Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Blogoversary Wrap Up

Well folks, this is it. With the posting of this entry my blogoversary is officially over. I hope you enjoyed it! So with the end of this long (and somewhat exhausting) party, I thought I'd share some of my favorite posts over the last three years. So join me on my little blogging trip down memory lane.

Ah, my first ever review for Richard Peck's Amanda/Miranda. I had just finished reading the book two weeks before I started my blog and I remember being so excited to share this book with other people. Although it was really like my third or fourth post, I would find that reviews would later take up a lot of space on the blog, even if I have been slacking on them lately. :)

Ooh, my first post about the Cybils in its first year. Amazing to think of how much it's grown in just four short years. And shortly thereafter (thanks to the Cybils nominees) I experienced the first time I had more books than room. A situation I learned shortly thereafter is best remedied by getting more bookshelves.

Here's an interesting post. When I started the blog I was juts barely getting to know the online world of YA lit, and this was an interesting result. This is kind of like my first Waiting on Wednesday post (way before WOW though), and I called it a heads up. This way the beginning of my really long TBR that came as a result of my blogging.

My first of Ramblings post. You know what those are, those posts where I occasionally spout off or ramble about various subjects. This happened to be about what makes YA lit YA lit.

Even before Poetry Friday I would occasionally post poems I found on the blog. I still love this one about the confusing rules of English plurals.

This is a post you may have heard me mention before. Remember when all of the sudden all the covers on upcoming books were headless? It's not nearly so prominent anymore, but it's definitely still out there if you look for it.

Another first, this time my first meme, which happened to be about libraries.

I occasionally post book quotes, and this one happened to be in celebration of the upcoming release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Still one of my favorite Potter quotes ever.

Back in 2007 I hosted a Summer Writing Challenge. It was really kind of silly in retrospect, since I didn't have nearly enough experience at the time to be doing it. But I still got some interesting results. Check out the winners if you have a moment.

If you've been a reader awhile, you'll know how much I love retold fairy tales. As part of the Summer Writing Challenge mentioned above, I gathered just about every retold fairy tale published (at that time) that I could find. The result is quite the list. And then I did it again, this time finding every single version of Cinderella I could find. Also an impressive list.

One of the first (of many) diversions I found on YouTube that I would also share on my blog. This one happens to be a cross between Pride and Prejudice and Harry Potter.

My very first book signing ever. I was quite giddy. I really kind of laugh when I read this post.

Another YouTube diversion. This one is called Simon's Cat. The funniest thing I ever saw... until I heard about LOLcats. But it's still really funny anyway.

My first ever blog award. Definitely a highlight!

I can say with all honesty that I loved doing every author interview on this blog. However, getting to interview two of my author idols (Patricia C. Wrede and Mary Hoffman) was about enough to make me fall over.

And that's it for this little sentimental journey. Of course, there's lots and lots I didn't go through too. So feel free to peek at my archives. Just be a kind, you know, because some of that stuff is soooooooo old...

Here's to another fun year!

Don't forget!

All Blogoversary contests (with the exception of the Contest Monday for The Amanda Project) will end at 11:59 PM PST today! If you missed the full list of contests you can refresh your memory here.

Contest winners will be announced on Monday October 5th, so come back for that.

Come back tomorrow for a whole bunch of new month stuff including Cybils information (nominations open tomorrow!), Banned Books Week, a new comment contest, etc. There will be lots of new posts then, so if you don't read past the first post, you are going to miss something!

Author Interview: Laini Taylor

Wrapping up the celebration today I'm happy to introduce Laini Taylor, author of the Faeries of Dreamdark series (Blackbringer and newly released Silksinger) and Lips Touch (released tomorrow!). Laini and I got to know each other last year when we were both on the Cybils panel for Fantasy/Science Fiction, so despite being really busy with a new baby, she agreed to answer a few questions for me (my questions in bold).

You must be very busy these days with a new baby and two new books coming out just one month apart. What’s it like having the release of two great books so close together?

Well, actually, the part where the books come out is the easy part :-) It's writing the next ones that's a bit more challenging with a baby in arms! I haven't set up a lot of launch events, though I do have some bookstore and festival readings coming up, and a few blog interviews, but overall it's just a matter of watching my google alerts for reviews and hoping for the best. When Blackbringer came out two years ago I hadn't scheduled anything, and the day came and went like any other. It was quite anti-climactic, and I've talked to other authors about this. Especially with a first book it's hard not to expect the whole color of the world to change on that day, but . . . nothing actually happens. To other new authors I recommend having a local signing stocked with friends and family to mark the day.

What made you decide to become a writer?

I don't even know, since I can't remember a time when I didn't want to be a writer. There is no "before." I might have been born wanting to be a writer! Ever since I can remember, I've believed this is what I would do "when I grew up."

What is it like having your husband do the artwork for your books? Does he work on them as you write, or is it a mad dash to finish the artwork before the book comes out?

I feel very lucky, and I advise other writers to marry illustrators. That way, you're never surprised by the cover of your book! Ha ha. In truth, though we've been really lucky so far, we know that neither of us has any power when it comes to covers, but at least I've had the security of knowing that Jim wasn't sending any art in that I didn't like. It's really nice and really rare for an author to have so much input into the art in their books. For the most part he's worked from my finished manuscripts, and with Lips Touch especially he was up late for many nights trying to get it done in time -- including not sleeping for 48 hours just before the deadline!

One of your new books, Lips Touch, is a collection of short stories. How did that get its start?

After I sent the finished manuscript of my first novel, Blackbringer, to my editor, Timothy Travaglini, I had a wait of three or four months for my editorial letter. Though I knew I had to write Silksinger, since it was part of a two-book deal, I didn't feel like I could get started until I know what Tim thought of Blackbringer. So to keep myself busy I started writing very short stories for fun, and posting them on my blog. Several of these, without premeditation, happened to be about kisses. Jim had the idea that they could combine to make a book, and so we pitched it that way. Now, three years later, here it is!

Any previews of future projects you can give us?

I'm working on another YA right now that's similar in style to the Lips Touch stories, but is one long novel. Jim and I are also developing another collaborative project that's a secret, but I will say that it's for younger readers than the Dreamdark books. I'm really excited about both!

Both sound great! We'll keep an eye out for those. Thanks for stopping by!

And to celebrate Laini's (almost) release day, here's the trailer for Lips Touch if you haven't seen it yet (very cool!).

And you really should pick up her other books too. Blackbringer even got a thumbs up from Boba Fett, see? Can't go wrong with that! Laini is also an artist. You can learn more about her, her books, and her artwork Laini's Ladies at her website.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Author Interview: Sally Gardner

For this post I'm interviewing Sally Gardner author of the 2008 Cybils nominee The Red Necklace, (its sequel The Silver Blade just came out) I, Coriander, and several books for younger readers. So without further ado, here's more about Sally Gardner!

What’s the best thing about being a published author?

That you can work at home at your own speed. That you're in a very small percentage of people who are lucky enough to make a living from what they love doing.

Why did you choose to write novels with historical backgrounds? What are the challenges of writing in this particular genre?

The main reason is this dreadful PC world we know live in which means young adults and children are unable to have an adventure, take risks - the past isn't PC, and that's that. Also the distance in time is very good for setting stories in as it means young people can look at things with a moat of time around them enabling them to deal with subject matters that if written in modern day would be too hard for a young reader to deal with (child cruelty, abuse, neglect, abandoment). In England history is neglected as a school subject and I'm fearful of neglecting the past and I feel it has great lessons to teach us. Changes are historical accuracy and finding all those little bits that fall through the slipstream of history - trying to put your fingertips into history and not to be a tourist once you get there is the challenge.

In your bio it mentions your struggle with dyslexia. Was it hard to overcome this in order to have a career as a writer?

Yes it completely made me feel that the notion of being a writer was an impossibility. School had done a great deal to make sure I knew that writing was something completely out of my reach. Then one day I realised that writing is like singing - you've either got a voice or you haven't. It just took me a long time to acknowledge that I could sing. One of the main things is not whether one can spell or has perfect grammar, but if you have a love of words, a love of reading and a love of story.

It’s a sort of tradition around here for me to ask about pets. So can you tell us a little about your two dogs?

I have a wonderful big standard long Dachshund called Oscar who will be 14 in March. His claim to fame is that he was the Brooklyn Bridge at the Christmas dog party where he stood on two boxes while other little dogs went under him. As a puppy he appeared in the US Ikea catalouge wearing a littler red jacket. He was the only dog who disgraced himself by pooing on the white laminate floor much to the horror of the ad man. Lottie is a very small mini Dachshund who's two years old with a character bigger than the Brooklyn Bridge, she's feisty, charming and the biggest flirt known to the dog world. Her best friends are a great dane and several bull staffs and one basset hound.

Can you give us a sneak peek at The Silver Blade?

It's just been released in America and hopefully some good news about a forthcoming film...

Ooh exciting! Thanks for stopping by to chat. :)

To learn more about Sally (and to see some of her great illustration work) head over to her website and check it out.

Author Interview: Deva Fagan

The end of September is fast approaching, so we're winding up with the blogoversary posts. This time I have author Deva Fagan as my guest. Deva is the author of Fortune's Folly, which was just released this year. So here's my interview with her with my questions in bold.

Typing or longhand?

Definitely typing, now. Both because I type faster than I write longhand, and because I would go crazy if I couldn't back up each day's work. I did write my very first novel (which was quite terrible and full of purple prose and cliches) in two spiral notebooks when I was 12 though. It's fun now to look back at those and see all the doodles of dragons and maps sprinkled throughout!

What is your writing environment like?

Currently I write at my desk in our spare room, usually with my dog snoozing on his bed nearby and a cup of tea close at hand. I do most of my writing early in the morning so I sometimes light a candle for inspiration. I also have a postcard right below the monitor with an old photo of one of my favorite authors, Maud Hart Lovelace, writing at her own desk when she was a girl. And I always set my computer background to something thematically inspiring for my current project. Right now I have one of the beautiful Hubble images of the Orion Nebula, because my current project is about an intergalactic circus.

At the moment my desk is also cluttered with two cheap costume tiaras (for a panel on strong female characters I'm doing at the Bar Harbor Book Festival with fellow authors Erin Dionne and Megan Frazer), a recipe for lemon curd (I am throwing a tea party in October with some friends), a card from my wonderful husband congratulating me on my first book sale, a vial of orange perfume, and assorted owls (I like owls, and my family and friends know it!).

Here's a picture of what it looks like when I've cleaned up a bit.

Any other hobbies besides writing?

Too many! I love to cook (especially using local produce from the farmer's markets) and to work in my flower garden. I have dreams of getting together a regular Irish style ceili with other fiddlers in my hometown someday, but right now I'm lucky if I pick up a bow once a month. I love to read, of course. I also help run and participate in live-action gaming events, which is kind of like telling a giant collaborative story with some of the most creative people I know.

I understand you like to travel. What’s the best place you have ever visited?

I only discovered that my love of travel was more powerful than my fear of flying in the past 5 years, so I haven't actually been to a huge number of places. I kind of regret not taking more opportunities to travel before this! The trip that turned everything around was a wonderful week in Paris. It is such a beautiful city! The thing that surprised me most was how my favorite part of travel wasn't going to see the art or even the delicious pastries (which were amazing!). What I loved best was just wandering and absorbing the feel of the place: discovering funny streetnames (Rue du Chat qui Pêche, the "street of the fishing cat") and sitting in the Luxembourg gardens and watching all the people strolling hand-in-hand, or eating a picnic dinner, or walking their dogs.

We're actually going on another big adventure next month: Italy! I have never been before, but I spent a lot of time looking at pictures of Tuscany and Venice when writing Fortune's Folly (which is set in a fantasy world loosely based on renaissance Italy). I am really looking forward to seeing the real landscapes that inspired my book. And to eating lots of gelato and pasta!

Do you have a favorite fairy tale?

My favorite of the traditional western fairy tales is Beauty and the Beast. Partly because I like that the girl gets to be more proactive than in some other tales, and partly because it's the first fairy tale I remember reading as a novel re-telling (BEAUTY, by Robin McKinley).

Anything new in the works you can tell us about?

I have a second book coming out in the Spring of 2010 called THE MAGICAL MISADVENTURES OF PRUNELLA BOGTHISTLE, from Henry Holt. Here’s a blurb:

All Prunella wants is to be a proper bog-witch. Unfortunately, her curses tend to do more good than harm, and she hasn’t got a single stinking wart. When her mixed-up magics allow a sneaky thief to escape her grandmother’s garden, Prunella is cast out until she can prove herself a true bog-witch. It’s hard enough being exiled to the decidedly un-magical Uplands, but traveling with the smugly charming young thief, Barnaby, is even worse. He’s determined to gain fame and fortune by recovering the missing Mirable Chalice. And to get what she wants, Prunella must help him. But what if the aspiring villain and the would-be hero are on the right quest . . . for the wrong reason?

It was a very fun book to write, so I am thrilled to be able to share it. Plus, it has a giant alligator in it!

Thanks for coming by to celebrate. It's been fun!

Thank you so much for interviewing me! And happy blog anniversary!

For those of you who've never heard of Fortune's Folly, here's a trailer for you:

Deva likes searching for patterns, which is how she explains both her degree in mathematics and the echoes of old fairy-tales in her stories. She also loves tea, gardening, and playing the fiddle. She lives in Maine with her husband and her dog. You can visit her at her website.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Guest Post: Aprilynne Pike

Surprise! Two author posts today. Now I have a great guest post from Aprilynne Pike, author of the NYT Bestseller Wings (it debuted on the list! Can you believe it?). So without further ado, here's the post:

My Torrid Affair!

With my manuscript, that is.

All authors have interesting relationships with their manuscripts. We fall in and out of love with them, stray to jot down ideas for new books, better books, and generally come back and beg forgiveness and dig in again.

A relationship with a new book really is so much like a romantic relationship. It starts, of course, with the idea. An idea flits into your brain—much like noticing that hottie across the room for the first time—and it gets lodged there, and begins to grow into a story. Eventually, you have to make a decision. Is this idea worthy of that first date? Is it just a passing fling? Do you have first words just itching to be put on the page?

If the idea is hot enough, you go ahead and stick your toe in the water and begin to write. Sadly, like many crushes, often you get a chapter, two chapters, fifty pages, into your idea, and discover that it has a pretty face, but nothing beneath the surface.

So you dump it until the next cutie . . . er . . . idea comes along.

Lather, rinse, repeat, until you get an idea that sticks.

This is where different authors do different things, but for me, I then burn through the first draft—I’m not one for long engagements in real or literary life; I married my husband five weeks after he proposed! I just hammer the thing out! Because, after all, if you don’t go back and read what you wrote, then it can all still be brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!!!

Then I finish the first draft and I look back at what I have done and wonder if it is all utter crap. Only one way to find out. Read it. So with great trepidation, I start at the beginning and read through the whole thing from beginning to end, making broad sweeping notes in the margins, but not stopping to actually fix anything.

This is my honeymoon period. The time when I look at the manuscript I just committed myself to and, despite the many notes I am making, I see it’s sexy kissing scenes, brilliant dialogue, and sparkling humor and think, “Well, I clearly am amazing.”
And perhaps the reason I can be so humorous about this whole thing is that I am in that spot now. I just finished reading through my newest draft today, and I have to say, it’s pretty darn good.

But wait till next week.

When I am neck deep into trying to actually carry out those deep, sweeping suggestions I left myself in the margins. I already know I have at least three completely new scenes to write, and huge conversation about mythos to clarify, a really important element of the ending that I need to make a decision on, and a whole friendship that developed in my head and somehow never made it onto the page.


I have my work cut out for me.

I do a lot of falling in and out of love with my manuscript. I love it, I hate it, I love it, I hate it. It’s a cyclic and rather unhealthy codependent relationship.

But in the end, my book is still my baby, and I love it for all of its good parts. But, like I believe a good mother should, I see its flaws too. In fact, the older it gets, the more flaws I see. And that’s okay. I can tuck it back onto my shelf and turn my head toward that new, pretty idea sparkling in the corner of my mind. This time it will be better. I will work harder, catch every flaw, fill every plot hole! Ladies will weep and critics will applaud! This will be my best book ever! My last book? Well it had a pretty good day in the sun, but I’ve turned my face toward something new.

It’s not you, baby, it’s me.

Thanks for coming by to celebrate! I hope you all enjoyed that as much as I did. If you'd like to learn more about Aprilynne Pike, make sure you visit her website for more information.

Author Interview: A. S. King

For this post I'm glad to introduce you to A.S. King, author of the novel The Dust of 100 Dogs. Mondays are always crazy busy for me, so let's cut to the chase and get right to the interview!

What was your funniest writer moment?

Wow—there are so many. Like the time I wrote a book and killed off a character in chapter six, only to have her reappear in chapter twelve and live a long life. Or the poetry reading where the guy introduced my poem by telling the audience what it was about—when it wasn’t about any of the stuff he said it was. Or, my first book signing, where the oil light in my car went on while I was stuck behind a trash truck, and the engine overheated on the way to the book store.

Have you ever had a job that required a geeky uniform?

Several. I’d say my bus girl dress at the diner was the worst—brown polyester wrap around style, without enough wrap around, so that every time I bent over, it opened. Also, the Arby’s uniforms in the early 1980’s were pretty ugly/geekish. Oh—and then there was the late 1980’s IHOP uniform. I’d applied, interviewed, and stopped by the day before my first shift to pick up the uniform, and went home and tried it on. I then walked back to IHOP, returned it and quit before ever working there. That probably doesn’t count, but man, was that a bad uniform.

Wow. It must have been really bad! If your life was a TV series, what would the theme song be? And would it be a comedy or drama?

Live comedy with no laugh tracks. Theme song? How about “Good Foot” by James Brown?

Favorite pirate inspiration?

I think I was most inspired by actual pirates rather than fictional ones. The breadth of their fierceness is fascinating.

I totally agree. But sometimes fictional ones are pretty fun too. Are you allowed to give us a sneak peek of anything new you’re working on?
I can tell you about Ignore Vera Dietz which will come from Knopf in fall 2010. It’s about a teenage girl, her dead (ex) best friend, and her attempt to clear his name, and it features a sarcastic pagoda. I just finished work on a book with no solid title, but it’s about a summer at the swimming pool, a trip to Arizona, and a man who’s been lost in the jungle for over 35 years.

What is the one question no one ever asks you but you wish they would? And the answer too!

Q: If you built yourself a Utopia, what would it look like?

A: It would be an island in the Caribbean, with no one else living on it. There would be a large swimming pool and a lot of books. I would have a huge (hurricane proof) office with windows for walls, looking out into the untamed wilderness in one direction, and the sea in the other direction. The island would be close to civilization, where I could go a few times per week and work in my literacy center. There would be copious amounts of reggae music and there would be dancing.

Thank you so much for coming by! This was super fun.

Thanks for having me Alyssa! And happy blog anniversary!

A.S. King’s short fiction has appeared in a lot of great journals and has been nominated for awards, including Best New American Voices. Her first young adult novel, The Dust of 100 Dogs, was published by Flux in February 2009 and was an Indie Next List pick for teens and has been nominated for YALSA's Best Books for Young Adults. Her next novel, Ignore Vera Dietz, is due in Fall 2010 from Knopf.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Author Interview: Cyn Balog

Today I'm happy to welcome Cyn Balog to the blog (okay, that sounded a little weird). Anyway, Cyn is the author of the newly released novel Fairy Tale. I'm sure you've heard of it if you hang around the YA blogosphere. She agreed to do a short interview for me, so here it is with my questions in bold.

Why write YA novels?

Because once you get past a certain age, everything is been-there, done that. YA is all about firsts. At that age, there are so many new experiences. I think maybe that is why I have a hard time writing a blog-- every day of MY life is the same old stuff. But when I was growing up, every day was some new tragedy or triumph. Infinitely more exciting. I think Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club said it best, that when you get older, part of your soul just dies.

It sounds like you’ve had a lot of jobs in your life. Did any of them have an influence on your life as a writer (beyond the fact that writing is more fun)?

Yes, seems like all the summer jobs I had as a teen always seem to be trying to make an appearance in my novels. The novel I am working on now is based in a bakery, and coincidentally, my first job ever was at a bakery. Strangely enough though, all the jobs I've had since graduating college haven't influenced my writing one bit-- they are part of an entirely different world, an excruciatingly boring one with lots of cubicles.

Cubicles are definitely boring. If your life was a TV series, what would the theme song be? And would it be a comedy or drama?

It would probably sound a whole lot like Seinfeld. It would be a show about nothing. But it wouldn't be as funny, therefore it would get horrible ratings and be cancelled after the first episode.

Any new projects you’re working on?

Yes, SLEEPLESS, about a sandman who falls in love with a mortal girl whose sleep he controls, comes out in July of 2010. I'm also working on another paranormal, which is the one set at a bakery... which is all about how perception is everything.

Yum, bakery. Can't wait to hear more. What is the one question no one ever asks you but you wish they would? And the answer too!

Can you roll your tongue? Why, no, I can't. I also can not roll my R's, which is why I hated Spanish class. And I can not roller skate either. I am not a very good roller in general. Thanks for asking.

Yeah, I don't do rolled R's or roller skating either. Thanks for stopping by!

If you'd like to learn more about Cyn Balog, you can visit her at her website where she has all sorts of neat stuff. Example: I found out that her favorite princess is also Sleeping Beauty! Oh, and check out her book too. :)

LOL of the week: Pie

Why this one? Oh, I guess pie just sounded good today.

If you'd like to learn more about LOLcats, you can check out the website, or read my review of the book.

Have a great week!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Guest Post: Beth Fantaskey

Another author guest post for you today. This time I have a great post from Beth Fantaskey, author of Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side. Beth has a great article about her experience as a YA author, so without further ado, I'm going to turn it over to her.

When I wrote my first novel, Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, I was almost astonishingly ignorant about the publishing world. Of course I had heard of “young adult novels,” but I didn’t know that a book about teenagers was automatically considered “YA” – nor that writing such a book would make me a “YA author.”

Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

What a great world I tumbled into, just by telling a story about two young people.
I’m sure that it’s wonderful to be a novelist for “adult” audiences, too, but when it comes to interacting with readers, getting to know them personally, hearing their opinions – just outright having fun with an audience… I don’t think YA can be beat.
I’ve learned that readers of young adult novels are passionate about books, and their energy is boundless. I’m blown away by the scope of the blogosphere. There are young people out there – who are also busy with high school and college – putting together entire amazing, thoughtful, comprehensive on-line communities, like this one.

Now, I know that there are a lot of bona fide adults who are also excited about books and active on-line. I’m in contact with a lot of them, too. But there’s something about getting an all caps e-mail, time stamped 2 a.m., from a nocturnal teenager who has to let me know “I LOVED YOUR BOOK,” followed by about fifty seven exclamation points, that makes my morning when I wake up to find it in my in-box.

And I love the response to my own website. Right now, readers are helping me plan my main character Jessica’s wedding to her vampire prince, Lucius. Together, we’re choosing things like Jess’s dress, where she’ll get married, and the song for the couple’s first dance. Hundreds of girls are offering opinions – and I’ve added about thirty new songs to my iPod. How fun is that?

I have this theory that younger readers are used to everyone being accessible. When I was young(er!), if you wanted to contact an author, you had to write to the publishing house, and hope your letter got passed along. You kind of assumed it didn’t, to be honest.

Today, nothing separates young readers from a writer except… well, nothing really does. And that’s fantastic, in my eyes.

So keep on writing to me. Share those playlists. Ask for advice about your own writing. Tell me about how you threw my book against the wall in fury when Lucius and Faith…

Well, I won’t give that away.

The point is, I had no idea what I was getting into when I wrote my first novel. But in hindsight, I wouldn’t change a thing. I am one grateful, grateful author.

Great post! Thanks for stopping by to share. If you'd like to learn more about Beth, you can visit her website where you'll also find all the final details about Jessica's wedding. And look for her new book coming out in Sprint of 2010: Jekel Loves Hyde. Love, love, love the cover art on that one.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Author Interview: Shanna Swendson

My guest today is Shanna Swendson, author of the book Enchanted, Inc. and it's three sequels. And although it's technically an adult book, it definitely has lots of YA appeal. I really enjoyed it! So I asked Shanna to join me for a little chat. Here's our conversation with my questions in bold.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

My job is to sit around the house and make up stories. It just doesn't get any better than that!

Do you have a favorite word?

The copy editor would probably say it's "just." I don't really have a particular favorite that I use on purpose.

Do you think you’d like to work at Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc.?

Well, it would involve putting on nice clothes and going to a real office, so that would be a downside even if magic's involved, and considering that I based a lot of the corporate hijinks on jobs I've had, I'm not sure it would be the place for me. I'd rather stay at home and write. I don't deal well with office politics.

I noticed on your bio that you like to bake. Do you have a recipe that’s your favorite to make?

I don't have any one favorite. I'm known among my friends for my chocolate-chip cookies. I just use the recipe in the Betty Crocker cookbook, but somehow they seem to come out particularly well when I make them. But I also love making bread, muffins, scones, pies, cakes and a lot of different kinds of cookies.

You also have contributed to several essay anthologies, including one about the TV show Firefly. Are you a fan? If so, who’s your favorite Firefly character?

I am a HUGE Firefly fan, going back to the first broadcast of the first episode. Getting to go to the Hollywood premiere party for Serenity is one of the craziest and best things to happen in my life. My favorite character is Simon because I was intrigued by the story possibilities surrounding him. I thought it was interesting that the most wanted criminal on a ship full of criminals was the nice, clean-cut, civilized guy. He lost everything, but in a weird kind of way, that was the best thing that could have happened to him because it meant he would really have to stretch himself and could find out what he was really made of. (That was a lot of what my Firefly essay was about.)

You would get along so well with my brother. He's a big fan too. So any new projects you are allowed to tell us about?

Not really, unfortunately. I've got some things I've been working on, but haven't sold them yet. I'm just starting a new book that I think will be a lot of fun, so we'll see where it goes.

Thanks for stopping by to help celebrate!

To learn more about Shanna and her books, check out her website. And if you're already a fan, make sure you check out the website for all the fun book extras she's got over there.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cybils Panels Announced... Sort of

First of all, if you don't know what the Cybils are, welcome to enlightenment! The best explanation I have found is this post by Liz B at A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy.

Well, I can finally announce this. I've actually known since Monday, but we had to keep mum until the official announcement was made. Which is was today. So here we go. Copied from the Cybils blog:

We've been working hard behind the scenes on the judging assignments, and we've put together an enthusiastic panel of fans and bloggers to read the best in graphic novels for both young adult and elementary/middle grade audiences.

Panel Organizer: Liz Jones, Liz Jones Books

Panelists (Round I Judges):
Alyssa Feller, The Shady Glade
Maggi Idzikowski, Mama Librarian
Liz Jones (see panel organizer)
Nicola Manning, Back to Books
Kim Rapier, Si, se puede! Yes we can
Gina Ruiz, AmoXcalli
Alysa Stewart, Everead

Judges (Round II):
Walter Biggins, The Quiet Bubble
Justin Colussy-Estes, Guys Lit Wire
Sarah Sammis, Puss Reboots
Sarah Stevenson, Finding Wonderland
Casey Titschinger, Bookworm 4 Life

So there you have it. I'll be doing the nominations for Graphic Novels again this year. This is the third year I've been on this panel, since last year I did Fantasy/Sci Fi. When I found out I was actually a little depressed, since I really enjoyed the fantasy panel last year and I was getting a little tired of graphic novels (hence why I jumped last year). I've also really been out of the loop about current GNs this year, since I've spent most of my reading of those types of books in previously released series.

But now I'm adjusted to the idea. In fact, I'm super excited to be on a panel at all come to think of it. Competition has been getting very fierce this year! I'll miss my Fantasy comrades (if they make the panel again) but I'm working with some great people this year too. I've had the pleasure of working with Gina from my first two years doing GNs on the Cybils, and I know Kim from my work over at YABC. The rest of the people I don't know, but I'm sure we'll be good friends by the time December is over. I do notice there are two Alyssa's (the other one is Alysa) on the panel though. That's going to be confusing. :-)

So keep you eye on the Cybils blog to see the rest of the panels. We're the second to be announced, since Easy Readers was posted earlier this week. And nominations open Oct. 1st! I'll post more info about that then.

Author Interview: Janet Lee Carey

Today visiting The Shady Glade I have Janet Lee Carey, author of The Beast of Noor, Dragon's Keep, and the newly released Stealing Death (which just got a starred review from SLJ. Congrats!). So here's my interview with her, with my questions in bold.

Can you give us the inside scoop on your new book Stealing Death?

Stealing Death is about a seventeen-year old boy named Kipp who steals the Soul Sack from Death to save the life of the girl he loves. I first had the idea for the book sixteen years ago when I saw Soldier Jack on TV. The Southern Appalachian folk tale about a boy who captures death in a sack was spellbinding. I went into what my family calls a “Janet Trance” and knew I’d write a novel with a similar theme someday. That someday took sixteen years, but once I was ready to write the book I completed the last two hundred and thirty pages in two months. Why so fast? My agent, Irene Kraas, had sold the proposal to Egmont USA and I had to finish the story lickety-split to get it into the Egmont USA fall launch.

Wow. That is pretty fast. It sounds like you wrote a lot of poetry when you were younger. Do you have a favorite poet?

Poetry and songwriting were my main art forms from age thirteen to age twenty-nine when I switched to writing novels. Favorite poet? Dylan Thomas.

What was your funniest writer moment?

Hum . . . I’ve had so many. I drove all the way to the freeway entrance with a teacup on top of my car because I was thinking about dragons. The tea was still in the cup when I retrieved it from the roof, but it was cold. I’d also say having my purse searched at the airport because I was carrying around a heavy glass doorknob – something my character Zoe Flynn was carrying around – when the baggage checker held it up with tilted brows the only thing I could think to say was, “I’m a writer.”

Do you have a favorite book that you enjoyed writing more than others?
I always think the one I’m writing right now is the best yet probably because it hasn’t gone through the ugly adolescent stage of being thoroughly critiqued & revised.

I always have to ask about pets. How long have you had your cat Uke?

Uke’s been with us roughly eight years. She’s the queen of the house. The moment I finished the first draft of Stealing Death, Uke jumped onto my desk and stepped onto the keyboard. When she stepped away she’d left lettering just below THE END.
It read: mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I think that was her paw of approval.

What is the one question no one ever asks you but you wish they would? And you have to answer too!

Most readers know I’m into outreach. Few ask me why I feel it’s so important. The answer is simple. Writing books helps me walk around inside another person’s skin. When one of my characters suffers, I suffer. Hopefully readers also identify with the characters. In Stealing Death Kipp’s family faces a terrible drought. Drought sets Kipp on a dangerous course bringing him face-to-face with Death. My research into drought-ridden landscapes to create Zolya uncovered these facts – more than one billion people in the world do not have access to clean water, water-related diseases are the leading cause of death in the world, and the chore of hauling water is primarily done by girls who miss out on education through this time intensive chore.

I made a commitment to take action and raise awareness. Enter PlayPumps International. PlayPumps builds clean water pumping systems in sub Saharan Africa. The Pump is designed as a child’s merry-go-round. Children at play pump the communities clean water. After watching the PlayPump videos on their site and hearing the children’s laughter, I was hooked. I’ve set up a giving page on their site: The STEALING DEATH: Water for Life challenge to raise $14,000.00 for a new PlayPump.

Thanks for stopping by and celebrating with us!

Thanks for the great interview questions. I enjoyed visiting The Shady Glade.

If you enjoyed this interview, come join the author chat and book launch party for Stealing Death on readergirlz September 30th 6:30pm Pacific Time/9pm Eastern Time.

And if you'd like to learn more about Janet Lee Carey and her other books, make sure you check out her website. There's some cool stuff over there, including this article on the perfect writing day. You'll really want to check that out. She's got more information about PlayPumps there if you're interested as well.