Monday, November 28, 2011

BOUND by Christine Bryant

Okay, so I'm here talking about a book today, which I know is freaking you out. I can see you nervously sipping your [insert morning drink of choice] and wondering, "Is is Thursday already??"

It's not.

But this Thursday is the YA scavenger hunt, which I am participating in. In fact, my bonus content for the scavenger hunt is SO EXCITING. I can't wait to share it with you! (If you get my newsletter, you'll already have a hint at what it is...)

So I thought I'd do my Thursday post today. And it's an interview with Christine Bryant, author of BOUND. So let's let her take it away!

The Twitter version: tell us about your book in 140 characters or less:

BOUND is a heroic tale of true friendship, infinite sacrifice and untamed love.

Why e-publishing? Why now?
Why not now? BOUND is ready. I'm ready. And there's never been a better time for an author to self-publish. It was scary at first, but now I'm glad I did it. I love having control over my cover and the content of my book. It's so gratifying to hold my first novel in my hands and know that, from the very first word typed into the computer to the finished product, I did it all myself.

What’s the one thing you learned about publishing this way that you didn’t anticipate? Ha! It's dang hard and time consuming. Learning how to format and typeset was the hardest, but I got through it.

I also learned a lot about friendship. People that I thought would support me disappeared into a crowd of disbelievers and people who think self-publishing is for writers who aren't good enough to get a REAL publisher, while others I expected no support from at all stepped up and did more than I could have ever imagined to get the word out about my book. It's been an incredible experience and has really opened my eyes.

What else are you working on? Secrets? Inside scoops? Give us the juicy stuff!
Well, of course I'm working on BROKEN, the second book in The Crystor series. I want to get that one published by early spring. After that I plan to finish the first book in another series called AQUATARA. It's about a girl who thinks she's a mermaid, but she's not. You'll have read it to find out who or what she really is. ;-)

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I've always loved to write, but the whole idea of writing a full-length novel seemed beyond me or my talents. I had a few articles published when I was younger, but didn't take my writing career seriously until I attended my first writers conference. After that I was hooked. I'd discovered a passion that had been dormant for much too long.

What made you decide to go that “extra step” and seek publication?
Publication was always the goal, even when I was writing short stories and articles, but the reason I sought self-publishing had more to do with wanting my books read than it did with anything else. The story of Kira, Lydia & Octavion had been such a huge part of my life and I wanted to share that with everyone. I love that it's being read and loved by so many.

Quick! You’ve been chosen to be a contestant on Survivor. What luxury item do you take?
ROFL!! I LOVE Survivor! (Yes! But all my faves are gone this season...) Hmmm, this is a hard one. The practical part of me says I should take something like a tooth brush or an extra pair of undies, but the creative side of me wants to record every second of my journey. Heck, who needs practicality, I'd take a journal and pen (with extra ink).

Tell us something about yourself we don’t know.
This is a little embarrassing, but I have a bowl fetish. Cereal bowls. Mixing bowls. Serving bowls. Little antique finger bowls and butter bowls. Not the unbreakable plastic or melamine kind or the clear crystal or milk glass kind, but the ceramic and crockery type. I especially LOVE antique mixing bowls. I've picked up a few at auctions and have them displayed in a couple of hutches. Is that bad? (Whatever floats your boat.)

And the most important of all: bacon or chocolate?
Definitely chocolate. Addicted to the stuff. My favorite is Symphony bars. (With or without toffee? I'm partial to the toffee...)

Thanks for hanging out with us, Christine! You can visit Christine on her blog, you can find out even more about BOUND and Christine here, and you can order your copy of BOUND in it's many e-formats here.

So... what is your morning drink of choice?

Monday, November 21, 2011

In An Attempt for Depth

Okay, so I don't think it's any secret that I am an escapist reader. I've said it several times here on the blog. I think I've confessed this too: I only read YA novels. Sometimes the ocassional middle grade. But, yeah, usually YA.

As the new year approaches, I've been thinking of how I can add some depth to my life. And I've decided to read an adult novel. Or at least something I should've read in high school. Or something.

Some choices are obvious. A Tale of Two Cities. Huckleberry Finn. Something by Jane Austen. (Yeah, I've read none of those.)

And let's face it, this might be the only novel I read for this purpose, so I want to make it a good one.

So... what should I read?

Also, I will be gone the rest of the week eating pie and generally giving thanks. See you next week!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Would You Be Less Impressed?

Okay, so today I'm talking about a touchy subject--at least for me. It's something I've been thinking about a lot lately, and I'm interested to see/hear your reactions.

I swear this isn't a brag-fest, but I've done a lot online over the past few years. I co-founded the QueryTracker blog, where I contributed for over a year and a half. I co-founded WriteOnCon, a free online writer's conference. I wrote an ebook that is a guide to anyone who wants to query literary agents, and I offer it for free. I have critiqued hundreds of query letters for free. I co-founded the League of Extraordinary Writers, where I've contributed for over a year and a half. I co-founded the Bookanistas, an online support system and book recommendation group.

I've blogged five days a week for over two years. I commented on literally thousands of blogs. I tweet. I facebook. Heck, I think I even have a MySpace account.

Impressive, no?

I also write novels. Things have been becoming clearer and clearer to me over the past few months. And it's this: What I love most is what I do least.

Sure, I quit blogging for QT over a year ago. I cut back my blogging to three days a week. I don't comment on blogs the way I used to/should. I gave up critting query letters for free a long time ago. And right now, I'm considering some radical changes that will further free up my time to do more of what matters.

More time with my family. More time for myself. More time for my novels.

The pressing question is this: Would you be less impressed?

I honestly want to know. In this wide world of blogging, have we allowed ourselves to get carried away? Have we somehow deluded ourselves that our blog matters? That we can't write good books without blogging? That people will be disappointed in an author if they don't have a blog/Facebook/twitter?

Are we less impressed by the author who doesn't have an online presence?

Be honest, now. This is me. I can take it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

VIRTUOSITY by Jessica Martinez

Okay, so today I've delved back into the contemporary world. I will freely admit that I'm a hard nut to crack when it comes to contemporary, because I'm an escapist reader. But dude. VIRTUOSITY by Jessica Martinez is a complex, layered story that will leave you literally gasping and crying and cheering all at the same time.

Or maybe I'm just nuts...

Let's not go there. Let's learn more about VIRTUOSITY: Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands-down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant, and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen's whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn't just hot...what if Jeremy is better?

Carmen knows that kissing Jeremy can't end well, but she just can't stay away. Nobody else understands her--and riles her up--like he does. Still, she can't trust him with her biggest secret: She is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to perform, and what started as an easy fix has become a hungry addiction. Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of always doing what she’s told, doing what's expected.

Sometimes, being on top just means you have a long way to fall....

I found this novel to be utterly charming. There are multiple instances of really great writing, that really draws the reader into Carmen's world of violin. I found myself marveling at the way Jessica could bring the emotion right to the surface in just a few words.

It was brilliantly written.

The second thing I loved was the exploration of Carmen. She's always done what her mother wanted, and now, well, now everything is different. The risks she takes felt authentic to the story and to the character. She's doing things for herself for the first time ever, and it's messy and complicated. And I like that.

Don't worry if you know nothing about the violin. Heaven knows I don't. VIRTUOSITY is a delicious read, no matter what your background. So be sure to get your hands on it!

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to this week at the Reading Room.

Or on their blogs:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Write What You Like

Dude, over the past few days, I've spoken to hundreds of teens and a handful of adults. I sat on 5 panels with other authors with kids from 7th - 12th grade. And every time, someone asks these inevitable questions:

1. Why do you write?

2. How do you get your ideas?
3. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

I feel like I've blogged about all of these things before, but as I was sitting on the panels this weekend, it was like an epiphany for me personally. Like, the advice I needed to remind myself of or something. Today, I'm only going to answer the third question.

What advice do I have for aspiring authors?

It's simple, really. Write a story that you'd like to read, and write it well.

That's it. If you do that, then there's no need to worry about stars, or best book lists, or reviews, or anything else really.

Write the book you'd like to read. (Because you'll have to read and re-read and revise and re-revise that book a lot.)

Trust that there will be other people in this vast world that are the same type of reader you are.

That's it. The end.

Are you writing what you like? Or trying to fit a trend?

Dudes! Today is the first day of the BECOME (by Ali Cross) giveaways! You have a chance to win a copy on Michelle McLean's blog, on twitter at 11 AM Mountain time (1 PM Eastern) with the hashtag #BECOME, and by filling out this form.

Friday, November 11, 2011

What Will You BECOME?

Dude! I have the amazing Ali Cross here with me today. Ali and I have been friends ever since I eavesdropped on her conversation in the lunch line at a conference. She's been in my critique group for years (poor thing), and today is the release day of her debut novel, BECOME!

I'm giddy with excitement to have her here.

Let's start with the book itself.


The Twitter version: tell us about your book in 140 characters or less: “The devil's daughter is sent to Earth where she must face the evil she despises and the good she's always feared.”

Hey, that’s only 113 characters. Do I get extra points for that? (Yes. Yes, you do.)

Why e-publishing? Why now?
Now because I felt that my book was ready, and I had a few friends willing to jump in this whole thing together—it’s a lot less scary to do a hard thing with friends.

E-publishing because this particular book, while it garnered a lot of agent-attention and won some awards, it just couldn’t make it in the traditional publishing market. But I didn’t believe that meant it couldn’t make it—just not by traditional means.

I think that if you’ve done your due diligence, just because your book isn’t snatched up by an agent and/or publishing house, doesn’t mean you should give up on it.

What’s the one thing you learned about publishing this way that you didn’t anticipate?
I learned that people are supportive and encouraging and all-round-awesome no matter how you publish.

What else are you working on? Secrets? Inside scoops? Give us the juicy stuff!
Juicy stuff? You know me? I’m bo-ring. ;) (Lies! All lies!)

Hmm, well. Right now it’s NaNo time, so I’m getting my NaNo on with my alter-ego—my middle grade boy-book self. But I just finished the sequel to BECOME, which will come out in the spring!


Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Nope! I always loved writing, but I didn’t make the conscious choice to become a writer until ten or so years ago. Instead, I wanted to be a veterinarian, an opera singer, a constitutional lawyer or prime minister of Canada. :) (Hey, you could still make that last one happen...)

What made you decide to go that “extra step” and seek publication?
I’ve never been one to hide my light under a bushel. If I wrote a story? A whole book? You can bet I was gonna try to take it all the way!

Quick! You’ve been chosen to be a contestant on Survivor. What luxury item do you take?
Lip balm! I swear, I would DIE without it.

Tell us something about yourself we don’t know.
It might not seem like it, but I’m really shy. I’m just a good faker. ;)

And the most important of all: bacon or chocolate?
Girl, I love you but . . . CHOCOLATE ALL THE WAY!

So there you go! Make sure you get your copy of BECOME. It's only $3.99 and a great read. Click here to get it on your Kindle. Click here to add it to your Goodreads list, or to leave a review once you've read it.

Be sure to visit Ali on her blog, and here to keep up with the whole Dark Carma team.


Paul Greci interviewed Ali yesterday and there's a great prize package to be won on his blog.


You didn't think there'd be two AND's, did you?

Well, there is. There's this:

Copy and paste this graphic for your blog! Help spread the word. 

"This" is a little (okay, BIG) giveaway that will happen next week, from Monday November 14 - Friday November 18. The finer print:

You have 15 chances to win Ali's BECOME.
5 chances on blogs according to the following schedule:
Monday: Michelle McLean
Tuesday: Sara Larson
Wednesday: Stacy Henrie
Thursday: LT Elliot
Friday: Nichole Giles

5 chances on twitter according to the following schedule:
Monday, November 14 - 11 am MST, 1 pm Eastern
Tuesday, November 15 - 7 pm MST, 9 pm Eastern
Wednesday, November 16 - 1 pm MST, 3 pm Eastern
Thursday, November 17 - 4 pm PST, 7 pm Eastern
Friday, November 18 - 3 pm MST, 5 pm Eastern

We'll be chatting with the hashtag #BECOME so join us for your chance to mix and mingle and win!

5 chances through filling out this Google form.

So join us in the BECOME celebrations for your chance to win, or just to show support of Ali!

And... What will you BECOME?

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Okay, I have put off writing this review all week. (It's like 11 PM on Wednesday.) And the reason is because I do not have words for the awesomeness that is THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS.

I just don't. I can't find adequate words (and that's sad when you're a writer) to express my love for this book.

I suppose we can just dive in. About THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS: 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, and 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 her to be 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.

See? See?! And after you read it... Dude, you will not be disappointed. I think it's the highest compliment for a book when someone says "such-and-such book made me want to write." And THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS does just that.

In fact, my NaNo novel is a fantasy in the vein of GRACELING and... THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS. I think they're both beautifully written, with fantastic characters, and brilliant plots. If you like this GRACELING kind of fantasy, you'll love THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS.

I know I haven't said anything specific, but you'll just have to read it and see if you have words to describe this book.

I do have one specific thing: Rae Carson went there. She did something in the book that literally made me gasp and cry and moan and cheer all at the same time.

As a reader, I cried. As an author, I cheered. It was that kind of moment. I dream of achieving that moment in a book.

Maybe one day...

What book have you read that inspired you to write a similar/in the vein of story?

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to this week at the Reading Room.

Or on their blogs:

Monday, November 7, 2011

More of You Must Die!

Dude, okay so not like you: you. But like you: your characters.

There's something I've noticed about myself as a writer. I don't want anyone to die. Well, the bad guy of course, but no one else. So it's been extremely difficult for me to make anyone actually bite the bullet.

Sure, I make them suffer, I make them cry, I make them bleed, but no one actually dies.

But I've realized over the past couple of weeks that more of my characters must die. A lot more. I've been reading some fabulous books where the authors are braver than me. They killed people off left and right. People I as a reader loved. People the MC's loved.

And I found my courage to kill. (Dude, that sounds terrible!) I've decided that it's okay to let some of my characters go into the light. After all, it sure would make A) the book better and B) my life as the author easier, because then I don't have to keep track of that particular person anymore.

So there. As I sit down to NaNo this month, I keep repeating to myself, "More of you must die!"

Is it easy for you to kill your characters? Why or why not?

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Season of Thanksgiving

Okay, so November is one of my favorite months ever. It's not really because of Thanksgiving, but I do have a lot to be thankful for this year. My first book got published. I visited more cities this year (Phoenix, New York, Las Vegas, New Orleans, San Diego, and Denver) than I have in the past decade. No lie.

In addition to a few other big moments in my life, I signed with my agent in November.

Yeah, November is a great month.

And I've decided that you all get to benefit from my November love-fest. So, each Friday from now until the end of the year (skipping some holiday Fridays), I will be giving something away. Could be a book, or a piece of jewelry, or whatever.

Today's prize is a bar code ring and a bar code bracelet.

If you've read Possession, you know where these bar coded things come from. If you haven't read Possession, well, you should get on that. ;)

For the duration of this Thankful Giveaway, there's only one way to enter: through the Possession Facebook fanpage. You do NOT have to like the page to be entered (but I would love it if you'd like the page), but there will be activities associated with each giveaway.

To participate this time around, all you need to do is comment on the fanpage wall about what you're most thankful for right now. (Open from now until next Thursday night.) That's it. Then I'll know that you want to be entered to win the bar code jewelry.

Then, stay tuned to the fanpage for more happenings--every day, with giveaway announcements on Fridays.

Oh! And I'm giving away a signed hardcover of CROSSED. Click here to enter to win that.

So...what are you most thankful for right now?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dystopian Hits!

Okay, so today's post is all about the love for Ally Condie's CROSSED and Tahereh Mafi's SHATTER ME. These are both dystopian novels, and while they're very different, they're both awesome.

Now, CROSSED is a sequel to MATCHED, which if you haven't read it, you should, and I normally don't talk about sequels all that much. Why?

Because I'm sort of what you'd call spoiled. I read a lot of books, and I usually don't have the time or patience to spend with the same characters. I mean, there's SO MANY new friends to meet, you know?

But I spent some more time with Cassia and Ky, because well, they're people I wanted to know more about.

First, a little about CROSSED if you haven't heard of it.

About CROSSED: In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

What I liked about it:
1. The writing. It's emotional and moving, and forces you to turn the page to not only see what will happen next, but to feel it too. Gorgeously done.

2. Ky narrates. I hope that's not too much of a spoiler, but I loved that he was a narrator. He's so mysterious in MATCHED, and we finally get to see and learn more about him. He's a little explosive, a lot sensitive, and all around headstrong. I really liked him, and learning more about the Society through him.

3. The romance. Ky and Cassia don't spend a lot of time together in the book, but that's okay with me. Sometimes I think relationships are better when the person is alone, and has time to think about the other person in fond ways.

And when they do get together, it's magical, and the reader rejoices along with them.

4. The dystopian elements. So I write dystopian societies, and let me tell you, they're not the easiest thing on the planet. You basically have to tell the reader about the entire world without overloading them or seeming like the MC doesn't know what kind of world they live in.

The Society in CROSSED is further explored, and it's not overtly evil, yet utterly terrifying. And I like that.

So, put CROSSED on your list! And since she lives near me, and I can go to one of her signings, I will be giving away a signed, finished hardcover copy! All you need to do is comment to enter.

About SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi: No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon.

But Juliette has plans of her own.

What I liked about it:
1. The page-turning aspect. This is a really fast read, and you feel caught in the middle of the action, even if there is no action. I realize that probably doesn't make sense, but it's true. Sometimes there is emotional action, and when it's paired with plot action? Brilliant.

2. The world. I liked imagining the world Tahereh created in SHATTER ME. It feels real and scary and that's exactly what I want to feel in a dystopian novel.

3. The romance. There's really only one word for it: sizzling. And you know me, I like kissing in books. If you do too, you'll like SHATTER ME.

This novel comes out November 15, so be sure to get your copy then!

Which dystopian novels have you enjoyed?

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to this week at the Reading Room.

Or on their blogs:

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