Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Beating Expectations... Hooray!

I was looking back at my February post on resolutions quite happily in some cases, as I have made some excellent progress.

For example, today I fulfilled my new state goal, landing in New Mexico at noon local time. I definitely got married, and am working towards an October 17 release of Naliyah.

And I've read 21 out of my 22 book goal, so I am upping it to 36 for the year. And since I've been reading so much, I thought I would recount a few of my favorites from the year, staring with a biggie!



Finally! City of Heavenly Fire released in May, and I devoured it in 3 days. I've gushed about my love of the Mortal Instruments series before and this, the final book, did not fail to disappoint. Well... Ok, I was disappointed when I finished because it meant no more Jace Wayland in my life!

Which is why I was also thrilled to discover The Infernal Devices Series. If you (like me) typically swear of prequels, make an exception in this case. Cassandra Clare will not let you down.


I've got at least 5 others that I loved up my sleeve... stay tuned.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Novel Number Three is On Its Way...

For those of you who are my Facebook friends, you might recall a flurry of postings in December about my writing a novel... in about two weeks. This is highly unusual for me. Max and Menna took me ten years, and Don't Wake Up took about four.

So I guess this third book was just one that had to be written!

After I finished on December 31, I put the manuscript away and willed myself to not touch it for a while. Finally, I had a three day weekend with no classes to teach or weddings to plan, so I pulled it out, did a pretty thorough edit, and sent it on to some wonderful beta readers.

Thus, the wheels are in motion and I can officially announce that novel #3 is coming this fall. And here is a sneak peak at what you're in for....

Naliyah is Lenora's story. 

Lenora is different, and though her tight-lipped father Gabriel refuses to tell her much about what she is, she knows that she is not a vampire... not exactly. She can eat human food, survive the daylight, and is not quite immortal. Nonetheless, she and her father carry an ancient disease and need human blood to survive. They travel the world to battles and scenes of all manner of depravity feeding on the dying. They bring mercy and release to men in their final moments. 

From 19th century Baltimore, across the Boxer Rebellion in China, and into the jungles of Vietnam, Lenora follows her father from each scene of brutality to the next, comforted only by her recurring dreams of a blue-eyed man. 

Lenora's life, surrounded by carnage and atrocity, weighs on her and she begins to question how long she can go on... until the blue-eyed man from her dreams becomes reality. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

This Writer's Book Themed Wedding

I have been a terrible blogger for the last six months, but I do have several good excuses. For one, I was teaching several accelerated courses outside of my "day" job. And... I was planning a wedding.

My husband (still feels weird!) and I met shortly before my first novel came out. I gave him a copy of the ARC to read, which he did. When I saw him next, he told me it was good... but riddled with errors. I thought his bluntness was odd and didn't quite know what to make of him. As I discovered later, reading my book had convinced him that he wanted to get to know me better... and the rest is history.

As we started planning our wedding, it quickly became very clear to me that I was not going to get my way (which was a quickie wedding in Vegas or a courthouse) and so we started brainstorming about how we might plan something that was truly reflective of us as a couple. Since we had a very standard "hotel wedding," we wanted an element that was personal. Choosing books as a theme was a pretty quick decision.

Now that it is over, I wanted to share a couple of my favorite elements from the day.

In addition to being a book-lover, I am a total flower junkie. Thus, one day in January I forced several unsuspecting bridesmaids to spend the day making book paper flowers, like this one. We made about 40 and incorporated them into arrangements throughout the ceremony and reception.



Speaking of which, our ceremony was lined by books. You can see them hanging out on pedestals we used to mark off the ceremony here...


And this is a very far away shot, but we also had stacks of books with candles on top that lined the aisle.

We pulled our love of books into the ceremony. Each of our 10 (obscene, I know) attendants read a piece of a poem or a passage on love. Selections included:
  • The Bible
  • Dr. Seuss
  • Albert Einstein
  • Stephen King
  • Pablo Neruda
  • John Donne
  • Beethoven
From there, our theme continued into the reception! Guests were asked to find their love story at the escort card table. We selected famous couples from some of our favorite pieces of fiction, including Wesley & Buttercup, Arwen & Aragorn, Ron & Hermoine, Florentino & Fermina Daza, and Gaius Baltar & Number Six. We put the table names on wine bottles (to celebrate another of my great loves) at each table. One pictured here celebrates our mutual nerdiness.





While planning the wedding, we scoured used book stores and the Book Thing in Baltimore to amass enough used books to offer every guest one as a favor like the one pictured here. The insert explained that these were not books on love, but simply books we loved, and encouraged guests to trade around the table until they found one they were passionate about reading. It actually turned out to be a really nice ice-breaker, and made all that frigging wrapping worth while in the end.

Also on the tables, we used books as centerpieces. On top of each stack, we place a flower arrangement with our paper flowers as accents.


Our cake, seen here, promised us our own "Happily Ever After." It was SUPPOSED to feature some book paper roses as well, but alas... if that was the worst thing that happened.

And finally, some cardboard boxes from Michaels glued together became our cardbox. While it seems like a silly thing to be excited about, I did very much love it!






And so, now you can see what the wedding of two consummate book nerds looked like... and this is what marriage is supposed to look like, right?




Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Kicking off some awesome summer reading...

About a year ago, I had the opportunity to review Chasing Memories a really great YA book by Tia Bach, writer, mother, and friend extraordinaire.

Today, I am thrilled that she has launched the follow up to this... Chasing Shadows.

In Chasing Memories, we meet Reagan. In many ways, Reagan is just your typical teenager, worrying about Homecoming court, cheering for her football-star boyfriend, and pouring over the latest paranormal YA novel. Yep, pretty normal... oh, except for that whole she-might-be-a-werewolf thing. 

The first book follows Reagan through a lot of confusion and angst and she figures out exactly how a mysterious wolf-attack at Yellowstone is really going to change her life. This second installment picks up where the first left off. Reagan has a bit more knowledge about what is happening to her, and a lot more questions. With an all new cast of characters, she soon understands what is behind all of these changes and secrets that plagued her in the first book... and what is truly at stake. 

One thing that is true of both books: I loved them. Bach writes teenagers in a way that should make Stephanie Meyers jealous: with a good mixture of attitude and humor and a big side of reality. Reagan's voice is the true strength of both novels, carrying you through the story and helping you build a true emotional investment to in what happens to her. She has teenage snark down, but never put me in a "Bella-Swan-oh-come-on-you-are-so-irritating" mood. 

If I am being vague about the story line, here's why: you should read both. I can't divulge much of Chasing Shadows without blowing the end of Chasing Memories. But here is the good news... Chasing Memories is free on Kindle today!

So head on over to Amazon and download Chasing Memories for free. Then, grab Chasing Shadows, too, because you aren't going to want to wait to start reading as soon as you finish the first.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A to Z Challenge... my favorite "Q" and "R" characters

OK, so I am officially behind... but its my first time getting behind in this challenge, ever, so I get one slip up, right? I'll roll right along and squeeze two of my favorite characters into today. Onward!

Q is for... Quasimodo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame

No, not that ridiculous excuse for a Disney movie. In high school, this was one of my favorite books, and largely because of Quasimodo. As a character, he is brutish and violent, but his love for Esmeralda also makes him textured and sympathetic. If all you know is the iconic "Sanctuary!" scene, this book is definitely worth a read. I don't often call classics "page turners" but you will likely find that this one is.

R is for... Reagan from Chasing Memories

Chasing Memories is not your average Paranormal YA novel, due in part to a unique plot and part to a character that feels so real that you expect to find her sitting next to you when you close the book. From my initial review of the book:

"Meet Reagan. In many ways, Reagan is just your typical teenager, worrying about Homecoming court, cheering for her football-star boyfriend, and pouring over the latest paranormal YA novel. Yep, pretty normal... oh, except for that whole she-might-be-a-werewolf thing...

Reagan doesn't so much come to life as she vaults off the page in your face. Nonetheless, where other 'typical teen' narrators might annoy (hello, Bella Swan), the muted desperation to understand what is happening that lies beneath her teenage 'tude makes Reagan unquestionably sympathetic. I felt for her, I wanted to hug her, and I wanted to know what in the heck was happening to her."

I was gleeful at the opportunity to be a beta reader on the follow up, and found Regan just as exciting there. Tia Silverthorne Bach is a talented and dynamic author, and this is a character you will want to get to know.

Friday, April 18, 2014

My favorite "P" character

We're moving right along in this A to Z challenge. I am struggling to narrow my favorite characters down to just those I've included, but P was pretty clear.

P is for... Paul from Dune

Melange... Dune... Water of Life... Bene Gesserit. Dune was likely the inspiration for many, many currently famous fantasy and science fiction writers. Frank Herbert truly developed one of the first and most inventive universes that I remember falling into.

Paul is the son of a Bene Gesserit witch and a Duke. As the heir to a kingdom, the book begins as his family is betrayed and Paul must flee the life he knows and make his own way.

Though in later books, the Paul character just becomes bizarre, if you've never read Dune, then Paul is absolutely a character that you want to get to know.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My favorite "O" characters

So the funny thing about my O character is that her name doesn't really start with O...

O is for... Offred...

Or Ofglenn or Oftom... or whatever name currently donned by the narrator of The Handmaids Tail.

Truly what I consider to be one of the most important pieces of 20th century literature, Margaret Atwood's masterpiece tells a chilling tale of the true and final marginalization of women in modern society.

Offred is the handmaid to Fred (her name, then, becomes Of Fred). This means that Fred is important enough to procreate. Since his barren wife cannot produce children, he gets a handmaid to help do the deed.

The picture of a society that values women only for their ability to help men is truly eye opening, and required reading for any feminist or feminist in training. It truly delivers something to think about.