Apr 1, 2014

Spring 2014 YA Scavenger Hunt!

~This Hunt is officially over!~

I cannot believe how fast this year is flying by - it's already time for the Spring 2014 YA Scavenger Hunt! This is an event created by Colleen Houck as a way to give readers access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors...and a chance to win some very amazing prizes.

Not only will you get exclusive content from authors (in my case, a very top secret scene from Find Me Where the Water Ends - the final book in my series, not out till July!) but you will also get a clue on each page. Add up the clues and you could qualify to win 25 signed books from all the authors participating in the hunt. But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

To make it even more awesome, there are two contests going on at the same time. I'm part of the BLUE TEAM.

But there is also a red team for a chance to win a whole different set of 25 signed books. Make sure to stop by the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out more details and see links for all the participating authors.

 

Scavenger Hunt Puzzle

Directions: Somewhere in this post I've listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the blue team, and then add them up.

Entry Form: Once you've added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the entry form to officially qualify for the grand prize.

Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Sunday, April 6 at noon Pacific Time.

(NOTE: Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.)

 

For this hunt, I have the pleasure of hosting Sara B. Larson!


Sara B. Larson can’t remember a time when she didn’t write books. Although she now uses a computer instead of a Little Mermaid notebook. Sara lives in Utah with her husband and their three children. She writes during naptime and the quiet hours when most people are sleeping. Her husband claims she should have a degree in “the art of multitasking.” On occasion you will find her hiding in a bubble bath with a book and some Swedish Fish.

Here's Sara's novel, Defy:

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?

Guys, love triangles and dangerous secrets are my kryptonite. This book sounds so good. To order it, CLICK HERE! And to find out more about Sara and her books, visit her website.

Now for the best part - Sara's exclusive content. Here's the prologue from Defy, written from Marcel's point of view. 

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Sorry! Now that the hunt is over, so is the exclusive content!

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Continue the scavenger hunt by CLICKING HERE for the next author. Also, have I mentioned that every time I look at a clock it has 11 on it? It seems important somehow...

In the spirit of the hunt, I'm also giving away 2 of my own books. Enter below to win a signed paperback of So Close to You, a signed hardcover of This Strange and Familiar Place + bookmarks. US only!

Good luck to all who enter and happy hunting!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Mar 15, 2014

On What It Means to be a Fangirl

WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.

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Yesterday I watched the Veronica Mars movie. And then I rewatched it. And rewatched it. And then maybe rewatched it. Then rewatched certain make-out-lift-up-by-the-ass-to-perfect-hipster-music scenes OVER AND OVER AND OVER.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am a fangirl.

This comes as no surprise, I'm sure. In fact, I don't think I've met a single YA author who isn't a crazy-fan in one sense or another. We are consumed by stories, after all, and those epic, never-ending, hope-filled romances are our kryptonite. Nothing exemplifies this blend of longing and fear and FEELS better than Veronica Mars.

I first got into the world of Neptune when I was in college. I remember renting the DVDs from my local video store (remember those?), binge watching the series on my futon (we all had futons, shut up), and ignoring my then-boyfriend for days. I couldn't get enough of the quick wit, of the over-arching mysteries, and, of course, of Logan. Watching Logan and Veronica's story play out with all the messy feelings, the pushing and the pulling, the kissing and the fighting, was consuming. And before I knew what was happening, I was consumed. 

Veronica Mars was not the first thing I've ever fangirled over. That belongs to The Tribe, this weird, obscure show about teens in a dystopian New Zealand who live in a shopping mall after all the adults are wiped out by a mysterious virus (IT WAS THE SHIT (but also kind of terrible)). Then there were the few years in high school where I fangirled out over Roswell pretty hard, to the point where I was having Liz & Max fueled dreams and canceling plans in order to read fanfiction.

Back then I was definitely the only one of my friends who had ever even heard of fanfiction. Sometimes I still am. Most of my friends (apart from the amazing online community) are not fangirls or boys. They do not understand the way something can sink into your skin, can live inside you, is all that you can think about for days and weeks and your biggest fear is that it will end and then you will never find another show or couple or book that will match this obsessive, all-encompassing feeling. For me, this is the roller-coaster test. If I see or read about a couple having A MOMENT and my stomach drops out like I'm on a roller coaster, and keeps dropping out for weeks upon weeks, I know that I have found another pure fangirl love.

I've had a bunch of them, believe me. The Tribe, Roswell, The Outlander series, The Bronze Horseman series, Battlestar Galactica, the first three seasons of Misfits. But fangirling is not the same as liking something. I like plenty of stuff. I watch/read and get invested in a lot of things. Loving to the point of obsession is much different. And I've never loved any of my fangirl obsessions as much as I love Veronica Mars.

The problem with being a fangirl is that it will break your heart. When VM was cancelled, I actually cried. I wish I was kidding. But by that point I was already losing faith. The third season was clearly a season for the network instead of the fans - changing its format to try and stay on the air, softening Logan and Veronica to the point where they were almost unrecognizable. I thought the Duncan-storyline in season 2 was as low as we could go, but I was wrong.

Clearly, I've thought about this a lot. And I still do. Because here's the thing - as a fangirl you are giving a part of yourself over to someone else - a stranger really - and asking them to care for it. I think that anyone who loves Veronica Mars as much as I do feels in some weird, completely irrational way that they have a relationship with Rob Thomas, the creator. That we are a part of the same team. That we can blame him for things and praise him for others, but that - no matter what - we are connected. It makes no sense, I know. Trust me. But does anything about being a true fangirl make sense? It is all about base emotions, and I've found that those are rarely rational.

Is this all a long-winded way for me to say that I love Veronica Mars? Well, yes. But it's more than that. Watching the movie last night (and again this morning, let's be honest) brought back all those old feelings. I felt like I was watching fanfiction come to life, and that was in no way a bad thing. For years I've been forced to live with the thought that Veronica would end up with Piz, that she and Logan would never be together, that she'd leave Neptune and never look back. I had to imagine what her future would be like, to wonder and speculate. But that's the danger of getting completely sucked into a world and a story - at some point it has to end and the only thing left is our imagination.

As a fangirl, I live in a world where there's a little part of me that believes all of these people actually exist. Or at least I like to pretend that they do, that these characters aren't just lifeless things in a book or on a screen. They're real. They're part of me. Which is why I've always chosen to believe that somewhere out there, even all these years later, Logan and Veronica are making out and solving crimes in a town called Neptune. Last night I finally got that confirmation, and it feels pretty incredible. 

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Jan 17, 2014

YA Meets Kdrama: Tithe

YA Meets Kdrama is a weekly blog feature where 4 other writers/bloggers/readers and myself cast young adult novels as Korean dramas. Because we are obsessed. And awesome.

Here are some recent posts:

Katie M Stout casts Shiver

Christina at A Reader of Fictions casts Being Sloane Jacobs

I'm incredibly excited to be casting one of my favorite YAs this time around: Tithe by Holly Black.

Tithe was one of the first "modern" YAs I read, and definitely my first dark tale of faeries. I became obsessed with the relationship between Roiben and Kaye, and I remember DEVOURING the sequel (Ironside) when it came out. Even now, I read these books about once a year or so.

Tithe as a Kdrama:

Synposis: Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother's rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms -- a struggle that could very well mean her death.

Starring:

Yoon Jin Yi as Kaye Fierch

Because of her upbringing, Kaye is tough, independent, smart, and wary of the world around her. But she also has an innocence about her and a deep desire to love and be loved. After watching Yoon Jin Yi be vulnerable in A Gentleman's Dignity, and tough and sassy in Answer Me 1994, I know she'd make a perfect Kaye. Plus this girl needs her own show already - she's awesome.

Lee Phillip as Roiben

I've only seen Lee Phillip in Secret Garden, but whoa-man would he make a perfect Roiben. He's definitely the warrior type, and no one can look at those cheekbones and tell me that this guy doesn't look like a hot avenging faerie knight.

Baro as Corny

My newest kdrama obsession is Answer Me 1994, which also happens to be Kpop star Baro's first experience as an actor. But he's great in it, and plays the sensitive, struggling-with-his-identity Binggeure very well. Corny is also a character adrift and I can definitely see Baro giving him a specific forelorn spin.

Kim Woo Bin as Nephamael

This is not my first Woo Bin casting nor will it be my last because I LOVE HIM WITH THE POWER OF A THOUSAND SUNS. Also, Nephamael is one of those asshole guys you love to hate and if that doesn't describe Woo Bin's character in Heirs then nothing will. Woo Bin has this great ability to look amusingly pissed all the time. I think it's in the eyebrows.

Song Hye Kyo as Nicnevin

I ADORE the thought of casting Korea's-sweetheart as the evil, sadistic, basically insane Unseelie Queen. Song Hye Kyo is great at being vulnerable and sweet (see: That Winter, the Wind Blows), but I can totally see her rising to the challenge of playing evil. And Lord knows she's beautiful enough to play a faerie queen. 

Casting this book is seriously so much fun and I think it would make a perfect Kdrama. Because while I've seen Kdramas about ghosts, witches, time travelers, gumihos, crimelords, and body-swappers, I have yet to see one about faeries. Time to get on it, Korea. 

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Dec 14, 2013

YA Meets Kdrama: A Countess Below Stairs

This past week I reread Eva Ibbotson's A Countess Below Stairs, and I just knew I had to turn it into my next installment of YA Meets Kdrama.

I've made no secret of my enduring love for Ibbotson, and I think all of her books would make awesome Kdramas. A Countess Below Stairs is especially perfect: an attractive older man with power, a spunky girl down on her luck, an evil second lead who stands in the way of true love. Seriously, I just described the plot of every Kdrama ever.

In case you're new - YA Meets Kdrama is a weekly blog series where five of us bloggers/writers cast our favorite YA novels as Korean dramas. Here are the most recent posts:

Laura J Moss casts Tomorrow, When the War Began

Katie M Stout casts Shatter Me

Corey Wright casts The Disreputable Education of Frankie Landau-Banks

Christina at A Reader of Fictions casts Racing Savannah

Without further adieu, here is A Countess Below Stairs as a Kdrama:

Synopsis (taken from Amazon): Anna, a young countess, has lived in the glittering city of St Petersburg all her life in an ice-blue palace overlooking the River Neva. But when revolution tears Russia apart, her now-penniless family is forced to flee to England. Armed with an out-of-date book on housekeeping, Anna determines to become a housemaid and she finds work at the Earl of Westerholme’s crumbling but magnificent mansion. The staff and the family are sure there is something not quite right about their new maid – but she soon wins them over with her warmth and dedication.Then the young Earl returns home from the war – and Anna falls hopelessly in love. But they can never be together: Rupert is engaged to the snobbish and awful Muriel – and anyway, Anna is only a servant. Or so everybody thinks . . .

Starring:

Shin Min Ah as Anna Grazinsky

Like Anna, Shin Min Ah's characters are often bubbly, excitable and strong. Her performance in My Girlfriend is a Gumiho is so crazy adorable that you literally want to eat her up. But she's also able to carry the emotional parts of her roles, making you feel everything right alongside her. Shin Min Ah is considered one of the most beautiful actresses in Korea, but regardless, she never stops being relatable. Because of this I know she'd make the perfect Anna. 

Kim Ji Hoon as Rupert Frayne

Rupert is a war hero and reluctant heir, forced to marry a woman he doesn't love in order to save his family home. Anyone who's seen Stars Falling From the Sky knows how well Kim Ji Hoon plays the chabol character, and his performance in Flower Boy Next Door showed us a softer, more romantic side. Rupert is basically a combo of those two characters, making Kim Ji Hoon the perfect fit.

Park Soo Jin as Muriel Hardwicke

Park Soo Jin almost always plays the second lead - and has already acted against our two leads in both My Girlfriend is a Gumiho and Flower Boy Next Door. Her haughty attitude would definitely do Muriel justice. Plus Muriel is super into eugenics, and I can't really look at Park Soo Jin's face without cringing over all that plastic surgery. She seems like she'd do a great job of embodying the modern version of Muriel's beauty-is-everything attitude.

Choi Won Young as the butler Proom

Like everyone else on eath, I've been watching Heirs (SO DISAPPOINTING), and I've found myself drawn to the quiet dignity of Choi Won Young. He might be a little young for it, but I can definitely see him taking on the role of stoic, responsible, household-running Proom.

Lee Min Ho as Sergei

Too obvious? I DON'T EVEN CARE LOOK AT THE BEAUTY OF THAT MAN. He's perfect to play Anna's sexy cousin Sergei, who causes all the ladies to fall in love with him and acts as an inadvertent foil when Rupert sees the two of them embracing.

Lee Chun Hee as Dr. Lightbody

Handsome, but still silly enough to play the over-the-top spectacle that is Dr. Lightbody, the eugenics loving, self-proclaimed 'doctor,' who follows Muriel around. Lee Chun Hee was pretty serious in Dating Agency: Cyrano, but look to his performance in Smile, You, for the inspiration behind this casting.

There are about a million and one characters in A Countess Below Stairs, so obviously this is just a few. Still, I think it's a pretty good start!

Do you agree with my casting? Disagree? Think Heirs was actually good? (In which case, we might have to stop being friends.)

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Nov 15, 2013

Self Publishing - A Tricky Business

I've spoken a little bit on this blog about my other jobs. Writing is my dream, my main focus, my future. What it is not, necessarily, is my bread winner. I don't know many writers who write just to make money, because the truth is that it's not a profession where you can hope to have a steady and long term flow of cash.

Don't get me wrong - this is not me complaining. I'm so excited to see SO CLOSE TO YOU on bookshelves that I still happy dance every time (it's getting very awkward for all my local bookstore owners). But I'm not one of those lucky few who get to write full time.

So I have a couple of other jobs - part time work that leaves me a lot of time to focus on writing. One of those is nannying for a super awesome 7 year old (you may have seen me post his burp-jokes on twitter). Another one is editing/helping to create author platforms. Through this I've had the pleasure of working with Stephen Zuckerman, an author out of Minneapolis.

Stephen is a character - an avid traveler, a doctor, an entrepreneur. His experiences inform his writing, and the result is a rich and detailed essay style. He also specializes in these little "zuckerisms" - short quips and aphorisms that are as funny as they are true. He has two books out already: New Clichés for the 21st Century and Doc, What's Up? Both are available in paperback (if you're interested, email stephenzuckerman1@gmail.com!), but he and I decided early on that we also wanted to make sure they would be available digitally.

I had never gone through the process of publishing on Amazon before. Naively, I thought that if I just threw a Word document up there, it would turn out looking amazing. This is not the case. This is especially not the case if you are working with a piece of writing that has already been formatted for print. When I tried to upload the books, the paragraphs were a mess, the fonts changed sizes randomly, and there were tons of blank pages. After a couple days of tears (I wish I was kidding), I quickly realized I was out of my element, and Stephen and I started looking for someone who could help us. 

I contacted some of the bigger companies who specialize in formatting. Because one of the books - Doc, What's Up? - had a bunch of images, the price was creeping into the thousands. Frustrated, I asked twitter for help. I can't remember who it was, but someone quickly recommended Megan Duncan.

Thank. God.

Megan was a joy to work with. Professional, thorough, and efficient. I literally threw a mess of pages at her, and she turned them into beautiful ebooks. If we had a problem, she fixed it quickly and perfectly. I cannot recommend her enough.

I don't often use this space to promote (other than, um, me, and also maybe Kdramas), but I had such a wonderful experience with Megan that I really felt the need to write a glowing review of her services. I want you to understand how big this project was - at one point I sent her a file with over a hundred images in it. And she didn't even complain (!!). More than that her prices were beyond reasonable and she helped make any adjustments we needed even after we'd given her the last payment. It's always such a risk to do business with people over the internet, and I never once had a reason to doubt her.

I've said before that I think self-publishing is awesome, and while I've only experienced traditional publishing so far, I am sure that I will be self-publishing some work in the future. For people like me, who tend to get lost when it comes to html & all that jazz, having a Megan Duncan in your life is invaluable. If you ever need to format an ebook, definitely keep her in mind!   

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Nov 8, 2013

YA Meets Kimchi: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

It's that time again - my third official YA Meets Kimchi post! Since I last cast Gayle Forman's IF I STAY, my fellow Kdrama-buddies have been busy putting up their own awesome posts. Here's a quick update in case you missed them:

Christina at A Reader of Fictions casts Josin L McQuein's PREMEDITATED

Laura J Moss casts John Green's PAPER TOWNS

Katie M Stout casts Holly Black's WHITE CAT

Corey Wright casts Kristin Cashore's GRACELING

This blog series might be my favorite thing ever, and not just because I'm casting one of my favorite books this time around - Carrie Ryan's THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH:

Kdrama Version:

Mary has grown up in an enclosed community in the woods, ruled by the Sisterhood and watched over by the Guardians. But the fences are the only things keeping the Unconsecrated at bay, and when new danger comes, Mary's life is changed forever. Soon she finds herself on the run, torn between two brothers as she struggles to survive in a broken world.

Starring:

Moon Geun-Young as Mary


Jung Kyung-Ho as Travis


Ji Hyun-Woo as Harry

Park Se-Young as Cass

Choi Jin-Hyuk as Jed


Kim Mi-Kyung as Sister Tabitha


Lee Do-Hyun as Jacob


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Casting THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH was crazy fun, and thanks for checking it out! That's all...


OMG, HOW DID THAT GET IN HERE??

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Oh well.

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You're welcome.

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Oct 18, 2013

Covers and Titles

It's been a week since my cover was officially revealed on A Life Bound by Books (there's still a giveaway going on of 2 signed books, so go check it out!), which I think means it's time to reveal it on my own blog too. So here's the beauty:

I'm obsessed. I love everything about it. From the pink and purple sky to the riot of red hair. AND I think this might be my favorite title. It's super romantic & a little mysterious & fits the book so well (YOU WILL SEE WHY SOON). Also, my bff Jeramey has pointed out that the titles are now a complete sentence - plus one little preposition. See:

SO CLOSE TO YOU (in) THIS STRANGE AND FAMILIAR PLACE, FIND ME WHERE THE WATER ENDS.

Ahh I love it. There's something very bittersweet about this third book, from writing it to, to getting the cover, to sharing it with all of you. This series has been such a journey from beginning to end and I'm already sad just thinking it will be over soon. But I do love getting to see how all three books complement each other, and how they really do tell a story that just gets bigger and bigger. Here are all three covers, laid out together:

They work so perfectly together, bringing in the same themes and images. I definitely got some good cover karma. Here's hoping it continues on for the rest of my writing career. :-)

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