December 23, 2011

Giveaway: ARC plus Audiobook of TEMPEST by Julie Cross

That's right, you have a chance to win either an ARC or an audiobook (thank you, Macmillan Audio!). Awesome, right?

You can read my book rec here.

Book blurb (from Goodreads):
The year is 2009. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy... he's in college, has a girlfriend... and he can travel back through time. But it's not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there's no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it's just harmless fun.

That is... until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he's stuck in 2007 and can't get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.

But it's not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these "Enemies of Time" will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler. Recruit... or kill him.

Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he's willing to go to save Holly... and possibly the entire world.

To enter, fill out the form below.
Details:
*One entry per person.
*Open to those with a US address only (sorry!).
*I ask that you please share a link to the giveaway (twitter, facebook, blog, whatever), but it's not required to enter.
*I will email a maximum of two times to ask for your mailing address. If you don't respond within a week, a new winner will be selected.
*Deadline is Wednesday, December 28thth.


Contest closed! Winners notified.

Good luck! ♥

December 22, 2011

Blog Vacation



HAPPY HOLIDAYS!


Sevens Swans a-Swimming book sculpture

Aside from the giveaway of TEMPEST going up at midnight (keep an eye out for it! :D ), I will be on blog vacation for the rest of the year.

Until then, happy holidays and have a wonderful new year!

December 16, 2011

Deja Vu Blogfest - On Complacency


Go here to see full list of participants.

Ever feel like you know you missed that one kick-ass post of a favorite blogger somewhere, somehow?

This is your chance to do some major catching up, and re-post a favorite blog post of your own that NEEDS to see the light of day one more time.

And on December 16, re-post your favorite/most informative/most life-changing announcement/most ANYTHING blog post you want to re-share with the world.

Even though I only started blogging this year, I have over 100 posts to wade through. So I've decided to bring back one of my earliest posts.

On the Dangers of Complacency

*Originally posted Feb. 28.

Years ago, I started writing fanfiction partly as a fun way to keep writing when I was dry on ideas for original fiction and partly as a means of honing my craft. What I didn't know then is that writing fanfiction breeds complacency, and complacency is detrimental to an aspiring writer.

Instant Gratification vs. The Long and Winding Road

The thing about fanfiction is that it gives writers what the agonizingly long process of writing original-fiction-with-hope-to-publish doesn't: instant gratification. You whip up a story about ready-made characters fans of the canon (original source material) are already emotionally invested in, post it to a community like fanfiction.net, and BAM, an immediate audience ready to read and review. No need to wait on submission, publication, distribution, book reviews and advertising and publicity, all of which is a buttload of work and can take a minimum of a year or two to... infinitely longer.

Too Much of a Good Thing Can Lead to Doucheyness

But one of the greatest things about fandom is also the greatest cultivator of complacency--the fans. Don't get me wrong, I love a positive review. Who doesn't? Publishing is an extremely subjective business, but fandom and fanfiction is a million times more so because there are no gatekeepers and no quality control. I've seen countless fanfic writers post in their Author's Notes that they're open to concrit because they want to improve. But if a hundred people review a poorly written fanfic with glowing comments about how amazing it is, that writer who believed their writing needed improvement might begin to think otherwise.

The writer grows complacent, confident in their ability because, hey, all these reviewers said so and it's exactly what they wanted to hear. So when a reader comes along who takes that Author's Note to heart and leaves concrit, instead of reacting graciously, the writer responds with defensiveness and, in some cases, arrogance: "Well, all my FANS think my writing is awesome/didn't have a problem/haven't complained so who the hell are you to tell me differently? You obviously have no idea what you're talking about." (yes, I've seen this happen)

Concrit Is Not a Personal Attack (when it's actually concrit)

The thing about being an aspiring writer (and a writer in general) is that you must be able to take constructive criticism. It's a part of growing a skin thick enough to take all the rejection that will inevitably pave the way to success. You have to take criticism and rejection. You have to want to improve, to strive, to never give up.

Learn to be Objective

I'm not saying you can't love your writing. It's perfectly healthy to write something and be protective of it because of the hours spent laboring over it and the love and effort poured into it. But it's important to also acknowledge that it could be improved, greatly even. I look at my writing and I know, without a doubt, that there's a lot I have to work on. I rely on my crit partners to be honest with me, because I have trouble pinpointing my weaknesses myself. It takes quite a bit of effort, typically, to alter your style, to make changes that you maybe aren't comfortable with, in an effort to improve. So change can oftentimes be slow, painstakingly so. But is it worth it? Heck yes.

Being objective is hard, sometimes impossible, but try. If you become too enamored of your own writing, you risk becoming stagnant, which--by definition--is the greatest impediment to growth.

Fandom Fame Does Not Equal Published Writer

An amazing thing about fandom is that it opens you to this community of writers and readers, all of whom share a love of the canon. I've met some of my most enduring and best friends there. But I've also seen a lot of aspiring writers never break free of fandom. They've built a loyal readership, they interact and befriend their fans, they become "famous" in their own little corner of the internet. And for those in it just for fun, then hey, I've got no complaints. But for the ones claiming to be aspiring writers, it's easy to fall under the spell of perceived internet fame and forget what you began writing for.

I spent five years writing fanfiction, and I'm still divided about it. On the one hand, writing fanfiction--and, more importantly, reading it by much better writers--genuinely, truly, without a doubt improved my writing beyond anything I learned in college. I will always be grateful for that and to the writers in fandom who are some of the best I have ever read, published or otherwise. They inspired me to keep improving, because I wanted to write like them. On the other hand, I completely put off original fiction until the last two years when I looked back at my time spent in fandom and thought, "I've wanted to be a published writer my whole life. What the hell have I been doing?"

Fanfiction doesn't apply to everyone, of course, but the dangers of complacency is very real for all aspiring writers and the message is universal.

Never stop striving to improve. Never give up. Write, write, write ♥

My fanart of Naruto, the fandom I loved longest and hardest (possibly why he is in a state of undress *cough*):

December 11, 2011

Special Announcement: I Have an Agent!

I am now represented by Suzie Townsend of Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation.

Yes, I know. SUZIE TOWNSEND. *mental freak out*


This is my agent :D :D :D MY AGENT. I'm never going to get tired of saying that.

I still can't quite believe this is happening, despite that I've had a week for it to sink in. Suzie is nothing short of my dream agent, and I'm fully aware of how fortunate I am to have her. *still freaking out*

I began querying this project in early November, and Suzie was pretty much the first agent I contacted (she was expecting my submission--I won a crit from one of her authors a couple months prior, which turned into a referral to Suzie). She finished my manuscript quickly, but due to an email malfunction, I didn't get her email asking to talk until almost a month later! But it all worked out :D

This past week has been insane--full of uncertainty and excitement and really tough choices. I found myself in the unbelievable position of having multiple offers, which was a dream I never quite dared to have. In the end though, my heart was set on Suzie.

If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them as best I can, but otherwise... *eee* I have an agent!!!

December 5, 2011

The Mighty Archetype: Good Guys Gone Bad

Good Guys Gone Bad - These are the ones who break your heart.

Exhibit A: Phoenix from the Marvel Universe

*Official art*
        When Jean Grey apparently died saving the rest of her team from a shuttle crash, she emerged from the depths of the ocean in X-Men #101 as The Phoenix, an incredibly powerful being.
        She maintains her new power level as a hero for about two years, before the Hellfire Club starts messing with her mind, guiding her toward, for lack of a better term, the dark side. (Source.)


Exhibit B: Chun-Woo Han from The Breaker

*Official art by illustrator Jin-Hwan Park*
        Also known as Goomoonryong, or "Nine Arts Dragon," he had some ambiguous morals, but he always pulled through in the end, including nearly getting himself killed a couple times to protect his pupil. But when the girl he's been pretending not to be in love sacrifices herself for him (and he fails to save her), it pushes him over the edge. He abandons his pupil and sets out for revenge. Now every time I see him, I cry great big, ugly tears ;_; (but I have hope he'll return to his senses by the end... *hopehopehope*)

So, as you can see, the transformation from good to evil can be a result of both external and internal causes. Maybe the character gets captured and fitted with a device like Sam's watch in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which forces him to betray his friends and comrades. Or maybe making the "wrong" decision becomes the right one in order to save someone important. Or, like Chun-Woo (and Riku from Kingdom Hearts or Sasuke from Naruto), maybe he's always had a little bit of darkness inside him, and all it took was a compelling push to cross the line.

It hurts most when, like Chun-Woo, the character starts out perfectly likable. He's flawed and kind of shallow, but he's a good person. Readers grow to love him, to see him as their security blanket for how insanely kickass he is and how he always pulls through. So when something happens and the light switches, it's devastating. If you can do that to your readers, you're doing something right :) (and they might hate you for it, but that might be okay too lol)

So what do you guys think? Harvey Dent from The Dark Knight would also be a great example of this archetype! Who else fits?



Previous posts in the archetype series:
1: Broody Jerks with Hearts of Gold
2: The Hero Who Hides Behind a Smile
3: The Goofy Guy Who Secretly Kicks Ass
4: The Designated Psychopath
5: The Mad Scientist
6: The Child Prodigy

Have a great week!

December 2, 2011

Book Lover's Holiday Giveaway Hop

First, the winners of the Gratitude Giveaway Hop. You guys BLEW MY MIND lol. There were almost 350 entries! Which meant I couldn't just pick one winner :D

The winner of THREE books (from choices listed) is: Rosie L.!
A second winner who will get to pick ONE book (from choices listed) is: Bekka H.!
And a third winner who will also get to pick ONE book is: Rachel B.!

Winners have been notified. CONGRATS!!! ♥


Click here to see the list of participating blogs (A LOT)

Since the previous giveaway was so successful, I'm going to offer up the same choices for this one as well :)

The winner gets to pick THREE of the following books: (titles not yet released will be preordered for you)






To enter, fill out the form below.
Details:
*Must be a follower to enter.
*One entry per person.
*Open to all countries Book Depository ships to.
*I ask that you please share a link to the giveaway (twitter, facebook, blog, whatever), but it's not required to enter.
*I will email a maximum of two times to ask for your mailing address. If you don't respond within a week, a new winner will be selected.
*Deadline is Tuesday, December 6th.


CONTEST HAS ENDED.

Good luck! ♥

November 30, 2011

Dark YA Blogfest Week 5 - Books I'm Most Looking Forward To



Today's prompt is to blog about the dark YA book I'm most looking forward to. HOW TO PICK?!

I can't pick D: Okay, ONE of the books I'm most looking forward to is:

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake


OOOOOH YES :D


Also, another book I'm looking forward to is my critique partner's YA debut, The Nightmare Affair, by Mindee Arnett. Obvsly, I've already read it, but I AM SO EXCITED TO SEE THIS BOOK IN PRINT! ♥

November 23, 2011

Dark YA Blogfest Week 4 - #yasaves



This week's prompt is to blog about how a dark YA book made an impact in your life.

I'm going to reach faaaar back for this one :D

The Fear Street Saga by R.L. Stine :D

I read these books when I was in elementary school (though I maybe shouldn't have? lol), and loved them to pieces. At the time, horror was definitely my genre (possibly why I love Anna Dressed in Blood so much), and although I'd written plenty of picture books by this time, it was R.L. Stine's Fear Street series and this trilogy in particular that inspired me to write longer stories--real, plotty stories that elicited emotions.

All the best books I've ever read have inspired me to write more, to try harder, to be better, to strive for what these amazingly talented writers had already achieved, and R.L. Stine's Fear Street Saga was one of the very first that did that for me. Thank you, Mr. Stine :)

And can't leave out the books that birthed my love for fantasy:



Happy Thanksgiving!

November 21, 2011

The Mighty Archetype: The Child Prodigy

The Child Prodigy - This is the kid too young to drive or even sit in the front passenger side seat, and yet makes the adults feel inadequate. What others would normally struggle with comes naturally to them. But with great power comes great--er. I mean. Sometimes being a prodigy is awesome. Sometimes, it sucks.

Exhibit A: Toushiro Hitsugaya from Bleach

*Official art by creator Kubo Tite*
        Hitsugaya's actual age is unknown, but he is the youngest of the thirteen captains of Soul Society. Despite entering the Academy far behind a couple of his older friends, as a prodigy, he quickly rose through the ranks and is now their superior. (I adore his serious little face lol)

Exhibit B: Hatake Kakashi from Naruto

*Official art by creator Masashi Kishimoto*
        Kakashi graduated from the Ninja Academy at the age of five (yes, FIVE). He became a jounin (top ranked ninja) at thirteen, and joined ANBU (Special Assassination and Tactical Squad) shortly after.

Yes, Doogie Howser was a child prodigy =P

The most interesting part of creating a child prodigy, imo, is throwing these kids into positions adults have spent years vying for and watching the resulting human interaction. Do the adults around them respect them? Resent them? Sabotage them? Either way, conflict is inevitable.

Did the kid take on the adult role willingly? And as a child, regardless of intellect and skill, are they capable of understanding an adult's world? In Naruto, the third ninja world war was happening when Kakashi was promoted to jounin, and he lost one of his teammates (and his eye) in a battle. Things like this, in addition to all the responsibilities typically given to adults, force the child to grow up far more quickly than other "normal" kids.

I've found that a lot of these child prodigies are rather angsty kids. But I like my literary angst :D While there's always that good old 'just want to be a normal kid' trope, I'm more a fan of the 'yeah, I'm younger and smarter/stronger than you--deal with it' mind camp :D Which one are you?

Old artwork of Edward Elric from Full Metal Alchemist, another child prodigy who could understand complex alchemy texts before his age hit double digits. And then he tried to unsuccessfully resurrect his dead mother. Sorry, kiddo.

Previous posts in the archetype series:
1: Broody Jerks with Hearts of Gold
2: The Hero Who Hides Behind a Smile
3: The Goofy Guy Who Secretly Kicks Ass
4: The Designated Psychopath
5: The Mad Scientist

November 16, 2011

Dark YA Blogfest Week 3 - Movie Casting



This week's prompt involves either creating a soundtrack or a movie cast for a dark YA book. These are my choices for the characters from Anna Dressed in Blood :D

Cas Lowood

Logan Wade Lerman, best known for playing the leading role in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. He would angst very prettily.

Anna Korlov

Jodell Ferland, best known for her role as Sharon/Alessa in Silent Hill. She just has those gorgeous haunting eyes, and I can imagine her hair writhing around her.

Thomas Sabin

Cameron Monghan. Darken his hair, give him some glasses, and I can totally see him as Cas's awesome black witch buddy.

Carmel Jones

Taylor Momsen, from the CW's Gossip Girl. She looks like she'd fit the role of Queen Bee at high school.


So what do you guys think? Agree/disagree? ♥

November 14, 2011

Hunger Games Official Trailer AAAAH!



SO WHAT DO YOU GUYS THINK? I got chills *eee*

Interview with S.R. Johannes - On Successful Book Signings


Click here for the full list of stops

Happy Monday! Today launches the official Untraceable blog tour.

Book Title: Untraceable, The Nature of Grace, #1
Author: S.R. Johannes
Release Date: Tuesday, Nov 29th
Publisher: Coleman & Stott

16 year old Grace was reared in the wilderness. Her first pet was a bear named Simon. Her first potty, an oak tree. And, her first swing, a forest vine. Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her everything he knew about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival.

When Grace's dad goes missing on a routine patrol, unlike everyone in her sleepy mountain town, she refuses to believe he’s dead. After finding a Cheetos bag and stolen government file, Grace is convinced she’s one step closer to proving all the non-believers wrong.

One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from imminent danger by Mo, a hot guy who has an intoxicating accent and a secret. Grace has never felt a connection like this before, certainly not with her ex-boyfriend, the adoring, but decidedly unrugged, Wyn.

After a few run-ins with the town's police chief, her father's partner, and some new evidence, Grace travels deeper into the wilderness that has always been her refuge only to learn that her father's disappearance is not a mere coincidence.

Soon she's enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it's going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to emerge from an epidemic that's spreading like wild fire, threatening everything and everyone she's ever loved.

I'm honored to be Shelli's first stop, and I'd like to share with you Shelli's fantastic advice on what makes a successful book signing. Hope you enjoy it!

Boost Your Book Signings

How do you prepare for a book signing?

• Contact store in at least 3 months in advance
• Be sure to send out press releases to local media.
• Be sure the store has your book stocked or plans to get it. If not, ask how many copies you should bring.
• Prepare and order any giveaways – swag, chocolate etc.
• Prepare something to talk about.
• Tell the store manager that you’d like to sign remaining books & ask if they have "Autographed by Author" stickers. If not, order some .You can get these and a variety of other book stickers for $5 a roll.


What are the essential things you need with you at a signing?

This may be personal but I would say:
• Make sure your table is dressed up nicely – maybe in theme with your book.
• Pens (make sure you have more than one)
• Know how you are going to sign the books. Come up with something clever
• Giveaways – chocolate, swag, maybe a drawing
• Guest book to capture emails for your Newsletter sign up
• Signed copy stickers (in case they don’t have them there) so you can sign stock)


What is the best way to conduct a signing?

• Don't sit down unless you have to.
• Smile, talk and most of all have fun! This is no time to be shy.
• If no one shows up, remember, that's okay. It has happened to all of us at one time or another.
• Get people to enter your contest or sign your guest book.
• Don't feel confined to stay just a few hours. Stay as long as there is an interest in the book.


What are the best ways to promote the signing? I'm guessing craigslist isn't the most ideal spot :)

I don't think craigslist is too awful. You never know and it is free.
Other ideas:
• Reach out to local papers, craiglist, online events for your city.
• Send out press releases to local media and then follow up to be sure they got it.
• Contact local radio and tv stations to see if you can add to their program.
• See if the bookstore has a mailing list or newsletter you can be included in. Utilize all the contacts you have (without spamming people too much).


A few general questions :D

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
A new young adult wilderness thriller with a missing father, a kickbutt heroine, and of course - two hot boys.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
There is a special edition coming in Jan/Feb with a different ending and the first 5 chapters of the next book.I do have a second book planned – Uncontrollable set in the winter.

What inspired you to want to become a writer?
I love to tell stories. But I never thought about writing until my daughter was born.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Knowing I created something on my own – something that touches people and makes them think in some way.

Thank you so much for the fantastic advice, Shelli! If you'd like to learn more about Shelli and her book, please check out the rest of the blog tour.

Author Contact information:
Author newsletter
Email: shelli@srjohannes.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/srjohannes
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/SRJohannes/249888602550
Personal Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/srjohannes
Author Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5235537.S_R_Johannes

November 11, 2011

Snow White and the Huntsman trailer!


I am very excited for this film :) It looks beautiful.

Trailer:


I didn't know what to expect, but I am not at all disappointed! I'm not a Kristen Stewart fan, but maybe this movie will make me one... maybe. lol >_>;;

IN ANY CASE, THE HUNGER GAMES TRAILER IS DEBUTING ON MONDAY AAAAAH HOW EXCITED ARE YOU?!

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

November 7, 2011

The Mighty Archetype: The Mad Scientist

The Mighty Archetype 1: Broody Jerks with Hearts of Gold
The Mighty Archetype 2: The Hero Who Hides Behind a Smile
The Mighty Archetype 3: The Goofy Guy Who Secretly Kicks Ass
The Mighty Archetype 4: The Designated Psychopath

The Mad Scientist - You guys know the one. He's typically a supporting character (although not always), the scientific and/or medical genius the main antagonist goes to to do his dirty work, whether that's to brew up biological weapons, design highly advanced laser weaponry, or perform a good old-fashioned torture and dissection of helpless paranormal beings. If he's a protagonist, then... well, nothing changes except the people he's working for lol.

Exhibit A: Dr. Franken Stein from Soul Eater

*Official art by creator Atsushi Okubo*

        Dr. Stein works as a teacher at DWMA (Death Weapon Meister Academy), and he views everything in the world as a specimen to be experimented on, including himself, leading him to drive a large screw through the side of his head and interweave his own skin, clothes, and even his laboratory with stitches. Other than being a scientist, Stein is considered to be the most powerful meister to ever graduate from DWMA and is a master martial artist, making him a deadly opponent in any situation. (Source: wiki)

Exhibit B: Mayuri Kurotsuchi from Bleach

*Official art by creator Kubo Tite*

        Mayuri is the current Captain of the 12th Division in Soul Society. He views everyone as objects to be dissected in the lab. He has even made extensive modifications to his own body. Mayuri has little regard for life or allegiances, even going as far as turning his own subordinates into human bombs on one occasion. In the past, the potential danger he posed to the Soul Society led to his imprisonment when he joined the Soul Reapers. Kisuke Urahara (see: Goofy Guys who Kick Ass) recognized his potential as a scientist and released Mayuri to help him with his research. (Source: wiki)

The interesting thing is that both these characters are supposed to be protagonists. Mayuri, I would argue, is neither--he serves himself and his pursuit of knowledge only. He just happens to be on the side of the protag. Stein, on the other hand, might have a number of questionable morals (and an underlying "madness" that he oftentimes fails to suppress), but he is very clearly a "good" guy who protects his students.

Good or bad, these characters aren't necessarily motivated by ideas like "right" or "wrong," which is why they can be either. Their motivations stem from the desire to learn, to dissect a problem (both literally and figuratively), to uncover and extend their abilities for the sake of science and knowledge. And, oftentimes, out of hubris. High intelligence often breeds big egos lol.


*Official art

What do you guys think of this archetype? Who else fits?

Have a great week! ♥
 

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