Thursday, September 6, 2012

Throwback to the 80s

Could this be the best music video of all time? Well it's certainly my favorite :-) I heard this song in the car this morning and had to go to YouTube and watch it again. My question: other than Inkheart, are there any books out there that keep this "story comes to life" theme? If you know of any, let me know in the comments. I'd love to read them!

Now, for your viewing pleasure:

Friday, August 31, 2012

Good Books Lately

I'm resurrecting this blog after months and months of dormancy. I could blame the summer, the new book I'm working on, or any number of things, but the truth is: Blogging is hard for me. I'm one of those people who enjoy Twitter and Facebook with their brief status updates. But sometimes, I need more space to talk about fun things, like writing, craft, characters, books, movies, and other stuff :-)

Good books lately. Have you read any? I definitely have. I've read some pretty bad stuff too, but we won't discuss those (*cough* Fifty Shades of Grey *cough*) :-) 

Two of the best books I read this summer:

What took me so long to read ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD? The voice of the main character, Cas, hooked me right from the first page. He was just a fabulous narrator--I don't know how else to explain it. This book did not shy away from the scary bits AT ALL. Or the nasty, bloody, or bone crunching bits. Or the downright tragic and stomach-twisting bits. All sorts of bits. It was all just so... awesome. I'll definitely read the second book but not because this one left me hanging. I'll read it because I loved Cas and Anna and I don't want things to be over for them.

SISTER by Rosamund Lupton was my book club pick for July. If you're part of a book club, you know how awful it is to be stuck with a book to read that you can't stand. You want to finish it because you should, and because you don't want to be sitting there silent and ignorant while gorging on chips and dip. Thankfully, SISTER was a book that everyone read and enjoyed (Yay!) What made it so special, I think, was the way the story was told. The first-person narrator, Beatrice, is telling the story as if she is narrating a very long, very detailed letter to her sister, Tess. It's not a spoiler to say that Tess is discovered dead early on in the book, and yet Bea continues to talk to Tess, telling her how she, Bea, never believed what the police did: that Tess killed herself. This is a mystery, but it's so much more than that. It's heart-wrenching and terrifying, and the structure (ie: "I thought about telling him that your phone was unplugged when I arrived.") is inventive and unique. And though it's a bit strange at first, it ends up working really, really well.

What books have you read this summer?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Two and Twenty Dark Tales anthology Cover Reveal!

The creepy and gorgeous cover for Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes is up on The Story Siren! Go on over and check it out, and while you're there, enter to win some fun swag.

Also, the book is officially on Goodreads!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Quiet vs Chaos

The other day I was listening to the radio and a news segment came on talking about what the Guinness Book of World Records has deemed "The Quietest Room in the World." It's something like 99.99% sound proof--which sounds amazing, right? How many times a day do I wish for a quiet space so I can either write, revise, or just read without interruption?

But it turns out The Quietest Room in the World has its drawbacks. Apparently, it's so quiet that after an hour most of the people inside beg to be let out. Amazingly, it's just so quiet in that room that the only things a person can hear are the inner workings of their own bodies! Their heart pumping, their stomachs creaking, each breath they take amplified to the point where it begins to cause panic—or maybe just feelings of general grossness.

So maybe a room like that wouldn't be all that great. But when I'm writing, I do crave silence. Do I need it? I don't think so, not anymore. With three kids I've adjusted to having a little bit of chaos unfolding around me when I work. Although I constantly wonder: Do I do better work when it's quiet and I'm totally focused, or when I'm forced to multitask?

I don't really have a theory. As a writer, I'm constantly questioning my words anyway--my sentences, story structure, plot, dialogue, character development, yadda yadda yadda. But I know that I enjoy writing a whole lot more when I do it in peace and quiet. And isn't that why we write? Because we love it? Because we take joy in creating stories that other people will hopefully one day read?

I've survived for years writing and revising in the dining room, while children play at my heels and babies cry and darks bark. I now have a writing cabin that is undergoing some renovations, and though I have to wait a few more months for it to be ready for me, I wonder: Will I write more and better and more efficiently? Will that lovely little piece of writing heaven inspire me, or will I settle in only to beg to be let out an hour later?

I'll let you know.

What about you: Have you ever moved to a new writing space, and what did you discover there?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Anthology News

I'm not sure why I haven't posted about this fabulous anthology I'm taking part in yet, but alas, here is the (somewhat belated) Publisher's Marketplace deal announcement from earlier this month:

Cyn Balog, Georgia McBride and Michelle Zink, eds.'s TWO AND TWENTY DARK TALES: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes, a charity anthology in which authors including: CynBalog, Nina Berry, Sarwat Chadda, Leah Cypess, Shannon Delany with Max Scialdone, Debra Driza, Leigh Fallon, Angie Frazier, Jessie Harrell, Nancy Holder, Heidi R. Kling, Suzanne Lazear, Karen Mahoney, Lisa Mantchev, Georgia McBride, C. Lee McKenzie, Gretchen McNeil, Pamela van Hylckama Vlieg, K.M. Walton, Suzanne Young, Michelle Zink, and one previously unpublished writer, Sayantani Das Gupta, explore the dark, hidden meanings behind some of our most beloved Mother Goose rhymes through short-story retellings, with a foreword by Francisco X. Stork, to Georgia McBride of Month9Books, for publication in October 2012 (World).

I just received some lovely bookmarks and postcards to promote the anthology this fall (available in October in paperback and as an e-book) and there is a big cover reveal coming up this month with Kristi at The Story Siren. I'll be sure to post about it when the time comes!

I'm SO excited about this anthology, y'all. I mean, dark retellings of Mother Goose rhymes? How can you go wrong with that? I was thrilled to be asked to contribute with so many superstar writers. My story involves dark magic, deadly risk, two sisters divided by a secret, and of course, a romantic element :-)

In fact when I was writing it I started to kind of love it—like, write a whole book someday kind of love. Can't wait to post more about the anthology. Until then, if you haven't heard of Georgia McBride's new venture, Month9Books, check out the website

On Writing Romance

If you'd asked me ten years ago if I'd ever consider myself a romance writer, I would have laughed. Worse, I probably would have turned my nose up at the idea of it.

Me? A romance novelist? Ha! I wouldn't write that stuff in a million years.

But the more I read, in both the adult and the YA fiction markets, the more I started to realize just how much of a literary snob I'd been. Because even though I haven't authored any Avon or Harlequin romances (all hail the Avon Historical Romance!!!) I am still a romance writer.

OK, maybe Suzanna Snow hasn't found love's true flame just yet, but my YA stuff has all revolved around a strong romance theme. Why? I've realized a few things in the past decade:

-Love is important
-Characters will do crazy/amazing/stupid/risky things for love
-Love messes a lot of things up
-Love introduces gut-wrenching conflicts
-Readers love love
-I love love

Romance doesn't only have to mean this*:

That would be boxing romance in to a one-size-fits-all package. Romance can look like a lot of things. Stop for a moment and think about your favorite novel. Or maybe the last novel you read. Was there romance in it? Chances are, the answer is yes. Varying levels of romance, but it was there just the same. What did that romance look like?

Romance is about risk and tough decisions. It's about characters finding a balance between staying true to themselves and allowing themselves to be vulnerable. Romance is about how people deal with pain and loss, and even sometimes how they deal with getting exactly what they wanted. It's about characters finding their deepest faults and laying them bare for the person they love. I could go on and on.

True, many of the mass market romance novels I've read aren't realistic in the least. But what's wrong with that? Romance novels are just like any other novel out there: they're there for a reader to sit down and escape. They're a way to relax, have fun, and maybe learn a thing or two.** Seriously, have you read a historical romance? These writers know their history, down to the finest details. It's impressive!

I've discovered my books will probably always have lots of smooching in them, and I'm finally able to not feel self-conscious about admitting that. Love is good. Love is better than blood or war or shock factors. Oh, and in case you didn't know this yet, love sells books :-)

What does romance look like to you?

* This happens to be the romance I'm reading right now and it is fabulous!
** I don't mean anything naughty by this. Really, get your mind out of the gutter.