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Archive for the ‘Author Spotlight’ Category

Become, a young adult novel by Ali Cross  officially comes out tomorrow but it is available now in both digital and print form.

Cover copy for Become:

Sixteen-year old Desolation Black wants nothing more than to stay in Hell where it’s cold and lonely and totally predictable. Instead, she’s sent back to Earth where she must face the evil she despises and the good she always feared.

When Desi is forced to embrace her inner demon, she assumes her choice has been made—that she has no hope of being anything other than what her father, Lucifer, has created her to be. What she doesn’t count on, is finding a reason to change—something she’s never had before—a friend.

And, a little bit about Ali before we start our interview:

Ali Cross is the sensei of the Writer's Dojo where she holds a black belt in awesome. She lives in Utah with her kickin' husband, two sparring sons, one ninja cat, two sumo dogs and four zen turtles.

Ali. Thanks for joining us today. Where did the idea for Become originate?

Sometimes I like to play the “what if” game and see what stories I can come up with from random ideas. I’ve written a few books that way and BECOME was the first!

As a writer myself, I’m always curious about this: When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?

I first started writing in the fall of 2002—a story born from my Dungeons & Dragon days.  My husband started his first book the same day as me, and we both finished  those books on New Year’s Eve 2003. Best New Year’s Eve ever!

Okay, so you’ve been at this for a while now. Tell us a little bit about your writing process. Do you outline, or just write, or do you use a combination of both?

I wrote most of my books off the cuff. I’d have a concept, title, character names and a general idea of where to go … and yeah, I think that’s why it took me so long to finish.  Now I work a little differently. I’m a huge fan of the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet—I’ll “beat” out a story, but from there, I’ll pants it. I like to have a good feel for where the story’s going, but I give myself the freedom to go where I need to go, too. So I’m a combo writer, I think. Anything to get ‘er done!

Blake Snyder was a talented person. I feel fortunate to have taken a workshop with him. You decided to self-publish Become. Can you tell us a little about your experience with self-publishing and what made you decide to go that route with Become?

I would have loved to find an agent to represent BECOME, and let me tell you, I sure did try! I was rejected 103 times, 32 times in the full, three times from one agent, and I got one agent offer. Plus, BECOME was contracted with a small publisher for a while, too. I believed there was something of value in my story, but I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t going to make it in the traditional route.

The choices were, shelve it and maybe someday query it again, or self-publish. When I had the chance to release with the other awesome girls in my “tour”, it seemed like maybe BECOME’s time had finally come!

Very cool, Ali. I’m looking forward to reading Become!! 🙂 My copy is already on my I-Pad.  Thanks for joining us today.

Ali is giving away a copy of Become, a signed bookmark, a key chain and a hand-knotted heart bracelet–all to one lucky winner.

Leave a comment before midnight (East Coast time) November 16th for a chance to win.

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The White Assassin
Book II of the Nightshade Chronicles
by Hilary Wagner

The White Assassin
Book II of the Nightshade Chronicles
by Hilary Wagner

Publisher: Holiday House

Pub Date: October 11th, 2011
ISBN: 9780823423330

Ages: 9 up

Official Website: www.nightshadecity.com

Blog: www.hilarywagner.blogspot.com

Okay people, here’s my take on both The White Assassin and Nightshade City (that’s book one of The Nightshade Chronicles): Hilary Wagner has created this super cool world that has a sort-of old-world Gothic feel to it. She’s populated this world with some incredibly memorable characters and woven a complex and well-layered plot.

Plus, even if you don’t read much fantasy, like me, you’ll connect with these characters because what they are going through is very human.

And man, does she know how to write a villain!! I’ll stop now because I don’t want any spoilers slipping out.

Here’s the cover copy for THE WHITE ASSASSIN:

Book II in the Nightshade Chronicles begins three years after Juniper and his rebel band of rats liberate the Catacombs and defeat their oppressors.

A sense of peace has settled over Nightshade City, but it is a false one. Billycan, the white assassin, has been found. Deep in the southern swamps, he now rules a primitive horde of savage swamp rats eager to overrun Nightshade City and claim it for their king. With the help of an ancient colony of bats and an uneasy alliance with the swamp snakes, Juniper and his Council set out to thwart Billycan’s plans. When an old secret is revealed—one so shocking it shakes both Billycan and Juniper to the core—the fate of Nightshade City and the life of Juniper’s only son depend on Juniper’s decision: should he help his mortal enemy? The past resurfaces with devastating impact in this exciting sequel to Nightshade City, a dark tale of intrigue, deception, and betrayal.

Nightshade City, Book I of the Nightshade Chronicles is a CBC Best Book of 2011 and a Crystal Kite finalist.

So, here’s the deal. I’m giving away a set. That’s right.  A copy of Nightshade City and a signed ARC of The White Assassin to one person. Comment below by Midnight EST Wednesday October 26th for a chance to win. And, I’d be grateful if you helped spread the word about these books and this giveaway. Thanks 🙂 🙂 🙂

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A big thank you to everyone who entered my Possession ARC, Smoked Salmon and Organic Chocolate giveaway and everyone else who stopped by to check it out.

The winner was chosen by Randomizer (pictured below):

And his side kick, who goes by the clever name, Side-kicker:

At my suggestion, they employed the services of RANDOM.ORG to choose the winner. I’m glad they listened because last time I had a contest Side-kicker put the comments in my screen saver, closed his eyes and delivered what he assured would be a light kick. Randomizer was supposed to watch and see which comment he’d connected with. Well, you can guess the rest.

Yeah, sometimes it’s hard to get good help, but I do love their spirit of enthusiasm.

Congrats to our winner Sarah Allen !!! Yay Sarah!!

Please email me at paulgreci(at)yahoo(dot)com with your mailing information and I’ll send you your prize.

Thanks again to all who participated and stopped by. Have a great weekend!

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I’m not sure, but I’m guessing I’ve got the only POSSESSION ARC that’s been to both Alaska and Hawaii, which I think is pretty cool because one of the things I loved about POSSESSION was the journey Vi takes. Don’t worry—no spoilers here. This book is a page-turner with a main character I cared about. And, it kind of reminded me of the movie Inception: things happen on different levels but they are all related and mind-twisting in a good way.

Just a little bit from the back cover: Vi knows the Rule: Girls don’t walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn…and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi’s future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

If you don’t pick this book up for the compelling voice or the page-turning plot, then pick it up for the themes. The whole idea of societal control was a major topic of discussion in our house after my wife read and loved POSSESSION too.

In honor of Elana (and her love of bacon), I’m going to give away the Alaska version of bacon—some Smoked Salmon. I’m kind of possessed by salmon. I usually catch about thirty of them every summer.

Leave a comment below before midnight Thursday EST for a chance to win two types of smoked salmon and a well-traveled POSSESSION ARC.

Did I mention that I added some chocolate to the prize package? Not just any chocolate. Organic chocolate! POSSESSION, smoked salmon and chocolate!

Thanks for stopping by.

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Timothy Power’s debut middle grade novel, The Boy Who Howled, has that perfect mixture of tension, humor and surprise that makes you want to keep turning the pages to see what happens to Callum; a young boy who was raised by wolves and then sent back to live with his own kind—humans.

From the Jacket flap: “With wild humor, Timothy Power’s inventive writing brings to life a boy’s quest to find his place in a strange world. You’ll root for Callum—when you’re not howling with laughter.”

Yes, there were many laugh-out-loud moments in this story. If you’re looking for an uplifting and humorous story with a healthy amount of tension and a unique voice, then pick up The Boy Who Howled. We read it out loud at our house and loved it!!

But hey, don’t just listen to me. Here’s what the experts said:

“This debut is comical but also poignant.”—Booklist

“The comparison between the great Wild and middle school is an apt one, and debut author Power makes the most of Callum’s humorous foray into the human world. His attempts to win over the A-crowd with his food-gathering abilities are particularly amusing, as is his strange ability to communicate with the city’s stray dogs. A host of entertainingly quirky secondary characters, including a few of the lupine variety, complete the picture.”—BCCB

“A positively giddy comedy.”—Kirkus

You can find Timothy at his blog and at Project Mayhem, and on Twitter @timothypower67.

I’m giving away one beautiful copy of The Boy Who Howled. Comment below by midnight Friday EST for a chance to win.

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Terry Lynn Johnson in one of her many elements.

A big congrats to my critique partner Terry Lynn Johnson.

Terry’s debut MG novel Dogsled Dreams came out over the holidays!!

I know from first-hand experience that this is an exciting read that will get under your skin in a good way if you like experiencing adventure through a twelve year-old’s eyes.

A little bit about Dogsled Dreams: Twelve-year-old Rebecca dreams of becoming a famous sled dog racer. She’s an inventive but self-doubting musher who tackles blinding blizzards, wild animal attacks, puppy training, and flying poo missiles. All of her challenges though, seem easier than living up to the dogs’ trust in her abilities. Rebecca runs her huskies along the crisp trails near Thunder Bay, Ontario, where northern lights flare and dangerous beavers lurk. Through the bond she shares with the dogs, Rebecca learns that hard work, dedication and living in the moment bring their own rewards. 

Diane Johnson, the Iditarod Education Director said this about Dogsled Dreams: “Any teacher using Gary Paulsen’s Woodsong would want Terry Johnson’s Dogsled Dreams as a part of their classroom library…Dogsled Dreams is an inspirational read that encourages the reader to set goals and take steps to meet the goals, no matter what the goals may be.”

Visit Terry’s blog or website to read the first chapter of Dogsled Dreams. Or, just purchase the book from Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

And, stay tuned. I’ve seen what Terry’s working on next. And it’s all kinds of  awesome, too!!

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“They’re barefoot, moving silently along the carpeted hallway, searching for some clue to which hotel room might be Jenna McNulty’s.”

That’s the first line of Perpetual Check (Random House, 2009, 112 pages), by Rich Wallace. He’s the author of several realistic YA novels. Three of his books have been chosen as ALA Best Books for Your Adults.

From the Jacket Flap:

Randy is a chubby ninth grader with a Cub Scout hair cut who guesses M&M colors with his eyes closed and makes up words. He’s also a chess whiz who has defeated his older brother Zeke in nine of their last ten matches. Zeke is a high school senior, a soccer champ, and a chess natural who can beat just about anyone if he decides to really concentrate. So why is his loser little brother the better athlete, the better chess player, and the first to have a girlfriend?

Told in alternating points of view between brothers, Rich Wallace’s new novel brings to life one of America’s favorite pastimes in a suspenseful story about competition and family loyalty.

Perpetual Check is the fourth Rich Wallace book I’ve read. He does a really good job of writing from a male POV. 

I first heard Rich speak at the ALAN Conference several years ago and now I try to read everything he writes. He uses sports as a framework for his stories, but the stories themselves are about relationships.

In Perpetual Check, you don’t need to know anything about Chess in order to become swept up in the story.

Thanks for coming by.

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