May 30, 2012

Unicorn Hiatus 07

Unicorn centaur. By now, you guys must think I'm totally batshit, huh? XD


Art by sakizo


May 28, 2012

Unicorn Hiatus 06

Wiiiings :)


Art by gorillagraffix


Source


May 25, 2012

Unicorn Hiatus 05

Robot Unicorn Attack!!!


Art by Robotpencil


Art by ArtNerdEm


May 24, 2012

KNEE DEEP Blog Tour


Click banner for full list of stops on the blog tour!

KNEE DEEP by Jolene Perry

Shawn is the guy Ronnie Bird promised her life to at the age of fourteen. He's her soul mate. He's more uptight every day, but it's not his fault. His family life is stressful, and she's adding to it. She just needs to be more understanding, and he'll start to be the boy she fell in love with. She won’t give up on someone she’s loved for so long.

Luke is her best friend, and the guy she hangs with to watch girlie movies in her large blanketopias. He's the guy she can confide in before she even goes to her girlfriends, and the guy who she's playing opposite in Romeo and Juliet. Now her chest flutters every time he gets too close. This is new. Is Ronnie falling for him? Or is Juliet? The lines are getting blurry, but leaving one guy for another is not something that a girl like Ronnie does.

Shawn's outbursts are starting to give her bruises, and Luke's heart breaks as Ronnie remains torn. While her thoughts and feelings swirl around the lines between friendship and forever, she’s about to lose them both.

About the Author

Jolene grew up in Wasilla, Alaska. She graduated from Southern Utah University with a degree in political science and French, which she used to teach math to middle schoolers.

After living in Washington, Utah and Las Vegas, she now resides in Alaska with her husband, and two children. Aside from writing, Jolene sews, plays the guitar, sings when forced, and spends as much time outside as possible.

She is also the author of Night Sky and The Next Door Boys.

Guest Post by Jolene Perry

Sometimes a story is more personal than you expect it to be.

I read an article in an online newspaper that talked about the YA books coming out that year which dealt with abusive relationships.

I'd part mapped one out a while back, and thought maybe I'd work on it - all evidence that the market had just gotten an influx of them didn't sway me the way it should have…

The more I wrote in the story, the more personal it became.

I was not ever hit by my boyfriend in high school. He never screamed and yelled at me - though I heard him trashing his room a few times when I left after an argument, and he didn't hesitate to show me when he was pissed about something.

He'd pick fights with me over the phone and hang up, knowing it meant I'd sneak out to "straighten things out."

There was one really horrible night with him that I'd blocked from my mind for a long time, that I remembered when I was writing, so I used it.

I see these cases my husband talks about with women who are beaten and bruised and making up excuses and going back over and over. One ended in murder a couple of weeks ago. A case my husband will be prosecuting when it goes to trial.

The abuse story I told is nowhere near that dramatic, but so much of Ronnie's story was mine. WAY more than I realized while I was writing it. When I got to the end, and started writing down the parts of her story that were real (I always do this for my author site), I realized more and more how much of me was in that girl.

I stared at my computer screen in shock.

I had one of my best friends, who was a guy, who I shared more with than I probably did to most of my girlfriends - (like Luke from Knee Deep) and a boyfriend I'd known since I was a kid (like Shawn from Knee Deep) And I felt this draw to my boyfriend, only because I'd known him for so long, not because we really had anything left in common.

I felt more like I was stuck in this relationship, and didn't even realize I didn't want to be there until I visited a friend in college and saw how much more LIFE was out there. It was just that the idea of this one person had been in my head for way too long.

And where did I end up? Married to the best friend.

People talk about writing what you know, and then talk about keeping yourself out of your books. But you know what? I KNEW that situation - and I know I'll get some bad reviews (like you always do - ESPECIALLY when you tackle a tough topic) that are going to say that Ronnie's actions weren't believable.

But here's the thing - I told her story, the best way I knew how. Ronnie's reactions with pieces of my truth. And there are some drastic differences, but there are also some startling similarities. So, to me, Ronnie's actions were completely and totally understandable.

And that's the story of how Knee Deep came to be.

Knee Deep Excerpt

My front door opens. "Hello?" Shawn calls.

"In here!" I say back. Suddenly this feels weird. Why would this feel weird? This is just what happens when one of us is stuck at home. Why would today be any different? But my heart's beating against the inside of my ribs, trying to tell me this is different.

Luke scoots away from the couch. Does he feel it too? That maybe him and me hanging out alone for the day might not have been the best idea?

Shawn steps through the hallway and scowls when his eyes meet mine and then pass to Luke. This shouldn't be a big deal. Except...I'm so stupid. I was just thinking how I needed to make Shawn's life outside of his house less stressful, and part of me
knew it was weird that Luke was here without Shawn. I thought it, and did nothing. But again, it is just Luke.

"What're you doing here?" Shawn asks. His dark eyes fix on Luke.

"I figured you'd be here, man." Luke stands up. "It's like we always ditch together, right?"

Romeo and Juliet kissing in the pool on the TV screen probably isn't helping anything. Maybe Shawn won't notice, or maybe it's just sending my heart into crazy flutters because this tension between Shawn and Luke and, I guess, me, is happening during the most romantic scene of the movie.

"Uh, I don't know." Shawn's still scowling, his brows pulled low and his jaw tight.

"You would've hated it," I say. My eyes catch his, but his are as black as his mood seems to be. I'm so stupid. Why did I have to let Luke stay?

"Yeah, maybe." Shawn's narrowed eyes go from Luke to me, back and forth, as if judging the situation. Really? What did he think could possibly happen between Luke and I? Even if this is suddenly on my top three 'most awkward moments' ever. I can't even think about what the other two might be. Maybe I've just found number one.

"Romeo and Juliet all day." Luke laughs, but I know him well enough to see he's trying really hard to be relaxed. His shoulders are too stiff, and his normal stance is too rigid. I wonder if Shawn sees it too. "Guess I'll leave you two alone." Luke's trying hard to keep his voice light.

"Yeah." Shawn has yet to return Luke's smile. "I almost never see my girl anymore."

It's like I'm on the edge of my seat, tension pinpricking every part of me. I've never seen Shawn like this.

"Well, I should get my ass to rehearsal anyway." Luke gives Shawn a friendly pat on the shoulder before heading outside.

I don't watch him go. My eyes are on Shawn, trying to figure out what to expect next.

"What the hell was that?" His sharp gaze is now pointed directly at me.

I stand up and lean to the side, trying to be relaxed. "It didn't seem like a big deal this morning." Maybe if I play it off as nothing Shawn won't be so mad. He knows Luke and I are friends. No big deal, I tell myself again. But I don't know if I'm trying to convince myself or Shawn.

"Was he here when we were texting?" he asks. His voice may be low, but not in a good way. It's low in a way that makes him sound like he's past the edge of reasonable anger.

My body's screaming for me to take a step back, which makes no sense. This is Shawn. My Shawn. "No." But I'm weakening by the second, almost shaking inside. His jaw tightens again.

My eyes close as I remember, and dread fills my chest. "He got here as I sent my last one." Is that bad? Good?

"And you didn't think to tell me? What the hell is that?"

I jump at the sharpness of his voice. Shawn doesn't need this stress. I know this. I reach forward to put my arms around him. We just need to hold one another for a minute, then it'll all be fine.

He stops me, grabbing my arm—hard—just above my wrist.

"This is not okay." His jaw is set.

"Hey." My voice shakes. My body shakes. I'm actually scared of Shawn for the first time ever. I jerk my hand once, but he tightens his grip...impossibly tight. My lungs can't pull in a breath; there's just not enough air in the room anymore. "Shawn, you're hurting me." He can't mean to hurt me. He can't.

His face is stuck in a sharp scowl.

"He's your friend." My voice is crying. I want to try and pull my shaky arm out of his grasp again, but I'm afraid to; he's squeezing so hard. Tears are hot against the back of my eyes, threatening to spill over.

"How would you feel if I spent all day with some chick?" The words come out as angry spit from between his teeth.

I open my mouth to answer but can't, the lump in my throat has taken over. All I can think about is that I need to find something to say so he'll let me go. Some way to get the air through my throat to form words. "It's just Luke," I plead, sucking in a breath.

"Whatever." He throws my arm back at me, turns, and walks out the door, slamming it hard behind him. My body jumps at the sound.

I stumble backward onto the couch. I'm like a leaf battered about in the wind. Nothing's working right. I need to sit. Normally I'd run after him, but I have no idea what to expect. And I'm afraid. Of Shawn.

He's never been that way before. Ever. He's moody and particular, but this seems...extreme. I'm cradling my wrist with my other hand, afraid to look at any possible damage. It hurts to move it. What just happened here? How did it happen?

It's like there suddenly must be something fundamentally wrong with the universe. But the TV's still on. My house looks normal and quiet. I'm still breathing, but Shawn, my Shawn, just hurt me. Lying down seems so anti-climactic, but I can't bring myself to do anything else.

When Juliet realizes Romeo's dying the sobs take over, and I pull my knees to my chest as if making myself smaller will somehow dull the pain.

It doesn't.


---
Knee Deep sounds like a powerful story. Thanks, Jolene, for sharing this with us.

How to Buy:
Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Smashwords | Google Books


Have a great rest of the week!


May 21, 2012

Unicorn Hiatus 04

Black unicorns are stunning.


I wish I knew where this picture was from!


Photomanip by XxRed-ButterflyxX


May 18, 2012

Unicorn Hiatus 03

Completely different unicorns, but super cool.


Art by angeline-M


Art by zeo-x


May 16, 2012

Unicorn Hiatus 02

Unicorn Men... strangely appealing (but maybe only to me lol)


Art by sakimichan


Art by Sarah-Valsheim


May 14, 2012

Unicorn Hiatus 01

I've been ridiculously busy lately, which led to consistently forgetting to update the blog. As a result, I decided it would be best to take a hiatus. In place of my usual posts, I will be putting up unicorn posts. This was totally not an excuse to bombard you with unicorn pictures.

To start off: the classic beauty!

Source

And who doesn't love baby unicorns? Even awkward-looking ones!

Source


There will still be some scattered blog tour posts since those are scheduled well in advance :)

May 11, 2012

SPECTRAL Blog Tour - Shannon Duffy on World Building


Click banner for full list of stops on the blog tour!

Today, I'd like to welcome Shannon Duffy to the blog. She'll be talking about the world building she did for SPECTRAL, particularly with a focus on the magic.

About the Author

Shannon Duffy writes young adult and middle grade fiction. She grew up on the beautiful east coast of Canada and now lives in Ontario, Canada. She is the mom of one boy, Gabriel, her angel. She loves writing, reading, working out, soccer, and the sport of champions-shopping. She is the author of the young adult paranormal romance, SPECTRAL. Her upcoming middle grade fantasy novel, GABRIEL STONE AND THE DIVINITY OF VALTA is scheduled for a January 2013 release.

On World Building for Spectral

In writing SPECTRAL, and in specifically focusing on the world building and the magic, I wanted to stage the setting in the real world. A lot of the story is written in Jewel’s new home town of Pomona Park, Florida. So, it’s a small school, homey, mostly friendly people sort of community. Then by weaving in the magic that comes into play, I feel it is more shocking, and maybe a bit of, if that sort of thing could happen there, then wow that could happen anywhere.

So in order to do this, I wrote about Jewel and her world as she knows it, laid a small hint of maybe something magical in the beginning…just enough to make you go hmmm. SPECTRAL is written in first person, so the reader discovers everything right along with Jewel. I painted the magic in a bit at a time, with strange occurrences and Jewel’s discoveries, until a bigger shocking moment, where there’s no question that there’s something paranormal going on right in small town USA. The more the story goes along, the more magic and powers come into play.

Abracadabra!


Thanks so much for sharing this with us, Shannon!

About the Book

SPECTRAL by Shannon Duffy

Convinced she's a part of the witness protection program, sixteen-year-old Jewel Rose is shuffled around the globe with her family like a pack of traveling gypsies. After arriving at lucky home twenty-seven, she stumbles upon a mysterious boy with magical powers claiming to be her guardian... and warning of imminent danger. Despite the obvious sparks between them, Jewel discovers a relationship is forbidden, and the more she learns about dark, brooding Roman, she begins to question who she can even believe—the family who raised her, or the supposed sworn protector who claims they've been lying to her all along.

As she struggles to uncover who her family has really been running from, she is forced to hide her birthmark that reveals who she is. With new realities surfacing, unexplained powers appearing, and two tempting boys vying for her heart, Jewel battles to learn who she can trust in an ever growing sea of lies, hoping she'll make it through her seventeenth birthday alive.

How to Buy:
Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Smashwords | Google Books

Have a great week, all! ♥

May 9, 2012

RAGE OF THE DRAGON Interview + Giveaway


Today, I get to share an interview with New York Times bestselling authors Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman about RAGE OF THE DRAGON, the latest release in their Dragonships of Vindras fantasy series. Plus, you can enter to win one of FIVE copies!

Book blurb:
RAGE OF THE DRAGON
by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Skylan Ivorson is the gods-chosen Chief of all Vindras clans. But the gods from whom the Vindrasi draw their earthdwelling power are besieged by a new generation of gods who are challenging them for the powers of creation. The only way to stop these brash interlopers lies within the Five Bones of the Vektia Dragon—the primal dragon forged during the creation of the world—which have been lost for generations.

With the Gods of the New Dawn amassing a vast army, Skylan finds allies in former enemies. Calling upon the ogres to fight their common foes, the Vindrasi soon find themselves in the middle of an even larger war. Skylan and his Vindrasi clan must sail the Sea of Tears into the heart of the Forbidden Empire of the Cyclops, to implement a cunning yet delicate plan that risks his life and leadership at every corner. But a new enemy lies deep in the sea, one who draws upon powers never harnessed by land dwellers.

Master world-builders Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, who have entertained generations of fans with the Dragonlance series and the Death Gate Cycle, prove they're at the top of their game.

» Excerpt 1: Prologue
» Excerpt 2: Chapter 1

About the Authors
Master world-builders Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, who have entertained generations of fans with the Dragonlance series and the Death Gate Cycle, prove they're at the top of their game with RAGE OF THE DRAGON. They published their first novel in the Dragonlance™ Chronicles, Dragons of Autumn Twilight, in 1984. Twenty eight later they are going strong, collaborating on more than thirty novels. Alone or together with other co-authors, Weis and Hickman have published more than one hundred books, including novels, collections of short stories, role-playing games, and other gaming products. Margaret Weis lives in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. Tracy Hickman lives in Utah.

Lori: For readers new to the Dragonships series, can you give them a brief introduction to the world?

TRH: Think Vikings with dragons. Now think of a pantheon of gods who have failed the world so badly that they are in danger of losing their creation to other failed gods looking for a second chance. Finally, picture our Vikings trying to save their world from utter destruction as the gods battle for ownership of creation – while dealing with their own inadequacy to the task. That’s pretty broad strokes but it sums up Dragonships for me.

MW: This is a world of the fantastic with giants and faeries and humans, mythical monsters, magical beings, ships that can change into dragons, and gods who have failed their people.

Lori: What sets the Dragonships of Vindras apart from other fantasy series?

TRH: Dragonships of the Vindras is different from other fantasy series in many ways. Perhaps my favorite aspect is the idea that the gods have failed their creation so badly that other 'itinerant gods' are trying to muscle in on this world and, having failed once on their own, are looking to redeem themselves with a second chance at 'godhood.' Another aspect which sets it apart for me are the characters, each of whom are deeply flawed and trying to rise above their shortcomings to become the heroes the world requires them to be.

MW: Our hero is not at all likeable at the beginning. Skylan is the son of the Chief. He is eighteen, arrogant, handsome, thinks he has all the answers and deserves respect without earning it. He does have some redeeming qualities. He's courageous, loyal to his friends. His flaws lead him to make bad choices that have serious consequences for him and his people. He learns from his mistakes as he works to prove his worth to his people and to the gods.

Lori: Which of the books in the series released so far is your favorite and why?

TRH: It's hard to separate one book from another in the series in terms of which is my favorite. If I had to choose at this point, it would perhaps be the second book partly from its scope and also in terms of how much punishment the main character takes in his journey toward redemption.

MW: That's like asking a mother which child is her favorite! I like each of them for different reasons. The last one, RAGE OF THE DRAGON, was a lot of fun to write because much of it takes place beneath the ocean.

Lori: What's one surprising thing you learned while researching?

TRH: We did extensive research into Vikings and their culture prior to beginning these books. I think the most surprising thing for me was that Vikings were in many respects more advanced in terms of their treatment of women that we supposed. They had specific rights under Viking law that other cultures would not approach for quite some time. And I was surprised that the measurements for our modern boxing ring actually came from Viking traditions of dispute resolution. They were quite progressive among their own people. Those who were NOT Vikings, however, were not considered to be covered under Viking law ... and therefore deserved whatever the Vikings did to them or took from them in the Viking way of thinking.

MW: The Vikings loved battle and when they werent fighting other people, they fought among themselves. The best story I found was of two warring clans whose women were sick and tired of losing their menfolk to war. So when the warriors lined up in the shield wall and began charging toward each other, the women started stripping off their clothes and throwing them onto the battlefield. Their dresses and undergarments got caught on the tips of the spears and swords, turning the battle into a farce. The men on both sides couldnt help but start laughing and ended the war with a general celebration.

(Oh my gosh, I love that! :D)

Lori: What is your favorite passage from RAGE OF THE DRAGON?

TRH: I think my favorite passage is actually the Epilogue which, obviously, I would not quote here. I would prefer, I think, to quote my next favorite passage which is at the beginning of the book, which, is also the end of the previous book.
Sigurd demands, "So, what do we do now?"
"We stand together," said Skylan.
"Sigurd snorted. "You mean we die together."
"Better than dying alone," said Skylan.

MW: This is from the part where Skylan encounters the Aquins, a people who live beneath the sea. The Aquins are a matriarchal society, which Skylan finds difficult to understand.
"Why is the child in your care?" Skylan persisted. "Are you a widower? If so, there must be women who can tend to the boy."
The man caressed the child, stroking his head tenderly. "We believe it is only logical that the strongest in society protect the weakest."
"Our women care for our children," said Skylan.
The man raised his eyebrows. "It is a wonder your people have managed to survive."

(It sounds so epic, doesn't it? *_*)

Lori: What would be the name of your dragonship?

TRH: My dragonship would be named Svanses. She is the goddess of Wind and Cold ... a good person to have on your side at sea!

MW: I think I would call mine God-killer, referring to the attempt to drive out the interloper gods.

They are seriously awesome, no? I'm totally starstruck *___* And RAGE OF THE DRAGON sounds amazing!

Thanks to the generous people at Tor Books, you get the chance to win one of FIVE copies of RAGE OF THE DRAGON.

To enter, fill out the form below.
Details:
*One entry per person.
*Open to US/Canada residents only.
*I will email only once to ask for your mailing address. If you don't respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be selected.
*Deadline is Thursday, May 17.

Ended.

Good luck! ♥

May 7, 2012

Interview with Pamela Sargent, author of EARTHSEED

In 1983, award-winning author Pamela Sargent introduced readers to Ship—a sentient starship sent to populate the planet Home with the seed of humankind. This novel, EARTHSEED, captivated and inspired a generation of young readers. It was named an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults, a Booklist Young Adult Reviewer's Choice Selection, and a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age selection.

Now, Paramount Pictures has teamed up with Melissa Rosenberg—adaptor of the Twilight films—to release EARTHSEED through Rosenberg's Tall Girl Productions.


Book blurb (from goodreads):
The classic YA science fiction adventure by Nebula and Locus Award–winning author Pamela Sargent The ship hurtles through space. Deep within its core, it carries the seed of humankind. Launched by the people of a dying Earth over a century ago, its mission is to find a habitable world for the children—fifteen-year-old Zoheret and her shipmates—whom it has created from its genetic banks.

To Zoheret and her shipmates, Ship has been mother, father, and loving teacher, preparing them for their biggest challenge: to survive on their own, on an uninhabited planet, without Ship’s protection. Now that day is almost upon them...but are they ready to leave Ship? Ship devises a test. And suddenly, instincts that have been latent for over a hundred years take over. Zoheret watches as friends become strangers—and enemies. Can Zoheret and her companions overcome the biggest obstacle to the survival of the human race—themselves?

Pamela Sargent has won the Nebula Award, the Locus Award, and has been a finalist for the Hugo Award. She lives with writer George Zebrowski in upstate New York.

Lori: You have an amazing bibliography. Of everything you've written, is there any one piece you'd consider a favorite?

PS: Usually my favorite is whatever I'm in the middle of writing because it's what demanding my attention. Looking back, though, I have a soft spot for my novel The Shore of Women, because it seems to have touched a lot of readers over the years. Even though it came out in 1986, I still get emails and comments from readers about that book.

Lori: Similarly, are there any pieces you'd consider the best representations of your best work?

PS: I hate to single out anything as the "best." If a reader likes historical fiction, then that reader would probably most appreciate my historical novel Ruler of the Sky – that one is about Genghis Khan, with his story told largely from the points of view of the women in his life – or Climb the Wind, an alternate history set in the American Great Plains during the post-Civil War period. Science fiction readers who like detailed world-building might like Venus of Dreams. It really depends on the reader, and I enjoy writing different kinds of books and stories.

Lori: For readers new to your work, what would be a good piece to introduce themselves to your writing?

PS: My short fiction collection Thumbprints, because it contains a number of my stories in different genres – historical fantasies, straight science fiction, contemporary fantasy, and suspense. It’s still available in hardcover from Golden Gryphon Press, a publisher that does beautiful hardcover books, but it also just came out in electronic formats for e-readers.

Lori: What was the original idea or inspiration that led to writing EARTHSEED?

PS: Believe it or not, it was Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie that was the inspiration for Ship, the artificial intelligence in Earthseed, although Ship's character changed during the writing. I also liked the idea of having all these young people growing up entirely on their own with only Ship as their parent or guardian.

Lori: Earthseed features a strong female protagonist. In your opinion, what qualities make an ideal protagonist?

PS: That also depends on the kind of story you want to tell. Zoheret is an ideal protagonist for Earthseed because she has courage and loyalty to her friends, but also because she has weaknesses as well as strengths. She has her own insecurities and failures, and she makes mistakes.

Lori: Melissa Rosenberg is set to write and produce the film adaptation. Will you have a hand in the final screenplay?

PS: I have no idea, although I would love to read the screenplay when it's finished. Right now I am keeping my distance, because it's important for any scriptwriter to find her own way into the story in the beginning of the process; the last thing she needs then is the author of the novel being adapted looking over her shoulder. A movie is a different medium from a novel, so what I hope for is something that's true to my story, that portrays the characters and explores the ideas in a way that seems true to my vision. That doesn't mean working in every last detail; sometimes what works in a novel doesn't necessarily work on-screen. But I'm fortunate to have someone writing the script who's already had to deal with adapting some very popular novels.

Thank you so much, Pamela, for answering my questions. And I hope you guys enjoyed her answers as much as I did! I'm super excited to see EARTHSEED adapted into a movie.

EARTHSEED, A Tor Teen Trade Paperback; $9.99
Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Happy Monday, all!


May 4, 2012

Bloom Like an Artist (or a Writer)

The winner of the Fairy Tale Giveaway Hop and a paperback copy of Entwined is Jessie B. Congrats!

Warning: IMAGE-HEAVY POST!

I love this comic. It's beautiful and inspiring :) (not my art)


 

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