Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Tour

Blog Tour: A True Princess by Diane Zahler

Today I am privileged to host author Diane Zahler here on her blog tour! I’m reading her book, A True Princess, right now and loving it! I was skeptical of reading it though because it is labeled middle grade but so far it’s superb! I wanted to have it finished before the blog tour but I started it late and haven’t had too much reading time. I’ll have my review up soon though!

Without further ado: Diane’s guest post!

Retelling a Fairy Tale: Coloring Outside the Lines

Diane Zahler

One of the challenging things about retelling a fairy tale is that the original versions are usually so short.  They’re almost pure plot, with very little description. There’s often a princess or a prince, but sometimes they aren’t even named, or they’re named after what they look like or what they do. Snow White is named after her skin, for example. Sleeping Beauty sleeps. Beauty in Beauty and the Beast is beautiful. Even Rapunzel is named after the herb her mother wants when she’s pregnant. There’s usually somebody evil – a witch or a bad fairy, a nasty wolf or an evil elf, but again, these characters aren’t well developed. The setting, too, is only described in broad outline. A writer has a great deal of freedom when it comes to coloring in these tales.

A novel-length version of a fairy tale needs a lot of details that aren’t in the original. Children’s first contact with fairy tales often comes when their parents read to them when they’re very young. Hearing the stories, kids fill in the outlines themselves with their imaginations and their limited experience. As they get older and look at picture book versions, they use the illustrations as a jumping-off place for coloring in the tales imaginatively. By the time they’re reading novels, they can both imagine the author’s vision of the story and create their own mental images as they read. And when a retelling of a familiar story goes outside the lines, it gives readers even more to work with – the idea that the old story can be made new again. That’s what I’ve tried to do with A True Princess. Though it’s based on Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Princess and the Pea,” I included characters not in the original – a heroine who doesn’t know who she is, her two friends Kai and Karina, fierce falcons, menacing wolves, and an evil elf-king and his beautiful daughter inspired by Goethe’s poem “The Erl-King.” I set the story in an imaginary far northern landscape and described a mysterious forest through which the characters have to journey on a perilous quest. The plot includes pieces of “The Princess and the Pea,” but it goes far beyond that simple story. I’ve colored outside the lines for sure – but that’s the fun of retelling fairy tales. And I hope it’s part of the fun of reading them, too!

About Diane

Diane Zahler, author of A True Princess, has loved tales of fairies and magic since before she was old enough to read. She has worked in the children’s room at a public library, in children’s book publishing, and as an elementary and high school textbook writer. The Thirteenth Princess, her first novel for young readers, was published in 2010. She lives with her husband and dog in an old farmhouse in the Harlem Valley that is held together with duct tape and magic spells. Diane’s website is: www.dianezahler.com.

A True Princess by Diane Zahler

192 pages, HarperCollins, (2011-02-01)

$10.79 (Amazon.com)

Summary

Twelve-year-old Lilia is not a very good servant. In fact, she’s terrible! She daydreams, she breaks dishes, and her cooking is awful. Still, she hardly deserves to be sold off to the mean-spirited miller and his family. Refusing to accept that dreadful fate, she decides to flee. With her best friend, Kai, and his sister, Karina, beside her, Lilia heads north to find the family she’s never known. But danger awaits. . . .

As their quest leads the threesome through the mysterious and sinister Bitra Forest, they suddenly realize they are lost in the elves’ domain. To Lilia’s horror, Kai falls under an enchantment cast by the Elf King’s beautiful daughter. The only way for Lilia to break the spell and save Kai is to find a jewel of ancient power that lies somewhere in the North Kingdoms. Yet the jewel will not be easy to find. The castle where it is hidden has been overrun with princess hopefuls trying to pass a magical test that will determine the prince’s new bride. Lilia has only a few days to search every inch of the castle and find the jewel—or Kai will be lost to her forever. — Goodreads

Diane’s Blog Tour Schedule

Date Blog Name What’s Happening
February 1 The Compulsive Reader Review, book giveaway
February 2 The Brain Lair Author interview, review
February 3 Jean Little Library Review
February 3 Galleysmith Author post, review
February 4 Write for a Reader Review
February 5 The Cozy Reader Author post, review
February 6 Libri Dilectio Review
February 7 Tales from the Rushmore Kid Interview with my editor
February 8 Green Bean Teen Queen Review
February 8 Mother Daughter Book Club Review
February 9 There’s a Book Author interview, review
February 10 Mrs. V’s Reviews Author interview, review
February 11 The Cazzy Files Author interview, review
February 11 Sonder Books Author interview, review
February 12 BookScoops Author interview, book giveaway, review
Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Tour

Kindle Giveaway Blog Tour: Scott Nicholson

I’m pleased to be apart of Scott Nicholson’s Kindle blog tour!

Check out his other stops for more chances to enter for the Kindle giveaways.

scottlandsailorTwelve novels published. Five short-story collections. Two screenplays and counting. My first translated self-published e-book. My first novel collaboration. A young-adult series underway.
A busy year. A lot of words.
And plenty more to put out.
The 90-day blog tour has been a lot of fun but a lot of work—the equivalent of a novel in extra writing. So one of the first orders of business is to collect all the posts into a non-fiction book called “90 Days of Nightmares: A Writer’s Journey.” I’ll probably sell it for 99 cents for Kindle and Nook and offer it free at my web site.
I have enough short stories for three more collections and I will be releasing them with a couple of bonus guest stories and other extra material in each, and these will likely be 99-cent specials.
My thriller Liquid Fear, a novel dealing with bioethics, is about 25 percent done, and it’s more in the mold of Disintegration and The Skull Ring. It’s been calling out to me and will probably be the next project, depending upon what else happens with my other books. And PS Publishing is soon releasing the signed, limited-edition hardcover of my paranormal mystery Transparent Lovers.
I’ve started both the next book in the October Girls paranormal-romance AsIDielYing2series and the sequel to As I Die Lying, so they should be good counterbalance to the heavier Liquid Fear. And J.R. Rain and I will likely continue the Cursed! series if readers want more. Of course, I’ll be putting out the rest of my screenplays, and Ted at Dellaster Design is working on formatting comics for Kindle and Nook. And the children’s book If I Were Your Monster is being proofed and should be out in a week or so, and artist Lee Davis and I are already kicking around another book.
The point of all this isn’t to brag, though I do take pride in my work. The point is that you’re determining what I am writing next. Disintegration is my biggest e-book hit, and though I do want to write the third book in the Littlefield series and bring back the sheriff from The Red Church and Drummer Boy, I will let that wait a little while. Mysteries and thrillers fare better than supernatural novels for the most part, and if I have just as much fun writing all of it, why not write the stuff you like best?
On the promotional front, I’ll keep sending out review copies to bloggers, but we all need a break from Scott Nicholson. Check my web site for special combo deals on signed paperbacks, and also, beginning Dec. 1, I am giving a free e-book version with any signed paper book order, so you can have one for the shelf and one for the e-reader of your choice. And I’ll be back in the spring with one big promo blitz and giveaway with whatever book is ready for release.
So consider this an informal poll of what you would like to see next from me. While it may come down to whatever calls to me the loudest, your opinion is important to me, too.
After all, as I’ve said repeatedly, in this new publishing era, you are the boss.

*

Scott Nicholson is author of 12 novels, including the YA paranormal romance October Girls and the thrillers Disintegration, As I Die Lying, Speed Dating with the Dead, Drummer Boy, Forever Never Ends, The Skull Ring, Burial to Follow, and They Hunger. His revised novels for the U.K. Kindle are Creative Spirit, Troubled, and Solom. He’s also written four comic series, six screenplays, and more than 60 short stories. His story collections include Ashes, Curtains, The First, Murdermouth: Zombie Bits, and Flowers.

The Kindle Giveaway is part of Scott’s blog tour. Complete details at http://www.hauntedcomputer.com/blogtour.htm. To be eligible for the Kindle DX or Kindle 3, simply post a comment below with contact info. Feel free to debate and discuss the topic, but you will only be entered once per blog. He’s also giving away a Kindle 3 through the tour newsletter and a Pandora’s Box of free e-books to a follower of “hauntedcomputer” on Twitter. Thanks for playing!

Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Tour

Blog Tour: Cinda Williams Chima

I have the honor of posting a guest post from author Cinda Williams Chima! Her newest book, The Exiled Queen, just released this week!

I was fortunate to received both of these books for review, however, I haven’t finished the first book yet! I just wasn’t in the mood for the epic fantasy but I’ll be getting back to it soon.

Demon King, The (A Seven Realms Novel) by Cinda Williams Chima

528 pages, Hyperion Book CH, (2010-08-31)

$9.99 (Amazon.com)

Exiled Queen, The (A Seven Realms Novel) by Cinda Williams Chima

592 pages, Hyperion Book CH, (2010-09-28)

$17.99 (Amazon.com)

The Art of the Crossover Novel

Continue reading “Blog Tour: Cinda Williams Chima”

Posted in Author Guest Post

Author Guest Post: Kimberley Griffiths Little on book trailers

 

The Healing Spell by Kimberley Griffiths Little

368 pages, Scholastic Press, (2010-07-01)

$17.99 (Amazon.com)

Hi everybody!

SONY DSC                       Jessica invited me to guest blog about book trailers. Which is a good thing because I love/adore/covet good book trailers!

When my agent sold THE HEALING SPELL (part of a three-book deal to Scholastic), I knew that I wanted to create the perfect book trailer for it.

Continue reading “Author Guest Post: Kimberley Griffiths Little on book trailers”

Posted in Author Guest Post

Author Guest Post: Kristie Cook (Promise)

I’m so pleased to present an author guest post by Kristie Cook, author of Promise which debuts this week!tourbutton

How YOU Can Help Your Favorite New Author

When you love a book, you’re overwhelmed with the need to tell all your friends about it. When you see someone inspecting it at the bookstore or library, you feel compelled to tell them how great it is. Who cares if they’re a stranger, right? After all, if they’re considering something you can’t get enough of, they can’t be too bad anyway.

We authors love this, especially the new ones, who don’t get the marketing budget from the publishers like the big-name authors do. We don’t get front-of-store placement, if we get any shelf-space at all. Our books don’t get picked up simply because our name is on the cover. There’s little advertising and publicity, unless we do it ourselves.

We all know that books become popular because readers love them. And readers are the ones who can spread the word best. So what can you do to help your favorite new author? Telling everyone you know – and even those you don’t – is a great start. But here are some other ideas that can make a huge difference and ensure that your new fave can continue writing more books for your enjoyment:

Write reviews on all the big sites – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Goodreads, Shelfari, etc. This is one of the most important things you can do as a reader. The more activity and buzz a book gets, the higher the rankings and the more focus the sites put on those books. Also indie and small-press authors aren’t automatically given shelf space at the brick-and-mortar stores. But when the buyers see all the reviews on the sites (they do pay attention!), they take interest and start stocking the book. They read it themselves and make recommendations to their customers.

Ask your local bookstore and library to order the book. This helps to raise awareness by the decision-makers. Again, awareness leads to books on the shelves and makes it easier for the author’s next book to be on the shelves sooner. If you can afford it, buy a book to donate to the library or even to the owner of a local independent bookstore (they’ll read it and then buy new books for the store and personally recommend it).

Pre-order the book, if possible. If you’ve already heard from reviewers that a book is great or you’ve met the author online, pre-order it. Pre-sales indicate interest to booksellers, so they’ll stock more.

Spread the word on social media sites and blogs. If you have your own blog, write a review post. If you see it reviewed on another blog, share a comment with your own thoughts.

If you know any book reviewers – online or for local media – suggest that they read and review it. Or offer to write your own guest review for them. Newspapers, feeling the pain of the economy like any other company, are short-staffed. They want to include this kind of content, but can’t give up the resources for any of their staff writers to do it. If you’re willing to write just for the experience and credit, volunteer.

Host a book club. If you let the author know, they’ll likely provide incentives and may even be able to participate. If they’re not local, they can join in via Skype.

Attend readings and signings. If the author is coming to a store near you, try your best to attend. The bigger the crowd, the happier the bookseller is and the more likely they’ll stock the author’s books (current and future) and invite the author back.

Follow the author’s blog, if they have one. Stay up to date on the author’s next project and if you see an opportunity to help, let the author know.

There are so many ways readers can help. And I’m not just saying this to boost up my own sales and put money in my pocket. These all benefit any author, specifically debuts. And the new ones, especially, aren’t making a ton of money. The average writer can barely make a living writing full time, which means they’re writing on nights and weekends…which means their next books are even further in the future. And if they’re not making enough sales, their publishers may drop them. Which means no future books at all.

Writing novels is a tough, terribly under-paid job (at least until you make it to the status of Rowling, Meyer, King or Patterson). We do it because we love it. We love our characters and our stories and want to share them with the world. We hope you love them just as much as we do. So when you do, you now know how you can help ensure there’s a next book…and a next one…

Thanks so much Kristie!

She is so right too. So if you’ve had any interest in her book Promise, head out right now and order it! 🙂

I’ve read a good portion of it already, but I haven’t finished it yet, I will soon, but it’s pretty good. I can’t wait to see how it progresses from where I left off. Look for my review within the next few weeks. (I just got an eARC of ALPHA by Rachel Vincent so, um, yeah. I’ll be back after I’ve consumed that book! OMG!)

Promise by Kristie Cook366 pages

Ang’dora Productions, LLC, (2010-05-26)

$15.99 (Amazon.com)

When Alexis Ames is attacked by creatures that can’t be real, she decides it’s time she learns who she really is, with or without the help of her mother, who guards their family’s secrets closely. After meeting the inhumanly attractive, multi-talented Tristan Knight, however, Alexis retreats behind her façade of normalcy…until she discovers he’s not exactly normal either. Then their secrets begin to unravel. Their union brings hope and promise to her family’s secret society, the Angels’ army, and to the future of mankind. But it also incites a dangerous pursuit by the enemy – Satan’s minions and Tristan’s creators. After all, Alexis and Tristan are a match made in Heaven and in Hell. — Amazon

Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Tour, Giveaway

Blog Tour: Twice Bitten by Chloe Neill (giveaway)

I have an amazing author visiting the blog today: Chloe Neill. Today is her release of the third book in her Chicagoland Vampire series, Twice Bitten. I’ve read the first two books, I’ve reviewed only the first book though, but they were both awesome. I even gave the first book my “Ballsy” award.

Chloe has brought you a cool little interview between herself and her main character Merit. Merit is by far my favorite character of this series. Here’s what I said about Merit from the first book Some Girls Bite.

Merit is awesome. She has one wicked self esteem and her ultimate purpose is to be what and who she wants to be, damned if any one should get in her way. (Vampire master? No problem.) She didn’t take it well that her life was turned up side down in one, well two bites. She handles herself very well. She has balls. And I mean balls. This book is ballsy. – Some Girls Bite review

The In-Between–a Pre-Release Chat with Merit

Chloe: Why don’t you introduce yourself?

Merit: Oh, sure. Hi, everyone. *waves* I’m Merit, Cadogan Sentinel. Wow, it’s weird that I start with that, isn’t it?

Chloe: Why so?

Merit: Well, a few months ago I was Merit, Ph.D. student. Now I’m Merit, vampire and Merit, Novitiate of Cadogan House, and Merit, vampire warrioress or something. Life is strange, isn’t it.

Chloe: *Smiling* Often. How are things in Cadogan House?

Merit: *Shrugs* There’s always something, I guess. We think Celina’s put away, but it turns out she actually isn’t. We think we nailed the only conspirator in the House–Amber–and it turns out that wasn’t true, either.

Chloe: And then there’s Ethan?

Merit: Hmph. There’s always Ethan, the immortal and obsequious Ethan.

Chloe: Nice Scrabble words there.

Merit: I try. I just mean he’s the Master of my House, so he’s not exactly going anywhere.

Chloe: And how are you two hitting it off?

Merit: I’m not sure we’re “hitting it off.” Chemistry between us? Yes. But I’m a relationship kind of girl, and he strikes me as a fling kind of vampire, you know?

Chloe: I could see that. What about Mallory? Last we heard, you two were having–well, I guess you’d call it a low spot?

Merit: *Picking at a loose thread on her jeans* Yeah, that’s a little–I don’t know–off, I guess? I love her, and I know she loves me. But that doesn’t mean everyday is going to be sunshine and roses, you know?

Chloe: Especially if it’s a vampire.

Merit: Especially.

Chloe: And I hear the wolves are coming to town?

Merit: *Sitting up straight* They most definitely are. At least, that’s what Gabriel Keene told us.

Chloe: What’s your first impression of Keene?

Merit: *Frowning as she considers* A little gruff, but businesslike? Clearly seems to love his wife. A warrior with a family mentality. I can admit I’m intrigued. Jeff and Nick are the only other shifters I really know, so I’m interested to find out more about them.

Chloe: *With a small smile* You know, with that knowledge probably comes the potential for drama.

Merit: *Rolling her eyes* Welcome to the life of vampires.

Chloe: *Smiling* Of course. Thanks for chatting with me today, and good luck with the release of TWICE BITTEN.

Merit: You too, sunshine.

—-

How cool is it to sit down and interview your own character?

If you haven’t checked out Chloe’s books you really should. She also has a lovely Young Adult series that blossomed this year.

Chicagoland Vampires

Some Girls Bite: A Chicagoland Vampires Novel by Chloe Neill352 pages, NAL Trade, (2009-04-07)
Friday Night Bites: A Chicagoland Vampires Novel by Chloe Neill368 pages, NAL Trade, (2009-10-06)
Twice Bitten: A Chicagoland Vampires Novel by Chloe Neill368 pages, NAL Trade, (2010-07-06)

Dark Elite

Firespell (Dark Elite, Book 1) by Chloe Neill256 pages, Signet, (2010-01-05)

Hexbound: (Dark Elite, Book 2), by Chloe Neill

256 pages, Signet Book, (2011-01-04)

Giveaway

Chloe is offering a swag pack to US/Canada mailing addresses. Fill out the below form or CLICK HERE to open in a new tab/window.

Important Information
  • Ends July 13th, noon EST.
  • Entrant must be 13 years of age or older.
  • Open to US and Canadian mailing addresses only.
  • Winner will have 3 days to respond to my email with shipping information that I will forward to Chloe for shipping.

A winner has been selected and the prize has been collected.

Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Tour

Kelly Link Blog Tour

I wanted to make a post dedicated to just the links to Kelly’s blog tour. Her story is amazing and should be read by all. It reminds you that authors are people too. They experience good and bad things in their life like everyone else.

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link

June 6 – Part One – The Cozy Reader (here)

June 7 – Part Two – Forever Young: A YA Lit Blog

During the five months that we went up to the NICU, every night after dinner to sit beside Ursula’s incubator, I began to feel sure that if I died, I would come back as a ghost that waited beside the door to the NICU, a ghost that stood for long minutes washing its hands, a ghost that sat on a stool beside an incubator. I don’t know that I’ll write that story, but even now, I can imagine that ghost.

June 8 – Part One – Parajunkee’s View

June 9- Reviews by Brooke — lists!
June 10 – Annavivian.blogspot.com
June 11 – Booksbytheircover.blogspot.com
June 14: Fantasy &  SciFi Lovin’ News & Reviews
June 15: Monsterlibrarian.com
June 15: Bookchickcity.com
June 16: Fantasybookcritic.blogspot.com
June 17: Wordforteens.blogspot.com
June 18: Thecompulsivereader.com

I’ll update this post with the actual live link once I have it.

Posted in Author Guest Post

Author Guest Post: Kelly Link

I have the honor of presenting an amazing author guest post from Kelly Link, who’s short story collection, Pretty Monsters, officially releases in paperback on June 10.

Pretty Monsters: Stories by Kelly Link

A big thank you for the lovely post from Kelly!

line_separator

I wrote the stories collected in Pretty Monsters over the course of fifteen years, beginning in 1995. Pretty Monsters came out from Viking in October of 2008. Since then, I’ve had a daughter, spent 15 months in
hospitals, given up reading Patrick O’Brian, filled a deep-freezer with breast milk. What I haven’t done is write a single word of fiction. Which is why, I suppose, for at least part of this blog tour I’ll be writing about my daughter, Ursula. (At points I’ll get around writing about the stories in Pretty Monsters, too.) This is the first of a two-part post. The second part will appear on Foreveryalit.com.

Ursula was born on February 23, 2009, at twenty-four weeks, after a complicated pregnancy. I had checked out What To Expect When You’re Expecting from our library early on, but I hadn’t even gotten to the section on labor when I went into labor. We had barely begun to think about names. I liked Fern, because of Charlotte’s Web. My husband and I both liked Gulliver, if it turned out I was having a boy. (The ultrasounds were cloudy. Ask again later.) We both liked Ursula, because it meant little bear, and because we both loved the books of Ursula K. Le Guin.

The first time that we went up to see her in the Neonatal ICU, Ursula was nestled in artificial lambs’ wool inside an incubator, cotton pads over her eyes, under a bank of blue lights. She was attached to various monitors that measured her heart rate, her oxygen saturation, her rate of breathing. She was incubated so that a ventilator could keep her alive. Alarms went off constantly, and nurses would say, “It’s all right” and then adjust things. We had no idea if things were all right or not. We were in a state of terror.

Ursula weighed 1 lb. 9 ounces, and looked like — as the nurses in the NICU liked to say, affectionately — a chicken bone (click for picture, be prepared to see a preemie). She had no body fat; instead she had a fine coating of hair on her shoulders. Her ears were practically vestigial. The nurses pointed out her long fingers and toes, how graceful they were. Her skin was so fragile that in places, it tore. The treatment for this was to cover it with what looked like Scotch tape. That day, or the next, my husband, encouraged by the nurses, slipped his wedding band on to her wrist, and we took a picture.

I could hardly stand being in the NICU at first. We knew that Ursula’s situation was precarious. Almost half of babies born at 24 weeks don’t survive. (Before my pregnancy became high risk, I didn’t know that any babies could be born so early, so small, and go on to thrive.) A majority of those babies that do survive end up with serious complications of one kind or another due to the therapies that keep them alive as well as due, simply, to their extreme prematurity. The gregarious nurse assigned to Ursula that first day told us immediately, well, it’s good that she’s a girl. Girls have a better chance of survival. The next day when we went up, he said, well, she’s still alive. The first twenty-four hours are really crucial. The next day he said, she’s still alive — that’s good. The first 48 hours are crucial. After a week had passed, when a nurse told us that the first week was the period of greatest danger — and so it was a good sign that she had made it through — we weren’t surprised.

For the first six weeks of her life, Ursula wore only knitted hats — donated in bulk by a local church group to the NICU — and the tiniest diapers you can imagine. We got to help change those diapers. I pumped to make breast milk, of which Ursula could take only a few ccs at a time. The rest we froze. We could, at times, put our hands into the incubator, to cup Ursula’s head and feet, but we had to be careful not to over stimulate or stress her. We read two baby books to her, over and over again: Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allen Ahlberg, and Charlie Parker Played Be Bop by Christopher Raschka.

While I was on bed rest, I had been plowing through Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series. They were terrific, but I had to give up reading them because it seemed to me that whenever I got near to the end of a book, something terrible would happen: I began to have contractions; I went into labor; Ursula would have a crisis. We were staying a block away from the hospital, in a Ronald McDonald House, and we dreaded phone calls, particularly at night, when we went home, knowing it was likely to be the hospital, letting us know that Ursula was in crisis again. The problem was her lungs: she wasn’t growing fast enough to grow new lung tissue. She couldn’t get off the ventilator. I’ve read all of the first two O’Brian books, and all but the endings of the next three — I would put them down when Ursula went through rough patches, and be unable, superstitiously, to go any farther. I’d start a new one. Eventually I stopped starting new ones. Someday I’d like to pick them up again.

During the day we sat in the NICU, and read or worked beside Ursula’s incubator. We watched the numbers on her monitors. We went and ate at the cafeteria. Nurses taught us how to change diapers (lay down the new diaper under the old one, before you take it off) and how to watch Ursula — for tremors, for distressed breathing, for signs of when she needed her incubator to be dark and quiet. I pumped every three to four hours. Twice I came back from pumping to find a crowd of doctors and nurses, and a code cart, around Ursula’s incubator. Both times she stabilized. I’ve always cried easily. I cried all the time. We watched new mothers come into the NICU. You could tell who were the new mothers by the way that they walked, or moved. We became connoisseurs of babies (their different kinds of cries; their weights — 3 lbs? Enormous. 7 or 8 lbs? A monster) and their different medical crises (a baby born with its organs on the outside? Not a big deal. Babies who momentarily forgot to breathe when they were asleep? They would grow out of it.)

At least once a week, when I needed a break, I would leave the hospital and drive back to Northampton. I’d buy frozen burritos for our dinners, chocolates for the nurses at Trader Joes. Then I’d go to a local thrift store to buy baby clothes that Ursula would be too small to wear still, for months and months. I pictured future versions of her, healthy, older, dressed in these clothes. There are a lot of firsts for parents that we’ve missed out on. We weren’t there when Ursula first opened her eyes. We didn’t change her first diaper. For about two weeks I wanted, badly, to be there when she pooped. I never was. The first time that she took a bottle, we had gone home to Northampton (a half hour drive) to sleep in our own bed. We missed her first bath. The first time someone dressed her. The first time she left the hospital — to ride in an ambulance to Boston — we followed behind in our car. I didn’t mind missing these things too much. I was always just so grateful that she was alive. (Nurses said: “She’s feisty! That’s good.”) The first time Ursula wore clothes was the day she was taken to Boston for a heart operation. (Not a big idea, we were told. Not much of a procedure. Nothing to worry about.) There was something of the formal occasion
about it, seeing her kitted out in a onesie meant for the smallest of premature babies that was, nevertheless, still ridiculously enormous on her. Ursula2We were given a change of clothes to take along with us. At this point, we had still never even held her, although the night before, her nurse had let us put our hands inside the incubator. She then gently lifted Ursula and laid her across our hands. We could feel her relax against our palms. On the monitor, her numbers — her heart rate, usually around 170 beats per minute, go down; her oxygen saturation, often stuck in the high 80s, go ever so slightly up. We held her for a few minutes, and then her nurse told us it was time to put her back down again. I am not, by nature, an optimist. But I clung to the idea that things would be better one day.

To sum up: I’m a short-story writer. In fall of 2008, my third collection, Pretty Monsters, came out in hardcover, and I got pregnant. I gave birth to a daughter, Ursula, in February 2009 at 24 weeks and 1 lb, 9 oz. She spent the next fifteen months in hospitals.

line_separator

Wow, what a story! I of course don’t know what happens next but I’m seriously hoping for a good outcome. I can say since I too am a mother that experiencing something such as the early birth of your child is not a fun experience. I too delivered early (only 4 weeks) but it’s never an easy thing to get through.

Don’t forget to head to Foreveryalit.com to continue reading more about Kelly Link!

I haven’t finished reading Kelly’s short stories yet but I hope to soon. Just know that they are quite amazing so far! 🙂

Posted in Author Guest Post

Author Guest Post: Rachel Hawkins, Hex Hall

Author Rachel Hawkins has generously submitted a guest post for you, my readers!

A few months ago, an author friend of mine (I won’t say her name, but it rhymes with Bindsey Beavitt) and I were talking about boys in YA. Specifically, the boys in Sarah Dessen’s books, and how amazing she is at writing real (dreamy) boys who are (hot) completely believable. This got us talking about some of our favorite teenage boy characters, not just in YA, but in all literature, and eventually, I came up with a list that I like to think of My Literary Boyfriends. I thought I’d share the top 3 with you today!

3) Gilbert Blythe, The Anne of Green Gables series, L.M.M. Montgomery

Swooooon. That’s what I think of every time I hear the name Gilbert Blythe. He’s cocky when Anne first meets him, but also sweet, and loyal, and he’s just such a good person. Remember when he gives up he sweet scholarship so that Anne can stay at Green Gables with Marilla? Sigh. Gilbert also just gets Anne. He loves her for how different she is, but he also calls her on some of her stuff. One of the things I love most about Gilbert and Anne’s relationship is that they’re friends. The love they find isn’t, as Anne would say, "marble halls and diamond sunbursts," but it is the Real Deal.

2) Christopher Heron, The Perilous Gard, Elizabeth Marie Pope

One of my goals in life is to introduce more people to this fabulous book, and it’s surly-but-witty hero, Christopher Heron. Kit is my favorite kind of (fictional) guy. He’s beautiful, and wounded, but he’s still funny. Well, snarky. His family holds him responsible for the disappearance of his niece, and everyone thinks he’s crazy until Kate Sutton comes to stay in his brother’s castle (the book takes place in Tudor England, another reason I love it with a fiery passion). They strike up a friendship that’s affectionate and antagonistic in equal measure, something I definitely see echoes of in Archer and Sophie’s relationship in HEX HALL. Christopher also delivers The Best Marriage Proposal Ever at the end of that book. Seriously, read it and you’ll see why he’s so high on this list! In fact, he would have been number one if it weren’t for…

1) Cal Trask, East of Eden, John Steinbeck

Oh, Cal. The prototypical tortured bad boy! Cal isn’t really bad. Okay, so he does basically murder his brother, so there’s that. But really, he’s just conflicted. And hurt. And needs love so, so much. For me, it’s hard to separate Book Cal from Movie Cal, AKA James Dean (but then even Steinbeck said, upon first meeting Dean, "That young man is Cal!" so I figure it’s okay). But whether you’re reading the book, or watching the movie, I think you’ll agree that Cal is Super Dreamy. Not only is he suffering because his father prefers his brother, but he’s harboring Illicit Secret Love (my favorite kind! In fiction!) for his brother’s girlfriend, Abra. That scene in the movie when he kisses her on the Ferris Wheel? FORGET IT.

So that’s my list of Literary Boyfriends, and if you try to take any of them, I will fight you in the parking lot! Okay, not really.

I found her entry to be interesting but unrelatable. 😦 I actually haven’t read any of these books that these guys came from! How about you? Do you agree with her? Or does your heart belong to other literary “boys”? Let us know!

Don’t forget to check out my review of Rachel’s new release, Hex Hall, that was posted earlier today. There’s also a chance to win a super cute Hex Hall t-shirt!

Thanks to Rachel and Disney-Hyperion for the guest post and the t-shirt giveaway!

Jess Sig

Posted in Author Guest Post, Giveaway

Author Guest Post & Giveaway by Jocelynn Drake

I’m pleased to welcome a guest blog post from Jocelynn Drake who’s next Dark Days installment, Dawnbreaker, releases TODAY! She’s also graciously giving away 2 signed copies of Dawnbreaker! See below for entry details.

Dawnbreaker Large

line_separator

The History of the Dark Days Series

I never set out to write a series of books about a hot-tempered vampire and a narrow-minded vampire hunter. I never meant to take mankind of the edge of extinction with its only hope being the very race that fed off of it. I never meant to fall in love… but I did.
Close to five years have passed now since the birth of Mira and Danaus. The world has aged a little bit, we’ve grown a little more experienced and a little more jaded. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, children have been born, and loved ones have died. And in the midst of it all, I created two people that would become my best friends and nearly constant companions. I wish I could recall the exact date so that I could celebrate it like a birthday. I know that it was in the early fall, when the air was just beginning to grow crisp and full with the scent of dried leaves.

Prior to working on what would become Nightwalker, I had been reading a wide assortment of urban fantasy novels, which started to get my own creative mind working in that field. The urban fantasy genre was relatively new at the time, with authors that were still finding their voice, their world, and their direction. It was a veritable playground filled with new untouched toys. And there was plenty of room for everyone to play.

In the back of my mind, a character started to form by the name of Miranda. She was older, confident, experienced, powerful, and somewhat sarcastic and hot-tempered. In fact, she reminded me greatly of a character that I had been working on in a fantasy series I had started back in high school. During my free time, I would sit behind the computer, typing out scenes with her fighting battles, struggling with great odds and vicious villains, while struggling to overcome her own personal demons. I would type about twenty or thirty pages before I would finally grow bored with it. I would then close out the file, open a new one, and start a whole new story. This went on for more than a month. During that time, Miranda went from vampire to witch to elf. Her race changed with my whims, but her personality stayed relatively the same.

After my fourth extended scene with Miranda, I took a break. I was going nowhere with these little stories, even though I greatly enjoyed working on them. It was time to work on something that I knew I could write a beginning, middle, and end for. I decided that I wanted a new character. I wanted to expand my own creative endeavors and skills by working on a male character. Most of my stories centered on females simply because I was female, allowing me to feel comfortable that I was getting the voice correct.
This time I attacked what would become a short story from a different, more methodical direction. I decided that the short story would be about an experienced, skilled vampire hunter as he tracked down a vampire with a special ability. I didn’t know who the vampire hunter was and I didn’t know what the story was going to be about. I just knew what I wanted. Unfortunately, I had to wait for that final spark of creative genius.

danaus3 So, one day, being the avid gamer that I am, I was flipping through a video gaming magazine when I came across him – Danaus. He was brutal, and hard, and strong, and absolutely perfect. It was my Danaus with his beautiful blue eyes and cruel expression. Tearing the game advertisement out of the magazine, I hurried into the office and started typing. Immediately out came Miranda’s voice, but it was slightly different. Silky and confident, with just an edge of sex appeal, she watched Danaus as he moved, telling his story and hers. With the change in voice, came a change in name to Mira.

During the next few months, I just kept typing, filling my world with Mira and Danaus. I haunted magazine racks, looking for more pictures of my Danaus so that they covered my office wall and the desktop of my computer screen. He was my muse.

In less than four months, I created what would essentially become both Nightwalker and Dayhunter. I love writing about the Dark Days world. It’s dark and hard and frequently cruel, but it is also a place where friends are dependent upon each other for survival and that love struggles to find a perch in this harsh world.

I am just about to complete the fifth book in the Dark Days series, with the hope of many more to come. I am still in love with Mira and Danaus, my old friends. And I still keep a picture of Danaus with me when I travel as my talisman of creativity and hope.

line_separatorThank you so much Jocelynn for that awesome guest post!

How cool was that?

Did anyone else notice that she doesn’t say what game character depicted Danaus so well? Yeah, I noticed too! What the heck Jocelynn! Way to leave us hanging!

ETA

OMG! Thank you SciFiGuy for your awesome research! The picture above was found on his blog post of his recent interview of Jocelynn and he found it in her gallery! He’s right, the internet is awesome. Now, who the heck is that dude? Besides Danaus! He’s The Prince of Persia! Specially: Warrior Within. I’m slightly disappointed. Why? Because that game is currently being made into a movie and it’s starring Jake Gyllenhaal. And he’s not my perfect Danaus. But he’s not bad. 😉

I have to thank my buds at G4 Forums! They identified the game from the small pic above.

Giveaway

Jocelynn wants to give away 2 signed copies of Dawnbreaker! If only I could win a copy!

To enter please leave a comment below telling me you want to win a signed copy!

One entry per person. Include your email address and I’ll email you if you win.

Open to everyone!

Comment by 10/05 and the winners will be announced 10/06.

Connect with Jocelynn

ico_www blogger_iconlivejournal twiiter_icon facebook_icon myspaceamazon-icon_bigger_normal_normal

Series

Amazon.com slideshow below includes the Dark Days books and Unbound an anthology that includes a short story pre-Nightwalker.

http://ws.amazon.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&MarketPlace=US&ID=V20070822%2FUS%2Fjesssramb-20%2F8003%2Ff303037a-19a7-41e6-a337-26d09c3d64bf&Operation=GetDisplayTemplate Well, look forward to my review. I’m hoping to buy Dawnbreaker on my Kindle but I’m not paying $9.99 when I can pay $7.99 for the Mass Market Paperback.  I won a copy on SciFiGuy.Ca! WOOHOO!

Jess Sig