Friday, September 30, 2011

A Llama/Squirrel Alliance?

Today's blog is brought to you by Shawna Thomas. Her book, ALTERED DESTINY, was just released from Carina Press.





Writing a blog hurts my brain. No, it really does. I'm not one of those naturally outgoing,effervescent people who can talk to anyone about anything. Writing a blog post, especially a guest blog post, is like hosting a party. Now I love to bake, organize and decorate. I'll even serve with a happy heart, but getting the conversations going?


So not me.

So guest blogging on CJ's blog is like hosting a party for Ivana Trump's friends. You know, they're kinda used to the best. So, just now, I sat down to write this post and I told myself. Okay, Shawna. Be clever. Be witty. Be charming.

And my brain started to hurt.

My life is kinda boring: Work, kids, write, husband, kids, clean, cook, repeat. Sometimes I even sleep.

So what do I write about? Hum dee dee...There was this squirrel war I witnessed while walking home from school the other day.





That was interesting.

Those squirrels were going at it. Sounded like a legion of squirrels: branches swaying, leaves drifting to the ground, and screeches of enraged squirrels. I walked quickly through the war zone, dodging stray bits of debris and hoping the loser didn't get thrown from the tree and wind up on my head




(Would you like a defeated squirrel to fall on you? Didn't think so.)

That reminds me of the stare down I got from a squirrel at the zoo a few months back. A squirrel sat in the middle of a section of heavily treed path, just daring me to try and pass. This squirrel was not budging. In fact, every time I thought about stepping forward, it moved closer, staring at me with these mean, beady eyes. You may think it cowardly, but those suckers are fast, I chose another route. That squirrel meant business.


This talk of squirrels reminds me of CJ and her llamas--don't ask me why, my brain is not linear on its best day.

What if the squirrels joined the llamas? The llamas would have an aerial advantage. It wouldn't be pretty, folks.



Not pretty at all.

So before CJ's llamas get irritated at my suggestion they need allies, or decide it's a good idea, let tell you why I'm here. Carina Press just released my new book, ALTERED DESTINY--in which there are no llamas, or squirrels for that matter. There is Jaden--a drop-dead gorgeous Svistra, and Selia--one of my favorite heroines ever, who fall in love despite forces attempting to tear them apart. ALTERED DESTINY is a fantasy novel that tends to lean toward YA and will make lovers of romance happy.


I promise.

Here's a look at ALTERED DESTINY:

Selia has run her family's tavern since she was fifteen and can hunt and fight the equal of any man. When she rescues a badly wounded man and nurses him back to health, she has no idea she's about to change not only her life, but also the destinies of two peoples...

The battered warrior is Svistra—a race of bloodthirsty savages determined to destroy her homeland. Or so the stories claim. Jaden reveals a different truth: how his ancestors were driven into the barren northern mountains. Now they are strong and war parties are pushing south wanting their land back.

The son of a Svistra Commander, Jaden is looking for a way to bring peace to both humans and Svistrans. He tries to ignore his growing passion for Selia, but when she is captured he has to decide what he would be willing to sacrifice to save the woman he loves.


Thank you, Shawna! *shudders at the thought of a squirrel/llama alliance* To learn more about Shawna, visit her website or her blog. To learn more about ALTERED DESTINY, go here or here.

Happy reading!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Taking Risks

I've been thinking a lot lately about risks. Being an artist comes with risk, whether you're a writer or your art takes a different form. You risk rejection. You risk displeasure. You risk success. You risk missing the heart of your vision. You risk hitting the heart of your vision, and then having to send it out to others who don't look at things through your eyes.

Risk is a terrifying thing.

It's also the heartblood of great art.

Is it risky to sit down and put words to a page? Put brush to canvas? Put yourself into the next role you play on stage? Yes. But riskier still, and far more rewarding, is pushing yourself beyond the conventions of your art. Leaving behind the steady lines you've been coloring inside because that's what others are doing, so that must be your path too. Looking that huge, awesome, completely terrifying idea straight in the face and saying "Bring it."

Those are the risks that blaze paths.

Those are the moments that lead to greatness.

To get to those moments, you may need to color in the lines for a little while. Just until the lines start to feel constricting. Until you are not just curious to see what it looks like to break the rules, but you feel a burning need to smash them to pieces and rebuild them your way.

To get to those moments, you need to be honest. You can't take another's lens and put it over your vision. You have to take all the little pieces that make up the sum total of your life experience and be heartbreakingly, jaw-droppingly, stun-others-into-silence honest. Because the moment truth leaks into your art, greatness follows.

So, when you're flirting with your next project, and you have the safe, tame, I've-done-this-so-I-know-I-can-repeat-it idea side by side with the holy-crap-this-might-kill-me-and-what-if-I-don't-have-the-chops-to-do-it-justice idea?

Choose truth.

Choose to draw your own lines, wear your own lens, and plumb your depths to see what you're truly capable of doing.

Choose risk.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Writing Projects Galore!

It's been a long time since I posted any sort of writing project update. Mostly because I've been super busy writing. =D But there's a lot going on, so here's the scoop:

1. DEFIANCE: I've finished 3 rounds of edits and would happily make out with the manuscript in public given half the chance. I'm very proud of it. It is truly the best I'm capable of doing. I have copy edits next, and then page proofs, and then *cue stomach flip* ARCs go out to reviewers. Oh, and I'll be getting my cover fairly soon, though I don't know how soon they'll let me share it.

2. Synopsis Workshop Handouts: I've revamped my synopsis workshop handouts so that they will effectively answer all pressing questions and break down the entire process into small, manageable steps. It's like having a pro guide you carefully through the process, helping you keep your sanity and turn out an amazing synopsis at the same time. The handout packet is now for sale on my workshop website and arrives as a Word.doc attachment. The workshop itself was $70 (back when I still had time to offer it), and I'm selling the comprehensive handouts for $25.

3. Query Writing Handbook: I've finished the first draft of my upcoming Query Writing Handbook, and I'm excited to be able to offer it for purchase soon! It's as thorough as I could possibly get without sitting right beside you myself every step of the way. Covering everything from what a query is, how to find a good agent, how to write a hook, what to ask an agent who is offering representation and much, MUCH more, this truly is everything I know about query writing all in one tidy little package. Release date will be announced soon!

4. Novella: I'm currently writing the story of two of DEFIANCE's secondary characters. I have plans to make the novella available between books 1 and 2 of the trilogy. More info on this will be forthcoming once I have it. But I think maybe I broke some kind of novella record by killing ten people in the first chapter. Is there a prize for that? Medication? Wonderful. I'll take it.

5. Book Two: I actually have a working title for this, but until I have the go-ahead from my editor, I'll be calling this book IN WHICH EVERYTHING GOES WRONG. It's kind of catchy. This book is mostly plotted out (and I'll solidify that this weekend at my writer's retreat), and I'll be starting it as soon as I finish the novella.

6. Research: As other writers know, even though you're working on one project, several others are always clamoring for attention in your brain. Right now, I have two other YA series vying for my attention, so I'm doing the research and creating files that I can open when I'm ready to dive into the actual writing. Between these two projects and the DEFIANCE trilogy, I've researched all of the following: robotics, corsets, Manga, knives, homemade batteries, cons, Chinese flowers, Los Angeles, water myths, Jack the Ripper, and tree houses. My brain is a strange and wonderful place sometimes. :)

7. Casting Stones: After I finish writing Book 2, I'll be turning my attention to the Casting Stone series, which is the adult series I'll be publishing in 2013. The best description for this series is Supernatural meets I Love Lucy. Book 1 is finished and will be edited, and then I'll write Book 2. I have plans to publish both in spring and summer of 2013.

Well. I don't know about you, but I think that's PLENTY to have on my plate at the moment. :) Look for a release date for both DEFIANCE and the Query Writing Handbook soon!

Monday, September 19, 2011

PWNED!

Ninja kitten is coming at you like a G6!



1. I laughed so hard at the above pic, I nearly compromised my ability to fully control my bladder.

2. Sometimes, I think I'm the weirdest person I know.

3. But someone else always comes along and disabuses me of that notion.

4. Not YOU, of course. Never you.

5. But probably the person sitting on your right.

6. At this point, I should probably make a graceful transition like "Speaking of sitting on your right" to segue into my next bit, but ... that isn't going to happen.

7. In my ongoing quest to become the Girl Who Has Snorted The Worst Collection Of Unlikely Items (Heck, YES, there's an award for that. Isn't there? NO?? Well, someone better get right ON that situation because I am earning this.), I've abused my sinuses with chunks of bread pudding (note: raisins burn), chicken nugget (just say no to clucky), diet Coke (the new sinus douche), and most recently cinnamon gum (feeeeeel the burn) and water from an over-achiever of a dental hygienist's hose.

8. All rather stellar evidence that I deserve the (as yet invented) award, yes? So, what could possibly be incredibly awkward enough to take a spot among these hallowed few?

9. A tortilla chip.

10. In mid-flight.

11. Now, lest you think I have a honker the size of a small country (thereby accommodating an entire chip), I must clarify: it was just the tip of the chip.

12. How did a chip tip fly into my nose?

13. I really have no explanation. I wish I did. I think when I was born and the fairies were handing out gifts, Malificent was absent and Murphy's Law stood in her place.

14. The situation is simple. I was eating chips and salsa. I took a bite of tortilla chip. And somehow the velocity and trajectory of my bite combined with the momentum of ... something ... caused the non-bitten portion of the chip to FLY OUT OF MY HAND AND STRAIGHT UP MY NOSE.

15. You will immediately note that this defies the laws of gravity.

16. And probably violates any number of other interesting laws of physics.

17. It's like my nostrils decided, "Hey! We haven't had any real action since the chewing gum incident in February. Let's form a committee and rectify the situation."

18. And then my nostrils became a tractor beam for shards of tortilla chips.

19. I cannot be the only person to whom that has happened.

20. And I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I am the weirdest person you know.

21. Because you have the good sense to swallow your food and have it go DOWN instead of UP.

22. Well, good for you, you boring conformist. But when they start handing out awards for the Girl Who Has Snorted The Worst Collection of Unlikely Items, where will you be??

23. Award-less, that's where.

24. And lest it be said that I am not an equal opportunity body-part-meet-unlikely-food-item offender, I was drinking tea the other night, and the tea bag was still in the mug.

25. Because while I can plot a trilogy with intricate sub plots and nuanced character arcs, I apparently cannot remember to take the tea bag out of the mug when it's finished steeping. Instead, I just sort of pin it to the side of the mug and drink around it.

26. Except for the time last week when I forgot to pin it to the side of the mug.

27. I tipped the mug up, took a swallow of hot tea, and got a smooshy hot tea bag straight to the eye.

28. Which leads me right to the last item on my list.

29. EYES.

30. I believe my readers are well aware of the good-natured animosity that exists between my eye Dr and me.

31. Mostly because eye stuff is SO GROSS and he thinks it's funny to show me pictures of eye fungus and roll my eyelid up with a stick.

32. I had an exam this last week. And he didn't show me nasty pictures. Mostly because I closed my eyes and told him his indecent enthusiasm for the various stages of WHATEVER he wanted to show me was wrong on every level.

33. He also didn't try to roll my eyelid up with a stick, though he did tell me he'd had an old lady in that day with grass in her eye and he'd been unable to roll her eye up with a stick because her eyelid skin was so thin and crinkly he couldn't get a grip.

34. I gag at the thought of other people rubbing their own eyes too long.

35. I DO NOT NEED TO KNOW about old lady eyelids.

36. I informed my Dr of this fact. He thought I was funny.

37. But he got the last laugh. Oh, yes.

38. At the end of the appointment, he acknowledged that my prescription had changed and went to find a new pair of contacts for me to try.

39. When he returned, I put them in and the entire world just ... disappeared.

40. Gone.

41. Poof.

42. Nothing but a faint swirl of shapeless colors.

43. I said, "Lucy, you've got some splainin to do."

44. He told me it would take a minute for my eyes to relax and adjust to the new prescription.

45. I told him I couldn't see a single thing. Not. One. Thing.

46. He asked if maybe I'd put the contacts in inside out.

47. I hadn't. And at this point, I was beginning to feel seriously nauseous.

48. I informed him of this. Along with the salient fact that as there was no way I could SEE the trashcan, I was just going to vomit at will if he didn't fix the situation.

49. He laughed.

50. And I said, "I may be blind, but I can still track you by the sound of your voice and kill you dead."

51. Then he looked at the box of contacts, was silent for a long time, and then said "Um. Take them out. This is the wrong prescription."

52. No, really?

53. I took them out. He gave me the right prescription. And then showed me that my prescription is a +4.35 and he'd accidentally given me a pair of -4.35.

54. Who needs his eye rolled up with a stick NOW??

55. I am never going to let him live this down.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Winner of CLAIRE DE LUNE and NOCTURNE


Thank you to all who entered the giveaway for a signed set of Christine Johnson's books! (And thank you Christine for such a fun guest blog post!) As always, I used random.org to choose the winner. And the lucky winner is:

Amanda

Congratulations, Amanda! You will receive a confirmation email from me shortly. Happy reading!



Monday, September 12, 2011

Winner of THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS


Thank you to all who entered to win Rae Carson's THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS. As always, I used random.org to choose the winner. And the lucky winner is

grlinthestacks

Congratulations! You will receive a confirmation email from me shortly. Enjoy reading your new book!

Winner of POSSESS!


Thank you to all who entered the giveaway for Gretchen McNeil's POSSESS! As always, I used random.org to pick the winner. And the lucky winner is


Jessi Knite

Congratulations, Jessi! You will receive a confirmation email from me shortly. Enjoy your book!

Zombie Body Parts For The Win!


1. As you can see from the pic above, Johanna is pretty territorial about her milk.

2. Either that, or she's demanding cookies.

3. It's been a while since I did a list.

4. Mostly because I had some awesome giveaways to post last week! Today is the last day to enter the giveaway for Rae Carson's GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS and Gretchen McNeil's POSSESS so don't miss out on a chance to win these fabulous books!

5. Starshine has decided to write a book. He asked me what he needed to do before starting, and we discussed building characters and thinking through major plot points.

6. He now has a notepad and is filling it with facts about his main characters. It's fun to see his eyes light up as he comes to tell me "Hey, Mom. I just figured out this character is afraid of rodents!" or "This character was in foster care." because I understand completely how the little pieces that make up a character slowly find their way into your brain and become a fascinating discovery every time.

7. Speaking of which, the main character in the next trilogy I plan to write is now sitting up and making herself known with all the finesse and subtlety of a megaphone.

8. So ... I'm now researching her and working on the world-building details of that trilogy on the side even as I finish polishing up DEFIANCE and get ready to write book two.

9. Some things I've researched lately (either for DEFIANCE or for the new project): homemade batteries, Manga, robotics, grenades, pheremones, and Hello Kitty.

10. My brain is a really strange place to live in sometimes.

11. I'm off the to eye dr this afternoon.

12. You'll recall that the second to last time I saw him, he dyed my eye the color of cow urine right before I was going to meet my agent for the first time.

13. And the last time I saw him, he rolled my eyelid up with a stick whereupon I promptly gagged and reflexively kicked him in the never-you-mind.

14. So, today should be interesting.

15. I'm coming in armed with attitude.

16. I'm pretty sure he'll be wearing catcher's gear.

17. I've decided my lawn is boring.

18. It's nothing but grass and the occasional tree.

19. As I have zero aptitude for growing things (and indeed have steadily decreased the number of shrubs around our house either by lack of care or pitting them in a cage match with the lawnmower in which they showed a regrettable lack of ambition and fortitude), I'm thinking I need lawn art instead.

20. Maybe a lawn gnome.

21. Who is guarding a patch of zombie limbs climbing out of the grass.

22. And a giant metal llama standing near our driveway as if to say both "Hello" and "I Shall Spit Upon You If You Are Selling Something."

23. So far, my hubby is sold on the zombie limbs, but nothing else.

24. I'm also thinking I will plant plastic flowers. It will add color. I won't have to worry about bees. And no amount of neglect will kill them.

25. These are the thoughts that take precedence in my head when I stop plotting stories.

26. *goes back to plotting stories*

Friday, September 9, 2011

Idea Mosquitos

Today's post is brought to you by the lovely and talented Christine Johnson. Be sure to read through to the end to find out a) how Christine comes up with her amazing ideas and b) how you can win a set of signed books!



One of the questions I get asked most often is “Where do you get your ideas?” or “Where did you get the idea for CLAIRE DE LUNE/NOCTURNE/THE GATHERING DARK/INSERT NEW IDEA HERE.” I usually come up with some sort of answer, but here’s the real one. Finally. And then I may not answer this question ever again.


I DON’T FREAKING KNOW. I don’t *know* where the ideas come from. This is just the way I am. It’s the way my brain works. There are a thousand ideas in my head all the time. And it’s not like being in a floaty beautiful cloud of butterflies that turn the grey, bleak world into a living stained glass window. It’s much more like living with a constant halo of mosquitos who are so distracting and annoying that I miss my exit on the Interstate or forget to buy apple juice (again.) Once in awhile, one of those mosquitos stands out from the crowd and becomes so persistently infuriating that it simply MUST BE SQUASHED. Writing a novel or a story is how those idea mosquitos get the smack down.

This makes the whole process sound miserable. I understand that. But it’s not. Having the ideas can be sort of miserable, because the rest of the world tends not to understand why you’re so crazy or what could possibly be so interesting about that long-since boarded up building that suddenly has one open window on the second floor. I actually saw this on my way to the coffee shop where I write this morning. I stopped to take a picture and let the new idea-mosquitos get comfy in my head. At least two people looked at me like I had LOST MY MIND in the ten seconds this whole process took.

So, yes. The ideas, they are crazy-making.

But you know that feeling you get when you squish a mosquito? That hot-DAMN-I-got-you rush? And you know how, when you lift your hand and there’s no blood, so you know you got it before it got you which means you REALLY won and not just in a Pyrrhic way? Writing out an idea is like that. In slow-mo, obviously, since a novel generally takes months to draft. That rush is awesome. It’s not a miserable process.

I don’t think it’s a matter of needing ideas because I’m a writer. For me (and, to be fair, for a lot of other writers I know,) it’s mostly a matter of needing to write because of the ideas.

So the question of “where’d it come from?” Yeah. I’m just wired this way. Which is why I do what I do. It’s like asking an accountant why the numbers make sense to them. They’re going to look at you like you’ve grown an extra head. Or maybe they’d just count your heads and make a new entry in their spreadsheet. (Dude. Mosquitos. I wrote that and then immediately wondered what would happen if you dropped a really tightly-wound accountant into a zombie apocalypse. Only that doesn’t really require counting. What’s hard to count? Angels on the head of a pin. Hmmm. So if he made a deal with the Devil and then he had to count *that* . . . DO YOU SEE WHAT I’M SAYING? THIS IS JUST THE WAY MY BRAIN WORKS.)

I genuinely don’t know if you can train yourself to be this way - it’s how I’ve always been. Maybe you can spend more time staring at clouds or imagining what might be on the other side of water-warped basement doors. Maybe you can practice it.

The idea mosquitos also like caffeine. If all else fails and you’re out of ideas, I’d drink a quad espresso and go sit in an abandoned house for awhile. If nothing else, it’ll make a good story, right?

Hey! What if someone did go drink coffee and sit in an abandoned house? What if they were waiting for someone? Like a secret meeting? And ooooh - what if the wrong person showed up? *THWAP* Idea mosquito. Dead.


GIVEAWAY!

Christine is offering a signed set of CLAIRE DE LUNE and NOCTURNE to one lucky commenter! The giveaway is for North America only and is open until 8 p.m. Tuesday, September 13th. Please make sure to leave your email in the comment trail if I can't immediately find it by clicking on your profile, and check back Wednesday to see the winner's name announced!

Good luck and happy reading!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Interview with Rae Carson


I met Rae last year when she signed with Holly. I have a soft spot in my heart for all of my agent-mates, but when I heard about Rae's book, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it--for reasons that had nothing to do with our agent and everything to do with how amazing GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS really is. From the vivid, compelling world, to the captivating story of one girl's struggle to rise to the greatness everyone expects from her, this is a book you don't want to miss! Here's a peek:

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.



Elisa is the chosen one.


But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.


Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.


And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.


Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.


Most of the chosen do.
GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS is the first in a trilogy, and I can't wait to see how the story ends! Rae decided she wanted to take on the Were-llama (brave girl!). Let's meet today's guests.


Were-llama



Rae Carson

Now that you know who's who, it's time to reveal the beautiful cupcake my hubby made in honor of GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS and dive into the interview. Elisa has a godstone in her belly button, a magical blue gem that is a symbol of her destiny. Also, much of the book takes place in the desert. My hubby decided to make the godstone and set it on a bed of sand. Without further ado, I give you the cupcake and Rae vs. the Were-llama.




1. So, you’re a writer. I’m a super-scary shape-shifter who can command obedience with the awesome power of my glowing red eyes. What do we have in common?


Hey, I have glowing red eyes, too! But mine are due to late nights staring at a computer screen.

2. I think you missed the salient point of my statement. I can COMMAND OBEDIENCE. What's the point of having glowing red eyes if you can't do that? I like to spit at my enemies from whichever end is closest to them. Do any of your characters have cool abilities like that?

Nothing, and I mean nothing, beats butt-spitting. But my main character, Elisa, has a Godstone, which is a magical jewel, lodged in her belly button. There may or may not be magical spitting from said magical jewel. You’ll have to read to find out.

3. I will grudgingly admit that belly-button spitting is almost as awesome as butt-spitting. Almost. If I had a nickname, it would be The Awesome. You?

The Bluntifier. I have the ability to paralyze people with the power of my socially inappropriate frankness.

4. If you had the power to command obedience with your glowing red eyes, you'd have them paralyzed long before that. I hang around this blog because I love stories. What’s your story about? Bonus points if it includes a llama.

Chosen for an extraordinary--and fearsome--destiny, a sixteen-year-old llama princess becomes the heart of a revolution.

5. Finally! A story that shows true literary genius. You’re making me a cake worthy of my awesome Were-llama status and decorating it to represent your story. What does it look like?

It is sinfully chocolate, with butterscotch frosting shaped into a landscape of sweeping desert dunes to represent your savage beauty.

6. *licks the last of chocolate cake and butterscotch frosting from face* I hope you weren't hoping I'd share. Any Were-llamas in your book?

There is an army of Were-llamas, though they’re disguised as tribal mountain people. Come to think of it, I never actually mention the word “Were-llama” in the book. A technicality. You and I both know that mighty Were-llamas come in many guises.

7. Indeed we do. In fact, I could be standing behind you right now disguised as ... as whatever is behind you right now. Anyone who might be a Were-llama and you just haven’t figured it out yet?

I think Lord Hector of the Royal Guard might be a Were-llama. It would explain his utter awesomeness.

8. Only a true were-llama can claim the descriptor "utter awesomeness." Llamas or camels and why? Think carefully.

My story takes place in a desert, and there are lots of camels. So I have to take a stand and say CAMELS ARE RAD.

Think about it. They can chew thorns. They can survive long distances with very little water. They have bonafide, certified, Fergie-approved HUMPS. And have you ever heard the phrase “Llama-toe?” No, you have not. Case? Rested.

9. *glares with glowing red eyes* Careful! Or I shall rest YOU six feet below the ground. Besides, it's not like the phrase "camel-toe" is a compliment. I give you a baby Were-llama as a companion. What do you name her?

Princess C.J.

10. How appropriate. My favorite word is “awesome” because, yanno, look at me. What’s yours?

Viscosity. It’s a word every Were-llama worth her spit is fond of.

11. I am the Queen of Viscosity. Want proof? Keep singing the camel's praises. *readies a load of spit* As a young Were-llama, I dreamt of taking over the eastern seaboard one face full of spit at a time. What did you dream of doing when you were young?

I dreamt of discovering I was adopted and that my birth parents, who were royalty and wealthy beyond imagining, had hidden me away to learn how commoners lived so I would better appreciate my eventual existence of fame and fortune. Also, dating Luke Skywalker.

12. Who, incidentally, is half were-llama. His father, of course, is ALL were-llama. Cake or cookies?

Cookies. Lots of cookies. A mountain of cookies. Unless they’re hard and crunchy. I would take cake over a crunchy cookie any day.

13. Do you share chocolate?

Yes, of course! And by “yes” I mean “no.”

14. Oh, you'll share it with ME. *aims glowing red eyes your way and commands obedience* The Zombie Goat invasion is upon us. How will you fight them off?

Llamas may be the lesser cousins of camels, but no one doubts their bravery. For this reason, they will be the front line of the Zombie-Goat-Defeating Army of Even-Toed Ungulates. Camels will make up the second defensive wave, and I promise you, they will weep as they step over the broken bodies of their comrades.




Thank you, Rae, for the fabulous interview! To learn more about Rae and her books, head to her site. Of course, the funny isn't over yet. Rae is offering a signed copy of GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS to one lucky commenter. The giveaway is open to North America and will be open until 8 pm Central Time Monday, September 12th. To enter, fill out the following entry form. Be sure to leave a comment for Rae in the blogger comment box below the entry form so she can see it!

Good luck and happy reading!

Interview with Gretchen McNeil


I met Gretchen McNeil after I signed with Harper Collins because she and I share an editor. (Shout out to the amazing, insightful, hilarious Kristin Daly Rens!) Kristin sent me a "Welcome to Balzer + Bray" box of books. Included in that box was an ARC of Gretchen's POSSESS. I read the synopsis for the book and immediately snatched it up to read! POSSESS is intense and atmospheric. It's set in San Francisco, and I appreciated how vivid and real it felt. Also, I don't mind telling you there is a scene in this book that disturbed me so much, I have no idea how I'll ever face going into a doll shop again. Here's a look at POSSESS:



See what I mean? When I asked Gretchen if she'd like to come on the blog, she immediately decided to take on the Spork of Doom. (I guess when you write about freaky demons and nasty conspiracies, a megalomaniac eating utensil doesn't seem quite so scary.) Let's meet today's guests.


Spork of Doom



Gretchen McNeil

Now that you know who's who, it's time to reveal the uber freaky cupcake my hubby made in honor of Gretchen's book. Usually, I ask my authors for a few different cupcake ideas and let my hubby choose the one he'd like to do. But in this case, there was only one option: a possessed doll. *cue recurring nightmare* My hubby was more than up to the task! Without further ado, I give you the possessed doll cupcake and Gretchen vs. the Spork of Doom.


Take me home with you, little girl. I'll be a goooooood doll. I promise.

1. I’m all about world domination, and I’m always looking for good help. Why would you be an acceptable minion in my quest?


Like you, I’m a multi-tasker. You can scoop up some yogurt AND stab a tater tot. I can load a shotgun AND shoot down a government helicopter with a grenade launcher. (Um…theoretically…) Win-win.

2. A grenade launcher might come in handy. *bestows Minion Status on you* Being a Spork of Doom takes moxie. What’s the sporkiest thing you’ve ever done?

I’d have to say the ballsiest (also, least practical) thing I’ve done is major in vocal performance in college. While it didn’t exactly get me on stage at the Metropolitan Opera, it did teach me a lot about telling a damn good story. Although it did give me the opportunity to sing with the circus, which is like the Met, only scarier.


Also, my mom wanted me to be a doctor so…that didn’t happen.

3. A circus performer who can handle a grenade launcher? *gives you the Spork Eye* Are you sure you aren't trying to unseat me from my rightful throne? When I’m not busy taking over the world, I like to eat pie. What kind of pie do you think is worthy of my Spork of Doom status?

I love pie. I really, really do. Favorite has got to be Grasshopper pie with an Oreo crust. What’s not to love? It’s minty. It’s chocolatey. It’s a shade of green you couldn’t find in nature.

4. I find your offering to be acceptable. What’s your favorite thing to do with a spork?

Sporks make excellent catapults. Just saying.

5. Just as long as you don't plan to use ME to launch your grenades. If you do, I will see your vocal performance degree and raise you three titanium tines of DOOM. I have the ability to be simultaneously spoon, fork, and weapon of mass destruction. What unique ability do you have?

Aside from my previously mentioned guerrilla warfare prowess, I’m simultaneously a writer of scary stuff, singer of scary opera, and clowner of scary…clowns.

6. Perhaps you can write a scary opera befitting my incredible rise to power. Just don't sing it while dressed as a clown. I hate having to spork my minions. In this day and age, a savvy spork bent on
world domination can’t afford to ignore a good marketing campaign. I’m thinking t-shirts with “Spork or Die.” If you made a shirt with your own slogan on it, what would it say?

“Gretchen McNeil: Girl Friday.” I think that sums up my multi-facetedness. It also reminds me of the movie His Girl Friday with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. Damn, I love that film.

7. If I had to compare myself to anyone in history, I’d have to say I’m most like Napoleon. Only skinnier. And shinier. And smart enough not to lose my empire at a place with a ridiculous name like Waterloo. Who are you most like and why?

Well, at least you’re taller than Napoleon.

I’d go with Dorothy Parker. Never before as a woman been so regarded for her wit. And me? Never before has a woman so desperately wanted to be regarded for her wit.

8. Can you annihilate a pack of mutinous rebels with your wit? If not, I don't see the value. Why is your job just as much fun as world domination?

Two words: circus clowns. (Did I mention I sing in the circus? Yes? Just checking.)

9. In between conquests, I like to read a good story. What can you recommend and why?

Just finished WITCH EYES by Scott Tracey and just started WILDEFIRE by Karsten Knight. Highly recommend them both. Also, because I’m a nerd like this, my favorite book of all time is THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS by John Buchan. I love to recommend it.

10. I wonder if that's thirty-nine steps to total world domination? Because I can totally do it in thirty-eight. I'm just saying. You need to accomplish a secret, night-time mission as my minion. Cloak? No cloak? Why?

Could the cloak be form-fitting? No? Damn. Okay, no cloak then. I really need something that cinches at the waist, and besides, what kind of shoes does one WEAR with a cloak?

11. Combat boots! All the better to crush your opposition. My best piece of advice to others is this: “Fear the spork!” What’s your best advice?

Embrace your inner spazz.

I would have been so much happier if I’d learned that lesson at 18 instead of…yesterday.



Thank you, Gretchen, for such an entertaining interview! To find out more about Gretchen and her book, visit her (incredibly awesome) site. Of course, the fun isn't over yet! Gretchen is offering a signed copy of POSSESS to one lucky commenter. The giveaway is open to North America and is open until 8 p.m. Central Time Monday, September 12th. To enter, simply fill out the entry form. And don't forget to leave Gretchen a comment in the Blogger comments section!

Good luck and happy reading!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Winner of the Lisa Mantchev Giveaway!


Thank you to all who entered the giveaway for a signed copy of Lisa Mantchev's EYES LIKE STARS and PERCHANCE TO DREAM plus some fun book swag! As always, I used random.org to choose the winner. And the lucky winner is:

Lesli Lytle

Congratulations, Lesli! You will receive a confirmation email from me shortly. Enjoy your books!

If you didn't win this time, don't worry. I have three amazing authors lined up for September with plenty of chances to win awesome books!

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