Thursday, December 20, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Don't Be a Mad Turkey Cat!

Turkey Cat is angry. He's rather irritated that his guests are not sharing in the holiday joy as he so obviously is. Don't be a Mad Turkey Cat! 

I know it's hard to not stress about the holidays. Whether you're traveling across the country, going to your not-so-favorite in-laws house, or cooking for twenty plus guests, it's easy to get stressed during the holidays rather than be thankful for what you have. 

If you've been trying to get published for a while, it's easy to get down on yourself this time of year. I know I sure did and I regret it so much. One thing to remember, if it was easy to get published, everyone would do it. It's not easy. NOT. AT. ALL. So, if you're doing it, that means you love it. That's the first battle won right there. Also, not every book is a winner. It doesn't mean all your books are losers, it just means not every book you write is going to strike a chord with an agent or editor. You could write just one book and it will land a deal. You could write ten books and not one garners even a request for more material. Don't give up. You heard me! DON'T. GIVE. UP. And you know why you should never give up, because that would be too easy. Rejection hurts. It hurts our egos. It hurts our dreams. It hurts our hearts...but let that hurt strengthen your resolve.

In a sweet potato filled nutshell, this is a time to be thankful that you have the guts to try. You've actually put your soul into something and then put it out there for the world to see--to critique--even to reject...but you're still here and you're still kicking, so keep writing. Giving up is not an option. If you do I will send Mad Turkey Cat to your home and mind you, he is not declawed!

'Nuff said. 

Have an awesome Thanksgiving! Let your crazy family inspire you or at least entertain you! :)


Friday, November 16, 2012

The Most Adorable Agent EVER! ;)

So, I finally met Marietta last weekend, my agent extraordinaire! Here we are at the Hancock building. You can see Lake Shore Drive behind us. We had a great day and Marietta and my kids and husband got along great. I think my daughter, Nomi, was about to sneak into her purse and fly home with her. :)

I always get a lot of questions from people about my agent. What I can tell you about Marietta Zacker? She's super down-to-earth, hilariously funny, a burst of energy, and LOVES what she does! A while back, Marietta held a Q&A on my blog. Anything you ever wanted to know about her taste in kids' books is there! She's likes blueberry pancakes too, though I don't know if that's a helpful tip. ;)

Happy Friday, everyone!  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Please Pass Syrup?

I signed with my agent, Marietta Zacker of Nancy Gallt, back in 2009...gosh, that sounds like a long time! I'm here in the City of Big Shoulders and she's in New Jersey. We both have nutty schedules to boot. That said, we've never had the chance to meet after all this time.

Lucky for me, Marietta will be speaking at the IL SCBWI conference this Saturday, and on Sunday, her and I will finally meet! Somehow she's convinced I'm very tall, but I'm not, I just wear very tall shoes! ;) 

Long story short, I can't wait to meet her. She's taking my family and I out to breakfast and my four-year-old, Nomi, will be impressing her with her Spanish the whole meal and probably won't let me get a word in edgewise, but that's okay, because I feel so lucky to finally thank her in-person for all she's done for me!

So, please, pass the syrup! :)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

What You Gain from Public Speaking

Just two weeks ago, I spoke at Mahomet-Seymour Jr. High, one of many
schools I spoke at, as part of the Youth Literature Festival through the University of Illinois.
In total, I spoke to over 1000 kids in three days!
What an inspirational experience for me and what inspirational kids!
In October 2010, when my first book came out, I was painfully nervous talking in front of groups. It didn't matter if it were kids or adults, I'd have so much anxiety I'd come close to backing out, that's how bad it got! On one occasion, I was scheduled to speak in front of 450 kids and came close to cancelling with some lame excuse, because I wasn't about to tell them it was my horrible fear of utter failure! My husband told me I had to do it. He said, he knew I was scared, but it was more important to not let the kids down, and in turn, not let down myself. He was so right! It was a rewarding experience and as soon as I got going I was fine. I still fought the anxiety for a while, but now, two years later, talking in front of groups, big or small, is such a pleasure!

I literally get goose bumps when kids sit up in their chairs and I can see them listening and thinking. And after my presentations, when kids come up and tell me about their stories and what they're writing, I can feel their excitement about writing. They ask for advice and ask me what I think about their ideas, and trust me, some of these kids have amazing ideas! They inspire ME!

Long story short, never be scared to share your story or give your advice. Even if you fall on your face, if you've inspired one writer, young or old, or they've inspired you, something amazing just happened! 

Speaking of young inspiring writers, happy birthday to Lenny Lee! He's a teenager now! Someday, I hope to be in the audience when he's up there talking about his first book! :)

Thanks to you all!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Youth Literature Festival, October 4-6th!

Come see me and several other children's authors from the great state of IL at the Youth Literature Festival this weekend! I'll be talking to area schools all day Thursday and Friday and then on Saturday I'll be at the Community Day Celebration talking to kids, speaking on panels, and signing books! Thanks to the University of Illinois for organizing such a great event and all the great sponsors who made it possible! If you're in the area, I hope to see you there!  

The Youth Literature Festival celebrates the value of literature in the lives of youth by bringing together local and national authors, illustrators, poets, and storytellers to share their stories, their craft, and their enthusiasm with children, teens and adults. Author visits to area schools are a central part of the festival activities. The festival also includes a Community Day Celebration that is free to the public on October 6, 2012. Community Day activities encourage all ages to share in the value of literature with hands-on activities, performances, and author presentations.  


PS: Congrats to Kristin Rae, who just signed with my agent, Marietta Zacker!! So happy for you, girlie! :)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

"...and the cat won." The End

Due to a CRAZY schedule I'm taking some time off from the old blog, which I've never done before. I have Lords of Trillium, Book III of the Nightshade Chronicles to finish soon, and I feel a little bit like poor crazy Muffin, who looks like she's about to lose it on whoever is snapping that picture! 

On a cool note, Nightshade City and The White Assassin are available on nook, and will be available in e-format on Kobo, Amazon, and iTunes in the very near future! Very exciting to see my book on nook! As always, my publisher did a bang-up job!

I'll be back in October, unless Muffin gets to me first! ;)


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I Sent WHAT????

We've all done it. I don't care how well published you are or how new to the industry you are, but we've all sent something out with a big fat humbling and in most cases highly visible typo--and usually more than one. It's unavoidable. No matter how many times you read through a manuscript, you are bound to miss things from time to time.

If you've recently sent something out to an agent or editor and realized you've left in some conspicuous typos, don't freak out. Take a step back and know that it happens to everyone. Besides, if someone was going to bounce you out of consideration for a typo or two (or even a couple more) in your 250 page manuscript, possibly it's someone you wouldn't want to work with anyhow. Clearly, there are flagrant typos in some manuscripts, wherein the reader is tripping over one in every paragraph, that's not going to fly, but everyone, from writers, to agents, to editors, miss things now and again. After all, we are only human and if humans were perfect, there would never be typos in published books--bestselling books--books that have been combed through by the author, editor, readers, and copy editors, among others. I mean, it happens. It does. Period.

Tips for catching typos:
Print it out: Print out the full manuscript. Somehow a lot more typos slip by the naked eye staring at a monitor, than when you hold the physical manuscript, knocking out typos like Mike Tyson with your almighty red pen.

Read your work out loud: This requires you to read every word from start to finish. Time consuming and dry throat inducing? Yes, but a lot more effective than skimming through it silently.

Let your work sit a while: This is a hard one for me, as I'm about as patient as a stock broker, but do it. Even if it's just overnight, let your work sit. This will cause you to read your words more thoroughly and thoughtfully the next day, rather than flying through something you were just working on.

A second set of eyes: When time permits, I always have my husband read through my work before I send it off. Since he's reading it for the first time, it's far easier for him to catch "to" versus "too" than it would be for my tired eyes.

Okay, truth time. In my first manuscript I had typos. I think you've probably figured that out by now. After I caught them (which was after I hit "send") I sat at my laptop and cringed, wondering how on earth I could have missed something so glaringly obvious (note: it was only glaringly obvious to me). I probably read through the manuscript at least 50 times, but there they were, "shutters" instead of "shudders", "there" instead of "their". You get the picture. I wondered if I'd be automatically rejected, heck, even black balled! Yes, I was (and still am) a bit of a wackadoodle. But hey, I still got published! Luckily, the typos did not. ;)

Long story short, there will generally be normal inconsequential typos somewhere in something you send out. Don't sweat it. It doesn't change your story or your hard work. It only makes you human.

PS: If there are typos in this post, please blame typo cat. He posted it for me!


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Answer and Winner of the Mystery Question Giveaway!

I asked last week (in the post below) what do the Disney villains, the Evil Queen, Maleficent, Scar, Gaston, Ratigan, Frollo, and Clayton all have in common...and the winner is Kayeleen Hamblin!! She answered with the correct answer first: They all had a hand (or paw) in their own it goes with most villains worth their evil salt. Yes, crime does not pay. Okay, well it does sometimes, but it shouldn't! :) 

Congrats, Kayeleen! I'll be sending you five brand spanking new YA ARC's for your super genius answer! Please send me your snail mail address to! 

Thanks to all who entered!! Look for more giveaways soon!


Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Mystery List Contest for 5 YA ARC's!

Okay, what is the below list about? Think carefully, it is not necessarily what you think! Everyone who guesses will be entered to win FIVE fantastic YA ARC's! You don't have to get it right to be entered into the contest! Winner (and the answer) will be announced next week!
  1. Evil Queen
  2. Maleficent
  3. Scar
  4. Gaston
  5. Ratigan
  6. Frollo
  7. Clayton

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Girl Scouts Studio!!

I'm amazed and honored to be featured by the Girl Scouts of America this week as a featured author on Girl Scouts Studio, a showcase for inspiring storytellers of all kinds. I remember when I was a Brownie, wearing my neatly pressed little uniform. I was so impressed with myself when I got to wear it to school! I felt special and that I was part of something really important and I certainly was. The Girl Scouts is such a great organization. It empowers and inspires girls and promotes friendship and understanding, and what could be better than that? Were you a Girl Scout or a Boy Scout or part of a similar organization or club? If so, how did the experience influence you? For me, it made me stronger and more supportive of others--two things that have carried me through my life.

Please check out their interview with me and other authors HERE!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Travel Cat Waves....

Travel Cat has been doing a lot of traveling and feels a little bit like Steve Martin in that movie! 
He will be back next week with new posts! 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Who is Your Favorite Fictional Daddy?

Happy Father's Day to my husband and my dad and all those great daddies out there! 

Who is your favorite dad in a children's book? 
I have to say I love the rabbit dad in Guess How Much I Love You! 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Don't be Fooled by First Person Cat!

This is actually First Person Cat

I've always been a third person writer--always--until now. I've recently started a YA novel (insert gasp here) and I wanted to try my hand at first person (place hand over mouth and add another gasp). Yes, it was tough at first. I've always preferred third person in both reading and writing, but finally, I've given in to the dark side...and frankly, I'm liking it. ;)

Now, I will still always write certain books/genres in the third person--which I still love. The Nightshade Chronicles is in third and writing an animal fantasy (especially with a large cast of characters) from the first person perspective might be, well, tricky...but still...interesting. Yes, the moment I wrote that an idea sparked--stupid ideas--always getting me into trouble! We'll just tuck that one away for a much later date.

So, at this point, I really do enjoy both, but what is your preference--first or third? Does it matter to you? Do you read one and write the other?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Office Cat Wants You In His Office NOW!

Most of us have full-time jobs, kids, spouses, laundry, a lawn to mow, soccer games, karate, bills (hate that one), oh, and we need time to sleep. As a writer, how the heck do you balance it all? Do you squeeze in writing where you can or do you have a specific time or day you allow (or force) yourself to write? People ask me how I get me books written. I can attribute a lot to that old adage, If you want something done ask a busy person. Well, the adage goes something like that anyway! It's true, though, on a lazy day where I have all the time in the world, I tend to get nothing done...not even the laundry. Okay, especially the laundry. Funny how that works! ;)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Demigods and Monsters! I'm in the new book!

Late one night just a few weeks back, I received an urgent call from my agent, who never calls late, so I knew it had to be really good news or really bad news. Luckily, it was good--in fact great! I was asked to be part of the new edition of Demigods and Monsters, Your Favorite Authors on Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series! It was such great news, I can't even put it into words, which is not good considering I'm a writer! ;) The new edition releases in March of 2013 and I'm so blown away that I'll be apart of this great anthology! Contributing authors include, Kathi Appelt, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Paul Collins, Cameron Dokey, Sarah Beth Durst, and others, not to mention the man himself, Rick Riordan!

Thanks so much to Leah Wilson, the Editor-in-Chief of Smart Pop Books, my uber cool "passionista" agent Marietta Zacker, and of course, Rick Riordan! I promised Marietta I would not fly and/or drive to San Antonio to stalk him. ;)

This will be my first nonfiction piece, but I'm a huge fan of nonfiction (especially the funny stuff), so I'm hoping I can make it as fun and engaging as the great essays I've read in the first edition of the book!

About the Demigods and Monsters:
The #1 New York Times bestselling Percy Jackson series—including The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan’s Curse and The Battle of the Labyrinth—features a 12-year-old dyslexic boy who discovers he is the son of a Greek god, the target of mythical Greek monsters and the center of a prophecy that could change the balance of power in the world forever. In Demigods and Monsters, YA authors take on Greek gods, monsters and prophecy, to add insight and even more fun to Riordan’s page-turner series.The book also includes an introduction by Percy Jackson series author Rick Riordan, that gives further insight into the series and its creation, and a glossary of ancient Greek myth, with plenty of information on the places, monsters, gods and heroes that appear in the series.

Okay, so there you have it! Sorry for all the exclamation points! Now I must go back to work and try and come down from Mount Olympus! ;)


Monday, April 30, 2012

IRA 2012 in Chicago!

Here is a pic of the booth from my first IRA when Nightshade City
came out. Yes, I LOVE that poster with the rat!!

The 57th annual International Reading Association Conference in Chicago is finally underway! I've been lucky enough to go the last 2 years and I'm so thrilled I'll be there tomorrow! If you don't know about the IRA, its a fantastic annual conference at McCormick Place in Chicago where thousands of educators gather to celebrate teaching literacy and ways to learn more about their craft. I think last year over 30,000 people came to the conference! Did I mention 30,000? The IRA is not just a conference, but the world's leading organization of literacy professionals. Please be sure to check them out at

If you happen to be going to the conference this year, I'll be there tomorrow from 2pm - 3pm signing copies of THE WHITE ASSASSIN (read the IRA review here!) at the Holiday House booth (#1940)! Please come by! The exhibit hall is huge so be sure to grab a map or print one from the IRA conference website.

Did I mention the exhibit hall is HUGE????
Okay, come see me tomorrow! ;) I say, road trip!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Got a Book Deal? Now What?

Do not lick your editor. Maybe your agent though....

I posted this a long while back, but have been asked about this a lot, so here is my list of things to consider after you get your book deal, with some new additions. Please feel free to add anything I might have missed and you don't have to be published  or traditionally published to contribute! This list is for all!

1. Don't be scared of working with your editor! You'll do fine! Generally, they are very nice people.

2. Be prepared to take what you consider the most special parts of your book...OUT!

3. Concerns? TALK TO YOUR AGENT! He/she knows the business and they will tell you if you're concerns are justified or you're freaking out for no reason. (I would fit into the freaking out for no reason category). If you don't have an agent, don't worry! Ask your friends. Check forums, author websites. The information is out there.

4. Don't be afraid to ask your publisher LOTS of questions-- if you don't ask, you won't get.

5. Your publisher may change your release date several times--this is totally normal, especially for a debut.

6. Know that you have NO control over the cover art...but be happy when your publisher does ask for your input and if they don't, have a nice piece of cake (preferably tiramisu) and tell yourself, they know what they're doing.

7. Keep in mind that Barnes & Noble, along with Indie stores, do NOT pick up every book, even from big publishers! There is nothing you can do if they decide not to carry your book in their brick and mortar stores, so don't worry about it--it does not mean your book won't be successful and this happens to authors all the time.

8. Don't fret if you only get a one book deal (becoming the norm these days), but be merry when they buy the sequel six months later--off a proposal no less! That means they like you, they really, really like you!

9. There are a lot of things out of your control in publishing--in fact--most things. Before giving yourself a facial tick, take a step back, inhale a deep solid breath, and realize no matter what's in store for you, you made did're a first-rate writer--YOU!

10. If you're publisher wants you to speak somewhere--DO IT! Suck it up and say yes. I was terrified the first few times, but it gets easier and you will get BETTER! Speaking engagements can be thrilling! They are a fantastic way to connect with readers and to land more speaking gigs, which can be very lucrative! :)

11. Remember QUALITY, not quantity. It's not a race! Put out good books and the deals with come!

12. Ask ALL your friends to help you with a blog tour and return the favor!!!

13. Walk into indie stores and introduce yourself! DO IT! They will be happy that you did. Don't be shy. Tell them you're an author. Give them an ARC! They may order your book and do a whole lot more. Indies are GREAT!

14. When you get your first royalties statement, don't freak out about returns! Even bestselling authors have returns--lots of them! It's a normal part of the business!

15. Sleep is for suckers.

What would you add to this list?? :)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Plot Kitty is Plotting!

One day I will get you my pretty. Oh, yes...
Of late I've read some great books with fantastic plots and some other books that while good, didn't have the fantastic plot I was looking for or it wasn't carried out the why I was hoping for. To me, a perfect book is one that combines deep characters with an intriguingly original plot. 

What YA or MG books have you read with "blow me away" plots? The kind where you're left scratching your head, wondering how the author came up with something so insanely amazing?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bookanistas Guest Post & Giveaway with YA Author Aaron Karo

Hello everyone! I'm excited to have debut YA author and comedian, Aaron Karo, here today to talk about the importance of voice in today's YA and how he created the voice of Chuck Taylor, the main character of Aaron's new YA novel, Lexapros And Cons (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, April 10th, 2012).

Writing in the 1st person can be tricky, so read Aaron's great post to find out how to make your MC more engaging and real, just like Chuck Taylor in Lexapros And Cons! And be sure to enter the giveaway to win a copy of this great debut YA! Take it away Mr. Karo!

My First Person
Since the the protagonist in Lexapros and Cons, Chuck Taylor, suffers from OCD, he spends a lot of time dealing with repetitive thoughts, worrying, and talking to himself. Chuck is not only the narrator, but he also carries a heavy burden of the dialogue. Therefore, I needed to make sure his voice was spot-on. So, how does a 32-year-old man write the voice of a 17-year-old boy? Well, quite simply, I wrote Chuck as the younger version of myself.
All of the OCD symptoms that Chuck suffers in the book – including, as you will read in the soon-to-be-infamous first sentence, his tendency to count how often he masturbates – are actual symptoms that I too have suffered from. Granted, not all of the symptoms hit me at once as they do Chuck (for instance, I haven’t counted how often I you-know-what since about 9th grade), but they were all very real nonetheless. So that aspect of getting inside Chuck’s head was made easier by the fact I simply had to get inside my own head.
This is my first YA novel, so developing believable dialogue between the characters was a concern early on. Before I started writing, though, I made one crucial decision: I would not “write down” to the age group. If you’ve actually spoken to a teenager recently, you know they are some clever bastards. Their vocabulary is more sophisticated than one might think and they’ll spot a faker right away. So Chuck really speaks the way I do. Sure, there are a couple of instances where he seems preternaturally introspective, but I felt it was better to err on that side rather than reining him in. 

Chuck’s friends and classmates were more of a challenge, since not only are they not based on me, they’re not based on anyone and for the most part are purely fictional. In those instances I used Chuck’s voice to guide me. A lot of Chuck’s conversations are rapid-fire repartee where I knew what Chuck was going to say and I let the other characters react to him accordingly. There are very few scenes where characters other than Chuck are talking to each other. And that’s simply because it didn’t feel as organic to me. Without Chuck in the room to tell me if the other kids were talking funny, I couldn’t really tell.

Strangely, the characters that were the toughest to develop were the older ones – including Chuck’s parents and teachers. Theoretically, I am closer in age to them than I am to Chuck. Yet it was still an undertaking to get their voices right. I’m just not privy to a lot of conversations between adults and teenagers. Oftentimes I just went by gut and then went back and massaged any dialogue that felt forced in hindsight.

Ultimately I prefer writing in the first person because it provides a captain for the ship. Without Chuck to lead Lexapros and Cons, it might have crashed and burned. Since there’s so much of me in Chuck, I really enjoyed hearing him chatter away incessantly. I honestly spent less time trying to figure out what Chuck would say next, and more time trying to get him to shut up!

To enter the giveaway:
1. Leave a comment on "voice" in writing and how you find yours or tell us your favorite YA voice from other authors.
2. Follow this blog, if you don't already, because I'm needy. 
3. That's it, easier than ordering take out! Winner will be announced this Wednesday!

More about Aaron:
In 1997 Aaron Karo wrote a funny email from his freshman dorm room that eventually spawned his celebrated column Ruminations, the humor website, and three books: Ruminations on College Life, Ruminations on Twentysomething Life, and I’m Having More Fun Than You. Also a nationally headlining comedian, Karo has performed on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and his one-hour special Aaron Karo: The Rest Is History premiered on Comedy Central in 2010. Lexapros and Cons is his first novel.

Find Aaron on Twitter! 

More fab Bookanista reviews!
Christine Fonseca  gives a shout out for REGRET
Carrie Harris swoons for STRUCK
Corrine Jackson cries heaps over STORY OF A GIRL
Stasia Ward Kehoe loves up THE LIBERATION OF MAX MCTRUE
Debra Driza gives away WANDERLOVE
Katy Upperman delights in GRACELING
Tracy Bangha shares some CLARITY and PERCEPTION
Jessica Love delights in THE SCORPIO RACES  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Project Mayhem Needs Your Vote!!

Hello everyone!

Project Mayhem, the middle-grade blog I'm a part of, is up for a blog award on Goodreads for the IBBA Independent Book Blogger Awards! 

Please show your support for all things middle-grade and give Project Mayhem a vote! 
The bigger we are, the more great middle-grade giveaways and posts we can do for YOU!

Each Goodreads member can vote for up to three blogs! 
Voting opens Today - April 23rd!

Independent Book Blogger Awards
Vote for PROJECT MAYHEM for the Independent Book Blogger Awards!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bookanistas Review, The Danny Dragonbreath Series!

In 2010, while at the International Reading Association Conference  in Chicago, I was handed an ARC of Dragonbreath, Curse of the Were Wiener, by Ursula Vernon. Okay, so the title got me right there. I mean really, could there be a better title for a book? I think not.

So I brought this colorful ARC home to my then seven year old, who was immediately taken with the cover, not to mention the cool graphic style of the illustrations.  My son is the epitome of a reluctant reader. A book that's 10 pages long is 10 pages too many. So when he saw the ARC, he looked through the entire thing, pouring over the illustrations, then quite casually, put the 100+ page book on a shelf to let sit there for some time.

Over the last two years I've gotten him to read a few of the Wimpy Kids, small sections at a time, for school reading and my own piece of mind.

Just last month he had his first real book report due in school. The kids had to pick one fantasy book, talk about it in class, listing specific plot points, making a drawing of the main character and asking the character a list of questions.

So, my son came home freaking out over his project and what he should write about. He went to his enormous shelf of unread books and picked up a few that were very thin and not fantasies. I pulled out the Dragonbreath ARC, told him to sit down and start reading. After a few typical moans and groans he began reading...and reading...and reading. My husband got home from work and he was still reading. He read in his bed that night and then picked up the book as soon as he woke up and read some more, finishing the entire book sitting in his bed that morning.

My son read an entire book in one day! MY SON!

These books are witty and fast paced. Danny and his cousin Wendell are always getting into some sort of trouble with ninjas or sea monsters or were wieners (of course) and the graphic novel style of these books will appeal to any kid, reluctant or not.

This is his actual book project from last month.  

He got 100%!!

My son's questions for Danny Dragonbreath:
Are you happy being a dragon?
What's it like to have a tail?
Does it hurt to breathe fire?
Are Were Wieners scary?
Do you like school?

Other fabulous Bookanista Reviews!

Christine Fonseca  is wow'd by WANDERLOVE

Stasia Ward Kehoe reads for National Poetry Month

Katy Upperman delights in SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY

Tracy Banghart honors THE HEX HALL trilogy

Corrine Jackson is thrilled over A TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Win a bunch of middle-grade books! :)

We are giving a bunch of middle-grade books away on the Project Mayhem blog today! Please check it out and share with anyone who loves middle-grade! ;)

Here is what one lucky winner will get:

  1. Mimi by John Newman (Candlewick Press)
  2. The Beyonders, Seeds of Rebellion by Brandon Mull (Aladdin)
  3. Tua and the Elephant by R.P. Harris (Chronicle Books)
  4. Haunted Histories by J.H. Everett & Marilyn Scott-Waters (Henry Holt)
  5. The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen (Scholastic)
  6. Little Dog, Lost by Marion Dane Bauer (Atheneum)
  7. Nightshade City by Hilary Wagner (Holiday House)
  8. The Wild Book by Margarita Engle (Harcourt)
Rules are easy! So, go, go, go!! ;)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday Funny

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." 
-- Groucho Marx

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Winner of PINK SMOG, Becoming Weetzie

And the winner is....
Please email me your mailing address at!
Congrats, Alicia!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bookanistas Review and Giveaway, PINK SMOG, Becoming Weetzie.

Pink Smog is a mesmerizing, cuttingly real, and magical young adult novel written by the award winning author of the Weetzie Bat series, Francesca Lia Block. I'm so happy I have a brand new ARC to give away today!

Official Blurb:
The girl in the mirror wasn't who I wanted to be, and her life wasn't the one I wanted to have. Despite how much Louise insists, no one will call her Weetzie. It's her dad's nickname for her, but it won't stay put. Neither will her dad. Charlie left Louise and her mom and he took everything with him: her family, her home--and her understanding of who she's meant to be. But Los Angeles is a city full of strange angels, and Louise embarks on a journey to sift through the smog of her heartbreak, to grow her own wings, to become Weetzie.

If you haven't read Francesca Lia Block’s Weetzie Bat books, the above blurb might sound like a weird daydream, but if you have read the series, you'll probably get it right away! Pink Smog is a prequel to the first Weetzie Bat Novel that came out in 1989 and met with huge success--and continues to today. Pink Smog, told in the first person unlike the original series, is impossibly cool and dangerously poetic. I highly recommend the earlier series. Now, you can get them all in one contained book!

I love this haunting cover for
the original series.

Series Blurb:
Love is a dangerous angel. In five luminous novels, acclaimed writer Francesca Lia Block spins a saga of interwoven lives and beating hearts. These postmodern fairy tales take us to a magical Los Angeles, a place where life is a mystery, pain can lead to poetry, strangers become intertwined souls, and everyone is searching for the most beautiful and dangerous angel of all: love.

The New York Times calls the series, "Transcendent", and I'd have to wholeheartedly agree. 

Here is a quote from Weetzie Bat, to show you what I mean:
 “A kiss about apple pie a la mode with the vanilla creaminess melting in the pie heat. A kiss about chocolate, when you haven't eaten chocolate in a year. A kiss about palm trees speeding by, trailing pink clouds when you drive down the Strip sizzling with champagne. A kiss about spotlights fanning the sky and the swollen sea spilling like tears all over your legs.”- Francesca Lia Block

To enter the Pink Smog giveaway:
1. Follow this blog, because I will be soooo happy that you did. ;)
2. Leave a comment.
3. Since Pink Smog revolves around L.A., tell me your favorite book or movie that takes places in a big city, think booming metropolis! :)

4. Winner will be announced on Wednesday of next week! 

More fabtastic Bookanistas reviews and giveaways below! Check them out!

Christine Fonseca  interviews author Heather McCorkle

Megan Miranda and  Debra Driza give stars to STARTERS 

Stasia Ward Kehoe is giddy about GEEKTASTIC – with giveaway!

Nikki Katz praises PANDEMONIUM

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My New Friends???

It's amazing how close we grow to our characters. My new book, GOBLIN SHARK RISING (early 2013) has introduced me to some new friends. It centers around three prehistoric shark clans, the goblin shark, the frilled shark, and the sixgill shark, all very mysterious deep-water sharks that have changed little since the days of the dinosaurs, true living fossils of the sea. Below are some short videos I wanted to share about this creepy, yet amazing creatures. 

This is the goblin shark, a rare species, that has a very special skill! Just watch.

This pretty lady is a frilled shark. Look at those rows of 
pitchfork teeth on this eel like shark!

These big fellows are known as Sixgills. They are massive in size and strength, rivaling the great whites, though they live in the deepest depths of our oceans.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bookanistas Review and Giveaway, Lexapros And Cons!

Okay, I've heard from many readers and editors there needs to be a lot more humor in YA, and well, I've found it! LEXAPROS AND CONS (Farrar Straus Giroux, April 2012) by Aaron Karo, a well known comedian, is hilarious and touching. This is his debut novel and it will appeal to guys and girls equally--though girls might blush a little at some of the wordage, though they'll be laughing while they they turn beet red! Read the opening paragraph and you'll know what I'm talking about! ;)

The book blurbage:
Chuck Taylor’s OCD has rendered him a high school outcast. His endless routines and habitual hand washing threaten to scare away both his closest friend and the amazing new girl in town. Sure he happens to share the name of the icon behind the coolest sneakers in the world, but even Chuck knows his bizarre system of wearing different color “Cons” depending on his mood is completely crazy.

In this hilariously candid debut novel from comedian Aaron Karo—who grew up with a few obsessions and compulsions of his own—very bad things are going to happen to Chuck. But maybe that’s a good thing. Because with graduation looming, Chuck finds himself with one last chance to face his inner demons, defend his best friend, and win over the girl of his dreams. No matter what happens, though, he’ll have to get his hands dirty.

Okay, first off the MC's name is Chuck Taylor. Yep, just like the shoes. You've got to love that! Secondly, this is an accurate, yet hysterical depiction of OCD. It's perfect, not just for kids who might have OCD, but anyone who'd like a better understanding of it. I've personally never known anyone with OCD, so this book really opened my eyes to what it's all about. Lexapro, by the way, is a drug used to combat OCD symptoms.

Karo's candid and genuine writing style will resonate with kids, namely guys, but it's hilarity will attract all types of readers. Coming in at 230 pages, this is actually a quick read. The witticisms and easy language will make this book fly by. I recommended this to any reluctant reader and to any writer who's interested in writing a uniquely funny book. I think of this as a teen version of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Karo is going to amass a huge fan base of teen readers.

Now for the good stuff, the GIVEAWAY!

I will be giving away a brand new ARC of Lexapros And Cons to one lucky reader! The book doesn't release until April, so this is a great opportunity to be one of the first readers!   

To enter the LEXAPROS AND CONS giveaway:
1. Follow this blog, because I will be soooo happy that you did. ;)
2. Leave a comment.
3. Reveal your favorite color of Chuck Taylor shoes! (this rule is optional). Mine was pink, by the way!

4. Winner will be announced on Wednesday of next week!

Check out more bookaliscious Bookanista Reviews and Giveaways!
Christine Fonseca surrenders to THE SECRET OF SPRUCE KNOLL
Corrine Jackson delights in CHOPSTICKS
Stasia Ward Kehoe  presents a Stunning Seconds interview with A MILLION SUNS author Beth Revis
Jen Hayley gives a shout-out to the classics
Debra Driza celebrates CINDER – with giveaway!
Katy Upperman raves over JELLICOE ROAD
Carolina Valdez Miller talks about the tremendous cover of TEN

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bookanistas Review, The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

I just finished reading THE GATHERING STORM (Delacorte Jan. 2012)  by Robin Bridges and I have some serious YA Historical Paranormal Fantasy Vampire book love going on. Wow, that was a mouthful!

This absorbing tale takes place in St. Petersberg, Russia, 1888, and Bridges' does a great job of making you feel as though you are actually there. You will be awed by Bridges' depiction of imperial Russia. While reading it, I felt like I was actually at the lavish parties and wearing the elaborate clothing of the day.

Desperate to understand her strange abilities, the main character, teenage Katerina, discovers she is necromancer, someone who can raise the dead. She's also of regal birth, a duchess, so she's got to keep the many royal boys who'd like to marry her at bay, at the same time masking her strange powers. The great thing about Katerina is there is more to her than just wanting to kick some evil backside, she also loves medicine, and Bridges' does a great job describing medical practices way back when, as Katerina helps doctors patch up soldiers.

I think for YA writers this is a great book to read. These days if you want to get a YA Paranormal published, it better be special, and THE GATHERING STORM is all that and then some. I usually pass on vampire-ish books, just because I've read enough of them already, but because of this book's great plot, historical aspects, and a believable female MC, I was not disappointed! This is a trilogy, so keep your eye out for the next book!

Read more bookalicious Bookanista reviews here!
Christine Fonseca  takes a shine to A MILLION SUNS
Carolina Valdez Miller falls for FRACTURE
Jen Hayley surrenders to THE NIGHT SHE DISAPPEARED
Stasia Ward Kehoe is dazzled by DARK COMPANION
Nikki Katz wonders at THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
Debra Driza is overwhelmed by UNDER THE NEVER SKY
Jessica Love gives a trophy to BEAUTY QUEENS

Shelli Johannes-Wells takes a tour of The Reading Room

Tracy Banghart has double-love for THE SILVER PHOENIX and FURY OF THE PHOENIX

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bookanistas Giveaway, The Death of Yorik Mortwell Winner!

The winner is Akoss!!! 
Please send your address to me at h.wagnerATnightshadecityDOTcom so
you can get your signed copy of The Death of Yorik Mortwell!
You're going to love it!