Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mountaineering with Julie Kagawa

Hello everyone thanks for again for stopping my my little home in the blogosphere. Today I would like to take some time away from reviewing books in order to bring you an interview with the fabulous Julie Kagawa who is the author of the recent release The Iron King, which if you've been paying attention I gushed over lots yesterday. Julie is an up and coming new author she has lots of talent and I highly suggest that you run out and buy her book.

First off…tell us a little about you?

Well, I was born in California but moved to Hawaii when I was nine. And before you think “wow, why did she ever leave?” let me tell you its much different living there. I could horrify you with stories about the giant flying cockroaches and foot-long poisonous centipedes and killer wild pigs and cane spiders as big as your hand … but I won’t. :P

I wish I could say I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but that’s not the case. For years I wanted to be a veterinarian. This dream sort of crashed when I discovered the endless amounts of science and math I had to do to become said vet. So around my teen years, I decided I would become an author instead. (I had this ridiculous notion that I would write a book and get it published before I went to collage. Yes, you can stop laughing now.)

What is your writing process like?

Writing process: Get up. Get dressed. Check email. Brush teeth. Check email again, just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Check Twitter (curse you, Tweetdeck). Check OTHER email account. Visit various blogs. Open WIP document. Stare at it for awhile. Check email again. Wander down to kitchen for food and Mt. Dew. Come back to computer and check email, twitter, blogs, ect. Add empty Mt. Dew can to the dozen or so on the table. Finally feel guilty enough to actually sit down to WIP. Get started on WIP.

Check email.

If we were able to take a peek at your nightstand, what book(s) might we find there?

At the moment (let me check), I have Shannon Hale’s Book of a Thousand Days(fabulous), Amy Huntley’s The Everafter (wonderful), and Diana Peterfreund’s Rampant (killer unicorns!) And several empty Mt. Dew cans.

What sort of foods do you like to eat when you are sick?

Mt. Dew (this will be a theme) and soup. Also, lots of medicine that makes me unconscious. I hate being sick.

Book you most want to read again for the first time?

Poison Study, by Maria V. Snyder. I remember I got this at the library and I’d never heard of it before, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Little did I know I’d discover my perfect literary crush within its pages, Valek, whom no one has been able to topple from his spot at #1. Of course, I’ve had to fight off many Valek admirers since then, as they mistakenly believe Valek is theirs. (Valek is still mine, Gail!)

Julie - no he isn't!! He's back off! *glares and prepares to glomp*

Are there any books that you might have lied about reading (we promise we won’t judge)?

I have never actually read Moby Dick (Oxford World's Classics), because it was long and boring (to me), and I could get all the test answers from the cliff notes.

If it makes you feel any better Julie, I haven't read Moby Dick either. Has never appealed to me.

What’s a book you’ve been a book bully for? (ie one you’ve liked so much that you practically beat people over the head just to get them to read it)

Ha! I think you already know the answer to this question. ;-) I’ve harassed many a blogger on twitter about Poison Study, which is strange because it only adds to the teeming throng of Valek lovers, and then I just have to beat them off with a stick when they try to claim him. :P

Which came first title, plot or character(s)?

With The Iron King, the story began with one character, the heroine. Meghan actually started out as a full faery, then evolved to what she is today. After I had her character down, the plot started forming around her, and Ash, Puck, and Grimalkin emerged for the first time. When I finally knew what the story was about, the title took care of itself.

One thing that I love about The Iron King is that it’s a new twist on the world of Faerie, how did you come up with the idea for your spin on these old myths?

The idea for the Iron Fey came to me when I was researching different kinds of faeries. In all the old legends, faeries are allergic to iron. They are also (mostly) creatures of nature, so naturally they could have a hard time with the amount of iron and steel and progress we’ve made over the years. So I thought, what if there were a new type of faery, one that evolved with progress and technology, one that was immune to iron? Then I remembered we already have “creatures” lurking in machines: gremlins and bugs and worms and viruses, and from that thought, the Iron Fey were born.

There are a lot of great characters in your book, which one was your favorite to create? My faves by far are Ash, Grim and Puck (in that order….but I’ve gushed over them all lots on twitter so I am sure that is no surprise to you, lol.)

My personal favorite would have to be Ash, but Grimalkin runs a very close second and I’ve had a lot of fun with him. He says things people wish they could say but are too polite. Grimalkin has no such reservations.

What sort of books do you think your main characters (Meghan, Ash & Puck) like to read? If they had a favorite book or author what do you think it is?

Meghan, surprisingly, likes all things horror; her favorite author by far is Stephen King. With Puck, it’s hard to say, but he does like Shakespeare, just because he likes seeing himself in AA Midsummer Night's Dream. Ash favors books about history, weapons or (oddly enough) poetry. His favorite book is The Art of Warby Sun Tsu.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in The Iron King (without being spoilery of course)?

I’m fairly happy with the way everything turned out. Meghan isn’t perfect, but she has two more books to grow and change, and the story is pretty much how I imagined it. I don’t think I would change anything. (except maybe more scenes involving Grim, from one early review, lol.)

If Ash (from Iron King) and Valek (from Maria Snyder’s Study series) were to meet in a dual, who would you bet on and why?

That’s a tough question. I would have to bet on Ash, though, because 1). I’m biased, and 2). He’s a lot older than Valek (being an immortal faery) and has had more time to perfect his sword skills. And he has magic, but Valek has his anti-magic aura going all the time, so I don’t know. Would it work against faery glamour?

From early reviews, Grimalkin seems to be the breakout star of the books. Are you surprised by this? And has his role in the story changed at all because of his increasing popularity?

Hahaha, I kind of had the feeling Grimalkin would steal the show. He’s the favorite of everyone in my publishing house, too. But no, Grimalkin hasn’t changed. He has been and always will be what he is, and actually finds all this attention rather amusing.

The Zombie Apocalypse has started, what is your zombie plan? And if you could have one of your characters assist you in the fight against the undead…who would it be and why?

My plan would first be to run next door to Wal-Mart to grab all the unperishables I could, as well as some skull-crushing weapons, guns, and ammo. Then me and my family would go to the Louisville Mega Caverns right underneath the zoo. It was a nuclear bunker at one time, with thick lead doors that can be sealed up for years. We’d be perfectly safe there; the Caverns are several acres big, and there are even rations and beds left behind, in case the nuclear holocaust came. Once the doors are sealed, we’d be all set to wait out the Zombie Apocalypse. (And no, I haven’t thought about this plan in great detail, why do you ask?)

Of course, I’d have to take Ash. He’s fearless, overprotective, and good at slicing zombie heads from shoulders. Easy pick.

Hmm....your zombie plan is much more thought out than mine. Which is pretty much just to high tale it up to Canada and hole up with Courtney Summers - as she is a zombie expert and all quizzes say that my survival rate is only 62%. Maybe instead of Canada I should head toward Kentucky instead. Wonder which is closer to Massachusetts...

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

At the moment, I’m working on edits for The Iron Queen, the last in the Iron Fey trilogy. After that … who knows? Okay, I do have one secret project, but it would be spoilery to tell.

Julie - has anyone every told you what a tease you are? Why mention a sekrit project at all if you can't mention it. You're mean! *pouts*

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Just a few words of appreciation. Authors are nothing without readers. You guys are why I write, and if my books were never read if would all be for nothing. So, thank you. Love the book or hate it, thank you for reading it.

And thank you for writing it Julie! We readers are nothing if we don't have authors to write for us. So thanks. Also, a quick note to everyone who reads my blog, if you read a book and love it then be sure to find the authors website and let them know. As I blogger I can tell you that I still get a bit giddy every time someone leaves a comment on my page and from my conversations with authors I know that they feel the same. =) Ok, off of my soap box. Thanks again Julie for taking the time to answer all of my questions. Its been great fun and I now know the way into your heart seems to be with Mt. Dew so will keep that in mind if I insert myself into your Zombie Plan instead of Courtney's. ;-)

Cross-posted at: Ticket To Anywhere.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Win: All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab

Now that I've posted a bunch of things on the fabulous All Unquiet Things, I have a chance for one of you to win a copy!

Here's a book description, straight from goodreads, in case you need it:

Carly: She was sweet. Smart. Self-destructive. She knew the secrets of Brighton Day School’s most privileged students. Secrets that got her killed.

Neily: Dumped by Carly for a notorious bad boy, Neily didn’t answer the phone call she made before she died. If he had, maybe he could have helped her. Now he can’t get the image of her lifeless body out of his mind.

Audrey: She’s the reason Carly got tangled up with Brighton’s fast crowd in the first place, and now she regrets it—especially since she’s convinced the police have put the wrong person in jail. Audrey thinks the murderer is someone at Brighton, and she wants Neily to help her find out who it is.

As reluctant allies Neily and Audrey dig into their shared past with Carly, her involvement with Brighton’s dark goings-on comes to light. But figuring out how Carly and her killer fit into the twisted drama will force Audrey and Neily to face hard truths about themselves and the girl they couldn’t save.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

An Interview with Anna Jarzab, Part 2

Here's part two of my interview with Anna Jarzab, author of the recently released All Unquiet Things.

Was is harder to write the flashbacks, knowing that you had to make Carly seem alive and also to show why the narrators felt the way they did about her, or was it harder to write the parts in the present, knowing that you had to keep the mystery non-obvious and such?

Writing the flashbacks was actually a very easy, organic process for me (although calculating the exact chronology was harder; there was an emotional timeline to the story that didn't always quite match up to, you know, real human time, but we've fixed that!), since the story from the very beginning, back in version 1, was full of flashbacks. The problem with Carly is that you have to make people care about her, but she can veer into unlikeable territory. Some of the things she does are really bad, but the story wouldn't exist without them, yet a reader might find it hard to get invested in her, and if they don't care about her they might not care about who killed her, making the book kind of a wash. So the trick was to perfectly calibrate the flashbacks to create sympathy for Carly. That was difficult, but I hope I succeeded. Also, making sure Carly wasn't an unrelatable cipher was important to me, which is also hard if you want to maintain a certain mysterious quality about a person.

To the second part, keeping the mystery non-obvious was very hard. I had to know prior to starting the story who the killer was going to be--I never would've been able to write this book without that knowledge, I'm just too persnickity. But when you as an author know something, you have absolutely no idea whether or not it's obvious to the casual reader who has no prior knowledge of the story. I had to depend on outside readers for that, and even if most people say they had no idea (which is the general sentiment so far), an astute reader, especially one like me who is always second-guessing the author and trying to figure it out (although I'm often wrong because I am not an astute reader, but I always try), will probably get there before the characters do.

Just because I thought Neily sounded like a boy even though he didn't talk about a bunch of stereotypical boy things, I must ask: did you find it hard to write from a male POV? Or was is not that different? Because I know that if I try to write from a boy's POV it does not work. At all.

I never thought much about writing from a male perspective with Neily--I was just writing Neily, and I tried to stay as true to his character as possible. I think that's what saved me--if I'd actually thought, "Okay, try to write like a guy," I would've totally failed. It's too much pressure and you run the risk of overthinking it. I knew I was on the right track when a guy in one of my graduate creative writing classes said, "The male voice is totally believable," so I just kept doing what I was doing.

How do you manage to find time to write, do your job in marketing, promote your own book, read, hang out with people and sleep? Do you sleep? Are you superwoman?

I do sleep, although not enough and not very well! The time thing is becoming more and more difficult, but I'm stubbornly resistant to giving up anything that's important to me and am determined to make it work. Ask me again in six months, though, haha.

Cross-posted at: The Frenetic Reader on 15 January 2010.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Neily Speaks Out

Neily is one of the narrators of the totally awesome All Unquiet Things. He's a cool guy, so I figured I might as well as him a few questions.

I have many things I don't like about living in California. What is one of the things you don't like about it (or maybe you're one of those crazies who loves it, so if you are, why do you like it)?

Oh, I'm definitely not one of those people. It's not California I hate, though, it's the town I grew up in, Empire Valley. I felt trapped there, even physically, the place is surrounded by foothills and there's only one way in or out. You're just stuck there until you graduate, and you feel like you're in an aquarium, just swimming around while people gawk at you. Now that I live in San Diego, it's a lot nicer, although honestly that might have something to do with being four hundred miles away from my father.

Have/do you ever wish you weren't The Smart Kid? Why/why not?
Always. When I was younger (I mean in grammar school), I was this shy, bookish kid that nobody noticed enough to like or dislike, and then one day I took a standardized test and scored off the charts, and then somebody took a look at my grades, and suddenly I was The Smart Kid. I thought that was my ticket out of invisibility. I was really hoping to meet people like me at Brighton, and I guess I did, in a way. But there was all this pressure--from my dad, the principal, and the worst of it was that I was desperate to live up to all their expectations, so in a way I put a lot of pressure on myself. It took a while for me to figure out who I really was and who I really cared to please. Looking back, it just doesn't feel worth it.

What one thing reminds you the most of Carly?
Empire Creek Bridge. I know that's morbid because she died there, but she did a lot of other things there, too. She laughed there, she read there, she sang there, she danced there, she talked there, she jumped there, she cried there, and she was brave there. I'm never in Empire Valley anymore, but if I was I'd be there every day.

What scares you the most?
Making another mistake and losing someone else.

Any New Year's resolutions, or are you not into that sort of thing?
I'm not very good at resolutions, but I'm trying really hard to keep in touch with my old friends. It's a work in progress.

Cross-posted at: The Frenetic Reader on 13 January 2010.

Monday, January 25, 2010

An Interview with Anna Jarzab, Part 1

Here's part one of my interview with Anna Jarzab, the fabulous author of All Unquiet Things.

Why did you decide to tell the story from the points of view of both Audrey and Neily? Why did you also decide to have the two narrators have a hundred or so pages before switching, unlike many other multiple POV books that switch every other chapter?

The first version of All Unquiet Things was only told from Neily's point of view, because Audrey didn't exist then. When I was rewriting it, I added her in, and I was still planning on only telling the story from his POV. Then I got to the end of Part 1 and I didn't know how to continue. I told my thesis adviser (I was writing AUT for my master's thesis at the time), "I think I need to do alternating POVs," and he said, "Are you sure you're not just being lazy?" I laugh every time I think of that now, because I know he was half right--I'm sure I could've found a way to do it, but I didn't feel like it, so I was being lazy, but then again I think alternating POV is the best way to tell the story.

Having Audrey's POV is really important for a few reasons. First, Audrey is such a huge part of the story--a much bigger part than I originally intended--that she needs her own voice. I think the book and the character would suffer without it. Audrey and Neily are such fundamentally different people--he's very open and forthcoming, and she's very withholding. If she didn't have her own POV, all you'd know about her is what she says to Neily, and that's just not enough to understand her. Second, I knew that there was going to be a point where Neily and Audrey's paths diverge and they would stop sharing information with each other, so Audrey would be in possession of knowledge and perspective Neily wouldn't have, which would mean that the reader wouldn't have it. There's ways around that, of course, but I prefer it this way. Plus, it allows you to see each of the two principle characters from someone else's perspective, which I find interesting. Even Carly, who is dead, gets a voice in the novel. I wanted to give them all a shot at telling their own story.

I read that it took you over six years to write All Unquiet Things. Yay for it finally being out! Did the storyline stay relatively the same (same narrators, same ending, etc.) throughout most of the rewrites and edits, or did it go through a lot of major changes?

The book went through what I consider two phases: Version 1 and Version 2. Version 2 is the version you'll see in the finished book--it has generally stayed the same throughout the revision process, although I've added, deleted and altered things, of course. Version 1 was entirely different than Version 2. It was all from Neily's POV, Carly died at the end, and it was super melodramatic. It was also awful. Basically, all I kept from Version 1 was Neily, Carly, Neily's parents, Carly's father (Carly's mother was added in Version 2), the school principal (whose role was much larger in Version 1), and the title. Every other character--including Audrey--was added and the plot is entirely different. I don't even think I have a copy of Version 1 anymore. Maybe somewhere on an old harddrive, but if it's lost for good I'm not too torn up about it.

Cross-posted at: The Frenetic Reader on 12 January 2010.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Win: The Mark by Jen Nadol

Hey Everyone!
This week on the blog I will be having a bunch of posts having to do with a lovely book called The Mark. If you want a chance to win The Mark, fill out the form below. *The copy you will get has a different cover, because it is the ARC*

Cassandra Renfield has always seen the mark—a glow around certain people reminiscent of candlelight. But the one time she mentioned it, it was dismissed as a trick of the light. Until the day she watches a man awash in the mark die. After searching her memories, Cassie realizes she can see a person’s imminent death. Not how or where, only when: today.
Armed with a vague understanding of the light, Cassie begins to explore her “gift,” seeking those marked for death and probing the line between decision and destiny. Though she’s careful to hide her secret—even from her new philosophy-obsessed boyfriend—with each impending death comes the temptation to test fate. But so many questions remain. How does the mark work? Why is she the only one who sees it? And finally, the most important of all: If you know today is someone’s last, should you tell them?

Friday, January 15, 2010

WISH - A Virtual Backpacking Tour

Every once in a while, a book takes place in your home town or one that you live near. It's kind of cool when that happens because you can relate to the sights and sounds. Most of the time, though, we have to rely on images or our imagination to visualize what's going on throughout a story. I've created here a virtual backpacking tour of the people, places and things you'll find within WISH by Alexandra Bullen.

As we start our day, we head out with backpack in hand and head to the corner store to pick up maps. We'll need one for cable car routes as well as for the landmarks of the city. And we're off..!

The Locale:

WISH takes place in San Francisco and if you're anything like me it's on the list of places to visit. Here's why:

With places like the Golden Gate Bridge, The Haight, The Presidio and Alcatraz, this won't be a dull day. Of course, it wouldn't be complete without a ride on the famous cable cars!

The Fashion:

The story really begins to take root when Olivia takes her sister's vintage Pucci dress to have it repaired. That's when things get interesting...

So since we don't have our own dress, we head out looking for awesome boutiques. If available, we could leave the backpack behind and hop in a limo, cause the "magical" dresses we're looking for have high end prices tags! Feast your eyes on these:

It wouldn't be right if we didn't include a few Pucci's for your viewing pleasure:

The Music:

After a full day of site-seeing and shopping, we hit a cafe featuring live music. We grab a chai latte and our favourite organic snack, sit back and prepare for auditory relaxation. In fact, there's a band featured in the book that gets compared to some of the hottest bands around right now, so for your listening/viewing pleasure, check this out:

We hope you enjoyed your tour!

Cross-posted at: He Followed Me Home...Can I Keep Him on 15 January 2010.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Alexandra Bullen's Wishin' Upon A Star

Today, I am excited to share with you an interview with Alexandra Bullen. Her debut novel, WISH was just released this week. Click here for a chance to win 1 of 3 copies!

The main characters in WISH are twins. Why did you choose twins over siblings or best friends?

I have always been fascinated by the special relationship all of the twins I’ve known have seemed to share. I grew up with brothers, and, though I can’t imagine life without them, often fantasized about having a sister. Having a twin sister just seemed like the ultimate—you had somebody going through absolutely everything with you at exactly the same time.

So when I was thinking about characters, and about a girl who had lost somebody she was very close to, my thoughts immediately turned to twins. It just seemed like the most devastating hole to even begin to try and fill.

I am a huge Happily Ever After fan & love fairytales, what was your favorite growing up & do you see a trace of it appear in WISH?
I was always really afraid of fairy tales growing up. I remember watching Snow White and Sleeping Beauty and being absolutely terrified. I don’t really remember why, probably the evil queens. And something about being put to sleep for eternity. Now that I think about it, there’s a lot to be afraid of!

I did really love The Princess Bride, mostly because I was fairly certain I would grow up to marry Wesley. Not sure how that helped with WISH, but…what was it that Wesley said to Buttercup all the time? Wasn’t it “As you wish…”?

Do you have any advice that you'd like to pass along to other aspiring writers?
I think the best advice I’ve gotten is to pay attention to what inspires you, and seek it out when you’re feeling stuck. For me, reading certain passages or poems always get me thinking in a way that leads to wanting to write. For some other writers I know, it’s listening to a certain type of music, or going to a favorite museum, or even just going out for a walk. Whatever it is, I think it’s really important to know what works for you, and to take the time to do it.

Thanks Alex for taking the time to stop by!

Cross-posted at: He Followed Me Home... Can I Keep Him? on 14 January 2010.

Hottie McHott aka Angelo Tells Us More About...

Angelo, Have you always lived on the island where Kenzie now lives?
I don’t live on her island. I live across the channel from her. There are hundreds of islands here, you know. And yep, I was born in the Keys, but my parents came from Cuba.

Do you get bored living so far from the mainland? Kenzie seems to think there’s nothing to do.
Yeah, sometimes. I’ve been to Miami, and it’s an amazing place. Like being in movie-star city. Gotta say the beach scene is… (He whistles through his teeth.) uh… cool. Exciting stuff. Bright lights. Awesome music. But it’s too crowded for me. Gotta say, I’d rather be cruising in my boat on open water than sitting in a line of traffic. Yeah. About Kenzie. She doesn’t have a clue. If she ever quits treating us locals like dumb hicks she might make some friends who’d fill her in.

What music is on your play list?
*scoffs* My play list? Like when would I get to listen? I don’t have much free time. When I can, I play Green Day, Black-eyed Peas, Lady Gaga. Stuff like that. Some Latin beats. I can actually get Dad to play Nelly Furtado. When school’s out I work at Dad’s fish house, and they keep the local radio station on. It’s mostly country or oldies. And out fishing, I don’t play anything, even on my iPod. I’d miss key clues—

Wait. Clues? Sorry, I don’t get that.
Clues to finding fish. Like faint ripples or splashes or the sound of diving birds. And I don’t want to spook fish with sound vibrations. About the only time I can rock out is when I’m on my bike or skateboard.

Finding fish? Wow that's quite a different lifestyle you have as compared to Kenzie's in New York. Speaking of Kenzie, I am rather curious about how the both of you met...

Readers, we will be back on Friday with exclusive excerpts of the first time Angelo and Kenzie met in both their point of views! Not only that, there will be some illustrations from the book too!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

An Interview with Island Sting's Kenzie

Kenzie is the brilliant protagonist from ISLAND STING by Bonnie Doerr.

So, Kenzie, I get the feeling you weren’t particularly happy about your move to a place people call Paradise. Am I right?

*Kenzie bites her tongue and takes a deep breath.*
Move? It was more like I was kidnapped. I mean, Mom did have permission to take me out of state, but she practically had to handcuff me.

Has leaving New York really been as bad as you expected?Honestly? Yes. It was a nightmare.
Leaving my friends, my school, my teams—

Excuse me, but please tell us what teams?
Swim and softball. Anyway, so I move to this island with zero culture. No museums or theatres. People here are all about fishing. Yuck. There are more boats than cars and more canals than roads. And all these really tiny deer run all over the place like they own the island. They’re endangered, so there’s not much development, nothing to do, and nowhere to hang. But it’s not like I really have friends to hang with. *Kenzie’s expression lightens and she seems to float away for a second.* Or at least not friends like the ones back home…

You must have met people your age by now. You could hardly avoid it in such a small community.
Mmm. There is this cute guy. I went to a girls’ school so it wasn’t easy to meet boys. And my dad totally freaked out the few boys I dated. I think the guy factor might be the only good deal about living here.

Ah. So tell us about this cute guy. What’s his name?
Angelo Sanchez, I fell for him my first day here, and that’s all you’re getting from me. *She grins.*

Alright guys, Kenzie is being secretive about Angelo now. Hmm, looks like I will have to talk to this cute guy myself. Come back on Thursday for a chat with Angelo!

Check out the trailer for ISLAND STING!

Contest: WISH by Alexandra Bullen

Nothing can change the fact that Olivia Larsen's twin sister, Violet, is gone . . . until a mysterious, beautiful gown arrives on her doorstep. The dress doesn't just look magical—it is magical. It has the power to grant her one wish, and the only thing Olivia wants is her sister back.

Olivia's wish will be granted.

With Violet again by her side, both girls get a second chance at life. And as the sisters soon discover, they have two more dresses and two more wishes left.

Are you as excited to read WISH as we are? Thanks to the awesome people at Scholastic Canada, we have 3 copies to share with our lucky readers! Open only to CANADIAN mailing addresses.

Cross-posted at: He Followed Me Home...Can I Keep Him? on 13 January 2010.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bonnie Doerr Tells Us All About Wanting To.. Be A Boy?

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A horse first, a boy second. We watched lots of old western TV shows and I was always devastated when the horses were shot or injured. That’s when I decided I’d rather be a boy. The odds of living were better.

Why do you think you wanted to be a boy?
First, let me say I didn’t have a sister. Perhaps it was because my dad and brother were seriously involved in the Boy Scouts. We spent a great deal of time at the woodland scout camp enjoying rituals that involved Native American costumes and dancing, canoeing and nature activities. Exotic adventures that fascinated me. I failed Girl Scouts. The one year I went door-to-door with cookies, I was bit on the ankle by a Chihuahua. I took that as a sign. Plus, the Girl Scouts expected me to sew and cook. I watched my mother and grandmother slave over those activities and I wanted no part of them. The only cooking I wanted to do was on a stick over a campfire. Luckily, that’s all changed these days.

So, when did you adjust to the fact that you’d have to live with being a girl?
I began to see the potential when boy scouts came up to me with snakes in their hands expecting me to eek and run. Instead, I stroked the snakes and asked to hold them. Their expressions were priceless. Unique approach to flirting, but it worked. I also loved when at scout jamborees my dad and brother were asked to trade me for prized collector patches. I know. These days that sounds chauvinistic to say the least, but it was all in good fun.

Were you writing at all through all of this?
I don’t think so. I was way too active and out-doorsy. But in junior high, about the time I became aware that legs covered with bug bites held no appeal, I became a stay-at-home voracious reader. I was always insatiably curious about places and people. Still am. Reading went a long way toward satisfying that curiosity. I loved the way books transported me to different towns, states, countries, and I loved the pseudo experience of crawling around inside other people’s heads. It fascinated me to learn how unlike people are, one from the other, and to follow their train of thought. I could safely experience dangerous adventures and hang out with wickedly nasty characters when in real life I wouldn’t dare. As a teen, I’d sit on our front porch devouring books while hoping that the boy of my momentary interest would ride by on his bicycle, and in later years, in a car. I didn’t write much until high school when I began to make up for lost time.

As a teen, what were you most anxious about?
No surprises here--my body. At age twelve I was two long legs and a nose. Walking noses are rather awkward. Then, suddenly, I blossomed into a tall, buxom girl. At an age where many boys are inches shorter than girls, well, let’s just say I was never without a slow dance partner and leave it at that. I absolutely hated my body and worse, hated that everyone spoke to my chest. I went from being two legs and a nose to two boobs, period.

In junior high what were your finest and worst moments?
Okay, worst first. For a girl who had wanted to be a boy, I sure hated physical education. In fact, I managed to get out of it entirely in HS, but that’s another story. The activity I hated most in PE was climbing the rope. The one time I made it over halfway to the top I lost my grip and slid down the rope to the mat. Boom! The only one in the class to do so, and it had to happen while the boys were still in the gym. What a klutz. And what gruesome rope burns on my legs and hands. Ugly red blotches that became ugly scabs.

My finest moment in junior high was at a dance attended by 450 students. (I know this number because I just found the newspaper article about it.) I loved to dance and I can’t imagine a better dance period in history—Motown rocks! My partner and I won the twist contest! Heady stuff for me.

Tell us about your best and worst dates ever.
Hate to be cliché but best was my senior prom. I was on the homecoming court. My date was my best friend and sweetheart of two years—brilliant, handsome, basketball star, incredible dancer, and perfect gentleman. My first dance was with my wonderful Dad. The rest were with my fabulous date.

Worst was without question my sixteenth birthday. I was stood up for my own party. Enough said…

Now, for one final question, Which book published in 2010 are you most excited for?
I'm going to dodge any YA books because I'm excited for every one of my fellow 2k10 class member's books. Instead, I'm going for Ann Lamott's Imperfect Birds. I can't get enough of her honest, tough, real-life humor.

Hope you will enjoy Island Sting half as much as I enjoyed being featured on your blog.

Bonnie Doerr Books

Cross-posted at: Read This Book! on 13 January 2010.

Monday, January 11, 2010

What would you WISH for?

Happy Book Birthday!

In Wish by Alexandra Bullen, Olivia discovers a dressmaker who specializes in...well magical dresses! With each dress comes one wish.

Of course, there are rules that Olivia must follow & so should you:

  • no wishing for ridiculously unattainable and universal things, like world peace or and end to hunger and poverty
  • no wishing for the same thing twice
  • no wishing for more wishes

If you were fortunate enough to be granted three wishes, what would you wish for?

Want to know more about the story? Check out this interview with Alexandra Bullen as she talks about her debut novel Wish:

You may also want to visit for a chance to win $1,000 towards making your dream come true! How cool is that??!!

Cross-posted at: He Followed Me Home...Can I Keep Him on 12 January 2010.

Spotlight: WISH by Alexandra Bullen

This week's debut author spotlight is Alexandra Bullen, author of Wish.

Release Date: January 12, 2010
Publisher: Point
Hardcover: 336 pages

Where to buy:
The Book

The story . . .
Nothing can change the fact that Olivia Larsen's twin sister, Violet, is gone . . . until a mysterious, beautiful gown arrives on her doorstep. The dress doesn't just look magical—it is magical. It has the power to grant her one wish, and the only thing Olivia wants is her sister back.

Olivia's wish will be granted.

With Violet again by her side, both girls get a second chance at life. And as the sisters soon discover, they have two more dresses and two more wishes left.

About the author...
Alexandra Bullen has been a playwright, waitress, barista, gardener, script reader, yoga instructor and personal assistant. She grew up in Massachusetts, went to college in New York City, and lives most of the year on Martha’s Vineyard (except when she’s visiting San Francisco.) WISH is her first novel for young adults.

Book Trailer

Cross-posted at: He Followed Me Home... Can I Keep Him? on 11 January 2010.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

About Us

This site was created to promote and celebrate debut YA and MG authors' books. One week of unique promotion is created for each author during or around the book's release date. The week may include but is not limited to: author interviews or guest posts, character interviews, contests and links to book reviews in the blogosphere.

Offline promotion is also an option, such as passing out SWAG at YA movie adaptation premieres or book signings, offering ARCs and/or SWAG to libraries and booksellers around our area. Worldwide exposure is available as we live in the United States, Canada, UK and Singapore!

If you would like more information on what we can offer, please contact us. We will send you a proposal, after which if you are interested, please fill in the Author Application form linked below.

If you would like for us to host a week for your book, please fill in the author application form.

Thank you and have a great day!

Contact Us

Blogger Application

Author Application

If you would like to participate in the YA Roundup and have a book coming out in the year 2010, please fill out the form below.

If you are a 2011 author that would like to participate next year, please click here and fill out this form and we'll be in touch with you a bit later.


List: # A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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Another Faust by Daniel and Dina Nayeri
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Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Betrayals by Lili St. Crow
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Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev
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Hush, Hush
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Leaving Gee's Bend by Irene Latham
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Magic Under Glass by Jackie Dolamore
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Other by Karen Kincy
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Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
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Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell
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Scones and Sensibility by Lindsay Eland
SEA by Heidi R. Kling
Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus
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The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
The Hollow by Jessica Verday
The Naughty List by Suzanne Young
The Owl Keeper by Christine Brodien-Jones
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Wish by Alexandra Bullen
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List: # A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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Alexandra Bullen (Wish) --- YAR posts
Amy Brecount White (Forget-Her-Nots)
Anastasia Hopcus (Shadow Hills) ---YAR posts
Andrea Cremer (Nightshade)
Anna Jarzab (All Unquiet Things) ---YAR posts
Angie Frazier (Everlasting)
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Becca Fitzpatrick (Hush, Hush) ---YAR posts
Bonnie Doerr (Island Sting) ---YAR posts
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Chelsea Campbell (The Rise of Renegade X) ---YAR posts
Chloe Neill (Firespell) ---YAR posts
Christina Gonzalez (The Red Umbrella)
Christine Brodien-Jones (The Owl Keeper)
Cynthia J. Omololu (Dirty Little Secrets) ---YAR posts
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Daisy Whitney (The Mockingbirds)
Daniel and Dina Nayeri (Another Faust) ---YAR posts
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Heidi R. Kling (Sea) ---YAR posts
Holly Nicole Hoxter (The Snowball Effect)
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Irene Latham (Leaving Gees Bend) ---YAR posts
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Jackie Dolamore (Magic Under Glass) ---YAR posts
Jackie Kessler (Hunger)
Jacqueline Houtman (The Reinvention of Edison Thomas) ---YAR posts
Jessica Leader (Nice and Mean)
Jessica Verday (The Hollow) ---YAR posts
Judith Graves (Under My Skin) ---YAR posts
Julie Kagawa (The Iron King) ---YAR posts
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Kami Garcia (Beautiful Creatures) ---YAR posts
Karen Healey (Guardian of the Dead)
Karen Kincy (Other) ---YAR posts
Kiersten White (Paranormalcy) ---YAR posts
Kristin Walker (A Match Made in High School) ---YAR posts
Kristina McBride (The Tension of Opposites)
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Lauren Oliver (Before I Fall) ---YAR posts
Lili St Crow (Betrayals: A Strange Angels Novel) ---YAR posts
Lindsay Eland (Scones and Sensibility) ---YAR posts
Lindsey Leavitt (Princess for Hire)
Lisa Desrochers (Personal Demons)
Lisa Mantchev (Eyes Like Stars) ---YAR posts
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Mara Purnhagen (Tagged) ---
Margie Stohl (Beautiful Creatures) ---YAR posts
Mindi Scott (Freefall)
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Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich (8th Grade Superhero) ---YAR posts
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Shari Maurer (Change of Heart)
Stacey Kade (The Ghost and the Goth)
Suzanne Young (The Naughty List) ---YAR posts
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Tara Kelly (Harmonic Feedback)
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Friday, January 8, 2010

Weaving a Story with Irene Latham

Leaving Gee's Bend is one of my favourite books of all time. I'm proud to welcome the author, Irene Latham, to tell us more about the intricacies of weaving such a heartwarming story.

Describe Leaving Gee’s Bend in a one liner.
Ludelphia Bennett, a determined, ten-year-old African American girl in 1932 Gee’s Bend, Alabama, leaves home in an effort to find medical help for her sick mother, and she recounts her adventures in quilt pieces.

Leaving Gee’s Bend is a coming of age story set in the 1930s. What inspired you to write such a story set in that specific period of time?
I was inspired to write this book in 2003 when my husband and I traveled to New York City and viewed the Quilts of Gee's Bend art exhibit at the Whitney Museum. Although I live only 120 miles from Gee's Bend, it wasn't until then that I became aware of the art and history of Gee's Bend. Something happened to me as I walked through those rooms... I was moved by the quilts and by the voices of the quilt makers. Then, as I researched, two events kept calling to me: the 1932 raid on Gee’s Bend and the subsequent Red Cross rescue. Of all the amazing events in the history of Gee’s Bend, those were the ones I knew I wanted to include in my story.

Tell us more about Gee’s Bend.
It’s a tiny African American community – unique, in part, because it’s so isolated. And the quilts these women create are incredible works of art. It isn’t art for art’s sake, but art borne of necessity. The quilters use everyday fabrics, whatever is available to them, like denim and calico and corduroy. It’s a quiet, rural place, hot in the summertime, and many of the roads are dirt, even today.

The way things ended, I assume this is a one off book?
Oh, I think Lu has many more stories to tell! I’d love to find out what happens to her next. Also, I’d love to know Etta Mae’s story. I’ll let you know. 

You actually travelled to Gee’s Bend as part of the research. Will you tell us more about research for this book? Were you inspired to write the story because you went there, or did you go there after you were inspired?
Yes, I travelled to Gee’s Bend and Camden a number of times, after I first saw the exhibit in New York City. Fortunately for me, the quilters’ lives have been well-documented, thanks to Tinwood Alliance, the group that first brought the quilts into art museums. I spent a great deal of time listening to audio recordings, to help me capture Lu’s voice, and I had a lot of fun poring over the November 1932 issues of Wilcox Progressive Era (local newspaper).

How does quilting come into play?
It was my great fortune to marry into a quilting family. Ludelphia is actually named for my husband’s grandmother, who spent lots of time telling me the stories behind her quilts and also showing me how to stitch. Couple that with my life as the daughter of a gifted seamstress, and there’s no mystery where this story comes from.

Do you do any quilting yourself?
My 2010 quilt project is a charm quilt. I’m currently collecting 4 inch squares of fabric – the fun thing about a charm quilt is that none of the fabrics repeat. So I need over 300 DIFFERENT fabrics to complete the project.

What are some books that have inspired you as both a reader and a writer?
Lately I’ve been reading Barbara O’Connor’s books. She has a knack for creating great characters and simple stories. My favorite books in childhood were the Little House books. And if I had to pick one author to emulate, it would be Katherine Paterson. She’s a brave writer – one who isn’t afraid to give kids credit for their depth of emotion. I strive to write like that.

In your opinion, what’s the hardest part of writing a story based on a real life event? Why?
It’s hard not to put in every single thing I learned! There are so many fascinating details that didn’t make it into the book... but the goal of writing historical fiction is for the character’s story to soar above the historical events. The history is really just a backdrop. So the hardest part really becomes forcing oneself to hold back.

We live in a time when young people have numerous choices for entertainment. What would you like to say to people who may be hesitant about reading a book for "fun"?
Reading a book is a way to travel across the universe and through time, a way to have adventures real-life may never afford you. It’s safe and doesn’t cost much and is absolutely exhilarating. And there are so many books! No way to run out.

Thanks for the interview, Irene! Is there anything you’d like to say to readers and aspiring authors out there?
Readers and writers are my most favorite people! Thank you for existing. Now go out and tell your stories in whatever way that makes sense to you – maybe even in a quilt.

Cross-posted at: LiyanaLand! on 8 January 2010.

Scouting for Lily

Hey Lily, hey Scout! How are you coping in St Sophia’s?
Lily: Well, "coping" is a strong word for it. I'm making do. I miss my parents and my friends. Scout helps a lot, though.
Scout: *nodding earnestly* It's true. I do help.

What’s it like there so far?
Lily: Um, well, it's mostly high school, but with lots of girls who wear almost exactly the same thing every day.
Scout: We aren't a very original clue, at least in a fashion sense.
Lily: Agreed. Classes are pretty standard. I'm supposed to be starting an art studio in a couple of weeks, which I'm excited about. And then, of course, there's the nighttime stuff.
Scout: *leaning toward Lily* Lils, ix-nay on the ightime-nay uff-stay.
ily: I think Liyana here is going to be able to decipher your secret code, hon.

What sekrit code? Is it a St. Sophia's thing? Is it weird, staying in a dorm... which is basically staying in the school itself?
Lily: You definitely don't feel like you're getting a healthy separation from school--
Scout: --or the brat pack.
Lily: *nodding* --or the brat pack at the end of the day. On the other hand, the commute is fab.

St Sophia sure looks creepy, with all the gargoyles and the history behind it. Have you had any.. strange encounters?
Lily: *casting a sideways glance at Scout*
Scout: *rolling her eyes* Lily thinks there's weird stuff going on at St. Sophias. Other than girls wearing vests. I mean, really, vests? Why is that the fashion trend we're reviving? Why
not fedoras? Oh. My. God. *nudging Lily with elbow* I totally need a fedora.
Lily: *putting an arm around Scout* So, I think you've met my number one strange encounter--Scout Green.

Does your room key open any other doors and pathways?
Lily: Huh. I don't really know. I think it just opens my bedroom door. *looking at Scout* Right?
Scout: *whistling innocently*

Geez, it must suck that your parents are away on a two year sabbatical in Germany and you’re stuck in the US.
Lily: I wasn't thrilled. I mean, from what I've seen, Chicago is pretty great, but it would have been nice to see Europe. And, you know, still be on the same continent as my parents.
Scout: In my experience, I've found closeness to be vastly overrated.

Met any cool people so far?
Scout: ME!
Lily: Yeah, she counts. There's also this girl, Collette. She seems pretty cool. And Michael and Jason seem cool.

Okay, let’s talk about something more fun. What are your favourite songs? Do you have any you’d like to recommend to us?
Lily: I love Paramore. Big fan of Bright Eyes. I'll listen to pretty much anything, I guess.
Scout: She does listen to me. As far as I'm concerned, that's what counts!

*laughs* Thanks a lot for that little chat, you too!

Cross-posted at: LiyanaLand! on 7 January 2010.

Little Lulu talks about Gee's Bend, and Leaving It

I'm happy to welcome Ludelphia from Gee's Bend to tell us more about how life is there. Lu is only 10, and she wears an eye patch but that's no hindrance to her! She's gone through a lot in Leaving Gee's Bend, and here she is to give us an insight into what it is to be Lu.

Hi Lu! Will you tell us more about your family and friends?

There’s Mama, whose belly is full of baby... and she’s got a mean cough that’s been keeping us all up nights. Then there’s Daddy – he’s the one that started calling me Lu. And my brother Ruben – he’s got a secret I can’t tell you. Then there’s our next door neighbour, Etta Mae. She just came back from Mobile, and she’s wearing this new yellow dress. Dear Lord, would I like to have a piece of that shiny cloth to put in my quilt!

How’s it like living in Gee’s Bend?
Ain’t no place in the world like it. For one thing, you can’t hardly find it. It’s like a little island sitting just about in the middle of the state of Alabama. Only instead of ocean water, it’s caught up on three sides by a curve in the Alabama River. Ain’t noplace in Gee’s Bend you can’t get to by setting one foot after another into that orange dirt that likes to settle right between your toes.

How much has life changed since you decided to leave Gee’s Bend to save your mummy?
I got me a pair of shoes, for one thing. A pair of high-heeled ones with little straps, just like in the picture on the cabin wall. But they cramped my little toes and rubbed raw spots on my heels. But I’m holding on to ‘em, because Mama said I might change my mind.

That Mrs Cobb sure is nasty.
Mrs. Cobb done had her some hard times. Her mind ain’t quite right. It don’t excuse what she did. But I reckon if I’d lost the things she’s lost, I might do crazy things too.

What do you usually do on a usual day?
Mama says them fields ain’t a place for me, on account of my eye patch. Ever since the accident, I only got one eye that works. So I tote the water up from the spring. And feed Delilah. Daddy says he ain’t never seen a mule disagreeable as Delilah. And during the winter months I go to school up at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church.

What’s your hobby?
Ain’t hardly a day passed that hasn’t found me with a needle in my hand. I mean, I love making quilts. Mama always says I was born to stitch.

Who taught you how to quilt? Do you still quilt?
It was my mama that first taught me how to stitch. Just like her mama taught her. I don’t reckon I’ll ever stop. I got too many stories to tell.

How has Dr and Mrs Nelson helped you out in the days after the Red Cross came to Gee’s Bend?
They stop by from time to time, just to check up on us. Last time Mrs. Nelson brought us some of that pound cake she makes. You ain’t never had a slice of pound cake so light and fluffy. I mean that cake will fall right to pieces in your mouth.

Cross-posted at: LiyanaLand! on 6 January 2010.

The City Series - Chicago: A Guest Post by Chloe Neill

Welcome to the first installment of WWUC's new series on city-based Internet resources for writers! The City Series is intended to provide a set of research links in art, photography, architecture, urban planning, etc., to writers who are sourcing particular cities for their stories, poems or manuscripts.

Are you a writer with a favorite city/setting? Would you like to contribute your sources to WWUC? If so, send an e-mail to chloe at chloeneill dot com.

Chloe Neill is an urban fantasy and paranormal romance author. Her two series, Chicagoland Vampires and Dark Elite, are both set in Chicago. Chloe is a big fan of the Windy City, and has done a lot of Web perusing for Chicagocentric research sites.

Basic Information:



Architecture, Interiors and Landmarks:


History & Culture:

Food, Drink, Entertainment & Shopping

Do you have a link you'd like to suggest? Leave a comment to be entered into the Firespell contest.

Cross-posted at: LiyanaLand! on 6 January 2010.

Chloe Neill's Casting A Spell on You

I'm glad to welcome Chloe Neill, author of The Chicagoland Vampire series here to tell us more about her YA book, Firespell, which is in all good bookstores today. Happy release day, Chloe!

Describe Firespell in a one liner.
Lily Parker, a high school junior, is sent to private school in Chicago under suspicious circumstances. She quickly discovers that magic rules the night.

What inspired you to write Firespell?
Actually, I always wanted to go to private school, and I like the idea of people discovering that they have talents they weren't aware of. Firespell is the combination of both those things!

Is this your first venture into YA? How different is it writing for YA as opposed to adult books?
Yes, it is! There are so many more rules--from a legal perspective. There are curfews, driving restrictions, and educational requirements. Other than that, the same rule applies whether it's YA or adult--give the characters a true voice.

The model on the cover bears a striking resemblance to Selena Gomez. If Firespell was adapted into a movie, who would you cast as Lily and Scott?
You know, while I have clear images of Lily and Scout, I really don't have anyone in mind in terms of actresses. I do think the cover model looks a lot like Lily.

What does the key on the cover symbolize?
Can't give that one away! :)

Worth a try!(Darn it.) Did you do any special research for Firespell, like hunting for schools?
I do lots of research for all my books. In this case, it was for the operation of boarding schools, the architecture of downtown Chicago, and medieval church architecture to help with the layout of St. Sophia's.

As you can read from the excerpt, Lily was left in the US as her parents went on a two year sabbatical in Munich, Germany. Did something like that happen to you?
Nope. I did know professors who'd taken similar trips, however.

Is St. Sophia’s modelled after any particular school, or a mix of them? What’s the history behind it?
St. Sophia's is not modeled after any particular school, although the architecture is similar to Chartres Cathedral in France.

Oh wow. Will there be a sequel?
Yes--there are currently three books under contract in the Dark Elite series.

Do you have any upcoming book plans that you can share with us?
I'm currently editing TWICE BITTEN, the third book in my Chicagoland Vampires series, which will be released on July 6, 2010. Once that's done, I'll return to writing the second book in the Dark Elite series. Thanks for having me today! I hope everyone enjoys Firespell!

I'm sure we will! For those of you who want more Firespell, have you checked out the exclusive sneak peek? Leave a comment to be entered into the Firespell contest.

Chloe Neill

Cross-posted at: LiyanaLand! on 5 January 2010.

Exclusive Firespell Sneak Peek + Contest

We walked through the narrow space until it dead-ended at the stone wall that bounded St. Sophia’s.

I frowned at the wall and the grass and gothic buildings that lay beyond it. “We walked around two buildings just to come back to St. Sophia’s?”

“Check your left, Einstein.”

I did as ordered, and had to blink back surprise. I’d expected to see more alley or bricks, or Dumpsters. But that’s not what was there. Instead, the alley gave way to a square of lush, green lawn filled with pillars—narrow pyramids of gray concrete that punctured the grass like a garden of thorns. They varied in height from three feet to five, like a strange gauntlet of stone.

We walked closer. “What is this?”

“It’s a memorial garden,” she said. “It used to be part of the convent grounds, but the city discovered the nuns didn’t actually own this part of the block. Those guys did,” she said, pointing at the building that sat behind the bank. “St. Sophia’s agreed to put in the stone wall, and the building agreed to keep this place as-is, provided that the St. Sophia’s folks promised not to raise a stink about losing it.”

“Huh,” I said, skimming my fingers across the top of one nubby pillar.

“It’s a great place to get lost,” she said, and as if on cue, disappeared between the columns. It took a minute to find her in the forest of them . And when I reached her in the middle, she wasn’t alone.

Scout stood stiffly, lips apart, eyes wide, staring at the two boys who stood across from her. They were both in slacks and sweaters, a button-down shirt and tie beneath, an ensemble I assumed was the guy version of the private school uniform. The one on the right had big brown eyes, honey skin, and wavy dark hair curling over his forehead.

The one on the left had dark blond hair and blue eyes. No—not blue exactly, but a shade somewhere between blue and indigo and turquoise, like the color of a ridiculously bright spring sky. They glowed beneath his short hair, dark slashes of eyebrows, and the long lashes that fanned across those crazy eyes.

His eyebrows lifted with interest, but Scout’s voice pulled his gaze to her. I, on the other hand, had a little more trouble, and had to drag my gaze away from this boy in the garden.

“What are you doing here?” she asked them, suspicion in her gaze.

The boy with brown eyes shrugged innocently. “Just seeing a little of Chicago.”

“I guess that means I didn’t miss a meeting,” Scout said, her voice dry. “Don’t you have class?” “There wasn’t a meeting,” he confirmed. “We’re on our lunch break, just like you are. We’re out for a casual stroll, enjoying this beautiful fall day.” He glanced at me and offered a grin. “I’m guessing you’re St. Sophia’s latest fashion victim? I’m Michael Garcia.”

“Lily Parker,” I said with a grin. So this was the boy Veronica talked about. Or more important, the boy Scout had avoided talking about. Given the warmth in his eyes as he stole glances at Scout, I made a prediction that Veronica wasn’t going to win that battle.

“Hello, Lily Parker,” Michael said, then bobbed his head toward blue eyes. “This is Jason Shepherd.”

“Live and in person,” Jason said with a smile, dimples arcing at each corner of his mouth. My heart beat a little bit faster; those dimples were killers. “It’s nice to meet you, Lily.”

“Ditto,” I said, offering back a smile. But not too much of a smile. No sense in playing my entire hand at once.

Cross-posted at: LiyanaLand! on 4 January 2010.