Monday, August 27, 2012

I'm Back... and the Blood Fugue Cover Reveal Party!

I hope everyone's had a great weekend! I'm back and I'm still editing and I'm back in good health. To start off my new schedule of posting once a week, I have a very special cover reveal from a fellow blogger, E. J. Wesley, with the artwork done by the very talented Vic Caswell at Sketcher Girl Studios. Be sure to check out E.J.'s blog for more about his writing and a giveaway!


Blood Fugue, Moonsongs Book 1 by E.J. Wesley 
Cover Reveal Party

Author E.J. Wesley is throwing a blog party to celebrate the release of his new book cover and wants you to join in the fun. Jump over to his blog to learn about how you can win some awesome prizes, including $50 toward a cover of your own and advance reader copies of Blood Fugue.

Cover work by Sketcher Girl, LLC -

What's the Story About? 
"Some folks treated the past like an old friend. The memories warmed them with fondness for what was, and hope for what was to come. Not me. When I thought of long ago, my insides curdled, and I was left feeling sour and wasted.”
Jenny Schmidt is a young woman with old heartaches. A small town Texas girl with big city attitude, she just doesn’t fit in. Not that she has ever tried. She wears loneliness like a comfy sweatshirt. By the age of twenty-one, she was the last living member of her immediate family. Or so she thought…
“We found my ‘grandfather’ sitting at his dining room table. An entire scorched pot of coffee dangled from his shaky hand. His skin was the ashen gray shade of thunderclouds, not the rich mocha from the photo I’d seen. There were dark blue circles under each swollen red eye. A halo of white hair skirted his bald head, a crown of tangles and mats. Corpses had more life in them.”
Suddenly, instead of burying her history with the dead, Jenny is forced to confront the past. Armed only with an ancient family journal, her rifle, and an Apache tomahawk, she must save her grandfather’s life and embrace her dangerous heritage. Or be devoured by it.

BLOOD FUGUE by E.J. Wesley, is the first of the MOONSONGS books, a series of paranormal-action novelettes. At fewer than 13k words, BLOOD FUGUE is the perfect snack for adventurous readers who aren’t afraid of stories with bite. Available wherever fine eBooks are sold September 2012. 

Join the Party!

The Open Vein, E.J.'s blog -
E.J. Wesley on the Twitter -

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Reviews of Provex City (and reviewing my posting schedule)!

Provex City has found its way onto two more blogs, and I couldn't be more thrilled. I'd like to thank the prolific blogger extraordinaire, Michael Offutt, and a truly elegant writer, Tanya @ That's What She Said. Both blogs are entertaining, insightful, well written, and regular destinations of mine. I find myself searching and struggling to find post topics, and Michael has interesting, expertly executed posts four to five times a week! I don't know how he does it. Tanya doesn't post as regularly, but when she does they are thought provoking collections of beautiful prose. I aspire to write so well. Thank you again for taking the time to highlight Provex City!
The excitement around Provex City has inspired me to work my butt off on SUSY Asylum. I am finally in full editing mode. Right now SUSY Asylum is over a hundred pages longer than Provex City, so we'll see what I trim it down to by the end of my editing rounds. Right now is so much fun because I'm hitting parts in the story that I've only read once, so they feel brand new--and I've found details I completely forgot about. There's a lot of work left to be done, but I'm confident I can have it available by the end of the year.

With my work left to do on SUSY Asylum and furthering my self-promotion of Provex City, I feel I should alter my posting schedule. I'm certainly not going anywhere, I just need to reorganize some of my time. I will still be visiting everyone on a weekly basis. Posting less will alleviate some of my stress of the dreaded "what am I going to post about next/now?!" I spend too much time staring at a blank post screen, looking down at the clock in the corner of the screen, and wondering if I'm going to finish my post before going to bed. I'll try this for awhile and see how it works. I can always adjust. Wish me luck, and I'll see you on your blog! :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Stop in the Game On Blog Tour

I'm thrilled to have the opportunity today to highlight Kyra Lennon on one of her blog tour stops for her debut novel Game On. Today she is sharing what she's got coming next. Take it away, Kyra!

I never planned for Game On to become a series. In fact, I was doubtful there would even be a sequel when I typed “The End,” on the completed story. It was partly thanks to April’s A-Z Challenge that I decided to keep writing about the characters I created. I used A-Z to introduce my blog friends to the Game On cast, and they were so popular, I didn’t want to let them go! One of my awesome CPs, Morgan Shamy was one of the first to  mention that I could do a series of books from some of the main characters, and after putting some thought into it, I realized it is a brilliant idea. They all have stories to tell, so why let them remain untold?

I know Game On has only just been released, but I (at the time of writing this) am three quarters of the way through writing the next book! This one will focus on the young soccer player, Jesse Shaw, and follows him off season as he goes to England with his best friend, Hunter. Without giving too much away, I’ll say there is lots of fun, followed by a large amount of danger when a “prank” gets out of hand. My plan, if I can get it together, is to release the book at the end of this year, in time for Christmas which is when the story is set. Wish me luck!

Following Jesse’s story, there will be books told from the POV of Freya, Bree and then back to Leah to finish off. I hope you continue to enjoy seeing their lives unfold as much as I enjoy writing them!

Thanks so much, Kyra, for sharing with me today.

Are you a follower of Kyra's? Is this your first time hearing about Game On? At this point, I seriously doubt it. Game On is circulating all over the blogosphere. I've got my copy; do you have yours?

Be sure to visit Kyra on her blog, Write Here, Write Now.

Pick up your copy of Game On HERE.

Add Game On to your Goodreads bookshelf.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My Experience at the SCBWI SUmmer Conference 2012

The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators Summer Conference is held annually at the Hyatt Regency in Century City, about a mile from Beverly Hills. Not a shabby place to have a conference. This was the second time I'd attended the conference, the last time being two years ago.

There were over 1200 attendees this year from 46 states and 15 (I think) countries. And there were only about 300 guys, which was interesting conference trivia, but I'm happily married. Haha. What I loved most about the conference was the amount of energy, excitement, creativity, and motivation all under one roof. Even though I was exhausted when I left on Sunday afternoon, I was energized about my writing--and my writing future.

The two highlight keynote speakers for me could not have been more different. Tony Diterlizzi is an author and illustrator, and is probably most famous for co-authoring The Spiderwick Chronicles. He was the most dynamic author speaker I'd ever seen, part comedian and part motivational speaker. And an extremely gifted artist. He spoke about imagination and connecting with your inner child in writing children's books. What would your inner child find interesting, not what the adult author thinks a child will find interesting. And it all came back to the limitless imagination of a child. He also left us with a touching quote from Albert Einstein:
If you want your children to be intelligent, then read them fairy tales. If you want your children to be more intelligent, then read them more fairy tales.
My other favorite speaker was Sara Shepard, who is the author of the popular teen series Pretty Little Liars. I was inspired by her because she was not a dynamic speaker. She actually seemed nervous in front of the large ballroom audience. She inspired me because that's how I see myself reacting to being in a similar situation, and if she can do it, then I can, too! I just need to sell a few million copies. Sara talked about how to keep a series going, and she's contracted to go to book 14 in the Pretty Little Liars series, so it was interesting to hear her strategies for keeping it going after about 10 books while remaining separate from the television show. She focuses on a good scandal, which she defines as "good people doing bad things."

My favorite breakout session was with debut author, Jennifer Bosworth (someone from So Cal like me), and her topic centered around becoming a conspicuous writer--standing out in this huge ocean of writers. Attract attention. Be visible. Stand out. I found her discussion about extraverts vs. introverts interesting. Extraverts are people who gather energy in social settings while introverts hemorrhage energy in social settings (losing it to the extraverts). Even though she is a debut author, she already has the experience of participating in a multi-city book tour for her young adult novel, Struck. When she started out by saying she was a horror fanatic, I was hooked.

The conference was such a wonderful experience. It gave me a chance to learn more about the industry I want to professionally be a part of straight from industry leaders. I was also given a few new suggestions and strategies for my writing and promotion. What I need to get better at is networking and talking to new people. My parents must have conditioned me "not to talk to strangers" when I was a child a little too well. I have a genuine interest in talking to people, I just second guess their willingness to want to talk with me. I know, it's something I need to work on if I want to become a conspicuous writer. A next step for me will be to connect with a regional chapter for SCBWI to meet with local writers more regularly throughout the year.

This was the view from my 16th floor balcony. I wish I could have stayed longer!

Monday, August 6, 2012

I'm Not Ready!

Sorry, but the title amuses me.

I just got back from the SCBWI (Society of Children's Books Writers & Illustrators) and it was a blast! I will post about my experience at the conference on Wednesday. I also want to take some time checking out your blogs because I didn't get to visit over the weekend. I'll catch up! I hope you all had a great weekend, too. :)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday Flash Review: The Soul Seekers

A few weeks back I had the opportunity to receive an ARC of The Soul Seekers, Amy Saia's debut novel. I met Amy during the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, and I'm excited to share her new book today.

Goodreads Description of The Souls Seekers...

When Emma's father dies, she and her mother move cross country to a small, boring town. Now the only constant in Emma Shay's new life is him. Beautiful, silent, him: the mysterious guy at the library she secretly calls Superman because of his dark, good looks. But Emma is puzzled and intrigued by his behavior. He speaks at her but never to her. He comes up to touch her hair and then suddenly leaves. And then one day an impulsive meeting between them uncovers a strange truth about William Bennett.

Set in Southern Indiana during the summer of 1979, The Soul Seekers is about one girl and the future she tries to deny. Can she save William from his purgatory, or is she doomed to share his fate?

My Humble Opinion...

The Soul Seekers, by Amy Saia, is a young adult paranormal romance with a sweet small-town feel and down-to-earth story that flows like a beautiful piece of music. The teenage protagonist, Emma Shay, is uprooted from her home in Colorado to halfway across the country, to the mysterious small town of Springvale, Indiana. At first glance, Springvale seems like a typical town—with the story set in the summer of 1979—but it quickly becomes apparent that the town is haunted by dark forces, forces enslaving the town in oppressive 1950s ideals.

I love the development of Emma and Jesse’s relationship, though Emma spends her free time pining over the ghostly William. With Emma being the new girl, Jesse wants to save her from the town’s iron grip while Emma wants to save William from the strange limbo he seems to be imprisoned within. He appears to be Emma’s age, but reveals he’s been frozen in his teenage body for over twenty years. Then she is introduced to the cult that is brainwashing and controlling the town for their own insalubrious purposes.

I greatly enjoyed William masquerading as Emma’s guardian angel when she’s in an accident. I spent most of the book feeling bad for Jesse though. He has the bad boy persona, but underneath he seems like a genuinely nice guy. I found him to be the most interesting character.

The Soul Seekers is a fun and fast read. The author does a wonderful job of harnessing a teenage voice that will appeal to teen readers and a vintage, nostalgic 1970s setting that will appeal to adults, making it a great YA crossover debut novel.  

A few minutes with Amy...

Thanks so much for joining me today! I very much appreciate you taking a few minutes to talk with me.

What compelled you to choose 1979 as the setting for The Soul Seekers? 
Well, for a long time I've had a weird love/obsession with that year. I think it's because 1979 is the last of a true simplicity in time. The eighties were rather cold and—forgive me, because I know a lot of people love the songs from the 80's—rock'n'roll kind of lost its soul. There was something very organic about the way people talked and dressed, even things like commercial design had a certain naivety that I love. The world was still a Woodstock generation. Plus, John Lennon was still alive.
Do you feel that being a musician influences your writing?
I've been told so, yes. When I am in the mode, things roll like song lyrics. I know a lot about writing those: find a topic that fits the melody; find words that fit topic; make it smooth; make it catchy. My favorite comment came from an older gentleman whose writing I greatly adore, he said I had a lyrical way of writing and hoped I'd fall down a flight of stairs and break my fingers. Terrible! Haha. Can't help it but I still think that's the best compliment I've ever received.
Are there specific songs you hear for certain scenes in the novel?
Any you’d like to share? I don't know if it seems an obvious pick, but "Don't Fear the Reaper" would be great throughout, especially for the scene where Jesse and Emma drive to the eclipse together. It has that urgency. There's a song from the 1950's called "The Wind" that would be perfect for when Emma wakes up in the hospital. It's a beautiful song by a Doo Wop group, The Jesters, and I love it tremendously. Also, I listened to America's first album (self-titled) a lot while writing The Soul Seekers, and so each song represents a scene from the book for me. "Horse With No Name" is like an anthem; its mood of isolation represents well the loneliness that permeates Springvale. And, of course, I'd have "Sundown" by Gordon Lightfoot for the van scene where William fades into night.

What challenges did you face in finding authentic teenage voices for Emma and Jesse? 
At first Emma was too young. Her voice matured a lot in the second draft to the point where I really felt I knew her deepest, most inner fears and desires. Jesse shocked the you-know-what out of me because he was so instantly rebellious and real. I mean, I literally would sit back sometimes and go, "Did I write that? What just happened here?" I think I had a lot of rebellion still left in me from my teenage years, and it found a release in Jesse. I did go out and read The Pigman by Paul Zindel and found a similarity that was nice. I wanted 1970's teen, but not like The Brady Bunch, "Groovy, Jesse!" "Far out, Emma!" It had to be honest. And with William I wanted that noble, 1950's cleanliness to contrast with Emma's hippyisms. 
What inspired you to write YA? 
Well, like many people, my high school years were rough. I remember having tons of daydreams in the years following graduation. I'd go back, but this time I'd be the Amy who knew who she was, the Amy who could wise-crack her way out of almost any situation, the Amy who didn't care, the Amy who had a car and a life. The Soul Seekers was an extension of me going back to the town where I felt so abandoned and hurt, and fighting all that had brought me down. There's probably—in all of us—a need to go back and find redemption. 
Can you please share what your road to publication like? 
Rough. But it could have been worse. I made the mistake of sending off my manuscript too soon. It was rejected and rejected. I worked my way down from dream agents to whatever and whomever I could send a query to, but by then I found out my query was an awful, stinking mess. After that there's no going back, meaning, once you've spent an agent's time for one book, it's pretty much over. You have to write another one if you want to query them again. But I just could not give up on The Soul Seekers, there was something about it that seemed so haunting and real to me. I could picture the town so vividly, the characters—there was true emotion inside the pages. A couple of things happened to keep me going: one was, I was grocery shopping when a group of men in black suits and black glasses came around the isle. I just stood there in shock while one of them walked up to me, smiled, and then they all left. Talk about a message! The last, fate-sealing occurrence happened when I was about to mail off a revision for a revise and resubmit. "The Seeker" by The Who came on the car radio on the way to the post-office. My publisher, WiDo accepted that R&R, and told me on my birthday last year. I was so happy and overwhelmed! All things in good time. 
What advice do you have for aspiring authors? 
Read as much as you can, a writer is always growing and needs fuel. Don't let people tell you who or how your characters should be. Stay true to what you know is honest. Work hard. Have fun. If you love your book, then write it, send it to every agent until you run out, be your best supporter. Not everyone is going to love what you write, but if you do, you should stick to it.

Thank you again, Amy! It has been a real pleasure sharing a post with you. Below are links to Amy's blog and Goodreads, and where you can find The Souls Seekers. Be sure to check it out. Thank you for reading. Thank you to Amy. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Amy Saia

Pick up your copy of The Soul Seekers on Amazon (paperback / Kindle) and Barnes & Noble (paperback / Nook).

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

IWSG Wednesday & An Interview With Julie Flanders

Happy Insecure Writer's Support Group Wednesday. Thank you again to Alex J. Cavanaugh, the creator of the group. The first Wednesday of every month is dedicated to this group of supportive writers. If it's something you're not familiar with, then please click on Alex's link above for more information and to sign up!

Interviews scare me. I've had the pleasure of doing a few now, and they're getting a little easier, but my heart pounds when I press the send button and my answers fly out of my hands. I'm grateful for them and know I need to start taking the initiative to ask for them in order to publicize my writing more. But it's not yet within my comfort zone. I can reach it, but only by sticking my hand through the fence. And with that said, I don't want to dwell on the nervousness. Instead, I'd rather embrace the excitement that someone has offered or agreed to interview me. There must be some level of interest there, right? Don't answer that. :)

As I announced on Monday, the wonderful Julie Flanders interviewed me recently and I'm so nervous excited to have you check it out. Follow the link below & enjoy!
Thank you, Julie. Thank you, Alex. And thank you for reading! 
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