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1. In the Limelight with Fantasy Author: Carol Browne...

I want to thank and welcome fantastic fantasy author, Carol Browne for sharing her personal writing journey with us on my blog today. Carol’s book The Exile of Elidel is the first book of a trilogy and can be purchased from Musa Publishing, Amazon, and other on-line bookstores. Bonus: Stay tuned for a chance to win an ecopy of The Exile of Elidel at the end of this post. So let’s get this interview started…

How long have you been writing, Carol?

I started scribbling when I was about seven years old. From that point on I always wanted to be a ‘proper’ writer. It was a very long time before I achieved that goal – we’re talking nearly five decades!

I feel you, Carol. It sounds like we’ve been on the same path. Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write The Exile of Elindel?

In 1976, I was listening to a jukebox in an English pub when Mike Oldfield’s In Dulci Jubilo came on. The music conjured up an image in my mind of two fantasy characters who seemed to be nearing the end of some kind of quest. I felt compelled to write their story and find out who they were and what was going to happen to them. I set them in Dark Age Britainbecause Anglo-Saxon had been part of the English degree I had just completed at University and the era appealed to me. I felt I was going with these characters on their adventure, watching as they collected back stories and companions along the way.

What sets The Exile of Elindel apart from other books/series in the same genre?

I have to confess to not being a great reader of the sword-and-sorcery type of fantasy genre, so there’s little I can compare mine with. I like to think my elves are a bit different, though. They’re vegetarians and they talk to animals and have tremendous reverence for nature. They would definitely join the Green party if they were around today!

I also like to add humour to lighten the mood. Too much angst and jeopardy can get very tedious. I mixed up the genres a little too. In Book II there is an element of sci-fi as well as fantasy, while in Book III there’s a good dollop of horror. I’ve added some light romance as well; so something for everyone!

You’ve certainly thought of everyone, Carol! As a fantasy author, what is your writing process?

I write my first draft in longhand and have all my notes and research Blu-tacked to the walls of the room where I work. Once I commit myself to writing something, it is with me all the time so I take a pen and paper out with me in case I get any fresh ideas. I have a housekeeping job and frequently have to stop to jot something down. I hate it when characters start talking to each other in my head. I have to say ‘Shut up! I can’t write all that down now.” It’s infuriating that I can’t set aside regular time slots for writing. I guess I’ll have to hang on till I retire.

Seems like you’re always prepared when your characters come a-calling! How long did it take for you to start and finish The Exile of Elindel?

That’s a difficult question! I can’t remember that far back. (Those files have been deleted!) I do remember the first draft being ENORMOUS. It rambled on forever; more padding than a king-size duvet. I wrote it in the summer of 1977 and spent the next thirty-odd years lugging it around in suitcases, storing it in attics, taking it out to rewrite it and submit to publishers, putting it back in the attic.

Thirty years? Now that’s dedication! Do you have any advice for other writers striving to write in your genre, Carol?

Use your own original voice and ideas. Don’t try to be the next Tolkein.

Brilliant advice! Everyone is unique in their own way. So, what’s next for Carol Browne the author?

The rest of the trilogy will be out next year: Book II, Gateway to Elvendom, in March and Book III, Wyrd’s End, in December – as long as everything goes smoothly with the editing process. Meanwhile, I’m nearing the end of my work in progress, a paranormal thriller. I recently wrote myself into a corner with this one and so lost a few days while I worked things out. I have discovered over the years that if you are stuck with a plot or character, there’s always a solution, but it might have to simmer away in the old brain pan for a while before it bobs to the surface.

It sounds like you’ve got your work cut out for you! Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series—If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?

If I could go back to the Battle of Hastings in 1066, and somehow make sure the Saxons won instead of the Normans, I would. But let’s be realistic! I have always admired Horatio, Lord Nelson, and I love those old ships of the line. (I stood on board HMS Victory myself during a visit to the Naval Dockyards in Portsmouth a few years ago, and it is a day I will never forget). If I could, I’d like to go back to the time of the Napoleonic Wars and meet Nelson. I’d love to know if he was as charismatic as everyone said he was.

Thank you very much for having me on your blog, Sharon. I did enjoy the experience!

BLURB:
 
Elgiva, a young elf banished from Elvendom, must seek shelter among the Saxons as her only hope of surviving the coming winter.
Godwin, a Briton enslaved by the Saxons, is a man ignorant of his own inheritance and the secret of power he possesses.
A mysterious enemy, who will stop at nothing to wield absolute power over Elvendom, is about to make his move.
When destiny throws Elgiva and Godwin together, they embark upon the quest for the legendary Lorestone, the only thing that can save Elvendom from the evil that threatens to destroy it.
There is help to be found along the way from a petulant pony and a timid elf boy but, as the strength of their adversary grows, can Elgiva’s friends help her to find the Lorestone before it falls into the wrong hands?

BIO:

Carol Browne first appeared on the planet in 1954. She regards Crewe, Cheshire, as her home town and graduated from Nottingham University in 1976 with an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living in the Cambridgeshire countryside with her dog, Harry, and cockatiel, Sparky, when she’s not writing fiction, Carol spends her time as a housekeeper, proofreader, and ghost writer in order to pay the bills. Pagan and vegan, Carol believes it is time for a paradigm shift in our attitude to Mother Nature and hopes the days of speciesism are numbered.

BUY LINKS:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCarolBrowne
Twitter: https://twitter.com/@CarolABrowne


ENTER TO WIN: Carol has her magical elfin hat cleaned out and rearing to go. All you have to do is leave a comment along with your contact information, and Carol with add your name into the hat for a chance to win an ecopy of The Exile of Elindel. You have until midnight EST Monday, October 6th2014 to submit your comment, and then POOF— the magical elfin hat picks the winner! Good luck, everyone!

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2. Halloween Thrills & Chills: box of horror giveaway + Jonathan Stroud interview

Fall is in the air, and we’re celebrating by hosting a Halloween Thrills and Chills event! Some of our favorite blog friends will present fantastic guest posts and interviews by three Disney Hyperion authors with books releasing this year, including Mary: The Summoning‘s Hillary Monahan, Welcome to the Dark House‘s Laurie Faria Stolarz, and The Whispering Skull‘s Jonathan Stroud. Check out the full tour schedule below, and be sure to enter the giveaway at the very end for a box of horror books that will be delivered to you in time for Halloween reading! We’re kicking off the event tour with Jonathan Stroud, author of the The Bartimaeus Sequence and many other novels. His second book in his Lockwood and Co. series just came out, and if you like the idea of coolly competent young British ghosthunters with a Sherlock-type vibe, you’ll certainly enjoy this series. I love how the... Read more »

The post Halloween Thrills & Chills: box of horror giveaway + Jonathan Stroud interview appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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3. Holiday Heat Week Release Blitz and Giveaway!

Wow! I can’t believe that the holidays are just around the corner!  I love the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas because everyone is just so happy!  And there’s a slew of Christmas themed books releasing between now and the end of December, just to make sure you are in the right frame of mind for Santa’s visit.  To get a jump on the season, I have a bundle of holiday themed books up for grabs, thanks to Hachette Books, so settle down with a cup of coffee, read the excerpts, and make sure to enter the giveaway (US/CAN addresses only)!

 

RING IN THE HOLIDAYS by Katie Lane

Psychologist Ellie Simpson is about to get a healthy dose of sex therapy. Leaving her cheating boyfriend behind, she has everything she needs for a quick rebound: Vegas, plenty of champagne, and a proposition from the sexiest man she’s ever seen. As her handsome stranger helps her ring in the New Year-over and over again-Ellie finds herself blissfully losing all of her inhibitions. Attorney Matthew McPherson is good at making women lose things, like their minds and underwear. With his athletic build and soulful eyes, he doesn’t need to use his powers of persuasion or famous last name to get a woman into bed.  But when morning comes, Matthew finds Ellie is the only woman he can’t bear to leave-ever.  It’s enough to make him wonder if what happens in Vegas really has to stay there.

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About Katie Lane

Katie Lane is the USA Today bestselling author of the Deep in the Heart of Texas and Hunk for the Holiday series.  Katie lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and when she isn’t writing, enjoys reading, going to the gym, golfing, traveling, or just snuggling next to her high school sweetheart and cairn terrier Roo.
Learn more about Katie Lane at:
www.katielanebooks.com
Facebook.com/katielaneauthor
Twitter, @ktlane3

Excerpt:

Ellie looked like she struggled with a strong desire to beat him over the head with the gigantic purse she held in a stranglehold on her lap. “Then why did you show up at my office saying you needed help for sex addiction?”

He shrugged. “Because I was trying to get in your pants.” Her mouth fell open, and she stared at him in speechless shock. “What?” he said. “Did I shock the Virgin Queen? I guess honesty isn’t necessarily the best policy.”

It only took her a few seconds to regain her composure. “The only time I’ve ever heard anything remotely honest come out of your mouth was in Vegas. And even then, you weren’t completely honest.”

He leaned up until he was inches from her face. “Oh, I was honest that night. Completely. And did you like that, Dr. Simpson? Because there’s a lot more where that came from.” He pulled her onto his lap, knocking her purse to the floor as he pressed her back into the seat. “Here’s some honesty for you. I don’t like you, Dr. Simpson. I don’t like your height or your hair or the prudish clothes you wear.

And I especially don’t like your screwed up, narrow mind.” He slipped his hand up her rib cage, encasing her breast with his thumb and forefinger. “In fact, the only thing I do like is the way you fill out a sweater.” He knew he was being obnoxious and crass, but he didn’t care. He needed his own revenge, and he lowered his mouth to hers and took it out on her sweet flesh.

Even with anger still simmering beneath the surface, the kiss consumed him. Each sip and slide of lips and tongues was like a perfectly synchronized dance. And it was more than just physical perfection. It was an emotional connection. Like two souls who were reunited after being away from each other for too long.

Reunited souls? Good Lord, he had lost his mind. Matthew pulled back, wishing he could somehow start the entire evening over again. Or skip it entirely and go back to the day he’d seen her picture on the cover of that damned book. Or maybe before he met her in Vegas. No, he wasn’t ready to give up the night they had in Vegas. He just couldn’t survive a repeat.

 

A CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER ANTHOLOGY: 

by Jill Shalvis, Dream a Little Dream: Melissa has kept every man at a safe distance-especially firefighter Ian, a sexy friend with sexy benefits. But Ian secretly longs for more. Luckily, ’tis the season for giving love a chance . . . 

by Kristen Ashley, Every Year: Holidays don’t come easy for Shy and his brother, Landon. But with the magic of Christmas, along with a little help from Tabby and her family, the Cage brothers are about to get the gift of a lifetime . . . 

by Hope Ramsay, Silent Night: Down on her luck and evicted from her apartment, single mother Maryanne hopes to start over in Last Chance. When the snow begins to fall, it looks like her baby might literally spend Christmas Eve in a manger. And Maryanne might celebrate the holiday with a handsome stranger. 

by Molly Cannon, Have Yourself a Messy Little Christmas: Lincoln is a bachelor who’s set in his ways-until a professional organizer dressed up as Mrs. Claus changes his life, one tip at a time. . . 

by Marilyn Pappano, A Family for Christmas: War widow Ilena doesn’t mind spending Christmas alone. But when a new doctor blows into town with the winter wind, will she get her secret Christmas wish?

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Excerpt:

“Which one of these ornaments is yours?” she asked.

He took a funny- looking Santa Claus from the tree. “I made this in my third grade art class.”

Santa was made out of paper plates and construction paper. His hat was folded and bent, his beard was shaped from the rippled edge of the plate, and his button nose was falling off. Linc studied it critically, thinking it was pretty good for third grade. “I do my best work in construction paper and glue.”

“It deserves a place of honor, for sure,” she said solemnly. She reached out to take it from him and her fingers brushed his. He stopped short. It was impossible to ignore the electrical charge that zipped between them. If she’d been any other woman he wouldn’t have hesitated. He would have pulled her into his arms, crushing the silly ornament between their bodies, and kissing her right then and there.

She smiled invitingly and her lips parted a bit, enough so he could feel her soft breath on his cheek. Her eyes softened to a leaf green, and he felt his caution crumble and transform into a maddening urgency. He let the ornament fall to the ground.

Then he was kissing her. She tasted like peppermint tea and smelled like cinnamon and pine needles. Her body melded against his, her breasts pressing against his chest. He wrapped both arms around her like he was claiming something rare and long lost. His fingers tangled in her hair, pulling it from that infernal ponytail. Her mouth opened under his and while their tongues dueled, her hands roamed across his back. It wasn’t enough. Without another thought, he picked her up and headed down

the hall.

From Molly Cannon’s A MESSY LITTLE CHRISTMAS

About the authors

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.
You can learn more at:
JillShalvis.com
Twitter @jillshalvis
Facebook.com/jillshalvis

Kristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.
Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multigenerational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland, and Kristen grew up listening to the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon, and Whitesnake.
Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music and love was a good way to grow up.
And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.
You can learn more at:
KristenAshley.net
Twitter @KristenAshley68
Facebook.com/kristenashleybooks 

Hope Ramsay grew up on the North Shore of Long Island, but every summer Momma would pack her off under the care of Aunt Annie to go visiting with relatives in the midlands of South Carolina. Her extended family includes its share of colorful aunts and uncles, as well as cousins by the dozens, who provide the fodder for the characters you’ll find in Last Chance, South Carolina. She’s a two-time finalist in the Golden Heart and is married to a good ol’ Georgia boy who resembles every single one of her heroes. She lives in Fairfax, Virginia, where you can often find her on the back deck, picking on her thirty-five-year-old Martin guitar.
You can learn more at:
HopeRamsay.com
Facebook, www.facebook.com/Hope.Ramsay
Twitter, @HopeRamsay.

Molly lives a charmed life in Texas with hernearly perfect husband and extremely large cat Nelson. When she’s not writing, she spends her days reading, taking dance classes with the hubby and watching all kinds of sports.
You can learn more at:
MollyCannon.com
Twitter, @cannonmolly

Known for her intensely emotional stories, Marilyn Pappano is the USA Today bestselling author of nearly eighty books. She has made regular appearances on bestseller lists and has received recognition for her work in the form of numerous awards. Though her husband’s Navy career took them across the United States, he and Ms. Pappano now live in Oklahoma high on a hill that overlooks her hometown. They have one son and daughter-in-law, an adorable grandson, and a pack of mischievous dogs.
You can learn more at:
MarilynPappano.com
Twitter, @MarilynPappano
Facebook.com/MarilynPappanoFanPage

IT HAPPENED AT CHRISTMAS by Debbie Mason

Free-spirited activist Skylar Davis is out of money and out of options. After using up her trust fund trying to save the world, she hides out in Christmas, hoping the kindness of friends will help her forget the reckless actions of her past. All goes well . . . until she comes face-to-face with one of her mistakes: the town’s gorgeous young mayor. Ethan O’Connor likes his life drama-free and predictable now that he’s about to make the move from small-town politics to the Colorado State Senate. Then Skye blows back into town, as impulsive and passionate as he remembers. If word ever got out about their night together-the night he’s never been able to forget-the scandal could cripple his career. Yet as he starts his campaign, Ethan finds that, like the town of Christmas itself, he can’t get Skye out of his head . . . or his heart.

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Excerpt:

Later that evening, Ethan sat at a table in the local sports bar, the Penalty Box, with Gage and their mutual friend Jack Flaherty. Brandi, wearing her waitress uniform—a black-and-white-striped jersey and a short black skirt—approached with a tray of drinks. “Compliments of the house. Sawyer named the drink after you, Mr. Senator-to-be. It’s a Prince Charming. Bourbon, cinnamon schnapps, Goldschläger, and root beer rimmed with coarse salt,” she explained as she set the drinks on the table. “Sawyer suggested you have a couple of them before you speak to your baby mama again.”

Gage and Jack laughed. “Har har,” Ethan muttered, slanting a look to where the owner, Sawyer Anderson, stood behind the bar taking orders. The tall, broad-shouldered ex-captain of the Colorado Flurries, a professional hockey team, gave Ethan a two-fingered salute and grinned. “Your friend’s a real comedian,” Ethan said to Jack.

“Yeah, he likes to think so,” Jack said, “but maybe this time he’s right. From what Grace said, you could use all the help you can get.”

“At least your wife’s talking to you. Thanks to him”—Gage jerked a thumb at Ethan—“mine isn’t.”

“She was until I defended him. Now I’m in the same boat as you,” Jack said, taking a long pull on his beer.

“Would someone like to explain how I’m the bad guy in this? She had no intention of telling me about the baby. As far as she’s concerned, I’m a sperm donor and have no rights.” And once his initial shock had passed, he started to get excited about the baby. He’d always hoped to be a father one day, and he was not about to let Skylar Davis take that away from him. “I asked her to marry me.”

He didn’t realize Brandi had hung around until she said, “No, you didn’t ask her. You told her you were getting married. At the courthouse. On Friday.”

“Yeah, and you also told her she was irresponsible and flighty and threw losing her trust fund in her face,” Gage said.

Brandi gasped. “You didn’t?”

“Come on, I didn’t say anything that any of you haven’t said or thought. Besides, I was pissed off. And I had good reason to be.” He might’ve had good reason to be angry, but he shouldn’t have let his temper get the best of him. The temper he didn’t have until he met Skylar Davis. “I sent her flowers and an apology, okay?”

Gage grimaced.

“What? You don’t think she’ll like them? The florist told me any woman would love them. I sent her three dozen roses.” Who knew flowers could be that expensive? But even Ethan realized he had to make some kind of gesture after what he’d said to Skye.

“Most women would, just not the one you sent them to,” Gage said.

Nell McBride, Evelyn Tate, and Stella Wright ambled over, dragging chairs to the table.

Evelyn beamed at him. “Don’t you worry, Ethan. We’re the love experts. And, dear, those roses you sent me were beautiful.” She fluttered her lashes.

“Yes, Ethan, that was very sweet of you to send them to us. But a little extravagant, don’t you think? I hope you didn’t send them to all your female supporters. Their husband’s might not be as understanding as mine,” Stella said.

Ethan rubbed the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger, ignoring Gage’s I-told-you-so look. “Did all three of you get a dozen roses?” he asked in hopes he misunderstood them and that Skye hadn’t sent his peace offering to the three older women.

“Yep, me, Stella, and Evelyn. But you didn’t have to bribe us. We’d vote for you anyhow. We want one of our own in the state senate, don’t we, girls?” Nell said as she pulled out a pad and pen. “And just as an FYI, when you put from a secret admirer, you’re not supposed to sign your name.”

IT HAPPENED AT CHRISTMAS excerpt #3

“Hey.” He gently tugged on her hair. “Thanks for doing this,” he said when she looked up at him. “We can take another picture of us when we get to the ranch.”

“No, this one’s good. I look like a Republican.”

He shook his head. “You’ve got a warped perception of Republicans, cupcake. We’re going to have to work on that.”

“Don’t waste your energy. My dad’s been trying to convert me since I was ten.”

“I’ve been told I can be pretty persuasive.”

“Republican women are easy,” she said, ignoring the effect his swoon-inducing voice had on her.

“Yeah? I seem to remember a certain Democrat who was pretty easy.” He waggled his eyebrows at her.

Jerk. But who was she trying to kid? She had been easy. “What was her name?” She ignored his laughter. “Stop talking so I can get this done.”

He grinned as he fiddled with the sound system. The Rolling Stones’ “Midnight Rambler” came through the speakers. His fingers tapping on the steering wheel, Ethan moved to the beat. Her lips twitched, and she struggled to focus on typing up the release. When he started singing, she started laughing.

“Hey, I’ve been told I have a good voice.”

“No, it’s not that. I like the Stones, too. We finally found something we agree on.”

“There’s hope for us yet, cupcake.”

The smile she gave him was forced. Once Jimmy was behind bars and Ethan won the election, their marriage would be over. A fluttery sensation in her stomach distracted her, and she gasped. It was stronger than before.

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s the baby. She’s moving. Here.” Skye took his hand and placed it on her stomach. When there wasn’t any movement a few minutes later, she said. “Sorry, looks like she got her exercise for the day.”

“Never know, he might do it again.” Her husband’s hand felt heavy and warm and far too good where it was. He glanced at her, his thumb moving in a slow up-and-down caress.

“Maybe,” she agreed, her voice breathy, but then she realized what he said. “Peanut’s a she.”

“Peanut?” His lips twitched. “I thought it was Willow.”

“It was, but I like Peanut better. And don’t try to distract me. Our baby’s a girl.”

“A boy. But Peanut works.” He returned his hand to the steering wheel. “I’ve got to stop for gas. You need anything?”

“You should buy a hybrid.”

He gave her a look and turned up the radio, singing as he pulled into the station. Skye was about to roll her eyes when she felt the now-familiar movement. “She kicked again. I think you like your daddy’s voice, don’t you, Peanut?”

Pulling up beside the tanks, Ethan took off his seat belt. But instead of getting out, he placed a hand on her upper thigh and leaned over, bringing his mouth to her stomach. He started to sing one of Skye’s favorite songs, “Wild Horses.” She pressed her lips together to hold back a moan. She really needed to think before she spoke.

“Do you feel anything?” he asked, turning his head to look up at her. Skye swallowed and croaked, “No.”

His eyes darkened, and he brushed his lips over her stomach, the muscles clenching in response. “You sure?” he asked, his voice a seductive rasp.

About Debbie Mason

Debbie Mason is the bestselling author of the Christmas, Colorado series. Her books have been praised for their “likable characters, clever dialogue and juicy plots” (RT Book Reviews). She also writes historical paranormals as Debbie Mazzuca. Her MacLeod series has received several nominations for best paranormal as well as a Holt Medallion Award of Merit. When she isn’t writing or reading, Debbie enjoys spending time with her very own real-life hero, their four wonderful children, an adorable grandbaby, and a yappy Yorkie named Bella.
You can learn more at:
AuthorDebbieMason.com
Twitter @AuthorDebMason

MISTLETOE ON MAIN STREET by Olivia Miles

Briar Creek’s quaint shop windows, cozy homes nestled in snow, and neighborly residents are what Christmas dreams are made of–for everyone except Grace Madison. She left her hometown years ago to pursue a writing career. But when her father’s death leaves his bookstore empty, Grace must return to face why she fled Vermont in the first place: Luke Hastings, who still heats her up like a shot of smoky whiskey on a cold winter’s night. Grace is back, and Luke is worried. How much has she changed as a bestselling author in the big city? What memories will she stir up? And was the choice he made five years ago the biggest mistake of his life? Now, with their past, present, and future rocking around the Christmas tree, it’s time for Grace and Luke to face the music . . . and the mistletoe.

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Excerpt:

When he glanced over at her, she was staring into the fireplace, the dancing flames painting a warm glow on her porcelain complexion. Her eyes looked flat and far away.

“Everything okay?” Doubt ate at him, leaving him with the twisting feeling of dread. Had she changed her mind about staying in town?

“I was just thinking of how things played out between us, the effects they had on everything else. I—I wish I had handled it differently. I wish that I had been able to come back here.”

He swallowed the knot in his throat, refusing to feel any more guilt. She was a big girl, she had made her choice. Besides, she had been the one to leave him first. She had set all this in motion.

“If there is one thing I’ve learned in the past few days, it’s that regret is the worst type of emotion.” He met her eyes. “You can’t change the past, Grace, and you have to tell yourself that everything that happened led us to this moment.”

“This moment?” she repeated.

He held her gaze, managing a nod.

“You’re right, I know.” She gave a sad smile. “I miss my father sometimes. I wish I could have seen him more often than his visits to New York. I wish…I’d never left.”

Luke leaned over and tucked a strand of her hair back from her face, his fingertips tracing the smooth silk of her neck. Arousal burned deep inside him, and his pulse quickened. He reached over and took her wineglass from her hands, setting it on the coffee table. She stared into his eyes, expectation parting her mouth. He met her lips with his, their contact so light it was almost imperceptible, save the shiver that zipped down his spine at the sensation.

He grazed her mouth, slowly bringing her full lips to his. His hand came around her slim waist, his fingers warming at the softness of her sweater, itching to slide the material away and experience the even softer skin beneath.

She sighed into him and he parted her lips with his tongue, slowly lacing his tongue with hers and then pulling away to gaze into her eyes. The green of her irises shone in the firelight, the flames reflecting in the flecks of gold around her pupils. She lowered her eyes, smiling shyly, and her long, black lashes dusted the apples of her cheeks. He leaned in again as arousal burned deep and pressed her into his chest. He could feel every curve of her body as her ripe, firm breasts rose and fell with heavy breaths. He lowered his hand, caressing her waist, her hips, and then higher, to trace the contours of her breast and the swanlike arch of her neck. He kissed her lips, her neck, her ear, breathing deep into her skin, memorizing every taste of her skin, every touch.

The buzzing from the timer on the oven stirred his attention from her, and he groaned. He pulled away, throwing her a bashful grin. “We’re being chaperoned,” he said.

About Olivia Miles

Olivia Miles is a Chicago-based romance writer. Having grown up in New England, Olivia attended McGill University in Montreal, Quebec before settling in Chicago where she lives with her husband, their daughter, and two ridiculously pampered pups.
When she is not chasing after her little ones, she is hard at work creating feisty heroines and alpha heroes with a heart. A city girl with a fondness for small town charm, Olivia enjoys highlighting both ways of life in her stories.
For more information on Olivia Miles, you can find her at:
http://oliviamilesbooks.com/
Twitter: @MsOliviaMiles
Facebook: http://facebook.com/AuthorOliviaMiles

Giveaway

Win a  set of all the books included in the blitz!   US/CAN addresses only, please.

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4. Author Interview & Giveaway: T.A. Barron on Writing & the Atlantis Saga

By Greg Leitich Smith
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

T.A. Barron grew up in Colorado ranch country and traveled widely as a Rhodes Scholar. He is the winner of the 2011 de Grummond Medallion for “lifetime contribution to the field of children’s and young adult literature” and many other awards.

T. A. Barron is the author of more than 25 highly acclaimed books, many of which are international bestsellers.

They include The Lost Years of Merlin (now being developed into a feature film), The Great Tree of Avalon (a New York Times bestselling series), The Ancient One (the tale of a brave girl and a magical tree), and The Hero’s Trail (nonfiction stories of courageous kids).

Though he’d dreamed as a young man of becoming a writer, he couldn’t find anyone to publish his first novel. He joined a business, eventually became president, then decided to try again.

So in 1990, he surprised his business partners by moving back to Colorado to become a writer and conservationist.

His novel Atlantis Rising (Philomel, 2014) was released in paperback last week.

What is your writing process like? Do you outline or just dive in?

Essentially, I write all the time, even when I’m traveling, going for a hike with my kids, baking, etc.

The creative process isn’t limited to the hours I spend in my writing chair in the attic of our house in Colorado. It happens on many levels when I’m immersed in a project.

I always write the first draft with a blue felt pen and a pad of paper, because that is a good creative chemistry for me. And I do lots of rewrites - as many as it takes to get it right!

Like a good stew, novels get better when you boil them down and integrate all the ingredients. Most of my novels take six or seven full rewrites and two years to finish.

What inspired the Atlantis series?

Learn more.
The legend of Atlantis has always intrigued me. No word evokes more of a feeling of tragedy than the word "Atlantis."

The tale of Atlantis is such a beautiful story, and for the 2000 years since Plato first wrote about it, people have wondered and dreamed about it.

But one thing that has never changed is that the island of Atlantis was utterly destroyed.

I started to wonder, though, about something else—how Atlantis began.

How did a place that rose to such a level of near perfection get destroyed by the flaws and weaknesses of its people?

Ultimately, how did that happen?

This big unknown question is what got me to write Atlantis Rising. I wanted to add a new thread to the tapestry of myth about Atlantis—how it all began, the secrets of its origins.

How did research for Atlantis compare with research for Merlin?

Good fantasy must be true.

I know that sounds contradictory, but I’m talking about truth on the deeper emotional and spiritual levels, not just on the factual level. Part of that authenticity is doing research.
Learn more.

For my Merlin Saga, I spent a whole year reading everything I could possibly find about the wizard Merlin – just to get a hint of his true character and voice.

Then came the fun of imagining that character as a young man – and even more basic, as a half-drowned boy who washed ashore with no memory at all.

For Atlantis, I did the same thing to understand the various interpretations of the Atlantean myth (and there are lots of them).

Then I began to re-imagine that myth, especially how it all began – what was at stake, who were the heroes and sources of evil, and what sacrifices and struggles happened to give birth to Atlantis.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Here are the essentials: Notice the world around you. Live your life and follow your dreams. Practice writing as often as you can. And importantly, don’t take rejection letters to heart!

Everyone gets them, even established writers. (My first novel got a great reception – 32 rejection letters and no interest whatsoever from any publishers.)

Rejections hurt, but they are just part of life.

The most important thing to remember is this: If you have something to say, and refuse to give up, you absolutely will find a way to say it and share it with others.

T.A. Barron's Writing Room -- Inside & Outside




Cynsational Notes & Screening Room

In 2000, T.A. Barron founded a national award to honor outstanding young people who help their communities or the environment: the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, which honors 25 highly diverse, public-spirited kids each year. He recently produced a documentary film, "Dream Big," profiling seven winners of the Barron Prize.

When not writing or speaking, T. A. Barron serves on many boards including Princeton University, where he helped to create the Princeton Environmental Institute, and The Wilderness Society, which recently honored him with its highest award for conservation work. His favorite pastime is hiking, camping, or skiing in Colorado with his family.

A native of Chicago, interviewer Greg Leitich Smith now lives in Austin, Texas. His middle grade/tween novels include: the Parents’ Choice Gold Award-winning and Junior Library Guild Selection, Ninjas, Piranhas and Galileo (Little Brown/IntoPrint); its companion Tofu and T.rex (Little Brown/IntoPrint); the Junior Library Guild Selection Chronal Engine (Clarion); and Little Green Men at the Mercury Inn (Roaring Brook). He holds degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois and the University of Texas, and a degree in law from the University of Michigan. Find him @GLeitichSmith and  GregLSBlog.






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5. Spotlight and Giveaway: He’s So Fine by Jill Shalvis

Book Summary:

For Olivia Bentley, Lucky Harbor is more than the town where she runs her new vintage shop. It’s the place where folks are friendly to strangers-and nobody knows her real name. Olivia does a good job of keeping her past buried, not getting too cozy with anyone . . . until she sees a man drowning. Suddenly she’s rushing into the surf, getting up close and personal with the hottest guy she’s ever laid hands on.

 

Charter boat captain Cole Donovan has no problem with a gorgeous woman throwing her arms around his neck in an effort to “save” him. In fact, he’d like to spend a lot more time skin-to-skin with Olivia. He’s just not expecting that real trouble is about to come her way. Will it bring her deeper into Cole’s heart, or will it be the end of Olivia’s days in little Lucky Harbor? 

Jill’s Bio:

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.
You can learn more about Jill at:
JillShalvis.com
Twitter @jillshalvis

Facebook.com/jillshalvis 

 

HE’S SO FINE is available in mass market paperback, ebook and audio book formats wherever books are sold

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1B0Lc5P

iBooks: http://bit.ly/1p1HaDH

IndieBound: http://bit.ly/1qL9GMO

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1n3cobU

Google Play: http://bit.ly/1vUlsVJ

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1lkIft2

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1qbcfrn

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6. Win The Bloodbound by Erin Lindsey!

I just read The Bloodbound by Ern Lindsey, and it’s a run, exciting read!  Here’s my review.  Want to win a copy? Just enter the giveaway below!

About the book:

Of all those in the King of Alden’s retinue, the bloodbinders are the most prized. The magic they wield can forge invaluable weapons, ones that make soldiers like Lady Alix Black unerringly lethal. However, the bloodbinders’ powers can do so much more—and so much worse…

A cunning and impetuous scout, Alix only wishes to serve quietly on the edges of the action. But when the king is betrayed by his own brother and left to die at the hands of attacking Oridian forces, she winds up single-handedly saving her sovereign.

Suddenly, she is head of the king’s personal guard, an honor made all the more dubious by the king’s exile from his own court. Surrounded by enemies, Alix must help him reclaim his crown, all the while attempting to repel the relentless tide of invaders led by the Priest, most feared of Oridia’s lords.

But while Alix’s king commands her duty, both he and a fellow scout lay claim to her heart. And when the time comes, she may need to choose between the two men who need her most…

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7. Guest Post & Giveaway: Mari Mancusi on When the Problem Is The Market, Not the Manuscript

By Mari Mancusi
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Ten years ago, when I began my publishing journey, I was under the assumption that if you wrote it (and it was good) it would sell.

Sell to a New York publisher.

Be stocked at Barnes and Noble and (sniff!) Borders.

Be discovered by readers.

Happily ever after, the end.

And it certainly seemed that way when my tween YA time travel novel, The Camelot Code, sold to Dutton/Penguin at auction in 2007. It was a sweet two-book deal and the editor was very excited about the project.

The gist was this: a teen King Arthur ends up in our world, Googles himself and finds out his true destiny, then decides he’d rather play football than pull the sword from the stone. And it’s up to our intrepid 21st century heroine, Sophie, to get him back in time before history is changed forever.

All was going well, until through a series of events, a change was made. The editor asked if I would do the second book in the contract first—as it seemed more “timely” – (and, of course, a time travel novel is supposedly timeless).

So I did—writing Gamer Girl instead. And when that was finished I went back to my precious Camelot Code, excited to finally finish it and get it out there at last.

But at that point, a year and a half after the original deal was made, the YA market had changed. Publishers had realized there were profits to be made on the so-called crossover audience (i.e. the adult readers) and YA started growing up—growing edgier and darker and deeper. And when my editor read my version of The Camelot Code, she realized she could not publish this book as it was and asked for a major revision.

To make matters worse, as I was revising, my editor moved houses. Then Dutton was reorganized into a boutique imprint that put out only a few titles a year. Many of the current authors were sent to Dial to finish out their contracts.

Me and my ill-fitting book, however, were dumped.

“No problem!” I said at the time. “I’ll just sell it to someone else!” Certainly a novel that sold at auction the first time would have some takers the second time around.

But I was wrong. No one wanted it. Everyone said, “It’s not middle grade, it’s not young adult. We don’t have a place for this book in our line.”

With Cory Putnam Oakes & Christina Soontornvat at Lindsey Lane's launch.
I refused to give up at first—scouring the Internet for YA publishers I might not have heard of and forwarding their names to my agent. To her credit, she was intrepid, sending out manuscript after manuscript, long after I’m sure she gave up on the book.

But the rejections still came in. Each one a knife, twisting in my gut. The worst part, I think, was that I knew it was a good book.

The problem was the market. No one was buying light, funny, tween. They wanted the next Hunger Games. And I was not going to sell this book by sheer force of will.

I felt like a failure. I felt like I’d wasted years of my life. I lost faith in the publishing world and I felt adrift in my career. If a book I felt so strongly about couldn’t sell, what made me think I could ever master this publishing thing? Yes, in the meantime, I was selling other books to other publishers, but The Camelot Code remained a big Excalibur in my side.

Then one day my husband took me aside. He brushed away my tears and reminded me of all the good The Camelot Code had brought me. The original advance money had allowed me to move to New York City, a lifelong dream, and the place I met him.

When the manuscript was rejected by my editor and I realized I wasn’t getting paid, I ended up moving in with him to save money, bringing us closer than ever.

And eventually, out of this cursed book, came the most precious blessing of all. My three-year-old daughter Avalon. Imagine—an entire human being—on this planet—all because of a publishing deal gone south. Of course I had to give her an Arthurian-inspired name, right?

Publishing can be a brutal industry. But roses can still grow in the cracks in the pavement. And it’s important for authors to look at the big picture. To remember that sometimes it’s just timing or trends or an editor having a bad day—not a reflection of the quality of your book.

Sometimes good books just don’t fit the mold.

And we can’t let that break us or cause us to lose faith in our work and ourselves.

Now, seven years after the original sale, I’ve decided to self publish The Camelot Code. To make it available to readers for the very first time. And who knows, maybe New York is right—maybe there’s no market for this tween book and I won’t sell a single copy.

But maybe they’re wrong. I’m just grateful for the opportunity to find out. That, in and of itself, feels like a bit of a happy ending.

Deanna Roy, Mari & Sam Bond chat Alternative Publishing Options with Austin SCBWI.

About The Camelot Code

The Camelot Code is available in print or digital formats on all major platforms, including Overdrive for libraries and Ingram. It is age-appropriate for 10+.

To purchase, see paperback at Amazon, paperback at Barnes and Noble, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iTunes, and Overdrive

All fourteen-year-old gamer girl Sophie Sawyer wants to do is defeat Morgan Le Fay in her favorite Arthurian videogame. She has no idea the secret code sent via text message is actually a magical spell that will send her back in time to meet up with a real life King Arthur instead.

Of course Arthur's not king yet--he hasn't pulled the sword from the stone--and he has no idea of his illustrious destiny.

And when a twist of fate sends him forward in time--to modern day high school--history is suddenly in jeopardy.

Even more so when Arthur Googles himself and realizes what lies in store for him if he returns to his own time--and decides he'd rather try out for the football team instead.

Now Sophie and her best friend Stuart find themselves in a race against time--forced to use their 21st century wits to keep history on track, battle a real-life version of their favorite videogame villain, and get the once and future king back where he belongs. Or the world, as they know it, may no longer exist.

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8. The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher by Jessica Lawson - and a Giveaway

First, I have a winner to announce from the LUG giveaway. Drum roll please............ 

The winner is.......


SUZANNE WARR



Congratulations, Suzanne! Look for a message from me asking for your mailing address. 


*   *   *   *   *


Today's MMGM features another debut novel. And it's the debut of our own Jessica Lawson! 

For other MMGM posts, look for the links on Shannon Messenger's blog.






Jessica Lawson from her website







The Actual &Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher by Jessica Lawson, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno  (for ages  8 to 12, Simon & Schuster, July 2014)

Source: purchased from B&N

Synopsis (from the book jacket): Becky Thatcher is sick and tired of that tattletale Tom Sawyer following her around! Becky is determined to have her own adventures, just like she promised her brother, Jon, before he died. When she joins the boys at school in a bet to steal from the Widow Douglas, the rumored town witch, Becky recruits her best friend Amy Lawrence to join her in a night of mischief. And that's when the real adventure begins.

Why I recommend it: What a fun read! This is one of those delightful stories you could easily read over and over again, especially if you're eleven or twelve. You don't have to be familiar with Tom Sawyer or Sam Clemens, but it helps. This is a smart, funny book, and best of all, it features one of the strongest female protagonists I've encountered this year. Or in a lot of years. The sassy and tomboyish Becky is a joy to get to know. You'll have a great time tagging along as she searches for adventure, escaped convicts, and maybe even treasure.



What MG novel could you read over and over again? Tell me in the comments.



Now for the GIVEAWAY details:


My very own hardcover copy (*hugs book*) is staying right here in my house, but the author herself has generously offered a FREE hardcover copy for one lucky winner, who will be chosen by randomizer. This giveaway is open to US/Canadian addresses only. To enter, you must be a follower and you must leave a comment on this post. If you tweet about the giveaway or mention on facebook or your own blog, I'll give you extra entries, but please include the links. Thanks! This giveaway ends at 10 pm EDT on Friday Oct 3, 2014 and the winner will be announced on Monday Oct 6.


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9. Teaser and Giveaway: Ruining Mr. Perfect by Marie Harte

This morning I have a special treat! I have an excerpt from Marie Harte’s Ruining Mr Perfect, as well as an awesome giveaway! 

IT’S NOT EASY BEING RIGHT

Vanessa Campbell is a CPA by day and a perfectionist by night. She’s fit, successful…and decidedly lonely. She can’t stop thinking about the youngest McCauley brother, Cameron. He’s just like her: smart, attractive, and usually right—except when dealing with her.

BUT SOMEONE’S GOT TO DO IT

Cameron McCauley likes Vanessa a little too much. She’s a blond goddess with a razor-sharp tongue. She hates to be wrong, just like him. But she can hold a grudge and is stubborn to a fault—also like him.

A past disagreement has them rubbing each other the wrong way. Cam is dying to shake Vanessa up—get her to let loose. But if he succeeds, can his heart handle it?

Caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Marie Harte is a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. Whether hiking in Central Oregon, biking around town, or hanging at the local tea shop, she’s constantly plotting to give everyone a happily ever after. Visit www.marieharte.com and fall in love.

An Excerpt

How she’d ever called him average with a straight face, she didn’t know. The man was her every fantasy made flesh. A great body, handsome face, and amazing mind. And God, he could kiss. As much as she wished she didn’t continually replay their embrace, she hadn’t forgotten that kiss at Christmas.

“Oh?” Damn, she sounded out of breath.

Cameron stalked her until she realized he’d backed her into a corner of the kitchen, away from the view from the hallway.

“Cameron?”

He planted his hands on either side of her on the counter. What the hell?

“The guys are on break while we order pizza. The crap kind from a chain.” He sighed. “What can you do?” He glanced at her popcorn and grinned. “Oh, that’s my favorite. Just a bit of oil and it pops up a storm.” He looked back at her mouth. “Great taste.” Pause. “I just came over to say what a good job you did being firm with Colin.”

“Ah, okay.”

He moved in closer.

“Cameron?” she squeaked on a whisper, for some odd reason not wanting the others to know he was here with her.

“Your lips are so red. So pretty. Do you wear lipstick?” He leaned in and kissed her before she could answer or even think to refuse.

Vanessa stood still, letting him control the kiss, his lips soft yet firm, his tongue sipping then penetrating slowly. No rush, but a leisurely exploration that turned her knees to jelly.

He moaned low in his throat and deepened the kiss. Not enough to overpower her, but enough that she felt a raging lust to wrap her legs around him and hold on until the storm passed.

Instead she remained frozen, her hands gravitating to his waist, her mouth under his.

He eased back. His blue eyes looked cloudy, his lips slick from their kiss. He smiled, and the curl of that grin shook her foundation, made her want with a passion that shocked her.

“No lipstick.” He wiped a thumb across her lower lip. “See?”

“Yeah.” She unconsciously gripped his hips, and he shifted, putting his hard body flush against hers.

“I need to get back,” he said to her mouth.

“Yeah.”

“They’ll be waiting on me.”

She heard Colin’s laughter and Maddie’s creature-roar from the living room, and once again answered, “Yeah.”

Cameron kissed her again, and when he let go, she felt lightheaded.

Pre-Order Now:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/YuEjvW

BAM: http://bit.ly/XNlwet

B&N: http://bit.ly/YuEqrh

Chapters: http://bit.ly/1vmjvFg

Indiebound: http://bit.ly/1skZooG

iTunes: http://bit.ly/1pMMCbH

Kobo: http://bit.ly/WOUP8r

About the author:

Caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, USA Today bestselling author Marie Harte has over 100 books published with more constantly on the way. She’s a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. Whether hiking in Central Oregon, biking around town, or hanging at the local tea shop, she’s constantly plotting to give everyone a happily ever after. Visit http://marieharte.com and fall in love.

Check out all of the teasers by visiting the following blogs! 

Visit From the TBR Pile http://fromthetbrpile.blogspot.com/ for tomorrow’s excerpt

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10. Giveaway: Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance!


When I first saw the cover of Frances Dean Who Loves to Dance and Dance by Birgitta Sif, I knew it was a picture book I wanted to get my hands on. And when I finally did, I wasn't disappointed. The cover, which I loved from the start, doesn't even do justice to the illustrations inside. Created in muted tones with pencil and digital coloring, they are truly gorgeous! 

Dedicated "to all those who live with all their heart," Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance is a child's journey of overcoming inhibitions to be herself and do what she loves, no matter whom might be watching. 

Frances Dean loves to dance. In fact, she loves to dance AND dance (as the title of the book implies.) She especially loves to dance outside, where she can feel the wind and hear the birds around her, as long as no one is watching. But with the help of her animal friends and another little girl with a big talent, Frances slowly but surely overcomes her self-consciousness. In fact, by the end of the book, she loves to dance and dance AND dance!


Overcoming inhibitions to pursue your passion is an important life lesson, and one that often takes years and years to learn. I still remember when I was in college, covering up my computer screen any time someone came in the room, for fear that he or she might read what I was writing. Now, many years later, I'm willing to show my writing to just about anyone, eager for feedback and comfortable with criticism. But boy did it take a long time. 

Little Frances Dean, having already overcome similar fears, is well on her way to a happy and healthy life. Although Frances Dean's passion is dance, her story is universal and could be applied to other passions such as music, art, and sports. I hope she can inspire lots of other little girls and boys to follow in her footsteps!

I'm giving away a copy of Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance! Simply leave a comment on this post to enter. Feel free to share your passion, or share a story about overcoming your inhibitions, in your comment. The giveaway closes at 11:59 pm EST on Wednesday, September 24, 2014. 

You can learn more about author/illustrator Birgitta Sif at http://www.birgittasif.com or in a recent interview with her at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. And finally, thanks to Random House for sending me a review copy of this book. I ended up buying my own copy as well, so receiving the review copy allowed me to host this giveaway. 

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11. Welcome, BACKHOE JOE! Long-Time Reader, First-Time Author Lori Alexander (plus a prize pack!)

September should be “giveaway month” here on the blog, since we’ve got a bounty of books ‘n’ stuff. The winner of THE LAKE WHERE LOON LIVES was Carol Nelson, who was notified, and who exclaimed that she never wins anything. I was tickled to prove her wrong!

And today we’ve got yet another giveaway, from a long-time blog reader and PiBoIdMo participant, Lori Alexander. Her debut picture book, BACKHOE JOE, is being released TODAY! A round of applause for Lori! I sat down with her to discuss the making of a debut. (Well, I sat HERE, while she sat THERE. We did not sit together, although I would have loved to. I mean, look at her! Isn’t she adorable?)

Author Photo_Lori AlexanderLori, there are many truck books on the market because they’re so popular with young children. (In fact, once an editor told me not to write a truck book because of others already out there!) Tell us what makes BACKHOE JOE different and special!

You are right, Tara! There are lots of truck books. When my son was younger, he was crazy about construction. He wore truck shirts and slept on truck sheets and had truck birthdays. We pulled the car over for close-up looks at construction equipment (which set an exhausting precedent on cross-country trips, with me wishing my son had been born a dinosaur fanatic instead. No stops!). We also sought out as many construction books as we could get our hands on. After a while, they all seemed similar to me: a bulldozer pushes, a dump truck dumps, an excavator digs. A playground is built at the end. To mix it up, my son and I had lengthy conversations about what we would do with our own backhoe. Our backhoe could scoop Legos into a pile, dump dirty laundry into the washer, and drive all the neighborhood kids to school (that front loader is roomy!). These dreamy discussions led to the kernel of the idea for BACKHOE JOE which is about a boy who tries to adopt a “stray” backhoe. So, like pirate books and dinosaur books and princess books, BACKHOE JOE joins a crowded subject, but I’m hoping he will dig out some space of his own on the bookstore shelves.

backhoejoeI’m sure he will! (I mean, look at him! Isn’t he adorable?)  And that’s what we all have to do, take a common theme and make it unique! I love the idea of a truck as a pet.

Is this the project that landed you an agent? How did you pitch it?

That is something you hear editors ask for…a fresh twist on a common theme! With Backhoe Joe, it took me a few years to get it right. My early drafts were about a boy asking for a backhoe for his birthday, through a series of letters to his parents, à la I Wanna Iguana. I received some positive feedback from a small publisher, who liked the concept, but wasn’t sold on the letter format. Many more months of big-picture revisions as well as tiny tweaks lead to the current version. I received some positive feedback from agent Mary Kole during a webinar critique, and that gave me the boost of confidence I needed to begin querying agents. I queried with BACKHOE JOE but had two other PB manuscripts ready to go, in case an agent was interested. Lucky for me, one was! And you asked how I pitched it. I believe in the cover letter I said something completely cheesy, like “it’s FANCY NANCY for boys!”

Well, that would certainly grab my attention!

What can you share about your debut book experience that’s been most surprising?

While writing BACKHOE JOE, I really tried to nail the page breaks. I studied the page turns in my favorite picture books and read blog posts about layout (Tara’s “Picture Book Dummy, Picture Book Construction: Know Your Layout” is one of my favorites). I submitted BACKHOE JOE to my agent divided into 16 spreads. I thought she might want to remove the breaks and submit it to publishers in paragraph form, but it never came up. I was surprised (in a good way!) when my editor at Harper agreed and the final layout of Joe was exactly how I envisioned it. All that homework paid off!

Another surprise was, although I should have known better, having one sale under your belt doesn’t make it any easier to sell the next book. Rejection—a thing of the past? Not so!

Ha, don’t I know it! They never stop, but they do get easier to swallow. (However, I am not advocating eating your manuscript.)

What’s your favorite line in the book?

My absolute favorite line is on the last page, but I don’t want to spoil anything. I will say Craig Cameron did a fantastic job bringing Joe to life and he set-up the twist ending beautifully.

Aha, I LOVE a twist ending! I think it’s so important for a successful picture book, to surprise your audience, to extend the story beyond the story. Let them imagine what happens next (plus set yourself up for a sequel)!

My second favorite bit is when the main character, Nolan, tries to train Backhoe Joe like he’s a dog. But naughty Joe revs at the mailman, buries his cone in the flowerbed, and digs in the garbage. It was fun to think about the ways a dog and a construction truck might behave similarly.

Sounds hilarious!

OK, one last question. I have a list of fun words I posted recently, which has become quite popular. What’s your favorite word?

This time of year, my favorite word is monsoon.

Yeah, I love ooh sounds!

And now our readers are gonna make ooh sounds (corny segue, Tara) because Lori has a BACKHOE JOE prize pack to give away! Just leave one comment below by September 23rd!

The prize pack includes a signed copy of BACKHOE JOE, bookmarks, stickers, and squishy foam stress “rocks”. (Hey, I could use some of those! Remember, the rejections never cease!)

Thanks, Lori!

backhoejoe prize pack

Lori Alexander lives in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband and two rock-collecting kids. Her family always brakes for road construction so they can admire the dozers and diggers. Lori still secretly hopes a backhoe will follow them home. She is represented by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. This is Lori’s first picture book. Visit her at LoriAlexanderBooks.com.


10 Comments on Welcome, BACKHOE JOE! Long-Time Reader, First-Time Author Lori Alexander (plus a prize pack!), last added: 9/16/2014
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12. Happy Roald Dahl Day! Let’s Celebrate with Some Pinnables & a GIVEAWAY!

Happy Roald Dahl day!

Roald Dahl Day takes place every September 13th, the celebrated birthday of one of the world’s favorite storytellers. There are celebrations happening all over the world and Jump into a Book is no different. To get started go have a look at some of these fun activities to not only prepare for your party but have fun jumping into some of the most well known books of all time.

As you may already know, Mr. Roald Dahl holds a special place in my heart. You also know that my award-winning enhanced digital e-book The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory got it’s started as a thought….an idea, from a note by Willy Wonka inside an old book at the yard sale.

The Ultimate Guide to Charlie

From there the adventure began into one of our all time favorite books, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Chapter by chapter we explored the world of Willy Wonka.

What We Encountered Along The Way

  • We won our own golden tickets by sheer wit.
  • We entered into the jungle to learn how chocolate and gum were made and even got to make some of our very own.
  • We met Oompa Loompas and even had a wardrobe exchange. We’ve never truly been right since then as they have very short legs.
  • We learned the true secrets of gobstoppers. We’d tell you but our mouths are full.
  • Willy Wonka’s factory is a masterwork of mazes. We had to utilize our skill at them to work our way through this enchanting chocolate factory, including but not limited to the ever famous scissor maze where we walked clean through a piece of paper. Of course we haven’t kept that info to ourselves but have happily shared it with all of you.
  • The Ultimate Guide to Charlie

 

All of these adventures we’ve taken together and now you can too. Although The Ultimate Guide to Charlie is a beautifully illustrated interactive e-book, the entertainment comes from doing the crafts, recipes, and games once the book is shut. It’s good old fun ,21st century style. We loved creating a balance between the virtual world and the actual world. Magic comes from our inspirations and imagination. The Ultimate Guide to Charlie will lend itself to hours of fun again and again. Check out the Ultimate Charlie website for extended details of crafts and activities.

It’s been over a year since our “Charlie” hit the virtual shelves of the iTunes iBookstore and what fun adventure it’s been! We have much to celebrate:

  • We’ve seen “Charlie” top the charts to #1 on the iTunes iBookstore no less than 7 times in the months of November/December.
  • We won the coveted QED award for innovative design.
  • We won a Bronze medal in the E-Lit Book Awards.

QED Award

AND now…announcing a very crazy, exciting, “Wonkalicious” deal!

 

AND The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is on sale at the App Store for $3.99!!!

itunes1

AND…For non-iPad/iPhone/iPod users, get the PDF version for $7.95 HERE.

buy-pdf

WIN ONE!

Here’s your chance to WIN a PDF copy of The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and The Chocolate Factory!! We will be giving away one copy to one lucky winner. Contest runs from September 13 until Midnight on September 15th. Must be 18 years old or older to enter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

We’ve honored Roald Dahl by jumping into some of his many books too. Here’s a few:

Witches:

This is not a fairy tale. This is about real witches.” -The Witches by Roald Dahl

The Witches

Big Friendly Giant

“We is in Dream Country.” the BFG said. “This is where all dreams is beginning.”

BFG

 

The Fantastic Mr. Fox

fox1

 

Roald Dahl had amazing wit and wisdom and some of his quotes are among the most frequently shared on the Internet. Here are a few of my personal favorites {Please feel free to Pin to Pinterest!}

Roald Dahl quote

 

Abstract Background of blie lights.

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl

 

**The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and The Chocolate Factory book is not affiliated or associated with the author, publisher, or distributors of Roald Dahl’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

 

The post Happy Roald Dahl Day! Let’s Celebrate with Some Pinnables & a GIVEAWAY! appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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13. Guest Post and Giveaway: Samantha Grace, Author In Bed With a Rogue

Please welcome Samantha Grace back to the virtual offices!  She’s here to share some private facts about Sebastian, and be sure to enter the giveaway to win a copy of In Bed with a Rogue!

Hi, everyone! I’m Samantha Grace, historical romance author of the series Rival Rogues. It’s great to be back at Manga Maniac Café talking about my newest release, IN BED WITH A ROGUE. My favorite characters to write are always the males, whether it’s the hero or a secondary character, so I was very happy to see the title for today’s blog:

Top 5 things you’d never find in Sebastian’s bedchamber

I love this topic, but I needed a little help from my street team, The Social Graces, to come up with a list. Here’s what we decided…

1) A mess—You would never find anything out of place in Sebastian’s bedchamber, and not just because he has a staff of servants. Lady Helena Prestwick notices when she first has a chance to study him at the theater that everything about his appearance is intentional, from the starch of his collar to his carefree hair made to appear as if he’d crawled from bed looking like perfection, to his high-polished footwear. “A lot of effort went into his appearance, suggesting he cared a great deal how others viewed him.” And how right she is. Sebastian believes one can never be too fastidious. “People were judged on appearances, and he took pains to set himself apart from the disheveled mess his father had become in his last years.” Sebastian’s father suffered from PTDS after his military service, which started rumors of madness in Sebastian’s family. Now that he and his sister have both been jilted before their weddings, the rumors have resurfaced, and Sebastian refuses to give any more evidence to back-up the gossips’ claims.

2) A muddy pair of Hessian boots—Even if Sebastian wasn’t a bit of a neat freak, you wouldn’t find the boots in his room because he…uh…he lost them one evening when attackers jumped him outside a tavern in Whitechapel.

His assailants ripped the coat from his back while he tried to catch his breath.

Found it!”

Another kick to his kidney paralyzed him in a cloud of pain. Two men grabbed his legs and tugged at his boots.

Not the Hessians,” he mumbled.

They laughed and ran off, the splash of footsteps growing faint.

Bloody… hell…” he said between wheezing breaths. He would have given them his purse if they had asked nicely, but no gentleman should have to part with his boots.

He rolled to his back and cried out as his muscles wrenched. If he ever learned his attackers’ identities, they were in for a shocking introduction of his foot to their backsides.

Lucky for Sebastian, Helena wasn’t far away and came to his rescue when he called out for help, even though she risked having her secret discovered.

3) A Do Not Disturb sign—Sebastian would never take his conquests home for a night of fun. He has a mother and younger sister under his care, and he would never dream of exposing them to anything inappropriate. He would, however, like to bar his sister from his room, but Evie will have none of that after he is delivered to the front stoop battered, bruised, and unconscious. (I think she burned the Do Not Disturb sign.)

He was in his bedchamber. God only knew how he had gotten there.

He smacked his lips. His mouth was dry, like someone had shoved a wad of muslin in it. With eyes still closed, he fumbled for a glass of water on his side table without success. He cracked open an eye.

Faith!” He jumped, then sucked in a sharp breath as pain sliced through his ribs.

His younger sister pursed her lips. “What happened this time? Did an irate husband chase you out a window?”

I refuse to respond to such a ridiculous accusation.” Gingerly, he probed the bandage around his middle. How had that gotten there?

Eve slid from the edge of the bed and went to retrieve a porcelain pitcher from a tray sitting on a side table. “The doctor said you bruised your ribs and knocked your head. And don’t pretend I have insulted you. I smelled the lady’s perfume on you before your valet cleaned you up.” Despite her scolding tone, her brown eyes were sympathetic when she glanced over her shoulder. “I worry about you, Bastian. God only knows what you are doing that causes you to come home with bruises. And no coat or boots at that.”

Well, it’s not bedding married women, not that you should know about such goings-on.”

4) A Letter of Complaint—Helena learns Sebastian knows her secret when he approaches her at a ball, and she thinks he intends to blackmail her. She invites him back to her town house so they can discuss the terms in private, but he suggests they wait to leave the ball separately so no one connects their names. In the meantime, Helena takes refuge in the ladies’ retiring room to avoid running into him again at the ball. She has the misfortune of crossing paths with Lady Lovelace and receives a favorable recommendation of Sebastian’s skills, although the Widow Lovelace insults him in the process. (Perhaps there’s a little jealousy at play?)

I saw you dancing with Lord Thorne.” Lady Lovelace plopped onto the tufted stool and smoothed a hand over her hair. “If you’ve a rendezvous with Sebastian, you will not regret it.”

Helena’s breath hitched.

The widow’s eyes gleamed in the looking glass. “Just as I suspected. He is worth the risk, so long as no one else finds out. Most every lady desires him in her bed, but she would be mortified if others knew she’d been bedded by a Bedlamite.”

She twittered at her joke, but Helena didn’t find her amusing in the least.

Forgive me, my lady, but you are mistaken about Lord Thorne and me.” Helena headed for the retiring room door, brushing past the attendant who wasn’t even bothering to pretend she wasn’t eavesdropping. Her owl-like eyes blinked several times at Helena.

Oh?” The widow swiveled on the seat. “You haven’t succumbed to his charms yet? You would be the only woman whose skirts he has chased but failed to lift.”

5) An Attack Cat—One of my favorite scenes involves a stray cat Helena rescued on one of her late night excursions to Whitechapel. Sebastian isn’t likely to forget his introduction to Luna.

He swept the hair from her forehead. “I want to see where you lived. And Fergus promised to take me fishing. Perhaps you and Gracie would like to come along too. Fergus said you are quite the angler. And he said his mother, the best cook in Aberdeenshire, will bake a pie in my honor. I am not one to turn down a sweet.”

She rolled her eyes, laughing, knowing sweets were not his weakness. “When did you and Fergus become confidants?”

I’ll have you know Fergus and I are the best of friends now.” Sebastian tugged his trousers over his hips. “He invited me fishing when he offered his congratulations belowstairs earlier.” His eyes flew open and he jumped away from the bed. “Damnation!”

Helena gasped in surprise. Luna was clawing her way up his leg, clinging to his trousers as he hopped and tried to shake her loose. When she sank her teeth into his thigh, a string of curses poured from him.

Luna, no!” Helena scrambled off the bed to intervene, but Sebastian pried her from his leg before she reached them.

The cat hit the floor at a run, sprang onto the desk chair and desk, then slipped on the pile of post before she gained traction and dashed into Helena’s dressing room. Letters plopped to the floor.

Sebastian turned incredulous eyes on Helena. “Did you see that hellcat? He tried to unman me.”

A laugh burst from her. “He is a she, and Luna didn’t mean to hurt you. She was playing.”

His dark scowl brought about another peal of laughter.

I’m sorry,” she said, her voice muffled by her hand over her mouth. “Are you hurt?”

He lifted a brow. When his lips twitched, she knew he saw the humor too. “You could have warned me you had a guard under the bed.”

I hope y’all enjoyed the sneak peek into IN BED WITH A ROGUE. I’d like to thank Manga Maniac Café for having me here today! I look forward to chatting with all of you.

Should we play a fun game of “In Your Pants”? The idea originally came from a Harlequin post on Facebook, but let’s put our own spin on it. I’m assuming most of us have at least one book on our bedside tables. List the title and add “In Your Pants” at the end to create a new title. I’ll go first.

The Templars and Assassins in Your Pants (That’s quite the crusade!) Now it’s your turn!

To connect with Samantha…

Samantha Grace Author | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

Bio:

Historical romance author Samantha Grace discovered the appeal of a great love story when she was just a young girl, thanks to Disney’s Robin Hood. She didn’t care that Robin Hood and Maid Marian were cartoon animals. It was her first happily-ever-after experience and she didn’t want the warm fuzzies to end. Now Samantha enjoys creating her own happy-endings for characters that spring from her imagination. Publisher’s Weekly describes her stories as “fresh and romantic” with subtle humor and charm. Samantha describes romance writing as the best job ever.

Part-time hospice social worker, moonlighting author, and pilates nut, she enjoys a happy and hectic life with her real life hero and two kids in the Midwest.

In Bed with a Rogue

By Samantha Grace

Soucebooks Casablanca

Historical Romance

September 2, 2014

ISBN: 9781402286612

$6.99/£4.99

Mass-Market Paperback

He’s the Talk of the Town

The whole town is tittering about Baron Sebastian Thorne having been jilted at the altar. Every move he makes ends up in the gossip columns. Tired of being the butt of everyone’s jokes, Sebastian vows to restore his family’s reputation no matter what it takes.

She’s the Toast of the Ton

Feted by the crème of society, the beautiful widow Lady Prestwick is a vision of all that is proper. But Helena is no angel, and when Sebastian uncovers her dark secret, he’s quick to press his advantage. In order to keep her hard-won good name, Helen will have to make a deal with the devil. But she’s got some tricks up her sleeves to keep this notorious rogue on his toes…

Historical romance author Samantha Grace discovered the appeal of a great love story when she was just a young girl, thanks to Disney’s Robin Hood. She didn’t care that Robin Hood and Maid Marian were cartoon animals. It was her first happily-ever-after experience and she didn’t want the warm fuzzies to end. Now Samantha enjoys creating her own happy-endings for characters that spring from her imagination. Publishers Weekly describes her stories as “fresh and romantic” with subtle humor and charm. Samantha describes romance writing as the best job ever.

Website: http://www.samanthagraceauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Samantha-Grace/264436686918343

Twitter: @SamGraceAuthor https://twitter.com/SamGraceAuthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4946067.Samantha_Grace

Buy: Amazon | B&N | BAM! | IndieBound | !ndigo | iTunes a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Guest Post and Giveaway: Samantha Grace, Author In Bed With a Rogue appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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14. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Goodnight, Ark PLUS A Giveaway!!!

Dzoo dzoo-doo dzoo dzoo dzoo dzooooo!!!

(That's me playing my kazoo in celebration.  You didn't know I was a kazoo virtuoso, did you?  Just another of my many talents.  I am also a whiz at removing toothpaste "mints" from the sink :))

Welcome back to another year of Perfect Picture Book Fridays!

I am so looking forward to all the new picture books we're going to share!

Parents, teachers, readers, and writers take note!  There will be something for everyone to enjoy and learn from :)

I am thrilled to be presenting a wonderful book for the 2014-2015 PPBF kick-off, written by none other than your friend and mine, Laura Sassi.  Since this is part of her blog tour, we are fortunate to have her here with us today, sharing her thoughts on the illustrations and how parents and teachers can engage their kids through them.  She and her publisher, Zonderkidz, are also generously offering a giveaway, so one lucky reader will win a copy of this delightful book! (U.S. residents only - street address, no P.O. box - publisher's stipulation.)  Laura's thoughts and the giveaway will appear below the book listing.

Title: Goodnight, Ark
Written By: Laura Sassi
Illustrated By: Jane Chapman
Zonderkidz, August 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8 (according to publisher, but I think ages 2-3 would enjoy it too :))

Themes/Topics: animals, bedtime, fear (of thunderstorms), language fun (rhyme, onomatopoeia)

Opening: "Beds are ready.
Food is stored.
Noah hollers,
"All aboard!"
Guests rush forward.
Furry, scaled,
woolly, feathered,
swishy-tailed."

Brief Synopsis: Two by two, the animals board Noah's ark.  They're supposed to settle down and go to sleep... but the heavy rain, thunder and lightning frighten them, so two by two they climb in bed with Noah!  How much can one bed take? And will anybody get any sleep?

Links To Resources: talk about onomatopoetic words - what onomatopoetic words can kids think up?  Words for eating sounds? Engine noises? Musical sounds?; Noah's Ark coloring page #1Noah's Ark coloring page #2; talk about the bible story of Noah's ark - how is it like GOODNIGHT, ARK and how is it different?; talk about fears - is anyone afraid of storms?  What other things are frightening?  What can you do to feel safe and secure when you're frightened?; the animals are described as "furry, scaled, woolly, feathered, swishy-tailed" - what animals can you think of that are furry? scaled? etc.; please see Laura's thoughts below on ways to use the illustrations; here's the link to book trailer (in case it doesn't load properly here :)) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRsc-pKmKwM




Why I Like This Book: This is a delightful story - an entertaining, clever, child-friendly twist on the original Noah's ark.  The text is the perfect length for young attention spans.  The rhyme is filled with fun onomatopoetic words that kids will enjoy joining in with.  The art is bright, colorful and engaging, filled with small details that will keep young listeners busy.  But possibly my favorite thing is the skunks who have a whole story of their own going on in the illustrations.  Start looking for them in the 4th spread and watch what happens :)

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

The Importance of Illustration - Thoughts From Laura Sassi
(A lesson for writers, and an opportunity for parents, teachers, and kids :))

Author Laura Sassi
Visit her Blog
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One of the basic rules of picture book writing is that writers need to let the illustrations tell part of the story. I understood this in principle, but it wasn’t until I saw Jane Chapman’s delightful illustrations for GOODNIGHT, ARK that it really hit home. I mean, WOW! Her illustrations truly show that principle in action and are a great reminder for me, that as a writer, I should curb any lingering tendency to over-describe or over-prescribe my texts and let the illustrators do their jobs.  

Here, then, are some great examples of how Jane used illustration to add humor and even extra plot details to GOODNIGHT, ARK. You’ll have to look carefully, for they are subtly sprinkled throughout her rich and colorful spreads:
1.Extra Animals: In addition to the key players, Jane adds extra animal guests.  I found nine extra pairs. Can you?
2. Extra (funny!)provisions: The text makes no mention of specific provisions, leaving lots of room for Jane to add humorous extras like the canned cat food that rolls across the floor on the tippiest page in the story.  It took me several reads to notice them! What other funny provisions do you see?
3. Underwear!: Every child I’ve read my story to has howled at Jane’s humorous inclusion of polka-dotted boxers quietly hanging on the line to dry.  We’ve also chuckled over the toothbrush. Both nice touches, I would never have thought of. What other humorous extras can you find?
4. Extra Plot Layer:  I don’t want to give away the most exciting part, but a certain pair of creatures is instrumental in restoring balance on the ark. In her illustrations, Jane brings out the personality of this pair in a darling way, even hinting through their gestures that they planned the whole stinky thing.  I LOVE that extra layering! 

Thanks, Laura!  To see the other stops on Laura's blog tour (6 completed, 4 upcoming) please click HERE for the links.


And now for the giveaway!  All you have to do to be entered is leave a comment telling us something funny about bedtime: a favorite trick for getting kids to bed? an unusual bedtime routine? something kids won't sleep without? some clever way kids try to get out of bedtime?  Anything fun and bedtime-related.  Bonus point if it includes an animal in some way :)

My example (which does not include animals except as occasional topics of discussion) is that when my son was little, he was never ready for sleep when he got in bed.  Instead, he had what he called his "thinking time" which inevitably (Every. Night!) involved him getting up numerous times and coming to ask me such can't-wait questions as, "How much is infinity?", "Where does wind come from?", "How many teeth does a tyrannosaurus rex have?", and "Why is it called the Milky Way?"  To which I would respond knowledgeably, "Uh......." :)

Please leave your comment by Sunday September 14 at 5 PM EDT.  A winner will be chosen at random and announced next week.  One note: the publisher stipulates that the winner must reside in the U.S. and have a street address, not a PO box, so please let us know if you're commenting just for fun and are not eligible.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!  Hurray!  Can't wait!!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!


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15. REX WRECKS IT! EVENTS


Ahoy! I have two signings coming up soon for my new picture book REX WRECKS IT! 

Paul Czajack, Dana Alison Levy, and Ben Clanton at the Andover Bookstore
September 27 @ 1 PM
89 Main St # 1, Andover, MA 01810

www.hugobookstores.com

Ben Clanton at the Odyssey Bookshop
October 4 @ 11 AM

9 College Street, South Hadley, MA
www.odysseybks.com

I'd love to see you at one of the events! PLUS if you are in the Andover area there is a contest you can enter for a chance to win a signed copy of REX and an original illustration. Drop off the completed entry at the Andover Bookstore.

0 Comments on REX WRECKS IT! EVENTS as of 9/11/2014 9:46:00 AM
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16. Interview with Claudia Connor, Author of Worth the Fall and Giveaway

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Claudia! Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Claudia Connor] I asked my family for help on this one. Weird. Tired. Fun. Loving. Hungry. I’d say that’s pretty accurate.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?

[Claudia Connor] Sure. Worth The Fall is a love story, plain and simple, though love is never simple. Abby and Matt are two people with no other reason to be together and lots of reasons to be apart. Matt’s a Navy SEAL hero with skills, badassness and an intense sense of responsibility, but he’s also a man with so much love to give. He’s just never found anyone he wanted to give it to. Until Abby. But Abby’s been left all her life and knows she can’t watch another person walk away.

So it’s about falling in love, making choices and taking chances. It’s also about believing you’re enough, believing you’re worthy of what’s being offered. I absolutely LOVE these characters. I spent three years with them before I ever considered writing their story, then almost three more years writing it. Any minute of any day I can pop into their lives, be a fly on the wall. It’s like watching your favorite movie that never ends! Hopefully when people read the book they’ll feel the same.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Claudia Connor] I don’t really feel like I come up with anything or create anyone, as odd as that may sound. I only try my best to write down what I see and fill in any blanks the characters leave. Though sometimes those blanks are more like craters. Black holes. I watch and listen and write down what they say and do and hope I do them justice.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Claudia Connor] The characters. I could stay with them forever. Even though it was hard, there was so much love between Abby and Matt it always felt good to be with them.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?

[Claudia Connor] Hmm…I guess I’d have to say the hero. I hate to point fingers fingers at Matt, but he had a lot to work out. And then there’s the whole men can be difficult thing:)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?

[Claudia Connor] Ooh…That’s a tough one and it changes hourly, even minute to minute. Okay, I’ll admit, I even googled How To Find Your Theme Song. LOL It was a fun test but I’d never even head of the songs it suggested for me. Maybe…Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd. I’m not sure the song describes me in any way, but it’s always stuck.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

[Claudia Connor] During the day, my phone, my lifeline to the world. Over night, my little pillow, affectionately known as Baby Nino. It was in my crib when I came home from the hospital and I can count on one hand the nights I’ve slept without it. Where I go, Baby Nino goes. And yes, that includes my honeymoon.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Claudia Connor] Diet Coke. Empty mug. Laptop. And twenty-seven other things but you only asked for three;)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Claudia Connor] Back up dancer for J. Lo. Of course that would require a certain amount of talent. But, hey. It’s a dream.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Claudia Connor] Waiting On You, Kristan Higgins. It Happened One Wedding, Julie James. And a re-read, Safe Harbor, Christine Feehan

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Claudia Connor] I love watching TV. My husband and I have gotten into a habit of finding a show then watching the entire thing straight through a couple of episodes each night. We recently flew through every season of Game Of Thrones and just finished both seasons of Vikings. Now we’re sad. My all time favorite show was Alias. I own that and have re-watched with each of my daughters when they hit their teens. I LOVE going to movies. Gladiator is my all time number one favorite movie. I think at last count I’d seen it 14 times. If you haven’t seen it, GO NOW. I promise you will thank me!!! And of course, I love to read. Though there aren’t many hours in the day, not even on the weekend, that I’m not working, thinking, plotting, rewriting, or driving my children to activities.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Claudia Connor] I’m in all the usual social media places. In addition to the ones below, they can find me on Pinterest. I have a special board for each book, always great for procrastination:)

http://claudiaconnor.com

https://www.facebook.com/ClaudiaConnor

https://www.goodreads.com/claudiaconnor

https://twitter.com/Claudia__Connor

Thank you so much for having me!

Worth The Fall
The McKinney Brothers # 1

By: Claudia Connor

Releasing September 9th, 2014

Loveswept

Blurb

Prepare to be swept away by a talented debut author with a passionate, powerful story to tell.

They meet on a beach. . . . Abby Davis isn’t wearing a skimpy bikini or sipping umbrella drinks, not when she’s busy chasing around four little ones. And Matt McKinney isn’t looking for fun—he’s a Navy SEAL, a grown man with a long list of missions . . . and fallen brothers.

They only have a week. . . . Abby has brought her children to this beach to start over, to give them the enjoyable memories they deserve. Matt’s been sidelined by a combat injury, and haunted by the best friend he lost and the promise he made: to remain a SEAL—focused and dedicated. This leaves no time for what he’s always wanted: a family.

But a week is all it takes. . . . Matt opens her heart while Abby soothes his soul. And though they plan to say good-bye when the week is over, something magical happens on that beach, something neither can forget. Something utterly, completely worth falling for.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/07/worth-fall-mckinney-brothers-1-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21469653-worth-the-fall?from_search=true

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Worth-Fall-McKinney-Claudia-Connor-ebook/dp/B00J1IQX4E/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1407203839&sr=1-1&keywords=Worth+the+Fall

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/worth-the-fall-claudia-connor/1120019663?ean=9780553390919

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/worth-the-fall/id841778887?mt=11

Author Info

Claudia Connor attended Auburn University, where she received her undergraduate and masters degrees in early childhood education, and completed her studies in Sawbridgeworth, England. Always a lover of happy endings, she enjoys movies, reading, and spending her days putting on paper the stories in her head. She lives near Memphis, Tennessee, with her husband and three daughters.
Author Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/claudia.connor.18

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Claudia__Connor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8058866.Claudia_Connor

Rafflecopter Giveaway ($25 Gift Card to eRetailer of Choice and Digital copy of WORTH THE FALL)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Interview with Claudia Connor, Author of Worth the Fall and Giveaway appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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17. How Teaching Makes You Better at DOING by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen (plus a giveaway!)

by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

IMG_5422 (1)It’s back to school season here in New Jersey (or, outside Philadelphia, as I typically refer to it) and that means big changes in my household. All summer, my kids and I are bums. We hang out at the beach, at the pool, at the mall. We travel, we sleep in, we do nothing. Summer is heaven.

But come September, my children’s lives change. Gone are the no schedule, no stress days and in their place we have wake up alarms, agenda books, and deliverables (and, it seems, a LOT of laundry!). The kids aren’t the only ones who go back to school—as a children’s book author, the school year means that I go back to school as well.

Every year, between school visits, Skype visits, and events like Dot Day or World Read Aloud Day, I connect with about 100 different schools all around the world. Because I spend so much time with school kids, I end up doing quite a bit of teaching, especially teaching writing. Which happens to be a completely different skill than actually writing.

There is a very stupid expression that you sometimes hear people throw around: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” I want to be very, very clear here: that is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. Not only is it disparaging, inflammatory, and demeaning, it also has the distinction of being very WRONG. I definitely knew that before I personally started working with schools, but now that I teach on a regular basis, I can tell you that those who teach can do better than anyone else.

teach

It has to do with the nature of teaching. In order to teach someone a skill, you have to know it so well that you can explain every step, even the ones you do automatically or on muscle memory. Here’s an example: when I was in graduate school, I bought a brand new Mustang that I couldn’t drive. Because it was a stick shift and I only knew how to drive an automatic. So I had a friend try to teach me how to drive stick. We got in my car, I started it up, and I asked him what to do next. He said, “OK, now drive.” I looked at him blankly. “Just don’t stall the car,” he added. I had no idea what that meant. So he said, “Don’t ease off the clutch to quickly. Or too slowly!”

At that point, I threw him out of the car. He, to this day, doesn’t understand what had upset me.

He knew how to drive a manual, and things that I needed to know—how to properly come off the clutch when changing gears, how to tell when to shift up or down, etc.—were things he’d stopped thinking about. So he couldn’t teach me to do them because he hadn’t been thinking about all those little steps that you do to succeed that once you’re successful, you completely forget about.
(For the record, I can now totally drive a stick.)

When I started teaching writing, I struggled with this same thing. I thought to myself, How can I teach something that I just DO? Trust me, this was very difficult to figure out. But the more I did figure it out—the better I got at teaching others how to write—the better I actually got at writing. Just like my friend who failed at teaching me how to drive my Mustang because there were so many things he was doing on autopilot that he couldn’t explain, as writers, we do that same thing. When you get to a certain point in your writing journey, you don’t even think about certain things like how to conceptualize a complex character or add layers to your plot, you just do it. But if you try to teach someone else how you do what you do, you have to break down every action into baby steps so that you can show your students how to mimic your actions. This forces you to think through your methods, and in the process, refine them even more.

So even if you’re not at the point in your publishing career where you are teaching, I’d like to encourage you to think like a teacher to become a better writer. For example, instead of saying, “I’m going to create a charismatic main character,” I’d ask you to analyze what steps you’d take to do that, like:

  •  Start with something familiar
  •  Add some positive unique features
  • Give the character some flaws that make him or her relatable
  • Give him or her positive relationships (family, best friend, etc.) and negative relationships (nemesis, villain, etc.)
  • Temper every extreme (like “good” or “bad”) with something that brings it back a notch (like “good but hates kittens” or “bad but rescues kittens”)

The more you go through this process of treating your writing objectives like lesson plans, the deeper you’ll understand what you’ve done when something work—and what you may have left off inadvertently when something doesn’t work.

When you’re a good teacher, your students will benefit. When you yourself are your own student, your teaching skills make you so much better at doing.

Happy Back to School!

SudiptaParisSudipta is an award-winning author of over 40 books and the co-founder of both Kidlit Writing School and Kidlit Summer School. Her books include DUCK DUCK MOOSE, TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS, ORANGUTANGLED, and over thirty more books that have been acclaimed by the Junior Library Guild, the California Reader’s Collection, the Bank Street Books Reading Committe, the Amelia Bloomer list, and many more. Find out more about her by visiting Sudipta.com or her blogs Nerdy Chicks Rule and Nerdy Chicks Write.

Sudipta’s new class: Picture Book A to Z’s: Plotting in Picture Books

The Picture Book A to Z series is designed to be a collection of master level classes that cover all of the fundamentals of picture book craft. While each class is complete on its own, taken together, the series will teach you everything you ever wanted to now about picture books- and a lot more!

The ability to craft a strong picture book plot is one of the factors that separates unpublished writers from those who consistently sign publishing contracts to see their work in print. This course will teach you the essentials of creating compelling plots, starting with Arcs, Beginnings, and Climaxes — then literally taking you through the alphabet. Each topic will be explored in depth, both in the lessons and in the discussion forums and webinars. The writing exercises that are a part of of the course are designed to help you apply the lessons to your own writing seamlessly and immediately. By the end of the course, you will never look at plotting the same way again! The first course in this series, Plotting in Picture Books, will begin on October 6, 2014.

Bonus Critique: Register for Plotting in Picture Books before September 20, 2014 and receive a free picture book manuscript review and 20-minute Skype session with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, redeemable within six months of the course’s completion.

Thanks, Sudipta! And now for the giveaway…either a 20-minute telephone/Skype PB critique with Sudipta or one of her signed books. The choice is yours. Just comment once below by September 16th to enter!


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18. Little Author ~ Book Giveaway



 
 


    Goodreads Book Giveaway
 



   

        Little Author in the Big Woods by Yona Zeldis McDonough
   


   

     


          Little Author in the Big Woods
     


     


          by Yona Zeldis McDonough
     



     

         
            Giveaway ends September 30, 2014.
         

         
            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.
         

     

   

   


      Enter to win

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19. Evil Librarian Giveaway

Are you ready for a giveaway? I’ve got an ARC of a book that releases next week, EVIL LIBRARIAN by Michelle Knudsen. Previously known for writing middle grade (The Dragon of Trelian and The Princess of Trelian) and picture books (the best-selling Library Lion), this is her debut novel for young adults. I have to […]

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20. Blog Tour: Stanley the Builder by William Bee PLUS Giveaway

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About the Book: Stanley is a helpful guinea pig who helps his friend Myrtle build a new house.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: When it comes to picture books, I can't help but do the storytime browse when I look through them. You know the one. You open a book, check the length of the text on the page and if it's a page long, you put it aside in the not for storytime pile. Yes, I know, longer picture books are great for lapsits and older readers, but I'm always on the lookout for simple text to use with my youngest storytime crowd.

New toddler books are hard to find so I am thrilled that William Bee's Stanley is here! Bright colors, simple text and fantastic vocabulary all make this a wonderful addition to toddler storytime.

Stanley builds Myrtle's house using a variety of trucks which is sure to be a hit with young readers. I love that in addition to the vocabulary of each vehicle used, there's also an introduction to the color of each vehicle. The colors are bright and vibrant and sure to engage young readers who will love looking at Stanley's adventures.


Along with his friend Charlie, Stanley builds Myrtle's house using concrete, bricks, nails and of course paint! 


The process of building is explained in a way that toddlers will understand. They're sure to want to read it again and again. And who can resist the adorable Stanley? 

Stanley is a great addition to toddler storytimes and would pair nicely with Lauren Thompson's Mouse Series

Would you like to win a copy? 
-One entry per person
-US Address only
-13+
-Contest ends September 8

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Full Disclosure: Copy reviewed from galley received from publisher for review 



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21. Spotlight and Giveaway: Texas Twist by Cynthia D’Alba

 
Enter to Win
TONS of TEXAS TWIST Goodies
Gift Card, Mugs, T-Shirts, Etc


 
Real bad boys can grow up to be real good men.

Hit hard by the death of her parents, Paige Ryan needs to figure out what to do with her life. She moves to Whispering Springs, Texas, to be near her step-brother. But just as she starts to get her life on track, the last man she ever wanted to see again sends it right back off the rails.

Cash Montgomery was on the cusp of having it all. Three bull riding titles, fame, fortune and respect from his family. Until a bad bull leaves him injured, angry and searching for comfort at the bottom of a bottle. With nowhere to go, he moves into his sister-in-law’s old ranch house in Whispering Springs—which he’s surprised to find already occupied.

As Cash rebuilds the dilapidated home and Paige starts out on her medical career, their old friendship begins to reemerge and sparks are ignited. Paige knows that Cash is nothing but a heartache waiting to happen. But maybe this bad boy has grown up to be a real good man?

Warning: Watch out for falling lumber, falling in holes, and falling for the wrong guy…again. You can leave your hard hat on.


 

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway


 

 
 
Award winning author Cynthia D’Alba was born and raised in Arkansas. After being gone for seventeen years, she’s thrilled to be back home living on the banks of an eight-thousand acre lake. When she’s not reading, writing or plotting, she’s doorman for her two dogs, cook, housekeeper and chief bottle washer for her husband and slave to a noisy, messy parrot. She loves to chat online with friends and fans





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22. Guest Post and Giveaway: Victoria Roberts, Author of My Highland Spy

 

Please give warm welcome to this morning’s special guest Victoria Roberts! She’s here with a Top 5 list, as well as a chance to win a copy of her brand new book, My Highland Spy!

Top 5 reasons Highlanders are so sexy by Victoria Roberts

Thank you so much for having me back at Manga Maniac Café. I love chatting about Highlanders. And there are many reasons why I find Highlanders sexy. See if you agree.

  1. The kilt. The mere thought of kilt wearing men make women swoon. Why? *shrugs* Perhaps it’s the mystery of what lies underneath said garment. It’s certainly something to ponder to say the least. Wouldn’t you agree? I think Lady Ravenna Walsingham does.

  1. That sexy Scottish brogue. Seriously. Isn’t it to die for? You can’t tell me whenever you hear Gerard Butler, Sean Connery or Sam Heughan speak that their voices don’t give you shivers from head to toe. Yep, pretty much every single time.

  1. Highland men have very big…broadswords and they’re not afraid to wield them.

  1. Highlanders ooze masculinity and take their alpha male roles very seriously. *raises hands* I surrender, my laird! God, who wouldn’t?

  1. Highland men know how to remove their plaids with a flick of the wrist. The men are very resourceful.

What do you love most about Highlanders? Sourcebooks will give away one paperback copy of My Highland Spy (US and Canada only, please.)

“An exciting Highland tale of intrigue, betrayal, and love.”

—Hannah Howell, New York Times bestselling author of Highland Master

“Roberts’ newest features a surprise-laden, quick-paced plot, replete with unconventional and fiercely independent characters. Her lyrical prose grabs readers’ attention, and the high level of emotional tension simply adds to the depth of the story. This book begs to be read and reread.”

—RT Book Reviews

This Highland Laird won’t bow to the Crown
Laird Ruairi Sutherland refuses to send his only son away to be educated by the English. And he most definitely will not appear in Edinburgh to pay homage to a liege who has no respect for Scotland. So he does what any laird would do-he lies to the king. The last thing Ruairi expects is a beautiful English governess to appear on his doorstep.

But this lady spy might make him…
Lady Ravenna Walsingham is a seasoned spy who is sent to the savage Highlands to uncover a nefarious plot against the Crown. Playing the part of an English governess—a job easier said than done—she infiltrates the home of Laird Sutherland, a suspected conspirator.

If she doesn’t betray him first
Ravenna soon discovers that the only real threat Sutherland poses is to her heart. But will the proud Highland laird ever forgive her when he discovers the woman he loves in an English spy?

Links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1BCZNW8

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1l4KJa5

Indigo: http://bit.ly/1iSeyP0

Books-a-Million: http://bit.ly/VFXnFe

Indiebound: http://bit.ly/WR8U5Z

Website: www.victoriarobertsauthor.com

Award-winning author Victoria Roberts writes Scottish historical romances about kilted heroes and warriors from the past. She was named by RT Book Reviews as “one of the most promising debut authors across the genres” and was also a 2013 RT Reviewers’ Choice award winner for X Marks the Scot.

Represented by Jill Marsal of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, Victoria is a member of Romance Writers of America® and several local chapters, as well as a contributing author to the online magazine Celtic Guide.

Victoria lives in western Pennsylvania with her husband of twenty one years and their two beautiful children—not to mention one spoiled dog. When she is not plotting her next Scottish adventure, she’s dragging her clan to every Scottish festival under the sun. Visit her at www.victoriarobertsauthor.com.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/victoria.roberts.395

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5763317.Victoria_Roberts

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million

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23. Spotlight and Giveaway: Nightingale by Cathy Maxwell

 

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for Nightingale by Cathy Maxwell.  Be sure to check out all of the stops on the tour so you can read all of the excerpts and increase you chances to win!

Excerpt:

“Please,” she said, not knowing what it was she was asking him for. To please understand? To please honor her wishes?

To please forgive her?

Dane shook his head. “You have wasted your time and mine, Lady Mosby. The challenge is not mine to withdraw. Your brother claims to be the offended party. He challenged me and I will not back down from meeting him. I have no quarrel if he wishes to withdraw, but I will not sacrifice my honor and my reputation on the likes of him.”

“He challenged you?” Jemma repeated, astounded.

“Yes.”

“But why—?” she started, then stopped. Why did Cris do anything? She had thought he was growing out of his wild stage. It had been a long time since he’d been rash and foolish, but the possibility was always there, bubbling beneath the veneer of manners. All it took was a little drink. . . .

At her abrupt silence, a muscle tightened in Dane’s jaw. In three long strides, he crossed to the door behind her and opened it. “Go home, Jemma. I can’t save your brother from himself any more than you can. And I’ll be damned before I sacrifice my pride for him.”

Or for any of them.

Jemma nodded to herself. He was right . . . and yet, what would become of her family? Cris was the last of their line, a line that stretched all the way back to Normandy, to before the Conqueror. Duty, honor, and obligation to her name had been drummed into her from the cradle. Dane had been her one defiance, and in the end, she had done what had been expected of her.

Just as she would do what she must now.

Nightingale

By: Cathy Maxwell

Releasing August 26th, 2014

Avon: Impulse

Fate has brought them together -again.

At one time, Jemma had meant the world to Dane Pendleton, but then she betrayed their young love by marrying another for his title and fortune.

Now Time has turned the tables. Dane is wealthy, respected, knighted and the widowed Jemma has nothing but her pride.

His honor for hers . . .

Dane’s name is on the lips of every beauty in London. They whisper he learned “tricks” while he was in the Orient. But has he forgotten Jemma, now Lady Mosby, and what they had once meant to each other? And will he accept her devil’s bargain?

In every woman’s life, there is that one love who slipped away. The man who makes her wonder “what if?”

But is this a momentary madness or a chance to rekindle a love that could last a lifetime?

Originally appeared in the print anthology THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/07/nightingale-by-cathy-maxwell.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22103882-nightingale?from_search=true

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Nightingale-Originally-appeared-print-anthology-ebook/dp/B00JTYQIX6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406661266&sr=8-1&keywords=Nightingale+by+cathy+maxwell

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/nightingale-cathy-maxwell/1119290961?ean=9780062367679

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/nightingale/id867234286?mt=11

Author Info

CATHY MAXWELL spends hours in front of her computer pondering the question, “Why do people fall in love?” It remains for her the great mystery of life and the secret to happiness. She lives in beautiful Virginia with children, horses, dogs, and cats.

Author Links

Website: http://www.cathymaxwell.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cathy-Maxwell-Fan-Page/144546442251787

Twitter: https://twitter.com/maxwellcathy

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/67037.Cathy_Maxwell

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Two Digital Copies of NIGHINGALE)

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24. Adi Alsaid at BN Americana Recap + Giveaway

Hello! It's Thursday night (though this post is going up on Friday) and I'm popping in to write a quick recap of the super fun event that I just got back from. Barnes and Noble Americana in Glendale hosted Adi Alsaid, debut author of the YA contemporary novel Let's Get Lost. Alexandra Adornetto (Halo, Ghost Town) was also supposed to be at this event but she left unexpectedly before the signing started. This was disappointing to some of the attendants but it meant more time with the lovely Adi Alsaid. 

He started off the event by telling us about his cab driver, a talkative Russian with a Swedish accent who has had an amazing life. Alsaid said that it was people like his can driver that made him want to write let's Get Lost. He has an appreciation for the many interesting and varied people you often meet on road trips. That's one if the reasons why his book is told from the pov of the people that the main character meets and not from her pov. Alsaid likes to write from a perspective that is not his and often writes from multiple points of views. One of the ways he does this is by writing from a female pov. He says that he does it well enough that some people at his publishing house actually thought he was female. He usually knows from the first sentence whether or not his character will be male or female. 

When asked why his main character was going to see the northern lights or if that place had significance, Alsaid said no, that he chose it so that she would have a reason to go on the road trip. However, by the end of the book, the destination does gain significance. And it wasn't until Alsaid wrote the ending from the main charaxter's pov did he understand her reasons. 

Alsaid has only been to one of the locations in his book. He chose places he's never been becausr he prefers to make stuff up. The one place he did visit though was Barnesville, Minnesota.

When asked who some of his favorite books were he are he mentioned books by authors Anne Patchett, Kurt Vonnegut, Jennifer Egan and the Calvin & Hobbes comic strip. He is currently reading Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (who he called a YA Vonnegut). 

After a few more questions it was time to sign books! Alsaid was really great and didn't mind all of our senseless babbling while he signed our books. And look, we managed to get a rare picture of the entire Read Now Sleep Later team at the signing.

Alethea got to take the Let's Get Lost home for Cypress Park Library. We got quite a few looks while wandering around the Americana with it, but it was /a great conversation starter. And we even think Alethea managed to hand sell a book to the Sprinkles clerk. If you want to see more pics, check our the Facebook album.

Many thanks to BN Americana, Adi Alsaid and Harlequin Teen for putting on a wonderful event. Now that you've made it this far I have a wee giveaway for you. We got a bit of fun swag at the event last night that we thought you guys would like. Included in this pack are a signed ARC of Let's Get Lost (not pictured), a signed poster for Let's Get Lost, a bookmark and a Let's Get Lost luggage tag. This giveaway is US only and ends on 9/13/14. Thanks and good luck!

Giveaway Rules:

  1. Open to US residents only.
  2. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items. 
  3. One set of entries per household please. 
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!
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25. LUG, DAWN OF THE ICE AGE Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway



Lug, Dawn of the Ice Age: How One Small Boy Saved Our Big, Dumb Species by David Zeltzer, for ages 8 to 12, Egmont, September 9, 2014

Source: Netgalley, by invitation from the publisher

Synopsis (from the publisher): In Lug’s Stone Age clan, a caveboy becomes a caveman by catching a jungle llama and riding against the rival Boar Rider clan in the Big Game. The thing is, Lug has a forbidden, secret art cave and would rather paint than smash skulls. 

When Lug is banished from the clan for failing to catch a jungle llama, he’s forced to team up with Stony, a silent Neanderthal with a very expressive unibrow, and Echo, a girl from a rival clan who can talk to animals and just may be prehistory’s first vegetarian and animal rights activist. Together they face even bigger challenges—Lug discovers the Ice Age is coming and he has to bring the warring clans together to save them not only from the freeze but also from a particularly unpleasant migrating pride of saber-toothed tigers. It’s no help that the elders are cavemen who can’t seem to get the concept of climate change through their thick skulls.




Why I recommend it: Lug is my new hero. He's endearing, funny, and smart. David Zeltzer has managed the magical feat of channeling the voice of a twelve-year-old cave boy to perfection. Lug is the only one in his clan who seems to realize climate change is coming, although in this case, it's an ice age. But you'll also enjoy Lug's creative tendencies, his attempts to bring rival clans together, and of course his first crush. An easy and fast read. Final art not seen, but it looks as if the lively drawings will enhance the story nicely.



Photo credit: Fiona Dulbecco


David Zeltzer emigrated from the Soviet Union as a child, graduated from Harvard, and has worked with all kinds of wild animals, including rhinos, owls, sharks, and ad executives. David lives with his wife and daughter in Santa Cruz, California. He performs improv comedy and loves meeting readers of all ages. His second book about Lug is scheduled to publish in Fall 2015. Visit David’s website at www.davidzeltser.com. He’s also on Twitter: @davidzeltser

And now, a touching guest post from David, with giveaway details below that.

*  *  *

Dear My Brain on Books readers,

Joanne kindly asked me to share something about my journey as a writer.

Although I was a constant reader, up until I was 21, I was sure I’d be a theoretical physicist. But right before my senior year at Harvard, my best friend was struck and killed by lightning. His name was Qijia Fu and that sudden loss changed everything for me. Instead of continuing on with my plans to go to grad school and do theoretical physics, I suddenly felt I wanted my work to have more of a connection to people, emotion and imagination. I spent my last year of college taking classes in everything except science. There was a regular playwriting contest at Harvard where the winning piece was produced. I co-wrote a play with my brilliant friend, Alexis Gallagher. Encouraged by the win, I began writing screenplays. I wrote with Alexis, with my wonderful actor friend Max Faugno, and on my own. A couple of scripts got optioned, but for some reason it never occurred to me to move to LA. Instead, I wrote whatever I wanted and paid for my tiny NYC apartment by working as a freelance advertising copywriter on the side. My friend Zimran Ahmed always called me Madman, long before the famous show came out.


For more about me, LUG, and other upcoming books, please visit my website. And here’s the page with the LUG book trailer: http://davidzeltser.com/books/lug-dawn-of-the-ice-age

Hope you enjoy it!
David

*  *  *


Thank you, David. I'm so sorry to learn this about your friend, but glad you found a beautiful way to connect with people.  

Readers, the publisher has generously offered a signed, hardcover copy to one lucky winner. Open to addresses in the US or Canada only. You must be at least 12 years old to enter this giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower and comment on this post. I will give extra entries if you mention this on Twitter, Facebook, or your own blog, but please include a link. Thanks! This giveaway ends at 10 pm Eastern Time on Friday, September 19, 2014. Winner to be announced Monday, Sept 22.


Be sure to visit these other stops on the LUG Blog Tour: 



 Monday, September 08, 2014
Review and giveaway

Tuesday, September 09, 2014
Guest post and giveaway
Guest post and giveaway



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