"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Friday, September 30, 2011

YA INDIE CARNIVAL: SOLSTICE Dream Cast & Trading Cards Giveaway!

It's time again for the YA Indie Carnival, an awesome group of weekly bloggers blogging about the same topic! This week's topic?

MY DREAM CAST FOR SOLSTICE

So the post will be pretty easy. I've done it before. But, that said, coming up with who would be my main characters in the first place was pretty darned hard. Especially for the guys. I never would have thought it would be so hard to cast my male leads. Anyway, I also have to put out one disclaimer: I don't know the names of any of these people. They are all stock images (love istockphoto.com)

I had to come up with my dream cast for a trading card set I developed for SOLSTICE. Each card has a unique QR code that links to a hidden page on my website.

If you would like your own full set of trading cards, all you have to do is tell me here!








You can watch the trailer for SOLSTICE here!



*****

There's some awesome news to share from our other carnies!

Gwenn Wright's The Von Strassenberg Saga. Dani just released (and designed!) the official cover for BlueStocking Girl!



Laura A. H. Elliott's 13 on Halloween new release! Read an excerpt here!





For a list of all posts, visit all the blogs!





Monday, September 26, 2011

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor

Last year I read LIPS TOUCH THREE TIMES by Laini Taylor and fell in love with the worlds she created and with her writing. I truly wanted an entire novel in the third of the three short stories she'd written. Sadly it didn't happen. Still, I'm thrilled that Laini's newest book, absolutely follows through on all bars set.

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor (Little, Brown, September 27, 2011)


Above all else, Laini's writing is so, so pretty. Her words are seriously like poetry, and her descriptions have not been rivaled in anything I've yet read in the young adult world. It's like she has a style all of her own, and no matter what subject matter she chooses to write, it will be unique. This is the case with DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE. It's a story of angels and the demons they battle. And it's a love story. Which may not sound like anything out of the ordinary. This is why books shouldn't be judged by cover copy all on its own. DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE is like no other story you've read. The characters are deep and well-carved, the setting and world is mystical and yet so real, and the prose is perfect.

Highly recommended for fans of Laini Taylor's prior books or those paranormal fans who are looking for a bit more depth.



From Amazon:

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?


Source of book: From publisher at ALA

Sunday, September 25, 2011

STICK by Andrew Smith Giveaway!

It's always a day for celebration when a new Andrew Smith novel comes out. Andrew's books are among the most well-written, compelling books I've ever read and are filled with characters that worm their way into your heart and demand to be noticed. And so I'm thrilled to offer up for giveaway my ARC of Andrew Smith's latest novel.

STICK by Andrew Smith (Feiwel & Friends, October 11, 2011)


I got hooked on Andrew's books last year with THE MARBURY LENS which was like a crazy thrill ride I'm normally too scared to go on at amusement parks. But books are so much safer to me, and I devoured MARBURY and praised it to anyone who would listen. Next, I read IN THE PATH OF FALLING OBJECTS which, though not fantasy/sci-fi, had me hanging on every word. This was also the case for Andrew's latest, STICK.

Reading STICK, I had a difficult time putting the book down. I mean, sure, I trusted that things would end with hope, but still, I had to know. The thing about Andrew Smith's books that truly makes them stand out in the market is the absolute tension on every page. It's done crazy-well, and creates books that stick with readers long after the last page is read.

I highly recommend STICK to fans of Andrew (especially those who loved IN THE PATH OF FALLING OBJECTS). Also, STICK makes for excellent guy reading (because, seriously, the mind of a teen boy is a scary place to venture).

Enter the giveaway for this ARC below!




From Amazon:

Fourteen-year-old Stark McClellan (nicknamed Stick because he’s tall and thin) is bullied for being “deformed” – he was born with only one ear. His older brother Bosten is always there to defend Stick. But the boys can’t defend one another from their abusive parents.

When Stick realizes Bosten is gay, he knows that to survive his father's anger, Bosten must leave home. Stick has to find his brother, or he will never feel whole again. In his search, he will encounter good people, bad people, and people who are simply indifferent to kids from the wrong side of the tracks. But he never loses hope of finding love – and his brother.


Source of book: From publisher

This contest will run through Friday, October 7, 2011.

For your chance to win STICK, you have to follow this blog. That gets you one entry.
  • +1 entry - Follow this blog

Extra entries are here:
  • + 2 entries - Tweet about this contest. See button at the top of post for an easy tweet!
  • + 2 entries - Blog about this contest.
  • + 2 entries - Tell me how much you want this book :)

Okay, that's it! Fill out the form below. And good luck!

THE FAERIE RING by Kiki Hamilton Winner!

Thank you to everyone who entered to win Kiki's awesome book!

THE FAERIE RING by Kiki Hamilton (Tor, September 27, 2011)

The winner is...

Danielle Rogers!

Friday, September 23, 2011

YA INDIE CARNIVAL: An Indie Author I Love

It's time again for the YA Indie Carnival, an awesome group of weekly bloggers blogging about the same topic! This week's topic?

AN INDIE AUTHOR I LOVE

I'll start off by admitting that I am totally biased when it comes to this author. The thing is, she's not only a brand-new Indie author to the world, she's also the editor of my middle grade trilogy and the publisher at CBAY Books.


Madeline has just come out with a young adult paranormal story I have to make a huge shout-out for.

MISSING by Madeline Smoot (September 2011)


MISSING is a fantastic paranormal story with suspense and mystery and possibly vampires. But it's also the story of sibling rivalry and how a girl, Liv, overcomes her negative emotions toward her brother, Morte, and puts her life on hold while she searches for him. It's a quick read, and a great story for those looking for paranormal stories with great character development and depth.

From Amazon:

“My mother named my brother. Most people assumed that his name was short for Mortimer or Morton or something, but this being my mom, it was just the Latin word for death. My father pretended that he had agreed to the name so my mother could have her little joke. “My little life and death,” she called us. In reality, Dad had no say in Morte’s name. It was one thing to name me, his baby girl, his first-born, the Norwegian word for life. It was quite another to name his son Death.”

Just like their names, Liv and Morte have always been opposites. The two can barely be in the same room together for more than a moment before all conversations turn into fights. It’s not until Morte disappears after a typical field party that Liv even realizes that she might actually love her brother after all.

Missing is the tale of Liv’s journey to find out what happened to her brother the night he disappeared — to discover if everyone at the field party had really been typical.


*****

For a list of all posts, visit all the blogs!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

AUSTIN, TX—An Amazing, Supportive YA Community

So many great events are coming up this fall here in Austin. Like the Teen Book Festival. The Texas Book Festival. The SCBWI Digital Symposium. The list goes on. Why is there so much great stuff here in Austin?

Because we have an amazing writing community. And I am thrilled to be included in this fantastic article in the Austin American Statesman on our community.

Go, Austin!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN by Ransom Riggs

Maybe I'm the only person in the universe, but I had never heard of this book until I saw it appear on the Children's Chapter Books NYT Bestseller list (yes, I check the list).

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN by Ransom Riggs (Quirk Books, June 7, 2011)


I guess the title caught my eye and I googled it (since I had never heard of it). And the unique photography was the true selling point. It just looked so...peculiar.

So what is this book? It's a unique tale about a boy trying to learn the truth about his grandfather's strange past. From page one, the story caught me with its voice, and the compelling nature had me reading to find out what would happen next. I could not imagine what the big secret was! And why there were all these freaky pictures? And what kind of story could the author weave with these pictures?

MISS PEREGRINE'S is like a four-leaf clover. It's a wonderful find amid a sea of books so similar in nature. And though the book is marketed for young adults, this is absolutely a book adults will enjoy equally. If you are looking for something different with great character development and a strong plot, then MISS PEREGRINE'S should not be missed. Highly recommended! I loved it!

Source of Book: Purchased

And I have to mention that this book trailer is one of the most compelling I have seen yet.



From Amazon:

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Vlogging for Figment!

Last week I was thrilled to be featured on the Figment blog in a back-to-school special! And because vlogging can be so much fun, here's what I came up with.



Happy Monday!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

VARIANT by Robinson Wells

I read this book after a review featured during Dystopian Month by the fabulous Lenore Appelhans at Presenting Lenore, and something about the combination of cover, their thoughts, title, and blurb caught me.

VARIANT by Robinson Wells (Harper, October 4, 2011)


VARIANT was kind of like what would happen if you took THE MAZE RUNNER and LORD OF THE FLIES and threw them in a blender and wrote down what came out. The story is set in a school that is utterly cut off from society. Whoever is running the school controls everything, including locking of doors, food rations, and activities. Yet the school day-to-day activities are run by kids who each have assigned responsibilities, and nobody wants to risk breaking the rules and getting in trouble because this could mean the end.

What I loved about VARIANT:

1) I NEVER knew who to trust. Even until the last page. This definitely kept the suspense up.

2) I loved that the main character had the nerve to break the rules and try to figure out what the heck was going on.

3) I loved the voice of the main character. It was a male point of view, and it worked for me.

I'd highly recommend VARIANT if you loved THE MAZE RUNNER. VARIANT is not really dystopian (at least not yet. Let's see what happens in book 2), but because the school is such a confined society, in that small sector of the world, it does portray a dystopian setting.

Source of book: e-ARC from NetGalley, courtesy of publisher

From Amazon:

Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.

He was wrong.

Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive.

Where breaking the rules equals death.

But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape—his only real hope for survival—may be impossible.

Friday, September 16, 2011

YA INDIE CARNIVAL: Back-to-School Special

It's time again for the YA Indie Carnival, an awesome group of weekly bloggers blogging about the same topic! But before I start, last week's winner of the SOLSTICE ebook is...

KIMY UNALESCA!

Okay, this week's topic?

IT'S BACK-TO-SCHOOL
&
A CLASSROOM SCENE


Here in Austin, school started three weeks ago, so I've spent the last three weeks writing and readjusting to the kids being gone during the day (sniff, sniff). And though mine are still young, there will come a time when they'll be hitting the classrooms I write about in my YA stories.

SOLSTICE has a good number of classroom scenes since the main character, Piper, is a senior in high school. I shared part of one a couple weeks ago when we talked about first paragraphs, so I won't go with that one again. Instead...

*****

When I get to school on Monday, I immediately know something’s wrong. Tension hangs in the air like black crepe at a funeral.

“Randy Conner’s dead.”

Someone whispers it in the hallway.

“What happened?” Another whisper.

“It was the ice storm.”

“The shuttle wrecked.”

“He died instantly.”

Oh my god. I had been with Randy on the shuttle. I’d talked to him just before I got off.

“Is his sister okay?” I ask. He said he was going to pick her up.

No one seems to know.

My stomach flips over and I almost throw up. I can’t believe Randy’s really gone. Dead. And unlike Chloe, Randy will not have anyone to bring him back.

When I get to Social Sciences, I see the empty chair where Randy normally sits, and I can’t help but notice Shayne’s chair is empty, also.

Mr. Kaiser walks in and tells us what he knows. Randy Conner is dead. He’d been one of the unfortunate two hundred and eighty-seven people to die in the city this weekend. I’ll never have to worry about any more wise-cracking comments about my mom’s overprotectiveness from him. I ask about Randy’s sister, and Mr. Kaiser tells the class she is fine. She was with him when he died and then her parents came and took her away. The funeral’s going to be held Wednesday, and anyone who wants to attend gets out of school early for the day.

I haven’t been to a funeral since sixth grade when Charlotte died.

Charlotte.

I’ve almost forgotten her.

It’s like little pieces of my time in Hell are escaping me. And I wonder: will Randy Conner go to the Elysian Fields? Because at this moment, if I had to judge, I would say yes. He’d been taking care of his sister when he died, and if that isn’t something that deserves paradise, then I don’t know what is. I feel like that’s what the blue moss was trying to tell me. I look again to Shayne’s chair, trying to command him to appear, but I don’t want to call his name. I want him to be there on his own. So I sit back try to replay anything I can from the Underworld, letting it all come back to me. Mr. Kaiser lectures on everything needed to construct an underground city, but my heart’s not in the lecture. I don’t think anyone’s is.

-- SOLSTICE, Chapter 20

*****

For a list of all posts, visit all the blogs!

The Fuji Mermaid Dani Snell's Refracted Light Reviews
Leopard Girl Patti Larsen
Fire Breather Courtney Cole
Strong Woman Nicole Williams
Champion Sword Swallower Fisher Amelie
Siren Laura A. H. Elliott
Snake Charmer Amy Maurer Jones
Pretzel Woman Rachel Coles. Geek Mom. Book Reviewer
The Giant T. R. Graves
Jungle Woman P.J. Hoover
Shape Shifter Alicia McCalla
Tarot Card Reader Heather Cashman
Fortune Teller Abbi Glines
Knife Thrower Cheri Schmidt
Fire Dancer Lexus Luke
Fire Breather Suzy Turner
Dragonslayer K. C. Blake
Elephant Trainer Gwenn Wright
Ring-Leader Kimberly Kinrade
Prestidigitator J.L. Bryan

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Introducing RACHEL COLES and INTO THE RUINS!

Today I'm excited to introduce to you guys a girl who I have a ton in common with: STAR TREK (you knew that was coming, right?), BABYLON 5 (this sets her in a class apart), and TERRY PRATCHETT (just to name three things).

Rachel's brand new book has just hit the world!

INTO THE RUINS by Rachel Coles
An Anthology of New Beginnings


*****

Rachel has stopped by to answer a few questions for us!

PJH: I love the story ideas in Into The Ruins! They sound like a must-reads! What made you decide to indie-publish?

RC: I was curious about the self- and e-publishing process. I liked the freedom of being able to publish some stories that don't necessarily fit into genres of traditional publishing. I liked being able to create covers myself. It was an interesting learning curve. I feel like I have learned a lot about the writing process and polishing, marketing, graphics, website creation, and a lot of other skills I might not have learned if not for indie exploration.


PJH: What has been the funnest thing about having your books out in the world?

RC: People reading them. I am tickled and honored by feedback when people are affected by one of my stories. It means I did something right.


PJH: How about the most challenging? Or has it all been sunshine and lollipops?

RC: Internet formatting. I'm not the most computer savvy person, and on top of that, I have an astonishing ability to mess up tech devices, like Harry Dresden, except without any wizard powers. That was one challenge. I'm slowly learning, and relishing the ability to use any new tech word in a sentence, like 'hyperlink'. It sounds so Trek-universe! Another challenging aspect, perhaps the most challenging one has been marketing. I'm not good at remembering to sell things. And having spent most formative educational years at an orthodox Hebrew day-school, self-promotion still feels weird, years later. It definitely is an acquired skill for many people, I think.


PJH: What's the funnest part of marketing for you? Least fun?

RC: I have enjoyed creating a blog and posting in it. I was told that having a forum like a blog where I can promote my work is important. But I have also found that posting on the blog about multiple other things helps my writing too, by keeping me thinking, and letting people get to know me, in general. The least fun aspect of marketing is trying to figure out summaries and 'hooks'. People are all different, and since I have mostly been resistant to advertisements as a television watcher, at least after I grew out of the 'cuckoo for cocoa-puffs' phase, it's hard for me to figure out what few words might get people interested, without being intrusive about it. I think in this area, it helps to be more of an extrovert.


PJH: If you had to give five reasons why someone should read Into The Ruins, what would they be?

RC: It is an anthology of stories select as a group because all of them have a global element, not necessarily global as in the world of humans, but with conclusions that change everything for an entire group, and transform them, for ill or for good. And I hope that the reader can sink into the stories enough to experience that change. On the other hand, each of the stories are profoundly different in tone from each other: one horror, one comedy-horror, one animal tale, one historical fantasy, and one sci-fi tale. So it's kind of like getting a sample platter, you get potato skins, onion rings, egg rolls, calamari, and hush puppies all on one plate. The stories, even the ones edging into horror, were fun to write, and so I hope they will be fun to read.


PJH: Okay, for fun:

PJH: Favorite myth?
RC: Picking a favorite myth is like picking a favorite flavor at an ice cream shop. I can't even walk past the shop without going in and getting something, usually several somethings. I'm the glutton with the big fat ten scoop sundae because I couldn't make up my mind. I love myth of all kinds. At different times, I've gotten into different myths, but I would have to say that my current favorite is the epic of Gilgamesh and Enkidu. My interest may have been affected by world events, given that we have been engaged in conflict in the land of Gilgamesh for several years: Iraq. I feel, not being there, as if reading the myths that originated there might give me a peek at the people around whom such stories arose. They are not the same people thousands of years later, but I believe that such cultural icons are ingrained and leave impressions that do mean something, echoes that last. In thinking about modern parallels, I wrote a short story called Enkidu. It was just published in The Horror Zine, September 2011 issue at http://www.thehorrorzine.com. It is dedicated to the veterans of the Iraq Water Project. Since I can't pick just one, another past favorite myth, during junior high and high school, were the Red Branch Cycle of Irish myth, specifically the Cattle Raid of Cooley, featuring Cuchulain, the Hound of Ulster. I wrote a short story a long time ago around that myth which I have socked away somewhere.


PJH: Favorite wonder of the world (ancient wonders count, too)?
RC: Favorite wonder of the world would also be hard to pick. I was an exchange student in archaeology, so I saw the ruins of Navan Fort where Cuchulain of Ulster was said to have lived. At the time, it was one of the most amazing things I ever saw, to have something in a myth I knew, confirmed in reality. I was also honored to have visited the Mycenaean ruins where Agammemnon was supposed to have resided. Those were extremely powerful experiences. But I think that one of the wonders of the world that I will not get to experience in my life-time but that would be one of my favorites because it keeps me looking at the stars, is space, the Milky Way. It's a wonder for the future world, that maybe my little girl will get to explore in her lifetime.


PJH: Fantasy Island or Love Boat?
RC: Fantasy Island over Love Boat. I'm not much of a straight romance sitcom girl. The Love Boat was funny, but a little too normal for me. And I've never had much interest in cruises, so watching a whole show about a cruise isn't really my bag. Getting violently ill for what seemed like an eternity, aboard the last boat I was on didn't really strengthen my interest either. I liked Fantasy Island, at least what little I can remember of it because it was just a little creepy and tweaked. And, even though it is interest by association, Ricardo Montalban will always have a special place in my heart as Star Trek's Khan!

PJH: Scooby Doo character you are most like? RC: If I were a Scooby Doo character, I would definitely be Shaggy. I love food and sarcasm, usually together.


RC: Thank you so much for interviewing me, and for the fun questions!

PJH: Thank you so much for being here!

*****

From Amazon:

Into The Ruins is an urban fantasy anthology featuring life-changing or world-changing events. They feature everything from comic horror, as in Diary of a Duct Tape Zombie, horror, as in Mushrooms, historical fantasy, as in Plagues, science fiction, as in Whistles, and finally a fun animal story, as in Beergarden.

Delve into these stories of horror, hope, and transformation, and see what the world looks like when you are done.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's the YA SCRAMBLE! Huge Giveaway!

Today I'm excited to be part of a major event which includes a major giveaway! And when I say major, I mean major! Just look at all the awesome things you can win!

- ARC of The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab (with signed bookmark)
- Ebook of
Solstice by PJ Hoover (with trading cards)
- Ebook of
The Space Between by Alexandra Sokoloff
- Paperback copy of
Perception by Heather Cashman
- Signed paperback ARC of
Anathema by Kathleen Tucker
-
Chronicles of Vladimir Tod Gift Set (Trade Paperback of Eighth Grade Bites, Vlad Journal, Minion Bling Buttons and Vlad Tote)
- Signed paperback copy of
Between by Cyndi Tefft
- Signed hardcover of
Clarity by Kim Harrington
- ARC of
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
- Signed ARC of
Fury by Elizabeth Miles
- Signed paperback of
Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
- ARC of
Tris & Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison
- Copy of
The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney
- Winner's choice of 5 ebooks from a list of indie authors
- Signed paperback of
Sleepers by Megg Jensen
- Ebooks of
Soul Quest and The Guardian of Souls by Amy Jones
- Kindle copy of
Winnemucca by Laura Elliott (plus a guest post spot on her blog!)
- Paperback copy of
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Interested yet? Great! It is really easy to win.

Instructions for the YA Scramble:

1) Visit the first blog (based on list below).
2) Read the guest post.
3) Identify the PURPLE word.
4) Pick out the 3rd letter from the purple word.
5) Go to the next blog.
6) Repeat #3, #4, and #5 until you visited all 14 sites.
7) At the end, take all 14 of the 3rd letters from the PURPLE words and figure out the message near and dear to our hearts.
8) You will enter that unscrambled message ONCE into this form as your official entry for a chance to win some great prizes from fantastic authors and bloggers.

Participating Blogs - all must be visited (but start with the first):

Kaitlin Simpson
PJ Hoover
Cary Cummings
Heather Cashman
Kathleen Tucker
Jennifer Morris
Cyndi Tefft
Irish/ Gail
Danielle Bunner
Melissa Layton
T.R. Graves
Megg Jensen
Amy Jones
Laura Elliott



*****

For my part in the YA Scramble, I'm thrilled to offer up this guest post from Kaitlin Simpson!

*****

The First Thing We See – Covers in YA
by Kaitlin Simpson

Everybody likes covers, right? They can be these great, artistic representations of some of our favorite books. They draw our attention, appeal to the more creative, visual parts of our mind.

And, you know, they’re just downright cool.

Of course, people have different opinions on what they like visually. And some of the things I particularly have no taste for, others may like. But I’m going to go on and say what I feel works in YA covers.


A face/body shot can be done great, like with these:

WITHER by Lauren DeStefano - Really, everything about this cover is beautiful.

THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin – Another beautiful one. This body shot has so much mystery about it – no faces, two people, the water!




Covers that are simple (PRETTY!):


WILDEFIRE by Karsten Knight – How can you NOT like this? It is gorgeous. Probably one of my favorite covers of all time. It’s simple, symbolic, and, dare I say it, sexy.




Landscapes can be symbolic and gorgeous, as well. But these are even trickier to pull off. Some pretty ones, though:

UNDER THE STARS by Rebecca Rogers – A gorgeous landscape. It works, especially with the title.

BLOOD RED ROAD by Moira Young – Another landscape that is so simple, BUT SO AWESOME LOOKING.




So, basically, for me, it comes down to the design and layout. There should always be a balance of the color used – if multiple colors are being used. I like to look for representative and symbolic colors – or what I think will be.

What about you? What are some of you favorites and least favorite covers? Would love to hear!


*****

FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS AT THE TOP OF THE POST TO ENTER TO WIN THE GRAND PRIZE.

AND COMMENT BELOW FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A PRE-ORDER OF YOUR CHOICE!
(please make sure to leave your email so we can get in touch with you when you win)


SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT THE #YAScramble!

*****

For the next blog in the chain, please head to JENNIFER'S BLOG!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CALLI!

I am so excited to welcome CALLI by Jessica Lee Anderson to the world!



Happy Birthday, CALLI, and Congratulations, Jessica!


Go ahead and make Jessica's day! It's easy:


*And thank you to everyone who helped make this possible! You guys rock :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Around the Web Today

I'm thrilled to be featured on a blog today that I've read since its conception: LITERARY RAMBLES. Casey McCormick and Natalie Aguirre do a fantastic job, and it is my honor to be there. So please check it out if you get a chance.

Also, the darling Heather Cashman is featuring me on her blog, BETTER OFF READ, today, in which I share three things about myself that have nothing to do with writing. Or maybe everything has to do with writing.

Hope you all have a great Monday!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

THE FAERIE RING by Kiki Hamilton Review & Giveaway

Even if I didn't adore Kiki Hamilton (which I do), I'd be psyched to offer up this SIGNED ARC for giveaway!

THE FAERIE RING by Kiki Hamilton (Tor, September 27, 2011)


Ever since Kiki announced her book deal back when we were in The Enchanted Inkpot together, I couldn't wait to read it. I was lucky enough to meet Kiki in real life at ALA this past June and get my own signed ARC. And now that ARC can be yours (actually, I'm giving away a friend's signed ARC because I want to keep mine for myself).

3 Things you will love about THE FAERIE RING:

1) The romance blossoms. I wasn't sure in the first part of the book who the main love interested would be, and this kept me guessing throughout the story. And then when the romance came through, it really clicked. Right in place.

2) Real consequences for the characters. With orphans and sickness and poverty and evil faeries, each page had me quickly turning it by to see what would happen next.

3) Yes, it's faeries. But with its historical setting, it's so rich and different from other faerie stories on the market.

Trust me: You have to read this book!




Source of ARC: From publisher at ALA

Me and Kiki at ALA

From Amazon:

Debut novelist Kiki Hamilton takes readers from the gritty slums and glittering ballrooms of Victorian London to the beguiling but menacing Otherworld of the Fey in this spellbinding tale of romance, suspense, and danger.

The year is 1871, and Tiki has been making a home for herself and her family of orphans in a deserted hideaway adjoining Charing Cross Station in central London. Their only means of survival is by picking pockets. One December night, Tiki steals a ring, and sets off a chain of events that could lead to all-out war with the Fey. For the ring belongs to Queen Victoria, and it binds the rulers of England and the realm of Faerie to peace. With the ring missing, a rebel group of faeries hopes to break the treaty with dark magic and blood—Tiki’s blood.

Unbeknownst to Tiki, she is being watched—and protected—by Rieker, a fellow thief who suspects she is involved in the disappearance of the ring. Rieker has secrets of his own, and Tiki is not all that she appears to be. Her very existence haunts Prince Leopold, the Queen’s son, who is driven to know more about the mysterious mark that encircles her wrist.

Prince, pauper, and thief—all must work together to secure the treaty…



For your chance to win THE FAERIE RING signed ARC, you have to follow this blog. That gets you one entry.
  • +1 entry - Follow this blog

Extra entries are here:
  • + 2 entries - Tweet about this contest. See button at the top of post for an easy tweet!
  • + 2 entries - Blog about this contest.
  • + 2 entries - Tell me how much you want this book :)

Okay, that's it! Fill out the form below. And good luck!


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Friday, September 09, 2011

YA INDIE CARNIVAL: 5 QUESTIONS and A HUGE GIVEAWAY!

It's time again for the YA Indie Carnival, an awesome group of weekly bloggers blogging about the same topic! Wait, you haven't heard of the YA Indie Carnival? You're totally missing out. But no longer!

Okay, here's the deal! Each Friday, because Friday is awesome, we all blog about the same topic. This week's topic?

5 QUESTIONS and A GIVEAWAY

And for my five questions, I have the huge honor of talking to Alicia McCalla who writes science fiction (yay!) and apparent has a ton in common with me!

And read to the bottom of the post to find out about an awesome giveaway!

*****

BreakingFree_AliciaMcCalla_435-680PJH: You write science fiction. What are your favorite science fiction TV shows or movies of all times?

AMc: OMG There are so many. I'm a true Trekkie. I love every Star Trek movie. That scene where Kirk screams "Khan!" just does something for me. My husband and I had bloodwine at the Star Trek restaurant in Vegas (now defunct). Best fun I ever had! Currently, I'm in love with SciFi channel's Monday line-up. I love Eureka and the newest show, Alphas.

PJH: Love Star Trek! Love Khan, and yes, that scene is PERFECT!


PJH: Jedi powers...did you ever want them when you were growing up?

AMc: OK. Deep dark secret. I was so afraid of Darth Vadar, I would scream in the middle of the night and my Dad would come charging in looking for an intruder but it was just me being afraid that Darth Vadar would choke me. LOL. I did think Luke had the coolest powers and I would make my Mom put my little Afro puffs like Princess Leia.

PJH: I love the image of your Afro puffs! And your secret is safe here. We're among friends :)


PJH: What was the tipping point that started you on the path of writing?

AMc: In my teen years, I was obsessed with finding the right career. I fell asleep in prayer with that mantra "what should I do? what should I be" and a voice woke me from my sleep. It said, "Be a Writer." Totally shook me to the core and I still went on to try to become something more "acceptable" until my late 30s when I just couldn't hide my love for writing or science fiction.



PJH: What key factors make science fiction appealing to teen girls who may not normally read science fiction (and I'm not trying to stereotype here, promise!).

AMc: Let me put on my intellectual hat: Science Fiction opens new worlds of thought. It has primarily been white and male since the inception but because it has spurred and sparked new inventions and new ways of thinking, it's imperative for women and minorities to take part. It's our culture's way of dreaming about the future.

Here's my school librarian hat: I would say girls get to kick butt with futuristic gadgets that are really cool!


PJH: You like science fiction, and I gather you are an organized person (since you are a librarian). How do you keep track of story plots and characters and settings, etc? Do you use software? A notebook? What organizes your worlds?

AMc: OMG, much to my sadness and disappointment, my writing totally comes out messy and free. It hates me trying to put structure on it. Maybe my life is too structured. I can't control it most times so I write by the seat of my pants and then go back to clean it up. I do journal and I am able to mix and match my journal entries to come up with unique plot ideas but I never really know what's going to happen. I guess it serves me right, rather write, to have a writing muse that's totally free and inhibited. No Dewey Decimal system inside my writer's brain. LOL!

AMc: PJ, thanks so much for the great questions. I really enjoyed answering them.

PJH: I loved having you here! Thank you so much, and what a fun interview!

*****

AND NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!

*For people over 13
*International okay!
*Winners announced Sept. 16 at the next YA Indie Carnival.

Just comment [include your email address] on any Q & A post ALL DAY TODAY and tweet the carnival [#yaindiecarnival] to win ebooks from the carnival authors including...

The Understorey by Fisher Amelie
Winnemucca by Laura A. H. Elliott and a Winnemucca signed Coffee Mug.
Breathe by Abbi Glines along with an autographed canvas Breathe tote.
Solstice by PJ Hoover
Between by Cyndi Tefft
PineLight by Jillian Peery
Filter by Gwenn Wright.
Eternal Eden by Nicole Williams
Fallen Eden by Nicole Williams
Soul Quest by Amy Maurer Jones
Run and Hide by Patti Larsen (YA thrillers, 1 and 2 in a series of 4)
Fractured by Cheri Schmidt
Warriors of the Cross by T.R. Graves
Diary of a Duct Tape Zombie, Bees of St. John, Mushrooms, Whistles, and Beergarden by Rachel Coles

*****
For a list of all posts, visit all the blogs!

Dani Snell
Patti Larsen
Courtney Cole
Wren Emerson
Nichole A. Williams
Fisher Amelie
Laura Elliott
Amy Maurer Jones
Rachel Coles
T. R. Graves
Cyndi Tefft
P.J. Hoover
Alicia McCalla
Heather Cashman
Abbi Glines
Cidney Swanson
Cheri Schmidt



Thursday, September 08, 2011

Storytelling in the Digital Age: Embrace the Change

For those who live in Austin or near enough to travel here, there is a fantastic event coming up sponsored by our Austin SCBWI chapter in just under a month! If you've ever been curious about the digital age of publishing, then this event is for you. The schedule is packed with amazing speakers (yes, including me :) ), and there is such a great amount of information, and I seriously can't wait.

In particular, my speech will be on:

Your Story as Electrons: Breathing Life into Words in the Digital Age
presented by P.J.Hoover


Welcome to the future! Join P. J. Hoover, author of SOLSTICE, a young adult dystopian mythology novel set in a global warming future, as she demystifies the wonders of marketing your book in the digital age. P. J. will show how, with a little bit of vision, authors can create professional digital content with swag tie-ins such as bookmarks and trading cards. She'll demonstrate how to purchase music and stock imagery, how they can be used to create book trailers, websites, and so much more, and the impact they have. From secret website content, to vlogging, to book trailer design, P. J. will unlock the secrets of it all! Prepare to change the way you view marketing forever.



Yay!

The full line-up and information is below, and the registration page is here! See you then!

*****
Dallion McGregor's logo

Storytelling in the Digital Age Registration Packet

Webster’s defines the term ‘symposium’ as a gathering where there is an interchange of ideas. SCBWI Austin has gathered together a number of local accomplished professionals who are well-versed in various aspects of the quick-moving, fast-changing business of e-publishing to lead us in such an exchange of ideas regarding Storytelling in the Digital Age. As a result of this symposium’s interchange of ideas, our creative community will be better equipped to embrace the changes before us in the continually evolving, ever-exciting world of digital publishing.

The fees for this event are $75.00 for members and $100.00 for non-members. Fee includes a morning coffee/ juice bar and lunch. Mark your calendars for Saturday October 8, 2011 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at St. Edward’s University - Fleck Hall where the following topics will be discussed:

Via Skype – SCBWI and Digital Storytelling with Lin Oliver, SCBWI Executive Director

Creating and Maintaining Your Web Persona presented by Erik Kuntz

Standing Out in the E-book Crowd: Storybook Apps, Enhanced Content, and Digital Marketing Extras presented by Deanna Roy

Your Story as Electrons: Breathing Life into Words in the Digital Age presented by P.J.Hoover

There’s an App for That presented by Amanda Williams

How Do They Do That?: Creating Digital Books presented by Meridith Blank Taylor

From Oop to App: The Transformation of Picture Books to Apps presented by Lindsey Lane

Paper to Pixels: The Art of the Digital Paintbrush presented by Clint Young

xtranormal: The Storyteller’s Dream Software presented by Zack Gonzales

YouTube and the Science Behind Visual Learning presented by Joel Hickerson

Storytelling in the Digital Age: Imagine presented by Ezra Weinstein

The Indie and Age of Digital Storytelling presented by BookPeople

Children’s Book Illustrators and Technology presented by the Girllustrators

Social Media 101 presented by Nick Alter

Getting Discovered: Why You Should ABSOLUTELY Give Your Stories Away for Free presented by Bear James

My (unexpected) path to publication

Hey! I'm on WOW Wednesday today (and yesterday since yesterday was Wednesday) over at Adventures in Children's Publishing* talking about my path to publication.

*By the way, if you don't read this amazing blog, you totally should. It is packed with lots of great information, and should definitely be on top of your list!

Happy Thursday :)

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Introducing HEATHER CASHMAN and PERCEPTION

I'm thrilled to introduce you to another indie author I've recently met and her brand new book.

PERCEPTION (The Tigers' Eye Trilogy) by Heather Cashman


PERCEPTION, though a post-apocalyptic story, read like high fantasy to me. It's strongly based in the connections between people and the world around them, and has its roots in genetic experimentation. As for comparative titles, it had a bit of a Philip Pullman or a Joni Sensel (think FARWALKER'S QUEST) feel to me. I'd recommend it for those looking for something different in today's young adult market, fans of science fiction, adventure, and dystopia.

*****

And now we have a chance to talk with Heather about her life, her story, and all things I'm interested in :)


PJH: I love the story idea of PERCEPTION! It sounds like a must-read! What made you decide to indie-publish?

HC: I didn't really want to publish at all. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I did. But this was supposed to be something I thought only my friends and family would want to read. I took it seriously, because I wanted it to be as perfect as possible, but never thought it would be successful. I am so excited that so many people are loving it!

PJH: What has been the funnest thing about having your book out in the world?

HC: There is a great sense of connection I feel with people who enjoy the world of Perception. I love it when they tell me their favorite quotes or their favorite parts. It makes me happy to give others the enjoyment and escape I found while writing it.


PJH: How about the most challenging? Or has it all been sunshine and lollipops?

HC: The most challenging was formatting and putting everything up on the internet. It was a huge learning process. The other challenge is having readers who expect the next novel. I am always worried that something will happen and I won't make it. But I am trying.


PJH: What's the funnest part of marketing for you? Least fun?

HC: The best part of marketing is meeting other authors and especially readers. I still choke when people want my autograph. The least fun is being stressed out about deadlines. Before publishing, this was all just a way to enjoy myself. It was a completely selfish endeavor that has become one of the best experiences of my life. I'm not promoting selfishness, mind you, but rather having a hobby you can be passionate about and share to make the world a better place.


PJH: If you had to give five reasons why someone should read PERCEPTION, what would they be?

HC:
  1. Escape.
  2. Excitement.
  3. Living vicariously.
  4. Exploring your imagination.
  5. A chuckle now and then.

PJH: Okay, for fun:

PJH: Favorite myth?
HC: Currently Persephone, thanks to you, PJ.
PJH: Aw, thank you!

PJH: Favorite wonder of the world (ancient wonders count, too)?
HC: Grand Canyon. I used to go there every Christmas.

PJH: Fantasy Island or Love Boat?
HC: I watched both for different reasons. Love boat was sappy but romantic. Fantasy Island was always a mystery.

PJH: Scooby Doo character you are most like?
HC: Shaggy. I'm always scared and love to eat.


*****

From Amazon:

Your perception will sharpen once you see through a tiger’s eyes.

More than five hundred years after the apocalypse, the survivors of off-grid genetic experimentation have refined their mixed DNA to the point that humans and their animal counterparts share physical and mental links. Varying species have divided into districts, living in a tenuous peace under the President of Calem.

Ardana and her tiger ingenium Rijan leave their life of exile and abuse in the Outskirts, setting out with their twin brothers to redeem themselves and become citizens of the Center. But shedding their past isn’t as easy as they had hoped. When the system that shunned them becomes embroiled in political conflict and treachery, their unique abilities and experiences from the Outskirts make them invaluable to every faction. The runaways become pawns to friends as well as enemies, and with every step it becomes more difficult to tell which is which.