stuff like that.  I'm Catholic.  You know, virgin until marriage.”
            Tamrin frowns and then shrugs.  “Suit yourself.  But, I'm not leaving.”
 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Friday, July 12, 2013

Feature Friday: Kelsey Sutton

Kelsey Sutton has done everything from training dogs, making cheeseburgers, selling yellow page ads, and cleaning hotel rooms. Now she divides her time between her college classes and her writing. Kelsey lives in northern Minnesota with her dog and cat, Lewis and Clark.

Interview:

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

Kelsey:
One piece of advice I took to heart - still do - is to never give up. Which is something we've all heard before, but it's so important. I queried for two years, and I know some writers who've been trying for much longer. If I had stopped, fed up with all the rejections and dead-ends, think of all I would have missed out on. And it didn't get any easier from there; I was on submission for another year and a half. But eventually we found Brian Farrey-Latz at Flux, and they've embraced SOME QUIET PLACE with an enthusiasm I thought only I was capable of for this story. So even when it looked like my dream wasn't going to happen, I kept going. Call it stubbornness or just plain stupidity. And I'm so glad I did.

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

Kelsey:
 I would have to say Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier. It's such a beautiful retelling of the Seven Swans fairy tale, and the romance makes your heart ache. I reread it at least once a year, and my copy is so stained and dog-eared that I should have gotten a new copy a long time ago. I'm too attached to it, though, so here's to another stain this year!

A.L.:
 Where did you get the idea for Some Quiet Place?

Kelsey:
 I got the idea for Fear first, actually, and the rest came after. I was sitting at my computer, trying to think of a new idea. So I typed down a random sentence, something like, "Fear rooted me in place." It didn't sit right with me, but I kept staring at that word. Fear. And someone, someway, I erased the other four words and typed, "Fear is coming." The rest is history.

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

Kelsey:
 Not during the first draft, no, but the revisions were grueling. I ended up rewriting the last half of the book. See, originally, the personified emotions were fairies! When the manuscript was on submission, however, editors kept saying that the market for fairies is too full and they were looking for something new and different. Eventually we withdrew the book, and I created a mythology all my own. Emotions as, well, emotions. Nothing more. And it worked. It was just a lot of work changing everything and making adjustments so my world made sense.

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

Kelsey:
 Fear. Real shocker, right? Sorry, but he's so delicious and entertaining. For me, it was effortless writing him because he just sort of jumped off the page. I hope it's the same for those reading about him.

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

Kelsey:
 Hard-won. As you now know, I was querying for two years, and then on submission for another year and a half. There were many times I wanted to throw in the towel. Those hair-pulling days and nail-biting hours were completely worth it, though.

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

Kelsey:
 I just finished the companion to SOME QUIET PLACE, actually! Same world, different characters. It's about a girl who sees Revenge and Forgiveness as personified beings (of course) and has to choose between them when the man who killed her family is released from prison. The tentative release date is next summer, and I can't wait for you guys to read it. My project right now... is top secret. Hopefully I can tell you about it soon.

A.L.:
 How did you go about writing an emotion as a character?

Kelsey:
 Again, it was surprisingly natural. They all have different appearances and quirks. Some really emanate the emotion they represent while others seem entirely human. I just followed my instincts. 

A.L.:
 Some Quite Place has a stunning, haunting cover - is it everything you wanted it to be?  Did you get a say in what it looked like?

Kelsey:
 It really is. I got so, so lucky with this cover. And yes, actually, I did get a say! My publisher presented me with some images they were thinking about using, and I picked this one from the line-up. They just went with it, and the result is amazing. In my opinion. What's great is that it really represents the aspect of the story itself, like the rural setting and how the identity of the girl is unknown and even coming apart.

A.L.:
 What's the most bizarre drink you've ever tried at your local coffee shop?

Kelsey:
 Love this question! I actually once mixed up all the smoothie flavors into one, colorful, giant drink. And it was amazing. Seriously. Dang it, now I need to go get another one...

The Giveaway:
Kelsey is giving away a signed copy of SOME QUIET PLACE!

Some Quiet Place:  I can’t weep. I can’t fear. I’ve grown talented at pretending.

Elizabeth Caldwell doesn’t feel emotions . . . she sees them. Longing, Shame, and Courage materialize around her classmates. Fury and Resentment appear in her dysfunctional home. They’ve all given up on Elizabeth because she doesn’t succumb to their touch. All, that is, save one—Fear. He’s intrigued by her, as desperate to understand the accident that changed Elizabeth’s life as she is herself.

Elizabeth and Fear both sense that the key to her past is hidden in the dream paintings she hides in the family barn. But a shadowy menace has begun to stalk her, and try as she might, Elizabeth can barely avoid the brutality of her life long enough to uncover the truth about herself. When it matters most, will she be able to rely on Fear to save her?




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 national entrants. 


 

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday Muse: Marco Mengoni -- Pronto a correre


So, this isn't the awesome Italian song I wanted you guys to here. But it's another cool one. And he's kind of cute, so bonus Ladies!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Feature Friday: C.J. Flood

C J Flood is the author of Infinite Sky, which releases in paperback today in the UK, and next summer in the U.S.. She lives in Bristol, England, where she is working on her second novel for Simon and Schuster.

Interview:

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

C.J.:
Take a notebook and pen everywhere. Read a lot and write a lot. Watch films and television. Eavesdrop on conversations. Try new things. Live a full life. Don't use reading and writing as an excuse not to get involved with life as much.

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

C.J.:
My favourite books change all the time, but today I'm going to say it's Northern Lights from Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy. I started re-reading it yesterday, and was amazed by the writing and the imaginative power at work in it. It's an unforgettable book, and one that if I had the time, I would return to again and again.

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

C.J.:
I mostly wanted to write about an idyllic part of my childhood, growing up on a farm. I love writing about family so I knew from the start that this would be at the heart of the story. The Travellers turned up quite late, months after I started writing. They were a small thread at first, but I quickly realised that they would bring what the story had so far been lacking: conflict.

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

C.J.:
Yes, lots! I couldn't think how to end the story for a long time. Then, once I knew someone was going to have to die, I couldn't decide who. I fixed it by writing a few different endings, and considering them. Probably quite a long-winded approach to solving the problem.

Something else that always slows me down when writing is thinking about what the story is saying. Not a moral as such, but what the book's message is. I think really carefully about how I portray types. I try not to pander to already prominent, damaging stereotypes if I can help it. Not sure I always succeed with this...

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

C.J.:
All of the characters are very close to my heart. I understand their intentions as well as their actions, and so I love them dearly - they are such well-meaning, messed up people! Hopefully a lot like those you know in real life. Trick, especially, is beloved to me. He has had a hard life, but he has stayed gentle in lots of ways. I love him for trying to look after Iris.

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

C.J.:
I started writing with a view to being published when I was 21, and in the years that followed I had lots of short stories and poems published in literary journals and magazines. When I was 28, I applied for a place on a Creative Writing Masters at the University of East Anglia. It was really lucky that I got a place there, as I didn't apply anywhere else, and I was desperate to go. After this my journey sped up significantly. I signed with an agent who I met on the course a few months after graduating, and got a book deal a year after that.

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

C.J.:
My second novel is another stand alone story, along the same lines as Infinite Sky. It is about a thirteen year old girl called Kit, and her quest to find her missing soldier brother, and bring him home. It is about friendship, bravery and appearances. Simon and Schuster will publish it in 2014.

A.L.:
Did you put a lot of work into studying the gypsy culture for this book?  If so, what was your favorite source of information?

C.J.:
I did a lot of research, yes. One of my favourite sources of information was a memoir called Gypsy Boy by Mikey Walsh. It is about a Romany boy, rather than an Irish Traveller, and the story is about his struggle to face his sexuality and come out in a very traditional family. It was quite different to what I was writing, but the story is so well-written and sad and heartwarming that I can't forget it. I strongly recommend it.

A.L.:
You like fire, the sea, and trees...And your book is titles Infinite Sky...I'm gonna be mean and make you choose:  if you were an elemental faerie, what kind of element would you be and what would your secret power be?

C.J.:
Easy! I would choose water, and my super power would be the ability to turn into water. I would use it to get into off-limits place and eavesdrop. How my writing will improve now I have this gift!

A.L.:
If you were a gypsy, what would your gypsy name be?  Likewise, if you were a pro-boxer, what would it be?

C.J.:
Hmm, I'm not sure what the naming habits are in boxing, don't they just have normal names? So C J Flood, I think. If I was an Irish Traveller, I would be called Nan Delaney, like Trick's mum.

The Giveaway:
C.J. is giving away a hardcover copy of INFINITE SKY.  The contest is open to national entrants only.

Infinite Sky:  Iris Dancy’s free-spirited mum has left for Tunisia, her dad’s rarely sober and her brother’s determined to fight anyone with a pair of fists.

When a family of travellers move into the overgrown paddock overnight, her dad looks set to finally lose it. Gypsies are parasites he says, but Iris is intrigued. As her dad plans to evict the travelling family, Iris makes friends with their teenage son. Trick Deran is a bare knuckle boxer who says he’s done with fighting, but is he telling the truth?

When tools go missing from the shed, the travellers are the first suspects. Iris’s brother, Sam, warns her to stay away from Trick; he’s dangerous, but Iris can no longer blindly follow her brother’s advice. He’s got secrets of his own, and she’s not sure he can be trusted himself.

Infinite Sky is a family story about betrayal and loyalty, and love.


Read Goodreads reviews.
Buy on Amazon.

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 national entrants.

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Monday, July 1, 2013

Freedom to Read Giveaway/Hop

Also, don't forget to enter to win Infinite Sky by C.J. Flood. (begins 7/5)
Another one?  Yeah, 'cause I'm feeling generous.  :D

The Giveaway:
One lucky winner can select any one of the books below.

Dare You To: Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. "Dance with me, Beth."

"No." I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again....

"I dare you..."

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all....

Shadow of the Mark: Leigh Fallon’s Shadow of the Mark, the sequel to Carrier of the Mark, is a captivating love story set against the lush backdrop of Ireland.

Megan knew she was destined to be with Adam from the first moment she saw him and now they are determined to be together. But Megan and Adam are Marked Ones, and a romance between two Marked Ones is strictly forbidden…and could cause worldwide devastation.

Leigh Fallon’s Shadow of the Mark is a great choice for readers who love Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush, Hush.




The Essence: “Danger, dread, mystery, and romance” (Booklist) continue in the second book of The Pledge trilogy, as Charlie’s reign is under siege from the most unusual of enemies.

At the luminous conclusion of The Pledge, Charlaina defeated the tyrant Sabara and took her place as Queen of Ludania. But Charlie knows that Sabara has not disappeared: The evil queen’s Essence is fused to Charlie’s psyche, ready to arise at the first sign of weakness.

Charlie is not weak, but she’s being pushed to the brink. In addition to suppressing the ever-present influence of Sabara, she’s busy being queen—and battling a growing resistance determined to return Ludania to its discriminatory caste system. Charlie wants to be the same girl Max loves, who Brook trusts, but she’s Your Majesty now, and she feels torn in two.

As Charlie journeys to an annual summit to meet with leaders of nearby Queendoms—an event where her ability to understand all languages will be the utmost asset—she is faced with the ultimate betrayal. And the only person she can turn to for help is the evil soul residing within.

The Elite: The hotly-anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestseller The Selection.

Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.

America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

Pivot Point: Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

Dualed: You or your Alt? Only one will survive.

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.

Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.

Elsie Chapman's suspenseful YA debut weaves unexpected romance into a novel full of fast-paced action and thought-provoking philosophy. When the story ends, discussions will begin about this future society where every adult is a murderer and every child knows there is another out there who just might be better.

Let the Sky Fall: Seventeen-year-old Vane Weston has no idea how he survived the category five tornado that killed his parents. And he has no idea if the beautiful, dark-haired girl who’s swept through his dreams every night since the storm is real. But he hopes she is.

Seventeen-year-old Audra is a sylph, an air elemental. She walks on the wind, can translate its alluring songs, and can even coax it into a weapon with a simple string of commands. She’s also a guardian—Vane’s guardian—and has sworn an oath to protect Vane at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing her own life.

When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both of their families, Audra’s forced to help Vane remember who he is. He has a power to claim—the secret language of the West Wind, which only he can understand. But unlocking his heritage will also unlock the memory Audra needs him to forget. And their greatest danger is not the warriors coming to destroy them—but the forbidden romance that’s grown between them.

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.





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 Muse: Kokia -- With Reflection (Chouwa Oto)

Since I'm in Italy, I was going to post this really fantastic song that I heard on the radio here...But, of course, I can't find it. So, here's one of my favorite Japanese songs instead. Ciao!