Friday, January 28, 2011

Before & After: Keri Mikulski

Keri Mikulski is the author of Head Games (Razorbill/Penguin, January 6th, 2011) and Stealing Bases (Razorbill, 2011). Keri teaches middle school, high school, and college level creative writing courses and resides at the Jersey Shore with her family, where she plays a ton of pick-up basketball and worships Derek Jeter from afar. A three-sport athlete, Keri took enormous pride in her lucky game day scrunchies and half-top Nike Air Jordans. Learn more at

Keri is an exception to the "debut" rule in the way that this isn't her first book. However, it IS her first book with a large publisher... which is why she still qualifies.

12/19/10: "How is the pre-publication different now compared to the last time you were published?"
Since my first book, Screwball, was published with a smaller press, I had the opportunity to get my writing feet wet. But now, after soaking my feet for a few years, I'm diving into the deep end with the release of Head Games, my first book with Razorbill, a division of Penguin. While Screwball was available for the ost part online, Head Games is widely distributed throughout the country via bookstores, online and even eBay (I spotted it while shopping this week). It's an amazing glittery feeling to know that my sporty books are going to reach a much larger audience this time around and I look forward to the reactions from my readers. I am beyond excited and feel truly blessed to live my dream.

1/20/11: Wow! What a whirlwind.. I survived my first ‘official’ release. :) And here’s what I learned...

1. All the hard work, sleepless nights, and worrying were worth it the moment I spotted my book on the shelf.
2. When you set out to write for a specific audience and they love your work.. It’s the best feeling in the world. :)
3. Positive thinking is crucial.
4. I learned to focus on what I can control – the writing.
5. Author buds are priceless and pull you through the best and worst of times.
6. But, most of all, I learned to be thankful for the opportunity to do what I love.

Reviews for Head Games
Books With Bite
The Book Cellar
A Good Addiction



Buy The Book:
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

Head Games Swag Giveaway!

Keri was nice enough to donate some swag for a giveaway on the feature! I don't have them around me now, but I know there will be at least 5 winners that will get a Head Games bookmark, sticker and a charm! All you have to do is fill out the form below!

- You must be a follower.
- Giveaway is international.
- Contest will end next Friday (2/4) at midnight EST.
- Please make sure to fill out all of the information on the form!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thoughts on Thursday (2)

Today's Topic
How do you find the time to write posts and read as many books as you do?
- Anonymous
It's not easy, I can tell you that much! It seems to be more of a learn-as-you-go ordeal for me, but it has gotten better over time. I've been all over the place in the past. Now, I pretty much set a schedule for myself... so, I guess it'd be easier to just tell you that.

My day starts early (around 5:30-6:00 am) and ends late (around midnight or later). 5:30 is the time my husband gets up for work and I'm usually wide awake once I hear him get out of bed. So, I'll get up and help him with whatever needs to be done. Once he goes to work, I hop online for an hour or three - depending on what all needs to be accomplished. This is the time for e-mails, blog posts, comments, communities, updates, etc. Basically, if I know I need to do something online for the day, it gets done during this time. Once I'm off, it's housewife duties. Bills, chores, cooking, DVR catch-up of shows only I watch, pet playtime, rest, etc all gets completed within this time ... and this usually goes on until my husband gets home from work. Once he's home, the internet is his for his gaming habits [Missy = book addiction, Nick = gaming addiction]. While he's online, I do my non-internet work. This includes reading, writing reviews, preparations, etc. Once I read a book, I'll go ahead and either (a) take notes in my book journal, or (b) write a review and save it in a Word document to be copy & pasted when I post on my blog next. I like to do this because I read and write a lot, so I'll go ahead and jot down some things so I won't get stories mixed up. Otherwise, it's disastrous. I can read a 300-400+ page book in one sitting (a few hours) - so sometimes I'll start another book or work on my own stories. If I do that and fail to take notes... well, my review ends up sucking and I usually don't post it until I have time to re-read the book. As many books as I read and review, that sometimes takes forever. After I'm done with the books and the reviews, I'll go ahead and make notes for what I need to do the next day. Typically, Nick and I finish our stuff around the same time. Then, it's "us" time. We'll watch our DVR shows together, watch a movie, or we'll just talk until it's time for bed. If I'm up for extra time doing his work laundry (on days he comes in late), I'll continue reading until it's done.

And that's about it. Sometimes, I still don't feel like I have enough hours in the day - but I do what I can. The reading every evening seems to be paying off though... I've already read almost 20 books since January 1st, so I'm pretty proud of that. :)

Do you have a book blogging/reading schedule??

Have a topic for Thoughts on Thursday? Be sure to fill out this form so it can be featured!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Guest Post: Smash Attack Reads!

Today, I'm thrilled to have Ash from Smash Attack Reads guest posting. When I first contacted Ash, I had this crazy idea for someone to write a "Dear Author: From the Blogger" post that would list what bloggers like and dislike about books. After thinking it was entirely too much to ask for, I also included some interview questions that would be a little easier - especially since Ash is going to school full-time! To my absolute delight, Ash actually wrote the "Dear Author" post instead! I hope you enjoy her letter as much as I did.

A million thanks to Ash for taking the time out of her busy schedule for this!

Dear Author:

I can’t thank you enough for the imagination, creativity and thought you put into your work. Without you, I’d likely have sleepless nights. Your imagination whisks me away and allows me to escape reality. As a social worker, having an outlet to escape and mentally reboot is highly important so that I don’t burn out. So thank you for my escape. My clients thank you, too.

Some things you do that I find brilliant:
o Cliffhanger endings: Seriously. They are completely annoying as hell but the idea is quite brilliant. You know we will bitch and moan about said cliffhanger, gaining interest from others, and you definitely know we will buy the next book in the series without hesitation. Smart, you are.
o Snarky, sarcastic males: I can’t even tell you how much I love a good smart ass. Sarcasm can send a guy’s hotness level off the charts, for me. I know there are others out there who agree with me, too. We should start a club, ladies! Snarky Men Love. Or something. [Examples: Jace from the Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare, Bones from Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost, Patch from the Hush, Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick, Zsadist from the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward…there are plenty more, too. Keep ‘em coming!]
o Different/exotic settings: Oh, do I ever love a story that takes place in a remote, fantastical place with beautifully detailed descriptions of the world. I also love major metropolitan settings but the world is set beneath, or maybe in a different realm, so to speak. Layers of worlds upon one another. Very cool and interesting. [Examples: The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare, Neverhwere by Neil Gaiman, Weather Wardens by Rachel Caine]
o Unique villains: I can't tell you how amazing it is to read a book that has a unique/creepy/malevolent/horrifying villain! I love a well-written villain, and the nastier they are, the more I hate to love them. Add in Bullet #2 above and you have yourself a WIN! [Examples: Al from The Hollows by Kim Harrison, Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar from Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman]

Some things you do that I find not-so-brilliant:
o Traditional love triangles: At one point, they were fun. And I still love a good, well-written love triangle. But now they are everywhere and I really appreciate a different take on romance lately. Put on your thinking hats!
o Stinky editing: As a social work student and professional, I write research papers and clinical reports. I know how very easily it is to misspell a word or have grammatical errors. It is definitely better to have two pairs of eyes, which if why editing is very much needed. However, I sometimes wonder how some books get released with glaring problems in this department. Please pay more attention to this! It's important.
o Don't kill the dialogue: I'm all for great detail about settings and experiences, but don't sacrifice essential dialogue between characters by detailing the heck out of their location/clothing/hair/car/dog/house…please! The interaction between character is vastly important and those human (but not always!) connections are why I read!

All in all, I love your unique imagination and writing quality. I appreciate you.

Forever reading,

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Early Review: Legacy, by Kate Kaynak

Legacy (Ganzfield #3)
Kate Kaynak
Paperback, 280 pages
Spencer Hill Press
January 28, 2011
Maddie has more problems than the average seventeen-year-old:

A psychotic killer with superpowers wants her dead.

A serious medical issue makes a "normal" life impossible for her.

And she's about to be introduced to Trevor's grandparents.

Guess which one freaks her out the most?

It feels absolutely wonderful to be able to go back and visit all of my favorite characters from the Ganzfield series! Without being completely spoiler-ish, can I just say that Zack is back! I absolutely adored his snarky attitude in Adversary and was sad to see him go... so, it was a pleasant surprise to have him back in the series. I have to say he wasn't quite as snarky as he was before, but I think he's just calming down from the bold character that he was when we last saw him - when things between him and Maddie got a little out of control.

Along with Zack coming to Ganzfield, we have a new villian as well. Actually, witch with a capital "B" would be a better description, but I am attempting to be nice! There's also all of our other favorite characters making their return to the story as well - including Drew! As if there is any need to point this out ... Kate keeps the characters true to themselves and they never stray from who they truly are.

The story starts out with a shocking scene that makes you go, "Wait! What?! I thought they never..." Leave it to Kate to make me almost have a stroke within the first chapter! But things are resolved and the story continues. Like its predecessors, Legacy is full of internal struggles as well as external, leaving you with no downtime whatsoever. It seems like Maddie just can't get any breaks between figuring herself out and fighting the bad guys - but when she does get a break, she has Trevor ... and we always love to read about those two. They're an adorable couple without being overly cheesy in any way.

Overall, Legacy definitely lived up to the standards that I have now set for the Ganzfield series. It was just as wonderful and emotionally draining (not in a bad way) as Minder and Adversary. As soon as I sat down with this one, it had me and didn't let go until the end. I can't wait for the fourth installment, Accused, that's coming out in August.

Source: Publisher

Avg Rating: 4.5

Teaser Tuesday

Hosted By: Should Be Reading

'Trevor? Isn't he the telekinetic? I heard about him.' She looked at Trevor appraisingly. My hackles rose again, sensing her intrigue with the sexual possibilities of an extra set of hands. I itched with an annoying, twitchy desire to slap Belinda repeatedly.

- Legacy,Kate Kaynak

Monday, January 24, 2011

Before & After: Sarah Jamila Stevenson

Sarah Jamila Stevenson is a writer, artist, graphic designer, introvert, closet geek, enthusiastic eater, struggling blogger, lapsed piano player, household-chore-ignorer and occasional world traveler. Her previous lives include spelling bee nerd, suburban Southern California teenager, Berkeley art student, underappreciated temp, and humor columnist for a video game website. Throughout said lives, she has acquired numerous skills of questionable usefulness, like intaglio printmaking and Welsh language. She lives in Northern California with her husband, who is also an artist, and two cats with astounding sleep-inducing powers.

Her debut novel, The Latte Rebellion, was released January 6th by Flux.

12/15/10: It's been a wild ride up to this point. Some days I feel like jumping up and down for joy, thrilled that my book is finally about to come out and excited about the launch events to come in January and February. Other days I'm too nervous even to think about it. I wallow in terror that readers won't like it, or that my family and friends will hate it and will be too polite to tell me so. But then I take out the ARC I was sent and I'm amazed all over again at the tangible results of all the hard work that went into this project, and I can't help smiling. Even if I do look a little insane standing around by myself smiling at apparently nothing...

1/17/11: Now that my book is out in the world, I'm both excited and petrified. I'm excited because finally it'll be out there for readers to (hopefully) enjoy, but petrified because I don't have any control, of course, over whether or not they're going to like it! There are a few criticisms already floating around, but every time I get a note or an e-mail from someone who was really touched by the book, who wrote to me because it resonated with them in some way, it makes my day, and I'm reminded of why I'm doing this in the first place. It's especially meaningful when I hear that a teen reader liked it, because that's really who I'm writing for. Now, on to the next project...

Reviews For The Latte Rebellion
I Swim For Oceans
Fiction Folio



Buy The Book:
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

Monday Update!

Hosted By: Book Journey

First off... it's going to be one of THOSE Mondays. I just found out that one of my packages to a contest winner was lost in the mail - so, I'm going to have to find a way to replace that. This would be a good time to note that if you have been a winner of one of my past contests and have not received your prize by now, PLEASE let me know. I'll do whatever I can in my power to make it up to you!

Last Week...

Cryer's Cross, by Lisa McMann
Darkness Becomes Her, by Kelly Keaton
Haven, by Kristi Cook
Slice of Cherry, by Dia Reeves
The Liar Society, by Lisa & Laure Roecker

Cryer's Cross

This Week...

Divergent, by Veronica Roth
The Girl Who Became A Beatle, by Greg Taylor
Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric History, by Allan Richard Shickman
Zan-Gah and The Beautiful Country, by Allan Richard Shickman
Wake Unto Me, by Lisa Cach
XVI, by Julia Karr

Sunday, January 23, 2011

In My Mailbox (8)

Hosted By: The Story Siren
Inspired By: Pop Culture Junkie

I'm waiting on a nice shipment of review books to come in that I thought I would receive this week. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case. Instead of getting behind on this, I thought I'd go ahead and post what I did receive. No new books on purchase this week -- I promised my husband I'd get through all the review books before I bought new ones. ;)

For Review

Divergent, by Veronica Roth
Girl Talk With God, by Susie Shellenberger
Kat, Incorrigible; by Stephanie Burgis
Wake Unto Me, by Lisa Cach

I think I squealed out loud when I saw Divergent and Wake Unto Me come in. I've been looking forward to reading both of these. Special thanks to Lisa for asking if I'd like to review for her!
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