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Saturday, February 27, 2010

In My Mailbox (1)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at the Story Siren.

ARCs for review:

Title: The Tension of Opposites
Author: Kristina McBride
Release Date: May 25th, 2010
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Length: 288 pages

Title: Tagged
Author: Mara Purnhagen
Release Date: March 1st, 2010
Publisher: Harlequin
Length: 208 pages

Store Bought:

Title: An Abundance of Katherines
Author: John Green
Release Date: September 21st, 2006
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Length: 227 pages

Title: Gone (Third and final installment of the Wake Trilogy)
Author: Lisa McMann
Release Date: February 9th, 2010
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Length: 224 pages

What did you guys get this week?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Interview with Gayle Forman

A critically acclaimed novel that will change the way you look at life, love, and family.

In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, Mia's story will stay with you for a long, long time.


Q: What inspired you to write If I Stay?

A: This is such a long and complicated story that I’ve kind of hemmed and hawed around but I’ve decided to stop hemming. In a nutshell here it is:

Ten years ago there was a car accident very much like the one in the book. A family was out driving and then the family was gone. One member of that family held on a little longer before he gave up his fight and I always wondered: Did he know what had happened to the rest of his family? Did he choose to go with them? Seven years later, a 17-year-girl named Mia, an object of pure fiction, pops into my head out of the blue, and I knew she was going to answer that question for me. At least as it pertained to her. That’s how I got the idea.

Q: What was your querying process like?

A: It was an interesting process. If I Stay was my third book, but I was in the position of having to get an agent again because my first agent—the one who’d sold my first two books—was quitting the business. Because neither of my first two books had done terribly well, I was in the same position of every first-time writer of having to prove myself. But the process was much less fraught this time around because, I don’t know, I just was more obsessed with the work than finding representation for it. I sent out a few feelers early on, including an email to one agent I really wanted to work with because she had a strong YA list, but when nothing came of it immediately, I didn’t sweat it. I just finished the book I was working on and only then sent out a query letter to half-dozen agents. Most ignored me. One asked to see the manuscript. After five months, that first agent, the one I’d initially wanted to work with, finally read If I Stay and within hours of finishing it was calling and emailing and offering me very enthusiastic representation. I’ve actually gone into great detail about all this, including showing the query letters for various projects, on my blog. If readers want all the dirty details, they’re here:

Q: Like Mia, did you have aspirations to become a musician?

A: None at all. I’ve never been a musician. I barely even play an instrument, save for a few years of piano lessons and a few years dickering around on the guitar. Mia arrived in my head, fully formed, as a cellist, and a very serious one at that. But like Mia, I’m ambitious, just in other ways.

Q: Did an event as monumental, not necessarily quite so devastating, as that in Mia’s life ever happen to you? How did it change you as a person? As a writer?

A: The family in that car accident I mentioned—they were very good friends of mine. So this was definitely one of the most devastating events of my life. I certainly hope it changed me as a person. Every day I hope to live a little better to honor them. I don’t know that I always succeed but I keep trying. It changed me as a writer, I suppose, in that it added one more mystery to haunt me, one that eventually emerged, transformed through fiction.

Q: If I Stay in it’s entirety was heart wrenching. What was the hardest part of it to write? (yes, I admit, I shed a tear or two while reading ☺)

A: Believe it or not, it wasn’t that hard to write. I know that might sound strange given what I’ve just told you, but I based some of the characters on the friends I’d lost so even though I was writing painful bits, being immersed in the book was like being with them again. A lot of the book was emotional; I cried some serious tears while writing, but that’s different from something being heart-wrenching.

But the really tough stuff all pertained to Mia. One thing that stands out is the accident scene early on: I intentionally wrote that in sort of a distant tone. Mia seeing what she’s seeing but not fully comprehending it or digesting it. The point of it was, if she really took it all in, it would be too much and she’d lose it, lose it for the entire book. 200 pages of waaahhh and nooooooo! So she had to detach. When I finished writing a draft, it was suggested that I needed to give Mia a moment of singular piercing horror, when she recognized what had happened, takes it in and then really emotionally detaches as fully as she has physically. So when I wrote that part, about seeing her hand, trying to wake herself up, screaming that this can't be real, that gutted me. For one, that felt so familiar to me. That’s how you react to bad news: “No, this must be a dream.” Also, by that point, I knew and loved Mia, so I knew what I was about to put her through. That was the hardest scene for me. Oh, and when she finds out about Teddy. I wanted to crawl under my desk into a little ball. There’s a reason that after all those intense revelations, I switch to such happy flashbacks; my sanity depended on it.

Q: What are you working on right now? Is there anything you can tell us about it?

A: I have finished up a new project and it’s with my editor and I’m just waiting for her thumbs up before I make an announcement on my web site about what it is. I hate to be coy but I’m superstitious. So until Julie says “yep,” I keep my mouth shut. You can check in at for updates. It should be coming soon.

Q: What can you tell us about what is going on with the film version of If I Stay?

A: The last I heard we were due to go into production this spring. But it’s still up in the air who will direct. I’ve got my fingers crossed for Catherine Hardwicke but she has several projects in development so it’s just a matter of which one gets greelit first. I heard a rumor that Dakota Fanning was going to play Mia but then I didn’t see it followed up in the trade newspapers, which is how Hollywood announces its official news. Again, I’m as in the dark as anyone. When I get news, I post it on my blog.

Q: If you had the control, who would you cast as your characters?

Dakota Fanning is pretty awesome. I haven’t seen her in anything that she wasn’t amazing in and she’d be the same age as Mia. I also love the actress Mia Wasikowska. I just saw her in In Treatment and thought she was amazing. I have NO IDEA who could play Adam. I have a fantasy of Johnny Depp for dad. Someone a little wild and fun for mom.

Q: Have you always wanted to write for the teen audience?

A: Yes. My first real job as a journalist was at Seventeen and I plotted my way to that job. I really had wanted to work at Sassy Magazine, the coolest teen mag ever, but it had folded by the time I graduated college and moved to New York. But Seventeen had taken over the mantle of sass and cool by then so I worked there for five years. I’ve always written about teens, for teens and in a voice that is authentically teen, I think, because that’s how I write (and, yes, talk). So, it’s no surprise that when I started writing fiction, it was for this age group. I’m not sure how I’m going to pull of being 80 and writing YA, but if Judy Blume can do it, why can’t I?

Q: What are some of your favorite YA books you’ve read recently?

A: I’m glad you said recently; it narrows the field.

I just finished and loved Libba Bray’s Going Bovine and was delighted it won the Printz. I’m completely gaga for Jandy Nelson’s The Sky Is Everywhere, which comes out in March and is spectacular. I finally read Shiver and thought it was even better than all the hype—i.e. so, so good. A few of my favorite books from last year were middle-grade novels (and now Newbery winners): When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead and The Evolution of Calpunia Tate by Jaqueline Kelly. The upcoming Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan is wonderful. And I have Marcelo In the Real World on my nightstand. it’s coming on vacation with me next week! I love YA!

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

A: Write for the joy of writing, not for the ambition of getting published. This sounds very hokey, the kind of advice Pa would give to Half Pint, but it’s the truth. The best writing is the stuff that comes from the authentic, crazy, real, risky, you-y part of you. So yes, it’s great to know the trends and the business and all that but at the end of the day, I truly believe the best work is done when you strip that down and write what’s deep inside you. That’s also what I believe is the most gratifying. If you obsess about keeping up with the races, who got what deal, that is where your energy will go when it should go into your work. Sit at your desk. Get your fingers going at the keyboard. Give the magic a chance to happen.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Damaged

This is from Damaged, and probably the most disturbing scene I've ever written. Feedback is much appreciated, and will be returned.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Two Awards

Today is a good day. Why? Because I received my very first award, from Jon Paul over at Where Sky Meets Ground blog.

So I think I'm supposed say ten things that brighten my day:

1. Writing! One of those amazing days where you just crank out pages and pages of pure awesomeness.

2. Ben & Jerry's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch ice cream. Heaven. On. Earth.

3. Snow days. Who doesn't love not having school?

4. My horse, Willie, and my three labradors, Squire, Esa, and Bodie. Because they're hilarious. And adorable. And one of the sweetest little thing you'll ever see.

5. Homemade chocolate chip cookies. When someone else makes them, because I am such a lousy cook that everything I bake turns out to be a huge pile of nastiness.

6. Comments. Comments are FUN to read. And FUN to give. Just sayin ;)

7. The Olympics. I have practically been glued to the Winter Games this year.

8. When USA or one of those small countries that only has one athlete wins a medal at the Olympics.

9. Going to the movies with my friends, and getting on an extreme sugar high from the overpriced movie theater candy.

10. Reading a good book that is impossible to put down.

Now I will pass on this award to only 3 people, because shortly I will be giving more people with a different award:

1. M.J. over at The Musings of A Teenage Oxymoron

2. Kyrie at Tea and Biscuits

3. Mikey at Room to Improve

Award number two, thanks to Shadow Bee at the Dreamcatcher's Lair

I am passing this award along to these awesome peeps, because some of them are new bloggers, some are old bloggers, but all of them are pure awesome bloggers.

1. Tilt at Infinite Butterflies

2. Alex at Writers Cove

3. Mae at Maenad Writes

4. Horserider at Writers Chasm

5. Dystophil at Fabrica Scribendi

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Interview with Kristina McBride

Happy Wednesday! Here's an interview with YA author Kristina McBride, whose debut novel The Tension Of Opposites comes out May 25th, 2010.


Up / Down
Hot / Cold
Free / Noelle

It’s been two years since Noelle disappeared. Two years since her bike was discovered, sprawled on a sidewalk. Two years of silence, of worry, of fear.

For those two long years, her best friend Tessa has waited, living her own life in a state of suspended animation. Because how can she allow herself to enjoy a normal high school life if Noelle can’t? How dare she have other friends, go to dances, date boys, without knowing what happened to the girl she thought she would share everything with?

And then one day, someone calls Noelle’s house. She’s alive.

A haunting psychological thriller taken straight from the headlines, The Tension of Opposites is a striking debut that explores the emotional aftermath of a kidnapping on the victim, and on the people she left behind.


Q: What was your querying process like?

A: Crazy long and painful. I’ll make it quick. Manuscript 1: Over 100 rejections – only one partial requested (Um, what was I thinking?). No offers for representation in 2006. Manuscript 2: roughly 50 rejections – 5 partials & 2 fulls requested. No offers for representation in 2007. Manuscript 3 – From my first batch of 20 queries, I had roughly 10 requests for partials and fulls. I was pleased and excited to accept representation from Alyssa Eisner Henkin with Trident Media Group in May of 2008.

Q: On your website, it says you were nearly kidnapped. Can you tell us about that? How much did that influence The Tension of Opposites? What else sparked the idea for The Tension of Opposites?

A: One day when I was very young, my mother and I returned home to find a man in our garage. He took her inside, leaving me in the car in the driveway, and while he ransacked our house, he lost the keys to the stolen car he had parked in our garage. He put all the stolen items in the car I was still sitting in, and almost drove away with me. So, “kidnapping” is a strong term since he wasn’t after me, specifically, but he would have taken me if my mother hadn’t pleaded with him. Because of that day, that story from my childhood, I have always feared being kidnapped. Which is why I was so drawn to the story of a young man who Oprah interviewed several years ago. He had recently been returned to his family after spending four years with his kidnapper. I was captivated, and soon after watching that show, Tessa started speaking to me.

Q: Many of us aspiring authors have dreamed about the Call, for both the offer of representation and the book deal. What was yours like?

A: The Call when I was offered representation was very professional and businesslike. I was terrible nervous! But it was good! Very, very good! I connected with Alyssa immediately and knew she would be perfect to help me launch my career.

The Call when I learned of my first offer was much different. It was a horribly hot summer day, and I had just returned from a family trip to the pool. When the phone rang, I didn’t even hear it. Why? I was in the bathroom scrubbing two sticky children, who were screaming and writhing like I was giving them a bath in acid. It wasn’t until later that I saw the blinking light on the answering machine.

“Great,” I thought. “What next?”

All I wanted was to sit back and relax, but I hit the play button. When I heard the voice of my agent, I knew it would be something big because she had NEVER called me without scheduling. I shrieked with delight and ran to tell my husband the good news. We celebrated later by taking the kids out for ice cream. Which made them sticky all over again. But I didn’t care one bit!

Q: Are any of your characters based off people you know?

A: While there are little traits in my characters that you might find in my friends (my BFF in high school always wanted a yellow Jeep) or family (my Grandpa Lou loved taking photographs and owned an old-school Nikon), none of the characters are based on anyone in particular.

Q: Can you tell us about the extensive revisions you made with your agent, Alyssa Eisner Henkin? Was there ever a time you felt like giving up?

A: Oh, dear. I worked on revisions with Alyssa for nearly a year. I knew I was in for it from our very first call when she warned me that my manuscript needed a “major overhaul”, and greatly appreciate her patience and guidance. That said, it was HARD. I allowed myself specific evenings to wallow in self-pity and eats loads of chocolate, but I never once felt like giving up. To be painfully specific, I submitted four drafts, changed the title three times, and six months into revisions, dropped everything but five chapters to basically start over. Ouch. That hurts to admit ☺

Q: Does music help you write? Do you have a special playlist for The Tension of Opposites?

A: Music (or any background noise) throws me off when I’m writing. I prefer complete silence, which is rare in my house. If I had to pick one song that comes to mind when I think of my novel, I’d say it’s Don’t Follow by Alice in Chains. It’s Noelle’s song, all the way.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: The second book in my two-book deal with Egmont USA. That’s all I can say for now.

Q: What some of your favorite YA books you’ve read recently?

A: I was fortunate enough to get my hands on an ARC of Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards Amazing.

Q: Why write for young adults? Is it the audience you always planned on writing for?

A: My first manuscript was an adult suspense/thriller. It obviously didn’t go over too well (see my query issues above). Two of the main characters in that manuscript were teens, and after completing it, I realized that the scenes with them flowed better than any of the other scenes, and the dialogue seemed to come to me without much effort. They were the most fun to write, and to read and revise. I was a high school English teacher for eight years, and I really connect with the young adult age group. Basically, I just think it’s fun to read and write about teens. Teens face so many struggles, and it’s interesting to play around with plotlines that surround those types of issues.






Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentines Day everyone! Last night, at 3:30 AM, I was lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, and thinking about this post. (Yay for insomnia!) And I was thinking about what I wanted to put in it. At first, the listing obvious cutest YA couples came to mind, but then I thought, "No. I want to make this post about love in my life." So I am here to share the loves of my life:

1. Books.

I don't think "love" is a big enough word to sum up how I feel about books. I've been reading them since... well, forever. I read Harry Potter-- and understood everything but the "snogging"-- in first grade. Books and reading have always come naturally to me. I know I'm too young to be thinking about my funeral, but my ideal place to be buried would be in Barnes and Noble, because THAT PLACE IS AWESOME. It houses my first love, so to me, it's a sacred place.

2. Music.

Ah. I can't really say how many times I've relied on music, either to get me through a hard time in life or to help crank out a scene for my WIP. Sure, I am musically challenged, can't sing a note, play an instrument, or read sheet music, but I can still appreciate and love music.

3. My Dogs

These 3 little labs don't have a mean bone in their body. They snuggly heaps of flub and fuzz, and they are as loyal as can be. Just look at their faces-- how can you not love them?

4. My Horse

Another sweetheart who has always been there when I needed someone. He seems to understand things, sometimes better than I do. And look, I taught him how to give hugs!

5. The Twifties

Seriously, you guys are amazing. The first people I've ever known that understand my love for writing. Shout out to: Glo, Ink, Kyrie, Arya, Shady, Zoom, Choco, Kody, GeekPride, Hap, Phantom, Elusive, Rachel, KC, Static, Kidd, Because, Forest, Jade, Proof, Cash, Midnight, Sarahbear, Snow, Mae, HorseRider, Elysium, Para, Margo, Peachie, Hap, Tilt, Sumayyah, Ciera, Becky, Alex, BookGirl, Dystophil, Deltay, BW, Maddi

I know I forgot someone. Sorry in advance to that person ;)


There are more things in life I love, like family and friends (duh) but those don't need explaining. Have a great Valentine's Day! You don't need a boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband/etc to enjoy it.

On a parting note: Does Taylor Swift know how Romeo and Juliet ends?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Blue Abyss Book Cover

Once I found this picture, I was just like WOW. This is it. This is the perfect cover for my WIP, Blue Abyss. I even have a scene with fireflies like this. Check it out, I'm in love with it:

*thanks to We Heart It for the pic

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Interview with Bree Despain

I had the amazing opportunity to interview Bree Despain, author of The Dark Divine!

Summary: Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared—the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in his own blood—but she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night held.

The memories her family has tried to bury resurface when Daniel returns, three years later, and enrolls in Grace and Jude's high school. Despite promising Jude she'll stay away, Grace cannot deny her attraction to Daniel's shocking artistic abilities, his way of getting her to look at the world from new angles, and the strange, hungry glint in his eyes.

The closer Grace gets to Daniel, the more she jeopardizes her life, as her actions stir resentment in Jude and drive him to embrace the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind the boy's dark secret...and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it—her soul.


Q: What inspired you to write The Dark Divine?

A: Lots of things inspired the story, including a random memory from the 9th grade, a book I had just recently read at the time (Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson), some great music I would listen to, etc. But mostly what sparked the story was a conversation between a brother and a sister that popped into my head one night as I was driving home. The brother was warning his sister to stay away from a former friend who had recently returned. I was so intrigued by what was going on between these two and why the brother would want his sister to stay away from this friend; that I had to know the whole story.

Q: What was your querying process like?

A: When I queried the book the first time, I received several “I like it, but I’m not in love with it” comments. I decided something was missing from the story and shelved it for a few months while I worked on another project. But as I was working on this other project, I kept getting new ideas for The Dark Divine story. I took it back off the shelf and rewrote ¾ of the book while adding another 100 pages. After several revisions, and a lot of research on agents I thought would be a good fit for the story, I queried the book again. I started with my top agent choice (I know… who does that?) as well as a few others. I received some manuscript requests, including one from my top choice agent, and a few anxiety filled weeks later he offered me representation.

Q: Many of us aspiring authors have dreamed about the Call. What was yours like?

A: When my agent was calling me to tell me that my manuscript had an offer, I actually didn’t recognize the number and thought it was a telemarketing call. Fortunately, he left me a message telling me to call him back right away. . . so about 0.25 seconds later I call him back and he says, “you screening my calls?” Then he says to me, “Well, I’ve got some bad news. . . I can’t call you one of my unpublished clients anymore.” I squeed really loud and then got mad at him for making me think it was bad news. The happy dance didn’t stop for several days after that.

Q: What authors have influenced you as a writer?

A: As I mentioned before, Laurie Halse Anderson has had a big impact on me as a reader and as a writer. Some of my other favorites that have helped me to find my own voice are Martine Levitt, Meg Cabot, and Elizabeth Peters.

Q: Your main character, Grace, has been raised in a religious household. Was your upbringing similar to Grace’s?

A: Yes. Sort of ☺. My dad isn’t a pastor, but I do have a very close-knit and religious family.

Q: Grace and Daniel share a passion for art. Have you always had a love for art as well?

A: Absolutely. I used to paint as a teenager, but the real talent in my family is in my younger brother. I often asked him for advice when it came to talking about the art stuff in the book.

Q: Why did Grace remain attracted to Daniel through the years he was gone?

A: Grace always had a connection to Daniel. It was something they shared as children, and he was really her first crush. I think Grace thought she had moved on, but when he shows up again, a lot of those emotions come back.

Q: You’ve said that you are working on the sequel to The Dark Divine. Is there anything you can tell us about it? Are you working on something other than the sequel?

A: Just the sequel for now. I can’t say much, but I’m enjoying exploring some of the questions that are left unanswered at the end of the first book.

Q: In your bio, you state that you took a semester off college to work with underprivileged teens. Did this experience change you as a person and a writer? If so, how?

A: This experience was really what put me on the path to becoming an author. I’d always loved writing, but I also always thought being an author was only for the extraordinary. The time I spent with those kids, writing those plays, helped me to realize that writing was what I was passionate about and that I wanted to write for the teen audience.

Q: Did you always know that you wanted to write young adult novels? More specifically, paranormal? Did you test other genres before settling on teens as your audience?

A: I always knew that I wanted to write young adult, because that is where my voice is, but I didn’t always want to be a paranormal romance author. I actually fought it as first with The Dark Divine. I knew it needed to be a paranormal story, but I didn’t want it to be. But once I embraced it, I learned to love it. After The Dark Divine series, I have a couple other paranormal book ideas that I’ve been working on that I’m excited about, but I don’t think I will always write paranormal. I have a lot of fun ideas brewing for some contemporary YA too..

Q: In your opinion, what is the best part about writing young adult fiction?

A: The best part is getting to tap into my inner teen, because I never quite grew up. But also, the YA audience is an awesome group to write for. They are just beginning to find out who they are as individuals, and are a very enthusiastic and smart crowd. My favorite quote is when Sherman Alexi said, “writing YA fiction is like writing Adult fiction without all the BS.”

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Damaged

I am posting the debut snip for my new WIP, Damaged. It's based off my last year with a concussion, and so far it's been hard to write, but really fun. I'm trying present tense for the first time, and a new style of writing, so let me know what you think.

Note: The MC, Lacey, is not drunk.

The room spins harder. Faster.

Red. Purple. Green. Orange. A meld of them tangles me, vibrant bands strangling my vision, knotting it, smudging it. Shades of the rainbow poison my sight. My eyes gasp for clarity but all they see is red. Purple. Green. Orange. I am drowning in ribbons of color.

BADUM. BADUM. Music pounds in my ears, my head throbbing the beat of Lil Wayne. BADUM.


The blur of people.

Spinning. Whirling. Blending.

Over and over and over again. Repeat. Repeat.

No pause. Just repeat.

I clutch my head.

Clamp my eyes shut.

Drop my cup. Feel the water splash on my feet.

Sit down on the floor. Rest my back against the wall.

Curl up.


Clutch my head. My stomach.

Curl up.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Link to Madeline-Rose's Interview with Me!

Hey guys! The fabulous Madeline-Rose has posted an interview with me at her blog.

My first interview!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Blue Abyss

Eek this is late-ish! (7:15 pm my time) Thanks for taking the time to look at this ;)

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