Friday, February 26, 2010

South Carolina Book Festival

Just a reminder, I'm off today, hitting the road and heading for the Carolinas.

If you happen to be near Columbia, SC, I'll be speaking at the SC Book Festival February 27-28. You can find me on:

Saturday: 2:00 - 2:50
The YA panel with fellow authors Gigi Amateau andLinda Beatrice Brown

Sunday: 12:45 - 1:35
Science Fiction vs Fantasy: What's the Difference? with James O'Neal.

It looks like the festival will be a lot of fun. I always enjoy these and this will be the first time I'm on the other side of the table, whee!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Have I Mentioned How Much I Love Aylin?

I don't know what it is about her, but she gets the best lines in the book.

"But more inspirational," Aylin added. "And with feeling."

Can't wait till you guys actually see where that fits in the story. A third down, and I'm really liking how Shifter 3 is coming along so far.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Book Challenge

Well, last week was pretty busy so I didn't get much time to read. I'm only about a quarter of the way through The Name of This Book is Secret, but so far I'm enjoying it. Hopefully I'll have more time this week and can get caught up on my reading.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mapping it Out

I got an email from my editor the other day, asking me if I wanted to do a map for Shifter 2. It's kinda funny, because I did one for book one, and while I did a rough "just so I knew where stuff was" map for S2, it never occurred to me to fancy it up and send it in.

For the record, my rough maps are taken by the publisher's nifty designers and made all pretty. I have decent skills at this, but they do maps for a living over there with all those fantasy books. It looked way cooler when they were done.

So I get to dive into map making again. It's fun, really, and it does make the world feel more real. I've been through this once now, so it'll be a lot easier and I have map one to use as a guide. There will be changes, of course, since I won't need all that water this time.



**Clever readers will spot the clue about book 2 in this post

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

2010 Book Challenge #3 & 4

I am so on a roll. Got two books read last week, too (yippie!)

First up was The Trouble With Magic
by Madelyn Alt.
Ages: Adult

Maggie is a gal who isn't happy with her life in a boring desk job, and when she gets fired, she ends up working for self-proclaimed witch, Felicity, at her antiques shop. When someone close to Felicity is murdered and she becomes the main suspect, Maggie is determined to prove her innocence. Maggie doesn't buy into the whole witch nonsense, except as things progress, she realizes she has more in common with the witches than she first thought.

This was a really cute cozy mystery that mixes witches and the occult with the real world in a more traditional way, which I thought was a nice twist. I know that sounds odd, but magic is often treated like an everyday thing in books, and there's often that "magical world" co-existing with the real world and the two don't really meet except for the protag. Alt approached it in a more realistic fashion, and that added to the mystery and helped the plot along. Maybe I'm just too used to fantasy since cozies is a genre I don't read much of, but I thought it was handled well and really added to the book.

Next up was Going Bovine
by Libba Bray
Ages: 14+

I've heard lots of good stuff about this book, so I was looking forward to this one. The voice is just fantastic and I loved her characters. This is an odd book to describe (those who read it know why) but I'll do my best.

Cameron is a high school student who discovers he has mad cow disease. He winds up in the hospital, and ends up on a road trip to find the cure with a dwarf, a punk rock angel and a garden gnome. The story branches off into a surreal trip and Bray masterfully mixes things from Cameron's life into it, so at first, you just don't know if this trip is for real or if it's just a hallucination in Cameron's Swiss-cheesed brain.

I've never read the Gemma Doyle series because I'm not a historical reader, but after seeing Bray's writing I'll have to give them a try. And it turns out there's a supernatural element to them, so they weren't what I thought anyway!

This week's books:

The Name of This Book is Secret, Pseudonymous Bosch
Inner Circle, Kate Brian

Future books:
Legacy, Kate Brian
Ambition, Kate Brian
Revelation, Kate Brian
Paradise Lost, Kate Brian
Privilege, Kate Brian
Jhegaala, Steven Brust
The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
Princess in the Spotlight, Meg Cabot
Princess in Love, Meg Cabot
Heist Society, Ally Carter
Empire, Orson Scott Card
A War of Gifts, Orson Scott Card
Deep Dark and Dangerous, Mary Downing Hahn
Deadtown, Nancy Holzner
Crank, Ellen Hopkins
Mainspring, Jay Lake
How to Ditch Your Fairy, Justine Larbalestier
Gods of Manhattan, Scott Mebus
Hellgate London - Exodus, Mel Odom
The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Mary E. Pearson
The Scent of Shadows, Vicki Pettersson
Holes, Louis Sachar
Wicked, Sara Shepherd
Games of Command, Linnea Sinclair
The Harrowing, Alexandra Sokoloff
It's Kind of a Funny Story, Ned Vizzini
Uglies, Scott Westerfield
Spin, Robert Charles Wilson

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Festival Time

I'll be traveling a bit over the next few months, heading up (and then down) to a few book festivals. I love book festivals, so I'm going to have a blast.

If you happen to be near Columbia, SC the end of the month, I'll be speaking at the SC Book Festival February 27-28. You can find me on:

Saturday: 2:00 - 2:50
The YA panel with fellow authors Gigi Amateau andLinda Beatrice Brown

Sunday: 12:45 - 1:35
Science Fiction vs Fantasy: What's the Difference? with James O'Neal.

Then I'm zipping down to Orlando, FL for The University of Central Florida Book Festival on April 16-17. I don't know what or when yet, but I'll let ya'll know when I do.

Monday, February 8, 2010

2010 Book Challenge #1 & 2

Week One: Two books down, yippie! Okay, yes, I did cheat a little since I was halfway through the first, but I'm still taking the victory. So, what did I think about them?

The Curse of the Bane
by Joseph Delaney
Ages: 12+

This is the second book in The Last Apprentice series. I really enjoy these tales because they're dark and spooky and have a delightful creep factor. The illustrations are beautiful and really add to the mood of the books.

In this one, Spook's apprentice Tom had to deal with an evil entity called the Bane, which is trapped in the catacombs beneath the cathedral in a city called Prieststown. Priests don't take kindly to Spooks or their apprentices, so there's danger from both sides for poor Tom. He gets in over his head (with a little help from a "is she good or is she evil" witch named Alice, who we met in book one. Alice is a fun character, as you never know which side of the coin she'll fall on. She's apt to do something bad as much as good, and that keeps you guessing. Tom has to make some tough choices that make you really admire the guy. I'll be buying the next in the series for sure.

A Certain Strain of Peculiar
by Gigi Amateau
Ages: 12+

This is a book I first head about when I was at the SIBA trade show last fall. I met the author and we exchanged books right before the big book signing. This is a book I'd probably never have picked up otherwise, because I usually read genre and this is a quieter, more literary coming-of-age tale. It probably never would have crossed my radar.

I'm glad I traded with Gigi, though, because this was a lovely book. 13 year old Mary Harold Woods is the daughter of wild child Bye (short for Tabythia), who left her small home town of Wren, Alabama and never told anyone who Mary's father was. Mary has a rough time at school because she's a bit peculiar, and has regular panic attacks where she thinks she's dying. She can't take it any more and one night she steals her mom's old truck and drives over 600 miles by herself to her grandmother's in Wren. She talks Mom into leaving her there for the summer, hoping she'll be able to convince her to move back so they can both start over. She has quite a few adventures and turns herself from a too-scared-to-stand-up-for-herself girl into a strong defender of the underdog (with a quick stop at being a bit of a bully). Lessons are learned and secrets are revealed, and you really fall for the Woods gals, from Mary, to her mom, to her feisty grandmother, Ayma.

The voice in this is wonderful, and it really captures the flavor of the South. I read it with a Southern accent because it just naturally read that way. I'd pick up another one of Gigi Amateau's books.

So now we're on to this week's books. I counted my To-Read shelf and have 31 books, not counting some of the ones I just ordered (three I'm still waiting on). I usually just put the new ones on the shelf and grab randomly when I'm in the mood for a book, but I think I'll go through these more systematically for this challenge. I'll read them alphabetically by author. That lets me shuffle them and mix in the new ones and not have to wait eight months to read my new stuff -grin-. It also puts some old ones that have been there a while closer to the front.

There are some books not on the list that I've been waiting for, and those will get slipped in ahead of the weekly ones. Like Ally Carter's Heist Society comes out tomorrow, and I KNOW I'll be buying that right away and reading it. I'll be doing the same thing with Gallagher Girls Four, Only the Good Spy Young, come June. I'm sure others will pop up that I can't wait to read.

Here's the list for those curious (there's a mix of YA and adult):

This week's books:
The Trouble With Magic, Madelyn Alt
Going Bovine, Libba Bray

Future books:
The Name of This Book is Secret, Pseudonymous Bosch
Inner Circle, Kate Brian
Legacy, Kate Brian
Ambition, Kate Brian
Revelation, Kate Brian (while doing the links I saw I missed one of this series! Must buy by the time I get here)
Paradise Lost, Kate Brian
Privilege, Kate Brian
Jhegaala, Steven Brust
The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
Princess in the Spotlight, Meg Cabot
Princess in Love, Meg Cabot
Empire, Orson Scott Card
A War of Gifts, Orson Scott Card
Deep Dark and Dangerous, Mary Downing Hahn
Deadtown, Nancy Holzner
Crank, Ellen Hopkins
Mainspring, Jay Lake
How to Ditch Your Fairy, Justine Larbalestier
Gods of Manhattan, Scott Mebus
Hellgate London - Exodus, Mel Odom
The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Mary E. Pearson
The Scent of Shadows, Vicki Pettersson
Holes, Louis Sachar
Wicked, Sara Shepherd
Games of Command, Linnea Sinclair
The Harrowing, Alexandra Sokoloff
It's Kind of a Funny Story, Ned Vizzini
Uglies, Scott Westerfield
Spin, Robert Charles Wilson

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Reader Questions #2

Q: Did you have all have the ending of the third book thought up when you started book one? Or did the ending come later?

When I first started The Shifter there was no third book planned, so technically no, I didn't know the ending. -grin- It was supposed to be one single book, and I did know the ending to that. It was vague, more of a "she beats the bad guys and saves the day" type ending, but I had enough of an idea of where it was going to sit down and write it. But about halfway through the first draft I could see a larger story developing and where I could take Nya in future books. I could make this a trilogy and show that larger story. By the time I was done with book one, I knew basically how book three had to end, but no details on how that would happen.

I have a better idea now since I'm a few chapters into book three at the moment, but I still don't know exactly what Nya's going to do. I have that general idea of what she needs to do, but she surprises me all the time in how she decides to do things.

And is Kione going to join the rest of the gang in book 2? and is Lanelle going to be in the other books?

Kione isn't in book two, though you will see him again in book three. Lanelle makes a brief appearance in two, and will be back in book three as well.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mmmmm...Books

I've had two bookstore gift cards on my desk since Christmas, so I figured it was time I used them. Since I get asked a lot what books I like to read, I thought it might be fun to show ya'll what I bought.

Since I had two cards at two different stores, I used one to get books on my wish list that I haven't gotten to yet, so some of these have been out a while. The other I used the "also liked" feature to find books I didn't know about. The online version of browsing, I guess.

Going Bovine, by Libba Bray
I've been hearing amazing things about this book. The first line sold me. The voice is just fantastic and makes you want to read on. I haven't read anything by Libba Bray yet, but people rave about her, so it's time I find out what she's all about.







Deep Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn
I found this one when I was doing some research on suspense/thriller novels, looking at spooky books. I love creepy mysteries where you just don't know what the secret is, so this should be a lot of fun.








The Adoration of Jenna Fox, by Mary E. Pearson
This is another book that everyone was talking about. Creepy, a slight sci fi bent (I think) to it. Another with a cool mystery with lots of twists and turns. I really love books like this and Deep Dark, and I wish I could write one like it. I'll probably try one soon (hence part of my "research") since I have an idea brewing. Of course, that's after Shifter 3 is done.

By the way, doesn't this cover rock? I like this much better than the hardcover.



The Compound, by S Bodeen
I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic/end-of-the-world futures, so this looked really cool, and the opening pages were good. A totally random choice, found because it came up in a "might like" under the Jenna Fox book, so I started my next search with it.






How I Live Now, By Meg Rosoff
And I might as well continue the trend and find some more end-of-the-world stories. This one isn't quite that, but a future war with teens trying to survive is close enough to make me happy.








Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden
Another war one, teens come back from a camping trip to find the country's been invaded. There are seven of these in the series, so I really hope the first is good. I'm always looking to find a great series I can really get into.







So that's it for my shopping trip today. I'm not sure when I'll get to these since I already have about 15 books on my To-Read list. Writing Shifter 2 really took a lot of time last year, so my reading suffered and I didn't get to read nearly as many books as I wanted to.

You know what? I saw a bunch of "100 Books in a Year" posts by a lot of bloggers out there, so I think I'm going to try for something similar this year. I think 100 books is a bit ambitious, but 50 is probably doable.

So, my overly ambitious goal: Two books a week.

My more realistic goal: One book a week.

I'm currently almost done with The Curse of the Bane by Joseph Delaney, so I'm going to cheat all call that book one! Next up after that...








A Certain Strain of Peculiar by Gigi Amateau

Let's see if I can read both by Sunday night. I'll talk about them on Monday, and let you know what is on the list for that week.

And feel free to tell me what you're reading and recommend stuff.