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1. Interview with Lecia Cornwall, Author of What a Lady Most Desires and Giveaway

Good morning, Lecia!  Describe yourself in five words of less

Mother, Writer, Shy, Perceptive, Sentimental.

Can you tell us a little about your book?

WHAT A LADY MOST DESIRES is the third book in the Temberlay series, which began with HOW TO DECIEVE A DUKE and THE SECRET LIFE OF LADY JULIA. This book is Stephen Ives’s story. He’s a dashing, charming, elegant gentleman with a brilliant career as a soldier and a diplomat, and he’s happy with his life just the way it is, without love to complicate it. He’s tried love, and failed, and he has no interest in trying again. Ever. And if he was ever to be tempted, the last lady on earth he’d choose would be Delphine St. James, the most ambitious, flirtatious, and annoying lady in London. When Delphine sets her cap for Stephen, he sets his with just as much determination to deny her.

But Delphine is not a lady who takes no for an answer. When she and Stephen meet again at a ball before the Battle of Waterloo, she renews their acquaintance. When the call to arms sounds in the middle of their dance, they share a passionate farewell kiss that surprises them both. The battle leaves Stephen blind, wounded, and accused of cowardice, but Delphine stays by his side. Afraid and in pain, he’s surly and rude, but she’s determined to help him heal, and to at least be his friend, even if she can never be more.

As Stephen comes to know Delphine through every sense but sight, he realizes she isn’t the flighty society miss he thought she was. She’s everything he’s ever wanted. But a blind and accused coward cannot aim so high.

As a diplomat, Stephen is a man who depends on his eyes to read his opponents. Without sight, he must come to know the world through touch, sound, scent, and taste. As he falls in love with the woman he once thought unsuitable, he cannot help but wonder if she is all he sees in his mind. As they are drawn apart by obligations and accusations, Stephen desperately tries to hold on to Delphine, and in doing so, betrays her trust. He becomes the pursuer, and must prove to Delphine that he’s exactly WHAT A LADY MOST DESIRES.

How did you come up with the concept and the characters in the story?

Opposites make the most interesting pairings, don’t they? I love watching each character bend, adapt and change to find true love with their prefect match. It’s not that the characteristics weren’t there all along—it’s just that love brings the best part of us into focus, and changes us forever.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I love creating situations that force each character to become more honest, authentic, and worth loving. That involves a lot of conflict before we finally get to happily ever after. Creating conflict for my characters is such wicked fun!

What gave you the most trouble with this story?

Understanding what it feels like to be blind. I am extremely nearsighted, and without contact lenses and glasses for reading or driving on top of those, I’m just a point or two from being legally blind. Without eyewear, I see colors and shapes, light and shadow, and I am very grateful that my vision is correctable. I love nature and art and photography, and I can’t imagine never seeing the faces of the ones I love again if I lost my sight. So creating a sense of fear in Stephen and showing him managing his dark world was a very challenging part of the book.

If you had a theme song, what would it be?

I think I’d choose Loreena McKennitt’s Never Ending Road. It tells of the endless journey of someone continually seeking her heart’s desire. I think that describes a writer’s life very well. You can listen to Loreena’s wonderful song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fv2kmFZTDeY

Name the one thing you won’t leave home without.

I never go anywhere without a notebook, just in case an idea wanders in, clouts me over the head, holds me at pencil-point and demands to be written down at once.

Name three things on your desk right now.

There’s Emma, one of my five cats, in a box lined with her favorite sweater. There’s a miniature bottle of Writer’s Tears whiskey I got in my stocking last Christmas (half full) which I use to toast reaching the end of each manuscript I write. And there’s a small container of soil from the battlefield of Waterloo, a gift my daughter brought back for me when she visited Belgium on a school trip a few years ago. I must admit my desk is a testament to creative disorganization. Actually, “creatively disorganized” should have been two of the five words used to describe me in the first question of this interview!

If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

Anyone, present or past, real or fictional, just ONE? Remember the old TV show Quantum Leap, where the hero was part of a time travel experiment gone wrong? He ended up in a new body in a different era every episode while trying to get back to his own life. I’d try that—a new character every day. I’d be Catherine The Great one day, or Anne Boleyn (not THAT day!), or Eleanor of Aquitaine, or Wellington, or Napoleon, or Cleopatra, or Boudicca, or Jacqueline Kennedy. So many wonderful lives and adventures!

What are some of the books you’ve enjoyed recently?

Books are my worst/best addiction! I’m always reading three or four at a time (no, it’s not ADD, just the bad habit of a writer who wants to read EVERYTHING!). I just finished re-reading an old favorite, Edith Pargeter’s Eighth Champion of Christendom. Her brilliant descriptions stay with you forever. I also recently read Mary Balogh’s latest book, The Escape, and I’ve just started Larkswood, by Valerie Mendes.

What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

I love to cook with my family (Moroccan cuisine is our latest favorite), and to garden—though my plants must endure good intentions, benign neglect, and Calgary’s harsh growing conditions if they want to live here. I also hook rugs when I have the time, including buying old wool sweaters at thrift shops, shrinking them down, cutting them into strips, and designing the patterns.

How can readers connect with you?

I love hearing from readers and I answer every single e-mail and Facebook comment! You can drop me a line at leciacornwall@shaw.ca, visit my website at www.leciacornwall.com for excerpts, blogs, and news, or visit my Facebook page at

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lecia-Cornwall/147981455226519?ref=hl

For a visual look at each of my books, check out my Pinterest pages. You can find the one for WHAT A LADY MOST DESIRES here: http://www.pinterest.com/leciacornwall/what-a-lady-most-desires/

Or, you can leave a comment or question right here! I’ll be dropping by throughout the day to chat.

What a Lady Most Desires

The Temberlay Series # 3

By: Lecia Cornwall

Releasing August 26th, 2014

Avon Romance

Blurb

On the night before the final battle against Napoleon, Lady Delphine St. James finds herself dancing with the one man she has always wanted, Major Lord Stephen Ives. He makes it clear he has no time for a lady he sees as flirtatious and silly, but as the call to arms sounds, she bids him farewell with a kiss that stirs them both. When he returns gravely injured, she is intent on caring for him, even if his surly behavior tests her patience.
After the battle, Stephen is not only wounded and blind, but falsely accused of cowardice and theft. The only light in his dark world is Delphine, the one woman he never imagined he could desire. But she deserves more than he can give her.
As their feelings deepen and hidden enemies conspire to force them to part forever, can their love survive the cruelest test of all? 

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/07/what-lady-most-desires-temberlay-3-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18518676-what-a-lady-most-desires?from_search=true

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/What-Lady-Desires-Lecia-Cornwall-ebook/dp/B00H1UMOFQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406664108&sr=8-1&keywords=what+a+lady+most+desires

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/what-a-lady-most-desires-lecia-cornwall/1117542226?ean=9780062332400

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/what-a-lady-most-desires

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/what-a-lady-most-%20desires/id771731765?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Author Info

Lecia Cornwall is a PRO member of the Romance Writers of America’s Seattle and Calgary Chapters. Her background includes all facets of writing, including running a successful freelance writing business specializing in direct marketing and advertising. Both history and writing have been lifelong passions. Lecia currently lives and writes in Calgary, Alberta, the heart of the Canadian West.

Author Links

Website: http://www.leciacornwall.com/

Blog: http://leciacornwall.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lecia-Cornwall/147981455226519?sk=app_7146470109

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Leciacornwall

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4441913.Lecia_Cornwall

GIVEAWAY!

Leave a comment to enter for a chance to this awesome bracelet (worth $59), from Victorian Trading Company.

 

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The post Interview with Lecia Cornwall, Author of What a Lady Most Desires and Giveaway appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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2. A Conversation withNorwegian Author-Illustrator, Stian Hole


“‘Listen! The sea has so many voices,’ Anna whispers. ‘It sounds like a heavenly choir humming. A song about crabs, eels, and sea urchins cooing in the deep.’”
– From
Anna’s Heaven
(Click to enlarge spread)

This month, I reviewed Stian Hole’s Anna’s Heaven, released by Eerdman’s in September, for BookPage. That review is here.

You all know I like to follow up reviews with art from the books I write about, if possible, but for this one I also decided to chat with the award-winning illustrator himself (pictured here) about this book, what’s next for him, how picture books differ in the U.S. and overseas, and more. In fact, he poses a question to readers below (regarding U.S. publishing), if anyone is so inclined to weigh in.

The chat today includes art from Anna’s Heaven, as well as a couple of older picture book titles of Stian’s, published here in the States. Stian also shares images from a forthcoming book, which will also be published here.

Let’s get right to it, and I thank him for visiting.

* * * * * * *

Jules: Your photocollage work is beguiling. I imagine you always on the look-out for vintage photographs and vintage books. Am I right? Where do you typically find source material?

Stian: Yes, I am a collector of bits and pieces that I move around and try to put together. That is what I do for a living. Like in a theater, I have a huge prop stock. By the way, have you noticed all the things theatre and picturebooks have in common?

Some years ago I used to search libraries and second-hand bookshops. Now, databases and collections on the internet have opened up new possibilities. Isn´t it amazing what people out there collect?

Most of the time I find something other than what I am looking for, though. So, more and more often I take a walk instead and use the camera on my cell phone.

Jules: Yes, in Uri Shulevitz’s Writing with Pictures, he says that a picture book is closer to theater and film—silent films, in particular—than other kinds of books. Fascinating.

I love that you honor open endings in your picture books. Americans, it seems, get sort of twitchy sometimes about open endings. What do you think are some of the biggest differences between children’s book publishing here in the States and overseas?

Stian: Your question is interesting, but too big for me to answer, I am afraid. Hmm, I will try to find a way …

I wonder why someone would feel insecure about open endings in children´s literature. Life isn´t always a safe place, so why should it be in picture books? Wouldn´t it be a fraud to tell children that life is always sweet? Anyway, I think kids already know it isn´t so. I believe picture books are a quiet—and safe—meeting place for wonder and reflection. Picture books are often read by adults and children together, and they give a valuable opportunity for thoughts, conversation, and mind-traveling for people of different ages. It is a magic place for opening secret doors, for listening and sharpening your senses.

Anyway, I believe what is scary in life becomes less scary when you speak with someone about it.


“‘Or she’s visiting someone she hasn’t seen for a while,’ Anna says.
‘I bet she’s wearing her new dress, the one from Spain.’”
– From
Anna’s Heaven
(Click to see spread in its entirety)

It is a good thing when books travel. I wish more books could travel across borders. When I follow my books around, I sometimes get small glimpses of other cultures´ traditions and views on children´s literature. I love to meet people that think differently than I do. It makes me think.

One difference I have noticed across the Atlantic sea, though, is that for some reason I don´t quite understand there is sometimes—or rather in some places in the U.S.—a reluctance of skin, nakedness, and sexuality in children´s and young adults´ books. The U.S. is the only country who has asked me to put more clothes on the characters in my images or else they will not publish them. I once had to remove a boy that was peeing, for some reason. Not even the Arabic countries asked me to do that.

So, I try to turn my head upside-down and look at Nordic picturebooks from the other side of the sea. But I find it difficult to see oneself. Can someone of your readers help me? Anyway, I must say that my publisher in the U.S. has always been thorough and honest with me, and I must pay tribute to them for publishing my weird books.




Some illustrations from Stian’s next book to be published in the U.S.,
Nightguard with poems by Synne Lea

Jules: I don’t have an answer for that, but perhaps some blog readers will weigh in with some thoughts.

Did anything in particular from your life inspire Anna’s Heaven?

Stian: I usually only have a starting point when I start working on a story. That is all I have; the rest is a strange journey, sometimes fragile and frustrating, sometimes sweet and joy-filled.

In this case, I saw a girl hanging upside-down in a swing and remembered doing the same thing as a boy. It made me stop and think that I still want to do that as an author and illustrator: to turn things upside-down and see the world from another angle! So I realized it was something I had to investigate further.


“‘You can spell kayak forward or backward and it’s the same word,’ Anna says.
‘Like
redder.’ ‘And Anna,’ Dad says. ‘Hurry up now or we’ll be late.’ Even though she is looking away, Anna notices that her father is restless. She can feel it in the air, in the grass, in the scar on her knee, in the mole on her neck, and in every hair on her head. Anna knows that her dad gets restless when he is not looking forward to something.”
– Opening spread from
Anna’s Heaven
(Click to see spread in its entirety)

Along the way, many things inspired me — memories, personal experiences, and lots of influences from different people. When I work on a story, I always keep an alert eye and ear for things I might use in the story. Not only pieces for the illustrations, but also words, feelings, and incidents. Anything. Often I find something else than what I was looking for, things that catch my attention but probably don´t belong in the story. Nevertheless, I pick them up, write it down, and sometimes use it later in another story. You know, people like me are collectors and researchers. One of my favourite authors, Peter Høeg from Denmark, once said, “I am a scientist. I investigate my heart.”


“‘Now I’m ready. Hurry up, Dad. We’ve got to go or we’ll be late.’”
– Final spread from
Anna’s Heaven
(Click to see spread in its entirety)

Jules: How much do the illustrations, as you’re working on them, inform the text — if at all? (Or vice versa.)

Stian: In picturebooks, the images and the text should not say quite the same. It is the dialogue between them that is the engine of the picturebook. The third hub is the reader. The author should strive to open up the story, so different readers can add thoughts and help co-write the book. Books do not work without readers.




More illustrations from Nightguard

Jules: What are you reading now?

Stian: I am always reading. Right now, I’m reading A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Antony Marra. And poetry in the evening before sleep.

Many of the American classics have had an impact on my artistic life — J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Edgar Lee Masters´ Spoon River Anthology, Fitzgerald´s The Great Gatsby. I must also mention the Canadian writer Alice Munro´s short-stories, among many others.

Jules: On that note, what picture books have you loved lately? Or whose work have you seen that you think deserves some love and attention?

Stian: I just read The Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan from Australia. I love his work. The same with Isol (Argentina), Beatrice Alemagna (Italy), and Kitty Crowther (Belgium).


…”‘How do you feel about starting school? Do you have butterflies in your tummy?’
Auntie Borghild asks. ‘I’m scared,’ Garmann answers,
wondering how butterflies get into your stomach.”


…”Suddenly, she wakes with a start and adjusts her dentures. Garmann asks, ‘Were you ever a child?’ Auntie Borghild thinks for a while. A dragonfly hovers in the air.
Then she smiles and speaks. ‘Yes, a hundred and fifty years ago,’
she says, and laughs so hard she shakes.”


“‘Are you going to die soon?’ Garmann asks. … ‘Are you scared?’ Garmann asks.
Auntie Borghild nods slowly. She takes a hairbrush from her bag and runs it through her silver-grey hair, which glistens in the sun. ‘Yes, Garmann, I’m scared of leaving you.
But the big garden could be exciting.’”


…”When you die, you travel in the great starry wagon in the sky, thinks Garmann,
but first of all you have to be buried.”

[Pictured above are illustrations and the cover from Garmann's Summer,
released by Eerdmans in 2008, but originally published in Norway in 2006.
Click each image above to enlarge and read the full text.]

Jules: What do you, as an artist, find most challenging and satisfying in the creative processes you employ?

Stian: That is a good question. I often feel that reading and writing stories have something important in common. They makes me feel like I live multiple lives. I am thankful for that. It is very satisfying to live parallel lives, since only one life can feel so short. I am also grateful whenever art open doors inside me, to rooms and places that I have not visited for a while or maybe never been. Sometimes art open the doors all the way to my heart.

But sometimes when I am daydreaming, falling down the rabbit hole, floating inside a bubble, working on a story, I get afraid that I am not present enough in reality. Then I promise myself to hug and tell my wife and my boys that I love them when they come home from school and work. These things feel so important in my life, but hard to explain — does it make sense to you?


…”‘Do you think we can see God out there?’ she asks. ‘If we’re patient, maybe,’
Garmann answers, pretending to adjust a telescope. ‘Hello, Planet Earth! This is Comrade Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space. I can’t see God up here,’ he says, disguising his voice. ‘Hello, Ground Control heer. That’s probably because
you don’t know what you’re looking for!’ Johanna laughs…”


…”When it rains, water drips through a crack in the spaceship, and Garmann and Johanna snuggle up so they don’t get wet. They can sit like that for a long time without speaking. Sometimes they ask each other riddles: ‘If you say my name, I have disappeared.
Who am I?’ Garmann says. All they can hear is the wind rushing through the treetops and a woodpecker a long distance away. Johanna shrugs. ‘Silence,’ Garmann says.”

[Pictured above are spreads and the cover from Garmann's Secret,
released by Eerdmans in 2011, but originally published in Norway in 2010.
Click each image above to enlarge and read the full text.]

Jules: Yes, that makes sense to me. Art is taking you outside of yourself. My favorite singer-songwriter/musician, Sam Phillips, has this lyric in one of her songs (called “Lever Pulled Down”):

I’m a lever pulled down / I’m a flipped switch / I’m a lever pulled down / from the fire in the air / … and I’ll give my life for the lightning in our dreams …

I think that’s what you mean. Perhaps.

(I wish I could link to the song, but it’s one of her rare tracks and not online.)

p.s. I have a Sam Phillips lyric for EVERYTHING in life.

So, what’s next for you?

Stian: Soccer. All three boys are playing matches this weekend, and I will be there. On Sunday, I am goalkeeper when the Norwegian author´s team meets the Italian author´s team. They have come all the way to Oslo.

Then there will be new stories to write. Always. I hope the next book will be a love story. I want all my books to be love stories.

* * * * * * *

Photo of Stian Hole taken by Jo Michael.

All artwork here is used by permission of Stian Hole and Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

0 Comments on A Conversation withNorwegian Author-Illustrator, Stian Hole as of 9/16/2014 3:54:00 AM
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3. Interview with Margaret Mallory, Author of Captured by a Laird

 

Good morning, Margaret! Tell us what inspired your new series, THE DOUGLAS LEGACY, and book 1, CAPTURED BY A LAIRD.

I first came across Archibald Douglas when I was doing research for THE GUARDIAN (THE RETURN OF THE HIGHLANDERS). I was intrigued by this handsome, young chieftain’s brazen power play in starting an affair with Scotland’s dowager queen, Margaret Tudor, so soon after the death of her husband, James IV. The affair led to lucrative appointments for his Douglas kin, and his eventual marriage to the queen put the Douglas chieftain in a position to vie for control of the young heir to the throne—and the country. For years, Archibald’s power rose and fell dramatically. He and his closest male relatives were forced to flee the country more than once to save their necks.

This series was born when I began to wonder what happened to the women of the Douglas family who were left behind when the men escaped. While information on Archie’s sisters is sparse, I found enough to suggest they were in serious danger at times. In fact, one sister was eventually burned at the stake in Edinburgh Castle by Archibald’s angry step-son James V.

Being a romance writer, I naturally wanted to give the Douglas lasses happy endings with men who would stand by them in tough times.

CAPTURED BY A LAIRD is a fictional story inspired by the real marriage between Archibald’s sister Alison and David Hume of Wedderburn. As is often the case with Scottish history going back five hundred years, history and legend are intertwined. That said, the real David Hume did capture Blackadder Castle and force Blackadder’s widow, Alison Douglas, to marry him in order to gain the Blackadder lands. I found no mention of David having any illegitimate children, and he and Alison had six children together. From that, I decided to write a story in which they fall in love after their forced marriage. I believe they did. ?

What draws readers to Scottish heroes?

Other than the kilt, the big sword, and the oh-so-sexy accent? ? The Highland warrior has a larger-than-life quality that makes him great hero material. In today’s world, I may not need—or want—a man who is as forceful and physical as the heroes in my books. But take me to 16th century Scotland in my imagination, and I want that alpha warrior!

A Scottish hero is usually fighting against terrible odds. To survive in his harsh and violent times, he has to be strong, resourceful, and ridiculously courageous. We love this hero for his unfailing courage in facing the powerful forces aligned against him and for his loyalty to his woman, his family, and his clan.

Another bonus is that the Scottish hero is surrounded by strong women who challenge and tease him. Despite how fierce and intimidating he seems to others, his mother and sisters and the old women of his clan all seem ready to set him straight when they think he needs it. And you can be sure that the heroine will have a spirit to match his.

Where to you get your inspiration for your stories?

I get a lot of inspiration from my historical research. Lucky for me, Scottish history is bursting with fascinating characters, murder, and mayhem!

Unfortunately, I can’t travel back in time, but I have been able to travel to Scotland to research my books. Every day I discovered a ruin or a legend I wanted to bring into my stories. For readers who love Scotland, I’ve posted a lot of my photos from my trips on Facebook and on the Videos & Such page of my website www.MargaretMallory.com.

As a historical romance writer, you must do a lot of research.

I’m always researching! Even though I do a lot of research before I started the first book in the series, I’m constantly looking things up while I’m writing. One thing often leads to another, and I’ll come across a legend about a historical character or a ghost story associated with a castle in my book. That’s always fun.

How much does real history play in your books?

Scottish romance readers care about history, but I think what’s more important than accurately reflecting every detail is to make them feel immersed in the time and place of your story. My readers want to be swept away to the Highlands!

I like to ground my stories in real places and historical events, though I feel free to make adjustments to suit the tale. I’ve also used bits of legends and ghost stories associated with castles and other sites that appear in my books. All that is fun for me.

I try to create characters who are true to their times and uniquely Scottish, such as seers, healers, pipers, and clan warriors. There are so many wild true-life characters in Scottish history that I usually include at least a couple of them in each book.

What drew you to Scottish historical romance?

I love history, and I have a serious weakness for stories involving castles and heroes who swing swords. ? I suspect I’m drawn to the British Isles, in particular, because of my Scottish-Irish-English heritage.

Why romance?

I love the Happily Ever After. I love that I can do justice and give a Happy-Ever-After to those who deserve it—of course, I make them suffer and earn it first. ? I’ve been married many years and am glad of it, but I enjoy writing about that intense, all-consuming, falling-in-love stage of love. Oh, to be young and in love!

What do you want readers to take away from your books?

I have an image in my mind of a woman putting her feet up after a long day and reading my book. The little time she has for herself is precious. My goal is to give her a riveting and emotionally satisfying story that she can get lost in for a few hours. I want to make her laugh, cry, and bite her nails. And when she comes to the end, I want to make her sigh because everything turned out exactly right.

Nothing makes me happier than to hear from readers who tell me they stayed up half the night or had to order pizza for dinner because they couldn’t put my book down.

What are your favorite scenes to write? What are the most difficult?

My favorite scenes to write are the ones that make me weep over my laptop. Seriously. If I’m making myself cry, I know it’s a good scene.

The hardest scenes are the first few in the book. I need to captivate my reader, immerse her in my story, and do it all very quickly. Adding to my troubles, I don’t know my characters as well as I will later in the book.

Which part of writing a book is the most challenging for you?

The first few chapters are always the hardest for me. Always. I need to capture the reader’s attention and immerse her in my story very quickly. I can’t bog things down with backstory, yet I must provide enough information about the characters, setting, and conflict so that the opening scenes are both understandable and compelling. Every word counts so much. I end up doing a lot of revising to make those first chapters work well and flow smoothly. Even deciding where to start is hard—a good book doesn’t start at the logical beginning, but at a high dramatic point when one or both main characters is on the cusp of change. Adding to my troubles, I don’t know my characters as well when I start as I will later in the book.

Every writer dreams of getting “the call.” What were you doing when yours came?

I was in a parking lot an hour and a half from home, and I had just come out of an exhausting, all-day workgroup meeting on high risk kids. Before starting my car, I saw that I had a call from my agent and called her back. She told me that Grand Central was offering me a two-book deal. I was dying to tell someone, but I couldn’t reach a soul. I left a screaming message for my husband, then I had to drive through terrible and seemingly endless road construction and rush hour traffic before I could talk to anyone. It was lucky I didn’t get into an accident!

What is the best writing advice you’ve been given?

In Stephen King’s book, On Writing, he recommends setting daily page or word-count goals. I’m a slow writer, but I am also extremely goal-oriented, so this was great advice for me. When I’m writing my first draft, I set daily, weekly, and monthly word-count goals.

Tell us a bit about your writing process.

I start with the characters and their conflict, and I usually have two or three pivotal scenes in my head. Before I write more than a scene or two, I make character sheets, and I try to have at least a sketchy outline of the plot. I figure out a lot of the plot as I go, but I write better when I know the basic direction I’m headed.

Deciding exactly where to start the story is hard—at least it is for me. A good book doesn’t start at the logical beginning, but at a high dramatic point, with one or both main characters on the cusp of change. The first few chapters are also challenging because I’m still getting to know my characters.

TITLE – Captured by a Laird

SERIES – The Douglas Legacy #1

AUTHOR – Margaret Mallory

GENRE – Historical Romance/ Highland Romance

PUBLICATION DATE – September 15, 2014

LENTH (Pages/# Words) – 319

THE DOUGLAS LEGACY
The Douglas sisters, beauties all, are valuable pawns in their family’s bitter struggle to control the Scottish Crown. But when powerful enemies threaten, each Douglas lass will find she must face them alone.
CAPTURED BY A LAIRD
Haunted by his father’s violent death, David Hume, the new laird of Wedderburn, sets out to make his name so feared that no one will dare harm his family again. The treacherous ally who played on his father’s weakness is dead and beyond David’s vengeance, but his castle and young widow are ripe for the taking. The moment David lays eyes on the dark-haired beauty defending her wee daughters, however, he knows this frail-looking lass is the one person who could bring him to his knees.
Wed at thirteen to a man who tried daily to break her spirit, Lady Alison Douglas is looking forward to a long widowhood. But when the fearsome warrior known as the Beast of Wedderburn storms her gates, she finds herself, once again, forced to wed a stranger. Alison is only a pawn to serve his vengeance, so why does this dark warrior arouse such fiery passion and an unwelcome longing in her heart?
With death and danger looming, these two wounded souls must learn to trust each other . . . for only love can save them.

BUY & TBR LINKS (Fill Out The Ones You Use)

BUY & TBR LINKS (Fill Out The Ones You Use)

AMAZON KINDLE US – http://www.amazon.com/CAPTURED-DOUGLAS-LEGACY-Margaret-Mallory-ebook/dp/B00N39NXHW/

AMAZON KINDLE CA – http://www.amazon.ca/CAPTURED-DOUGLAS-LEGACY-Margaret-Mallory-ebook/dp/B00N39NXHW

AMAZON KINDLE UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/CAPTURED-DOUGLAS-LEGACY-Margaret-Mallory-ebook/dp/B00N39NXHW/

Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id917025270

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/captured-by-a-laird

GOODREADS –https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23121951-captured-by-a-laird

SHELFARI – http://www.shelfari.com/books/37933832/CAPTURED-BY-A-LAIRD-%28THE-DOUGLAS-LEGACY%29

EXCERPT (If You have a racy/erotica/steamy type book please provide 2 one for adults & one for under 18 blogs – thank you)

EXCERPT from CAPTURED BY A LAIRD © by Margaret Mallory 2014

David strode through the battle raging between his men and the castle defenders in the courtyard and headed straight for the keep, intent on his goal.

The castle would fall quickly. The defenders lacked leadership and were in disarray. His only concern was whether the castle had a secret tunnel for escape. During the siege, he had spread his men out through the fields surrounding the fortress to keep watch. But he had concentrated his forces for the attack and most were now inside the castle. If there was a tunnel, he must secure the widow and her daughters before they had a chance to escape. He did not relish the idea of having to chase them down through the fields with dogs.

The defenders had foolishly waited too long to withdraw to the keep, and most were caught in the courtyard when David’s men burst through the gate. He barely spared them a glance as he ran up the steps of the keep.

With several of his warriors at his back, he burst through the doors brandishing his sword. He paused inside the entrance to hall. Women and children were screaming, and the few Blackadder warriors who had made it inside were overturning tables in a useless attempt to set up a defense.

“If ye hope for mercy, drop your weapons,” David shouted, making his voice heard above the chaos.

He locked gazes with the men who hesitated to obey his order until every weapon clanked to the floor, then he swept his gaze over the women. Their clothing confirmed what he’d known the moment he entered the hall. Blackadder’s widow was not in the room.

“Where is she?” he demanded of the closest Blackadder man.

“Who, m’lord?” the man said, shifting his gaze to the side.

“Your mistress!” David picked him up by the front of his tunic and leaned in close. “Tell me now.”

“In her bedchamber,” the man squeaked, pointing to an arched doorway. “’Tis up the stairs.”

David caught a sudden whiff of urine and dropped the man to the floor in disgust. The wretch had wet himself.

“Take him to the dungeon,” he ordered. The coward had given up his mistress far too easily.

David started up the wheeled stairs to the upper floors with his sword at the ready. He expected to encounter Blackadder warriors, protecting the lady of the castle. But there were none on the stairs and none guarding the door on the first floor.

Damn it. She must have escaped. He gritted his teeth as he envisioned the lady’s guards leading her through the tunnel.

He was about to open the chamber door to make sure it was empty when Brian, one of his best men, came down the stairs.

“Laird, I checked all the chambers while ye were in the hall,” he said.

David’s jaw ached from clenching it.

“There’s one door on the floor just above us that wouldn’t open with the latch,” Brian said. “Shall I break it down?”

David waved him aside and pulled the ax from his belt as he raced up the stairs.

“Open it!” he shouted and pounded on the door.

He did not wait. She could be escaping through a secret door this very moment. Three hard whacks with his ax, and the door split. He kicked it until it swung open, then stepped through.

At his first sight of the woman, his feet became fixed to the floor. He felt strange, and his vision was distorted, as if as if he had swallowed a magical potion that narrowed his sight. He could see nothing in the room but her.

She was extraordinarily lovely, with violet eyes, pale skin, and shining black hair. But there was something about her, something beyond her beauty, that held him captive. She was young, much younger than he expected, and her features and form were delicate, in marked contrast to the violent emotion in her eyes.

David knew to the depths of his soul that a brute like him should not be the man to claim this fragile flower, even while the word mine beat in his head like a drum. He had no notion of how long he stood staring at her before he became aware that she held a sword. It was longer still before he noticed the two wee lasses peeking out from behind her like frightened kittens.

Anger boiled up in his chest. Every Blackadder man in the castle who could still draw breath should have been here, standing between him and their lady. Instead, she faced him alone with a sword she could barely lift with both hands.

It was a brave, but ridiculous gesture.

There was no defense against him.

AUTHOR BIO:

MARGARET MALLORY surprised her friends & family by abandoning her legal career to write tales of romance & adventure. At long last, she can satisfy her passion for justice by punishing the bad & rewarding the worthy–in the pages of her novels.
Margaret lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband, goofy dog & crabby cat. With her two children off to college, Margaret spends most of her time working on her next Scottish historical romance. Visit her website for Book Group Discussion Questions, photos of Scotland, excerpts, & other info. Margaret loves to hear from readers!

AUTHOR FOLLOW LINKS:

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE – http://www.amazon.com/Margaret-Mallory/e/B002QZQJ5M/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

WEBSITE / BLOG – http://margaretmallory.com/

FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/margaretmallory.author

TWITTER – https://twitter.com/MargaretMallory

GOOGLE+ – https://plus.google.com/u/0/114714618099788790109/posts

GOODREADS – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2858606.Margaret_Mallory

SHELFARI – http://www.shelfari.com/authors/a2577761/Margaret-Mallory/

The post Interview with Margaret Mallory, Author of Captured by a Laird appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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4. Call for Submissions and Chapbook Competition: Mohave River Review

Our fall 2014 issue features our very first chapbook contest! Our illustrious chapbook finalist judges panel includes Susan Tepper, Matthew Burnside, Allie Marini Batts, and Michael Dwayne Smith. You can read the judges' bios (and our previous issues) on our fall masthead.

MRR will publish four small chaps (20-25 pages each) within the fall issue of MRR; categories are poetry, flash fiction, hybrid, and flash non-fiction. Our issues are typically 220+ pages, so the plan is to publish four winning chaps within the issue, along with 100+ pages of general submissions, art, and interviews. Fun!

All entries will be read by MRR staff, and final determination of contest winning submissions will be made by our panel of judges: Allie Marini Batts, Matthew Burnside, Susan Tepper, and Michael Dwayne Smith. The chapbook guidelines and contest entry fee for each genre are on the Submissions page. 


Entry Fee: $5.00 per category

Contest entries close 10/1.

Here's the info about the general submissions:

In February, June, and October we publish poetry, fiction, non-fiction, hybrid works, chap/book reviews, plus articles or interviews relevant to arts and letters in the southwestern USofA. Please reference below the specific parameters for each category (max length, etcetera). And remember: if you wish to submit quality creative work that doesn't fit guidelines, we're always open to conversation about innovative goodness; please do contact us at:


mojaveriverpressATgmailDOTcom (Change AT to @ and DOT to . )

We're genuinely eclectic, open to all styles and topics, but are especially interested in poets, writers, and works related to southwest/desert culture(s). Read issues of Mojave River Review and dig for yourself. They're online and free. Works deemed by MRR as hateful and/or mean-spirited (misogynistic, racist, etc.) will be rejected without further consideration.

Simultaneous submissions are fine. Previously published work is not.

Here's the submissions website.

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5. Interview with Susanne Bellamy, Author of Engaging the Enemy

 

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

[Susanne Bellamy]  Technogumby, avid reader, wife and mother, traveller (not tourist).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Engaging the Enemy?

[Susanne Bellamy]  The idea came during a tram ride along Melbourne’s Swansdown Street. I spotted an abandoned red-brick building that piqued my interest and suddenly the story outline and characters were there! I loved the heritage aspect and these characters felt so real and right in the Melbourne setting.

Blurb: One building, two would-be owners and a family feud that spans several generations.

Andrea de Villiers couldn’t lie to save herself. But when developer, Matt Mahoney, buys the building that is home to the safe house she and a friend have established in the Melbourne CBD, she decides that protecting The Shelter is more important than her aching heart. Mahoney blackmails her into becoming his fake fiancée but she discovers his reasons throw up more questions than they answer. Pity there isn’t an app for her love life since her landlord and fake lover really seems to bring out the worst in her and make her want things she shouldn’t.

How can Andie protect the building and the families depending on her without losing her heart to the charming Irish developer?

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[Susanne Bellamy]  Meetings are often the first thing I ‘see’. They reveal much about the protagonists and the course their relationship will take. This is Andie and Matt’s first meeting!

Andrea de Villiers couldn’t have orchestrated the accident better if she’d planned for a year instead of just one night.

Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres were almost finished as she edged closer to the group of Melbourne’s wealthy charity patrons and supporters and lined up her tray of drinks with Matt Mahoney’s chest.

One second to launch.

She took a deep, steadying breath and stepped forward.

His blonde companion’s arms drew a giant circle in the air, collided with the edge of her tray and Mr. Mahoney, corporate developer and all round jerk, was instantly wearing expensive champagne as an accessory to his Armani dinner jacket.

Round one to Andie.

Served him right for refusing to meet her. He brushed futilely at his shiny lapels and a thrill raced through her.

I did it.

Andie-never-puts-a-foot-wrong-de Villiers had done the unthinkable. If only she could tell him who she was, her triumph would have been complete.

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

[Susanne Bellamy]  Matt’s Irish charm and Andie’s dogged determination to do what was best for The Shelter. These two characters and the city of Melbourne made the story for me. When I found a picture of Patrick Dempsey, I couldn’t believe it; he IS Matt!

Also, I could easily justify another visit to Melbourne to visit my daughter so I could ‘check my settings’!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Susanne Bellamy]  My Kindle. If I have to wait anywhere, it’s no longer a pain but a pleasure. Of course, it helps if I also remember my glasses. Somehow, reading a few words per ‘page’ without them just isn’t the same.

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

[Susanne Bellamy]  Cuppa (tea or coffee depending on the time of day), calendar for planning edits, blog visits etc, and my Mac.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

[Susanne Bellamy]  Red Rock salt and vinegar chips.

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

[Susanne Bellamy]  Bill or Melinda Gates. I’m in awe of the work they do and the positive changes made to so many lives through their foundation.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Susanne Bellamy]  Teleportation (and the ability to continue breathing in all environments – hope that’s not greedy!) I would love to orbit Earth, land on the Moon, zip between countries and see the Great Barrier Reef. Given the vast distances and short time frame allowed, teleportation is the only option!

It would also allow me to see Earth from space, very useful for my Christmas novella which begins on the Bluefire space ship. Check back in late November on my website for details of this free gift!

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

[Susanne Bellamy]  Anna Sugden – ‘A Perfect Distraction’ (in French; Le Feu sous la Glace); Annie West – ‘Le Captiv sur contrat’; Rachel Bailey – ‘The Nanny Proposition’; Noelle Clark – ‘Rosamanti’; Elizabeth Wein – ‘Code Name: Verity’; Incy Black – ‘Hard to Hold’; Hannah Kent – ‘Burial Rites’

I read many books in a wide range of genres although recently I have been focussed on romance, suspense and historical romances and I’ve challenged myself to polish my French language by reading a couple of wonderful authors’ works in translation. And I just discovered I’ve completed my Goodreads challenge in seven months! Bonus!

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

[Susanne Bellamy]  I love to hear from readers and welcome interaction. You can find me at the following:

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/susanne.bellamy.7

Twitter https://twitter.com/SusanneBellamy

Website http://www.susannebellamy.com/

Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/susannebellamy/

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

One building, two would-be owners and a family feud that spans several generations: all relationships have their problems.

Andrea de Villiers can’t lie to save herself. But when developer, Matt Mahoney, buys the building she and a friend have established as a safe house in the Melbourne CBD, she decides that protecting The Shelter is more important than her aching heart. She will confront Mr Mahoney, and she will emerge victorious. There are no other options.

But Matt has other plans for Andie, and she soon finds herself ensnared in a web of well-meaning lies and benevolent deceit. To protect the building and the families that depend on her, Andie agrees to play the part of Matt’s fiancée, and play it convincingly.

But lies soon bleed into truth, and what was once a deception starts to feel all too real. Can Andie accomplish her goals and protect The Shelter, without losing her heart to the charming Irish developer?

The post Interview with Susanne Bellamy, Author of Engaging the Enemy appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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6. Interview: John Canemaker on Discovering Disney’s Moviemaking Secrets

Animation historian John Canemaker talks about the process and challenges of creating the monumental new biography "The Lost Notebook: Herman Schultheis & the Secrets of Walt Disney's Movie Magic."

0 Comments on Interview: John Canemaker on Discovering Disney’s Moviemaking Secrets as of 9/12/2014 8:14:00 PM
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7. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Farel Dalrymple

 

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Farel Dalrymple is a comics illustrator who’s been relentlessly chugging away at his craft for the last dozen years, or so.. His brand new graphic novel, The Wrenchies, takes place in the same post-apocalyptic future as his previous work, It Will All Hurt, and follows a group of kids who have to fight the evil shadowsmen to survive. Farel’s unique style reminds me a little of Maurice Sendak, and Tim Burton, but still wholly his own voice. The Wrenchies is an exciting work, in that it represents an artist reaching a new level of excellence in their craft.

Farel is also co-founder of the New York based Meathaus art collective, as well as a regular contributor to the Portland based Study Group Comics Magazine. He recently had a collection of early work, sketchbook art & rarities published by AdHouse Books, titled Delusional. He was recently a part of the stable of great artists that contributed their hand to the recent Prophet comic book relaunch, written & curated by Brandon Graham.

His early comics work, Pop Gun Warwas a Xeric Grant winner and won a gold medal from The Society of Illustrators.

You can follow the latest Farel Dalrymple news on his website here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com - Andy Yates

0 Comments on Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Farel Dalrymple as of 9/10/2014 10:32:00 PM
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8. 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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9. Interview with Ellie MacDonald, Author of The Governess Club Sara and Louisa

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

[Ellie MacDonald] Humorous, intelligent, ambitious, creative, foodie.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Governess Club: Sara?

[Ellie MacDonald] Sara Collins is having difficulty adjusting to life as part of The Governess Club School and has her sights set on marrying the local vicar, a handsome, gentle man. When they get a new neighbor, Nathan Grant, a man who is tormented by something that happened to him that made him flee London, Sara finds herself attracted him and turns to this worldly man for adventure.

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

[Ellie MacDonald]  When I create my characters, I start with who the story is going to focus on. In the prologue in the very first book, she is the one who leaves the room, who had to be convinced to join the endeavor. I thought: why was that? Suddenly, she had secrets. Her oppressive childhood gave her anxiety to the point of not being able to stand up for herself, speak her mind, or deviate from the status quo; she is a pleaser to the extent of being a doormat and finds herself swept up in the whole thing when she doesn’t even like teaching. So what does she want? Peace, of course, but even more she wants adventure, to experience life in a way her anxiety has never let her. She is tired of being this traditional, anxious person. Around that, I created Nathan Grant. He promises anything but peace. He is unlike anyone she has ever met; he rocks her boat, pushes her past her boundaries. So when Sara gets pushed to the point of finally pursuing her adventure, she turns to him. The concept grew from there.

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

[Ellie MacDonald] I liked seeing both protagonists develop. They both were difficult for me, so finally getting a good enough grasp on them and seeing where they led me was rewarding. And Sara undergoes such a difficult transformation that it was nice to see her come out on top at the end.

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

[Ellie MacDonald] This was actually a really hard story for me to write; it took me a long time to actually like my characters. I think in the case of Sara it was that she started off being such a weak person. I come from a family of very strong people – even the in-laws! – that it was hard for me to relate to her, to think like her. But on the flip side, she had more room to grow than any of her friends. I don’t think she will ever really be classified as strong, but she definitely ends the story stronger than when she started. In Nathan’s case, I had a hard time figuring out how to redeem him, but he did finally get to the point where he was putting Sara’s needs before his.

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

[Ellie MacDonald] This changes daily! Today it is Bruno Mars’ “The Lazy Song.’ Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’ is a good one for most days too.

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

[Ellie MacDonald] My smartphone. That sounds sad, when I put it in writing…

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

[Ellie MacDonald] Pile of papers that I don’t know whether to toss or file, a picture with a flatmate from England, a coaster for all the drinks I have when writing here.

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

[Ellie MacDonald] Prince Harry’s girlfriend, no matter who she is at the moment. Ooowee, the things we would do! ;0)

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

[Ellie MacDonald] I am a big Grace Burrowes fan, and have loved her new series so far, with THE CAPTIVE and THE TRAITOR. I had tons of trouble putting down Sarah Maclean’s NO GOOD DUKE GOES UNPUNISHED. I recently binge read Candis Terry’s SWEET, TEXAS series. Two that have lingered in my mind for a few months now are from Courtney Milan’s The Brother Sinister series, THE COUNTESS CONSPIRACY and THE SUFFRAGETTE SCANDAL. And I am always anxiously waiting for the next Mary Balogh book.

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

[Ellie MacDonald]  Sleep! ;0) I read a lot, spend time with my family and friends. I watch TV, but have very little patience for shows I feel are wasting my time, so am pretty discriminating on what I watch; I usually stick to watching hockey. Facebook is also a big time suck for me.

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

[Ellie MacDonald] My website is www.elliemacdonald.com. I have a Facebook page EllieMacdonaldAuthor and am on Twitter @elliemacdauthor

About the book:

The Governess Club: Sara &The Governess Club: Louisa

The Governess Club book 3 and 4

By: Ellie MacDonald

Releasing September 2nd, 2014 and October 7th, 2014

Avon Impulse

Blurb (Sara)

Sweet Sara Collins is one of the founding members of the governess club. But she has a secret… She doesn’t love teaching. She’d much prefer to be a vicar’s wife and help the local community. But this quiet mouse doesn’t want to upset her friends, and she resolves to help in whatever ways she can.

Nathan Grant is the embodiment of everything that frightens Sara. Which is why she can’t understand why the handsome but reclusive and gruff man is so fascinating to her. When Sara decides it’s time to take a chance and experience all that life has to offer, Nathan is the first person she thinks of.

Will Sara’s walk on the wild side ruin her chances at a simple, happy life? Or has she just opened the door to a once-in-a-lifetime chance of passion?

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22056725-the-governess-club?from_search=true

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Governess-Club-Sara-Ellie-Macdonald-ebook/dp/B00K53802M/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1407070787&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Governess+Club%3A+Sara

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-governess-club-ellie-macdonald/1119443763?ean=9780062292261

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-governess-club-sara

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-governess-club-sara/id874398049?mt=11

Blurb (Louisa)

Louisa Brockhurst is on the run – from her friends, from her family, even from her dream of independence through The Governess Club. But sometimes it’s easier for her to hide from those she loves in order to escape the secrets of her past.

Handsome but menacing John Taylor is a former prize-fighter turned inn-keeper who is trying to make his way in society. When Louisa shows up at his doorstep he’s quick to accept her offer to help – at a price. He knows that she’s hiding something and he can’t help his protective instincts around the beautiful woman.

Their attraction grows, but will headstrong, fiery Louisa ever trust the surprisingly kind John enough to tell him the dangerous secrets from her past that keep her running? Or will the power of her feelings scare her into running yet again?
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22056682-the-governess-club

See the SERIES on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/series/107899-the-governess-club

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Governess-Club-Louisa-Ellie-Macdonald-ebook/dp/B00K537ZXW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1407071103&sr=1-1&keywords=the+governess+club+louisa

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-governess-club-ellie-macdonald/1119443764?ean=9780062292285

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-governess-club-louisa

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-governess-club-louisa/id874396700?mt=11

Author Info

Ellie Macdonald has held several jobs beginning with the letter t: taxi-driver, telemarketer and most recently, teacher. She is thankful her interests have shifted to writing instead of taxidermy or tornado chasing. Having travelled to five different continents, she has swum with elephants, scuba dived coral mazes, visited a leper colony and climbed waterfalls and windmills, but her favorite place remains Regency England. She currently lives in Ontario, Canada. The Governess Club series is her first published work.

Author Links

Website: http://www.elliemacdonald.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EllieMacdonaldAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/elliemacdauthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7034029.Ellie_Macdonald

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/08/the-governess-club-sara-governess-club.html

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Two Digital Sets of The Governess Club Books One and Two: CLAIRE & BONNIE)

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The post Interview with Ellie MacDonald, Author of The Governess Club Sara and Louisa appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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10. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #396: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Esmé Shapiro


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I always look forward to the first Sunday of every month here at 7-Imp, since that’s when I feature student or recently graduated illustrators, and today is no exception. I’m happy to introduce you to Esmé Shapiro, a recent grad. Let’s just get right to it, since she says a bit below and shares even more artwork.

I thank her for visiting.

(Please note that all of the images below are at Esmé’s site, as well as her Tumblr presence, and you can also read further at those cyberspace stops about the ideas behind the images. For instance, the above is an illustration for a story she wrote, called “Carmella Chameleon.”)

Esmé: Hello! I’m Esmé Shapiro. I just graduated in May from the Rhode Island School of Design with my BFA in Illustration. Now I am a freelance illustrator living on a tree-lined block in Brooklyn, New York, with my puppy, Chebini.

I grew up amongst the palm trees of Los Angeles in a little oasis of a neighborhood called Laurel Canyon, which is where old Hollywood stars and directors used to build their hunting lodges. When I was a little girl, I would imagine I was a starlet from the 1920s and dress up in long gowns to go on long hikes through the cactus-studded hills. Laurel Canyon cultivated my interest in the styles and stories from the past and my love of nature, and I believe that you can see that in my work.


I tend to work very small, especially now that I have moved into a tiny Brooklyn apartment. Sometimes people are very surprised when they see how small a painting actually is in real life. I usually work on mat board with tons of layered gouache and watercolor. I spend a lot of time preparing for the image, but when it comes to the actual act of painting, I work really fast. It’s like the painting already exists, and it’s up to my right hand to create it. It’s a lot of pressure on my hand, but I think it handles it well.



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(Click to enlarge)


 

I have a big book shoved next to my pillow of all the projects I would like to do, and the list goes on for what seems like forever. Of course, my biggest dream is to see one of my children’s books published, but there are a lot of other projects too. I would also like to design children’s textiles, art-direct animations, build a giant dome to live in, paint huge murals, illustrate for all types of magazines, build a giant pink zebra, and then eventually a miniature pink zebra.


(Click to enlarge)


 

All artwork is used with permission of Esmé Shapiro.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) Esmé’s bit about the pink zebras made my 8-year-old laugh very hard. (Me too.)

2) I just ordered some sheet music (“easy” piano, since I’m still learning) for The Beatles and Chopin.

3) Fionn Regan.

4) My oh my, this book is good:

5) I love picking up my girls from school every day, ’cause that’s our time to talk and read together and discuss the day. I’m grateful for the kind of job that allows for that (er, jobs, rather).

6) It’s Blaine Danielson’s birthday …

7) … which means there is cake, and what a wonder is cake.

BONUS: It’s really great to hear from folks who are reading Wild Things.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

11 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #396: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Esmé Shapiro, last added: 9/8/2014
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11. A Mermaid Sighting



 

Have you noticed a particular blog tour goin’ on this week? Author-illustrator Ben Hatke (I wrote here about and then followed up with art here from his newest picture book, Julia’s House for Lost Creatures) is makin’ the rounds and talking about his bestiary of lost creatures. This is the kind of art-filled blog tour I can get behind. If you want to see all his creatures from this week, they’re listed at this link.

Today, I’m hosting the mermaid.

Here’s Ben …

Ben: Mermaids: Rarely seen, the most likely evidence of a nearby mermaid is a sad, lilting song heard among the waves in rocky harbors. Mermaids tend toward solitude, moonlit nights, and rainy days. Of all the creatures that show up at Julia’s crowded doorstep, the mermaid is perhaps the most unlikely. Mermaids do drag unwitting sailors into the cold depths of the sea, but not nearly so often as you might think.

Mermaids make fairly peaceable houseguests; they are quiet, and if you enjoy their melancholy melodies they can be quite easy to live with. They are very hard on plumbing, though, shedding scales and seaweed-like hair into the drains, and in a domestic situation they require a lot of water. Expect your water bill to triple (at least) and make sure you are on friendly terms with your local plumber.

My very favorite mermaid story of all is called The Animal Family. It’s a beautiful book by Randall Jarrell and masterfully illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Not only is The Animal Family my favorite mermaid story, but it’s one of my all-time favorite books.

* * * * * * *

All images here (with the exception of the book cover) used by permission of Ben Hatke.

0 Comments on A Mermaid Sighting as of 9/5/2014 10:50:00 AM
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12. Interview and Giveaway: Amy Woods, Author of His Texas Forever Family

[Manga Maniac Café] Good morning, Amy!

[Amy Woods] Thanks so much for having me as a guest today!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Amy Woods] Introverted, Curious, Dog lover, Writer

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

[Amy Woods] His Texas Forever Family is a sweet, contemporary category romance set in the fictional small town of Peach Leaf, Texas.

Paige Graham only has room for one man in her life—her son, Owen. The little boy hasn’t spoken since his father died, but things change when he meets his new art teacher, Liam Campbell. Paige can’t help marveling at the progress Owen makes while working with his instructor—and Mr. Campbell isn’t exactly hard on the eyes, either! 

New to Peach Leaf, Texas, Liam is captivated by his beautiful boss—who is none other than Paige! He can’t risk his job or his future by falling for his supervisor, but there is just something about her he can’t resist. Thanks to Liam’s lessons, Owen is on the road to recovery. Now if only Liam can show Paige that the best way to heal her heart is to open herself to love again….

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

[Amy Woods] A spark of an idea, and the wonderful question, “What if?” inspired the story. I wondered what would happen if a child became mute following a terrible incident, and the only person able to help that child was someone with an unconventional way of treating psychological distress. I combined that person with the child’s mother—who has tried everything, without success, to help her son—along with a sweet romance, and the rest is history.

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

[Amy Woods] I loved researching art therapy and all of the amazing ways it can help people overcome rough spots or challenges in their lives. It seems to me that there are just about as many ways to heal from trauma as there are people—horse therapy, dog therapy, art therapy, behavioral therapy, and the list goes on. I’m fascinated and inspired by the many wonderful people who go into these fields with the goal of making others’ lives better.

Also, this is my debut novel, but it’s also my very first book and I loved, loved, loved the experience of finishing a full story. Happily, I became addicted to that feeling and have gone on to write more. ?

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

[Amy Woods] At the risk of having tomatoes thrown at me by the writers out there…this story didn’t really give me much trouble. The characters were fun to write, even at their dark moments, and I didn’t ever get stuck for very long. I’m sad to say this hasn’t happened since, and I’ve finished several other books. I’m learning that some books just require either more or different work than others, and every book is its own animal. I’m still a fairly new writer, and I’m still working out my process. The minute I feel like I’ve grasped something pretty firmly, a fresh challenge pops up.

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

[Amy Woods] Sara Bareilles’ “Brave”—not because I embody the lyrics but because I’d like to

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

[Amy Woods] My purse. Lord help me if I ever lose that thing! I’m pretty sure most women can relate.

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

[Amy Woods] -Kleenex (I live in Austin, Texas and we have some of the worst allergens in the US)

-a pen with pink ink (I have approximately one million pens, and I get bored with them regularly and have to switch them out—neurotic much?)

-a hula girl (my brother serves in the Navy and is stationed in Hawaii)

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

[Amy Woods] J.K. Rowling. I’d love to know what it feels like to have sold hundreds of millions of copies of something I wrote.

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

[Amy Woods] The Winter King by C.L. Wilson, Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron, and What Once Was Perfect by Zoe York.

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

[Amy Woods] The hubby and I are movie fanatics. I don’t care if it’s old, new, Netflix, or the cinema—if it sounds good, I’ll watch it. My favorites usually have a SciFi or historical setting. I also have a dog (read: child) and I spend a lot of time with her, mostly trying to get her to stop sniffing telephone poles so we can actually walk further than two feet.

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

[Amy Woods] I adore hearing from readers, and they are welcome to contact me through my website at www.amywoodsbooks.com, on Facebook as Amy Woods Books, or on Twitter as @amywoodsbooks. I also have a (non-spammy) newsletter available at http://eepurl.com/0Vmi1, for anyone who is interested in keeping up with new releases

His Texas Forever Family by: Amy Woods

Released August 19th, 2014

Harlequin

“MR. CAMPBELL, PLEASE REPORT TO THE PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE…

Paige Graham only has room for one man in her life—her son, Owen. The little boy hasn’t spoken since his father died, but things change when he meets his new art teacher, Liam Campbell. Paige can’t help marveling at the progress Owen makes while working with his instructor—and Mr. Campbell isn’t exactly hard on the eyes, either!

New to Peach Leaf, Texas, Liam is captivated by his beautiful boss—who is none other than Paige! He can’t risk his job or his future by falling for his supervisor, but there is just something about her he can’t resist. Thanks to Liam’s lessons, Owen is on the road to recovery. Now if only Liam can show Paige that the best way to heal her heart is to open herself to love again….”

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/07/his-texas-forever-family-by-amy-woods.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21471411-his-texas-forever-family?from_search=true

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Texas-Forever-Family-Harlequin-Special-ebook/dp/B00JIH8ZAS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1404250167&sr=1-1&keywords=amy+woods

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/his-texas-forever-family-amy-woods/1118925347?ean=9781460338773

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/his-texas-forever-family
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/his-texas-forever-family/id857569196?mt=11

Publisher: http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=53590

Author Info

Although she’s wanted to be a writer since learning to read, Amy Woods took the scenic route to her job as an author. She’s been a bookkeeper, a high school English teacher, a claims specialist, and a call-center worker, but now that she’s tried making up stories for a living, she’s never giving it up. She grew up in Austin, Texas and still lives there with her wonderfully goofy, supportive husband and a very spoiled rescue dog.

Author Links

Website: http://www.amywoodsbooks.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amywoodsbooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/amywoodsbooks

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8059195.Amy_Woods

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Tour Wide Giveaway for $10.00 Amazon Gift Card and Print Copy of HIS TEXAS FOREVER FAMILY)

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13. Interview: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack on ‘The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’

Afterlife with Archie has proven to be one of the biggest successes in recent years for the 1/3 eponymous publisher, with Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla’s take on a zombie-infested Riverdale proving to be a surprisingly reflective take on the characters – putting them in a different genre of story in a mature, smart, and darkly comic manner. Following the critical and commercial success of the book it’s no surprise, then, to hear that the company are going to continue pushing the boundaries for a new take on Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ sees Aguirre-Sacasa once more penning a spooky take on the sorceress, but this time in a very different genre of horror – dropping the zombies for a more psychological horror as he’s joined by Robert Hack for a re-imagining of her origin story. Gone is the Lovecraftian-styled horror and in its place stands a story more influenced by Rosemary’s Baby and The Amityville Horror.

As styled by Hack, this is a really invigorating take on Sabrina as a character – thematically resonant, artistically off-kilter, and with a real sense of menace within each page. I’ve been new to Archie as a publisher, but what’s quickly emerged over the last year for me is how carefully they’re able to reinvent themselves and their characters – it wouldn’t have seemed likely that the characters could stand within a mature-only storyline, and yet here we are! So to find out more about what we can expect from this creepy new take on Sabrina, I spoke to both Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack about the book! Read on!

 

Sabrina_03_CovVar

Steve: When did the idea of doing these horror-themed takes on Archie come to life… to excuse the pun?

Roberto-Aguirre-Sacasa: “Afterlife” came first, inspired by the variant cover Francesco did for an issue of “Life with Archie.” Jon Goldwater, his son Jesse, and I were having breakfast, talking about the cover, and then we were all like, “This has to be a series!” A lightning-in-a-bottle a kind of thing.

Steve: At what point following Afterlife with Archie did the concept of a Sabrina series come about? Was that always something you had in mind once AwA started?

Roberto: “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” came up after the first or second issue of “Afterlife,” we were chatting about a potential spin-off or companion book, and Sabrina made such an impact in Issue One of “Afterlife,” but I knew she wasn’t going to be the lead, so that seemed like a no-brainer. She’s also such a comic book character, it felt crazy that she was only occasionally guest-starring in other people’s books.

Steve: Do the two books interlink in any ways, or are these separate worlds, separate takes on the character?

Roberto: At this point, they’re separate universes, separate takes on the same character. But, ever since the three witches in “Macbeth,” witches have come in three, so who’s to say there might not be a third incarnation of Sabrina, waiting in the wings—and that we might not see them all together? The “Afterlife” Sabrina, who is Cthulhu’s Bride now, remember; the “Chilling Adventures” Sabrina, who is a student of the occult; and the mainstream, bubblegum pop Sabrina…that would be a FASCINATING crossover, don’t you think?

Sabrina_01_01

Steve: What tonally is your goal for Sabrina? Stories about witches have been done so often – in comics alone, you have occult stuff going on in several books, like Coffin Hill and Wytches – was it important to find a new approach for this series?

Roberto:  Witch stories are some of the oldest stories, so there is a concern, “Have we seen all this before?” And witches are absolutely having a moment, with those comic book series you mentioned—not to mention the last season of “American Horror Story: Coven,” but to me, it’s all about the characters and the journey they’re on. If that’s compelling and fresh and emotional, then I’m onboard.

As for tone, it’s a bit more of a slow-burn that “Afterlife.” I keep referencing certain movies like “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Little Girl Who Lived Down the Lane,” but more recently, Ti West did a great horror movie called “House of the Devil,” that really captures the creepiness and dread—as well as the sly humor—of what we’re going for with “Sabrina.”

Steve: Has the series required you both to do a lot of research on the occult? Has there been anything cropping up in the research which you’ve become particularly interested in bringing to the book?

Roberto: Yes, there’s been a lot of research. A few years ago, I wrote a play about the Abigail Williams character from “The Crucible,” and the Salem Witch Trials, so I did a ton of research for that, which has fed, directly, into “Sabrina.” And I’ve been watching tons of witch movies, reading tons of witch stories, and really just letting my imagination ramble a bit, through this dark history of American occultism, in all its manifestations…

Robert Hack: I already have a library and head full of otherwise useless arcane information, it’s nice to have a respectable outlet for it.  I’ve been making notes of interesting visuals from old books and films.

Steve: The tone may be suggested in the script, but it’s in the art that it really hits readers. What was it about Robert’s art that made him the best fit for the project?

Roberto: Francesco (Francavilla) introduced me to Robert’s art, which I immediately loved. We became Facebook friends, and I started to see more and more of his work. Covers, pin-ups, he did a great variant for “Life with Archie” that was in the style of an old movie poster—“Riverdale Confidential.” (He also did this insanely intricate drawing based on the “Quartermass” movies, which I became obsessed with.)

When I started thinking that “Sabrina” was going to be a retro-book, set in the 1960’s, Robert was the first artist I thought of for it.

Sabrina_01_02

Steve: Robert, how did you come aboard, yourself? You’d already contributed a variant cover to AwA, right?

Robert: Yeah, I’d done a variant cover for Afterlife #1 and a few other covers at Archie last year.  I was starting to get informal questions from friends at Archie about my schedule and if I would ever want to work on a monthly book.  It was when I congratulated Roberto on his appointment as CCO that he told me about the new Sabrina book and I jumped at it.

Steve: What’s been your approach to the series, as artist? Are there any influences on your storytelling from film, literature, anywhere else? The preview I’ve seen suggests a sort of realistic horror aesthetic, like something similar to Rosemary’s Baby?

Robert: There’s quite a bit of that.  Rosemary’s Baby and The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane were the first things Roberto used to describe the tone and I picked up on that right away.  There’s a definite 60′s-70′s horror film vibe running through here.  It was a great time for boundary pushing in film and that actually feels a bit what it’s like within Archie’s new approach.

Steve: On that, actually – there’s also a sense that the series is going to be an exploration of womanhood, like in the Polanski film; as the preview makes it very clear that Sabrina’s father is the one with power here, and has been wielding it since before she was born. Is it fair to suggest that this is a theme in the series?

Robert: Yeah, that’s fair.  I think you have to, or you’re leaving a massive chunk of the human experience on the cutting room floor.

Sabrina_01_03

Steve: In AwA, Sabrina damns herself by taking on forces she can’t control – a classic Lovecraftian horror. In contrast, what kinds of horror are the influences on this series?

Roberto: Witch-horror, psychological horror, themes of revenge, themes of blood, themes of family… “The Amityville Horror,” that kind of thing. And the betrayal between Guy and Rosemary—the scariest thing in “Rosemary’s Baby”—that’s a huge influence on “Sabrina,” what happens between Sabrina’s mother and father, there will be hell to pay…

Steve: What do you both think moves your take on Sabrina away from other versions of her we’ve seen before? What defines her as a character?

Roberto: Well, this is fully a horror story, for starters. And it’s really epic. It starts when Sabrina’s a baby and just keeps going, so the canvas is bigger. Sabrina is the most powerful character in the Archie universe—as powerful as Dr. Strange, let’s say, or the Scarlet Witch—so let’s really explore that power—and how difficult it would be for someone to control it while they’re coming-of-age, hormones raging…

Robert: Yeah, the tone of this version is so vastly different.  The characters are completely recognizable, but it’s a dramatic shift from the comics, or the sitcom.  There is real, palpable terror here.

Steve: Robert, how did you go about designing her look? She’s got to pull away from the iconic ‘Archie’ look, but also remain distinctive. Was it difficult to find a new approach to her, or did you find it actually rather easy to find a new direction for the character’s look?

Robert:  I started with something very traditional, very classic Sabrina.  My first sketches had the big, iconic Sabrina hairdo, and we pulled back from that.  It would have worked if the series was set in the early 60′s, but seemed out of date by the late 60′s we’re in.  Or as Roberto put it- “It’s a little too John Waters.”.  Despite my love of John Waters, I gotta admit that Roberto was right; it’s all about the tone of the series, and it just wouldn’t have worked.  Once we slightly deflated the hair, it really came together.

Steve: You’re colouring the series as well, so you have a complete hold over how it looks and the mood it sets. What are your immediate goals as colourist, to set the tone and mood of this book?

Robert: ​We’re taking an interesting approach to the colors here.  Roberto and everyone at Archie were keen to bring some of what I’d done elsewhere to the interiors.  A unique, limited palate thing that feels a bit vintage and yet new. – and within that, keeping it suspenseful and terrifying.

Sabrina_01_04

Steve: How’ve you found working together so far? I know that on AwA, Francesco Francavilla’s interest in Lovecraft found a way into the series – have you both found any shared interests which might filter into Sabrina down the line?

Roberto: RAS: It’s still early days, but the way “Afterlife” is Francesco’s book, I want “Sabrina” to be Robert’s book. He knows—or should know—(and will know, after this interview)—that if there’s a story he wants to tell, or something we wants to draw, it’s a total free-flowing collaboration. He sends me images, I send him references, it’s been great and exciting, finding the exact right tone…

Robert: It’s been great, and the ideas I’ve brought have been met with genuine enthusiasm.  And have been dovetailing with Roberto’s vision.  And editors and everyone at Archie have been great about that to, totally behind us creatively and eager for us to push the limits of horror.  Which is pretty much the weirdest, best thing ever.

Steve: The immediate storyline for Sabrina seems focused on her ancestry and history – but what else awaits her in the series? What do you hope readers take away from the book?

Roberto: The first arc is Sabrina’s dark origin story, from when she was a little girl to her sixteenth birthday, when she finds herself at a crossroads. After that, there will be high school stories, stand-alone stories, we’re going to explore all of her supporting cast in a deep way—Salem’s going to get his own issue, detailing how and why he was turned into the cat—the aunties are going to get the spotlight, we’re going see them as young women…

We’ll see rival covens, we’re going to tell a big possession story, it’s going to be a bit more free-ranging than “Afterlife,” I think, the tapestry’s going to be a bit more unexpected and weird…

-

Thanks to Roberto and Robert for their time! Thanks also to Archie for helping to set up the interview. ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ #1 is out next month…

4 Comments on Interview: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack on ‘The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’, last added: 9/8/2014
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14. Chris Ware reveals his love of sitcoms

 

Photo: Nicolas Guerin/Contour

Photo: Nicolas Guerin/Contour

Chris Ware is only the second cartoonist to get the Paris Review interview treatment—Robert Crumb was the first—and it’s said to be one of his longest and most revealing interviews ever. With scholar Jeet Heer doing the interviewing, how could you expect less. But in a surprise twist, you can only read the whole thing by purchasing a copy of The Paris Review! However there is an online excerpt just to set the table:

Television was probably my first real drug. I have little doubt that it fired off the same dopamine receptors in my brain that marijuana later did. Specific hours of my childhood day would be tonally defined by what was on. Monday through Friday at three-thirty meant Gilligan’s Island, and so that particular half hour always took on a sense of bamboo and Mary Ann’s checkered shirt, later to be replaced by the tweed and loafers of My Three Sons. I was sensitive to the broadcast vibe of ABC versus CBS versus NBC versus PBS and to how their particular programs made me feel, even how the particular resolution of each channel was different.

So yeah, go buy a copy of The Paris Review already.

Photograph: Nicolas Guerin/Contour

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15. Flora’s Back!A Visit with Author-Illustrator Molly Idle



Early sketch and final spread
(Click second image to enlarge)


 

Just the other day author-illustrator Aaron Becker visited to talk about his new picture book (Quest), which is a follow-up to one that won a Caldecott Honor early this year (Journey).

So then it occurred to me (I swear I don’t plan these things, as in I’m not that organized) that I’d love to invite author-illustrator Molly Idle to do the same. Molly also received a Caldecott Honor early this year for Flora and the Flamingo, and she sees the release at the end of this month of a follow-up picture book about the same character (Flora, that is), Flora and the Penguin (Chronicle Books).

And I had this idea just yesterday, I think it was, so I’m glad Molly was able to roll with this and send me images and interview responses so quickly. I figured I’d ask her the same things I asked Aaron (with the exception of questions that pertain specifically to their books, of course).

Flora and the Penguin is (like Aaron’s book) another wordless tale. This one is entertaining, too — the charm and cheer and grace that was on every page of Flora and the Flamingo is here again. This time, Flora is dancing partners with a penguin. At least she tries to skate with him on the ice, though he’s mighty distracted by some fish. And the color palette! O! The palette! You’ll see what I mean in some of the final spreads pictured below.

Let’s get right to it, and I thank Molly for visiting. (For those of you who want even more, remember that Molly visited 7-Imp here in 2013.)

Jules: You’ve probably already discussed elsewhere what it was like to get the Caldecott call, so I apologize if this is redundant, but hey, what was it like to get the Caldecott call?


“My scribbly sketchbook with the first notes for Flora and the Penguin”


(Click to enlarge)

Molly: Are you kidding?! It was AWESOME! I knew that somebody was going to be getting a call that morning, but when it was my phone that rang at 4:30 a.m., you coulda knocked me over with a feather! I remember stammering my thanks to a roomful of happy, laughing, cheering people on the other end of the line, while standing in my kitchen in my jammies. When I hung up the phone and put it down, I just stood there for a moment. Then, I picked up the phone again and thumbed through to “recent calls” — just to be sure I hadn’t imagined the whole thing. I turned around, still holding the phone, and there was my husband standing there in the kitchen, grinning at me and saying, “Well?” I just nodded, grinning back, and finally I said, “I won.” And he laughed and said, “Phew! Well that’s good, because I hate to think they’d call and wake you up just to tell you you hadn’t!”

Then, all was happy pandemonium at our house.


Early sketch: Flora with her skates
(Click to enlarge)


Sketch: “Thinking about the ‘sit spin’ and how a penguin would manage it …”
(Click to enlarge)


Sketch: “Playing with opposites — x’s and o’s …”
(Click to enlarge)



Sample sketches: “Playing with poses for flaps that would have worked
like the ones in
Flamingo (up and down) …”


Sketch: “… but I wanted to be able to move these two far apart and then back together. The ‘flamingo flaps’ wouldn’t do that.”
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: How’d you deal with the pressure of creating both a sequel and a sophomore picture book when the success of your debut was so huge? This is assuming you felt stress. Perhaps you did not.

Molly: Did I feel stress? Yes! Absolutely, but not on this book. I had already finished the artwork for Flora and the Penguin by this time last year, so for me there was only the pressure that my art director and editor and I were applying to ourselves to make this book a good book. And that was plenty.


“This scribble is what I jotted down when I got the idea
to use double-sided, horizontal flaps.”

After Flora and the Flamingo won the Caldecott Honor, though, I felt a huge sense of outside expectation, which of course was totally only in my own mind. It’s not as if I started receiving emails saying, “Dear Ms. Idle: Your next book better measure up … or else.” But I felt a weird sort of weight of uncertainty. Could I measure up against myself? And what did that even mean? And I sort of seized up creatively. I just froze. So, it was really lucky that I had a huge pile of work waiting to be done. Seriously. Because the only way to get work done is to do it. Sitting frozen wouldn’t make my deadlines disappear. And through working, that paralyzing fear of expectation slowly started to diminish.

I have a fortune cookie fortune on my desk that says “Action is worry’s worst enemy.” That’s not really a fortune, is it? But I think it’s a truism. The best way to deal with it—whatever “it” is—is to work through it.



” … So I tried it out. And it worked! With the flap anchored toward the center of the book and images printed on both sides,
they could skate back and forth across the page.”
(Click each to enlarge)

Jules: Do you want to talk a bit about working with the designers and such at Chronicle? How much input do you have on the book’s overall design?

Molly: Do I want to talk about working with the folks at Chronicle? “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”

I love the folks at Chronicle. They are dedicated to making wonderful, beautiful, different books. And to do that, they pay attention to the smallest details. I’m a believer that the smallest details often make the biggest differences. I’ve been so fortunate to work with art directors, editors, and designers that believe that too. We share a love of simple, elegant design. We also share a love of ego-less collaboration. Whoever has the best idea, it doesn’t matter who thinks of it — that should be the path taken. So there aren’t really rigidly defined boundaries in how we divvy up design. My art director will make editorial notes; I’ll design a different way to engineer a gatefold or flap; my editor will make color palette suggestions. There’s a lot of overlap. There’s a lot of trust. I like that.


“Now that I knew how the movement would work,
I started sketching/choreographing their story …”
(Click to enlarge)


“Even on the pages that don’t involve movement of flaps, I like to make sure that the movement flows between one pose and the next,
so I take them apart and overlay them.”
(Click to enlarge)


“Then I use the old-school, traditional animation technique of flipping between drawings to make sure they move smoothly.”
(Click the play button)


“Then I lay them back out in the dummy.”
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Are there specific experiences that formed the essential bases, the fundamental building blocks, of your artistic vision? Books, movies, artists, events, images, anything else, etc.?

Molly: I grew up in a theatrical family with an eye to making movies, so films and plays play a major role in my bookmaking process. My favorite movies have always been the old Technicolor films of the ’40s and ’50s. These days, most films are shot on location, but in those days most everything was filmed in the controlled environment of a sound stage. A sort of handcrafted, hyper-real, bright and shiny reality. I like that sort of perfectly staged feeling.

I also like blackbox theatre. Plays in a blackbox use minimal sets and props. They rely on the actors to convey the story and the imagination of the audience to fill in the surroundings.

When I’m laying out a book, I think of it as if I’m staging a play or a film. Scene by scene, shot by shot.


“We were searching for just the right blue—not too icy, not too warm—in Pantone …”


 



 

“… and in Prismacolor.”


 


“Once we figure out the palette, I make myself a cheat sheet
so that I remember what colors I layered and in what order.”
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: What do you, as an artist, find most challenging and satisfying in the creative processes you employ?

Molly I think the thing I find most challenging and most satisfying in my creative process is the initial uncovering of the entire story. There’s nothing for it but to sit down and start working it out on paper. Page by page. And, for me, it is hard work. The easiest thing for me to do is to sit down and make nice lines and connect those nice lines to make nice drawings. I’ve been at it long enough now to know that anytime I sit down at my drawing board, I can turn out a pretty nice drawing. Muscle memory –like riding a bike.

But to make those lines into drawings that connect in a new and meaningful way, to make a story worth telling — that’s a whole other thing. And I feel as though I am just learning to ride without my training wheels.



Two pieces in progress …
(Click each to enlarge)

Jules: Okay, I’ve gotten lately to where I simply love to ask people: What are you reading now?

Molly Okay, this is going to sound awful, but I am not reading anything for myself right now. I can’t pick up a book and read a chapter and then put it down and come back to it later. I’m a binge reader. I like to sit down and devour a book in one sitting.

That said, I’ve been so busy with work and family that I haven’t had time to take a day off to read in a few months, so my TBR stack is reaching to tottering heights! But I do read with my boys every night, and we’re working our way through Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (one of my personal faves). We also just finished rereading Jedi Academy (one of their personal faves).



Some final spreads
(Click each to enlarge)

Jules: On that note, what picture books have you loved lately? Or whose work have you seen that you think deserves some love and attention?

Molly Oh my, there have been a lot of good picture books out lately, and a bunch more coming out soon! But I shall confine my list to a few that are already out and that made me feel ridiculously happy. The kind of book you finish, hug to your chest, and open and read again.

Hooray for Hat by Brian Won. This book had me grinning from the moment I opened it.

Sparky! by Jenny Offill and Chris Appelhans. There is so much to love about this book. There’s a raw sort of openness to the text and the sincere yet deadpan expressions. And don’t even get me started on the gorgeous limited color palette. Love it!


The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers. I bet everyone mentions this one, right? And for good reason! I could read it over and over. Which is good, because it is one of the most requested, “just one more!” bedtime reads in our house.

Number One Sam by Greg Pizzoli. This is just one of those stories that is just perfect. Simple. And perfect.

The Mermaid and the Shoe by K. G. Campbell. Keith’s art is so beautiful that it makes my heart hurt. *wistful sigh*



Jules: What’s next for you? Anything in the works that you can talk about now?

Molly: Right now I am working on the third Flora book, Flora and the Peacocks. Yes, peacocks. Plural. All the Flora books are about exploring different aspects of friendship. The first was about making a friend. The second is about what happens when two friends want different things. The third is about groups of three. Three can be tricky. So often someone ends up feeling left out. I’m looking forward to exploring that dynamic — and all those fabulous feathers!

* * * * * * *

FLORA AND THE PENGUIN. Copyright © 2014 by Molly Idle. Published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco. All images here (with the exception of book covers) used by permission of Molly Idle.

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16. “A Cosmic Fairytale” – D.J. Kirkbride incites The Bigger Bang [Interview]

biggerbang Author D.J. Kirkbride has been an important force in the comics’ industry for years now spearheading projects like Amelia Cole for Monkey Brain Comics with Co-Author Adam Knave and artist Nick Brokenshire. As Amelia Cole continued to grow larger, the author then shifted gears along with Adam Knave to work on Never Ending, a book about an immortal superhero. Now the author is going solo, and launching a new title from IDW Comics entitled The Bigger Bang, a story about a second of the fabled Big Bang events spawning a Superhuman golden age type hero. Through the unique vision of artist Vassilis Gogtzilas, the two are likely going to craft a superhero tale unlike any other with The Bigger Bang. Author Kirkbride shared some further insight into the project:

Where did your interest in Superheroes stem from, and what do they mean to you?

There is nary a memory from a time in my life where, if I were being honest, I didn’t wish I was wearing a cape. SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE came out when I was still very new to the world (yeah, I’m old), and it is the basis of my entire outlook on everything somehow. I love heroes, and super ones are, you know, even better. The idea of bigger than life characters helping the regular folk, having epic struggles and battles… what’s not to love?DJ_Pic

After NEVER ENDING, why continue to deconstruct the modern Superhero? Is this going to be a better deconstruction of the superhero than WATCHMEN (no pressure or anything)?

THE BIGGER BANG has nothing to do with WATCHMEN. It is as far from “what if superheroes were real?” as a comic could get. In my notebook, I one time wrote “THE BIGGER BANG: A Cosmic Fairy Tale”. That’s what it really is. It is not a deconstruction of anything. I don’t really like taking things I love apart, to be honest. Superheroes are great. I don’t want to pick at them. People much smarter than me already have.

How did the creative team come together?

Vassilis and I met on some anthologies I was editing. We worked together on a short story for an anthology called TITMOUSE MOOK Vol. 2, along with my co-writer pal Adam P. Knave. It was a lot of fun, and we tried to get some other things going that never worked out for whatever reason. After a while of doing our own things, Vass sent us a picture of a big, amazingly over muscled superhero guy floating in space and asked if we wanted to do a cosmic superhero book with him. Adam and I were (and still are) writing AMELIA COLE together, but he was (and still is) also co-writing a series called ARTFUL DAGGERS, plus who knows how many novels and stories and… the guy’s way more prolific than me. So, he didn’t feel he had time. I had plenty and was hungry to try something new, without the crutch of writing with someone way smarter than me, so I went for it. Vass is obviously very involved in the story piecing and development, visually and thematically, plus our IDW editor Justin Eisinger has helped me a great deal, being a sounding board and a source of ideas. And mainly saying, “LESS WORDS, MAN!” which has worked out well, I think.

Is the group worried about the series possibly touching on religious implications, or is the team instead looking at the incident from an alternate history touchstone?

We do go along with the Big Bang origin of life, but I’d be surprised if there was any controversy or anything. This is a crazy science fantasy adventure with far out ideas and drama so I personally find it pretty funny, but we don’t talk about religion at all, actually.

This is D.J. Kirkbride’s first solo writing effort for a while isn’t it? What was it like to tackle a project with fewer collaborators?

Vass and Justin have really helped guide the story with me, and our letterer, Frank Cvetkovic, has helped keep the words and the art together, the glue, honestly. But, to be perfectly frank, it’s been scary. Aside from a few anthology shorts, I’ve co-written all of my comics’ work with Adam. Doing this without him was a challenge I really felt I needed though. He has read different edits of the first issue, because his feedback means a lot to me, but, yeah, I wrote the words without him. It freaked me out and is still freaking me out. The wacky part is that Adam is far better versed in big cosmic comics than I am, and this kind of huge space opera madness is right up his alley, whereas I tend to lean toward smaller, more personal and dialog-heavy writing. tumblr_static_984bbxonto8wg0k0ck8g8ocsk_1280_v2 How did the team decide that IDW was the right home for the project?

Vass has worked with IDW on a great mini-series called THE ADVENTURES OF AUGUSTA WIND, written by none other than J.M. DeMatteis, one of the best comic writers of all time — no pressure to be his next writer, right? I also work with them on the AMELIA COLE print collections, so it seemed like a good fit. They put out good books, but it wouldn’t have happened without Justin Eisinger. Something about the core of our pitch, the basic idea of this character’s birth causing so much destruction with pseudo-science and fantasy spoke to him, I guess. He championed us, and this book wouldn’t be happening with out that fella.

What does the supporting cast for the book look like?

It’s a diverse group. The lead character, Cosmos, is the only one that looks traditionally human — at least an amazingly muscular human. There’s a kinda heavy, tentacled, green monster in a crown called King Thulu who kind of runs this sector of the multi-verse. His best warrior pilot is a three-eyed darker green lady named Wyan. She’s the character that has maybe the most interesting arc to me, and it grew very organically. There are many other aliens of various shapes and sizes, some of which started with brief descriptions from me, many just visualized from Vass’s amazing mind.

Is it difficult to compress a story into a limited space of pages in four issues after working on the AMELIA COLE series from Monkey Brain?

Actually, AMELIA COLE is the first ongoing series I’ve ever worked on, so that was the challenge at first. Before that, I’d gotten very used to writing really short stories for anthologies. I like stories with endings, even AMELIA COLE will have one someday (hopefully far, FAAAAAAR off into the future), so that’s how we designed and pitched THE BIGGER BANG. We had a story with a beginning, middle, and end. If possible, I’d love to do more one day, but if not, these four issues compose a complete story that I think folks will enjoy. neverending Is Vassilis Gogtzilas’ work completely painted in the title?

No, he is doing pencils, inks, and digital colors for the interiors. The painted covers were his idea, and I love them. It’ll be great seeing it in print and looking at it up close, because he is not a careful, timid painter. You can see the chunks and textures of the paint. It’s really cool. I love all the covers and can’t wait to be able to share them. I think they get better with each issue.

Does his work and style alter from the different projects he draws?

Oh yeah, Vass is eclectic. His style can vary within a project–from page to page. It’s not random. He’s a very emotional artist, and he’s more concerned with how the art FEELS than realism. It’s been an interesting challenge writing for him sometimes because his mind moves so differently than mine. It’s amazing, and I would have never come up with something like this on my own. It is a true collaboration.

When can fans dash out to their local comic book shops to pick up THE BIGGER BANG #1?

Issue 1 is out November 19, 2014. If anyone out there is interested, please pre-order it with item code SEP140487. Pre-orders are way too important, but that’s the way it is. There is a lot of competition for comic shop shelf space, so an indie book like this can use all the pre-help it can get. I’m really excited to see what the reaction will be. We’ve put together something really interesting and fun. I’m happy to get to be a part of it.

Thanks for your time!

Thank YOU, good sir!

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17. Two Awards and Apologies for the Long Silence

Inspiring Blogger Award from
Julia Hones

Liebster Award from Sandra Cox
See below the info that comes with
the Inspiring Blogger Award















First the apologies for not blogging. 
1.) I've been busy working on my mystery. My goal is to finish this draft by mid-September. There's 24-25 chapters in mind, and I'm on chapter 17 so far. 
2.) We've had company and made a couple of out-of-town trips to visit folks we hadn't seen for a long time, due to travels. 
And 3.) We are getting ready for another long trip to Spain and Portugal. (I haven't even finished blogging about the last trip, but that's how it goes sometimes. Oh, the stories I'd like to tell!)

Meanwhile, two very nice blog friends gave me awards that you can see at the top of this page and read about below. Thank you so much, ladies!

Julia Hones gave me the Inspiring Blogger Award, which I find quite an honor. Julia has a marvelous blog called My Writing Life that I love to read and find inspiring in its own right, and you will too, so do check it out. She's also had many short stories and poems published and is the poetry editor of Southern Pacific Review

As a recipient of the award, I'm supposed to reveal 7 things about myself and then pass the award on to others whose blogs I find inspiring. Hmm. 7 reveals . . . Okay, here we go.

1. In my junior year in college, after finals, I let a girlfriend talk me into bleaching my hair blonde. (She was bleaching her hair, and we were hyper from finals, so I thought, "Why not?") Because I have a lot of red in my hair, it went red instead of blonde. Because I have a few freckles, everyone who met me as a redhead thought I really was a redhead -- to the point that when I got tired of it and decided to dye it back to dark brown, I was told, "No, don't do that, it won't look natural."

2. My favorite dessert is a cookie. Forget pies, cakes, and rich creamy custards. Give me a cookie. Any cookie, although I like sugar, shortbread, oatmeal, or peanutbutter the best.

3. I am a crossword puzzle nut. I love the New York Times crossword puzzle. I can't always finish it (Fridays and Saturdays), but I usually start the day with it. For one thing, it wakes me up and gets the wheels turning for writing later in the day.

4. My husband and I met through a cat named Meathead. That is a ve-r-r-r-y long story, that only some of our friends know and would take up too much space here. But we have very fond feelings for our feline cat-alyst from long ago.

5. I used to write everything in longhand first, but the computer has spoiled me. Cut and paste is so convenient. Even so, I miss that feeling of connection between pen or pencil and heart, and I still write my poetry first in longhand.

6. This is probably a horrible confession for an author to make, particularly one who writes children's books, but . . . I never liked The Wind in the Willows. I know, I know, one of the world's great classics. What's wrong with me! But I never could get into it, no matter how many times I tried. 

7. I loved Edith Nesbit and Edgar Eavers, though. And they stand the test of time. I re-read a couple of their books recently and still found them so funny.

And now the nominees:
1. Keith Wynne has a truly inspiring blog called Musings of an Unapologetic Dreamer . He'll also send a little blurb via email called Thought of the Day, if you sign up for it at his site. I bookmark nearly everyone of these blurbs, as they are quite pithy and inspiring.

2. Catherine Ensley is an author of inspirational romance novels and is writing a four-part series. On her blog she "shares her thoughts on country life, simple living, adventure, reading, writing and faith that transforms." I think you will find it very enjoyable. 

3. Victoria Lindstrom's Writ of Whimsy blog is rich with Middle Grage book reviews, poetry tidbits, thoughts on writing, and a section I love, "Whimsical Word of the Week." Check out her site; it's great fun.

4. Lynda Young has a wonderful blog called W.I.P. It: an Author's Journey in which she addresses many issues for writers with insights and reminders that are so helpful to all of us on this common journey. 

5. Check out Carol Riggs, a published YA author with a personable writing style. Her blog, Artzicarol Ramblings, is full of writing tips, YA book reviews, and shares of her own personal journey with agents and publishers. 

6. Renee Hand's The Crypto-Capers Review is a children's book review blog as well as a platform for her radio show, Stories from Unknown Authors. Renee also writes winning interactive mysteries. How cool is that? Check out her site, and you may find yourself being interviewed if you've written a children's book.

7. Mark Noce has a rather eclectic blog, sharing news about his flash fiction publications, gardening, music he likes, and news about other writers. It's always a feel-good experience to read one of his posts. 

On to the Liebster Award, which Sandra Cox kindly gave to me. Sandra's blog is called, not surprisingly, Sandra's Blog  . Sandra is a prolific blogger as well as a prolific author. Spend a little time at her site. Her pictures will make you smile. Meanwhile, the Liebster Award is given to bloggers with less than 200 followers, ferreting out blogs you think are worthy of more followers. (Thank you, Sandra!) The rules for accepting the award are to share 11 random facts about myself, answer 11 questions posed by the blogger who nominated me, nominate 11 bloggers who qualify, and pose 11 questions to them. Happily, Sandra modified the rules, asking 6 questions, and nominating 5 newbies. So I am following her lead:

The questions she asked:
1. If you were an animal, what would you be? Probably a dog. I love animals, but dogs have a special place in my heart. They are so loving and loyal.
2. What is your favorite genre? That's a hard one. Mysteries and historical novels are about equal.
3. When reading, do you prefer paper or a hand held device? Paper, for sure!
4. What's your favorite vacation spot? Galicia, Spain. 
5. What's your favorite charity? Another hard one. We contribute to a number. I suppose Southern Poverty Law Center, a remarkable organization that goes after hate groups in this country and prosecutes hate crimes.
6. If given the choice, where would you live? Right where we live now. As a runner up, Galicia would be next, but we are quite happy where we are.

Okay, my nominees are:
Richard Hughes at Writing and Living by Richard P. Hughes , is an eclectic blogger, sharing thoughts about writing, art, life in general, publishing issues. Right now he's running an interesting series of interviews with other bloggers, called, "Where I Live and Why I Like It.

Rosi Hollinbeck at The Write Stuff reviews children's books, interviews authors, and does a wonderful job of culling and sharing links to help writers in every sphere of writing. I always look forward to her posts, and you will too.

Kenda Turner at Words and Such post book reviews, interviews, and shares rich thoughts about the writer's journey. Always a good read.

Loretta Proctor at Books and Other Things blogs about books, art, and music, "and all things creative and beautiful." Her current post is about Seamus Heaney, one of my favorite poets.

Jeanmarie Anaya's delightful blog, Jeanmarie Anaya is definitely worth your while. Humorous, pithy, eloquent. She writes about a number of writing issues, and wrote a lovely tribute to Robin Williams. 

And here are my six questions for these worthy recipients:
1. Where is your favorite place to read a book?
2. When beginning a new W.I.P., do you write by hand or wordprocess?
3. What are three of your favorite books? 
4. If you could be a character in a novel you've read, who would you be?
5. Which author, living or dead, do you wish you had the opportunity to meet?
6. When did you begin to write for yourself (as opposed to doing early homework assignments)?

And that's it, folks. I look forward to your comments, (feel free to answer any of the questions I posed for the nominees), and I do hope you check out the blogs in both sections of this post.

Ciao for now . . .

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18. Guest Post and Giveaway: Amanda Forester, Author of A Winter Wedding

Please welcome Amanda Forester to the virtual offices this morning! She took a little break from her Labor Day festivities to share some info about her handsome duke, James Lockton, and she has a copy of A Winter Wedding up for grabs!

The Trials and Tribulations of an Unmarried Duke by Amanda Forester

Can one feel sorry for a duke? The Duke of Marchford is, after all, young, wealthy, attractive, and a duke. An unmarried duke, to be exact, and that is where the trouble starts. Let us spy a moment on how he is getting along at his London house in this excerpt from Winter Wedding.

James Lockton, the Duke of Marchford, was a marked man. He heard voices coming and pressed himself against the wall, edging slowly away, careful not to make a sound. One wrong move would seal his fate.

He had tried to escape his doom, hiding at his country estate like a craven coward. It was only the pressing needs of king and country, and the early opening of Parliament to deal with a severe crisis of governance, that drew him back to London. He had hoped December would find Town desolate of company, but with the return of the members of Parliament came their families, and with their families came…

“The Duke of Marchford is sooooo handsome,” cooed a young feminine voice.

“Better yet, he’s dreadfully rich,” said another young lady. “What I wouldn’t give to be duchess of this hall.”

“Do you think we should be wandering about, Mama?”

“No, of course not, but do you think we should come all this way without an introduction to the duke? Do you really think I care a whit about that spiteful old dowager? No!” exclaimed the baroness. They were growing nearer.

Marchford knew the baroness and her daughters were coming to visit his grandmother, but he hardly expected them to make a search of the house. He darted up a servants’ stairwell and into a long hallway of bedrooms. He walked quickly toward the main stairs but stopped short at the sound of their whining voices. The woman had the audacity to come up to the private rooms!

“We’ll flush out the duke,” crooned the baroness, her voice growing louder, “say we got turned around in the house and secure an introduction. I swear I’ll not set foot from this place until you both have been asked to dance at tonight’s ball.”

Nothing to do but run.

He spun and dashed down the hall on light feet. Taking a risk, he opened one of the doors and slipped inside, closing the door carefully to avoid the conspicuous click of the latch. Now if only the bedroom were empty, he could possibly survive the night.

A small, feminine shriek behind him laid waste to that grand hope.

“Your Grace!” demanded Penelope Rose. “What on earth are you doing in my bedchamber?”

Ah, the trials and tribulations of being an unmarried duke. Of course the Duke of Marchford is not only the biggest matrimonial prize in the known world, he is also obligated to assist the Foreign Office in flushing out traitors and spies who have infiltrated London society. This is 1810, after all, and we are at war with that wretchedly brilliant Napoleon.

Is it any wonder that Marchford may feel a bit piqued at times? So how does a duke relax after a hard day of avoiding marriage-minded females and international spies? Unfortunately, Marchford could learn more of the fine art of relaxation, but here are some of his favorites:

  1. Run off to the club and spend time with his friends, the Earl of Thornton and Mr. William Grant. Trouble is, they are both recently married and are focused on such odd things as spending time with their wives and the anticipation of tiny heirs.

  2. Hide in his study and look at maps. Marchford thought there was nothing he could like more than a good dependable map… until Penelope ended up on top of one.

  3. Convince his grandmother to adopt a stray cat by telling her it is a rare Peruvian jungle house cat. His grandmother, however, declares the animal is a dog.

  4. Tease Penelope Rose by taking her beloved Christmas traditions to their literal extreme, all for the joy of seeing the shocked expression on her face along with a twinkle of amusement in her eye.

  5. Take a long hot bath with…oh wait, you’re going to have to read the book to find out more about this!

To read more about the Duke of Marchford and his search for traitors, spies, and a suitable bride, read Winter Wedding now available. To get you started in the series, the first book in the trilogy, Wedding in Springtime is being offered FREE for a limited time and Midsummer Bride is currently only $1.99. I love to hear from readers so come visit me at my website, facebook, or twitter.

What is your favorite way to relax? Comment for a chance at winning a copy of Winter Wedding!

Amanda Forester holds a Ph.D. in psychology and worked for many years in academia before discovering that writing historical romance novels was decidedly more fun. Whether in the Highland hills or a Regency ballroom, Forester’s critically acclaimed novels offer fast-paced adventures filled with wit, intrigue, and romance. She lives with her supportive husband and naturally brilliant children in the Pacific Northwest.Visit her at www.amandaforester.com.

This adventurous duke…

The Duke of Marchford requires a suitable bride, but catching spies for the Foreign Office takes up most of his time. Not wanting to face another London season as an eligible man, he employs the notorious Madame X to find him a match.

Has met his match

Miss Penelope Rose knows the rules of marriage among members of the ton better than most. Her own unsuccessful attempts at matrimony did not stop her from becoming London’s most exclusive matchmaker. Marchford proves to be a difficult client, but as he draws on her social expertise to help him flush out a dangerous traitor, they find that falling in love may be the riskiest adventure of all.

Pre-Order Links:

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

Apple: http://bit.ly/1orV3bN

BAM: http://bit.ly/1sxRhDC

B&N: http://bit.ly/1qXa08Q

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

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

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1vckp71

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The post Guest Post and Giveaway: Amanda Forester, Author of A Winter Wedding appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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19. Milo Manara speaks (in English) and reaches out to the farms of Oregon and Maine

SPIDERWOMAN001Manara-06299-600x853
Italian fanzine
Fumettologica has made an English transcript of their interview with Milo Manara available, and offered it to run at The Beat. And it’s…a thing. Like I’ve been saying all along, Manara is Manara and he can draw all the butts in thew air he wants. However, he trots out every bingo card argument there is, from “men are sexualized too!’ to blaming this on the spread of Islam (????!!!!!????). Also women evolved to be sexy.

Also censorship is a red herring here. The issue is a MARKETING one, and I still haven’t seen anyone address that from Tom Breevort on.

I must say, I like the idea of Spider-women advancing like a jaguar. Perhaps focusing on her rump was not the best way to convey this concept.

All that said, this Spider-Woman variant has now become a symbol for many things. It really isn’t just about her butt any more.

Fumettologica: How do you interpret the debate generated by your cover?

MANARA: Reading on the internet, I saw that the criticisms have two different motivations. One is the sexy and erotic side, the other is the anatomical error. Now, about the incompetence in the drawing I do not know what to say. Let’s say I’ve tried to do my best for 40 years. Nobody is perfect, and I may be wrong; simply put, I’m a professional, doing the best I can.

On the erotic side, however, I found it a bit ‘amazing. Apart from the fact that there is a mandatory thing that I have to start by saying: it seems to me that both in the United States and around the world there are things much more important and serious to worry about. The events at Ferguson, or the drama of the Ebola. That there are people getting angry for things like that … Unless there is, these days, a hypersensitivity to more or less erotic images, due to this ongoing confrontation that we are supposed to have with Islam. It’s known that the censorship of the female form should not be a feature of our own Western civilization. This is what I find also quite surprising.

QUESTION: The main criticism to your picture – although not new, neither in discussions about comics nor in your work – is that it represents a woman who is the ‘object’ of sexual desire, through a shape and a pose that is provocative, not very ‘natural ‘

MANARA: “What I wanted to do is a girl who, after climbing the wall of a skyscraper, is crawling over the roof. She finds herself on the edge, and her right leg is still off the roof. So the criticism about anatomical issues that were made, I think they are wrong: she’s not to have both knees on the roof. One leg is still down, and the other is pulling up. Precisely for this reason, also, then this back arched. This is what I tried to do”.

That said, it’s not my fault if women are like that. I’m only drawing them. It’s not me who made women that way: is an author much more “important”, for those who believe … For evolutionists, including me, on the other hand, women’s bodies have taken this form over the millennia in order to avoid the ‘extinction of the species, in fact. If women were made exactly as men, with the same shape, I think we would have already been extinct for a long time.

Also, I do not consider it one of the covers most erotic I’ve done. I think I have chosen, out of all the poses imaginable – and the proof is there, if one goes on the Internet, where I documented myself, to see all the photos of Spider-Woman – the one that is , even framing, less problematic . If fact the view is a bit from above. You do not see hardly anything. We see only that she has an ass, drawn this way. And it’s a girl with a nice ass, indeed, at least from my point of view.

That’s the way Superheroes are: they are naked, covered in whatever color of paint. Superman is naked painted blue, Spider-Man is naked painted red and blue, and Spider-Woman is painted red. But that’s part of the “trick”, so to speak, that publishers use to create these forms of superheroes nude – of which I do not find anything wrong – but without real nudity. When we see them later in the stories, going beyond the cover, these are characters whose bodies are “in view”.

QUESTION: In addition to the form, however, it’s also the position. Don’t you see it as something provocative, if not problematic, in itself?

MANARA: It is actually a girl who is crawling, or rather, advancing at the pace of the jaguar. After climbing the wall of the building, she is pulling herself on the roof of this building. That’s how I see it. Sure, of course, since women are built in a certain way, any movement they make, if they are nude … and to some degree, more or less, all super heroines are naked. And this cover isn’t any different. And Spider-Woman is not gonna be sitting in a chair, right? But if one goes on the internet to see all the other images of the character, there are many far more erotic, and if they were naked, they would be more vulgar than what I did. Instead, as we know, this leotard, this – let’s say – ‘colored plastic wrap’ is what saves all appearances.

QUESTION: The debate remains open, however, and very timely. To add an item to the discussion, there’s also the intervention of the vice president of publishing at Marvel, Tom Brevoort, who said ” It’s, for a Manara piece, one of the less sexualized ones, at least to my eye. Maybe others feel differently.

But given that the character is covered head-to-toe, and is crouched in a spider-like pose, it seems far less exploitative to me than other Manara pieces we’ve run in previous months and years. (…) I think a conversation about how women are depicted in comics is relevant at this point, and definitely seems to be bubbling up from the zeitgeist.” 

It seems that this cover has come at a time when even in the comic field there is a somehow new sensitivity: it’s not acceptable anymore to see some excesses in the ‘provocative’ representation of women.

MANARA: I can understand, of course. As I also understand people who have felt offended. But I understand in the sense that it suddenly opens my eyes, and I have to acknowledge that what I think is a beautiful picture, nice, attractive, seductive – that is exactly my purpose, or what I want to achieve – for others it is disturbing. But this is something that I have to face every time I. And by the way it keeps surprising me more and more.

If you go to the beaches now, you see girls whose scanty swimwear totally let see the shapes of their bodies. Of course, for someone that can be an image that is disturbing, but not for me. In fact, I’m sorry, but my aim – when I’m asked to draw – is trying to communicate serenity, more than seduction.

QUESTION: What has struck some commentators and writers – Dan Slott for example – is that we have raised so much amazement on a job perfectly in synch with your extensive career, which is known to everyone. Others have instead asked why all this has happened with one of your drawings and not others, suggesting how in your touch there is a graphic load that, for better or worse, makes the strongest erotic impact of the bodies you draw.

MANARA: If that were so, it would be a great compliment. I tend to believe that maybe I was already in the crosshairs of some commentators or bloggers who have seized the opportunity, even though it wasn’t the most convincing one, to raise such a problem. I understand the controversy over the fact that the use of women bodies is a sensitive issue. And I couldn’t agree more on the fact that the female body should not be used in advertising, for example, to sell … silicone sealant. The thing that I do not agree is not so much the fact that these images are erotic, but the fact that they are banal. Everyone is capable of assign beautiful image to any product: it is clear that you transfer to your product the beauty of that image. A trick so trivial that I find cloying. But when it comes to draw a character in red tights, whose line of work is skyscraper crawling, I see no scandal in the fact of drawing her in a seductive way. Because I imagine that’s how she is.

I don’t know if this character will also become a movie, but it does, I think they would have their sweet problems to make her do what Spider-Man does (frame her in the same vicissitudes and athletic performance and so on) without her becoming seductive. If she’s played by an actress endowed with an ass, it is clear that her ass will be seen. I0m reminded that her tights are “painted on” … I also noticed that some website says that more than a suit, what you see in my drawing, it’s body painting. It’s true. Sure it is. But because it is so in all the superhero comics: These tights are painted on them. You don’t see a crease, a wrinkle. You read the muscles perfectly.

I’m not so convinced, though, by the last part of the controversy. That is, those who accuse Marvel that while trying to take a stab at capturing the female audience, by using a cover of that kind, they’re commissioning it to me, an artist who, you know, has a male audience. I totally reject this. My audience is at least 50% female. I know it for a fact because when I go to festivals, and I see the queue of those who put themselves in line to get signed books, there are more women than men. Therefore, I also reject the notion that the celebration of the female body interests only to males: I do not think so.

Ah, there’s also those who insinuate the whole controversy is manufactured on purpose. I can only say I did not know anything until I was informed about it. If anything, from my point of view, I have to congratulate Marvel, who showed respect for a drawing that, as horrible as it might be, no one asked me to do any kind of change. I do not think it was worse than others, or more scandalous than others. And in front of an image of seduction I feel joy, not repulsion.

QUESTION: The author of the regular cover, Greg Land, it’s been noted that he is known to sometimes use photos of porn actresses to draw poses in his comics.

MANARA: I wasn’t aware of that. I respect very much Land as a draftsman. I see that he is one of the most realistic, and I assumed that he used models, but that he traced pictures of that kind, that I did not know. Unless it’s not just unsubstantiated slander? I like his art because it has a certain evocative power, sometimes strong, impressive, so he’s among the ones I like. I have seen, anyhow, that some have given anatomy lessons to him too. You never stop learning.

And anyway, I have to say this: the last thing I want is “épater les bourgeois” (shock the bourgeoisie), or offend someone. I just want to make something seductive that provides five minutes of relaxation. It’s all there is. The reason why I agreed to do some covers for Marvel when they asked me is because I think that in some remote farm in Maine or Oregon there was anyone who would read these comics, perhaps saying “ah, what a beautiful girl “. It’s all there is. I’d be more than satisfied if such a thing were to happen. But I do not think a design like the one on the cover of Spider-Woman could have masturbatory consequences. I do not think; it must be seductive, and I’ll do my best for it to be that way. As I said, the perspective that I chose – I have not framed her from behind, from beneath, etc. – is from above. And from height you see her sinuous back and you see her two buttocks. But it is not what you see, it’s what you know.

I’m tempted to circle back to the beginning: I think there are other things to worry about. but if you please, however, one last thing. To date I have not heard from Marvel (these days there are some communication difficulties, but I think I’ll hear from them soon, next week). But it seems to me that this cover has not yet been published. This is to say that it may well be that Marvel, seeing these controversies, withdraws it and does not publish it. Who knows, maybe we are talking about nothing: Marvel decides not to publish it so then it’s “goodnight to the bucket” (Italian expression that means “and then we’re screwed”). In any event, just for completeness, I remember that they asked me to enlarge a little bit the costume of one of those covers. So in general, if they have any objections, they tell me. And I concur: since the responsibility is theirs, it is their right to be cautios. Furthermore, it’s the American market, so whatever… Also, I was given this assignment 3-4 months ago. It was and remains only a celebration of the body, without any manipulation. I’d understand if they were real girls, forced to do things they do not want to do, for commercial purposes. But it’s just drawings, santa pazienza (holy patience).”

7 Comments on Milo Manara speaks (in English) and reaches out to the farms of Oregon and Maine, last added: 8/23/2014
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20. Interview: Julie Danielson and Betsy Bird

If you appreciate children's literature and want to know the stories behind your favorite stories, pick up WILD THINGS! written by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and the late Peter D. Sieruta. Packed from cover-to-cover with funny stories and little known facts about famous authors, secret feuds, inspired illustrations, and classic characters, this is a great resource for readers and writers alike. The authors - all three proud bibliophiles and bloggers - clearly had fun putting this book together.

Little Willow: This book is filled with anecdotes. Is anyone in your family a master of tall tales?

Betsy: In my family we've all had a predilection towards storytelling, but then I went and married a clear cut storyteller as well. Now I'm so steeped in them that it's only natural that a book like this would be the result. Here in New York City a children's literature gathering often involves members of the old guard (people who've been working in the field for decades) so you get all kinds of fascinating stories. Seems only natural that they should have ended up in a book at some point. As for me, I actually prefer to hear anecdotes to telling them, but some of them are just too good NOT to tell.

Jules: My family isn't necessarily filled with storytellers, but I'm fascinated by storytelling. In fact, I once took a grad course on the very subject, and I loved every second of it. For my final course project, I memorized every word of Rudyard Kipling's "The Elephant's Child." That is a wonderful story to tell. I no longer have it memorized word-for-word, but it'd probably not be that challenging to re-learn, since it's probably still hiding in the cobwebbed corners of my brain. "In the High and Far-Off Times the Elephant, O Best Beloved, had no trunk...." (I love that singular beginning.)

Little Willow: That's impressive. Did any of the real-life stories change how you viewed a particular author or book?

Betsy: Well, I don't think I'll ever look at The Cricket in Times Square the same way again. That's all I'll say.

Jules: There's a very tender story about James Marshall and his mother, a story that didn't make it into our book. We did, however, share it at the site, where we are sharing stories cut from our manuscript. I'm a big Marshall fan, but this made me want to learn even more about him.

Little Willow: How did the three of you come together to write this book? Who had the first inkling that you should and would write a book together?

Betsy: That was me. I had this notion that there were some pretty amazing bloggers out there and that their sites would naturally adapt into a book format pretty well. Ironically, of the three blogs that came together here (A Fuse #8 Production, Collecting Children's Books, and Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast) mine is probably the least book-worthy. But I've an eye for talent and these guys were talented. So I reached out to them and asked if they'd be keen to work together on something. As luck would have it, they were!

Little Willow: Describe the writing process. How did you divvy up tasks between the three of you?

Betsy: First we decided which chapters should be in the book. Then we pooled all the stories we wanted to tell. Once each story was slotted into the right chapter we assigned chapters. There was a lot of swapping of stories between chapters and a lot of rewriting and editing of one another. That may account for the single "voice" found in the book.

Jules: Yep, we each worked on assigned chapters and then passed them around. We made suggestions for editing, adding, deleting, you-name-it. At one point, Peter and I were working on the same chapter and didn't even realize it. So, we eventually merged what we'd written. Whew. That worked out well!

Little Willow: What's your favorite part about collaborations? What does working with others bring out of you?

Betsy: For me, it makes me more confident about the final product. When I write something entirely on my own I may love it but there will always be this little voice in the back of my head that says I could have done more. When I work with other people who are as smart as Peter and Jules, that little voice disappears. I can feel safe and secure in the knowledge that no matter how much I screw up, they'll be there to point me in the right direction. It's an enormous relief, I can tell you.

Jules: I learned so much more about writing, I think, just by watching Betsy and Peter do their thing. And when someone edits your work, you learn TONS. I feel like if I'm a better writer at the close of this project, it's thanks to them. I love collaborating. I mean, no one likes, say, those grad school projects where you're stuck with people who don't pull their own weight OR you're assigned to a topic you hate, but if I dig my partners-in-crime and I love the subject, I'd much rather work in a group.

Little Willow: As a kid, did you have any teachers, librarians, or booksellers that you went to regularly to get (and give) book recommendations?

Betsy: Nope. And what's more, I couldn't tell you single one of their names. That said, my mom worked in an independent bookstore in Kalamazoo, Michigan and she was always suggesting books or handing books to me. My Aunt Judy was the same, so that's where I found the bulk of my recommended literature.

Jules: I didn't read a TON when I was a kid, which is why I'm trying to get caught up now! I did have a high school English lit and drama teacher who really got me fired up about reading, and I'm still friends with her. She's one of those amazing teachers you'd like to clone.

Little Willow: What aspects of blogging do you find the most enjoyable?

Betsy: I think it's a combination of the pleasure of the regularity (I am required to blog four times a week on my site), the fact that I can highlight books, people, or events that may not be getting a lot of publicity (I always alternate big publishers with little publishers in my reviews), and the different ways in which I can make my opinions known.

Jules: Hands down, I love the community. I love getting to know those folks who are as passionate about children's lit as I am. It's even better when you get to meet them in person.

Little Willow: How has blogging has changed how you read and recommend books, and how you interact with readers and authors?

Betsy: Since I work for New York Public Library and blog for School Library Journal I see a LOT of books in a given year, but there's always this sense that I'm not seeing ALL the books. And boy howdy do I want to see absolutely everything. So blogging, for me, is a way of filling in the gaps. It also allows me to recommend sites to friends who are looking to specialize in certain areas.

Jules: Well, before blogging I rarely interacted with authors and illustrators, but since I do a lot of interviews, I talk to many of them now on a pretty regular basis. As for how blogging has changed my reading habits, I tend to have less time for novels (though I still read them as much as I can), since I'm blogging about picture books and illustration. But it's worth it. I love writing about picture books and art.

Little Willow: What books did you love as a child that you still love just as much today?

Betsy: I was recently weeding my bookshelves, so this question was already in my mind. On my part, I think I'll always love Edward Eager, E. Nesbit, Tasha Tudor's A Time to Keep, various Steven Kellogg titles, The Secret Garden, The Girl With the Silver Eyes, and any number of Apple paperbacks found via the Scholastic Book Fairs.

Jules: Shel Silverstein, the Grimm Brothers, Trina Schart Hyman, Maurice Sendak, Beverly Cleary.

Little Willow: Would you rather travel with Max to meet the Wild Things, or go with Harry Potter and attend Hogwarts?

Betsy: Hogwarts. Is there any question? I wonder about folks who would say Wild Things. You'd have to be a very particular kind of person, I suspect. For me, there's no contest.

Jules: The Wild Things, without any doubt. Because maybe perhaps possibly if Sendak is there, too, we can chat.

Little Willow: Would you rather visit Narnia or Never Never Land?

Betsy: That is a very hard question. I go back and forth. Narnia, I guess. Though they both dwell in very distinct metaphors. But I should like to see a faun, so Narnia wins.

Jules: You're going to think I'm just saying the opposite of Betsy now, just to mix things up, but honestly I'd go to Never Never Land. I want to meet Mrs. Darling first, though.

Little Willow: Would you rather have a sip at the tea party in Wonderland or snag a treat from Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory?

Betsy: Wonka. Admittedly, you'd never be entirely certain what the Wonka treat would do to you, but I also suspect that the food at that tea party can't be entirely hygienic (there's a dormouse in one of the teapots, for crying out loud!). Plus there's always a chance that Wonka will look like Gene Wilder and I've always had a hardcore crush on that guy.

Jules: Well, given the theme of my blog, I gotta attend the Mad Tea-Party, yes?

Little Willow: Would you rather have the job of The Giver or be the head gamemaker for the Hunger Games?

Betsy: I don't think I'm skilled enough to pass muster as a gamemaker. I suspect I'd construct some little landscape and forget to do something essential like install the video cameras. And I'm always telling and retelling stories of the past ad nauseum anyway, so maybe I'm halfway to Giver-ship already!

Jules: Oh, The Giver! Definitely that. I recently read that book again---this time I read it aloud to my daughters---and it blows my mind how good it is.

WILD THINGS! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter D. Sieruta is now available at a bookstore near you.

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21. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Mike Curato



 

Debut author-illustrator Mike Curato is visiting for breakfast this morning to share lots of art and talk about his new book, Little Elliot, Big City (which I think actually comes out today — I swear I don’t plan these things, but I just get lucky with my timing sometimes). Clearly, based on the sketch of Elliot above, we must have cupcakes for breakfast. Actually, Mike agrees, when I ask him what he’d like on his plate. “If I could choose whatever I wanted without consequence,” he told me, “I’m sure I’d start off my morning with a cupcake. (Aren’t muffins just really boring cupcakes anyway?)” He went on to say that he usually starts his day with something a bit healthier, but I’m all for this cupcake plan (healthy schmealthy), so let’s just DO IT.

Little Elliot tells the story of a tiny (cupcake-loving) elephant, who heads intrepidly into the big city and eventually makes a new friend. Booklist praises Mike’s “almost cinematic artwork,” and the Kirkus review notes “the meticulous beauty” of the illustrations. Mike’s here today to show us some of that, as well as some other illustrations. I’ll get the cupcakes and coffee out, and I thank him for visiting.

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Mike: Both!

While thinking about this question, I started wondering if I should just go by “storyteller,” since I love to tell stories whether it’s visual, written, or spoken. But then people might roll their eyes if I say that, so let’s stick with Illustrator/Author.


An animated GIF showing Mike’s process;
this is a spread from
Little Elliot, Big City

Jules: Can you list your books-to-date?

Mike: My very first book, Little Elliot, Big City, comes out August 26th. It’s the first in a three-book series with Henry Holt Books for Young Readers (Macmillan), starring my favorite polka-dotted elephant.



Books of Wonder’s storefront window
(Click to enlarge)


 

Also, before that I illustrated a self-published book called Mabel McNabb and the Most Boring Day Ever by Amy Jones [pictured below].

 




Jules: What is your usual medium?

Mike: Usually, I draw in graphite-on-paper, then scan and color in Photoshop. For a super detailed explanation, click here.

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Mike: I currently live in Brooklyn, NY. I actually grew up in the NYC suburbs, then went to college upstate at Syracuse, then lived in Seattle for ten years, and I just moved here last November. I think what I like most about Brooklyn is that you could throw a kneaded eraser and you’d hit two or three illustrators.


(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Can you tell me about your road to publication?

Mike: You mean aside from wanting to do this forever?

Well, in 2012 I attended my first SCBWI Winter Conference here in NYC. I entered the portfolio show and won. Everyone was smitten with Elliot, who appeared throughout my portfolio. The week after was filled with emails and calls from agents and publishers. I signed with Brenda Bowen, a literary agent at Greenburger (who is now officially my favorite strawberry blonde person). I worked on a manuscript for several months. We took it to several houses, and then it went to auction. I signed with Holt for a three-book deal and have been blessed to be able to work with my editor, Laura Godwin.


(Click to enlarge)


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Jules: Can you please point readers to your web site and/or blog?

Mike: You can see my portfolio at www.MikeCurato.com.
You can read my blog at mikecurato.wordpress.com/.

Jules: If you do school visits, tell me what they’re like.

Mike: I just had my very first school visit this July at a preschool on the Lower East Side. In addition to reading Little Elliot, Big City, we wrote our own Elliot story: “Elliot woke up. Elliot ate breakfast. Elliot brushed his teeth. Elliot went to the beach. Elliot ate ice cream.” The kids told me what to draw in each scene, and some details were quite interesting. It was super fun, and I can’t wait to do it again!


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)



Jules: Any new titles/projects you might be working on now that you can tell me about?

Mike: I just finished the second book in the Little Elliot series, Little Elliot, Big Family, which comes out Fall 2015. Soon I’ll start working on the third, and I honestly have no idea what it’s going to be about yet.

Meanwhile, there are two projects I just agreed to illustrate, but I can’t talk about them just yet. (Eep! I can’t wait to shout them from the rooftops!)

I have also been working on an idea for a YA graphic novel, but it will be some time before it’s ready to be shown to anybody.

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, I’ve got coffee and more cupcakes, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with seven questions over breakfast. I thank Mike again for visiting 7-Imp.

1. Jules: What exactly is your process when you are illustrating a book? You can start wherever you’d like when answering: getting initial ideas, starting to illustrate, or even what it’s like under deadline, etc. Do you outline a great deal of the book before you illustrate or just let your muse lead you on and see where you end up?

Mike

: DANCE. My “process” isn’t sequential. I jump back and forth between writing and illustrating, almost like a dance. Doing one will inspire the other, or sometimes when I’m feeling stuck, I’ll switch to get back in the rhythm. So, I start with sketches, then do some writing, then back and forth.


(Click to enlarge)


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KEEP IT LOOSE. The initial dummy is very loose. The sketches just show enough to convey what is going on in the spread; that way I don’t get too hung up on the details. However, I did start out both Little Elliot, Big City and Little Elliot, Big Family with one finished piece of art that I made before the book deal.

RESEARCH. When you’re illustrating a non-abstract scene, you need reference materials. Little Elliot is set in the late 1930s/early ’40s, so I had to do my homework on the look and feel of the time period. One of my favorite parts of the research was going to the MTA archives to look at photos of the subway and then going to the MTA museum to see vintage subway cars. (High-fives to my fellow history nerds!)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)

DRAW, DRAW, DRAW. Once my thumbnails are approved and I have all the reference materials I need, I create a detailed comp for each spread. Sometimes I’ll create a mock-up by stitching together all of my reference materials in Photoshop. I check in with the editor one more time with the comps before taking everything to finish, giving me a window to make adjustments to the drawings. Once all adjustments are made, based on feedback, I will finish the drawing.

COLOR. After I scan, I touch up anything that sticks out, then start coloring. Each color is a separate layer in Photoshop with different opacities, almost like a glazing technique one would use in painting.


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)

2. Jules: Describe your studio or usual work space.

Mike

: I have a workroom in my apartment. It’s a pretty easy commute! It’s spacious (by New York standards) and gets good light. I love being there.


Mike: “Let there be light!”
(Click to enlarge)


Mike: “The wall to the right houses some illustrations by friends (and artists I WANT to be friends with). I made that picture of a cat when I was four. The image of Elliot above the desk appears in Little Elliot, Big Family.”


(Click to enlarge)


Mike: “Books and flatfiles of drawings and books and art supplies and books.”
(Click to enlarge)

3. Jules: As a book-lover, it interests me: What books or authors and/or illustrators influenced you as an early reader?

Mike

: My Mom says that my favorite books when I was little were The Little Red Caboose and The Poky Little Puppy. She used to read to me all the time from a Golden Book compilation entitled Tibor Gergely’s Great Big Book of Bedtime Stories, which I still have and I still love. I think Gergely’s work still influences me today. I also loved Richard Scarry’s What Do People Do All Day?, Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham, and Mabel Watt’s Hiram’s Red Shirt (illustrated by Aurelius Battaglia?).

4. Jules: If you could have three (living) authors or illustrators—whom you have not yet met—over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose? (Some people cheat and list deceased authors/illustrators. I won’t tell.)

Mike: Since moving to Brooklyn, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many amazing illustrators, but I have yet to meet this handful of heroes. (Okay, okay. I know I’m only supposed to choose three, but who do you expect me to cut from this list?)

Chris Van Allsburg, Ian Falconer, Peter McCarty, and Renata Liwska.

5. Jules: What is currently in rotation on your iPod or loaded in your CD player? Do you listen to music while you create books?

Mike: I often listen to music while I’m illustrating (or I have a movie playing in the background). While working on the latest book, I listened to a lot of Fiona Apple (The Idler Wheel), Robyn (Bodyrock), Mark Ronson (Record Collection), Gossip (A Joyful Noise), MS MR (Secondhand Rapture), and everything/anything by Vampire Weekend and Rufus Wainwright. I’m also really into soundtracks such as Amélie, Chicago, Pride & Prejudice, Sleepless in Seattle, and Pina. And when I really want to burn the midnight oil, I usually default to either my ’80s pop or ’90s grunge playlists. Oh, and Weezer’s Blue Album is always playing at some point when I make art. It’s a tradition that my former college studio-mates and I share.

6. Jules: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Mike: One thing I must confess is that I was not a voracious reader in my teens. I’m not sure what happened, but once I grew out of picture books, the idea of reading seemed like such a chore. It was cutting into my drawing and TV time! Thank goodness for comic books. They are pretty much all I read from the ages of 12 to 15. I was very passionate about my X-Men collection from then into my early 20s. I did dream about making my own picture books when I was very young, but for the duration of middle and high school, I aspired to be a comic book artist. Though my interest in classic superheroes has diminished, I am hoping to break into graphic novels one day.

7. Jules: Is there something you wish interviewers would ask you — but never do? Feel free
to ask and respond here.

Mike: One question I’d like to hear is: “Aside from other children’s books, is there anything that influences your work?” And the answer would be: “YES!”

I am really inspired by film. Good cinematography, like picture books, can tell a story with very few words. My favorite movies (and picture books) have both amazing imagery and compelling narrative. Movies like Amélie, The Last Emperor, American Beauty, Inception, Marie Antoinette, The Royal Tenenbaums, and Lord of the Rings are not only riveting stories; everything is also visually stunning. There is attention to detail in every scene. Every object is carefully placed — and the color adjusted to convey the feeling in the atmosphere. The framing of each scene is dynamic and directs the eye. I could watch any of these on mute and just revel in their beauty. I try to take the visual lessons I learn from films like these and apply them to my work.



 

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Mike: “Cake.”

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Mike: “Literally.” When it’s misused.

Jules: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Mike: See: What is your favorite word?

Jules: What turns you off?

Mike: Celery.

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Mike: I couldn’t possibly choose one.

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Mike:

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Mike:

Jules: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Mike: Maybe acting. Or ice cream-taste-tester. (That’s a thing, right?)

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Mike: Anything involving customer service. Been there. Done that. Next.

Jules: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Mike: “Don’t worry. You can still keep making books.”


All artwork and images are used with permission of Mike Curato.

The spiffy and slightly sinister gentleman introducing the Pivot Questionnaire is Alfred, © 2009 Matt Phelan.

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22. Micol Ostow Blog Tour for Amity -- Interview


As you know, I really liked Amity by Micol Ostow. And by "liked" I mean "had the heck scared out of me."

So when I found out about the Blog Tour for Amity, of course I said I wanted in!


You know what I like about doing author interviews, like this? I get to ask questions! Which means that the things I wonder about, I can get the answers to.

I hope they are things that you also find interesting!

First, here's a short bio of Micol Ostow (from her publisher):

Micol Ostow has written dozens of books for children, tweens, and teens, but Amity is her first foray into horror. I turns out, writing a ghost story is almost more terrifying than reading one. (In a good way.) Her novel family was called a “Favorite Book of 2011” by Liz Burns at School Library Journal, and her illustrated novel, So Punk Rock (and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother), was a Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Teens.

In her spare time, Ostow blogs with the National Book Award-winning literacy initiative readergirlz.com. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, her (utterly fearless) daughter, and a finicky French bulldog named Bridget Jones. Visit her online at www.micolostow.com or follow her on Twitter @micolz.

Liz: I vividly remember the first time I read THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, and the first time I saw the original movie. When were you introduced to the story? The book or one of the movies?

Micol Ostow: Actually, my first introduction to the Amityville legend came via my favorite master of horror, Stephen King. In his early nonfiction treatise on horror, Danse Macabre, he dissected what he felt worked and what didn’t work in the movie, specifically. Ironically, if I recall much of his criticism of the original movie had to do with its focus on the physical manifestations of the house’s evil spirit rather than a build of psychological terror or dread. I didn’t end up seeing the movie until the 2005 remake, which I found really effective. Afterward, when I was kicking around ideas for my follow-up to the novel family, that remake was on tv and sparked something in me. That was when I went back and finally watched the original movie and read the book. So it was a surprisingly long time coming for a horror buff, in addition to my coming at it with a weird amount of preconception and bias given my total ignorance of the original subject matter!

Liz: While AMITY is a scary haunted house story about the supernatural, it's also a scary haunted house story about a very real haunting: the very real family dynamics that trap people, as well as the evil that people can do even without ghosts or hauntings. What type of research did you outside of the AMITY references and homages?

Micol Ostow: The “research” question is always hard to answer because the answer is slightly embarrassing: I’m very drawn to dark stories and I’m fascinated by the question of evil from within versus evil from without, so much of the research I did both for family and Amity was actually just background reading I’d done before I even had the slightest notion to write either book. Putting aside the obvious Amityville source material, though, I’d say the book’s most clear-cut influences to me are The Shining and The Haunting of Hill House.

To me, Connor is basically Jack Torrance – a flawed character who is driven to evil deed via the energy of the house, the way Torrance is driven mad by the Overlook Hotel. And Gwen is a successor to Hill House’s Eleanor, the fragile, overlooked (no pun intended) woman whose history of madness renders her fear unreliable. Both are to some extent tropes of the genre and there are plenty of examples of each throughout pop culture, but those two are my very favorite iconoclasts. I probably reread The Shining in particular at least twice a year. Does that count as research?

Liz: What was the scariest book you read as a teen?

Micol Ostow: The Shining! (That was a gimme.) I wasn’t quite a teen though, and definitely wasn’t supposed to read it. My mother was a Stephen King fanatic and kept those terrifying 1970’s library hardcovers on her nightstand, perhaps unaware of how they were imprinting on me (or maybe that was her plan all along?...) Pet Sematary made an impression, but The Shining was the one I actually snuck out of the children’s room to read in furtive fifteen-minute increments. I think I was maybe twelve? At most.

Liz: What was the scariest movie you watched as a teen?

Micol Ostow: Again, I wasn’t quite a teen – maybe eleven-ish? – but my younger brother had been home sick with something icky and lingering, and as some kind of pity-bribe thing my mother, I guess, allowed him to rent A Nightmare on Elm St. #s 1-5. I stumbled in as they were queuing up the first movie and got sucked in. TERRIFYING. That one and #4 are the two that still get me, every time.

Liz: Thank you so much!

Check out all the stops on the Amity Blog Tour.

Two stops for tomorrow: readergirlz and Little Willow.







Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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23. Interview: Micol Ostow

micolIn 1974, Ronald DeFeo Junior killed all six members of his family in their home in Amityville, New York. A year later, another family moved into that home only to move out 28 days later, saying they were terrorized by something paranormal in the house. Their story was captured in a book by Jay Anson, then subsequently retold in various films and other adaptations.

In Micol Ostow's new novel Amity, we meet two teenagers who live in Amityville at two different times. This is not time travel; instead, they alternate narrative duties, weaving their stories together chapter by chapter. Inspired by the real story but wholly fictional, this YA book is now available for late night reading. But I promise, this interview is not scary, and neither is Micol.

Do you recall the first time you heard about the Amityville Horror?

The first time I heard about the Amityville Horror was when reading Stephen King's Danse Macabre, where he talks about the components of an effective horror movie. In fact, I didn't realize it was based on a true story (and that there was a bestselling book about the original crime!) until much later. Once I became interested in a riff on Amityville as a possible subject for a novel, I went back and read the original book by Jay Anson, as well as High Hopes, the book written specifically about the DeFeo family (as opposed to the Lutzes, who moved in after the DeFeos' murders and claim to have experienced hauntings within).

When did the seed for your novel Amity firmly plant itself in your brain?

Around Halloween, 2011. My novel Family had come out in April and I was tossing around ideas for the next book under contract. My husband was out of town and I was indulging in my favorite guilty pleasure: horror movies and Red Vines. The Amityville 2005 remake was on, and something clicked. But it wasn't until several months later that I had a pitch to show my agent, and it was a few months after that before we put something together for my editor. I went back and forth a lot trying to decide whether I wanted to tell the Lutz family's story, or the DeFeos' story. Both concepts – the "possessed," murderous son, and the beleaguered, haunted successors to the house – were equally compelling to me. Ultimately that's what led me to tell two alternate narratives, set ten years apart. That way I didn't have to choose!

amityWhen you started writing the book, did you know the ending? (Readers, don't worry - we kept this answer spoiler free!)

I one hundred percent knew the ending, and it didn't change one bit, strangely. Maybe a hint of clarification here and there. Some of the supernatural bits tend to read more straightforward in my brain than on a first-draft page. But it was an interesting process as compared specifically to Family, my first book with Egmont. The ending to Family changed three times, as did my feelings about where the protagonist needed to be, emotionally, by the story's end. This one was much more clear-cut. The two narratives needed to converge and I could only really see one way for that to happen.

Have you ever been to Amityville, New York?

We have family out on Long Island and therefore drive past the Amityville exit on the LIE several times a year, at least. I always point it out, like a huge dork. But I've never visited the house and to be honest, at this point, I probably wouldn't. It's been renovated heavily so specifically, those iconic half-moon “eye” windows are gone. And more to the point, there's also the fact that 1) it's a little icky to make a spectacle of a place where a family was murdered and 2) it's actually a private home, where people live. Personally, I prefer the make-believe versions of the Amityville story and am happier to spend my time there.

You've written for a number of different audiences - kids, teens, adults, fantasy, comedy, mixed media. Do you consciously try to mix it up?

I really don't try to mix it up, believe it or not! It just seems to work out that way! I was fortunate enough to come into publishing through the back door, in that I worked as an editor in the work-for-hire realm. So some of my earlier contracts were the results of editors seeking me out and offering me the chance to work with them. (Note: this is not the typical author's path to publication and I am very, very lucky. Trust me, I know!) The Bradford Novels were the product of an editor's original concept, and Emily Goldberg Learns to Salsa came from a publishing friend suggesting I mine some of my own adolescent experiences and pitch her a story. Even So Punk Rock was actually originally conceived of by my brother, David Ostow, who worked with me on the story and illustrated the book.

Family was the first novel I sat down to write, as they say, "on spec." And because it wasn't under contract and was coming purely from me, I was free to experiment. I had no idea when I sat down to my computer that what would come out was going to be such a massive departure from my previous work. But once it was published, it was treated as a sort of literary debut. So for Amity, I was much more conscious of trying to write something that would match Family in tone and audience.

What genre or audiences would you like to write for that you haven't yet?

As far as what's coming down the pike that's different, I have a chapter book series releasing this spring called Louise Trapeze, about a little girl in a circus family who wants to learn to fly on the trapeze but is afraid of heights. Talk about a departure!

Have you always been drawn to the horror genre?

Yes! My mother is a huge horror buff and always had the TV set to old B-movies, and scary-covered novels on her nightstand. They completely terrified me but obviously burrowed into my subconscious.

I've known people who can watch horror movies but can't read horror novels, and I've known people who can read horror but can't watch it. Do you lean more towards one than the other?

Love them both! Although in general, I watch a broader range of horror movies than I read horror novels. The only category of horror I really stay away from is the straight-up torture. The extreme gore really doesn't do it for me. With the books I tend to lean more heavily toward literary horror or dark thrillers as opposed to paranormal... and basically anything in the Stephen King cannon.

QUICK DRAW! Time for simple questions:

First horror story that gave you goosebumps: The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright
(Little Willow adds: I liked that book, too!)

First scary film that gave you nightmares: Frankenstein

Horror movie or book that you love but can only watch or read in the daylight: It by Stephen King

Favorite funny spooky story: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Favorite funny spooky movie: Shaun of the Dead

Favorite horror authors: Stephen King, Joe Hill, Shirley Jackson, Daniel Krause, Sarah Waters for purer horror. Adele Griffin (Tighter), Barry Lyga (I Hunt Killers), Libba Bray (The Diviners), Nova Ren Suma (Imaginary Girls), Mariana Baer (Frost), Thomas Harris (The Silence of the Lambs) for creepy psychological thriller/suspense-y stories. Robert Bloch's original Psycho was great. But that's really just the tip of the iceberg.

Favorite season of American Horror Story: Season One, Murder House, was amazing for just flinging all the fundamental tropes at the wall, and doing something different – and genuinely scary! – on TV. And I absolutely loved that finale.

Favorite Halloween costume you've worn: I'm super boring on Halloween! I love celebrating and decorating and eating treats and watching movies, but I rarely dress up. I'm kind of a party pooper that way. Last year I wore my “Overlook Hotel” tee-shirt and called it a day. But my daughter usually cycles through at least three costumes over the course of the festivities so I think that evens us out.

Ouija board: Wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole or bring it on?
I'm a little superstitious. I'd rather not tempt fate.

Ghosts and/or haunted houses: Believe, don't believe, or open-minded?
I have not had any paranormal experiences myself, but as per the above and being slightly superstitious – I do believe, actually. Kind of. Let's call it open-minded. That works.

Amity Giveaway!

What's your favorite ghost story? EGMONT USA is giving away a signed copy of the finished book to one lucky USA/Canada resident. Leave a comment below with the title of a book, movie, or play that chills you -- or even a personal story! -- along with your email address. You may mask the address, like myname (at) eeemail (dot) com - but we must be able to reach you to get your mailing information. The first comment with the proper info will get the signed book!

Follow the blog tour!

Micol is also visiting the readergirlz blog today. Check out the full schedule at the Egmont USA website.

Related posts at Bildungsroman:
Interview: Micol Ostow (2006)
Interview: Micol Ostow (2007)
Book Review: Popular Vote by Micol Ostow
Book Review: So Punk Rock (and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother) by Micol Ostow with art by David Ostow

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24. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Malachi Ward

_VILE DECAY Cover-toned-up

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Malachi Ward has been building up steam in the small press comics world the last few years. His latest release, Ritual 3: Vile Decay, has been met with critical acclaim, and he continues his strong creative collaboration with writer/artist/friend Matt Sheean on their self-published title, Expansion, and Prophet from Image Comics. His earliest works, Utu & Scout, introduced his distinctive character-driven, surreal, sci-fi stories to readers, and you can find similar themes explored in his paintings, as well.

Malachi Ward was raised in Yucaipa, California, and studied drawing & painting in college. Some of his biggest influences growing up included Calvin and Hobbes, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Spider-man comics. He currently lives in South Pasadena, CA with his wife Keiko.

Malachi will be attending the San Francisco Zine Fest this coming Labor Day weekend, Small Press Expo in North Bethesda, MD on September 13th & 14th, and Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco on October 4th & 5th. His work with Matt Sheean continues in Prophet Strikefile, hitting comics shops in the next few weeks.

You can order a copy of Ritual 3: Vile Decay at the Alternative Comics website.

You can follow Malachi Ward on his tumblr site here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com - Andy Yates

The post Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Malachi Ward appeared first on Illustration Friday.

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25. Interview with Margot Wood, the Real Fauxtographer

Industry Life

by Adam Silvera

Today we’re VERY excited to be hosting the talented Margot Wood on the blog! In Margot’s The Real Fauxtographer series she takes photos inspired by YA novels – sometimes a cool moment, other times a detail that jumped out as very visual to her, and even characters! It’s all awesome and I’m a big fan. And Margot is also exclusively premiering her latest YA fauxto, which you can find after our interview.

real fauxtographer

ADAM: What’s the genesis story of your fauxto series? Has photography always been a hobby of yours? 

MARGOT
:  I didn’t get into photography until I was a senior in college at Emerson. I had to fill credits with bullshit courses and I thought, oh hey, photography seems like an easy A, I’ll do that. That class was one of the hardest and most challenging classes of my life. My teacher was such a hard ass and really demanding and I think the challenge of trying to create a photograph that she would be pleased with is what really got me into the craft. By the end of the semester I finally came up with a series of photos that she was happy with – a series of photographs of my Dad’s tin windup robot out on human adventures. Looking back on those photos, they aren’t my greatest works of art, but they were definitely the beginnings of my “fauxtography.”
The young adult fauxto series (which still needs a better name, if anyone has any ideas, holler at me) came about a few years after college, after I had moved to New York. I had developed a bit of a following in the city as an urban and graffiti photographer, but I quickly got bored with taking pictures of things that everyone else has taken pictures of. I wanted to find my “thing” that would help define me as a photographer but also continue to challenge me.
In late 2011 I discovered this book called THE HUNGER GAMES and this thing called Young Adult Novels and a new obsession was instantaneous. I was addicted. They became a drug, the bookstore, my opium den. But sadly, my new hobby required a lot of my time and attention and my photo hobby wasn’t doing much. So one day in January, while I was reading THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan, an idea for a photo came to me. It just popped into my head. You know those moments of pure clarity when everything makes sense and the world inside your head lights up like a firework? That’s exactly what the moment was like for me. It wasn’t just the idea for that photo, it was the idea for the series as a whole. I had finally found a way to combine my two favorite hobbies in a never-ending, continuously challenging way.
Forest of Hands and Teeth

Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

ADAM: Which shoot was the most difficult? And which was the costliest?

MARGOT:
 Every shoot I’ve done has been difficult in one way or another. A lot of the time I’m taking self portraits so the biggest pain in the ass is just getting the camera to focus on the exact spot I want it to, running into place and posing, just in time for the self-timer to go off. Then I’d run back over and review the shot, curse like a sailor because it wasn’t right and then do it all over again. . . for about 50 different takes.
The most expensive one to shoot was CODE NAME VERITY. I bought a $200 vintage French military parachute from the 1960s for that one. I’m not entirely sure how I would write that off on my taxes.
CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein.

CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein.

ADAM: Okay, own up: which fauxtos are your proudest of? If you say “all of them” expect pure destruction. And cancellation of all your favorite shows and book series. And more destruction.

MARGOT:
  No destruction needed. I actually am not proud of all of them, at least not anymore. I look back on some and think “You fool! This could have been better!” But the ones that stand out for me as my favorites are TIGER LILY, SABRIEL, DOROTHY MUST DIE, BEAUTY QUEENS, CODE NAME VERITY, and ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. To me, those are the ones that tell a story. They aren’t just random photos that may or may not be inspired by something, those are ones that are so specific to either the story of the characters that if you saw them, you’d have to ask what it was about in order to understand them.
DOROTHY MUST DIE by Danielle Paige.

DOROTHY MUST DIE by Danielle Paige.

ADAM: Have you ever considered being a cover designer? 

MARGOT
: HELL YES. But I am like Jon Snow when it comes to actual cover design. I know nothing. I know what I think would look great on a cover, but I haven’t the faintest idea about typography or layouts or any of the actual skill that’s involved with making a book cover.
SABRIEL by Garth Nix.

SABRIEL by Garth Nix.

ADAM: Finally, if money isn’t an issue, which book(s) would you love to do a fauxto for?

MARGOT: 
Your book Adam, obviously. For reals though, I would do ALL OF THEM. If I had unlimited funds, I would travel every weekend to new locations for these photos. I hate shooting indoors (I’m pretty terrible at it) and I’m a nature girl at heart so I would just travel to a different place each time for new fauxtos. I would also hire an assistant and models for these shoots (unless you want to volunteer as tribute, Adam) because there are a lot of shoots I want to do but I can’t be in them. I need someone else to be in them and I need someone else to help me shoot them. And then with my dream funds, I would buy a really fancy camera. I have a nice one now, a Nikon D7000, but that’s not a truly “professional” one. True, you don’t need a fancy camera to take fancy pictures, but you asked me about my dream funds and well, that’s what I want. So gimme it.Thanks for stopping by, Margot!

Now here’s the fauxto for EXQUISITE CAPTIVE by Heather Demetrios! Isn’t it beautiful? The gold! THE GOLD!

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Have you been following Margot’s fauxto series? Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!
margotwood
Margot Wood hates writing bios but will oblige because it is Adam Silvera asking her to write it. Margot was born and raised in Cincinnati, OH but left for Emerson College in Boston. Since then, she has lived in LA, back in Ohio and finally, currently, New York City. You probably know Margot from EpicReads.com and all those Tea Time and YouTube videos. She has been the Community Manager of Epic Reads since it’s launch in May 2012. She likes candlelit dinners, long walks in lush forests and her favorite donut shop is Peter Pan Bakery in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. You can follow her on Twitter @margotwood.
adamfaceauthor
Adam was born and raised in the Bronx where he wrote fan-fiction in between competitive online gaming and napping. He’s previously worked as a children’s bookseller and a marketing assistant at a literary development company. He  currently reviews children’s and young adult novels for Shelf Awareness. He is tall for no reason.His debut novel, More Happy Than Not, will be available June 16th, 2015 from Soho Teen. Go say stuff to him on Twitter.

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