Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Today is The Madman's Daughter Day!!

The day has arrived! The day for this:

And believe me when I say: YOU WANT THIS BOOK!!! It is amazing!

But if you don't believe me, how about these other cool people:

"Is it just me or did reading this book make it harder and harder to breathe?" --Adam Levine

"You want this book, mate. It's as good as the scene in AUSTRALIA where I poor a bucket of water over my rippling muscles."  --Hugh Jackman

"If I were alive, this would be the book that reminded me of home." --Charles Dickens

Okay, so maybe you still don't believe me because I just asked my three boyfriends to give a quote. Maybe you think they're biased. Or were doing me a favor. Fine. I'll give you some official quotes then.

“The fast-paced book is rife with excitement, romance, and intrigue.” (School Library Journal (starred review) )

“A deft twist on a familiar classic, THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER has the best of everything: beautiful writing, breakneck pacing, a pulse-pounding mystery, and an irresistible romance.” (Carrie Ryan, New York Times bestselling author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth series )

“Romantic, haunting, and full of spine-tingling thrills, THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER kept me reading late into the night.” (Veronica Rossi, New York Times bestselling author of UNDER THE NEVER SKY )

“Anyone who doesn’t pick up the next volume is mad!” (ALA Booklist )

Yes, those are awesome quotes for an awesome book. This book was truly wonderful. The writing was gorgeous, the story intriguing, and the relationships perfect. I'm not a history expert and therefore have no idea if the following images are even from the right time period, but these are the kinds of images that reading this book brought to my mind:


(First two images by John Atkinson Grimshaw, ship from Science Photo Library, island image from The Maritime Heritage Project) 

Oh and how can I forget other images that may or may not have come into my mind while reading:

OR maybe:

Yes, this book was one of my favorite reads last year. I adore it.
Happy book birthday, Megan!!! I'm so happy that the world finally gets to read your amazing book!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Mindy McGinnis Takes The Truth

by Mindy McGinnis

Blog follower Becky Sullivan provided us with the truth I'm going to take today - What's the worst or weirdest excuse you use to get out of writing when you have writer's block?

First, I'm going to clarify and say that I don't get writer's block. You can throw stuff at me if you want, but that's just the way it is. If my brain were a heating pad, it would always be set at H and my scalp would have third-degree burns. Luckily for my follicles, this is not the case.

But I'm going to modify the question a bit and then give you a real answer that also deals with bodily functions.

Q: What's the weirdest excuse you use to get out of writing?

A: I have to pee.

No really. I do. I probably have to pee as you're reading this. I know I had to while writing it. Peeing is one of those things that I'm able put off for quite some time without any lasting detrimental effect to my renal system. I know at least one person (ahem, RC Lewis) is going to reply to this and tell me that I AM doing damage to myself, that I simply just don't know it yet. Anyone who hangs out in the AgentQuery Connect chat room will tell you that I don't really pee that often. It appears that my bladder is roughly the size of the Hindenberg.

Also there are rich people in it.

And in using that rather crude metaphor, I have probably sealed my fate and my bladder will in fact, explode at some moment in the future. Rather unexpectedly, I'm sure.

Below you'll find screencapped proof of my refusal to pee when necessary, as well as proof that I'm often guilty of over-share.

You're probably thinking to yourself - Um... Mindy, you're kind of proving yourself wrong here. The whole point of this post is that you're supposed to share what your weirdest excuse is for not writing, but you're telling us you're perfectly capable of holding it?

Yep. Exactly my point.

If I'm getting ready to lay down (yes, long story) and write, very often I'll settle in, put my fingers to the keyboard... and run to the bathroom to relieve the tiniest of tickles. Why?

Because I'm terrified.

I'm afraid that for whatever reason, this time when I put my fingers to the keys nothing is going to come out. I'm afraid that someone flipped the cosmic heating pad switch in my brain and my little red light has been extinguished.

So far, it hasn't been true. I take the pee, my renal system looks around at the circulatory system and says, "What the hell? I hadn't even gotten started!" and I return to the keys. With an empty bladder the heat waves start rolling out of the brain without any excuses.

Maybe someday I'll learn to skip that first part, stop making the excuses and simply write.

But then my renal health might plummet.

Mindy's debut, NOT A DROP TO DRINK, is a post-apocalyptic survival tale set in a world where water is rare, available from Katherine Tegen / Harper Collins September 9, 2013. She blogs at Writer, Writer Pants on FireYou can also find her on TwitterTumblr & Facebook.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Megan Shepherd Takes the Truth

Alyssa Sooklal asks: Are you going to publish your books in hardcover and paperback, as well as ebook? Just hardcover or just paperback and ebook? Or just ebook?

We’ve gotten a few similar "truth" questions about e-books: our feelings about them, about e-readers, if they mean the death of independent bookstores or if they're wonderful because they save trees. It seems like e-books are on everyone’s minds. Today I’m tackling this issue with a confession. Yes, I admit it.

I own a Kindle.

Battle of the Books: E-reader vs. Real book

You see, my family has owned an independent bookstore since before I was even alive, so print books have always been more than just a hobby for us: they were our bread-and-butter. As an author, I now make my living writing books regardless of the final format they’re in: print, digital, audio…the bottom line is more or less the same for me.

Also, it gets worse! I actually own two Kindles.

It’s tough admitting this, because so many people I know are die-hard print book readers and in the “e-books will be the death of the independent bookstore” crowd. I still prefer reading print books. But there are a few times when I find my Kindle indispensible. First of all, for travel. YA books are usually quick reads, and I could go through 4-5 of them on a vacation easily. That’s a lot of suitcase room. Second, e-readers are great for digital ARCs. Publishers can send me ARCs directly, which saves on printing, shipping, and marketing costs, and means more people can get ARCs and spread buzz about books.

But the main reason I use my e-reader isn’t to read published books at all. I use it mostly to read my own drafts. When drafting a book in Word or Scrivener, it’s hard to read double-spaced 12-point font  and visualize what it will look like as a final book. So I load all my drafts onto my Kindle, where I can read them as if they were already a real book, and it helps me see the places that are weak and still need work. This has made an enormous difference in my own writing.

All this said, I still prefer print books. Whenever possible, I buy a print book or get it from the library, instead of ordering a digital copy. E-books are often cheaper and instantly delivered, which is a perk, but I just don’t enjoy books as much when I read them on the Kindle. I recently felt as though I was going through a spell of lackluster books, only to realize the books themselves weren’t the problem…reading them on a screen was. When I went back and re-read the hard copy of some of those books, I enjoyed them so much better.

I also don’t think e-books mean the death of print books. My fellow writer Stephen Messer posted this quote from a recent Wall Street Journal article, which I love:

"Half a decade into the e-book revolution, though, the prognosis for traditional books is suddenly looking brighter. Hardcover books are displaying surprising resiliency. The growth in e-book sales is slowing markedly. And purchases of e-readers are actually shrinking, as consumers opt instead for multipurpose tablets. It may be that e-books, rather than replacing printed books, will ultimately serve a role more like that of audio books—a complement to traditional reading, not a substitute."

So there you have it: the truth. I own two Kindles. And I love my Kindles—for certain situations. But there is no substitute for holding a real book in your hand, and having a bookshelf full of cherished books.

Megan Shepherd is a young adult writer living in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Her debut novel, The Madman's Daughter, comes out January 29, 2013 from Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins, and is the first in a Gothic thriller trilogy. She’d love to hear from you at her blog, TwitterFacebook, or on Goodreads.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Kasie West Takes the Dare

Yesterday, in a panic, I sent out a "I still have no idea what I'm going to do for my dare tomorrow" plea on twitter and was saved by the awesome Erin Bowman with:

 I dare you to re-stage your cover. Blog the photo results. (You have bangs right? This should be easy ;) ) 

She was supported by Megan with:


That's practically a double dog dare when two people support it, right?

Little did Erin know that my sister, Stephanie Ryan, and her husband, Kevin, are photoshop geniuses. So this dare was meant for me. Not only is my sister a photoshop genius (as you are about to witness) she is an amazing photographer. In fact, you should go 'like' her photography facebook page immediately: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephanie-Ryan-Photography/118147241572560?fref=ts 

So here we go. My reenactment of my cover with ME as the subject: 

Now you can see why a few people that know me in real life have done a small double take when looking at my real cover. Also, funny story, when my editor met me for the first time (my book cover in her possession, ready to be shared with me for the first time) she said, "I didn't know you had bangs." So I promise neither me nor my editor picked a cover model that bore a slight resemblance to me on purpose. Ha.  

But that got me thinking, if I were to do a book cover to represent my own two possible futures and my own story. What would it look like? The following is probably pretty close. The future me on the left represents a life where I find balance. The future me on the right represents never leaving my precioussss writing chair again. :) Which fate am I going to choose?!?

I had to keep the "mock cover" disclaimer on this second picture as well just in case. 

Thanks for the dare, Erin (and Megan). That was fun. And seriously, thanks Stephanie Ryan, you rock. Send in more truth or dares for us to choose from here. Up next week: Megan Shepherd. 

Kasie West writes YA paranormal. She graduated from Fresno State University with a BA degree that has nothing to do with writing. She earned her masters in Junior Mint eating (which is awarded after eating your millionth King Size box....and is now working on her PhD). She loves sappy alternative rock ballads and reading way past her bedtime.

Her debut novel PIVOT POINT will be out with HarperTeen February 12, 2013

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Today Is PROPHECY Day! Huzzah!

Guys! It's me, Natalie, and I'm so very beyond excited to have the privilege of being the Thirteener who gets to talk about PROPHECY by our very own Ellen Oh.

Because I freaking love this book. Like, you have no idea. I know I love a book when it makes me want to draw—that's pretty much my brain saying, "I wish these characters were mine and I need to make them belong to me somehow!"

Not every book incites the need to draw in me, but from page one of PROPHECY I could feel my left hand itching to sketch Kira's yellow eyes, the palace where she lived and defended her kingdom from demons, the haetae her father gave her, the monks and cute warrior or two she met along her grand journey...

Can the animators of Avatar: The Last Airbender just adapt this for me, please? Because, c'mon.

PROPHECY is the story of a girl who is scorned for her gifts instead of revered. The story of a kingdom on the brink of destruction by demons, the war that ensues, and a fresh addition to The Hero's Quest tradition. And at the heart of it all, PROPHECY is a story about family.

So if you're looking for a book packed with adventure and non-stop action, look no further! It's the perfect book for the teen who prefers battles, legends, and non-western fantasy.

And because I love Ellen and PROPHECY so much, I want to end this debut post with some art I drew especially for the occasion.

These are two of my favorite characters from PROPHECY—Jaewon and Seung. They make such a great duo. And, hello, Jaewon. Mmm.

And this is my girl, Kira. Man, I love her and her "tiger eyes" and her kick butt warrior skills and her love of her family. She is everything I'd want my daughter to be.

Happy debut day, Ellen! I hope you enjoy every minute of it, and I can't wait to run out to my local bookstore and get a copy for me AND my little sister. You guys should buy it too, just sayin'.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Truth: It's 2013! What do we Dare to do next?

It is 2013 and we are SO excited. Pardon us while we scream/squeal/pass out at inappropriate times.

This is our debut year! Because of this, a couple of things will be changing around here. We'll still be doing truth or dares on Fridays, and we'll still have special guest posts here and there.

But that's not all.

Now we will be adding celebration launch posts because our books will be coming out! And the first of our books to debut, Prophecy by Ellen Oh, will be coming out tomorrow(and I hear it's already been seen out in the wild)!


Oh...apparently I've reached my exclamation point quota for the day. I'll try to rein it in.

Anyway, to start 2013 off on the right foot. We've all come up with a Truth or Dare based resolution for the new year. What are thirteen authors like us resolving to do during our debut year? Let us tell you. I'll start with mine:

Friday the Thirteener Resolutions for 2013

J.R. Johansson: I dare myself not to let the new responsibilities of the upcoming year--reviews, marketing, conferences & the insecurities/problems that come with them--interfere with me striving to always improve my skill. In other words, I won't let publication get in the way of my writing. :-)

Natalie Whipple: I want to be more confident in my writing, to have fun with it, and to stay true to the stories that speak to me. I've spent too much time in the past wishing my writing was more like someone else's--this year I want to be proud of how and what I write.

Brandy Colbert: I'd like to practice more patience and focus on the "now" instead of the future. It's true that publishing is a long process and full of unexpected bumps along the way, but I'll only be a debut author once and taking time to appreciate all the little steps along the way will make for a much more enjoyable process overall.

Mindy McGinnis: I dare myself to not respond to negative reviews at all - as in zero interaction. The truth is that it will only make me look bad in the end, no matter what I say or how I compose myself. So in other words, I dare myself to be non-confrontational. This should be interesting.

Erin Bowman: I dare myself to avoid reading reviews as much as possible in 2013. So far I've found that reviews (glowing, negative, luke-warm--it doesn't matter), all seem to mess with my writing mojo. I write best when I'm stress-free and my muse, inspired. And I want 2013 to be about the writing. ;)

Ellen Oh: I dare myself not to eat an entire box of Krispy Kreme donuts in one sitting. And I promise to tell the truth when my kids ask me who ate the last donut.

Kasie West: I hope to stay true to myself and who I am, to remember the people who helped me fulfill my dreams and supported me every step of the way, and not to get caught up in all the crazy that can come along with this publishing business. (Also, I want to eat Ellen's entire box of donuts so she has someone to blame. Yes, I would make this extreme sacrifice for her.)

Renee Collins: I dare myself not to compare my journey to anyone else's. I want to savor (yes, savor) every moment of this journey for exactly what it is, nothing more, nothing less.

Megan Shepherd: I dare myself to step away from the computer more; go outside, hang out with friends, work out, remember there's a world outside of Writing. I love what I do, and I love the online community, but I want to try for a little more balance in 2013.

Shannon Messenger: My goal for 2013 is to be true to myself when it comes to my writing schedule. I want to be honest with myself and take breaks when I need them, but I would also love to get in the habit of writing for at least one hour every day. And I dare myself to learn how to write from my plane or my hotel room when I'm traveling*. (*goals MIGHT be influenced by how very behind I am on my current deadline.)

Elsie Chapman: My goal for 2013 is to try to find more balance in my writing schedule. to truly believe it's okay to take nights off, and to not let the little things get to me. And to always remember how lucky I am to be doing this in the first place!

Alexandra Duncan: My resolution for 2013 is to stay professional and true to myself, even when I read negative reviews or stumble across internet trolls.

April Tucholke: I'm daring myself to stay in one place for more than a year. I'm going to stifle all my roamer tendencies and try to settle. I'm also daring myself to spend an hour outside each and every day, and to read for an hour each and every day. No excuses.

So, what about you? What are you resolving to do differently in 2013? Do you dare to tell us the truth? :)

And don't forget to check back tomorrow as we celebrate the release of Prophecy! (Sorry, had to go over the quota for that one. It was necessary.)


J.R. Johansson loves reading, playing board games and sitting in her hot tub. Her dream is that someday she can do all three at the same time. She is a YA thriller author represented by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. Her debut novel, INSOMNIA, is due to be released June 8, 2013 with Flux. You can find her on twittergoodreads, her website, or her