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 Armed with an out-of-date book on housekeeping, Anna determines to become a housemaid and she finds work at the Earl of Westerholme’s crumbling but magnificent mansion.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


***

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??

...

Oh well.

...

...

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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Oct 1, 2013

Fall 2013 YA Scavenger Hunt!!

*This hunt is officially over!*

GUYS. It's that time of year again...YA Scavenger Hunt Fall addition! This is always one of my favorite events. Created by Colleen Houck, it's an awesome way to give readers access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors...and a chance to win some cool prizes.

Not only will you get exclusive content from authors (in my case, the first scene from the just-copyedited, totally-top-secret third book in the SO CLOSE TO YOU series), but you will also get a clue on each page. Add up the clues and you could qualify to win 20 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.

Keep in mind that there are two contests going on at the same time. I'm part of the RED TEAM.

But there is also a blue team AND a gold team for a chance to win a whole different set of 20 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 red 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 October 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 Lisa Voisin!


A Canadian-born author, Lisa Voisin spent her childhood daydreaming and making up stories, but it was her love of reading and writing in her teens that drew her to Young Adult fiction. In her spare time, she teaches meditation. So when she's not writing, you'll find her meditating or hiking in the mountains to counter the side effects of drinking too much coffee. She lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her fiance and their two cats.

Here's Lisa's novel, THE WATCHER:

When seventeen-year-old Mia is attacked by a horrible creature, she knows Michael Fontaine is involved. Secretive and aloof, Michael evokes feelings in Mia that she doesn't understand. Images of another time and place haunt her. She recognizes them--but not from any textbook.

In search of the truth, Mia discovers a past life of forbidden love, jealousy and revenge that tore an angel from Heaven and sent her to an early grave. Now that her soul has returned, does she have a chance at loving that angel again? Or will an age-old nemesis destroy them both?

Ancient history is only the beginning.

Doesn't that sound awesome? I cannot resist books about past lives and forbidden love. 

Click Here to order THE WATCHER. And to find out more about Lisa and her book, visit her website.

Now here's the best part - Lisa's exclusive content, a scene from WARLORD'S RETURN, the upcoming sequel to THE WATCHER:

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Hunt is over, so you'll just have to buy the books for the exclusive content!

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So. Good.

Continue the Scavenger Hunt by clicking here for the next author. Also, have I mentioned that 11 is my favorite number? 

In the spirit of the hunt, I'm also giving away 2 of my own books + a super beautiful watch-necklace (Wes lovers will know why this is significant!). Enter below to win a signed paperback of SO CLOSE TO YOU, a signed hardcover of THIS STRANGE AND FAMILIAR PLACE + bookmarks & necklace.

Good luck to all who enter, and thanks for being a part of the Fall 2013 YA Scavenger Hunt! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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YA Meets Kimchi

After I turned SO CLOSE TO YOU into a Kdrama, it started up a pretty awesome blog series called YA Meets Kimchi, where 4 other (amazing, Kdrama loving!) bloggers and I take turns casting our favorite YA books as Kdramas. Here are the posts so far:

DELIRIUM cast by Laura J Moss

LOLA & THE BOY NEXT DOOR cast by Katie M Stout

JELLICOE ROAD cast by Corey Wright

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US cast by Christina at A Reader of Fictions

Now it's back to me, and this time I'm casting one of my absolute favorite YA novels - IF I STAY by Gayle Forman:

Kdrama version:

Cello prodigy Park Mi-Na has a bright future in front of her. Her family is supportive, her friends are loyal, and she's found love with rocker musician Lee Kang-Bae. But then a fatal car accident rips everything away, leaving her in a coma. Now her spirit is left wandering, forced to decide if she wants to live or die - and if the love she has left is enough to keep going.

Starring:

Jo Bo-Ah as Park Mi-Na (Mia Hall)


Kim Woo-Bin as Lee Kang-Bae (Adam Wilde) 


Shin So-Yul as Bak Su-Yung (Kim Schein) 

Wang Seok-Hyeon as Park Ji-Min (Teddy Hall)

Cha Seung-won as Park Ha-Joon (Denny Hall)

Chae Jung-Ahn as Mae Hee-Jin (Kat Hall)

If I Stay premieres Mondays and Tuesdays this fall on tvN. 

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Sep 9, 2013

YA Books I've Read Lately...

...That I loved.

This. Book. I get that everyone else is freaking out about it too, and that maybe I'm even a little late to the party. BUT SO WHAT. It is not often that I read a love story that feels fresh and new and exciting and oh so lovely, and ELEANOR & PARK nailed it. I believe in this love. I want this love to span generations. In my head Eleanor and Park are two real people living somewhere right now with a bunch of kids and never-ending happiness. I seriously don't want to live in a world where that's not true. I also think this book has helped me as a writer - it's reminding me how much I love writing & reading characters who feel real. Complicated and honest without perfect faces and bodies. These characters turn each other's flaws into positives, into things that make them long for one another. I want to bring that quality to my  own writing.

Also, this quote from John Green kills me: "ELEANOR & PARK reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.

I gave this book a shot because of Julie Murphy (author of the upcoming Side Effects May Vary), and I'm super glad I did...despite the subject matter. Because this book is very incesty. Like, a lot of brother-sister-making out action. I went into it never believing I could be on board, and by the end I was like OH GOD WHY CAN'T THEY JUST LOVE EACH OTHER ALL BROTHERS AND SISTERS DESERVE THE RIGHT TO MAKE OUT.

I get that this won't be everyone's cup of tea. I have no brother, so therefore I did not have to picture making out with a sibling while reading this. But I'm telling you - somehow Suzuma makes you think this is okay. And not just okay, but really romantic and believable and destined. That is no easy feat, which is why you should definitely give this book a shot. Also, the writing is beautiful, the characters are realistic, and the whole thing just sucks you in from beginning to end.

Someone on twitter recommended Webber to me (I can't remember who) when I was looking for a new self-pub author to obsess over. Because guys, I LOVE a good self-pubbed book. I think there are a lot of great benefits to traditional publishing, but self-publishing is so cool, innovative, and changing the way we buy/look at books. That is a whole blog post for another day, but the point is that when I find a self-pubbed author who can write his or her brains out, I am ALL OVER IT.

Tammara Webber more than fits the bill. I haven't read EASY (her most popular), but I read these two - the first in a series about teens who are actors. Everyone knows that actor/Hollywood based romances are the best. It's a fact. And these ones are particularly good. Emma - the heroine - is likeable with layers. Her love interest is hot and broody without being a stereotype. I adore these two books. I seriously read them in a day and a half. 

Are you guys reading any good YA's lately? There's a bunch more I want to read soon, including THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN & SEPTEMBER GIRLS.

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On another note, I updated my News/Events page as I have a few things coming up in the fall. I got involved with this VERY cool writer's group in Burlington called the Renegade Writers' Collective. I'm teaching some YA classes for them in the Burlington Vermont area, and this Saturday (tomorrow!) I'm reading at Radio Bean at 7 as part of the Lit Pub Crawl. This is only for older readers/peeps, but if you're in the Burlington area, then you should check it out!  

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