Friday, February 18, 2011

Hop & Follow Fridays!

Hosted by: ParaJunkee's View

Be sure to check out the featured blog, Dreaming About Other Worlds.

Here's What's Happening on the Blog

Below are the reviews and Before & After links for the past couple of weeks since I haven't done the blog hop in a while.

**Please remember that for every comment you post on the Before & After feature, you'll automatically get an entry into the end-of-month giveaway. When I post the last B&A author of that month, a post will go up for your chance to enter to win your choice book from one of the featured authors!

Be My {Bookish} Valentine Giveaway
Guest Post with Savita Kalhan & GIVEAWAY!

Before & After: January Giveaway Post!

I have finally posted the last January debut author. This means that it's now time for the giveaway! You will have your choice of book from one of the featured authors. I've also included links to all of the posts. If you want extra entries, then please be sure to visit the posts and leave a comment.

Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
Sarah Jamila Stevenson
Keri Mikulski
Terry Lynn Johnson
Danette Vigilante
Jeff Sampson
Eilis O'Neal

The Official Rules:
- Fill out the form below.
- Since I am buying this book with my own money, you MUST be a follower.
- This contest will run until Tuesday, February 28 at midnight EST.

Good luck!!

Before & After: Eilis O'Neal

Eilis is a writer of fantasy and the Managing Editor of the literary magazine Nimrod International Journal. She started writing at the age of three (though the story was only four sentences long). Her short fantasy has been published in various print and online journals, and you can find links to some of her stories here. Eilis was born, raised in, and currently lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Learn more at

With just a few days left before The False Princess comes out, I feel like I'm inside a tornado. Different feelings keep swirling past--anticipation, terror, happiness, stress. Sometimes I'll feel one way for half the day, and then spend the next half feeling something else entirely. Mostly, though, I'm feeling excited. In just a few days, I'll be able to share my book with readers and, hopefully, they'll like it. It might make someone feel the way that certain books made me feel as a teen--understood, seen, changed. That's what I'm hoping, anyway.

The False Princess is out. My first book--the thing I've been waiting for since I was twelve years old--is out. And I feel good--really, really good. I love the characters in the book so much, and I'm so glad that they're out in the world, where other people can meet them. In some ways, I feel like they're my kids and I'm waving them off to school for the first time. A little nervous for them, but also really glad they're getting out of the house!

Reviews of The False Princess
The Book Scout
Page Turners Blog
The Book Pixie

Blog Tour: Guest Post with Savita Kalhan

Today I'm thrilled to have Savita here guest posting. She's going to be talking about the process from writing a book to its publication. At the bottom of the post is a link to a form to be entered in a chance to win a copy of The Long Weekend. Please be sure to enter. The contest IS international!

The Process Behind The Book: From Writing To Publication

Writing the book, however long that takes, is just the very beginning of a very long process! I like to start writing a new book in the Autumn. It’s something I’ve been doing for a few years now and if I get to Autumn without making a start on a new project I feel at odds! I usually have a couple of ideas, so I start out by thinking about the main characters, finding their voice, and then I write the first couple of chapters of each story to get a feel of where the stories might go. One of the two stories rolls forward, hopefully, and the other will get put on the back-burner for another time.

I started writing The Long Weekend in early Autumn, putting aside a book that I had already started because Sam’s story came to me so clearly and with such urgency that I knew I had to write it then and there. Unusually, the story came tumbling out so fast that it was finished before I knew it. I read it through and had a few friends read it through – they all, unequivocally, loved it! I made a few changes here and there, but not many, and then I sat on it for a few months full of doubt, wondering whether it was good enough – I think all writers experience something like this. Finally, I plucked up the courage to send The Long Weekend to some agents. I used The Writers and Artists Yearbook and picked the agents who were interested in children's and teen fiction. I followed their guidelines and submitted the first three chapters with a synopsis and cover letter, and then I waited. The waiting is the hardest part, so to distract myself I went back to writing the story I had left.

It was a couple of months before I heard back from a few agents who were interested in looking at the whole manuscript. I sent the manuscript off to them, and waited, again, and went back to writing, trying not to be distracted by whether they had read the whole manuscript yet and what they thought of it. Two agents were very interested. One wanted the story to be changed into a simple kidnap story, the other loved it as it was. Guess which agent I went with!

From there, finding a publisher involved more waiting. The subject matter of the book was seen by many publishers as too risky, and although they agreed it was sensitively and appropriately dealt with, they were still hesitant. I was lucky with my publisher, Andersen Press, who loved the book and I signed on the dotted line with them. The process so far had taken over a year.

Most publishers have their lists for the next twelve to eighteen months already planned, but I was lucky that Andersen Press slotted it for publication for less than a year later, which is still a long time to wait as a debut author! During that time, the book was read by proof-readers and the title was almost changed! They had a list of titles and they asked me for a list of possible alternative titles, but in the end, The Long Weekend stuck!

A cover was designed, which they posted to me for approval. I opened the envelope not quite sure of what I would see. The publishers had told me that the art director had read the book to get a feel of it before designing the cover, so I was hopeful that it would be an arresting cover. And it was! I think it captures the feel of the book.

The hardest part of the whole process from writing to publication is the waiting. You have to develop a very thick skin, be able to take comments and constructive criticism. But it’s worth all that to see your book in a bookshop, and to see people reading it and loving it.

To learn more about Savita and her book, you can:

  • check out more of the blog tour stops here.
  • visit Savita's website here.

The Long Weekend Giveaway
  • You must be a follower.
  • Contest is international.
  • Fill out form completely.
  • Contest ends Friday (2/25) at midnight EST.
Good luck!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thoughts on Thursday

Today's Topic
Love Triangles: What do you like about them? What do you dislike?
- Alyssa

Love triangles is a very sensitive issue for me when it comes to books. Why? It's a love-hate relationship that almost always ends with me hating it. I'm going to try to explain this, but I don't know how well I'll do. Guess the only thing I can do is try.

When I read a book, the characters always come to life in my head. Most of the time, as a girl, I think we females always try to relate to the protagonist - especially if it's a girl. In doing so, you sort of put yourself in replacement of the female character. That's when it gets tricky because suddenly this character has to live up to your expectations. It sounds horribly difficult, but it's not. If an author fleshes out the character well enough, then even if the character does something you wouldn't particularly do... you still understand why she did it. That's the most important part, I think.

Now, in saying that, love triangles sometime tread in muddy waters. I'm not saying that you can't love more than one person at one time. That's completely possible. What I find hard to swallow are the actions of the person in the middle of the triangle. If you love more than one person, I think you should thoroughly figure out your feelings before leading someone on. That is the part that makes me hate love triangles. Leading someone on, even when a choice is clear.

Sometimes in stories though... it's just necessary. I'm not saying that I like it any better, but the story wouldn't be the same without it. I think the best example would be Twilight. For me, from the very beginning you could tell that Bella loved Jacob but it was almost more maternal/sisterly than romantic. The choice was clear who she was going to choose. BUT, then we wouldn't have had much material to go on. Without it, the Twilight Saga may have been three not-so-thick books.

Then sometimes, a story is more interesting because of the love triangle. Nightshade would be my best pick for that. It's there, and both guys are perfect. You don't even know who to choose. Plus, the girl doesn't lead one on. In some stories, maybe the guy's leading himself on because he won't take no for an answer. Either way, it works. There's nothing forced about it, and nothing that makes it where someone is getting strung along for no apparent reason other than the girl likes the attention.

Then there's the whole good vs. evil thing. That could go either way, good or cringe-worthy.

See? I could go on and on, back and forth about love triangles. I think that a good triangle can definitely be justified, but most of the time it's completely useless - except for extra numbers on a book's page count.

What do you think about love triangles?

Review: Right Side Talking, by Bonnie Rozanski

Right Side Talking
Bonnie Rozanski
Kindle Edition
September 27, 2010
Rating: (Avg 3.5)
Imagine that you are a young girl with intractable epilepsy. As a last resort you submit to an operation to sever the connection between the two sides of your brain. Though the operation successfully reduces your seizures, you are left forever with two separate minds: left and right, each unaware of the other.

Imagine further that while recovering in the hospital, you witness a murder. Your dominant left brain cannot recognize unfamiliar faces, and is, therefore, unable to identify the killer. Your right brain can, but is unable to speak. Gradually, painstakingly, the right learns to spell out its thoughts in scrabble letters. At long last, on a table in a hospital lab, you describe the person who committed the crime. Too bad the killer is reading that very same message.….

Right Side Talking is a thriller that will grip the reader from its opening surgery scene to its dramatic courtroom climax. Its cast of characters: a 15-year-old epileptic; a brilliant surgeon; an unlicensed, resentful doctor from abroad who must work as an orderly; a grumpy, relentless detective, and a feisty psychologist Finally, most fascinating of all, there is the human mind itself.

The first thing that hooked me to this story was the premise. It's not something that you come across a lot of these days. Being a psychology nut in high school, it intrigued me to no end - to the point where I had to squeeze this review in earlier than scheduled because it wouldn't leave me alone. I was not disappointed.

Told in third person narrative, you follow the main character Anna mostly through the story - though there is a slew of secondary characters attached as well. Anna's journey through the story is the part that help my interest the most, with the murder a close second. Anna was a very believable character that seemed immature at times - however, given her circumstances, I think it's completely justified and didn't take away from the story at all... nor did it deter my opinion of her. Overall, she was a strong and courageous character. I seriously couldn't imagine going through what she did. The secondary characters were developed well enough, though a little more depth would have been nice. I also found her parents a little hard to swallow at times.

The surgery itself made me wish that I was there to see it, or at least experience it via a documentary or episode of House. It wasn't all too graphic, but the procedure and process that the author described was well-researched - or made up well. I can't go into the validity of all of the medical aspects, but it was all descriptive enough to be real if it wasn't. From the surgery to the therapy, to the murder and climatic ending... this book had me up at night, reading until the end.

Although the protagonist is a teen, this book has a more adult feel to it than Young Adult. I'd recommend for a more mature YA audience. If you like medical dramas, mysteries, and psychology reads should definitely give this book a try. It's a shorter read, but makes up for length with dimension.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Before & After: Jeff Sampson

Jeff Sampson started writing professionally at eighteen, working on packaged series fiction—notably, the series Remnants by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant. Several years later, at twenty-two, he had his first book published as part of the Dragonlance series of fantasy novels. He wrote four more novels for that sequence, as well as the fantasy novel Monster Slayers under the pen name Lukas Ritter, before striking off with his YA debut: Vesper: A Deviants Novel, forthcoming from Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins in February 2011. Learn more at

Vesper comes out in two weeks, which is very soon but also very far away. I wake up each day in sort of a weird holding pattern, not entirely sure what I should be doing with myself. As is my way, my brain starts to run on hyperspeed and as a result I have a lot of conflicting emotions constantly playing havoc with my brain. There's excitement and satisfaction at knowing my book will finally in stores everywhere after four long years. But there's also nervousness and a tiny sense of dread -- what will happen when my book is out in the wild? Will readers connect with it? Will it get lost among all the other releases?

At the end of the day, I'm trying not to stress too much. It helps that at the moment I'm knee deep in revising Vesper's follow up, the second book in the Deviants series. Mostly I'm avoiding Googling myself, since less than stellar reviews tend to get me down and makes it hard to work. Occasionally, though, I'll succumb and I'll find just one really enthusiastic review. That helps me remember that while Vesper won't be for everyone, it will be for some people, and those people will be entertained and satisfied. And that's all I ever really wanted to accomplish.

So, basically: Emotions are ping ponging back and forth, but work keeps me as busy as ever. I have no idea where my thoughts will be at a few weeks after release. But I hope somewhere good!

It's been two weeks since Vesper hit the shelves and I'm actually, finally, pretty chill! I've gotten some very nice feedback from readers discovering the book for the first time. One email in particular, from a young woman who coincidentally shares the same name and personality as my main character, was especially cool.

Now that the big launch day has passed, I'm looking ahead. The second book in the Deviants series is finished and making its way through copy edits, and I'm setting in place all my plans for book #3, to make it as big and awesome as it can possibly be. I have other series I'm working on, too, including a potential new YA action series that I think will be rockin'.

Mostly I'm just glad that Vesper is now available to anyone who wants it. I hope anyone who takes the time to read it has a good time!

To read my review of Jeff's debut novel, Vesper, please click here.

Other Reviews for Vesper
Books With Bite
Good Books and Good Wine
The Unread Reader

Review: Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country, by Allan Richard Shickman

Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country (Zan-Gah #2)
Allan Richard Shickman
Paperback, 151 pages
Earthshaker Books
Rating: (Avg 3.5)
The prehistoric saga continues in Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country, the sequel to the award winning Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure. In this story, Zan s troubled twin brother, Dael, having suffered greatly during his earlier captivity, receives a ruinous new shock when his wife suddenly dies. Disturbed and traumatized, all of his manic energies explode into acts of hostility and bloodshed. His obsession is the destruction of the wasp men, his first captors, who dwell in the Beautiful Country. When he, Zan-Gah, and a band of adventurers trek to their bountiful home, they find that all of the wasp people have died in war or of disease. The Beautiful Country is empty for the taking, and Zan's people, the Ba-Coro, decide to migrate and resettle there. But the Noi, Dael's cruelest enemies and former tormentors, make the same migration from their desert home, and the possibility develops of contention and war over this rich and lovely new land.

As realistically written as its predecessor, Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country takes place years after Zan is reunited with his twin brother. Where Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure grips you with its page-turning action, this one attacks you with an emotional roller coaster that has you holding your breath until the end.

The main theme of this book for me was the trials of brotherhood, as Dael pushes his brother further and further away as he struggles to live his life normally outside of captivity. We're given flashbacks of what Dael was like before he was imprisoned, and those scenes only made my heart ache more for Zan-Gah, as he's gone so much to get THAT brother back. Dael is definitely a darker character, but he has gone through a lot. The only thing that was keeping him sane has been lost to him as well, which makes the struggle that much harder. Just like the brothers, all of the characters in the story are beautifully written and all have a purpose in the book.

I really don't know what else to say. This was as realistically and well-written as the first, and just as enjoyable. It's a must-read for middle graders and some YA readers as well. Full of action and emotion, it will enthrall even the most reluctant of readers.

View my review of Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure here.

Other Reviews For Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country
i swim for oceans
For The Love of Reading
Wicked Awesome Books

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Blog Tour: Top 10 with Laura Kreitzer

Welcome to the next stop on Laura Kreitzer's blog tour for her Timeless series. Shadow of the Sun is one of my favored reads for 2011 and I'm ecstatic to be on this tour! Today, I get to share with you some information on the author herself!

Top 10 Things You Should Know About Laura

Ohh! I like talking about myself . . . All right, here goes.

1. I can rock GIS like no other (geographical information systems—aka I can map—cartographer, if you will)

2. I’ve worked on classified projects at an environmental institute. Shhh, I can’t tell you what they are!

3. I’m a writer for writers—I’m the Program Manager for the Writing Collective at Fictionista Workshop.

4. My career got started writing fan fiction for Twilight. And I’m not ashamed of that whatsoever.

5. I went to China by myself and set up a dye-tracing lab at South West University in Chongqing China.

6. My new series, the Summer Chronicles, started during NaNoWriMo. The first book is Phantom Universe, and will be available for purchase February 15, 2011!

7. I have two of the cutest dogs on the planet. They’re Shar Peis and have wrinkles for days!

8. I edit at Obsidian Mountain Publishing.

9. I own a publishing company. :)

10. I love horseback riding and am a natural in the saddle.

To learn more about Laura and her series, you can:
  • read my review of SHADOW OF THE SUN here.
  • check out more of the blog tour stops here.
  • visit Laura's website here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

"Be My {Bookish} Valentine" & Giveaway!

It's that time of year again! No, I'm not talking about getting your taxes filed .. I'm talking about that time of year that we actually like. The part that's a little more... romantic. That would be, of course, Valentine's Day! I remember when I was little always worrying over who would ask me or who I would ask to be my valentine. Nowadays, it is and will forever be my husband because no man will ever live up to the high standards he lives up to ... except some fictional characters in a book. Which led me to wonder: "If fictional boys were real and I could have my choosing of one to be my valentine ... who would I choose?"

Then I realized just how difficult that was to do because I have many book crushes. There will always be a place in my heart for one Jasper Hale from the Twilight series. The old-fashioned manners and southern gentleman role always make me swoon because my husband is like that ... and I love it. Recently, I have fallen for √Čtienne St. Claire from Anna and the French Kiss. Not only does he have an accent, but he's the perfect gentleman and completely irresistible in every way possible. However, there's one that's completely won me over with his accent, good looks, charm and unconditional love and loyalty. That would be Benedikt Czerny from Katie MacAlister's Confessions of a Vampire's Girlfriend and Book 8 of her Dark Ones series, In The Company of Vampires. He's completely and utterly devoted to his Beloved Fran, doing everything in his power to give her the time and space to come around and be okay with their union - even if it hurts him in the process. That, in my eyes, makes him the perfect valentine.

So, if you had the choice ... which fictional character would you choose? I decided to do a little investigating and see who some of the girls around the blogosphere are swooning for.

I picked the wonderful and sexy Alex Fuentes from Simone Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry. The fact that he's Mexican American alone attracted me but he's also hot, protective, charming and he loves his family. What's not to love?"

My fictional Valentine? Acheron Parthenopaeus [from Dark-Hunter]. I don’t think I’ve ever read a story that made me so emotional. It truly melted my soul. I would fight for that man. Plus, he’s an ancient Atlantean god, which means he has lots of…experience. I would take care of him, he would really take care of me. Win/Win, I say. :)
- Ash, Smash Attack Reads!

I would pick Rehvenge [from Black Dagger Brotherhood] to be my valentine. I thought his whole dinner date he made to seduce Ehlena was so romantic and the fact that he just relished in her the whole night never taking for himself for fear of hurting her. He would have our date set up the same in his penthouse with candles silver, and crystal. But I wouldn’t stand out on the terrace I would be more than happy to come in and join him. Who couldn’t love a strong sexy man like Rev with his amethyst eyes and sexy alpha male attitude?

Here is a very sexy quote I wanted to add from Rev to Elhena:
“I thought you agreed with me.” -Elhena
“Agreed with you?” He did “Hell, if it would make you happy, I’d say yes to anything. But what are you specifically referring to?” – Rev
“You said…. I shouldn’t date anyone.”-Elhena
Ah, right. “You shouldn’t date any one.” - Rev
“I don’t understand. “ – Elhena
“It’s simple. I don’t think you should date anyone” Rev moved in even closer, until he could see the flecks of gold in her eyes “But I’m not just anyone.”- Rev

- Athenna, Paranormal Haven

I thought of the many hot, hot boys in YA literature from Peeta, to Ren, to Varen, and yet, I felt they were lacking a lil' something. Then, I figured it out. Ladies, they're boys - not men. If I could have one single Valentine of my dreams, hands down, it's Sirius Black from Harry Potter. He's a little bit kooky (Azkaban will do that to you), but he's got a heart of gold, and let's be honest, he's a fighter...just my type. I like a good challenge, and he's actually a manly-man, not some sissy that whines around like a blathering idiot *cough* Edward *cough*. Plus, I could totally see Sirius being a hopeless romantic!
- Melissa, i swim for oceans

I really would like to have Po from Graceling (by Kristin Cashore) as my valentine. He's funny, adventurous, charming, and cuuuuute. Heck, I would want him even if it's not Valentine's. The mere thought of him makes me swoon. He's really one of a kind.

Here's a quote from the book:
He laughed. "I know you're teasing me. And you should know I'm not easily humiliated. You may hunt for my food, and pound me every time we fight, and protect me when we're attacked, if you like. I'll thank you for it."

- Len, Musings of a Reader Happy

I also picked a character from J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood as my Valentine. For me it would be Rhage. In the insider's guide, Rhage wrote on himself with icing and laid naked on the bed as his Valentine's gift to Mary. Sweets + Naked Rhage = Perfect Gift
- Stephanie, Paranormal Haven

Seth from Danann Frost Falls From Grace by Joanne Valiukas would definitely be my pick for a valentine. So strong, yet loves Danann so completely! Every time he calls her "My Goddess", I melt!
- Theresa, Fade Into Fantasy

So who would be your bookish valentine if you got to choose? Leave your answer with a way to contact you by this Sunday (2/20), and I'll put your name in a drawing for a valentine surprise! FYI - Contest is international.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!
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