Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Excerpt and Giveaway: The Holder's Dominion by Genese Davis

Brought to you by Kelley & Hall Book Publicity and Promotion...

The Holder's Dominion
Genese Davis

After her father’s death on a mountain rescue mission, Kaylie Ames watched her family shatter. So when Kaylie fled Tacoma for college in faraway Austin, she figured that even the worst campus drama would be a relief. But when her old friend Elliott turns up on his knees in the grocery store aisle, raving about something called a morphis, Kaylie feels compelled to enter Elliott’s unfamiliar world. 

Guided by Elliott and his friends, Kaylie signs on to the massively popular online game Edannair. There she discovers a world of beautiful vistas and magical creatures, where people from all over the globe step into the roles of warriors on fantastical quests. But a real-world evil threatens the players: the mysterious Holder, leader of the elite team known as Sarkmarr, is coercing his followers into traumatic offline dares known as “morphis assignments.” To save her friends, Kaylie must infiltrate Sarkmarr and survive the Holder’s tests. Will she find the courage there to keep her own family from falling apart?

Leap Into Books Giveaway Hop!

The Leap Into Books Giveaway Hop, hosted by Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Jinky is Reading, works like this: each participating blog hosts a giveaway and then we link up together allowing our followers to hop easily from one giveaway to another.  For followers, it means lots of chances to win free books. For blogs hosting giveaways, it means lots of new visitors and followers. It's a win-win! The Young Adult Paranormal Giveaway Hop is scheduled from February 28th at 12.01 AM until March 7th at 11:59 PM (EST).


The Prizes


One lucky email subscriber gets their choice of book from The Book Depository! Choice giveaway—does it get better than that?

I love giving away eBooks too, so a runner-up will win the ultimate eBook bundle featuring:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Followup Interview: Joshua C. Cohen Asks ME Questions!

Who read my interview with Joshua C. Cohen yesterday?

Given my direct connection to Penn State of last year's Sandusky scandal—I lived in State College for seven years and attended grade school there—the author asked me if he could ask ME a few questions about some of the themes his debut novel, Leverage, touches upon, including athlete glorification, the scandal, and bullying.

I'd like to welcome myself to the blog, today-blahblah y'all know how this goes. Here's Josh!

Having once lived in and gone to school near Penn State, (which was recently in the news for revelations that Penn State Assistant Football Coach, Jerry Sandusky, was a serial child rapist and the iconic head coach, Joe Paterno, covered up his assistant coach’s predatory practices), and having happened to live in Austin, Texas for several years (home of Lance Armstrong and the Livestrong Foundation), from your rather unique perspective of having actually lived in both these places: What do you think it is about our culture that we (using the “we” loosely, here, folks) continually worship athletes to the point that we seem to ignore and/or excuse often outrageous, illegal and immoral behavior from them? Do you think this is unique to contemporary American or Western culture, or have you seen it, as well, in your current location of South Korea? And is it even a cultural phenomenon that we should be discussing? Is this “false idol-athlete worship” ingrained in our human nature at a more primitive level as opposed to something that was picked up along the way with the invention of giant sports stadiums and jumbotron screens built for turning athletes into demigods? Please discuss?!?!

ok just kidding this isn't *actually* me
sorry for the confusion everyone,
even i can't tell the difference sometimes ha ha
The American mindset is to always be powerful, to always have an air of brute force because we as Americans are supposed to come off as superior. The Western culture is superficial, but also power-driven. You see it everyday; the most popular kids in high school were the jocks (especially the jocks from rich families) and some of the highest paid workers in the nation are athletes (doesn’t Michael Jordan still earn money even though he’s long-retired? ugh). Sports and money scream power, but lack in substance. Sports = power, and I think that’s why America has allowed itself to suck up to sports and athletes and classify them as the elite.

That’s definitely not something you see in Korea, which is a very education-driven state. All high schoolers study only to get into a university, and all university students only study to get a good job. Koreans value education because, as per Confucian ideals, it is a cultural and familial expectation to be successful academically. (This is also why the #1 cause for suicide among adolescent-early adult victims, is for academic reasons... i.e. bad scores on the Suneung test or rejection in an occupational field).

I also daresay Korea is beauty-driven. We’ve got the highest plastic surgery patients and clinics in the world, and literally every girl you meet here has gotten something done. That would not be acceptable in the States, because it’s seen as narcissistic; the US doesn’t strive for something as flimsy as beauty because the US struggles for power. In the same vein, being an athlete isn’t half as acceptable in Korea as it is in the US. Unless it’s Kim Yuna (Olympic figure skater) or Park Ji Sung (internationally recognized soccer player), athletes are generally looked down upon, and especially from academics, condescendingly. It’s generally not a respectable career choice, so yes, I would say the glorification of athletes is certainly Western—if not exclusively American.


When the scandal surrounding Penn State first broke into the news, many students and football fans’ immediate reaction was to run down to the revered statue of JoePa (Joe Paterno, head coach of the football team) and rally to his defense without knowing one way or another how guilty he was in covering up and allowing a serial child predator to go free. I still ask myself why that would be those fans' first reaction. I’m curious, because you lived in that atmosphere, what you thought might be going through their minds?

The JoePa statue controversy might be a little difficult to understand from an outsider’s perspective, so before anyone passes judgment on the fans’ sympathy, I want to explain who Joe Paterno was to us State Collegians:

He was a revered football coach.
He was one of the most successful college ball coaches in the nation with 46 years of loyal service to the Nittany Lions. He led the football team to multiple victories and was the reason Penn State football was held in such high regard. Now, being a Longhorns fan myself, it would be unfaithful of me to gloat about his football prowess, but as someone who grew up beside him and watched the town flush and flourish in his presence, I know: he did a damn good thing for State College, and that won’t ever change.


He was the reason Penn State University is what it is today.
He and his family supported not only the athletics, but also the academia and community. The Paternos donated millions of dollar for the PSU education system, including the construction of the only fully appointed library on campus. It wasn’t just football for him and his family; everything else. The Second Mile was a fitness organization for underprivileged and underprovided children that he and Sandusky founded. It has closed in the Sandusky scandal’s wake (understandably), but when it did operate, it was as virtuous as UNICEF. He really cared.

He was iconic, a symbol of the city.
There’s a bestselling ice cream flavor named after him at the nationally recognized Creamery, for crying out loud! The local Walmart sells JoePa masks and blow-up dolls during the season, and I’m pretty sure other JoePa memorabilia (bobbleheads, pennants, etc.) could have been found in every corner of every store on campus. That’s how much he was loved, how much he was respected. He wasn’t just a figure for Penn State football... he was a figure for State College. Period.

Now, I’m not justifying Paterno’s actions—what he did was severely wrong and had he not passed away, he deserved whatever legal consequences that came his way—but I am saying he’s a legend, that he is ingrained in State College’s culture, and when someone is appointed a god like that, it’s kind of hard to let go. No matter what he did wrong, there’s so much he did right for State College... he’s still human, he’s still someone generations of State College residents looked up to, and he, not being the actual perpetrator, does deserve to be seen in the light once again. To State College residents, the removal of the JoePa statue in front of Beaver STADIUM for Pete’s sake, the biggest attraction in the city, was of course, an outrage. It’s kind of like... the United Nations demanding we take down the Statue of Liberty just because France does something immoral and unholy. Yes, France may have made a poor decision—possibly even an unforgettable and unforgivable one—but would we, as Americans, be willing to throw out the Statue of Liberty just because of the disgrace with which it is associated? So too with the State Collegians: the JoePa statue was more than must-photograph tourist spot; it was a symbol that represented who we, at the core, once were.

Do you think social media, overall, helps alleviate bullying by allowing victims to more easily get the help they need, or do you think it exacerbates the problem by allowing bullies to more easily pursue their victims?


Social media is a toxic tool, in my opinion. Yes, it’s fun and admittedly my biggest timewaster, but getting too caught up in the drama can be bad for you. I see how it could connect people, giving victims of bullying better access to help sites, hotlines, or means of reporting, but if you look at the big picture, it does a mighty fine job at inflaming the problem. This is due to three different reasons: first, through social media, everyone is anonymous, and virtually nothing (especially after one simple click of the “delete” button) is trackable. People will go to great lengths to say something nasty, something cruel, because they know there won’t be any consequences if they can’t be found. Second, because social media connects everyone, word spreads like wildfire and once it does get around, there’s no going back. The internet is the worst platform for gossip and rumors, which gives bullies the upper hand. Third, bullying online and bullying in-person are two totally different things, and for the former, it’s really difficult to draw the line. Is a snarky comment on someone’s Facebook profile picture considered bullying? Is calling someone “gay” on Twitter bullying? What if the users were just being sarcastic the whole time? What if it was part of an inside joke between two friends? Online, there’s never any way to accurately determine tone or context, so “bullying” sometimes isn’t really bullying, and conversely, a seemingly innocent remark can cause someone’s world to come crashing down. It’s hard to distinguish anything online, which is why cyberbullying takes up a large percentage of bullying today, but only a small portion of reported bullying.

I will say this though: With luck and with good timing, social media can be GREAT for reporting bullying with evidence. A screen capture of or a link to a post that demonstrates bullying can be used as proof when reporting a situation, whereas in person, one can only depend on witnesses or hearsay.


A couple questions about my blogging and reading...

Based on your voracious reading, is there something out there you see that no one’s captured in fiction as of yet?

I take interest in various global and ethical issues (that I honest to God try to keep up with in the news, really!) of which I’d love to see fictional accounts. Some include the current human slave trade (particularly the mass corporations in Somalia and Vietnam), North Korean refugees (obviously!), Nazi human experimentation, various unethical psychological experimentation (e.g. The Stanford Prison experiment, the Monster Project, the Milgram Study, Little Albert, etc.), false confessions, and the obliteration and unjust treatment of Native Americans in the Southwest due to modern colonization. I’m sure there are fascinating memoirs and informational texts surrounding the above topics, but I would love to see some in fictional form... or at least “based on a true story” form.

How would you channel your book obsession if you lived in the pre-internet, pre-blogging era?

I’m wracking my brain for what I did do in my pre-internet days, and it’s pathetic because I can’t think of anything significant... mostly because the only period in my life where I didn’t have sustained internet access was in elementary school and I was too young back then. I’d probably steer clear of book clubs—they can be exhausting, especially if you’re surrounded by people who didn’t understand the book, or worse: if YOU didn’t understand the book.

I’d probably work part-time at a secondhand bookstore, and would burn off my book obsession by bugging passersby to read certain ones and hosting read-aloud nights (like poetry slams but for prose!). I could literally days upon days in indie bookstores—I feel so at home whenever I’m in one
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This was a fresh, exciting twist to a followup interview—thanks so much for taking the extra time and effort to organize this, Josh! It was fun, and I hope my responses (at least the ones relevant to your book) help readers grasp a more holistic understanding of your story and your motivation.


Read my review of Leverage here

Read my interview with the author here

Readers, did you miss the giveaway posted yesterday for a PRINT copy of Leverage for one very lucky Books à la Mode reader!? Details below!

Giveaway!


To enter, leave a comment in response to something I said in this interview
. Please make it MEANINGFUL—comments only consisting of "Great interview" or "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry!!!! For those of you who comment on both yesterday's and today's interviews, you will get double the entries. So head on over to yesterday's post and share your thoughts!

Rules and Disclosure:
Giveaway ends 12 March 2013 at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US/CAN readers only. Sorry, rest of the world! Check my sidebar for international giveaways.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their prizes will be forfeited.
Although I will be selecting winners via Rafflecopter (Random.org), I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤ Plus you get extra entries ;)
Good luck!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Author: Joshua C. Cohen Interview and Giveaway!

Yesterday, I reviewed Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen, and today, the author has been kind enough to join us for an interview! Leverage was a book that really resonated with me, so I'm thankful to have gotten this opportunity. Without further ado, please help me welcome Josh to Books à la Mode. Here's a little bit about him first:

I grew up in Minnesota and was an avid athlete in many sports but I fell in love with gymnastics and devoted most of my time to training in that sport. Unfortunately, I was lanky and tall—a bad body type for a wannabe Olympic gymnast. I found out quickly, when I walked on to the men's gymnastics program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, that there was no way I was going to compete at the collegiate level. I promptly walked myself right back off the team and chose, instead, to live vicariously as an elite level gymnast by rooming with and befriending members of the squad.

After college, with limited job prospects, I began taking dance classes for fun and was lucky enough (after many additional years of ballet and modern dance training) to parlay my acrobatic skills onto the stage. Eventually I had the great fortune to tour world wide with dance companies such as MOMIX and musical theater productions such as West Side Story.

I also happen to be a huge football fan and suffer every season while continuing to support my Vikings. Having my heart ripped out watching the Vikings come so close only to lose it fits the whole Minnesota notion of not setting your expectations too high (see much more famous native Minnesotan Garrison Keillor's musings on this topic).

Leverage was released in 2011 from Dutton Juvenile (Penguin).


How did you arrive at writing the sports and young adult genres? Are there any other genres you’d like to tackle in the future?

I didn’t specifically set out to write a YA book. While the protagonists are both teens (and this is probably what earned it the YA designation) the story and subject matter definitely cross over into “adult” fiction. Having said that, I read a lot of YA that could easily cross over into the “adult” category (and by “adult” I don’t mean porn).

LOL!

As far as the sports aspect of the novel, I grew up on sports and I like trying to capture, on the page, the immediacy of the physical body in competition and the physical body being tested.

I’m open to any genres and as a reader I’ll try anything if it’s well done. But to spend the serious amount of time and energy it takes to create an entire novel, I’m going to stick with a few areas. I like dystopian and slightly futuristic settings. I’d be interested in trying an odd-couple romantic novel with possibly another author where we’d each inhabit a character that should never get together with the other character and yet they do.

A well-established potential premise! I'm anxious to see what you'll come up with. How did you choose the names of your characters? How did you choose the title, Leverage?


I purposely set out to choose names that were pretty generic and common. The reason for this was that I wanted to better invoke the idea that what was occurring in the book could be happening anywhere in America, that it wasn’t some far fetched idea to think that this atrocious behavior could only occur in some fantastic or exotic realm.

The original title I had for the book was Monkey Kings which I still love but that title was overruled once the manuscript was acquired because of a fear that it sounded too young for the subject matter. Leverage became the new title because it spoke to the power that both the bullies and the bullied were trying to get over each other. Leverage also keyed in on the sports angle of both gymnasts and football players using it when controlling their own bodies in practice and competition. The design for the hardcover jacket showed Leverage with the “rage” highlighted, which was a really creative use of the title word.


Oh my gosh! I just noticed that—how creative indeed! Readers, in case you missed my review yesterday, here's a little bit about the book:


Leverage
Joshua C. Cohen

Page Count: 425

Release Date: 17 February, 2011
Publisher: Dutton (First edition)

There's an extraordinary price for victory at Oregrove High.

It is paid on—and off—the football field. And it claims its victims without mercy—including the most innocent bystanders.

When a violent, steroid-infused, ever-escalating prank war has devastating consequences, an unlikely friendship between a talented but emotionally damaged fullback and a promising gymnast might hold the key to a school's salvation.

Told in alternating voices and with unapologetic truth, Leverage illuminates the fierce loyalty, flawed justice, and hard-won optimism of two young athletes.

What was your inspiration for Leverage—for a book that encompasses all the heavy topics of bullying, the glorification of athletes, and sexual predators?

I really was both horrified and inspired (horrispired?) by a real-life account I followed that occurred at a summer sleep away football camp in Pennsylvania. The high school football team (Mepham High School in Long Island) slept in these cabins separate from the coaching staff cabins and at night these three seniors basically tormented several smaller underclassmen teammates in the most sadistic and twisted ways imaginable while the rest of the team looked on and were basically cowed into remaining silent. In so many ways the real-life incident is worse than my fictional account because you expect that at least your teammates to have your back and this was the exact opposite. This went on for a period of nights over the course of the two-week camp and it only came to light when one of the victims had to eventually go see a doctor for internal bleeding. When the assaults were exposed, much (not all) of the community was upset at the victims for causing the football season to be shut down as punishment. And the tormentors and victims were walking the hallways everyday for weeks before any charges were pressed. It’s that last part that actually made me want to write my book, to imagine walking the hallways with known sociopaths that everyone lauded and adored for their football prowess and, meanwhile, you knew what they were capable of but were afraid to speak up. Trying to put myself in the place of the victims and witnesses that share the secret is what got me typing out the story.


Wow, that's just... unimaginable. I'm glad you were able to capture a horror like that into fiction. It definitely needs to be exposed—not for sensationalism, but awareness. What was your journey to publication like? Tell us your call story.

This is still a career highlight for me. I’d been sending out queries to agents, using a spreadsheet I created that listed agents interested in representing the type of story I wrote. My spreadsheet was big and I’d send out queries in batches of 10. The query to Catherine Drayton at Inkwell Management actually got hung up in her administrative assistant’s inbox for about three months. In fact, I’d forgotten that I sent the query to Inkwell because I never received a reply back from them confirming receipt of the email. Then, out of the blue which, as I said was about three and half months later, I received an email from Catherine asking to see the first 50 pages of my manuscript. Then she sent another email asking to see the whole manuscript. I’d gotten this far with a number of other agents so I was guardedly optimistic. Then I received a very short email from her asking if she could call me. This all occurred over the course of a couple of weeks. I knew, from other articles I’d read, that agents don’t generally call you unless they want to potentially work with you. So that was my big call. Getting an agent took so long that I still feel as if that agent call is the bigger of the two hurdles and the more fun one. But then I’d be forgetting that I then signed with Julie Strauss-Gabel at Penguin/Dutton. That was a great call as well. I remember I got off the phone and I thought to myself: “I think this is actually going to happen. I think I’m actually going to be published!!!”


What a ride! Sounds like a dream come true. How much of your actual life gets written into your fiction?

Not much at all. I was a gymnast in high school so I did draw on the feeling of competing and tumbling through space while writing the gymnastics scenes. I also ran a little track in high school and played some football when I was a wee little lad in the pee-wee leagues (probably 4th grade) and still love to watch the game of football so I felt I could capture the physicality of playing the sport as well.


The rest is all made up and involves me trying hard to put myself in the place of these characters to try and get in their heads and make choices they might make. I get inspiration to write stories generally from something I’ve read in the news and then followed up on it with some research of my own. Leverage was partly inspired by the true story I’d followed in the New York Times recounting an assault that occurred at a summer sleepaway football camp in Pennsylvania, like I mentioned earlier. Further research revealed similar types of assaults occurring in school across the country.

Some of the secondary characters in Leverage on the gymnastics team, especially the smart-aleck characters, were combinations of friends and teammates I knew over the years. Thankfully, I never witnessed or suffered any of the bad stuff that I depict in the story. In fact, some old classmates reached out to me on Facebook asking me that very question, afraid that this was going on at our school at the time. I assured them that it wasn’t.

What do you consider your biggest strengths and weaknesses as an author?

Writing action sequences comes easiest for me and I really enjoy that aspect of the stories I create. I think whenever you feel like you’re in a “zone” and the pages are flying, chances are that’s going to be some of your strongest stuff. As far as my weaknesses, I struggle with all aspects of writing. That’s what revision is about. Most first drafts of anything are going to be pretty clunky and two-dimensional and shallow. That’s to be expected. So you go back and work and re-work until you can breathe scenes and people to life.


The exhilaration and adrenaline in your book really shine through! How do you react to a negative or harsh review to your books?

I’m actually pretty okay with negative reviews if they are thoughtfully written and they simply don’t like the book. In fact, I find some of the “negative” criticism to be both legitimate and constructive and I keep them tucked away in my head when I work on future projects. The harsh reviews are few and far between, luckily, and they generally seem as if they didn’t actually read the book or finish it. I think my favorite harsh review quote on Amazon was “This book is sick! Just Sick!” which I started to chuckle at because it certainly was eye catching and it might actually sell more books than a pleasant review that is boring. I’ll just add that I was a professional dancer for several years and that meant going to cattle call auditions with a number pinned to your chest and having someone basically yell “next” if you didn’t immediately impress them. And that always felt really personal because they’re looking at your body and judging you. Compared to a bad dance audition, a bad book review is pretty easy to blow off.


That's an interesting contrast... certainly a good way to dull the unnecessary criticism. I'm glad you don't let it get to you—some "reviewers" are just ridiculous. Give aspiring writers a piece of advice you wish you had known before getting published.

Hmmm... in some ways I’ll feel like a fraud for giving this advice since I don’t practice it as much as I should. But it’s true that the bigger web presence you can create ahead of time, the better it will be to help your book out of the gate. Even if you get signed to a major publisher, they only have limited resources so you really need to be prepared to work on behalf of your book in promoting it and trying to get the word out. Signing with a major book publisher seems like crossing the finish line to lots of aspiring writers. It may have been 15 or 20 years ago but nowadays, it’s only the first step. It’s a major step, don’t get me wrong, but it’s only the beginning. The more you can do for the book on your end as far as promoting it, the better. So if you’re not that into creating a web presence, start working on it and figuring it out. And figure out how much you want to tie your book to “you” on the web or if you want to create a persona for the book so you can have your own personal identity remain relatively untouched.



That's marvelous advice; really useful too! A fresh departure from the hackneyed "never give up" line I always hear. Now give us your best personal advice—something you wish you had known when you were younger and would offer to your own kids.

This really struck home with me in high school and it came from a teacher at the time imparting wisdom to graduating seniors. I think it's more important for younger students and is less important as you grow older: Be really exceptional at something that makes you proud and offers you a positive identity you can hang your hat on. This will help give you a solid base when you’re feeling rudderless and trying to find your own way venturing out into the world and trying new things. If this means you want to be an amazing athlete or writer or dancer or computer programmer, so be it. If it means you want to be an amazing guitarist or poet or mathematician or gardener or science geek or App programmer or language expert, so be it. Eventually, as you get older, you want to branch out and not be confined to any one label but sometimes a strong singular identity—“My name is X and I’m an amazing at doing Y” helps you when too much feels new in a world that can offer so much doubt.



Thought-provoking and true to life! What’s a question you’ve always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer it?

“Should we humans just pack it in and call it a day because there’s no hope?”

No, silly. There’s hope. Now, of course there’s a butt-load of ignorance and greed and horrible acts being perpetrated all the time. But there’s also amazing acts of courage and kindness and generosity and intelligence occurring out there as well. It’s up to you to decide, on any given day, what you’ll do with this day that will never, ever exist again for all of eternity and how will you make the most of it. If you spend too much time in front of a screen surfing from one sensationalist site and article or YouTube clip to the next, you’re liable to eventually think most of us are crazed sociopaths or uncaring dolts. When you feel that way, you know it’s time to turn off the screen, pull out the earbuds and go find the nearest park or sunny spot, or dog or cat. That’s step one. Step two is immediately sign up to volunteer for something, anything, it doesn’t matter what except that it has to be something that you’re doing it because it is adding a drop in the bucket and helping. And not helping for the sake of padding your college entrance applications or résumé but just because it’s the right thing to do. Volunteering feels amazing. Even helping someone across the street feels pretty good. Don’t be afraid to do good. I’m not talking religion, here. I’m talking action. Okay, time to jump back down off my soapbox. Thanks!

Very inspirational. What are your goals as a writer?

Okay, I’m going to shoot for the moon on this one because, well, why not? I would love to gain enough publishing success that I could move my entire family to Bali/Hawaii/Brazil for six months a year where I could write in a little hut on the beach in the morning, then play in the surf and snorkel in the afternoon and practice yoga in the evening, and never have to worry about a day job to support myself. I would have an army of devoted followers that made every book I wrote an immediate New York Times bestseller no matter what topic or genre I chose to tackle. Oprah and I would be good friends. My personal physician would be Dr. Oz. My legions of fans would flood all reviewing sites such as Amazon with tens of thousands of 5-star reviews. Sunday Supplement articles would carry titles such as “Move over Bible, Torah and Koran, because Mr. Cohen’s latest release has just hit store shelves.” Eventually, I would be able to decide elections in Nepal, France, Uganda, Mexico and the U.S. by simply endorsing the candidate of my choice. Perhaps I would be able to incite the bloodless overthrow of countless brutal military regimes with a simple tweet or two... but I digress... (I’m now awakening from a semi-fevered state covered in a sheen of sweat and blinking rapidly).

My goals as a writer... hmmm... I’ll take getting another book deal and having a follow up interview with you, my "Modish Books" friend, when my next novel comes out.

As fantastic as Bali/Hawaii/Brazil sound (you'd take me too, right??) let's definitely count on having you over again! You're always welcome and of course, your new releases as well. What would you say are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?


Whew! Where do I begin?! I’m not sure I have the answer, though. There've been many times I’m wondering why exactly I choose to torture myself with trying to get published. It’s such a solitary path and you can easily lose yourself to negative thoughts and doubts on any given day. I think one important attribute is tenacity in all its forms: Mental tenacity to discipline yourself to carve out some time on a regular basis to actually write—and that doesn’t mean surf, chat, twitter, comment etc. Then there is the emotional tenacity which allows you to weather a barrage of self-doubt and outside critical comments and keep going in the face of what can sometime feel like a never ending riptide of “I suck”. Physical tenacity to not sleep or play or party or drink but WRITE when you would really, REALLY like to take a nap or party or drink instead. As far as external attributes, I would say having a close group of either friends or fellow writers that you can commiserate with is very important. Actually it doesn’t have to be writers. I think it is important to be connected with people pursuing art at a serious, passionate level, whether as a musician or painter or sculptor or dancer, because they will more easily understand you when you have a down day and need to understand you’re not the only one going through this crazy process. They also get that you’re actually pursuing this as more than a hobby. When you see others actually living their existence as a writer or dancer or visual artist, it helps reinforce that you can actually do it, too. I think this is why NYC still remains a draw for artists of all stripes even though it’s a ridiculously expensive place to live. It’s not every city that you can see an adult carrying a cello on their back or wheeling a giant base violin down the street to their “day job” and know that’s how they’re making their living. It’s pretty inspiring.

Sounds amazing. What’s the most interesting comment you have ever received about your books?

I can’t pick one because I’ve had a bunch of really thoughtful comments made about my book. I think what’s most interesting is that the praise has come from readers in all walks of life. A very successful, very powerful businessman in his late sixties confessed that the book made him cry. A long haul truck driver told me he listened to the audio version of the book while driving cross country and was racing down the highway shouting “Hell yeah!” at the end of the story. A skate punk girl from Seattle confessed that she had to hide the book from her friends because they thought it was weird that she liked to read but she wanted to somehow make them all read this story. A teen gymnast (female) reached out to me, telling me how much she loved the book. None of these people would ever be found sitting together at a table and chatting and yet they all came together to enter a world I created. It’s a powerful feeling to get that as a writer. It makes up for a whole lot of years of struggling to get published.


I can only imagine how that must feel! What’s something you love to see your readers do or say?

I’m pretty content to hear someone praise my story with a variation on “I couldn’t put the book down and had to finish it to see what happened.” While I appreciate all genres and all forms of fiction, my number one priority as a writer is to build enough tension and suspense and caring for the characters and the situation, that a reader needs to move through the story to see what happens. It’s not an easy juggling act to manage so when I get that comment, I really like it.

As far as readers doing something, letting others know how much they liked the book is always greatly appreciated by me and my publisher! :)


Of course, of course—everyone loves the shameless fangirls/boys ;) What’s next for you?



I am currently working on a novel that examines bullying in the wake of a school shooting from the point of view of formerly popular jock that begins examining his own complicity in the status quo. It will soon be with my agent and time will tell whether or not this will actually be the next novel to see the light of day.


Let's have our fingers crossed! What is the message in your book that you want readers to grasp?



Without sounding like I’m trying to conk the reader over the head with a message, I’d say that I’d be happy if they finish the book and recognize the fact that we are all scared at some point in our lives (if not some point everyday) and we all need to acknowledge the fact that courageous acts are courageous precisely because the person performing them most likely understood the very real consequences of his or her actions (and was scared and freaking out on the inside) and went ahead and made the choice to do them anyways. And that courageous acts come in all shapes and sizes. It’s not all rushing into a burning building to save a child. Speaking up in a group that’s harassing/tormenting an isolated individual is courageous. Deciding to live a different lifestyle or choose a non-traditional career path than what your parents and peers expected also takes courage.


That's really encouraging! I hope readers of Leverage take that

 home and to heart... I know I sure did. What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?

This is one, right now: I’m having a conversation with this really intelligent, articulate, amazing person that lives literally on the opposite side of the world from me all because of a story that I spent years writing and trying to get published finally did get published and my book led to us meeting on Goodreads. You then read this story I created and we’re having a conversation around it and about it and about other things connected to it. That whole “Butterfly effect” aspect of getting my book published is something that thrills me.

By nature I’m a very curious person and I love meeting other people and having conversations with them. I love discussing stories and if it’s my story being discussed, so much the better. When you spend years working on a story or stories and trying to get published, you dream of the day that others will read it and discuss it. That, to me, is really the biggest dream that’s come to fruition Americanflag

OMG! I'm blushing. This is why you are the coolest person ever xo. I've got to agree, though: from my end of the line—as a book blogger—getting to really connect with authors in the wake of their books is spectacular. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to interview you, Josh, but unfortunately we need to begin wrapping up! Is there anything you'd like to ask our readers before we conclude?


Were you ever bullied and, if so, looking back on it, did you try to ride it out without getting an adult involved? If so, do you now regret not telling someone in a position of authority sooner, if at all? Or are you satisfied with how you handled the situation?

Terrific question! Where can you be found lurking on the web?

Website | Blog Facebook Twitter Goodreads Purchase

Read my review of Leverage here
Read the followup interview (in which Josh spotlights me—yes, me!) here

It was a real treat having you over at the blog, Josh! Thank you so much for joining us and for masterfully responding to all our questions.


Giveaway!


Josh has been generous enough to provide a paperback copy of Leverage to one lucky commenter! To enter, answer Josh's question about bullying. Me? I can't say I've experienced anything even remotely like what Danny and the other victims at Oregrove High do in Leverage, but I do recall one incident in elementary school (this so counts!!!). All of my friends suddenly stopped talking to me, and it turned out this one girl, who played queen bee, ordered them to ignore me. How did I handle it? I cried on the jungle gym during recess until a teacher found me and took me to the counselor, who called everyone's moms. Then my friends crawled back to me on hands and knees saying they were sorry and it was all that other girl's doing. Little bitch. You can tell it's scarred me terribly ever since. LOL.


If you've never been bullied before, just leave a response to something Josh said in his interview. Please make it MEANINGFUL—comments only consisting of "Great interview" or "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry!!!!
Rules and Disclosure:
Giveaway ends 12 March 2013 at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US/CAN readers only. Sorry, rest of the world! Check my sidebar for international giveaways.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their prizes will be forfeited.
Although I will be selecting winners via Rafflecopter (Random.org), I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤ Plus you get extra entries ;)
Good luck!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

9 Heart Review: Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen

Leverage
Joshua C. Cohen

Page Count: 425

Release Date: 27 September 2012 (reprint edition)
Publisher: Speak (Penguin)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

There's an extraordinary price for victory at Oregrove High.

It is paid on—and off—the football field. And it claims its victims without mercy—including the most innocent bystanders.

When a violent, steroid-infused, ever-escalating prank war has devastating consequences, an unlikely friendship between a talented but emotionally damaged fullback and a promising gymnast might hold the key to a school's salvation.

Told in alternating voices and with unapologetic truth, Leverage illuminates the fierce loyalty, flawed justice, and hard-won optimism of two young athletes.

Review


Sports fiction will always have a special place in my heart because it combines two of my favorite things: sports and... well... fiction (okay, shut up).

I grew up with Dan Gutman and Mike Lupica, but I think Leverage was probably my first venture into older teen sports fiction, and definitely my first one about football (which, might I add, is my all-time favorite spectator sport). I know by the blurb, it sounds like another Friday Night Lights, another head-butting, sweat-packed story about the strength that goes into football and the tough friendships formed along the way, but isn't—it definitely isn't. Leverage is much, much more: It's deeper, more tragic, and more grueling than any other sports novel I've read before, and it's an unexpectedly jarring, as well as unexpectedly hopeful story that everyone should be aware of.


There are so many different issues tackled in Leverage, including the nit 'n' grit of two very competitive varsity sports teams, the treacherous social structure of high school, and an unspeakable crime against innocence, that all throw outsider, Danny Meehan, into chaos. A determined gymnast and self-proclaimed "nobody," Danny knows better than to mess with Oregrove High's most powerful social circle: the football players. It hasn't been too long since I last cheered on my own high school football team in the stands, so I knew exactly the atmosphere, exactly the rush of the crowd, that Cohen portrays. I do feel his evocation is a bit exaggerated, because never have I met such mean high schoolers, nor such brutal teenagers, but then again, I'm no Danny Meehan; having never gone to school actually fearing for my safety, I've probably never noticed the great, disastrous social divide. 


When Kurt Brodsky, a terrifying rock of a fullback with a mysterious, painful past, treads softly onto Oregrove's social scene, Danny sees the school's dynamic doing a fabulous turnover. Suddenly, football players actually seem human, and he even builds up a little bit of courage for himself. All of this comes crashing down when he alone witnesses an inconceivable act of violence, and then is forced to live with the guilt of the ramifications that succeed it.


The hazardous burdens upon a faultless witness, as well as the morality that separates the bystanders from the perpetrators, are embodied seamlessly within Danny's conscience. I think Leverage is a book that everyone should be talking about, just for the hundred and one issues it raises on current events such as child abuse, sports security, and bullying.


I'm afraid to say anymore because I don't know if I could without spoiling the story/fangirling hard, but I will leave you with this: Leverage presents the darkest, most horrifying tragedy you could probably imagine in a contemporary teenage setting. I place this work of young adult fiction apart from others because while others may convey equal brute and equal atrocity, none has ever been so real, so realistic. 

Now, if Leverage was a film, it would be rated R, not only for disturbing content, but also for some language, violence, and sexuality. (Not that any of it was enough to bother me—with the exception of one stomach-dropping scene that literally made me tremble—but just a warning: this is most certainly not your sweet, chaste young adult read! I repeat, this is NOT YOUR SWEET, CHA-)


Someone cut me off. Anyway. I love Cohen's voice. Leverage is split up into two narratives: one of the smart, smart-assy Danny, and one of the worn and leather-hard, but still tender Kurt. The high school dynamic is perfectly captured—from the tiny little observances regarding teachers and their inability to ever be subtle, down to the reeking of every boys' locker rooms (don't ask me how I know what a boys' locker room smells like)—and this is mainly the reason why Leverage is so true-to-life, and why it hits so close to home. Like I mentioned before, some of the secondary characters (e.g. the inflatedly brainless football players and the overly determined coaches) are a bit too much; I understand the author meant to caricaturize specific stereotypes within these supporting characters, but it did make the story slightly unrealistic. Fortunately, our two protagonists are perfectly proportioned and perfectly probed, which contributed a lot to my enjoyment of the book.


Kurt was an easy character to like—the gentle giant with a huge heart. The slow uncovering of his secretive past is riveting, and his ultimate triumph astonishing. I loved reading about him warming up to Oregrove, and eventually overcoming his darkest of demons.


Danny was more difficult to sympathize with, even though he's portrayed as the "victim" in many cases, so scrawny and well, kind of a geek, as he is. His attitude is generally snobby and condescending (even on top of his acknowledgement of being at the bottom of the high school social ladder), but it helps shape the plot of the book; in fact, the shift we victoriously see within Danny is what shapes the entire climax, in the first place. While I can't say I immediately liked him, I can say he's a well-fleshed, well-written character essential to the book's procession. Cohen did an excellent job with the main characters.


Leverage is vicious and emotionally searing, but there's a lyrical ending note that makes it all worth it in the end. Leverage is definitely a harsh ride, but there are some weighty issues within it that readers will pick up and take to heart. I am truly impressed with Cohen's accurate representation of the modern high school dynamic, his hard-hitting revelations on injustice and corruption within a sports system, and the disturbing, crude consequences of teenage bullying he reveals is prevalent in society today. The overall complexity and depth of this simply-presented novel astound me.


Pros


Nothing is held back; raw, crude, vicious // Great portrayal of a high school // FOOTBALL! Need I say more? // Impressively dynamic characters // Intricate plot // Easy to read and follow

Cons


Some characters are too stereotypical // Flow of the writing sometimes gets dull

Love

"Duh-duh-do you hear everything in muh-muh-my helmet?" I ask, feeling suddenly exposed.

"That's right, my friend." She smiles in a way that makes me bring a hand in front of my crotch. "Everything."

Verdict


Leverage is a coming-of-age football novel that holds no barriers and has no inhibitions. It will take your breath away and have your blood pumping madly; the adrenaline players feel, readers will definitely feel, and that rush—that delirious heart-pounding, throbbing, thrilling sensation—will reverberate effortlessly through their spines. Tragic, appalling, but all-the-while confident and anchored in tone, this young adult story about the power of perseverance and the importance of keeping courage—even if only for a few minutes longer—is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Fans will go wild over Joshua C. Cohen's stunning debut Americanflag

9 hearts: Loved it! This book has a spot on my favorites shelf (x)

8 Heart Review: Blood Eternal by Marie Treanor

Blood Eternal (Awakened by Blood #3)
Marie Treanor

Page Count: 342

Release Date: 4 October 2011
Publisher: Signet Eclipse (NAL; Penguin)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher, via Bewitching Book Tours, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you both!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Everything comes to light someday...

Elizabeth Silk is struggling to reconcile her passion for the vampire overlord Saloman and her allegiance to the vampire hunters. When a shocking vampire revolt calls Saloman away from her, she refuses to follow him.

To make matters worse, Saloman's beloved cousin Luk has been found and awakened by one of his greatest enemies. Frenzied with bloodlust, Luk embarks on a killing spree and prepares to expose Saloman's biggest vulnerability: Elizabeth.

But under Saloman's regime, vampires have become less concerned with secrecy, no longer willing to hide their power. Rumors are swirling about attacks on humans. After Saloman joins forces with the vampire hunters to consolidate his power, Elizabeth begins to understand her role in the inevitable collision of the two worlds. She could bring resolution between vampires and humans—if she can manage to stay alive long enough to play both sides...

Review


Missed my reviews on the first books in the series? You might want to read them first!

In the midst of Saloman's tumultuous, forbidden romance with the wickedly smart and vulnerably human Elizabeth Silk, there is one thing on the powerful Ancient's mind: to see the world change, to see the vampires be brought out to the open and live in the human world. His strategy is carefully calculated and involves the gradual education of humans in order to achieve tolerance and cooperation, but his Ancient cousin, Luk's unexpected awakening, may veer him off his path.

I absolutely devoured this third and final installment of Marie Treanor's Awakened by Blood series... I am definitely pining for more, and am distressed by the fact that there IS no more. I would recommend readers of the first two books to pick this one up, just because Blood Eternal picks off and concludes where Blood Sin left off.

Recent vampire revolts risk Elizabeth and Saloman losing each other, which makes Saloman all the more determined to maintain order within the dynamic of vampires slowly cohabiting with humans in the real world. In the end, however, his mission uncovers one startling, anticipated truth: that as much as both he and Elizabeth want and need eternal love, she is thoroughly human, and it is her humanity that makes her so valuable to both him and to the world. She indeed, is his weakness; her loving, frail humanity, compassion, intelligence, wit, vulnerability, sweetness, bravery, and overthought are what make him falter. She is simultaneously his strength, his stamina, his moral guidance; he needs her to survive. As much as he wants to love her forever, he knows she belongs in the light, and he, in the shadows. Through her and through opening up to her, he painfully learns and relearns both his identity and the sheer, melancholy truism that in love, nothing can ever, ever be perfect.

The emotional anguish and unfeasibility of the romance is so well-conveyed. Blood Eternal tugged at my heartstrings and left me aching inside. Elizabeth is Saloman's lifeline, but when the deranged and furious Luk realizes she is also his demise, he'll do anything to fulfill his early prophecies and use her as the missing piece to Saloman's complete destruction. It's possible their love may be strong enough to change Luk's predictions and in turn, change Luk's insanity itself, but it's also possible their love could ultimately lead to the sacrifice of one of them... or both of them, in time.

The entire novel surrounds the internal battle for Elizabeth's trust, from both the perspectives of Saloman and the single-minded vampire hunters who lover her as much as he does. Saloman's adverse effects surface clearly, not only to Elizabeth's friends, but also to Elizabeth herself; it is obvious that he is whittling away her human life—she has no sense of normal anymore—which is causing her to lose her principles. It's interesting how Treanor adds Elizabeth's confusion with her identity in this last novel, because readers previously thought she had such a good grip on it before. The importance of loving herself first—the self that Saloman fell in love with and the self that could temper his inhumanity and make his domination more like cooperation—is brought to light. She is not the only one who needs her humanity—the world needs it too. If she lost who she was, there would be more lives at risk than she could ever imagine.

One of my favorite aspects of Blood Eternal was the slow, painful unraveling of Saloman—what made him a vampire, and what made the weaknesses he has today. Luk's mentally insane and dangerous resurrection reveals another one of Saloman's vulnerabilities; his agonizing past is explored and his weaknesses tested. I loved how he was finally able to bare himself to Elizabeth, as well as bare a part of her she never knew existed. The unearthing of secrets and deep desires makes it difficult to distinguish the vampire and human races by much. Saloman's compassion is heart-wrenching; that a being so evil could feel emotions so loving, is tragic, and is what makes him so damn perfect for Elizabeth. I'm devastated there's no more of Saloman to read about—am experiencing severe Saloman withdrawal symptoms. Bloody fictional characters!

The return of old vampires we've grown to love and new one's we'll come to hate ushers a violent, willful ultimate battle will determine their fate... that is, if they make it out alive. Victory in the raging vampire war will spark a new millenium of Ancients for the greater good of both humans and vampires, while defeat will end the world as they know it. 

Pros


More thrilling romantically, action-wise, and emotionally // Mystery shrouding Saloman is finally cleared // Entire cast of vampires and hunters alike unite // Witty, deliberate writing style // Saloman and Elizabeth are both perfectly lovable // Fast-paced and action-packed // Sizzling, sensual, as always // The impossibility of a vampire-human relationship is heartbreaking // Quirky, amusing dialogue // Ending that leaves me wanting more!!!!

Cons


Drags on at times // Glamorization of vampires gets out of hand: medical prowess? Spell-casting? Protectional powers? Foresight of natural disasters?? I found it to be way too much.

Love

"We walk a bit of a tightrope, you and I," [Elizabeth] whispered. "I overbalance and overcompensate..."

"But you don't, fall." Never fall...
The stake [Elizabeth] always carried lay on the bedside table. "What's this?" Saloman had said, apparently amused. "In case I get too rough?"

"In case you stop."

Verdict


Gripping, full of blood and kickassery and action, and emotionally doleful, Blood Eternal is a thrilling continuation of Elizabeth and Saloman's struggle to stay in the light together... even at the risk of losing themselves completely within their love. The tradeoff in their relationship—her impairment of his judgment that renders him sensitive and his disarming of her grounded values—accurately portray the pain of their love that is impossible to either bear or to forsake. He could die with her, ending his existence and all the good he could do for the world, or she could die for him, and go on forever; either way, one of them will lose what they most need. Somehow though, readers will maintain hope that their decision will, in the end, be for the better—whether Elizabeth and Saloman stay together, or not. Blood Sin is a riveting, satisfying, and completely addicting conclusion to a beloved vampire tale that will stay in readers' hearts for a long time to come Americanflag

8 hearts: An engaging read; highly recommended (x)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Author: Catherine Astolfo Interview

I'm pleased to welcome Catherine Astolfo to Books à la Mode today. Hello, Catherine! Will you please share a brief bio with us?

Catherine Astolfo retired from education to pursue her true passion: writing. She self-published a novel series, The Emily Taylor Mysteries, through her own publishing company, which was then picked up by Imajin Books in 2011. The series revolves around an unusual heroine—the principal of an elementary school. In her late forties, Emily Taylor becomes a reluctant sleuth through a variety of external events. Some of her decisions, however, are based on a fear of discovery, for she has a mysterious past that involves her husband. Readers do not find out the details of this past life until Book 4.

In 2005, Catherine was awarded a Brampton Arts Award for the first novel in the series, The Bridgeman. Recently, she won a four-book contract from Imajin Books for the e-versions of the series.

Catherine was the 2010-11 President of Crime Writers of Canada and is a member of Sisters in Crime Toronto. She is the co-owner of an eZine for writers and readers, Scribes Digest, and of SisBro & Co. Inc., a film production company.

What is The Bridgeman about?

Series: Emily Taylor Mysteries #1
Page Count: 162
Release Date: 9 April 2012
Publisher: Imajin Books
Genre: Mystery

Some secrets can come back to haunt you...

Principal Emily Taylor feels safe in the friendly little town of Burchill—until she finds a body in her school. The murder of caretaker Nathaniel Ryeburn brings back memories she'd rather forget and plunges Emily into a mystery that involves a secret diary, an illegal puppy mill and a murderer innocently disguised as an ordinary citizen.

As fear rips through the traumatized town, Emily's investigation inadvertently leads the police to her door, and to her husband Langford, who is hiding a secret of his own. It becomes clear to Emily that many of Burchill's residents are merely wearing masks. And it's time for those masks to be ripped away... and for a killer's identity to be revealed.
How much of your real life is written into your fictional stories?

Unfortunately too much of the book is realistic. I usually warn people that there is a puppy mill scene based on my niece’s factual experiences with abused dogs. However, I also like to let everyone know that the bad guys get their just desserts.


My characters are usually a hodgepodge of different friends, acquaintances and family members in my own life. I exaggerate or change their qualities and quirks. Thus my characters become people with their own personalities. My heroine is an elementary school teacher, which was my role just before I retired. I based some of my plots on experiences I had in schools—again, exaggerated or twisted or transformed by my imagination.

That's exactly how I develop my characters as well! When did you first know you could be a writer?


I wrote fairy tales in Grade Three, when I was still seven years old. The kids in my class loved my stories, which inspired me to write more. A couple of years ago I met someone who’d been in my class that year. All these decades later she still remembered them!

In Grade 8, a teacher read my stories and told me I had a terrific style. He thought I was a writer already. I agree with his assessment. Anyone who has the urge to put words on paper might be a writer. It’s the follow-through that counts. Sometimes I use the word “author” to make the differentiation. For me, an author is a writer who wants his/her creation to be read by others. You have to be willing to rip apart your initial output and edit, edit, edit. It’s a lot of work. Only authors are dedicated (obsessed?) enough to put in the time.


Who or what influenced your writing once you began?


When I first retired and began serious work on my unfinished novels I was advised by a friend to join Sisters in Crime and Crime Writers of Canada. These organizations led to critique groups, mentors, friendships and networks. In the last couple of years, my publisher, Cheryl Tardif of Imajin Books, has been a huge influence.

Over the years, my daughter has been an enormous influence on my writing. She encourages me, inspires me. Even when she was little she was interested in what I wrote. My son is a scriptwriter so his advice and direction have helped enormously. My husband has supported my obsession without faltering once. I’m very fortunate to have a family and friends who encourage me all the way, who offer critiques and spend hours editing, and motivate me to finish.


How would you describe your writing style?


I’d say I’m a fairly descriptive writer, bordering on “literary,” that is, well-developed vocabulary and expressive prose. I love to write in first person and present tense.


Sounds like I would enjoy it! What is the most difficult aspect to writing a novel?


I think perseverance is my biggest challenge. It’s similar to a love relationship. In the beginning you’re all excited and the interaction is easy. Then come the more difficult times, in turns boring and frustrating. You get bogged down by detail. If you stick with it, you’ll come out the other side and enjoy your affair once more.

I completely agree, and your relationship analogy captures the difficulty perfectly! What are your goals as a writer?

I would love to acquire worldwide acclaim. Honestly. I’ll likely have to be satisfied with being known only in my little corner of the world, but I would truly bask in the glow of becoming a famous writer. Of having a book made into a movie. I have lofty goals that are mainly dreams, but you never know...


Name some authors that have impacted your life the most.


Two great writers—every single one of their novels—have had a huge impact on me: Margaret Laurence and John Steinbeck. I keep my eye on the quality of their writing as a model. Then I do my best. More recently, I have been influenced by Canadian Louise Penny, both personally and professionally.


What is the message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I am making a statement about good and evil. Not a unique lesson, but I’ve put a distinctive spin on it. I want readers to believe that love and community can make a difference. I believe that. I purposely leave the novel on a hopeful, inspiring note.

Give aspiring readers your best advice—something you wish you'd known before getting published.

Don’t stop! If you are truly wired for authorship, you need to finish. You can always go back and fix the mistakes later. That’s what the editing process does. Take the editor hat off and create first. Persevere through the boring/bad parts and get ‘er done! Then get others to critique, edit, proof and advise to make the novel even better. These days you don’t even have to wade through the difficult publisher maze. You can do it yourself, so there’s no fear of never having an end product after all your hard work Americanflag


That's very motivating—I hope my readers who want to write a book (I know there are plenty of them!) take your words to heart! Where can you be found on the web?



It was wonderful hosting you for Orangeberry, Catherine! Thank you so much for joining us, and good luck with the rest of the tour.