Friday, March 27, 2009

Sex and Violence

a brief note - I discuss a bit about Breaking Dawn in this post so if you're afraid of getting spoiled, look away.

One of the questions I often see making the rounds of writing loops, discussion boards, and the general blogosphere is whether sex in young adult books is okay.  Honestly, I think it depends on the book.  I don't write any explicit sex in The Forest of Hands and Teeth because it's not necessary to the story -- what is important is the tension between the characters.  I think a long drawn out almost kiss can almost be more sexy than any kind of sex.  (Don't believe me?  Watch Bella and Edwards first kiss in the Twilight movie.  That's one of the hottest, sexiest scenes I've ever seen.)

Does that mean there's no sex in my book?  Depends on who you ask!  According to Kirkus, there is no sex (and they found that odd.  I find it odd that a review of a YA novel is asking for more sex...).  According to some other reader reviews I've gotten there is sex.  I tried to write it so that if you want to read sex between the lines you can and if you don't, you won't.  Seemed like a good balance to me while still fitting the needs of the story.  

So what about violence?  I rarely see as many discussions about the appropriate levels of violence in YA novels as I do about appropriate levels of sex.  Honestly, I think our society is just more obsessed with sex than we are with violence.  And so when I saw a headline that read "Twilight book missing after parent complains" and knew from the referring link that it was about a challenge to Breaking Dawn, I assumed the challenge was due to violence.  

As it turns out, I was wrong.  The challenge was due (apparently) to the sexual conduct.  Yes, that's right, a parent challenged a book in which sex is implied between a married couple.  Let me get this straight: womb chewing, multiple bones broken by a gestating baby, blood spewing by pregnant woman who must then consume blood for her vampire baby is okay.  Implied sex between a loving married couple is not okay.

Really?  THIS is what she wanted to challenge?  I mean, I hate to gross everyone out here, but I kind of operate under the assumption that most married couples actually have sex.  I also operate under the assumption that most parents have, at least at one point, had sex as well (either before or after getting married - I don't judge).  Heck, Bella was older than a LOT of girls when she got married and had sex (totally off the page).

I'm not a fan of challenging books.  I also don't have a problem at all with Breaking Dawn or the violence in it.  I give full props to Stephenie Meyer for writing the book and concluding her series the way she felt it should be done.  But I'm just shocked that the collective fear of sex in YA novels is so strong that it outweighs any problems we have with violence or potentially abusive relationships.

What do y'all think?  Are we too obsessed over the sexual content in books?  Are we appropriately obsessed with sex but not enough about violence?  How can we expect teens to read Romeo & Juliet (sex and violence) and Hamlet (violence) and Lord of the Flies (violence) and The Scarlet Letter (sex and violence) and not think that they're able to handle this content in contemporary books?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

UK and Oz covery goodness!

I'm so excited I get to share with y'all the cover for the UK and Australian edition of The Forest of Hands and Teeth!  It's coming out in Australia next month and in the UK in July.  What do y'all think?

Also, a random FYI.  Someone signed up on Twitter as Carrie1982 (Carrie Ryan) and for some reason used my email address for it.  It's not me.  I've gotten notices that some people I know are following him/her and just don't want y'all to be confused and think it's me!  I'm actually at (I put a little banner in the side bar to click to follow me!).

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Launch Party Pics!

Hey Y'all!  As promised today's post will have lots of pics care of the fantabulous Saundra Mitchell who definitely gets mega points from coming the farthest to the launch party.

The launch was scheduled to start at noon and on the way to set up I just happened to check my Amazon ranking (yes, I actually have an app on my iPhone that checks Amazon rankings) and for the first time dipped into three digits.  To me this was a good omen :)

So even as we were setting up, a few people started to drop by (including some fellow SCBWI Carolinas members which was totally awesome).  We hustled a bit to get everything put together and thankfully my dad and JP were there to get it all done because as noon drew nigh people began to roll in!

I can't tell you how much fun it was!  There was pretty much a steady stream of people for 2.5 hours and it was just very cool to see so many people I hadn't seen in such a long time.  Even my first grade teacher showed up!  I did learn that I'm not so good thinking up clever things to write/inscribe on the spot.  I need to go to more book signings to see what other people write!

At the end they asked me to sign the poster the publisher sent to the store which felt pretty cool :)  And then my sister pulled the two winning entires for the gift baskets, I signed the left over stock, finally got a chance to sample the mini cupcakes and we headed back up to my dad's house for a few zombies :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Forest of Hands and Teeth on Tour!

Hey y'all!  I'm back at home after spending the weekend in Greenville for my launch party.  I had a great time and will hopefully have pics later today or tomorrow (I was so busy signing books that I didn't have a chance to actually take any pics).  I was so so SO lucky that friends came a long way to support me (thanks Saundra and Jackson and Beth!) and THEY took lots of pics :)

Anyway, as y'all know I've been hosting fellow 2009 Debs on my blog as part of the Debs Blog Tour.  This means that I'm also making the rounds!  I've had the best time answering so many great questions and I hope you like the answers!  Here are links to all the fellow debs hosting interviews with me!

3/10  Aprilynne Pike
3/11  Rhonda Stapleton
3/12  Kate Messner
3/13  Sydney Salter
3/14  Danielle Joseph
3/15   Stacey Jay
3/16 Jenny Moss
3/17 Erin Dionne
3/18  J.E. Macleod
3/19  Cheryl Renee Herbsman
3/20  R.J. Anderson
3/21  Pam Bachorz
3/22  Kristina Springer
3/23  Jon Skovron
3/24  Chris Rylander
3/27  Leigh Brescia 
3/28 Saundra Mitchell
3/30  Mandy Hubbard 
4/1    L.K. Madigan
4/2    Megan Crewe
4/3    Cynthia Liu
4/4    Heather Duffy-Stone
4/5    Neesha Meminger
4/6    Cindy Pon 
4/7    Sarah Cross 
4/8    Sarah MacLean
4/9    Deva Fagan
4/10  Michelle Zink
4/11  Megan Frazer 
4/12  Cyn Balog 
4/13  Jennifer Jabaley
4/15 Sarah Ockler

I've also done interviews on other blogs and have had some really awesome reviews -- I'll be posting a round up of those later in the week!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Launch party tomorrow!!

I'm so excited about the launch party tomorrow.  I can't believe this day is almost here!  Of course, this might be one of the reasons that I've been a little quiet this week, running around to get things set up.  I thought I would bring you a little preview in the form of pictures!!

First, just to cover the details, the invite!

The party will be held at The Open Book in Greenville, SC.  This is the store that I always went to growing up.  I totally remember sitting in the aisle next to a rack of the newest Nancy Drew books (which, by the way, sort of threw me cause the new covers had little Nancy in a black leather jumpsuit - what happened to the yellow dress???) and that's where I always went to pick up the newest Christopher Pike.  I dropped by there on Wednesday and look at what I saw!

I gotta be honest, I was a little blown a way (and intimidated!).  But there will be more than just books at the party tomorrow!  There will be cupcakes and cookies and champagne.  And giveaways!  There will be a drawing for two baskets.  The first I've titled "Zombology" and it is filled with everything zombie:

The second is "A Night of Reading" and is filled with lots of goodies for cuddling up for a comfy night in with a good book.

And of course you can't forget the sixty tins of gummy brains for everyone who shows up :)

I've had a lot of fun putting everything together and I hope I see y'all there!  Come on, who can resist gummy brains?  And I know not many of you live near Greenville, SC and can't be there in person so I'll try my best to bring the launch party spirit to you!  Email me any time this weekend ( with your address and I'll mail you a bookplate (tell me who you want it made out to and if you want me to write something special), a bookmark and whatever else fun I can shove in the envelope :)
Thanks for letting me share the fun and celebration with you!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Books and Ireland!

I feel totally remiss not having posted earlier about my book coming out and all about Ireland.  And fairly lame that I'm not posting more now.  But to assuage my guilt, I'm at least bringing you some photographic evidence of what I've been up to the past week.

First, my book.  I made a circuit of local bookstores yesterday and finally, for the first time, found my book in the wild!  It was funny because at first I couldn't find it and had to ask. Then the bookseller pointed me to a dark corner where there was one copy spine out on the bottom shelf.  It felt like the moment in Down With Love when she sees her book for the first time.  There it was, my book!

And then the bookseller mumbled, "there should be more..." and wandered off.  He called me over and yes, there were indeed more.  It was totally a moment for me, and I think I made the bookseller uncomfortable with my jumping up and down and squealing.  I've already informed JP that we will be returning to that store for more photos :)

Second, Ireland.  Wow.  It was just an amazing trip.  Amazing place, amazing people, amazing conversation.  And did you know that Ally Carter is an amazing baker?  Holly Black makes amazing soup?  Diana Peterfreund makes amazing chicken salad?  It was just all awesome.  And because I have to run some errands in preparation for my launch party this weekend (everyone come and buy books!!), I leave you with some pictures for now.  I will also be posting pictures to my twitter account (link!) periodically over the next few days so check there as well!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I'm Home! Plus Debsness!

I'm home, I'm home!  I'll post more about the trip later (amazing!!), but wanted to remind everyone that today, and today only, you can enter to win a Debsness bag!  Click the link below to find out more and enter!

Find Out What's In The Bag And Win It Today

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How to spend your release day:

How to spend your release day:

Wake up a little before noon and stare out the window at the very green Irish countryside wondering why you decided that a drinking game to the world’s worst book was a fantastic idea at 3am the night before. Hear a knock at the door and have Ally Carter pop her head in to chant that it’s your release day (yay!) and tell you that everyone is heading to the pub.

Decide that waking up and heading directly to the pub isn’t a problem. Take a bath, and start lovely rain-free walk to the local village. Get lost. Get unlost. Find said pubs and realize they are all closed. Convince the nice man at the local shop to make sandwiches to everyone. Eat half on the way back and remember that a simple turkey sandwich can be the best thing ever and can settle all stomachs.

Get back to castle and peruse the internet. Admire pictures of book on shelves sent from family and have other authors with many books under their belt laugh at your dewy eyed optimism (in a good way!). Chat a bit, take a sauna and then nap with an ARC of one of your fellow castle-mate’s newest book.

Wake up and stare out at countryside. Realize that there is bird sex going on outside window but not be fast enough to run down stairs and catch the male peacock with his tail fully displayed. Dress for dinner in Baroness’s bathroom and wander downstairs.

Sit in writing parlor with writing friends and smell delights of catered meal wafting in. Pop bottle of champagne as canapés are served. Toast said champagne until gong for dinner sounds. Head to scrumptious dinner and enjoy excellent conversationing.

Retire to parlor with Irish coffees and listen to more dramatic readings. Read a bit. Write a bit. Alternately curse the internet for being down so you cannot obsess but be glad there is something keeping you from obsessing.

Enjoy terrific company of fellow authors. Miss fiancé. Head to bed amongst congratulations of new friends. Snuggle deep beneath heaps of soft fresh linens and dream of the cliffs of insanity.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

It's Here! It's Here!

I can't believe it!  It's March 10, 2009!  The little countdown on my computer is exploding little fireworks.  Amazon is shipping and lists my book as being in stock.  Sure, I haven't seen it, but pictures from my friends and family are starting to trickle in.

I can't believe it.  My book.   The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  It's out - it's finally here.

Wow.  I can't believe it!

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Dead-Tossed Waves Tour Page

Tuesday March 9, 2010 @ 4:00PM (release day!)
Children's Bookstore, Inc.
737 Deepdene Road
Baltimore, MD 21210

Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 7:00PM
Barnes & Noble #1912
1542 Northern Blvd
Manhasset, NY 11030

Saturday, March 13, 2010 @ 3:00PM
Word Bookstore
126 Franklin Street
Brooklyn, NY 11222

Sunday, March 14, 2010 @ 4:00
(with Adam Selzer, author of I Kissed a Zombie, and I Liked It)
57th Street Books
1301 East 57th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

Monday, March 15, 2010 @ 7:00PM
Anderson's Bookshop
123 W. Jefferson Ave
Naperville, IL 60540

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 @ 7:00PM
Borders Books Shop #19 Novi Town Center
43075 Crescent Blvd.
Novi, MI 48375

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 @ 6:30PM
Schuler Books and Music Inc
2820 Towne Center Boulevard
Lansing, MI 48912

Thursday, March 18, 2010 @ 7:00PM
Barnes & Noble #2627
2800 S. Rochester Road
Rochester Hills, MI 48307

Friday, March 19, 2010 @ 7:00PM
University Book Store
4326 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105

Saturday March 20, 2010 @ 6:30PM
Third Place Books Suite A
17171 Brothell Way NE
Lake Forest, WA 98155

Monday, March 22, 2010 @ 7:00PM
Kepler's Books
2374 Santa Catalina St.
Palo Alto, CA 94303

Wednesday, March 24, 2010 @ 7:00PM
Books Inc Opera Plaza
601 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

This is really happening

You know, sometimes it's really easy to to get comfortable with the idea that I'm about to have a book out tomorrow.   It's easy to make a to-do list that includes things like "buy 'signed by the author' stickers," or "buy autographing pen," or "fill out interview questions."  Of course there are thrilling moments: when I hear about great news like foreign rights sales, when a read a good review or when I get to say "I'm an author" when someone asks what I do (I never know what to say to that and usually end up mumbling something like "I write.")  But so much of it is the day to day details of it when it's just easy to be comfortable.

But then there are these flashes of moments when I shift out of my world and I realize "OMG this is all real."  This -- the book -- it's happening.  The dream I've had for forever, it's coming true.  There are times I still feel like it can't be true.  That it's not really happening or is happening to someone else.
I just can't believe how lucky I've been.  How amazing this all is.  How unbelievably incredibly indescribable things are.
I just had one of those moments and had to share :)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Team Castle: Post the First (now with more Twitter!)

Hello From Ireland!  We all made it here safe and sound, no ghosts/zombies/unicorns have stormed the castle (as of yet) and this afternoon we all enjoyed a very lovely high tea complete with scones, Irish honey, cucumber sandwiches and other tasty treats!  This morning I woke up early (ish) and built a fire, wrote some, gnashed my teeth over not knowing what to write and then took a lovely walk up to an old cemetery.   And what they say about Irish weather is true, so far today it's been: snowing, sleeting, hailing, raining, sunny, blustery wind.

In short, this trip has been amazing so far and it's barely begun!

For those of you who would like more regular updates from Team Castle, we've created a Twitter account that everyone is posting to:  I think we even have a Flickr account but don't know the address... we'll post it on twitter soon!!

Right now!

Right now I'm sitting in the Charlotte airport. About to board a plane. To JFK to meet up with six other YA writers so we can board a plane. To IRELAND!! To meet up with three other YA authors so that Team Castle can begin! Go Team Castle!!! I'm so excited!!

I'm also excited because Amazon has posted a review Scott Westerfeld wrote for The Forest of Hands and Teeth. If you'd told me a year ago that Scott would even be READING my book I would have passed out (after flipping out). That he's written such a great review... it's just a crazy amazing feeling.

Three days until my book comes out! I had this crazy realization that when I fly home from Ireland someone in the airport could conceivable have my book or be reading it!

Right now!

Right now I'm sitting in the Charlotte airport. About to board a plane. To JFK to meet up with six other YA writers so we can board a plane. To IRELAND!! To meet up with three other YA authors so that Team Castle can begin! Go Team Castle!!! I'm so excited!!

I'm also excited because Amazon has posted a review Scott Westerfeld wrote for The Forest of Hands and Teeth. If you'd told me a year ago that Scott would even be READING my book I would have passed out (after flipping out). That he's written such a great review... it's just a crazy amazing feeling.

Three days until my book comes out! I had this crazy realization that when I fly home from Ireland someone in the airport could conceivable have my book or be reading it!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Launch Party!

I know most of y'all aren't anywhere near Greenville, SC, but I still wanted to invite everyone to my launch party on March 21!  If you can't be there in person, I hope you will be there in spirit!!

Debs Blog Tour: This is What I Want to Tell You by Heather Duffy Stone

Today on the Debs Blog Tour I bring you This Is What I Want To Tell You by Heather Duffy Stone!  And congrats to Heather for having her first reading last night!!  How cool is that?  Plus, I totally love this cover!

About the book:

The stories people tell are always about the things we left behind, and about the things we wish we could do again. The real story isn't about what you know; it's about what you wish you knew then. When my brother and my best friend fell in love—that was the end of everything I knew.

Fraternal twins Nadio and Noelle share a close connection—and as Noelle's best friend since they were five, Keeley Shipley fit perfectly into their world. But everything changes after Keeley spends the summer before junior year at Oxford. When Keeley returns, Nadio falls in love with her. Noelle, ripped apart by resentment, sees her as an ungrateful rich girl. But Keeley has a painful story that she can't tell yet. As Nadio and Keeley hide their romance, Noelle dives into something of her own—a destructive affair with an older boy.

Beautifully presented by dual narrators in a haunting stream of memories, this is the deeply moving story of how secrets can consume a friendship—and how love can heal it.

About the Author:

Heather Duffy Stone writes stories and essays that are mostly inspired by high school—either her own or someone else’s. This Is What I Want to Tell You is her first novel. She has lived in Vermont, England, Los Angeles, rural New York and Rome, Italy. For now she cooks, sleeps, explores, writes and teaches in Brooklyn, New York.

The interview:

What's been one of the most exciting moments in your journey to publication?

Actually just last night I had my very first reading from the book. I read at a branch of the New York Public Library with a group of other writers, including the wonderful amazing Deb Sarah MacLean, and so many of my friends and family came and I was terrified… but as I started to read I could feel my voice steady and I felt so firmly within the voice of my narrator Noelle and I thought, this is real. I am a writer… I suppose that’s the path AFTER publication… but it was exciting.

Is there anything you can't write without?

No… but I like coffee, music, sunlight… I can adapt to most situations though, if I’m feeling inspired!

When stuck on a story which do you choose: write make-out scene or explode something?

Oh, make out scene. Publisher’s Weekly just said something like I offer real insight into feelings of jealousy and lust and that made me so happy. I love writing about lust!

Can you share a favorite line you've written either in this book or a WIP?

It’s actually on the back of my book, in place of a description, which I absolutely love. It is the line. “Why don’t people ever see the way other kinds of love can wreck you? What about the way being left out of love can wreck you?”

Finally: pro fast zombie or anti fast zombies?

Uh oh… I don’t know what this means!

My blog readers love to hear about the journey to publication - do you have a link you can share about that?

As for my journey… this is a link to my very first blog post … which feels a million miles away. Thanks for having me, Carrie!!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

One week out...

A week to go. Less than a week actually. Wow. I was lying in bed this morning, thinking about it all and realized that I haven't really blogged recently about how it all feels (and yes, JP, I call this work... heh). And since I always wanted the blog to be kind of a record for myself about the journey, I figured maybe I should jot down a little of what I've been thinking/doing recently.

What I've been doing: making lists. Lots and lots of lists. I put everything on the list, including blogging (it's nice to have something you know you can cross off!). Yesterday's list included getting socks for Ireland. Today's list has interviews to fill out, people to call, business things to take care of (like organizing my receipts and turning them in for pre-tax med reimbursement from my old job and if either of my former assistants, Judy or Ellona, are reading this they're laughing and shaking their heads at me). 

Of course, most of the things on today's list were also on yesterday's list.  Blah.

I even have sublists. Like the list of what I need to get for the gift-baskets for the launch party. What I need to remember to take to Ireland. Addresses of people I need to send invites and a copy of my book to. Lists, lists, lists.

But the lists make me feel focused and calm. I realized that otherwise I just jump from one task to the next forgetting what I was working on and worrying about forgetting something important. The lists give me a concrete set of goals for the day and at the end of the day I can look and see what I've accomplished, esp. since often I finish the day wondering "what in the world did I spend all day doing?" (JP would posit I spent the day chatting with writing buddies... I call it gathering around the cyber water cooler).

What I've been thinking: AAAAAHHHHH! On the one hand, there's a part of me that's in constant awe that it all comes down to this. That one night in November 2006, walking home from work and getting an idea for a first line would lead to this moment: a book. Coming out. In a week.

I'm astounded at the amount of effort it's taken, the number of people who have been involved. My agent, editor, publisher, publicist, designer, typesetter, photographer (for the cover and my author photo), and assistants galore. Sales reps, sales department, web designer, booksellers, reviewers. Friends, critique partners, family. And a whole host of people I know I'm forgetting. All for this one little book! A book that I started on a lark and was convinced, CONVINCED, would never sell!

And the thing is, every book on the shelf has that behind it -- this entire production team getting the book from point A (the author's head) to point B (the reader's hands). It's somewhat overwhelming when I walk into a bookstore and think about what it took to get each book on the shelf!

In a week mine will join those books, all vying for love and attention. Ack! And that's another large part of my thoughts, the unending question of "if you write it, will they come?" Will people read it? Will they buy it (or check it out from the library) and will they like it? I've been trying very hard to remain zen over the past few weeks, to remind myself that it's all out of my hands now. That it's out of my control and that it's pointless to try to control something you can't (will only lead to frustration and insanity).

But that doesn't mean that I still don't wonder about it. That I still don't check new reviews on Amazon and wonder what more I could be doing promotion wise.

Ultimately though, I spend most of my thoughts on day-dreaming. It's what I've always loved to do. And really, I only have one week left to day-dream about the release of my first book. It's like, I used to spend so much time day dreaming about hearing from an agent or selling that first book. Now that that's happened, I don't get to day-dream about it anymore. So I'm a little sad that in a week I'll be letting go of that day-dream about my debut release as well.

Between now and then though... there will be day-dreaming galore!  And a week in an Irish castle... that ain't so bad either :)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Debs Blog Tour: The Great Call of China by Cynthea Liu

Hey y'all! Today the Debs Blog Tour bring us Cynthea Liu and her novel, The Great Call of China!

About the author:

Cynthea spent her formative years in Oklahoma and Texas where she was a Whiz Quiz member, an Academic Decathloner, and a spelling bee champion. (Yes, she was very popular.) After attending college on the East coast, she worked at a corporate job where she mastered PowerPoint and racked up thousands of frequent flyer miles. Eventually, she traded in her suit for sweats to do the fun stuff–writing for children. In addition to PARIS PAN TAKES THE DARE and THE GREAT CALL OF CHINA, Cynthea's nonfiction book WRITING FOR CHILDREN AND TEENS: A CRASH COURSE (how to write, revise, and publish your kid's or teen book with children's book publishers) is available in paperback.

About the book:

Chinese-born Cece was adopted when she was two years old by her American parents. Living in Texas, she's bored of her ho-hum high school and dull job. So when she learns about the S.A.S.S. program to Xi'an, China, she jumps at the chance. She'll be able to learn about her passion—anthropology—and it will give her the opportunity to explore her roots. But when she arrives, she receives quite a culture shock. And the closer she comes to finding out about her birth parents, the more apprehensive she gets. Enter Will, the cute guy she first meets on the plane. He and Cece really connect during the program. But can he help her get accustomed to a culture she should already know about, or will she leave China without the answers she's been looking for?

The interview:

What's been one of the most exciting moments in your journey to publication?

Getting an agent was super-thrilling. It was like getting a seal of approval and the gift of a potential book-deal all wrapped up into one. Woo!

Is there anything you can't write without?

My laptop and 4 hours of dedicated writing time. My handwriting is soooo bad it is pointless for me to even write a grocery list. I also need a good chunk of time to concentrate. There is nothing worse than getting revved up, only to realize you have ten minutes left before you need to run an errand, or watch some American Idol, or feed your bunny before he goes on strike. Hate that!

When stuck on a story which do you choose: write make-out scene or explode something?

Ha! I don't vent that way. Usually when I'm stuck, I just quit and take a warm bath. Warm baths can cure a lot of writing woes.

Can you share a favorite line you've written either in this book or a WIP?

One of my favorite lines in THE GREAT CALL OF CHINA is the last one, but I won't ruin the ending for you. You'll have to read the book, I guess, unless you're a cheater.

How about this one.

When Peter, Cece's host student, explains Peking Duck to Cece...

"It is only Beijing Duck. Think Chinese chicken burrito."

Finally: pro fast zombie or anti fast zombies?

The ones from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD were really slow, and that freaked me out quite a bit. So anti-fast zombies, it is.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions Cynthea and best of luck with The Great Call of China!!!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Snow Day!

A few things really quickly... first, I found out that The Forest of Hands and Teeth is part of the Amazon Vine program which means that some reviewers have gotten early copies and started posting reviews.  Very exciting and scary!  Second, I had a blast finishing sentences for an interview with Samantha Elliott  (interview here).  Also, Saundra Mitchell posted a 5 Minutes With... interview with me and is giving away a signed copy of FHT (interview here)!

We had real, actual stick-on-the-ground snow last night!  Of course, this was also the night that Ben Folds was in town for a concert and he's one of my favorite.  I'd heard rumors of snow, and in the Carolinas rumors of snow are pretty much all it takes to shut the place down.   But nothing would deter JP and I!  So off we tromped in the rain to a friends house for some pre-concert food and drink and when we opened the door to head to the arena... snow!  Everywhere!

But it was Ben Folds!  So we braved the snowy roads (and I think we saw both snow plows in Charlotte) and made it to the venue.  Surprisingly, it was decently full even with the weather and Ben gave a great concert.  Thankfully I'd downloaded his most recent album a few weeks ago so I was up to date on his current music :)

I have to say, watching Ben Folds made me think a lot about writing and being creative.  Here's the thing, I am a total sucker for anyone with that kind of talent.  He plays the piano like as easily as you and I talk -- it's just like an extension of himself.  And he puts everything into it - jumping up and down, banging the keys, exploring different sounds.  He's not afraid to try new things like putting a can of altoids against the strings to get this really funky sound (you can see a youtube of it here).

There is just no way to watch someone that good and that passionate and not feel this incredible upwelling of awe and creative energy.   It just totally pumped me up -- completely awesome.  Especially because I feel like a lot of Ben Folds' songs are stories -- character sketches -- that got me thinking about how we come up with the people in our books and what their lives are like.

It was one of those times when I just felt so full of creative energy that I wanted to explode!  Which means I need to find a first line for my new project soon or things will not be pretty around here!

I wish I could remember more about what I was thinking during the concert, but I got distracted.  Once the concert was over, JP and I headed out into this totally white world!  More snow!  I know, I know, those of you who live in colder climates are laughing -- but it's so rare for us to get a good snow that covers everything.

So of course this meant coming home and playing with the dog outside.  And by playing with the dog I mean tossing snow balls for him to catch which he found totally unfair and confusing because the darn balls kept disappearing and he couldn't find them!  Then we all cuddled in front of the fire and listened to more Ben Folds and talked about stories.  All in all a fantastic night!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Debs Blog Tour: The Season by Sarah MacLean (+ giveaway!)

I am so excited that it's my turn to host Sarah MacLean and her debut The Season!  I had a chance to read an ARC of The Season over the holidays and let me tell you, I LOVED IT.  I started reading romance novels as a teen and read a lot of Regencies before going to law school.  But I really haven't read many in the past few years until The Season.  And dude, I fell in love with romance again.  In fact, after putting down The Season I ran out and picked up three more Regencies!

Here's what I love about The Season - the main character Alex is witty, clever, and awesome.  Like my favorite Regencies (and favorite books), Alex is aware of the world around her and also a bit of a feminist :)  But that doesn't mean there aren't balls, gowns, and fun.  There's also a delicious romance that had me swooning.

But what I love most of all is the voice -- the banter, the observations.  This was just really, ultimately, a totally fun book to read.  I kept going back to it, I had a huge grin of my face the whole time.  And I'm super excited that it's finally out so everyone else can read it too!

And because I love this book so much, I'm giving away a signed copy!  So post a comment on this entry on my blog or LJ and I'll pick a winner Wednesday night!

About the author:

Sarah MacLean is the author of THE SEASON, a YA novel coming in March 2009 from Scholastic.  She grew up in Rhode Island, where she spent much of her free time bemoaning the fact that she was more than a century too late for own Season. Her unabashed addiction to historical fiction helped to earn her a degree in European History from Smith College before she moved to New York City to pursue a career in publishing. After receiving a Masters in Education from Harvard University, Sarah returned to New York, where she lives with her husband, their dog, and a ridiculously large collection of romance novels.  She is currently working on a series of regency-set romances to be released in 2010 from Avon/HarperCollins.

About the book:

Seventeen-year-old Lady Alexandra Stafford doesn't fit into the world of Regency London — she's strong-willed, sharp-tongued, and she absolutely loathes dress fittings. Unfortunately, her mother has been waiting for years for Alex to be old enough to take part in the social whirlwind of a London Season so she can be married off to someone safe, respectable, wealthy, and almost certainly boring. But Alex is much more interested in adventure than romance.

Between sumptuous balls, lavish dinner parties and country weekends, Alex, along with her two best friends, Ella and Vivi, manages to get entangled in her biggest scrape yet. When the Earl of Blackmoor is killed in a puzzling accident, Alex decides to help his son, the brooding and devilishly handsome Gavin, uncover the truth. It's a mystery brimming with espionage, murder, and suspicion. As she and Gavin grow closer, will Alex's heart be stolen in the process?

Romance and danger fill the air, as this year's Season begins!

My review on Amazon is here.

The interview:

What's been one of the most exciting moments in your journey to publication?

Holding my very own book in my very own hands. Hands down, that's the best part. There are plenty of exciting moments...the call, the sale, cover comps, typeset pages, ARCs...but holding the finished, real, amazing thing in your hands? It's amazing.

Is there anything you can't write without?

There's nothing ceremonial about my writing process. When you're on tight, regular deadlines, you can't stand on ceremony for the art of the word. You have to just plunge ahead. I write longhand, so I write everywhere. My couch, my dining room table, the subway, coffee shops, restaurants, the library, the steps of wherever I happen to be waiting for friends. So...I guess the answer here is pen and paper. ;)

When stuck on a story which do you choose: write make-out scene or explode something.

Oh, make-out scene. Kissing is the answer to all of society's ills. Including writer's block.

Can you share a favorite line you've written either in this book or a WIP?

I'm pretty proud of the first line of THE SEASON. "Oof! I've been stabbed!" I'm guessing mine is the only book that has ever begun with the word "Oof!"

Finally: pro fast zombie or anti fast zombies?

My aim isn't great. So I'm going to have to go with anti-fast zombies. I feel like aiming for their heads is more like tee-ball. Which is about my speed, frankly.

And for those of you who said you like to read an author's publication journey (I love it too!) Sarah MacLeans's is here !

Thanks Sarah!  Congrats on the release of The Season and everyone else don't forget to comment for a signed copy!