Tag Archives: YA books

Interview: Debut Author and Anthology Editor Sarah Read! #WIHMX #HookonWiHM #Horror

Today I welcome Sarah Read, author of the recently released The Bone Weaver’s Orchard and editor-in-chief of Pantheon Magazine, to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I’m so happy she’s joined me and we find out we have quite a bit in common! You’ll find Sarah to be outgoing, kind, and one smart cookie. I hope you enjoy learning about her debut novel (a Gothic horror mystery for adult and YA readers), what she learned writing her first novel, and tips and advice from an editor on submission processes.

Hi Sarah, and welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I’m so happy you’ve joined us. Come in and we’ll make some coffee, grab some cupcakes from the counter, and settle in for a chat. How do you take your coffee?

Sarah: Hello, Erin! Thank you so much for having me! I’ll take my coffee with milk, no sugar, please. But yeah, I’ll have a whole bunch of these cupcakes!

cherry chocolate

Erin: Aren’t cupcakes the best?! I made them this morning. I hope you like cherry chocolate! It’s a new favorite of mine.. And milk in your coffee it is, I’ll pour it in. Let’s get started! Your newest release is The Bone Weaver’s Orchard. Tell us about it in your own words.

Sarah: My book is a Gothic horror mystery. There’s an old abbey, which is now the Old Cross School for Boys. There is young Charley and his collection of insects and arachnids—and the other students who don’t care for Charley’s pets. There are secret passages and missing persons and abandoned structures and unnecessary surgeries. There are some old legends come to life, and new legends come to death, and, I hope, some dread.

Erin: This sounds like the perfect read for me. I LOVE Gothic more than just about anything and this sounds like a lot of fun. I read somewhere that this can be read by both YA and adult readers. Can you tell us about that?

Sarah: I hope that it can! I wrote this for the teen me who was bored with the teen horror, which wasn’t very scary, but annoyed by the adult horror, which was full of adults doing adult things. I keep the point of view YA, but I don’t pull any punches on the horror. So far, I’ve heard positive things from both age groups, so I hope I’ve succeeded. Teens don’t need their books softened. They are better equipped to handle horror than adults are. They still believe it can’t happen to them. Adults don’t just know it can—we’re half expecting it.

theboneweaversorchard_cover

Erin: I am in love with cover (I think Miko?)!!! I have to admit I agreed to reading this book BEFORE I found out it had spiders. I’ll still read it, but color me creeped out since I have arachnophobia! Does this have anything to do with your own enjoyment of knitting? Spinning webs of your own through your writing? Why spiders?

Sarah: Oooh, yeah. Oops. Yeah, Erin, there are some spiders. Sorry about that. I mean, I’m not, but… Heh. And yes! Spinning, weaving, knitting—these are words that have been borrowed from textiles and applied to story since as far back as we have written records and fabric on our bodies. It’s why, I think, so many spider deities are storytellers, as well. It all…weaves together.

I do love spiders. I used to be afraid of them, but I was forced through some immersion therapy just by virtue of the fact that spiders love me. I find one touching me more days than not. I find them in my clothes and hair. They’ll be chilling out on the light switch I’m about to reach for. They’ll be suspended in the air in the space where my face will soon be. My car is always full of spiders. They scamper across the wheel as I drive. Basically, my options were to get over being afraid, or go entirely mad. I suppose I chose both.

Erin: Haha!!! I live in Ohio in the woods, so I know what you mean! I love the weaving element. What other themes and elements are in your books for both teens and adults? As the mother of daughters 15 and 11, this seems like a book they’d enjoy with me?

Sarah: I hope that they would! There are some overall themes that I think teens will identify with. Adapting to a new school, a new home. On the adult side of that—wondering if there ever is any such thing as home—is it something that can be made, if you can’t find it? There are conflicts with bullies and cruel teachers, homework that must take a back seat to life’s bigger problems, like a missing friend. There are a lot of references to the parent-child bond, but most of the examples here are not pleasant. Of course, they’re all just pretend. Reality can be much worse.

Erin: I think they would love it, not only the themes, but the adventure/mystery element. This is your debut novel, I believe? What else have you written? How did writing short fiction help or hinder the process for writing a novel?

Sarah: It is my debut novel! It’s the first novel I wrote, though there have been others since. Most of my work up till now has been short fiction. I still love to write short stories, though I’m finding more and more of my ideas accordion-ing out into longer structures and becoming novel outlines instead. I’m not sure having written short fiction helped or hindered at all. I like the freedom that short fiction gives me to experiment, and I love being able to languish in the room given by a novel’s structure. I do find sometimes, though, that my brain is stuck in one mode, and it becomes difficult to execute the other. For example, I’m very much in novel mode right now, but I just had to write a short story on a deadline and it was much more difficult than it’s been in the past. For the most part, though, I love doing both.

Erin: I LOVE to write short stories too!! Where do you get the inspiration from for your books and stories?

Sarah: Well, everywhere, I think! It’s a matter of staying observant and engaged with the world when you’re out in it, then hiding away so you can regurgitate everything onto the page. I find a lot of inspiration in the gothic classics my grandmother gave me as a child. I have shelves full of books we’ve shared.

Erin: Yes, I love the classic Gothic books too. It’s so nice you had her to share that with. What other tips and tricks can you say you learned for yourself (or that can help others) while writing a much longer work like this novel?

Sarah: I’m not sure, having written only a few books, that I’ve really figured anything out, haha. One thing I did notice, though, was that with a novel, writing it is only about 1/5 the work. When I write a short story, the first draft is probably half the work, and then revision is half. But novels are beasts to revise. The work is exponential. And when you fix one thing, it sets off a chain reaction of other things you then need to fix. When I was revising Bone Weaver’s Orchard, there was a continuity error with the time of day/amount of light/chiming of a bell. By fixing it in the scene at the beginning, it introduced a new error in the next scene. Fixing that made another. Till I had to add an entire new scene to bump the events to the next day to make the timing work. Then the details in those scenes had to have their cause/effect…. I hated myself there for a few weeks. Oh, and another tip: don’t set your first book in a labyrinth of secret passages! I had to draw a lot of blueprints to make sure I wasn’t breaking the laws of physics.

Erin: That’s so cool though! I love secret passages in books but I can see how that all could get confusing! Who or what is your favorite character? How did you create? Struggles or successes?

Sarah: I’m not sure I can pick! Of course I love Charley. And his bugs. Sam was a lot of fun to write. I found that the characters emerged as I wrote. While I did try to plan things for them, they developed in ways that often changed my plans. It made it fun to write—the story surprised me as it progressed. But it did make for heavier revisions later, as I had to go back and correct inconsistencies and make sure their voices didn’t change too much. For example, Sam started out much older. As things unfolded, I realized I needed him to be a younger man. So there were a few things I needed to rewrite to make that work earlier in the story. These days I plan a lot more ahead of time. The characters still change my plans, though.

Pantheon

I pulled this photo from the Pantheon Magazine Facebook Page

Erin: You’re a fellow editor (you edit Pantheon Magazine and anthologies, correct?) and writer as well. I enjoy meshing the two together in my life, even if they are distinctive of each other. How do you feel each one lends to the other?

Sarah: Yes, I’ve been editing professionally for ten years, now. I started off with a large publishing house as an intern, then became an associate editor. While I did that I also began editing Pantheon Magazine on my own time. I left the big publishing company when my youngest was born. I still work for Pantheon, though we’re going on a short hiatus after the release of our Gorgon anthology.

Editing and writing really are two separate creatures. Reading thousands of submissions does help me see what does or doesn’t work in a story, and being a writer helps me understand and empathize with the writers I edit. And when I submit my own work, I have a clearer understanding of the behind-the-desk process, so I’m able to ease some of my writerly anxiety that way. Rejections don’t sting as much, because I never take them personally—because they’re never sent that way. I think I’m also able to edit my own work with more detachment, now. Nothing is precious! Red pen it all!

Erin: What advice as a magazine and anthology editor do you want to give to newer authors as far as submitting stories? How do you get your stories the best look? What do you want to tell veteran authors?

Sarah: Every editor is so different that it’s hard to give general submission advice. The old basic rules still ring true: follow the guidelines, stick to the theme, don’t be a jerk. Don’t get antsy and submit your work before it’s truly finished. I’ve rejected a lot of stories because they just needed one more draft, and we didn’t have time in the publication schedule to allow for a revise-and-resubmit. It’s not only new authors doing this, either. In fact, I think new authors are more likely to take extra care with getting things perfect.

I always like to remind authors that I really, truly want to love their story. I’m not looking for a reason to reject it. I open each story (and I do read every submission that comes in) with the hope that it’ll be exactly what I want. And I’d say easily 75% of the rejections I send are because of a mismatch of theme or tone.

Erin: Having edited an anthology myself, I agree completely with the last statement. I had so many stories that I knew had been written for other anthologies already released that I had read – and must have been rejected – so were submitting to any open call. They didn’t fit the theme I had at all – Gothic by the way!

I believe you have just recently also had an anthology published that you curated and edited? What is it called, who published it, and what can readers find in its pages?

Sarah: Yes! Pantheon Magazine just put out a new anthology called GORGON: STORIES OF EMERGENCE. It contains 42 pieces of flash fiction on the theme of transformation. They’re new myths—some horror, some fantasy, some dark, some hopeful. Change takes many forms. We were lucky enough to get an amazing lineup for this book. We had around 700 submissions and so many were wonderful. My shortlist wasn’t at all short. I think there were over 150 pieces in my maybe pile. Writers really knocked it out of the park—it was agony narrowing the list down. I’m so, so proud of the final result. It just released on February 15 and I can’t wait for people to dig in!

Gorgon Cover V2 (1)

Erin: I’m looking forward to reading it. Another eye-catching cover by Daniele Serra! Flash is something I love to write and read. What was your biggest challenge and your biggest success with it?

Sarah: We did not anticipate the high volume of submissions that we would get for this book, haha. We had to completely overhaul the publication schedule several times so that we could give each submission its due. In the end, it took me six months just to get through it all. Much longer than I liked making people wait for responses—but the submissions were just so good that I didn’t want to rush through. I definitely think it was worth the wait! The final lineup is amazing. So many talented authors sent us their work. The TOC is packed with a diverse lineup of incredibly skilled storytellers.

Erin: I was thrilled to find out that like me you also handwrite your work! People think I am CRAZY. Mostly now I’ve adapted to be writing mostly short stories, poetry, interviews, etc. by hand – or plot ideas or segments in books – on paper with pencil and save the big stuff for the computer to save re-typing time. But I hear you handwrite everything! Tell us about that and your use of ink pens. I adore writing utensils and I want to hear all about it. Any favorite pens you like or would suggest?

Sarah: People think I’m crazy, too! Well. They’re not wrong. I do handwrite everything, even novels and this interview! I usually write with fountain pens, yes. I first started using one in high school, but I really got hooked in college, when I had a professor who wrote with a dip pen and inkwell. He was the coolest human ever, to my nerdy eyes. We bonded over Chaucer and writing instruments.

I’m writing this with a Faber-Castell Neo Slim pen with blue ink in it. Just a standard blue, as this is my work pen right now. Often I use bright orange or sepia tones. Or Turquoise and neon pink. One of my jobs as a stationery enthusiast is writing reviews for Penaddict.com. I’m currently forming opinions on this pen for review. My favorite fountain pens are Sailor Pro Gear Slims, in the bright, fun colors. My favorite notebooks are Midori MD books, especially in the B6 size. I do love pencils, too! So you have to tell me what your favorite pencils are. I’ve developed a love for the Palomino Blackwing ones!

Blackwing-4up

Palomino Blackwing Pencils!

Erin: I like Faber-Castell anything – pens, pencils, markers. I like Ticonderoga pencils – I think the black are cool. But I love to find any pencil with cool décor or style, even if cheap (or stolen from my daughters!). I love orange and turquoise too and writing for a pen site sounds amazing!! I also love any single notebook I can find. I probably should start being more selective. I just love the feel of hand-writing my work. It’s just something that makes my brain think more creatively.

Moving on to talking about Women in Horror Month: Who are some fellow Women in Horror you admire or like the works of? What books have you enjoyed?

Sarah: Oh, there are so many. SO MANY. I’ll list a few authors I’ve enjoyed recently, because the comprehensive list is miles long. Gwendolyn Kiste is amazing. Her collection and new novel are both reading essentials. Jordan Kurella is a genderqueer author whose work is constantly knocking me over with its depth of feeling. Zoje Stage’s Baby Teeth is one of the best horror novels I’ve read, hands down. And if you haven’t yet ventured into Sara Tantlinger’s poetry, that needs to be fixed asap. Gemma Files is one of my perennial favorites and she has two new collections out in the past year! And Carmen Maria Machado is writing some of the world’s best contemporary dark fairy tales that will twist your heart in knots.

GW-HerBodyandOtherParties-Frontcover

Erin: With all women out there must do, especially those of us keeping track of kids and a job too, how do you fit writing into your life? Do you have a plan or structure or is it as lightning strikes?

Sarah: It very much depends on the day! This week isn’t looking good, haha. Now that my youngest has started some preschool, I did manage to find a few hours a week where he is at school and I’m not at my day job. Sometimes I get to use those to write! Otherwise, it’s often after everyone else is asleep, or in the five minutes between this and that. I always have a notebook and pen (or five) on me in case I get a few quiet minutes to scribble.

Erin: Have you had any challenges as far as being a female writer in the horror genre? What and how did you overcome them? Advice for others?

Sarah: Sometimes, yes, though on the whole, I find the genre very welcoming and supportive. At least, the nice people are—and who would want to work with the others anyway? There have been a few times when I’ve received “this isn’t the tone we’re looking for” rejections for anthologies that then came out to be all cis white men on the TOC. I once got asked out while trying to discuss business with a male editor. I do feel at times as though men in the industry get recognized for their accomplishments immediately and remain visible while women must prove themselves over and over with each new publication, then disappear from the radar until the next thing comes out. I think things are getting better, but we still have a long way to go. For the last few years, I’ve had the rule that I would not buy any anthology that was more than 50% straight white guys. I’ve saved a lot of money! Too much.

Erin: That’s a great rule!

How about overall books and movies you have enjoyed? Any gender or genre.

Sarah: Guillermo del Toro movies are my favorite movies, with The Orphanage at the top of that list. Probably after that comes a long list of historical dramas like Poldark and Downton Abbey! Any PBS or BBC adaptation of classic lit, especially Dickens. I love a lot of non-horror. And true crime documentaries. 😀

My favorite dude writers are Steven Graham Jones, Steve Toase, Josh Malerman, Paul Tremblay, Bracken MacLeod, Richard Thomas, and a bunch of others. And they’re all wonderful humans, too. Much love for them!

Erin: We have so much in common. I loved Shape of Water. I also LOVE historical dramas, PBS and BBC adaptations, Dickens, mysteries, and true crime. I am well-rounded and always felt like I didn’t belong because of that. It’s awesome to know that more women out there like a wide range of things like I do! Oh – also SGJ and Malerman are two of my very favorite male authors.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing or working?

Sarah: If I’m not writing, reading, working, doing chores, playing with my kids, or playing with pens, I’m likely listening to podcasts while working with yarn. I knit, crochet, spin, and weave—anything to do with string, really! I also design my own crochet patterns. I have almost as many published crochet patterns as I do fiction pieces, haha. But, as the above might imply, I rarely have time for that hobby anymore.

Erin: That’s amazing, but yes, I can gather for sure that time for all things is on short supply.

What’s next for you in the next year or two? What are your goals for 5-10 years down the line?

Sarah: Well, I’ll be traveling a bit—visiting StokerCon in Grand Rapids and WisCon in Madison in May. I’ll also be at the Chicago Pen Show in May. May is going to be awesome! I’m also hoping to make it to StokerCon 2020 in Scarborough next year. It’s happening just a few miles from where my book takes place—I think I need to be there!

I have a few short stories that should be out this year, and my debut collection will be out from Trepidatio toward the end of the year. It has a few dozen of my favorite previously published pieces and a handful of new ones, including a new novelette. I’m also hoping to finish up edits and start pitching a new novel soon! And I’m planning to finish my current novel WIP this year, as well.

As for the next 5-10 years, my goals are to get an agent and write a ton more books. I have an idea for a series that I’m itching to get started on, and I’ve also outlined a prequel to The Bone Weaver’s Orchard that I’d love to write. Whatever the case, I know I’ll stay busy! I don’t know how not to!

Erin: That all sounds like a solid plan. I am anxious to see what you do! Thank you so much for hanging out with me and chatting today! I have really enjoyed getting to know you better. Let’s sit back and relax and have a few more cupcakes!

Sarah: Thank you so much, Erin! It’s been lovely chatting with you! I will happily take care of the rest of these cupcakes. 😀

The Bone Weaver’s Orchard, Synopsis –

theboneweaversorchard_coverHe’s run away home. That’s what they say every time one of Charley Winslow’s friends vanishes from The Old Cross School for Boys.

It’s just a tall tale. That’s what they tell Charley when he sees the ragged grey figure stalking the abbey halls at night.

When Charley follows his pet insects to a pool of blood behind a false wall, he could run and let those stones bury their secrets. He could assimilate, focus on his studies, and wait for his father to send for him. Or he could walk the dark tunnels of the school’s heart, scour its abandoned passages, and pick at the scab of a family’s legacy of madness and murder.

With the help of Sam Forster, the school’s gardener, and Matron Grace, the staff nurse, Charley unravels Old Cross’ history and exposes a scandal stretching back to when the school was a home with a noble family and a dark secret—a secret that still haunts its halls with scraping steps, twisting its bones into a new generation of nightmares.

“There’s a secret in this book. It’s stunning. It’s dark. And it’s as satisfying as any unknown a horror fan could could ever hope to unearth. So well written, so well paced, Sarah Read’s The Bone Weaver’s Orchard is a thriller with class.” —Josh Malerman, author of Bird Box

Add to GoodReads
Purchase on Amazon
Trepidatio Publishing

Sarah Read, Biography –

SRauthorpicSarah Read is a dark fiction writer in the frozen north of Wisconsin. Her short stories can be found in Gamut, Black Static, and other places, and in various anthologies including Suspended in Dusk, BEHOLD! Oddities Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders, and The Best Horror of the Year vol 10.

Her debut novel The Bone Weaver’s Orchard is now out from Trepidatio Publishing, and her debut collection will follow in late 2019. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Pantheon Magazine and of their associated anthologies, including Gorgon: Stories of Emergence.

She is an active member of the Horror Writers Association. When she’s not staring into the abyss, she knits. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram @Inkwellmonster or keep up with her on her website.

Thank you to Sarah for joining us and to you, readers, for stopping by as well. I appreciate your support of #HookonWiHM and #WomeninHorrorMonth!

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Interview with Gigi Pandian on her Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series + Review of Quicksand!

QUICKSAND-by-Gigi-Pandian-book-cover-medium

Today, I have a review of Gigi Pandian’s Quicksand, plus an exclusive, entertaining interview with Pandian and a link to a tour wide giveaway option below. Enjoy your weekend!

Review ~

I was entranced by the covers in the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mystery series, as soon as I first heard about Quicksand and realized it was the third book in the series. So that said, I haven’t read the first book, Artifact, or the second book, Pirate Vishnu yet, though their covers and blurbs entice me! I did read Quicksand for review, though, so let’s start there by saying that I didn’t feel too lost in reading only it, though as in any series with the same lead protagonist, I’m sure it’s always better to read them all for extra connectivity to character(s). Yet, the mysteries themselves in each book are standalone.

Jaya, the main female lead and historian, receives a letter from Lane, an old love interest she met previously and fell for hard, with a plane ticket to France enclosed and a request for her to meet him there. She goes against her better judgement and is talked into helping him steal something from the Louvre. There is a double mystery, one solved early on, in which Jaya put together clues to figure out the stolen item, and one later, in which witty, determined, and intelligent Jaya helps to stop one enormous archaeological theft. Of course, she’s helped by sidekick Lane and an old magician, Sébastien. Much of this story takes place on the island of Mont Saint Michel, which is an interesting fortress located off the coast of Normandy, France. I thought the setting was fun and ingenious.

Pandian writes well-researched historical mysteries that intertwine many cool places into a suspense mystery and an action-filled adventure. I have heard her described as being similar to Elizabeth Peters, one of my favorite authors, and yet, I feel that Pandian writes with even more flow, flair, magic, suspense, and the ability to hold a higher level of interest for modern readers of all ages. This book would appeal to teenage readers as well as adults for its clean romance and zippy action. It’s like Tomb Raider meets The Librarians or a female version of the Young Indiana Jones. Her magical elements make her story even more unique and on top of all that she plots in twists and turns to keep us on our toes.

Jaya and Lane are well-developed characters. Jaya is a very courageous lead and I could fully engage with her. However, I also enjoyed her characterization of the French magician in this story! He added an extra element to the story. As well, the villain in this story, North, was entertaining and balanced out the cast.

Overall, I can fondly say that Pandian’s Quicksand had some of all the major elements of a book to love. I can’t wait to go back and read the others, plus anything else that she writes in the future. This book was a captivating, energized ride to historical and cultural places ripe with mystery and suspense. Pandian’s characters seem like old friends more than just mere characters on a page.

Interview~

Hi Gigi, welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! It’s a pleasure to have you here, in conjunction with the release of Quicksand, your third book in the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mystery series. I see you’ve been busy promoting, attending conferences, and accepting awards. Congratulations on your success!

Gigi: Thank you! I was so surprised to be awarded the Rose Award at Left Coast Crime last month for Pirate Vishnu, the book in the series that comes before Quicksand. This coming week I’m headed to Malice Domestic, the big convention for traditional mysteries.

Erin: You’re a woman to be admired. I want to learn more about your commitment to writing and your books. You seem like someone who would love to get lost in travel and a good adventure, like me!

Let’s sit for a moment and relax in my cozy library. You can take your seat and I’ll put on some tea? What kind of tea is your favorite? Sugar and cream?

 I’ll also bring out some sweets. Can’t talk books without sweets!

Gigi: Unsweetened mint green tea is my favorite. It goes wonderfully with any type of chocolate!

Erin: Tea is poured and sweets are for the taking, don’t be shy. Let’s get started with some questions. You first started out pursuing a life in academics, but then realized you’d rather write. How and why so? What helped you come to that decision? Did growing up with cultural anthropologists as parents help mold your desire to write adventure/mystery stories?

Gigi: You guessed correctly. Traveling with my parents as a kid, I made up grand adventures while they conducted research. Those travels and their influence helped me a storyteller from a young age.

As an adult, academia wasn’t as satisfying as I imagined it would be. I should have realized it sooner, because all of my college electives were creative pursuits (writing, art, photography), but I never imagined I could have a creative career. I left a PhD program and began writing a novel while attending art school. I’m so glad I followed my heart, because now I make a living being creative.

Erin: Did you have the idea for the Jaya Jones series immediately and what was the inspiration you used when you began writing the first book, Artifact. How did you take off at the gate with construction of the plot? Did you have in mind a series from the start?

Gigi: I knew it would be a series, and that the books would be puzzle plot mysteries set all around the world with plenty of adventure a romance – the type of book I love to read. Beyond that, it took many years to figure out exactly what my own unique voice was.

Erin: You must have had some success with self-publishing Artifact, and I did see it was Suspense Magazine’s “Best of 2012,” because you then obtained a publishing deal for it, and the rest of your series, with Henery Press. How did that all come together? What kind of success does an author need to show on their own for a publisher to pick up on the book?

Gigi: Every writer’s journey is different, but if you follow your heart and don’t rush the process, I believe you’ll find the right bath for you. I was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant (a grant for unpublished mystery writers) for Artifact back when it was a work in progress. That’s what made me take my writing seriously – and then I had to learn how to write a good book! Two years later, I thought the book was in good shape, and I found an agent quickly. However, she had trouble selling the book; it doesn’t fit neatly into one sub-genre, so big presses were wary.

When my agent was getting ready to pitch the book to smaller presses, which are often more open to taking books that don’t fit genre lines, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was only 36, and I didn’t know what would happen, and I needed to be in control of something in my life. I decided to work with an editor (every writer needs one, and if you’re with a publisher, the publisher supplies an editor) and self-publish the book. I put a lot of work into it to do it professionally, including making Advance Reader Copies so I could get trade reviews, and it was worth it. As you mentioned, Artifact was well-received, leading Henery Press to become interested in the series.

I was getting ready to self-publish Pirate Vishnu, and Henery Press requested a copy of the new book. They said it was even better than Artifact, and that’s when they offered me a 3-book deal for the series. So the most important factor was still the quality of the book, but getting great reviews and putting myself out there professionally is what put me on Henery’s radar.

Erin: They must have been correct about your book series, because the next book after Artifact, which was Pirate Vishnu, won an award (Left Coast Crime Rose Award). What do professionals have to say about your series? What makes it similar but different from other books on the market? Who is your target audience?

Gigi: I’ve been thrilled to receive some wonderful reviews, including many that compare my stories to my favorite author, Elizabeth Peters (such a thrill!). Most professional reviewers call the book as a cozy mystery, but readers who aren’t in the industry characterize my books in many ways. The series is definitely cozy reader friendly (no violence or sex or bad language on the page, and no dark endings) but it’s also genre-bending. It’s a romantic multicultural adventure puzzle plot mystery.

Erin: I’ve just been able to read Quicksand, and am itching to go back and read the first two, but I’d like you to tell my readers, what makes it a treasure hunt and what makes it a mystery? Is it a true who-dun-it or more of a mission-based mystery?

Gigi: The combination of a quest and a whodunit is what creates my style of books. I’d say the series is an equal mix of adventure and mystery. They’re all treasure hunts that concern present-day crimes linked to historical treasures relating to India’s colonial history.

Erin: In all honestly, should you read the books in order from the start, or are they stand-alone? What might a reader miss if he/she doesn’t read the first book, Artifact?

Gigi: The plots stand alone completely, but the character relationships progress. So if a reader is drawn to a particular adventure, then it works just fine to read an individual book. But if you want to follow the love triangle, in particular, it’s best to read the series in order.

Erin: How did you construct your lead character? Did you outline her or did she have a voice of her own? What traits did you give her and why?

Gigi: In some ways Jaya Jones is based on my own life. I have one Indian parent and one American parent. It’s easiest to start writing when you writer what you know, but I also wanted to make sure Jaya didn’t become me. I’m tall (6 feet tall in heels), so as a jumping-off point to make sure I never wrote too much of myself into her, I made Jaya only 5 feet tall.

Erin: Besides your historian Jaya Jones, what other characters have been your favorites to write into your book? Why?

Gigi: In Quicksand, 90-year-old retired stage magician Sébastien was a blast to write! I love characters who surprise me.

Erin: Is this third book, Quicksand, the end of this series? Why or why not?

Gigi: The series is continuing! I’ve got so many adventures in mind for Jaya and friends. So far her adventures have taken her from San Francisco to Scotland, India, and France. I’m toying with an idea for Italy next…

Erin: You just published a new book, The Accidental Alchemist, in January 2015, with Midnight Ink. It sounds very inviting! Is this adult, YA, or both? What’s the book about? Will it be a series, too?

Quicksand Accidental-Alchemist-Gigi-Pandian-cover-w-text-WEB-mediumGigi: The Accidental Alchemist is a paranormal cozy series, but I’m hearing from lots of booksellers that it’s YA-friendly (so is the Jaya Jones treasure hunt series). The series is about a centuries-old female alchemist and her impish gargoyle sidekick who was accidentally brought to life by a French stage magician. It takes place in Portland, Oregon, and the gargoyle is a food-snob chef. Yup, it’s a humorous, lighthearted series.

Erin: Who does your amazing cover art and fun extras, like the cards and games? I love it all! And they are great attractions for the book. Even if they aren’t YA, you sure did grab my daughter’s attention too.

Gigi: Lovely! I went to art school, so I have a lot of fun designing my promotional materials. (Readers can win recipe postcards – my book covers on one side with recipes from each of the countries where the books take place on the other – as part of the grand prize of this blog tour.)

Erin: I understand that you also like to read and write “locked room mysteries.” Can you tell us what exactly ARE locked room mysteries, why you like them, and some of your favorites? Also, share with us any you’ve written that you think readers would be interested in. I’m curious!

Gigi: Locked-room mysteries are impossible crimes. The classic example is a dead man found in a room locked from the inside, but he’s alone and there’s no gun.

John Dickson Carr was the master of the genre. I was honored to have my locked-room story The Hindi Houdini nominated for Agatha and Macavity awards.

Erin: What has been your favorite place to travel and why? Where do you want to go that you haven’t yet?

Gigi: Scotland and India. My first trip abroad was a summer in Scotland with my mom when I was 10 years old, and it captured my imagination and will always hold a special place in my heart.

My dad is from India but has lived in the United States for most of his adult life, so it’s always special to travel to India with him.

I’d like to spend more time in Southeast Asia. I backpacked through Europe after college, but in Asia I’ve only traveled throughout India.

Quicksand 1985-Gigi-with-a-bagpiper-by-Loch-Ness-Scotland-webres-textQuicksand India-2010-Gigi-in-Mysore-webres-text

Erin: Oh, Gigi, you’re adorable! And by Loch Ness! One of the top places on my bucket list! Do you work in any of your own travels into your books? If so, where? If not (or in addition), how do you choose your locations?

Gigi: All my books are set in places I’ve been. Sometimes I’ve visited a place already when I have the idea for a book, and sometimes it’s a great excuse to take a trip. For Quicksand, I’d been to France before, but I hadn’t been to all of the locations where I wanted to set the book. It was a perfect excuse to take a research trip.

Quicksand-Mont-St-Michel-Quicksand-text-Gigi-Pandian

Erin: I’m a foodie, so I always ask, what have you eaten somewhere that you dream of eating again?

Gigi: There are so many restaurants in Paris I’d love to visit again, both for the food and the atmosphere.

Erin: I know you value life in a way that “each day counts.” How has this led you to write faster and publish more often? How does this help you in the creation of your goals?

Gigi: Most definitely! After surviving breast cancer, I’ve held onto the feeling of wanting to live life to the fullest. I love storytelling, so by doing it mainly for myself, rather than worrying about what other people think, I’ve been able to write more quickly because I don’t second-guess my gut instincts.

Erin: What advice do you have for other writers when it comes to make writing a priority? What tips did you use starting out that helped you create such success with your books?

Gigi: Set goals and stick to them. But I know that’s easier said than done. That’s why I recommend trying NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), challenging yourself to write a 50,000-word draft of a novel in 30 days. NaNoWriMo is what helped me finish a first draft of my first novel, because it allowed me to let go of thinking my writing had to be good. But nobody’s writing is good at first. The point is to get your ideas down on paper. You can edit the words later, but finishing a project is the first serious step in becoming a writer.

My other trick is to set a writing time and stick to it. I write three mornings a week, because that’s what fits into my schedule, and I make sure those chunks of time are sacred. Even if there’s no food in the house, or a big pile of laundry, writing comes first during those dedicated writing times.

Erin: Who were your favorite authors or favorite books growing up? Which ones inspired your writing? What types of mysteries do you read now for pleasure?

Gigi: Elizabeth Peters and Aaron Elkins were the mystery writers I read as a teenager that made me want to become a writer. Their books are full of mystery, history, and adventure in settings across the globe. I read mostly within the mystery genre, but all types of mysteries from cozies to thrillers. (You can see what I’m reading on Goodreads.)

Erin: I’ve gathered that you have an obsession for gargoyles? How did this start? What’s a favorite that you’ve spotted? What is one you hope to see but haven’t yet?

Gigi: I’ve been photographing gargoyles since I was a kid. (Seriously, I have some awful photos I took on a 110mm film camera from that first trip to Scotland when I was 10!) I love mysteries, as you may have gathered, and gargoyles are so mysterious. That’s why my new series features a stone gargoyle who was accidentally brought to life. It’s been a lot of fun to hear from readers who love the gargoyle, Dorian.

Here are a couple of my favorite gargoyle photos, and there are many more on my Gargoyle Girl blog.

Quicksand westminster gargoyle 1997 blue square - webres - by Gigi Pandian GARGOYLEQuicksand-Notre-Dame-gargoyle-Gigi-Pandian-webres

Erin: It has been so much fun chatting with you, Gigi! I look forward to reading many more of your books and following your writing! As a writer myself, you are very inspiring. Feel free to stop back anytime! I’ll make more tea, or maybe a smoothie next time!

Gigi: Thanks for inviting me to stop by! Your questions were a lot of fun.

Quicksand book coverQuicksand: A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery

(cozy mystery)

Release date: March 10, 2015
at Henery Press
280 pages

ISBN: 9781941962275

Synopsis~

A thousand-year-old secret room. A sultan’s stolen treasure. A missing French priest. And an invitation to Paris to rekindle an old flame…

Historian Jaya Jones finds herself on the wrong side of the law during an art heist at the Louvre. To redeem herself, she follows clues from an illuminated manuscript that lead from the cobblestone streets of Paris to the quicksand-surrounded fortress of Mont Saint-Michel. With the help of enigmatic Lane Peters and a 90-year-old stage magician, Jaya delves into France’s colonial past in India to clear her name and catch a killer.

Gigi Pandian, Biography~

 Gigi PandianUSA Today bestselling author Gigi Pandian is the child of cultural anthropologists from New Mexico and the southern tip of India. After being dragged around the world during her childhood,
she tried to escape her fate when she left a PhD program for art school. But adventurous academics wouldn’t stay out of her head. Thus was born the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series (Artifact, Pirate Vishnu, and Quicksand).

Gigi’s debut mystery novel was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant and named a “Best of 2012” Debut Novel by Suspense Magazine. Her short fiction has been short-listed for Agatha and Macavity awards, and she also writes the new Accidental Alchemist mystery series.

She takes photos of gargoyles wherever she goes, and posts them on her Gargoyle Girl blog.

Visit her website. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter

Subscribe to her newsletter

Visit her Gargoyle photography blog: http://www.gargoylegirl.com

Buy the book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Itunes | Google Play

Giveaway~

You can enter the global giveaway here at the link below or on any other book blogs participating in this tour.
Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook, they are listed in the entry form below too.

Entry-Form

Visit each blogger on the tour: tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour will give you five (5) extra entries each time [just follow the directions on the entry-form]!

Global giveaway open internationally:
1 winner will receive a print copy of the 3 books in the

Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mysteries Series

plus a beautiful set of recipe cards matching the 3 books!

Yes, you got that right: 1 winner will win the 3 books + recipe cards!

______________________________________
Click on the tour graphic below to follow along with more information on the tour!

Quicksand banner

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Filed under Book Reviews, Q and A with Authors

The Fairytale Keeper is an Amazing Medieval Story For Lovers of Fairytales

02_The Fairytale Keeper_Cover

Review~

Today I have a review of The Fairytale Keeper by Andrea Cefalo! You can also take the Fairytale Keeper Playbuzz quiz and enter to win a Fairytale Keeper Clutch Purse & $20 Amazon Gift Card below, following the review and the info.

I happen to love fairytales, and not just the happy ending ones, but even the true-to-form  original Grimm tales. Therefore, I love any retellings, awakenings, fracturing, or gentle nods to them as well. I like happy endings and not so happy endings. I love the history that creeps behind them and the Old World feel that resonates in my modern soul.

When I hear about The Fairytale Keeper series by Andrea Cefalo, and saw the goregous cover, I was sold on reading them. In hoping to love them, I immediately did so from the first few pages. As a mom who has loved to read fairytales to my kids since they were just very little in hopes to spark their imagination, I was touched by the beginning.

“I cannot write your story, Snow White. Only you can write your story.”

Adelaide’s mother tells her stories when she is young and calls her Snow White for a nickname. But her mother dies in medieval time from the plague, and though her father does financial better than most as a shoemaker, he still has to bribe a priest to give her mother a proper funeral and pyre. The situation doesn’t quite go so well and Adelaide is forever changed, not only by the death of her mother, but by the degradation of the body at the burial and the church’s politics and lack of compassion. We see Adelaide emerge from the reckless fire of her mother’s pyre as a Phoenix on a mission of revenge and retribution. She becomes a strong-willed, intelligent, and passionate protagonist that all young women can admire.

The real wonderful thing about this novel is how she portrays the relationships between Adelaide and others: with her father (the good and the bad feelings), Galadreil (who becomes her step-mother-see the tie-in…he’s a cobbler, she relates to Cinderella), her best friend Ivo, who becomes her Prince. In the relationships in the novel, we see where weaknesses are made strong, or people are torn apart, in each person with the accompaniment of another character. We see the loyalty, love, and dedication, yet also the tragic fight for Adelaide to receive this back, when all else in middle ages Cologne is suspect, corrupt, and falling to pieces.

If you are looking for a straight retelling of Snow White, that isn’t what this novel or series is about though. Instead the author is much more original as she takes pieces of various fairytales, the ones that Adelaide’s mother told her, and intertwines them into the story. Adelaide is called “little Snow White” and wants to save her late mother (her Queen, who dies and leaves her with an evil witch–just like in the fairytale) from the big bad wolf (taken from Red Riding Hood…the priest, the plague, the terrible burial), her dad is a shoemaker (an ode in a roundabout way to The Elves and the Shoemaker as well as Cinderella), Galadreil who has a similar story to her life as Cinderella (a noblewoman who appears in a dirty dress and has had a hard childhood- yet doesn’t becomes the witch or the evil step-mom), and Ivo who gives the novel a sweet romance to enjoy as he is Adelaide’s Prince Charming. You’ll enjoy a retelling of Hansel and Gretel as well.

You’ll find nuggets of fairytales distributed throughout if you tune in to your reading. It made it quite a fun addition to the dark back story of how awful the life, and the church, was in the 13th century, as well as the underlying “moral” of the story of what revenge can cost someone on a mission to for it. By the end, there is still anger and some dark places in Adelaide’s heart, but she does fine her solace too in regards to telling her own story and keeping her mom alive in her heart by keeping the fairytales alive. Andrea writes with a good mixture of the dark of Grimm’s tales and the more lighter side of Perrault’s versions.

I enjoyed Andrea’s fluid and decadent sentences, her historical detail in terms of setting-places, food, dress, as well as her character development, including how she crafted their emotions to make us connect to them, and her overall plot, which was Adelaide’s journey. It was original and imaginative, descriptive, and absorbing.

I felt like I was thrust back in time not only to my younger years, but to the medieval ages. I couldn’t put the book down and truly can’t wait to dive into the next one in the series. Highly recommended for medievalists as well as fairytale connoisseurs!

Read the First Chapter—> http://andreacefalo.com/book-one-the-fairytale-keeper/free-first-chapter/

Excerpt 1~

Intro: Adelaide’sbest friend and first love, Ivo, has asked Adelaide to tell him the tale of Hansel and Gretel. But Ivo, always ready to tease Addie and try to make her laugh, isn’t being the greatest listener.

“Once Gretel was inside,” I say.“The witch intended to shut the oven and let her bake in it. Then she would eat her, too. But Gretel saw what she had in mind and said, ‘I do not know how I am to do it. How do I get in?’

“‘Foolish girl,’ said the old woman to Gretel. ‘The door is big enough. Just look, I can get in myself!’ She crept up and thrust her head into the oven. Then Gretel gave her a push that drove her far into the oven, shut the iron door, and fastened the bolt. Oh, how horribly she howled—”

Ivo interrupts me with a great AWOOOO!!!

A huddle of women turn their wimpled heads, their faces screwed up.

“Are you mad?” I ask through giggles. “What are you doing?”

He laughs. “I’m howling like a witch.”

“That’s not how a witch howls.”

He stops. “Oh, then how do they?”

“I don’t know.” I grab his arm and tug him away from the on-lookers. “But not like that…not like a wolf. Come on.”

“Your cheeks are red,” he remarks.

“It’s the wind,” I lie. “It is getting cold.”

He shakes his head at me and howls again.

“Stop it!” I hiss and slap him in the stomach. “Lest I drop you off at St. Pantaleon’s with the rest of the lunatics.”

He flashes a wry smile. “Oh, if I was mad, you’d keep me. Wouldn’t you?”

I roll my eyes and heave a heavy sigh.

“So how does it end?” he asks.

“What?”

“The story. Hansel and Gretel. What happens?”

“A wolf eats them.”

“What? No. That can’t be how it ends.”

“No.” I cross my arms. “You don’t get to know how it ends. This is thrice you have interrupted me.”

“Oho,” he guffaws. “But I promise I will be a good boy if you’ll tell me the end.” He raises his flaxen eyebrows, eyes brimming with mischief. “Or I could howl some more.”

“The witch burned to death.”

“And…” he prods.

”And?” I repeat in a mocking tone.

“What about the father and the stepmother?” he asks.

“What do you think happens to them?”

He is silent for a heartbeat, squinting an eye and pursing his lips. “I think…the father and the stepmother go find them,” he says. “Gretel tosses her in the oven. They eat the house, and they live happily ever after. Am I close?”

“Close enough.”

“So what really happened?”

“Nothing really happened,” I say. “It’s just a story.”

“You know what I mean, Addie. How does it really end?”

“The children find gold and jewels, and then they make their way back to the father. The stepmother was already dead. They lived happily ever after.”

“Huh.” There is a hint of disappointment in his voice.

“I think I like your ending better,” I admit.

“Did they eat the house first?” he asks.

“No.”

He shakes his head, eyes wide with feigned shock. “I would have most certainly eaten the house.”

I give a sniff of laughter. “Me too.”

Excerpt 2~

Intro: Adelaide and her Father are imprisoned in the North Tower, where at best, men are locked away and forgotten, and at worst, they are interrogated and tortured. The Archbishop of Cologne, suspecting the beginnings of revolt in his city, comes to question Adelaide.

I do not know how long I am in the dark. Shrill screams echo through the hallway, and I shudder with fear, thinking every one of them belongs to Father. It is the most wretched feeling, worse than the last moments of Mama’s life, for I can do nothing to help him except pray. And so I do, until my knees are raw from the damp stone floor.

The cell opens, and just outside the frame of the door stands the archbishop.

It is true. He is here.

He is a slight man with icy, scheming eyes and thin lips. I sink to my knees, prepared to beg.

“I hear you make trouble in my city,” he says, his accent remarkably Roman. “I am good at dealing with troublemakers.”

“Please, I beg you to have mercy. Father and I tried to go to your cathedral, but—”

“I have not asked you to speak,” he interrupts.

“She is feisty, Your Excellency,” pipes the guard who caught me. “Kicks like a mule and bites like a dog.”

The archbishop gives a slow turn of his head, and the guard’s face goes white. “Leave us.”

The guards bow and hasten from the room. The door to my cell claps closed behind them.

The archbishop gesture languidly. “Do you know what happens in this tower?”

“Yes, Your Excellency.”

“Do you love your father?”

“Yes, Your Excellency!”

“Then you would save him—if you could?”

“Yes, Your Excellency!”

“Does your father urge rebellion upon the church?”

“Your Excellency, if I may explain—”

“Yes or no.”

“No, Your Excellency, he tries to stop them.”

He raises a silver eyebrow. “So you know of plots?”

I have said too much.

“I, I have overheard a stranger’s whispers, Excellency, but also overheard my father tell this man that he shall go to church. My father has no desire to see a rebellion.”

“Of course you would defend your father. I shall have to find ways to get the truth from him, if I cannot get it from you.” He pivots toward the door.

I surge forward, clutching his robe. “I swear it on my mother’s soul, Your Excellency! He is innocent!”

He turns, regarding me with an indifference that terrifies me. “Perhaps you tell the truth about your father’s innocence, but I know you lie of something else. You know who incites the rebellion, and yet you keep it from me. For this, you and your father shall be punished. But…I can be merciful. If you tell me who incites the rebellion, then your punishments shall be light.”

I stall, hoping a brilliant lie shall come to me. A lie that he shan’t see through. A lie that can save us all. But nothing comes.

“His name is Elias, Excellency.” I avert my gaze, wishing I had never mentioned this stranger at all, wishing I had never overheard his conversation. But more than anything, I hope I have saved my father.

“You shall confess that your father ordered you to abandon the church, and tell no one of any other story, or I shall have to change my mind about your father’s punishment.”

I wonder if he is seeking a confession in order to punish us as heretics and that all of his other promises are lies.

“But that is not the truth, Excellency. It was—”

“Ah, but, stupid, stupid girl, I do not care.” He meets my eyes, no hint of unease. “And those are the kinds of words that might make my men want to drive a hot poker up your father’s rectum and burn you both as heretics.”

I swallow hard. “Then I shall say whatever pleases you, Excellency.”

“Perhaps you aren’t so stupid after all.”

02_The Fairytale Keeper_CoverThe Fairytale Keeper, Info~

Re-Release Date: February 1, 2015
Scarlet Primrose Press
Formats: eBook; Paperback
Pages: 262

Series: Book One, Fairytale Keeper
Genre: Young Adult/Historical/Fairytale Retelling

Adelaide’s mother, Katrina, was the finest storyteller in all of Airsbach, a borough in the great city of Cologne, but she left one story untold, that of her daughter, that of Snow White. Snow White was a pet name Adelaide’s mother had given her. It was a name Adelaide hated, until now. Now, she would give anything to hear her mother say it once more.

A rampant fever claimed Adelaide’s mother just like a thousand others in Cologne where the people die without last rites and the dead are dumped in a vast pit outside the city walls. In an effort to save Katrina’s soul, Adelaide’s father obtains a secret funeral for his wife by bribing the parish priest, Father Soren.

Soren commits an unforgivable atrocity, pushing Adelaide toward vengeance. When Adelaide realizes that the corruption in Cologne reaches far beyond Soren, the cost of settling scores quickly escalates. Avenging the mother she lost may cost Adelaide everything she has left: her father, her friends, her first love, and maybe even her life.

Seamlessly weaving historical events and Grimm’s fairy tales into a tale of corruption and devotion, The Fairytale Keeper, leaves the reader wondering where fact ends and fiction begins. The novel paints Medieval Cologne accurately and vividly. The story develops a set of dynamic characters, casting the famous villains, heroes, and damsels of Grimm’s fairy tales into believable medieval lives. Though historically set, The Fairytale Keeper brims with timeless themes of love, loyalty, and the struggle for justice.

Praise for The Fairytale Keeper~

“A…resonant tale set late in the 13th century… with unexpected plot twists. An engaging story of revenge.” –Publisher’s Weekly

“Great historical fiction. Strong emotion injected into almost every page.” –Amazon Vine Reviewer

“…a unique twist on the Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Part fairy tale retelling, part historical fiction… The Fairytale Keeper is a story of corruption.” -Copperfield Historical Fiction Review

“The story that Cefalo weaves is intriguing and leaves you hanging on, wanting more.” -Hooked to Books Book Review Blog

“…it doesn’t feel like any retelling. Because it’s not. The Fairytale Keeper is its own unique story…very entertaining, containing a strong female role, a sweet romance, and much more.” -Lulu The Bookworm Book Review Blog

Buy the eBook~

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Smashwords
Kobo

Buy the Paperback~

Amazon

Take the The Fairytale Keeper Playbuzz Quiz

https://www.playbuzz.com/andreac19/which-fairytale-keeper-character-are-you

About the Author Andrea Cefalo~

01_Andrea Cefalo_Author Pic 2Besides being the award-winning author of The Fairytale Keeper series, Andrea Cefalo is a self-proclaimed medievalist, hopeless bookworm, and social media junkie. She graduated with honors from Winthrop University in 2007 where she studied Medieval art history and children’s literature.

The next three books in The Fairytale Keeper series—The Countess’ Captive, The Baseborn Lady, and The Traitor’s Target—will debut in 2015 and 2016.

She resides in Greenville, South Carolina—ever perched before her trusty laptop—with her husband and their two border collies.

For more information please visit Andrea Cefalo’s website. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

Follow The Fairytale Keeper Pinterest Board.

03_The Fairytale Keeper_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/thefairytalekeeperblogtour/

Hashtags: #TheFairytaleKeeper #Historical #YA #FairytaleRetelling

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @AndreaCefalo

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Article on Shaping a Series, by YA author Anna Staniszewski of My Very UnFairytale Life Series

Guest Article: Shaping a Series

by Anna Staniszewski,
Author of My Very UnFairy Tale Life and its sequels, My Epic Fairy Tale Fail and My Sort of Fairy Tale Ending

When I sold my first book, My Very UnFairy Tale Life, it was a standalone novel with series potential. That meant there were tentative plans to make it a series, but I had to make sure the first book could stand on its own. I thought a lot about the overall shape of the first book and how to wrap things up in a satisfying way, though I did leave one thread open, just in case.

Luckily, my publisher bought two follow-up books—hooray! I started planning and writing and scratching my head. I wanted to make sure that each of the three books had that same satisfying beginning, middle, and end as the first book, but I also wanted the three books to have a strong overall shape.

I spent a lot of time making sure to resolve each smaller conflict in the books while making the larger question (will Jenny ever find her parents?) bigger and more important in each book. That way, I tried to create two ongoing story arcs throughout the series:

story arc graph

The biggest thing I discovered about this technique was how much everything needed to feel connected: a seemingly goofy side plot became important later on, etc. I realized that every character and plot twist had potential to have deeper meaning as the books continued. Because of all the cumulative experiences throughout the trilogy, my main character could hopefully change and grow and triumph by the end.

Anna Staniszewski, Biography~

Anna-Staniszewski4Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. She was named the 2006-2007 Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a winner of the 2009 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award.

When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time teaching, reading, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch.

She is the author of My Very UnFairy Tale Life and its sequels, My Epic Fairy Tale Fail and My Sort of Fairy Tale Ending, all published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky.

Look for the first book in Anna’s next tween series, The Dirt Diary, in January 2014, and visit her at www.annastan.com.

coverIn My Epic Fairy Tale Fail (November 2013) – Book 3 in the Series, Jenny is back with an all new adventure, and this time, her happily ever after seems light-years away. While Jenny’s search for her parents leads her to a rundown amusement park called Fairyland, she encounters creepily happy fairies and disgruntled leprechauns; Jenny is sure they are keeping her parents from her. With the help of some new-found friends, Jenny finds a way to rescue her parents and defy the crazy Queen Fairy, but at the expense of putting all magical worlds in danger.

“Plenty of laughs follow Jenny the Adventurer as she concludes her trilogy of comic quests in Fairy Land… Staniszewski’s ear for humor remains keen… It’s all great fun for middle school fantasy fans.”—Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Anna Staniszewski:

Anna Staniszewski creates a magical world that’s totally relatable. You’ll find yourself wishing you were alongside Jenny fighting against unicorns (who aren’t as peaceful as you think) and traveling to fantastical realms.
Girls’ Life Magazine

A speedy and amusing ride that displays a confident, on-the-mark brand of humor, mostly through Jenny’s wisecracking narration. [The] inventive and lighthearted premise will keep readers entertained.
Publishers’ Weekly

“Returning with her deliciously droll wit and a brand new mission for her now-thirteen-year-old heroine, Anna delivers another breezy magical romp . . . the joking tone and thoughtful fairy tale play make this a fresh middle-grade read.”—Horn Book

The other books in the My Very UnFairy Tale Life Series:

other 1other 2Go to http://www.annastan.com/books/ to read first chapter excerpts and download her e-book prequel for free!

Don’t miss Anna’s upcoming new series!

The Dirt Diary By Anna Staniszweski, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
ISBN 9-781-4022- 8636-0 / January 7, 2014 / $6.99 US

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Wicked Read-a-Thon: Updates and Views

I got up late this morning, when everyone else went to church. I was up too late trying to beat this congestion and also reading. I didn’t mind too much staying up to read though, of course. This is my first update, even though it is only Sunday. I spent too much time on Twitter with lovely book friends and posting challenges!! It wouldn’t change it though, it was fun and we all had the best intentions of getting more read, right? But you know us, we’d read no matter what anyway and it was just the talking about reading and chatting about books on Twitter that was the important part!

As I stated in previous posts, we’ve been doing it as a family affair. I’m 100 pages into House of Vampires by Samantha Rendle, a new teenage author found by Silverwoods Press and I have a blog review, interview, and give-a-way on my site coming up next week for the book.  I am also 150 pages into Shauna and Shelby Kitt and the Dimensional Holes by P.H.C. Marchesi, which is a sci-fi adventure full of lots of fun with parallel existence and other races. This will be featured on my site soon too. I’m also a few chapters in to Vanished by Sheela Chari, another magical and mystery oriented YA book I picked up at the library. It’s newly published. All are good in different ways and for different reasons.

 

 

 

 

 

My son has read Jefferson’s Sons, an over 300 page YA book of historical fiction about Thomas Jefferson (a founding father of the US) who had many sons and daughters with one of his slaves after the death of his wife. He thought it was very good, for a boy of 12 who says he “only reads adult non-fiction.” I’ve gotten him motivated to finally read some of the great YAs out there, but of course it has to still be historical in nature.

My better half, Tim (www.timbusbey.wordpress.com) is most of the way through The Bone House by Stephen R. Lawhead. He loves this books with the coding and ciphers. It’s the second in the series. I’m sure he’ll review at some point on his blog. The other book he is reading is End-Time Visions: The Road to Armageddon by Richard Abanes. I’m sure he is reading this non-fiction for research, as Tim is halfway through writing the first draft of his own thriller novel.

Now about the girls, Emma (my 8-year-old)  has a post-it-note up on her wall and she is updating her reading. She’s got a list of picture book type books of all genres that she’s read, or read to her little 4-year-old sister Addie. We have more to read today together too. Emma has also made progress on some chapter and YA books. I’ll save those for the wrap-up because I’m running out of time typing this blog. 🙂

I’ll hopefully post the challenge about photos describing the books you’ve read during the RAT later today. Sounds like fun! If you want more information, go here: http://www.thebookmonsters.com/2011/10/wickedly-wonderful-readathon-mini.html and thanks to The Book Monsters for having the mini-challenge.

We are all having fun reading as we usually do, but I think I am having the most fun visiting the other blogs and meeting all these fabulous new book friends from around the world! Amazing how books can bring so many together. I’ve had lots of fun Tweeting (#WWReadathon) and getting to know everyone.

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One of the most gripping young adult thriller series in 2009

It’s not too late to take the ride on this super thriller about an australian teenager named Cal, who on New Year’s Eve is told he has 365 days only to try and survive. Thinking his father died of a mysterious illness, he is warned by a stranger that his father may have been murdered and now he is next.  This sends him running like a fugitive and begins a fast-paced, page-turning first book entitled Conspiracy 365: January.  It is a short read for adults, but more on the level of 10 to 18 year olds (depending on reading level, my 5th grade son read it quick but he has an adult reading level).  This said, it is still much fun for everyone!  There are 12 books in the series, starting with January and each one is named for each subsequent month.  Cal is on the run in each book, with each ending in a cliffhanger!  You can also check out Cal’s blog called www.teenfugitive.com to get even more involved in the story!

The author of the Conspiracy 365 Series is the award-winning Australian writer Gabrielle Lord (www.gabriellelord.com), who prior to this young adult series wrote adult crime thrillers (14 in fact!).  Now that all 12 books in the series are complete, she has plans for several more adult and young adult books.

Kane//Miller is the publisher (owned now by Educational Development Corporation) and specializes in bringing foreign titles to the United States. They have a dedicated website for Conspiracy 365 at www.conspiracy365US.com which has more information about the book, author, social networking links, and activities to accompany each book. I definately recommend that you check it out!

If you are interested in ordering the first book of the series, or the entire series (which can be purchased in one lump sum), they are nice hardback books at $10.99 each or there is a series price.  This series is only available from Usborne Books and More independent consultants (it previously was to be sold to bookstores and through Scholastic also).

My son thought these books were exciting to read each month (he’s 10) and he liked to read the book all in one sitting.  He didn’t like to wait for the next one! I would recommend these for children who are avid readers and like a quick thrilling title, but also reluctant readers who need a book that really motivates them to keep reading.

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Welcome fellow book nuts!

I am NUTS about books. Not just novels for my age, but also books for all ages of children. I collect picture books and I love reading young adult books just for fun. I hope this blog shares new and old titles of children and young adult books for you, suggested titles of all books, reviews of all types of books, talk about my new children book series I’m diving into for 2011 (I hope you’ll be my sounding board and critics), and let you in on what I’m reading right now. I can’t wait to throw out the bookmark and jump in!

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