Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Fall: Anthology and Interview with Matt Sinclair

Wow, I have neglected this blog for far too long, but now it's time to remedy that. To make it up to all of you, today I have an interview with the fantastic Matt Sinclair of the Elephant's Bookshelf. Remember The Spring? Well, he and a group of fellow AgentQueryConnect members have put together a new AMAZING anthology.

Presenting The Fall:
(Cover by Calista Taylor)

And now for my interview with Matt Sinclair:

1. I love the Apocalyptic/Post Apocalyptic theme of The Fall! What made you decide on that theme?

It came up toward the end of putting Spring Fevers together. We all enjoyed the creation process that we suggested doing another anthology and using a season in the title. I don’t remember exactly who suggested The Fall, but that person also suggested that it be a collection of apocalyptic stories. With December 21, 2012 being the date that a Mayan calendar stone supposedly predicted would mark a global disaster – and also the day when winter turns to fall – we decided to go with tales from the apocalypse.

2. So, what’s your personal take on December 21st? Are we nearer than we think to the end of the world as we know it?

Well, I have watched too many television shows about the Mayan calendar and about potential global disasters, so I’m all too aware of the potential for disaster and the likelihood that the planet will eventually experience some sort of extinction-level event, whether it’s an asteroid strike or a coronal mass ejection. But I kinda doubt either of those will happen in my lifetime. I do, however, think it’s possible that a major solar flare could wipe out electricity for long periods of time, possibly affecting society for years within my lifetime. Having just experienced eleven days without electricity as a result of Hurricane Sandy – and I’m still frustrated by a variety of inconveniences to my life – I know that such an experience is no fun. I’ve never been as frustrated by my inability to do things I need or at least want to do, such as provide a safe, comfortable environment for my little girls.

3. Give us a taste of the genres included in The Fall.

As we did with Spring Fevers, we tried to include a wide range of genres, and we have a lot of different voices. For example, Jean Oram, who also served as copy-editor of the anthology, wrote what essentially is a short romance. Mindy McGinnis posited what God might do if he had an iPhone, and she wrote it in a one-act play format, which was different and a lot of fun. And Cat Woods penned an amusing story about a Little League game between little saints and demons. But we also have Judy Croome’s story, “The Last Sacrifice,” which is decidedly not amusing. It’s pretty grim, and I think folks will either love it for the exquisitely crafted tale of faith and family that it is or hate it for the cruelty and seeming willful ignorance that some might infer.

4. How did the process of putting the anthology go this time around, compared to Spring Fevers?

It was different; in some ways easier and other ways harder. In Spring Fevers, we approached writers we knew, mostly from AgentQuery Connect, and asked if they had anything unpublished or would write something that would fit the overall theme of relationships. We initially planned to only release it electronically, so we weren’t too concerned about length. The Fall had a lot of the same writers involved, but we also received submissions from people I didn’t know. They heard about Spring Feversthrough various blogs and tweets and retweets and other online writing groups. So, some robust word of mouth resulted in a lot of great submissions. But one of the challenges was making sure the stories didn’t sound too similar. When one quality story comes in and gets approved, then a couple weeks later another quality story that’s similar arrives, you’re hard-pressed to accept both. I think we made good choices. We also received some stories that simply weren’t apocalyptic enough. While we stretched a bit on how we defined “apocalyptic,” we had to say no to some promising stories that just weren’t a strong enough fit thematically.

5. What plans do you have for future anthologies?

Absolutely. We’re just about to launch the submissions requests for the third anthology, Summer Burn. I can already hear the voices of writers saying, “But mine isn’t set in the summer.” That’s going to be fine. The stories of Spring Fevers were not necessarily set in the spring, nor were those of The Fallplaying in autumn leaves. The anthology will emphasize the burn more so than the summer. By that, I mean our tagline: Not all relationships are meant to last. So we might find a couple May-to-September YA or maybe new adult love stories. I can imagine a murder or two. I can also see some science fiction tales.

6. Was there anything I didn’t ask yet about the anthology that you’d like to share?

Well, I’d like to invite folks to check out the evolving Website for Elephant’s Bookshelf Press (http://www.elephantsbookshelfpress.com), where we’ll post information about new anthologies and new opportunities to come. I expect, for example, to have another announcement after we post the guidelines for Summer Burn. I don’t want to ruin the suspense, so I’ll leave it at that. But assuming we get through New Year’s without an asteroid strike, a solar flare, a super-volcano eruption, or a society-changing financial meltdown, I believe 2013 will be a great year for Elephant’s Bookshelf Press!

Thank you so much for taking the time to tell us about this wonderful anthology, Matt. I've just purchased it and can't wait to read the stories! I wish you every success with it and with the upcoming Summer Burn.

So tell me, lovelies, what's your take on December 21st/ the apocalypse? 

Friday, July 6, 2012


Hope you all find this quickly, because Sara Biren is hosting a giveaway of Beth Revis' awesome series, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE and A MILLION SUNS. Today's the last day to enter on her blog, so hurry on over there!

So sorry for the short notice, but I have been busily editing, and just now found this giveaway. Good luck to everyone who enters!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Blog Event: Tahlia Newland and "You Can't Shatter Me"

Today I'm thrilled to host author Tahlia Newland on the blog to promote the release of her new magical realism novella, You Can't Shatter Me. So, check out all the details on Tahlia, my interview with her, and her fabulous novella!

Tahlia Newland

Author bio & links:

Tahlia is an avid reader, an extremely casual high school teacher, an occasional mask-maker and has studied philosophy & meditation for many years. After scripting and performing in Visual Theatre shows for 20 years, she is now a bone-fide expatriate of the performing arts. She lives in an Australian rainforest, is married with a teenage daughter and loves cats, but she doesn’t have one because they eat native birds.

The Interview:

1. What inspired you to address the topic of bullying in You Can’t Shatter Me?

I didn’t actually set out to write about bullying. Initially, I planned to write a series of short stories about the same people, but as soon as I took my main character into a school setting, a bully appeared and shoved a fat boy against the wall. Carly, the female lead, decided she had to do something to stop it, but when she stepped in, the bully turned on her. He kept coming back in the following stories and so bullying became the thread that eventually turned the stories into a novella.

I guess the theme came out because I’m very aware that it’s one of the main issues that face kids today. It affects everyone, either as the one doing the bullying, the one being bullied or as a bystander. I can’t stand seeing people being cruel to others, so if there is anything I can do to stop it, I will. I hope this book will encourage bystanders to do their best to stop bullying whenever they see it and also to give both victims and bullies a way to handle the situation in a positive way.

2. Tell us about the most difficult moment in the book? The most empowering?

The most difficult part of the book for Carly is when Justin, the bully, locks her in the art storeroom and turns off the light. It’s really just a closet, so she gets very claustrophobic and she thinks she might die. The male lead, Dylan, struggles with his desire to protect Carly by punching the bully, something that will ruin his spotless school record, disappoint his mother, make his father really angry and probably make Carly mad at him too.

The most empowering moment is when Carly finally manages to use the light of loving kindness to protect herself from the bully—it manifests as chocolate cake—and the most inspiring moment is when she flys at the end.  

3.  How is You Can’t Shatter Me a revolutionary novella?

It’s the ideas behind it. There’s so many dark books out there for young adults, but this one, as well as having a really gritty story, shows someone dealing with a difficult situation in a way that makes them strong inside. Carly uses love and compassion as both a protection and a weapon against bullying. I think that’s pretty revolutionary in today’s climate.

4. What strategies to cope with bullying do the characters use in the story? Which ones are the most effective against bullying, and what ways of coping don’t work so well?
There are specific analogies for ways to deal with the kind of verbal abuse kids get. One is treating insults as bait on a hook and telling yourself you’re not going to bite. There’s a post about it here. Another is treating your anger like a cowpat and not stirring it up, because that makes it stink. There’s a post explaining the details here. I taught both these methods to kids at school with great success. 

The main one is based on the idea that you can’t do much to stop the bully bullying you, but you can learn not to let it bug you. Instead of seeing the bully as someone to fear and hate, you can see them as someone who is suffering and let that arouse your compassion. If the bully was really happy, they wouldn’t feel the need to abuse others. So you send happiness to them in the form of light from your heart, it makes you feel calm and strong and changes the way you behave towards them. In turn that affects the way they relate to you.

I use this in my own life and so does the rest of my family, and it does work. The kindness tends to disarm the bully. I haven’t had the opportunity to use it with kids at school because it takes time to understand the ideas, but many Tibetan Monks used it to not only survive imprisonment at the hands of the Chinese Government, but to come out a stronger and more compassionate person..

5. Would you like to share any enticing tidbits about upcoming projects?
After this, I have to decide whether I’m going to leave my young adult fantasy series with my agent—she’s been looking for a publisher for 2 years—or let Catapult Press publish it. Catapult Press is very small, just staring out, and I’d still like to get a big publisher for it, but I am getting sick of waiting, so I’ll see how this one sells and then make a decision. Either way, I’ll be turning my attention back to it again. The first in the series is called Lethal Inheritance and it’s about a girl whose mother is kidnapped by demons who feed on fear. She has to go into a hidden realm to rescue her mother and learn to fight without fear. Along the way she falls in love with a gorgeous guy. 

6. Anything else I haven’t yet asked that you’d like to share?

Just that there’s a really sweet romance in the book to offset the bullying stuff, and although it’s a young adult book, adults will enjoy it too.

Thank you for the wonderful interview, Tahlia, and I can't wait to read your novella! Best of luck with your decision about getting LETHAL INHERITANCE into print. I've been following that journey for awhile now, and the premise sounds so exciting! Hope we all get to read it soon.

Synopsis: You Can’t Shatter Me
Sixteen year old Carly wants to write her own life and cast herself as a superhero, but the story gets out of control when she stands up to a bully and he turns on her. His increasing harassment forces her to deal with flying hooks, giant thistles, deadly dragons and a suffocating closet. Dylan, a karate-trained nerd who supports her stand against the bully, turns out to be a secret admirer, and while he struggles to control his inner caveman, Carly searches for her own way to stop the bully.  An old hippie shows her an inner magic that’s supposed to make her invincible, but will Carly learn to use it before Dylan resorts to violence?
Book Links 
Purchase links
The paperback will be available via all major book retailers worldwide. If you would like to be notified when it’s released please fill in the form here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Announcements and Best June Read!

I'm thrilled to announce that I'll be hosting Tahlia Newland on July 1st as part of her Celebration of Indie Excellence tour promoting her new magical realism novella, You Can't Shatter Me. On her website, Tahlia describes the novella as about "a couple of ordinary teens who do extraordinary things to solve a bullying problem." Sounds fabulous, and I will be reading it ASAP!

I will also soon be hosting James Hutchings, with a short story, to promote his collection of dark fantasy short stories and poems, The New Death and Others.

Now, for my answer to this week's YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday. This week's prompt asks for your best June read.  Earlier in the month, I had the chance to go to an awesome book event at my local Barnes and Noble--the Dark Days of Summer tour. I purchased UNRAVELING by Elizabeth Norris, one of the three lovely authors on the panel. Following an awesome panel discussion, she signed my copy of her book. It's got an intelligent mystery that could spell the end of two universes, a beautifully written romance, and dimensional travel. I highly recommend it!

What was your favorite June read?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The 7X7 Link Award, RTW, and More!

A huge thanks to Michael Abayomi for this lovely award. I'm so excited to receive this, and to pass it along!  In order to do that, I first have to  list (and provide links) to my existing blog posts I feel fall into the following seven categories. So here it goes:

Most Beautiful Piece
A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words....

Most Helpful Piece
Blog Tour: Interview with Mindy McGinnis

Most Popular Piece
Your Required Reading List

Most Controversial Piece
Words we Love, Words we Hate

Most Surprisingly Successful Piece
Your Writing Journey

Most Underrated Piece
YA Conversations: An End to Occlumency

Most Pride-Worthy Piece

And now, for the seven bloggers I award the 7 X 7 link award:

Katie at Writing With Cats
Samantha at Reading and Coffee
Karen Sandler
Ian Hiatt at Relics of Providence
Kate Scott
Stephanie Scott at A Girl and her Diary
Katharina Brendel at My Writing Journey

After a very long absence, I'm finally taking part in YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday again!

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic. We'd love for you to participate!

In preparation for our Bookmobile discussion of Kody Keplinger's A MIDSUMMER'S NIGHTMARE, This Week's Topic Is:

How did you spend/how will you spend the summer after graduation?

It's been great fun seeing everyone's answers to this question! My summer after graduating high school was a blast! My parents took me on a four-day cruise to the Bahamas--my first cruise ever--on the Carnival Fantasy. The ship was like I imagine Vegas to be, both in decor and in the style of the shows. I spent most of the summer working in the local video store, which had been my part-time job for about a year by that point. Oh, and I did go to summer church camp at the beach for the final time. Just reading about others' camp experiences brought it all back today, and I so miss hanging out at the beach with friends, meeting in reflection groups to consider different topics about God and His presence in our lives, and going to Vespers each night. Oh, and let's not forget the talent shows! So. Much. Fun.

What was your post-graduation summer like? What would you have liked to have done?

Oh, and I have an announcement to make of a new, upcoming blog event, but since this post is already getting long and my time very short, I will leave it at that for now and make the announcement in a new post very soon!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Blog Event: Promoting QUARTER LIFE CRISIS by Diana-Ashley Krach

Cover for 'Quarter Life Crisis'

Diana-Ashley Krach is a fellow AQC'er with a new chick lit book, QUARTER LIFE CRISIS, available in ebook on Smashwords in a variety of formats. To snag it for free, use coupon code GU44D. This offer expires May 12th.

About Quarter Life Crisis (from the Smashwords site):

Sam is incapable of having a girlfriend because of her trust issues, and prefers to be alone with the exception of her close circle of friends. Matti is always putting herself before others, especially when it comes to her boyfriends. Jayden is the independent one who doesn't play by any dating rules, yet she is always in a monogamous relationship. These girls don't fit the typical mold of the female stereotype, as babies and marriage were never on their radar. Though, when one of the girls, Jayden, actually gets married, a rift starts to develop between them. In order to mend the rift, they go on a camping trip. What starts as a simple camping trip, quickly turns into a journey of discovery and self-revelation, as each girl comes face-to-face with the woman they have become. They are quickly forced to realize that friends may be forever, but time will always change the friendships. 

Sounds fantastic, right? It's getting great ratings already, and I will be checking it out. Diana has also expressed willingness to follow up with a guest post here, so check back with the events page for an update.  I should note, especially since this mainly is a YA-related blog, that there is an adult content rating on the book, so it's basically for the over-17 crowd.

About Diana:

Born in Portland, Maine, Diana-Ashley began her literary career after moving to Baltimore, Maryland. She has since become a star in the realms of Poetry, Advertising, Short Fiction, and Fiction. Diana-Ashley now lives with her husband, and fellow writer, James Krach in South Florida.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Eye Candy Inspiration

This Week's YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday Topic:
What images inspire/ represent your WIP or favorite book?

UPDATED 7/28/12

I love this topic! Ok, I had a few pics that represent my WIP, but removed them. I may try to find the links again and include them here. A recent case where a blogger was sued by the owner of a picture she had on her blog has raised awareness of the copyright infringement issue. So I won't be posting pictures unless they're mine, were created by me, are under a creative commons license, or I have express permission of the owner to use them. 

A seaside community near cliffs, where my MC Leah grew up...

A beautiful moon orbiting a ringed planet, like Leah's homeworld...

An airship, pretty close to how I envision the one Leah travels in on her homeworld, though I imagine it having some outdoor area like a cruise ship.

And finally, in honor of INSURGENT coming out next month (because I can't wait to read it!), here is a lovely train in Chicago:

What pictures inspire/represent YOUR favorite book and/or WIP?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Blog Award!

Thank you to Dean C. Rich at The Write Time for the lovely Versatile Blogger Award! It's such an honor to receive and be able to pass along this award. Here it is:

So here are the rules for accepting this award:

1. Create a post for the Versatile Blogger Award.
2. In the same post, thank the blogger who gave you the award and put a link back to their blog.
3. Nominate 15 other people for this award and let them know.
4. Post seven random things about yourself.
5. Include these rules in your post.

OK, eere are seven random things about myself:

1. Summer is my favorite season.
2. If I could change three things about my appearance, it would be my height, my nose, and my eye color (to green).
3. My blog photo was taken last year in Punta Gorda, Florida.
4.  Walking and swimming are my favorite forms of exercise.
5.  I enjoy searching for writing contests to enter and/or share with others to enter.
6. I wish I were a faster, more prolific writer!
7. My Hogwarts house would probably be Hufflepuff. Can't wait to see what the sorting hat says when Pottermore opens!

The 15 awardees are:
1. Michael Abayoni
2. Colin Smith
3. Eve
4. Daisy Carter
5. Miss Cole
6. Liz Parker
7. Crystal Schubert
8. Elodie
9. Joseph Ramirez
10. Lauren
11. Sara Biren
12. Mandy
13. Bailey
14. Angelica R. Jackson
15. Tarah Dunn

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Moment

Before we get to the post, I just wanted to advertise the two interviews I've posted this past week with fellow AQC'ers  Mindy McGinnis and Matt Sinclair on a new anthology, Spring Fevers.  Don't forget to check them out while you're here.

Yes, it's time for another YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday!

This Week's Topic:
A long-awaited kiss, a surprise ending, a character's sudden decision…  these are the moments that make us smile, gasp, and LOVE a book for the rest of our lives.

This is a really difficult question, because there are so many of them.  The moment in The Darkangel Trilogy when Aeriel and Irrylath finally get together. The moment when Aeriel confronts the White Witch. The amazingly brilliant first chapter of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE when Amy is frozen, and the jaw-dropping revelation in A MILLION SUNS.  The moment in DIVERGENT when Beatrice chooses her faction. The later scene when Four shows Tris his fear landscape, and she realizes his real name. 

What are your favorite literary moments, the ones that you still remember vividly long after you close the pages of the book? What moments speak to your heart?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Blog Tour: Interview with Matt Sinclair

Cover for 'Spring Fevers'

As promised, here is the interview with Matt Sinclair, one of the co-creators of the new Spring Fevers anthology. I'm very excited to have him on the blog today to share more about this fabulous book, which is available for free at Smashwords. Definitely check it out! 

From the extended description on Smashwords:

"An anthology of short stories, Spring Fevers is an exploration of relationships in their varied states: love -- requited and unrequited -- friendships discovered and lost, family in its many guises, and the myriad places in between. Created by Cat Woods and Matt Sinclair, Spring Fevers arose from their work with the Agent Query Connect online writing community, and while membership in the free site was not necessary for inclusion in the anthology, the ten writers whose stories appear are all members. Authors include MarcyKate Connolly, S.Q. Eries, Robb Grindstaff, J. Lea Lopez, Mindy McGinnis, R.S. Mellette, Yvonne Osborne, Matt Sinclair, A.M. Supinger, and Cat Woods. The debut publication of Elephant’s Bookshelf Press, Spring Fevers was edited by the team of Robb Grindstaff, Matt Sinclair, and Cat Woods, with cover design by Calista Taylor, and book design by R.C. Lewis. A new anthology is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2012. "

Isn't that cover gorgeous? Calista Taylor did such a beautiful job with that. Now, on to the interview:

1.  So, what inspired all of you to get together to create this wonderful anthology?

It was an idea a few of us at Agent Query Connect bounced around, and Cat Woods and I ran with it. Getting our names out in front of readers is something both agented and unagented writers need to be doing as often as possible. I look at it as an example of having strength in numbers. In the current marketplace, there is so much noise that it’s hard to get noticed. We looked at an anthology as a way to partner with several writers to get a similar message out to our own followings. In that way, we can amplify each other. A person might be familiar with the work of Mindy McGinnis but discover J. Lea Lopez as a result of their being in the same anthology.

2.  How did you select the theme of relationships, and how do each of the stories reflect that theme?

We knew from the outset that we were looking for relationship stories. Right away, we noticed a trend in bittersweet stories rather than romance. There’s certainly some romance in the anthology, but the stories truly take a broad look at relationships. Robb Grindstaff, who copy edited all the stories (aside from his own, which I copy edited) came up with the title Spring Fevers. I really liked it because it encapsulated so much of what we were seeing – the way spring weather, like new love, can change so quickly.

3.  Give us a taste of the genres included.

We really think that everyone can find something they’ll like. You’ll find a few examples of young adult. In fact, we open with First Kiss, an engaging and slightly creepy YA story by Mindy McGinnis (better known among AQC folks as Big Black Cat or BBC). We also have some science fiction and fantasy, literary fiction, and humor. Robb Grindstaff’s story, Dreams, still makes me chuckle no matter how many times I’ve read it.

4.   How did you select the stories for this anthology? Were there any specific criteria you had in mind for the Spring Fevers anthology?

We were looking for strong writing. I also wanted characters who stayed with you after you moved on to another story. I liked the idea of these stories and people popping up in your mind when you’re doing other things. I’ve already had the husband in Cat Woods’ touching tale Annabelle visit me a couple times.

For this first anthology, we only approached writers we knew who we felt confident could submit strong stories that were on topic and engaging. And even in the next one, the quality of the writing will drive what gets accepted.

5.  What was the process of putting it all together like, and how long did the project take?

We had a deadline in mind and worked backwards from that to develop submission deadlines. It was a little tough at times because the winter holidays fell in the middle of it, but we knew that going in. All in all, it was about a six-month process.

6.  I understand there will be another anthology coming out next fall. What will this one be about, and how do we submit something for consideration?

There will indeed! We’ve gotten started with some of the initial footwork. We’re planning to launch the second anthology in October. It’s going to be more of a dystopian collection, with apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic stories, death and destruction and all manner of seemingly overwhelming challenges for characters to overcome. I figure that we’ll need to release it in October so we can all get ready for the end of the world that’s predicted to occur on December 21.  I’m shooting for the Mayan calendar audience! ;-)

Once again, we’ll be looking for excellent writing and memorable characters and settings in any genre except erotica. We’ll be approaching specific writers again, but I think the cat’s out of the bag. I expect we’ll receive a lot more submissions this time. The email address for submissions is antholsubs@gmail.com which will go directly to me. Please note in the subject line Fall Anthology.

7.  Was there anything I didn’t ask yet about the anthology that you’d like to share?

I want to call attention to the team Cat and I put together. All of us were very involved in the process. Robb was great to work with. He’s an excellent editor and writer. In my opinion, any writer looking for an editor should start with him. And we were fortunate to have Calista Taylor and R.C. Lewis, who, like Cat and myself, are AQC moderators, handling the cover and book design. It’s easy to see the result and say, “Oh, that looks good,” and not realize the work that goes into finding the right cover and making the copy that comes from ten different writers all look like one contiguous entity. Plus, R.C. designed for Smashwords and Kindle and the Print-on-Demand version that we’re almost ready to launch. They deserve so much credit and they didn’t even have any stories in the anthology! It really is a team effort. For the fall anthology, we’ve added Mindy McGinnis, who had a story in Spring Fevers. She’s also a writer the YA dystopian novel Not a Drop to Drink, which will be coming out in 2013. She was incredibly helpful during Spring Fevers as was her agent, Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary Services. I can’t thank them all enough!

Fabulous interview, Matt, and best of luck with Spring Fevers and the upcoming anthology. I'm so looking forward to reading it as well, especially being a dystopian fan :). Thanks again for being with us on the blog today!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Blog Tour: Interview with Mindy McGinnis

Today I'm so excited to bring to you an interview with author Mindy McGinnis! She's got a fabulous story in the new Spring Fevers anthology, put together by a great group of writers at Agent Query Connect. Mindy also has an upcoming YA dystopian novel due out in fall 2013, NOT A DROP TO DRINK, and you can find out all the details at her blog: Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire.

Without further ado, here's the interview!

1.  Your short story, "First Kiss," in the new Spring Fevers anthology
is amazing! What inspired this story? 

Great question. I live in a sprawling old farmhouse situated on five acres. I found no less than four uncovered wells when I first moved in. I was just a kid when the famous Baby Jessica incident happened, but it made a lasting impression. A mix of that, and a random idea I had floating around my head about someone who had a Poison Ivy (Batman character) type ability coalesced into this weirdness.

2.  What are some of the challenges of writing short stories vs. novels? 

Less space, less time. You've really got to punch your reader in the face in a nice way that they'll love you for. They know there are other stories behind yours that might appeal to them more, and flicking a couple pages to move away from your story is a lot easier than putting down a whole book and going to pick your next one.

3.  How do you approach writing a short story vs. a novel?

Impact is of utmost importance, always. I think with a book you need to focus on getting that impact into the first page, or paragraph. In a short story, you've gotta get them with the first line.

4.  Is there anything else you wanted to cover on the topic of short
stories vs. novels? 

I love writing shorts. I think they're a wonderful outlet for those stories inside of me that don't have enough meat to them to justify a novel. There are plenty of characters in my head who have *something* to say, just not necessarily a lot. I also think shorts are an important way for a writer to pull readers to them as an author, and sell themselves as a writer as opposed to selling their book, if that makes sense. If I can make you like me, and my style, in a few pages, that's great. A short that draws a reader in to my voice will (hopefully) make them look to see if I have a book. As a reader of short stories myself, I can honestly say I do that all the time, and it's the best avenue I've found to discovering new voices.

Thanks so much for the interview, Mindy! It's great to have you on the blog today. Readers can discover some fantastic new voices in The Spring Fevers anthology, an anthology of short stories with the theme of relationships, available for free at Smashwords.  Be sure to check back here soon for an interview with Matt Sinclair, one of the co-creators of SPRING FEVERS.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Title Your Life

This Week's YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday Topic: NAME THIS LIFE: What would your memoir be called?

A memoir is probably near the top of the list of things I will not be writing. Ever.  Sure, as a teen, I used to keep a diary, but reading those pages later and reliving those awkward middle and high school moments made me cringe.  Even reading my thoughts from back then was not a fun experience. Fiction is much more fun to write, anyway.

My grandmother, though, says she would have liked to have written her memoirs, and I wish that she had.  She's had an incredible life and has amazing stories to tell. Maybe in years to come, for my family, I'll change my mind and write my story so that they're not left wishing that I had written it. Maybe I'll think back and consider my own amazing stories--because we all have them to tell (or keep to ourselves)--and finally share them in written form.

If I ever did, it would be called Unwritten, because like the song by Natasha Beddingfield, it would be about experiencing life to the fullest, finding and putting down the words I couldn't find before to describe my life, and no matter my age when it's written, this life journey would be just the beginning of the unwritten story to come!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Best February Read

This Week's YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday Topic:
What was the best book you read in February?

I read two fantastic books this month: Angelfall by Susan Ee and Incarnate by Jodi Meadows. Aren't their covers gorgeous?

Book description from Amazon:

"It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again."

My review:

This was definitely my favorite of the two books this month, though I loved both.  But Angelfall had a sharp, engaging writing style that just carried me through this gritty apocalyptic tale. The characterizations were vivid, and the relationships between the characters were spot on. In particular, the author handled the mental illness (schizophrenia) of Penryn's mother, and its impact on their family with a tremendous sensitivity and grace. This fast-paced quest will leave you wanting more.  Good thing the sequel will be released this summer!

Book description from the author's website:

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.
Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?
Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?"

My review:

This was a beautiful, lyrical tale. I loved the relationship between Ana and Sam, the mystery of why Ana was born and what happened to the one she replaced--Ciana, and the worldbuilding of Heart society and the dangers it faces. Good thing this is a sequel, too, but sadly we have to wait until next year to find out how the story continues...

So, what was your favorite February read? I can't wait to see everyone's picks. I'm sure as we check everyone's answers and blog posts, there'll be lots of books to add to our to-read lists!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tag, I'm it!

Ooh, I've been tagged by Dean C. Rich of The Write Time to participate in a very cool blog hopping meme! Here are the questions, and my answers:

1. What is your dream vacation?

As long as the vacation is with my husband, it will be a dream vacation, no matter where it is. We love cruises, so any cruise to a lovely beach, or to see the sights of Europe, would be wonderful. 

2. Are you spontaneous or do you like to plan ahead?

I'd have to say a mixture of both. In the small things, like date night plans with my husband, I tend to be spontaneous. In the larger things, like finances (e.g. saving or making large purchases), WIP planning, and things like that, I tend to be a planner.

3. Tell us one thing you want to do but don’t dare to do.

Get a real tattoo.

4.  Your biggest phobia?

Fire, heights, and sharp objects.

5. If you were stranded on a desert island – what 3 things would you want with you (not including laptop, or family).

Writing supplies, music, and sunscreen.

6. Name three blessings in your life.

Wow! There are too many to choose just three. My wonderful family, my writing and all the great books out there, my awesome job, my home...

7. What was your nickname in High School?


Mighty Mouse. It was my gymnastics nickname, because I'm petite but powerful.

8. If you could meet the President of the United States, what would you say to him?

People should not be asked to violate their consciences the way you're asking them to do with the HHS Mandate.

9. If you could be any literary character for a day, who would you be?

Hmm, as much fun as it is to read about their fictional lives, I'm not sure there is a character whose life I'd actually want to live for a day. Not even a girl!Harry. I'd rather role play it online or write fanfiction.

10. What is your favorite quote?

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.”
― J.K. Rowling

Ok, now I have to tag seven other bloggers. Those bloggers are listed here, and I'll leave a comment on their blogs to let them know they've been tagged. If you haven't been tagged for this and want to participate, consider yourself tagged as well!

Bailey at Over Yonder
Shannon at Fantasy Fairy
Julius Cicero
Valentina at Letters from Valentina Hepburn
Liz at The English Bad Ass
Robin at The Nook
Rain at Rain-On Sentence

Here are the questions you can cut and copy to use for your own blog:
Blog Hopping Meme

      1. What is your dream vacation?
2. Are you spontaneous or do you like to plan ahead?
3. Tell us one thing you want to do but don’t dare to do.
4.  your biggest phobia?
5. If you were stranded on a desert island – what 3 things would you want with you (not including laptop, or family).
6. Name three blessings in your life.
7. What was your nickname in High School?
8. If you could meet the President of the United States, what would you say to him?
9. If you could be any literary character for a day, who would you be?
10. What is your favorite quote?

Tag seven other bloggers

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Words we Love, Words we Hate

What words do you absolutely hate? Which ones do you adore?


curse words
rutting (but I still love ATU!)
short (I prefer petite :) )

There are probably other words I'm not a fan of, but for now these are the ones I can think of. What about you?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hands off that Idea! It's Mine! Oh, Bummer...it's Not.

This week's YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday prompt asks:  

What SNI were you psyched to work on, but discovered it was too close to something already done?

Theme song for this post: It's All Been Done by the Barenaked Ladies

What a bummer that would be, to be super excited about a new project, to give yourself to the thrill of the magic you'll create with your words, the beautiful scenes you imagine and just can't wait to get down on paper (or computer)--only to have your hopes completely dashed as you discover your shiny idea is just too similar to another story out there.  My heart goes out to anyone who has had to decide not to go forward with a project for that reason.  We have to come up with something fresh, something original, right? And we don't want to do something that a million others have done.  

But, when do you know that moving on is the best choice, rather than coming up with a new and exciting twist on something familiar?

I have no idea. I've never wrestled with this before. I probably should, though. Maybe elements of The Mirrormasters are too similar to what's already out there--the quest to stop an apocalypse, using mirrors to travel to another world, a love triangle of sorts that just sort of happened without my planning or say-so.  It's not going to deter me from finishing up the edits, but hopefully I'll find enough that's unique and cool that it won't matter how similar some elements are to other fantasy.

What about you? Have you had to shelve a project you were excited about because it was too similar to an idea that's already been done?  When do you think a story should be shelved rather than staying with it and making a special effort to create a unique twist on a familiar idea?    

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Best January Read

What was the best book you read in January? That's the latest YA Highway RTW prompt.  I'd love to hear from all of you, because there are some AMAZING books out there!

My unputdownable read for January was Beth Revis' A MILLION SUNS, sequel to her ACROSS THE UNIVERSE.  I just can't say enough good things about it--the vivid characters, the way the writing brings across the claustrophobic world of a spaceship trapping a couple thousand no-longer-drugged-into-placidness people, the complicated relationship between Amy and Elder...

If you haven't read it yet, you definitely should =).  I reviewed it below, here.

Can't wait to see everyone else's top picks for January! So far, there have been a lot of great reads to add to my to-read list. What about you?