Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fun in the Sun Giveaway Hop

Summer is right around the corner and when I think of summer I think beach reading and a few cold drinks. So to celebrate the beginning of summer Ex Libris Kate and I are inviting book bloggers to participate in a giveaway hop!

What's a hop you say? Well it's bloggers getting together and hosting a giveaway on their blog at the same time. We each have links to other giveaways and it's a great way for readers to find new book blogs and book bloggers to find new readers. So all in all, it's a win win situation!

1) Please make sure you indicate where in the world you will ship your book to (US Only, Int., etc...)  next to your name in the sign-ups

2) There is no restriction on the type of book, but if it has adult content, please indicate that in your giveaway post

3) Please copy the link code and post it on your giveaway. We would also appreciate a link back to the hosts, this blog and Ex Libris Kate

4) Make sure you have the giveaway button on your post.

That's it! Your giveaway should open on June 11th and close by June 16th. Thanks for joining the fun!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Review: Something Like Normal

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

Release Date: June 19, 2012

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Something Like Normal is that rare find that really moves you and will capture your heart. Travis is a Marine on leave who goes home after losing his best friend Charlie. Home, for Travis, is pretty much the last place he wants to be. He joined the Marines to get away from his family. Parker, his girlfriend, left him to be with his brother while Travis was in Afghanistan. Going home was really a last resort and if anything Travis hopes to get past the nightmare of losing Charlie, but the stress and drama at home seems to make matters worse instead of helping.

The one bright spot is running into Harper, the first girl Travis ever kissed. Only, like everything else, their first encounter doesn't go smoothly thanks to rumors that Travis started about her in middle school and when things got out of hand he never put a stop to the rumors. I will say that Harper’s reaction to Travis was one of my favorite moments in the book!

Trish really has a way of making all the relationships complex and full of layers that both Travis and the reader have to peel away to get further into the story. I really enjoyed how present Charlie is throughout the entire story and he isn't forgotten after the first few chapters. As the story progresses Travis starts to unravel and while he finds small ways to cope he really needs to mourn for his friend. There were so many times I wanted to reach in and comfort Travis. I believe that when I get so invested in characters then it's a sign of great writing.

Something Like Normal is Trish Doller’s first novel and it’s safe to say it’s the strongest debut novel I have read so far in 2012. Trust me you will fall in love with Travis! Something Like Normal reminds me of why I love reading.

To learn more about Trish visit:

News: Blogger friends

I'm really lucky to know some amazing bloggers. Today I want to share a few great things happening around the blogosphere this week.

Visit my friend Sarah who is celebrating her 1 year Blogoversary with a giveaway!

Sarah's Books & Life Button

Kate over at Ex Libris has reached 600 followers and is celebrating with a great giveaway so go checkout her blog.

Stop by Kristin's blog, Krisitn Creative, where she is giving away books!

I also just read Dear Teen Me and I'm really proud to see Stephanie Pellegrin's letter! I'm planning on writing a post about Dear Teen Me, but I had to say I'm so proud of her!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Fated by Alyson Noel

Last Tuesday Alyson Noel released Fated, the first book in The Soul Seeker series. Fated has drawn buzz from media and bloggers alike. I'm thrilled to bring you a short story where Ever from Noel's previous series meets Daire from Fated. I know Fated is on my to read list and hope it's on yours.

Click to read: Daire Meets Ever

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Immortals, Alyson Noël, comes Fated—a breathtaking new saga brimming with magic, mystery, and an intoxicating love story that will steal your heart away. Meet The Soul Seekers.

Strange things are happening to Daire Santos. Crows mock her, glowing people stalk her, time stops without warning, and a beautiful boy with unearthly blue eyes haunts all her dreams. Fearing for her daughter’s sanity, Daire’s mother sends her to live with the grandmother she’s never met. A woman who recognizes the visions for what they truly are—the call to her destiny as a Soul Seeker—one who can navigate the worlds between the living and dead.

There on the dusty plains of Enchantment, New Mexico, Daire sets out to harness her mystical powers. But it’s when she meets Dace, the boy from her dreams, that her whole world is shaken to its core. Now Daire is forced to discover if Dace is the one guy she's meant to be with...or if he’s allied with the enemy she's destined to destroy.

About the Author
ALYSON NOËL is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Immortals series, the Riley Bloom series, and seven previous novels for St. Martin’s Press. She lives in Laguna Beach, California, where she is at work on her next book.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

May/June To Read

For the first time in almost three years of blogging I missed posting a monthly to read! Working two jobs is not always easy but my day job has been extra stressful so reading and blogging has suffered. I'm not sure if anyone noticed so I decided to do a combined May/June list.

Here is my schedule. Feel free to join me and then we can discuss. Also I am always up for taking recommendations. If you check my blog often you will find I add and remove books just depending on my moods. What are you reading or looking forward to reading this month?

Currently Reading:

Listening to:

Reading Soon:

Just Finished:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cover News: Audition and Subtraction

I'm thrilled to share the cover for Audition and Subtraction by Amy Dominy. I met Amy last year through Class of 2k11 when she published OyMG, which everyone should read because it's amazing. I have also met Amy in person twice on trips she's taken to Texas and let me tell you she's so much fun! When Amy mentioned Audition and Subtraction I asked my blogger friends to help spread the word so a big thanks to them! Finally, Amy is doing a giveaway to celebrate her newest book.

About the story:

For as long as Tatum can remember it’s been:
Tatum + Lori = Best friends
They do everything together, including a yearly clarinet/flute duet for District Honor Band auditions. But when a new boy transfers to their middle school and their band, the equation suddenly changes to:
Lori + Michael – Tatum = One happy couple
   With her best friend slipping away and her parents recently separated, Tatum’s life has turned upside down. Plus her good friend Aaron thinks that they are secretly boyfriend and girlfriend, all because of one little lie Tatum told. Accepting change isn’t easy for Tatum, but just how much is she willing to give up to hold on to her friendship with Lori and life as she knows it? For Tatum, the best way to move forward may require a whole new formula . . .

Amy Fellner Dominy is the author of OyMG. She worked as a copywriter in the advertising business for twenty years before leaving to earn her MFA as a playwright. Her plays for adults and children have been staged in various cities around the country. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband and two teenage children.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To learn more about Amy visit:

I also want to thank the following bloggers for participating, so go visit them and show them some love!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Winner: Signed Copy of BROKEN ILLUSIONS

Casse AKA Catholic Kittie - Did not reply
Vivian (deadtossedwaves)

The winner has been notified and has 48 Hours to reply by email with a mailing address or a new winner will be picked. Thanks for entering and check back soon for the next giveaway!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Interview with Lynda Mullaly Hunt

I would like to welcome author of One for the Murphys Lynda Mullaly Hunt. Lynda is part of the debut group Class of 2k12. One for the Murphys is available in stores now so pick up a copy!

What is it like to be afraid of love?

Well, I don’t think people are afraid of love—they’re afraid of not being loved. Or loving and not being loved back. Or being hurt in some other way. And it is sad to say, but when a person has been hurt, they sometimes decide that the gamble to put themselves out there is not worth it. It isn’t always a conscious decision; sometimes it just feels like “it’s the way it should be.” Like some directive that has been programmed into the cells.
A person like this is ready for battle when met with aggression—ready to fight. However, when met with affection, the need for flight rises to the top of the priority list. Their senses are on high alert. Their pulse quickens. Their heart pounds. Their eyes dart. Unfortunately, they are unable to hear the logical part of themselves—or someone else—tell them that there is actually no danger.
This is one of the saddest things on earth, I think. A person that wants to be loved but their bodies have been conditioned to “stay safe.”

What leads someone to believe that love is bad and what can readers learn from this?

Well, I think that people who learn that love is “bad” or “dangerous” learn that from experiences that give them an incorrect idea of what real love is. Love, of course, isn’t bad. Love makes everything else worth it.

However, if unkind things are done by people that are supposed to love you and this is your only experience (because you are sheltered or young) then you can incorrectly associate those things with love.

Is Carley afraid of love? Maybe it isn’t love she’s really afraid of. She’s afraid that love won’t be hers to have. She’s afraid that she isn’t worthy. When she gets to a point with the Murphys when she feels she could have it, she does something to try to get rid of it. It feels unnatural to have it. Perhaps, rejecting it first is better than being rejected.

What can we learn? That love—the real, healthy kind—is worth taking the chance for. It’s worth getting hurt a few times in order to seek out the real thing. When I was young, I used to listen to a song called, “Shower the People.” I took a lot of advice from music then. What I gathered from this song was to keep putting your chips on the table. If you love someone, show it to them. And if it doesn’t work out—it’s okay. It won’t destroy you. It’ll hurt, but it won’t end you. Better to go after it with the hope that someday you’ll find the real thing. Better to try to conquer these fears rather than lie down in front of them.

What was it like to get the call that your novel was being published?

My agent, Erin Murphy, had warned me that, although she had a scheduled call with Nancy Paulsen, she was probably going to request revisions rather than offer a contract upfront.

The next day, I was sitting at my desk with my cell, when the ring tone I’d set for Erin started to play—“Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” by Stevie Wonder.

I answered.

Erin: “Now…what song is it…that plays when I call your phone?”

“Signed, Sealed, Delivered?” (I’m still completely clueless here.)

“Well that’s perfect, because we have an offer on the table from Penguin!”

Okay. Imagine cannon balls launching into the air. Imagine a runaway train. Imagine me in my office.

I reacted even before it had sunk in. This was good old fashioned shock. And, for someone who is supposed to be good with words, I had a whole lack of eloquence thing going here, too. “Oh my God! Really? Oh my God. Really? Oh my God! Really?”

So, I finally calmed down and thanked Erin for all she’d done. For her faith in me and in my book. For making a dream come true. And we both got a little weepy. At the end of my life, when MTV counts down my ten best moments, this will be there.

Now, I’d always imagined how cool I would be telling my family about this kind of success. Clever. Calm. Perhaps leaning against a door frame, dropping it into conversation and watching the shock on their faces. I would be collected and able to take it all in.

Not exactly. My body hasn’t moved like that since I ran hurdles in the 10th grade. I went leaping and screaming into the kitchen, my voice blaring and choking at the same time. “The Murphys sold! Oh my God! It sold! The Murphys sold!” My husband, who was in the kitchen, spun around and I could hear my daughter running down the hallway upstairs. We jumped around screaming. I remember saying, “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it.” My son was playing with the kids next door. The three of us threw open the front door and ran next door in our bare feet to tell him.

I am one blessed woman, let me tell you. I have a super-supportive family and network of friends.

Also, Erin Murphy is my agent. And Nancy Paulsen is my editor.

What are you most excited about and what is the biggest fear?

I am most excited about getting into schools to do writing programs with kids. I have already visited some classrooms and have had a blast! The kids are so great—insightful and honest. And they make me laugh! I received a batch of thank you notes from a class that blew me away with their thoughtfulness. I’ll save them forever!

To be honest, I don’t have fears in reference to my writing career. A while ago I did though. I worried about whether I’d be good enough compared to others, have a second book. I mostly worried about how the publication of MURPHYS would make me vulnerable—such as answering some of your questions here for the world to see. I worried about things that I should not have worried about.
Now, I have settled in and feel that what will happen is meant to be. I’m going to work as hard as I can, set my sights on the future, get into schools and make connections with kids about MURPHYS and writing and heroes. I’m going to work on my next novel. There is nothing to fear in all of this awesome stuff!

What kind of research did you do for One for the Murphys?

Well, I did research in terms of the foster care system such as how a child would visit a birth mother who had lost custody, etc. However, most of the story comes from my heart and soul. It is a fictional story, but the emotional thread of it is true. The emotional arc of One for the Murphys is my very own story. So, I guess you could say that my research took a lot of years!

What inspired you to tell this story?

Well, there were a few things that came together, I think. The final catalyst was a conversation that I had with my nine-year-old son about Luke Skywalker and how he wanted to have Darth Vader be his father in one way, but really didn’t want it in another. I began to think about what that would be like. To long for something and wish it away at the same time.

Also, I’d seen the Broadway show, WICKED, at about that time and was so struck by several elements in the story. The writing and music are incredible! I thought a lot about the idea of “Defying Gravity.” I played the Wicked soundtrack while writing a good chunk of the book which is surprising, as I usually cannot write while listening to music with lyrics. However, it seemed to propel the story forward.

It is also important to note, I guess, that I lived with another family for a few months when I was young. Staying with them gave me a close look at a kind of life I had not been familiar with—but the kind of life I decided I wanted when I got older. That stay changed my view on what my life could be. What I could be.

Lastly, as a young teacher I met a woman 22 years older than me who became a friend, mentor and adopted mom-figure. Some sad things happened when I was young and she spent a lot of time helping me understand those things and move past them. Her initials are JM and so when I first began to “hear the Murphys” in my head I wanted to pay tribute to her. So I named the foster mother Julie Murphy so that they would have the same initials. I also dedicated the book to her with a descriptor, “Maker of Miracles”—its acronym being “mom.” (Carley would approve!)

All of these things simmered until one day, Carley stood in my head and began to tell her story.

I saw that you area also working on a YA novel. Can you tell us a little about your future projects?

Well, I actually changed gears to work on a MG when Penguin expressed interest in another book that would follow the same tone and audience of One for the Murphys.
My second novel, ALPHABET SOUP is officially under contract with Nancy Paulsen Books and I couldn’t be happier! Set in the 70’s, it’s about a fifth grader named Lucy who can’t read so she acts out in class to hide it from everyone until a teacher sees through her bluster.

THANK YOU so very much, Cari, for having me here at your fantastic blog! SO appreciated!

I want to thank Lynda for stopping by today! To learn more about Lynda visit her online:


Twitter: @Lynmullalyhunt

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Guest Post: Katherine Longshore talks research

I'm so excited to welcome Class of 2K12's Katherine Longshore, she will be guest blogging about research today. Katherine is the author of GILT which is in stores today! I am in love with the GILT cover and can't wait to read it.

Katherine Longshore
GILT, Viking/Penguin May 15, 2012

Thank you, Cari, for having me on your blog! It’s always a joy to meet other book-lovers, and by happy chance, you’ve asked me about one of my favorite things.


I can spend days researching. Months. I live in fear of being called out on an historical inaccuracy, even though I’m sure it’s bound to happen. As hard as I try, I don’t know everything. But that doesn’t stop me from trying.

For GILT, I have researched, among other things:

The color pink
The use of corsets during the Renaissance
Imagery in tapestries
The locations of the Royal Court from 1539-1542
The date of Easter in 1541

And each bit of research takes me into an infinite field of possibilities. I could go for days following up links on Henry VIII’s sister (who doesn’t even appear in GILT), just because she’s so fascinating. I got stuck for almost a half an hour – even after I learned that yes, people did wear pink in 1539 – on the use of plants for dyes, their names and uses and the colors they produced. Research is amazing because it allows me to become a “pseudo-expert” on anything and everything that interests me.

And I’m interested in a lot of different stuff.

Because of this, I do a lot of skimming online. Wikipedia is a great place to begin, but can’t be counted on to be absolutely correct. I’ve caught historical inaccuracies, and I am by no means an authority. I cannot trust a reference that has not been fact-checked. Why, yes, I do have a control-freak personality. I call it attention to detail. But the web can give me a general concept. It can also lead me onto some pretty amazing tangents, some of which are ideas for future books.

If I need to delve deeper, research further, or be completely accountable for my facts, I move onto published secondary sources. For this I go to my local library, where I’ve checked out books on lace-making, fashions through history and even Henry VIII’s sister. Librarians are some of the most awesome people on earth, and I couldn’t do my job without them.

When I first conceived the idea of GILT, I wasn’t sure if I could write an entire book on Catherine Howard. Then, through interlibrary loan, I got a fabulous, 40-year-old biography of Henry’s fifth queen that had been sitting quietly in a sister library in the sleepy little town of Colusa, California. It still contained an old-fashioned check-out stamp card with stamps from the 70s on it. How the book got to Colusa, I don’t know. But I’m glad it did. And I’m very thankful for interlibrary loan. (The book, by Lacey Baldwin Smith, has just been revised and reprinted, and I now own a copy, but I read the one from Colusa twice.)

There are some incredible historians out there writing about Henry VIII, his Court and his wives. Not just Lacey Baldwin Smith, but also David Starkey, Alison Weir, Antonia Fraser, Robert Hutchinson, Julia Fox. I have read dozens of books –cover to cover, as well as footnotes and endnotes – and every time I discover something new and enticing. Plus, some of them are a rollicking good read.

For minutiae, absolutely accurate facts, and detail, I turn to primary sources. It’s kind of hard to find a letter written by Henry VIII in California. But the Letters and Papers of Henry VIII have been transcribed and posted online for everyone’s viewing pleasure. Someone has deciphered the indecipherable scrawl that was Henry's handwriting, and that of his courtiers and scribes. Want to know what the Privy Council was doing on November 11, 1541? It’s right there! You can even search key words! This is the first site in my bookmarks folder and I have spent days trawling its awesomeness.

But by far my favorite form of research is travel. To build a world, the setting must feel real – whether you are writing science fiction or history. And in order to add visual details, I love to get the visual reference. The Tower of London. Hampton Court Palace. Syon House. St. Paul’s Cathedral. Windsor.

But don’t let me fool you. I just love to go to these places, too. Did you know that the crests of the Knights of the Garter are on the ceiling of St. George’s Hall in Windsor? A few have been removed, leaving only a white plaque. These are the Knights who were stripped of the Garter when they were attainted for treason. There are lots of these from the 16th century. One of the reasons I love the Tudors.

Of course, not all of the sites I visit are well-preserved. The last time I went back to England, I went to Lambeth -- the setting of the first third of GILT. It's very different now than it would have been in 1539. For one thing, the house my characters grew up in is no longer there, replaced by a glass-and-steel office block and a fire station. But I got an idea of what the Thames looked like, and Westminster across the river. I took pictures of everything – copied by a group of Lebanese tourists who thought I was photographing something important. Perhaps not to everyone, but certainly to me.

Because accurate, realistic detail is what research is all about, right? You can’t have a Tudor drinking tea just like you can’t have an open door on a Mars-bound spaceship. As a writer, I need to make my world and my characters real and believable. I can’t lose a reader’s willing suspension of disbelief with shoddy research.

It’s a good thing I love it so much.

I want to thank Katherine for stopping by and remember to get a copy of GILT today! To learn more about Katherine visit:


Friday, May 11, 2012

Cover Reveal: The Mephisto Kiss by Trinity Faegen

Finally The Mephisto Kiss cover is here!!! Last year I helped Trinity Faegan reveal the cover for her first novel The Mephisto Covenant and all I can say is gorgeous! This year I invited a few of my friends to help promote the amazing cover for Trinity's second novel The Mephisto Kiss! Again Egmont did a great job because I think the cover is stunning. I have a feeling this cover will really stand out in person.

There is more! Trinity is going to give one lucky commenter an advance readers copy of The Mephisto Kiss and it's open international!

The Mephisto Kiss by Trinity Faegen
September 25th 2012 by EgmontUSA

About the book:

The eyes never lie. No one’s eyes are darker than Eryx's. Not even the Devil’s.

When Jax and Sasha first see Jordan Ellis, they know she is no ordinary teenager. She’s the daughter of the President after all, but she’s also Anabo – a descendant of Eve.

What they don’t know is that Eryx plans to kidnap Jordan and force President Ellis to pledge his soul. If Eryx’s plot succeeds, the consequences would be catastrophic.

But the Mephisto brothers do know about Jordan’s secret identity. And for one of them, she could be the match that leads to their soul’s salvation.

Now it’s a desperate race against time to save Jordan and prevent Eryx’s haunting eyes from discovering her true identity.

A thrilling story of romance, danger, and intrigue, THE MEPHISTO KISS continues the marvelous mythology that began in THE MEPHISTO COVENANT.

Be sure to visit Trinity Faegen's blog for the details of the giveaway and a sneak peak at The Mephisto Kiss. I want to thank all the wonderful bloggers who are also sharing The Mephisto Kiss cover! Remember to visit the other blogs and comment on the cover reveal post for a chance to win an ARC of The Mephisto Kiss!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Guest Post: Trinity’s Truths by Ellie James

I'm thrilled to welcome Ellie James author of Shattered Dreams and Broken Illusions. Broken Illusions was just released this past Tuesday and main character Trinity is sharing a few truths with us.

Life as a psychic can be a bit bizarre, especially when you’re sixteen and living in the most haunted city in the country, when everyone in your life was a stranger six months before, when secrets lurk around every corner and every now and then you have these….dreams. Dreams you don’t understand. Without time- or place-stamps. Dreams that terrify.

Dreams that come true.

Oh, yeah, and the wrong guy has a way of showing up at exact the right moment.

Ellie James, author of the mystical Midnight Dragonfly series featuring teenage psychic Trinity Monsour, joins us today to preview what to expect from her latest paranormal thriller.

Broken Illusions: Trinity’s Truths

  1. Forever is more than just a word.
  2. Ouija boards aren’t a child’s toy.
  3. Sometimes making up takes more than a plate of brownies.
  4. A driver’s license really can unlock a door.
  5. There’s no such thing as coincidence.
  6. You never know when you’re life is going to turn.
  7. Not all games are fun, especially when you’re the mouse and someone else is the cat.
  8. Sometimes it’s not a good idea to breathe.
  9. A lie can hurt, but the truth can destroy.
  10. You have to spread your wings to fly, even if you’re going to fall.
  11. Beauty on the outside doesn’t guarantee beauty on the inside.
  12. Airbags hurt.
  13. Everyone has a secret.
  14. Before you tell the wrong person how you feel, it’s a good idea to know if you’re really dreaming.
  15. Strange things happen when the subconscious takes over.
  16. Sometimes the perfect guy…isn’t.
  17. Be careful when handing out voodoo dolls.
  18. Dying is a lot like dreaming.
  19. Life is a roller coaster.
  20. Love never dies.

About the Midnight Dragonfly Series
The firstborn daughter, of the firstborn daughter, of the firstborn daughter, sixteen year old psychic Trinity Monsour has a connection to the Other Side. She knows secrets and truths she shouldn’t, feels emotions that do not belong to her, and see events that have yet to happen. They come to her as glimpses, shadowy, disjointed snapshots that flicker through her dreams. Some terrify: a girl screaming, a knife lifting, a body in the grass. But others--the dark, tortured eyes and the shattering kiss, the promise of forever--whisper to her soul.

They come without warning. They come without detail.

But they always mean the same thing: The clock is ticking, and only Trinity can stop it.

Find out how in Broken Illusions, available from Griffin Teen May 8, 2012.

About Ellie James
Most people who know Ellie think she’s your nice, ordinary average wife and mom of two little kids. They see someone who does all that normal stuff, like grocery shopping, walking the dogs, going to baseball games, and somehow always forgetting to get the house cleaned and laundry done.
 What they don't know is that more often than not, this LSU J-School alum is somewhere far, far away, in an extraordinary world, deeply embroiled in solving a riddle or puzzle or crime, testing the limits of possibility, exploring the unexplained, and holding her breath while two people fall in love.
Regardless of which world Ellie’s in, she loves rain and wind and thunder and lightning; the first warm kiss of spring and the first cool whisper of fall; family, friends, and animals; dreams and happy endings; Lost and Fringe; Arcade Fire and Dave Matthews, and last but not least…warm gooey chocolate chip cookies.

I want to thank Ellie for such a wonderful post and for providing a giveaway! I hope you'll add Shattered Dreams and Broken Illusions to your list of must buys! You can follow Ellie on Facebook at:

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ferocity Summer "Blog Road Trip"

I am thrilled to welcome Class of 2k11 graduate Alissa Grosso who is currently on a Blog Road Trip to celebrate her second novel Ferocity Summer! Alissa is an amazing author and I can't wait to pick up a copy of Ferocity Summer. I want to thank Alissa for visiting and proving a great giveaway!

This is the second stop on my Blog Tour Road Trip to promote my new book Ferocity Summer, which officially releases today. You read that right, today is the Ferocity Summer launch date or book birthday, if you are so inclined. Don't forget to read to the end of this post to find out how you can enter yourself in a drawing for your very own summer survival pack, which includes a signed copy of Ferocity Summer.

Books, just like babies, need some time to grow and develop before they are born, though the gestation period for books is probably longer than the standard human 9 months, it's probably closer to that of elephants, which have a gestation period of 645 days. Yikes! Poor elephants!

Thankfully for us writers the book development process is not as physically demanding as carrying a baby to term and we don't usually have to worry about morning sickness and stretch marks, but the process isn't all a walk in the park.

Ferocity Summer was conceived a long time ago, yes even longer ago that 645 days. Back then it was an idea for a book about this new drug called Ferocity, which was sweeping across the country, and that's pretty much all it had in common with the book that's hitting the bookstore shelves today. The characters were different, the plot line was different, the title was simply Ferocity and the book was a LOT shorter. That's because I only got about 20 pages into before I decided to shelve it and work on something else.

Some ideas won't leave us alone, though, and a few years later, I decided it was time to take another stab at Ferocity. Only this time, I added the word Summer to the title. I got rid of most of the original characters. Only one of the characters really appealed to me, a teen girl. No, not Scilla the current protagonist of Ferocity Summer. She didn't exist yet.

Instead, I thought Ferocity Summer was about a girl named Raisin. If you read the completed novel, Raisin's still there, but she has a much, much smaller role. I made a valiant attempt at telling Raisin's story, but it just wasn't coming together for me. I decided to add another character. Her name was Scilla Davis and in that version of Ferocity Summer, Scilla and Raisin alternated chapters in telling their stories. Then somewhere along the way, Scilla hijacked the book. There were a lot of plot lines going on with the Scilla and Raisin chapters. So, I decided to focus on Scilla, who as narrators go is a bit of antihero, but still I felt compelled to tell her story.

Babies develop in a pretty routine way with their various bits and pieces following a pattern that is more or less carved into stone. Sometimes books are written like this too - from beginning to middle to end. That wasn't the case for me and Ferocity Summer. I wrote chapters and scenes independently of each other and out of order. Then when I had a mess of separate files on my computer and had thoroughly confused myself, I decided it was time to put them together in a vaguely organized way. I did my best.

Babies don't need copy editors. Books do. Copy editors are helpful in pointing out all sorts of inconsistencies and little goofs like the fact that the July which originally occurred in Ferocity Summer seems to have seven weeks. So, that's why even after a book is accepted for publication, it still takes a long time before it's delivery date.

Looking back on it, it's crazy to think that the idea I had all those years ago is now a published novel. The book creation process might be a whole lot different from the way babies are made, but there is one more parallel between mothers and authors. Now, that Ferocity Summer is out there in the world I am as anxious and overprotective as a mom hoping her baby fares well in the world.

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For more on Alissa visit:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Book News: Jennifer Weiner

I am thrilled to help announce that Jen’s hit novel THEN CAME YOU is coming out in paperback on May 8th. Last summer THEN CAME YOU made waves as one of the top beach reads of the season. An “unexpected” love story, THEN CAME YOU tells the tale of four women and a baby -- and at a time when women are waiting longer to have children and the definition of “family” has changed dramatically, THEN CAME YOU is certain to strike up some provocative debates. With her laugh-out-loud humor, startling tenderness, and spot-on characterizations, Jennifer takes readers into the hearts and minds of women everywhere in a timely story that intertwines themes of class and entitlement, surrogacy and donorship, parental rights and the definition of motherhood. THEN CAME YOU will be available for purchase at Indiebound, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Jen will also be going on a BOOK TOUR to celebrating the paperback launch of Then Came You!

On May 8th, Atria will also be publishing SWIM, an original ebook short story by Jennifer Weiner that will be available for free download wherever ebooks are sold. SWIM is originally from Jen's short story collection The Guy Not Taken, and after she spent time in Los Angeles co-producing the ABC Family show, “State of Georgia,” she knew she wanted to continue with the story. SWIM is the inspiration for her forthcoming novel, THE NEXT BEST THING (Atria Books, July 3, 2012). Both Swim and The Next Best Thing are now available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

THE NEXT BEST THING, July 3, 2012: Jen’s highly anticipated new novel The Next Best Thing will be on shelves July 3rd. Set against the fascinating backdrop of the Los Angeles show business culture, with an insider's ear and eye for raunchy writer's rooms, bad behavior backstage and on-set politics, Jennifer Weiner's new novel is a rollicking ride on the Hollywood rollercoaster, and a heartfelt story about what it's like for a young woman to love, and lose, in the land where dreams sometimes come true…

To learn more about Jennifer Weiner visit:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cover News: THE TORN WING by Kiki Hamilton

I'm thrilled to help Class of 2k11 graduate Kiki Hamilton with the cover reveal of her second novel, THE TORN WING. The cover matches perfectly with Kiki's first novel, THE FAERIE RING. If you haven't read THE FAERIE RING you have a few months before THE TORN WING is out so move it up your To Read list!

About the book:
Tiki’s greatest fear suddenly becomes all too real: the fey have returned to London seeking revenge. As war escalates in the Otherworld, Queen Victoria’s youngest son, Prince Leopold, is attacked.  In order to protect her family and the ones she loves, she needs to know the meaning of an fáinne sí, the birthmark that winds around her wrist. But will Tiki be brave enough to face the truth?

A bloody escape, a deadly threat, a shocking revelation…
  Available October 2nd, 2012

To learn more about Kiki Hamilton visit:

Interview: Lynne Kelly

I'm so excited to welcome Houston's own Lynne Kelly! Throws confetti! I met Lynne last year in Austin during TLA and I see her at YA events all the time. Please give Lynne a warm welcome!

What was the process for you from writing Chained to getting the call that your book would be sold?
I started writing the book in 2006, submitted to a few agents in 2007 before it was ready, then after many more critiques and rewrites, submitted to more agents in 2009. I spent that summer doing a lot of revisions for an agent who was interested in representation; she decided to pass on it after all, which was really disappointing, but I knew the novel was a lot better, so the time and effort wasn't wasted. I started sending the manuscript to agents again in September, and in February 2010, one of those agents emailed to set up a phone call. During our phone conversation she offered representation, and we scheduled another phone call for later that week. I emailed the other agents who still had the manuscript to let them know about the offer so they'd have time to read it and let me know if they were also interested. Coincidentally, Joanna Stampfel-Volpe emailed me that same day to let me know she'd just read the thirty pages I'd submitted to her before, and said if I wasn't represented yet she'd like to see the whole thing. I let her know that I wasn't represented yet but had a phone call planned for a couple days later. She read the whole manuscript by the next day and also set up a time to talk on the phone. So after all those manuscript submissions I suddenly had two agents I really liked who'd offered representation. Nice problem to have, but I hated having to make the decision. (Here's more about what that was like).

I decided to go with Joanna, and after a couple rounds of revisions she submitted the novel to editors. About three weeks later she called me to let me know that editor Margaret Ferguson at MacMillan/FSG was interested in publishing CHAINED. Since I was working in a college classroom at the time, I had to just step out in the hall and say something like, “Oh, wow, that's awesome” when what I really wanted to do was run up and down the halls screaming. But people look at you weirdly when you do that.

Joanna let the other editors who had the manuscript know about the offer, kind of like I did when I notified agents about my offer of representation. Since more than one editor was interested acquiring the manuscript, Joanna set up an auction for the sale, which was really exciting!
So to sum up:
March 2006 – got the idea for the book and started writing
February 2010 – signed with agent
May 2010 – novel sold
May 2012 – publication date

What inspired the story?
I've always loved elephants, but I got the idea for CHAINED when I was at a presentation and heard the tale "Don't Be Like The Elephant," about how a small rope or chain can hold a full-grown elephant because once they give up trying to break free, they never try again. It's meant to be an example of learned helplessness or self-limiting behavior, but I got the idea then to write a picture book about a captive elephant. I had no idea at the time it would grow into the novel that it is now. The very first version was horrific--other than the elephant (who talked), there was a talking ostrich, a train, a monkey--and I'm so thankful no one ever saw it. At some point when I was writing the idea hit me, "Maybe this needs to be the elephant's story," and I wrote a picture book manuscript about a captive elephant that breaks free and returns to his home. After taking it to a couple of critique groups some people noticed that the story needed to be told as a novel, not as a picture book. At the time I couldn't imagine writing it as a novel, but now I can't imagine it any other way. So little by little I worked on expanding the story into a novel, with lots of revisions along the way, changing from third person to first person point of view, past tense to present tense, the elephant from a boy to a girl, and more revisions.

There have been so many versions of the story; it's unrecognizable from the first picture book draft, although you'll still see the elephant held by the same small chain that held her as a newly-captured calf.

Chained sounds like an emotional story. Should we be prepared for tears?
Well...yes. During the last couple chapters, especially. But happiness too, of course! I don't want to leave you depressed.

What age range is Chained aimed at?
I just looked at the back cover and it reads “Ages 10-14.” Since the main character, Hastin, is ten years old, I think kids who are younger than he is would like it too. So “8 and up” sounds good to me.

I have seen a picture of you with a real elephant. What was that like and did your personal experience work its way into your book?
That's one of my elephant friends from the Houston Zoo-- I've gone to a few of their Elephant Open House events. I learn something new each time I go. The staff there is great about answering questions, and being up close with the elephants helped me describe them better.

We see each other all the time around Houston book events and we have a pretty big writing community. Have you been let into the club and has that helped and how?
It's amazing how supportive the writing community here is, and being a part of it has helped tremendously. I couldn't have written the book without the help of people who'd already been writing for some time and were knowledgable about the industry. When I first started writing I was able to find some awesome critique groups right away who helped me get the story ready to submit, and I felt welcomed from the start. Plus they like going to lunch and eating cake.

You are also part of Class of 2k12. In earlier groups there where authors like Cassandra Claire, Melissa Marr, Jay Asher, and so many others. How does it feel to be in the group?
Wow, those are some big names. So that's exciting and inspiring and a little intimidating.

What are future projects you would like to work on?
I've just turned in my revisions for a humorous YA mystery to my agent, and I'll be going back to mid-grade next, in a novel about an amateur forensic scientist with cryptozoologist parents. I'm also thinking of a YA character who grew up on a reality show.

Thanks again to Lynne for taking time to visit and talk about Chained! To find out more about Lynne visit

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Review: Nothing Special by Geoff Herbach

Nothing Special by Geoff Herbach

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

If you haven't read STUPID FAST and NOTHING SPECIAL you are missing out! Last year when I read STUPID FAST I was shocked to be inside Felton's head. I mean let's face it, guys in YA tend to be smooth and romantic. Felton is nothing like Edward Cullen, but the goodness in his heart makes it easy to love him. If you haven't read STUPID FAST get it now and read it from start to finish and then start NOTHING SPECIAL. In STUPID FAST we really get to know Felton and how he went from the kid who got picked on and being treated like he was slow to the popular jock he is now. I think it's important to note that in STUPID FAST you get to know Felton's voice and understand him, which will make reading NOTHING SPECIAL completely special!

The story is mostly told in journal entries to Aleah, his girlfriend. Felton's voice is so genuine as he tries to understand why his life is changing and not in a good way. Felton's little brother Andrew becomes distant and Aleah makes other plans for the summer. His lifetime best friend, Gus, ditches him and Felton is starting to feel the pressures of college and football no longer holds the allure it once did. And then there's his mom, who Felton worries could fall back into a depression at any moment.

When Felton changed it caused a domino effect for everyone in his life and the biggest effect was on his little brother Andrew. Andrew feels that Felton's existence ruined his life and the fact that Felton treats him like an annoying little brother doesn't help the situation. Andrew tries to reach out to Felton but Felton isn't quick to pick up the subtle clues. Then Andrew decides he should go to camp, but then Felton finds out that Andrew isn't actually at camp and that he has run away from home instead. Felton will have to mend his friendship with Gus to save Andrew. Along the way Felton learns more about himself and the people around him than he thought possible. He also gets a new perspective on life from a very unlikely family member.

I can't stress how important NOTHING SPECIAL really is. This is a great book for both guys and reluctant readers but I believe anyone will cheer for Felton. NOTHING SPECIAL is Geoff Herbach's second YA novel and I can safely say Geoff Herbach is one of my favorite authors. His writing is fantastic! NOTHING SPECIAL is in stores today so run out and get a copy!

To learn more about Geoff visit