Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Author Interview + Giveaway: Elisabeth Wheatley, Author of THE SECRETS OF THE VANMARS


Today on the blog I have the pleasure of interviewing author Elisabeth Wheatley. She started writing short stories when she was as young as seven years old. She began working on what would eventually become The Key of Amatahns when she was eleven. After many rewrites, the story was recommended by its editor to a small publishing house, Chengalera Press. Elisabeth is currently working on the second and third installments in the Argetallam Saga, while continuing to attend high school in the Texas Hill Country. Her hobbies include beekeeping, cheesemaking, mythology, and studying American Sign Language.


You have started your career as a writer at a young age. How did you initially become interested in writing?

The first story I can remember writing was a short piece of fan-fiction for my favorite picture book when I was about six or seven. Corgiville Fair by Tasha Tudor is the story of a young corgi named Caleb training his racing goat, Josephine, for the upcoming race at the fair. I loved that book to bits, literally, and I wanted to live in it. Since moving to Corgiville wasn’t an option, I scribbled out a story entitled Muttville Fair with my dog and my pet goat, Count as the main characters. (Yes, I had a pet goat – one advantage of living on a ranch is you have plenty of room for pets.) It was written and illustrated in pencil and held together with duct tape. We still have it because my mother is a pack-rat.

What motivated you to finish and revise The Key of Amatahns?

At first, when I was writing, I thought “maybe this will be a real book someday,” but it wasn’t that serious, it was more like “maybe I will grow up to marry a billionaire fairy prince.” Writing was fun, yet I didn’t think of it as that important. After awhile, I started getting into my writing and revising was a matter of personal pride—I couldn’t let anyone see the story when it was like that—hence, I revised. I got more and more into my stories until they now consume about 70% of my working brain capacity.

What kind of emotions ran through your head when you found out that your work would be published?

My reaction was like this: “Say what? I’m going to be published? Is this a joke? It isn’t? ISTHISREALLYHAPPENING?!?!?!?”

What has the reaction of your friends and family been to your early writing success?

My friends didn’t even know I was writing a story, I was that secretive. Now they’re very impressed. My parents, aunts, and grandmothers take every opportunity to mention that I’m a writer, which can get embarrassing, but I know that just means they’re proud of me.

How have you been able to make the time to write?

The biggest thing I did was cut down on TV and start doing my chores early. After I did that, it was amazing how much free time I had.

How would you describe your story?

An enchanted, dark fairytale of destiny, love, and adventure with a spice of humor.

Was there any part of writing this book that was difficult? If so, why?

I wrote a complete draft of The Secrets of the Vanmars which I ended up scrapping and totally re-writing. There are perhaps three scenes in the final draft and the first draft that are the same. So, I would say that writing this book itself was the greatest challenge. While I was writing this book, I kept thinking about how much I wanted to get to the next book, book No. 3. I’ve had the idea for book 3 since almost before book 1, and I’ve been dying to write it. There was just the problem of getting from the end of The Key of Amatahns toward the beginning of book 3 without leaving loopholes and ginormous gaps in the story. Once I had the second draft, editing was relatively easy.

Which of the characters in the story would you say you are most like?

I recognize a lot of my faults in Janir (occasional pig-headedness, for one), but fortunately she has several qualities I don’t (patience with Karile, for instance). I think there’s a bit of me—however great or small—in each of my main characters. Some people who’ve read my books might find that alarming, but I don’t write characters who are purely evil or purely good and if right now a character seems purely evil it’s because I just haven’t showed his/her good side yet.

Who are some authors who have inspired you?

Christopher Paolini was probably my biggest inspiration in writing because he was fifteen when he started Eragon, and I thought that if he could do it, then I could, too. Besides him, I look up to Shannon Hale, Gail Carson Levine, C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle and I recently fell in love with Sarah J. Maas’ novellas, and now I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of my copy of Throne of Glass.

Are you reading anything now?

Technically, I’ve been reading Sense and Sensibility for months now and I’m almost done. But the truth is, I just went on an online feeding frenzy and ordered a bunch of books I’ve been coveting (Something Strange and Deadly, Entangled, Innocent Darkness, and Throne of Glass), so as soon as those arrive I’ll get to pick one. 

About the Book:

After her adventures with the Key of Amatahns, sixteen-year-old Janir Caersynn Argetallam returns home to find Brevia on the brink of war with a neighboring country, Stlaven. Her foster-father and even Saoven—a brave young elf warrior—think it will be safe at the castle where Janir grew up. However, while trying to unravel a looming mystery, Karile—self-taught wizard and Janir’s self-appointed best friend—becomes certain that there is danger in the mountains surrounding Janir’s childhood home and that it has something to do with Stlaven’s most powerful family, the Vanmars…


Win a copy of THE SECRETS OF THE VANMARS!

Open internationally. US can choose the format. International will receive an eBook.

Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter! If it is not showing, go HERE to enter.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Winner of PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry!

The winner of PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry is:


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Thanks to everyone who participated!!

Don't forget to check out my other giveaways!

Last Days of Freedom Giveaway Hop Winners!!


The winner of a $10 book from The Book Depository is:

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The winner of a bookmark from Magic Bookmark is:

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Thanks to I Am A Reader, Not a Writer for inviting me to co-host this hop!

Also, thanks to all the awesome folks who participated in this giveaway! You guys rock!

Don't forget to check out my other giveaways and visit Magic Bookmark to find bookmarks that are seriously awesome!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Author Interview + Giveaway: Frank Nappi, author of The Mickey Tussler Series

Today we have Frank Nappi here on the blog for an interview and short excerpt from his most recent book. Frank has taught high school English and Creative Writing for over twenty years. His debut novel, Echoes From The Infantry, received national attention, including MWSA's silver medal for outstanding fiction for 2006. His follow-up novel, The Legend of Mickey Tussler, garnered rave reviews as well, including a screenplay adaptation of the touching story which aired nationwide in the fall of 2011 (A Mile in His Shoes starring Dean Cain and Luke Schroder). Frank continues to produce quality work, including The Legend of Mickey Tussler: Sophomore Campaign, the intriguing sequel to the much heralded original story, and is presently at work on a third installment of the unique series. Frank lives on Long Island with his wife Julia and their two sons, Nicholas and Anthony.


At what age did you start writing? What inspired you to start writing?

I have always written, to some extent, but my professional endeavors did not begin until 2005 with my first novel Echoes from the Infantry when I was 38.

What made you decide to tackle writing about sports?

I always felt that an amalgamation of my two true loves (baseball and writing) would be the ultimate experience. I was right!

Can you tell us a little bit about the MICKEY TUSSLER books?

In the first book, it is the late 1940s, and the minor league Milwaukee Brewers are foundering yet again and manager Arthur Murphy is desperate. When he sees seventeen-year old Mickey Tussler throwing apples into a barrel, he knows he has found the next pitching phenom. But not everyone is so hopeful. Mickey’s autism—a disorder still not truly understood even today—has alienated the boy from the world, and he is berated by other players and fans. Mickey faces immense trials in the harsh and competitive world of baseball while coping with the challenges inherent to his disorder. An honest and knowledgeable book about overcoming adversity, and the basis for the television movie A Mile in His Shoes, Mickey’s powerful story shows that with support and determination anyone can be triumphant, even when the odds are stacked against him.

The second book picks up right where the first ends. It’s 1949 and eighteen-year-old pitching phenom Mickey Tussler is back with the rejuvenated minor league Brewers in the sequel to The Legend of Mickey Tussler (the basis for the television movie A Mile in His Shoes). Despite Mickey’s proclamation that he will never play baseball again after last season’s violent conclusion, his manager—and now surrogate father—Arthur Murphy cajoles the emotionally fragile, socially awkward boy with autism into giving it another shot. Mickey reluctantly returns to the field and must once again cope with the violence and hatred around him. When a young African American player joins the team, the entire team is subjected to racial threats and episodes of violence, one of which Mickey witnesses firsthand. Struggling to understand such ugliness and hatred, and fearful of reprisal should he tell anyone about what he has seen, the boy’s performance on the field suffers. Mickey now must deal with a side of human nature he scarcely comprehends.

Did you have to do any research?

Most of my insights into the mind of an autistic person came directly from hands on experience that I procured during my work with Challenger Baseball and Best Buddies.

What things inspire you?

Hmmm... a brilliant sunset, walk on the beach, full moon and many times a kind gesture.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

I spend most of my time with my family, doing things that all of us enjoy.


About the Books
 
 In the late 1940s, the minor league Milwaukee Brewers are foundering yet again and manager Arthur Murphy is desperate. When he sees seventeen-year old Mickey Tussler throwing apples into a barrel, he knows he has found the next pitching phenom. But not everyone is so hopeful. Mickey 's autism a disorder still not truly understood even today has alienated the boy from the world, and he is berated by other players and fans. Mickey faces immense trials in the harsh and competitive world of baseball while coping with the challenges inherent to his disorder. An honest and knowledgeable book about overcoming adversity, and the basis for the television movie A Mile in His Shoes, Mickey 's powerful story shows that with support and determination anyone can be triumphant, even when the odds are stacked against him.




It 's 1949 and eighteen-year-old pitching phenom Mickey Tussler is back with the rejuvenated minor league Brewers in the sequel to The Legend of Mickey Tussler (the basis for the television movie A Mile in His Shoes). Despite Mickey 's proclamation that he will never play baseball again after last season 's violent conclusion, his manager and now surrogate father Arthur Murphy cajoles the emotionally fragile, socially awkward boy with autism into giving it another shot. Mickey reluctantly returns to the field and must once again cope with the violence and hatred around him. When a young African American player joins the team, the entire team is subjected to racial threats and episodes of violence, one of which Mickey witnesses firsthand. Struggling to understand such ugliness and hatred, and fearful of reprisal should he tell anyone about what he has seen, the boy 's performance on the field suffers. Mickey now must deal with a side of human nature he scarcely comprehends.



Follow Frank:


Win a set of 
The Legend of Mickey Tussler 
and
Sophomore Campaign!

Open to US and Canada.

Please use the Rafflecopter widget below! If it doesn't work, enter HERE.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Last Days of Freedom Giveaway Hop


Welcome to the
Last Days of Freedom Giveaway Hop
Hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer & The Elliott Review

My Giveaways:

I'm giving a chance to win two great prizes:
A book valued at up to $10 from The Book Depository. Open internationally.

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A double-sided bookmark from Magic Bookmark, my favorite new Etsy shop! Open to US only.

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Good luck!!!



Friday, August 10, 2012

Author Interview & Giveaway: Katie McGarry, Author of PUSHING THE LIMITS

Today on the blog, we're fortunate to have Katie McGarry, author of PUSHING THE LIMITS. Her book really resonated with me. Check out my review here.



Q: What was your inspiration for writing Pushing the Limits?
A: I had two main inspirations: One, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to write a story in which my characters felt strong enough to leave their pasts behind and create new futures for themselves. The first scene I ever saw in my mind was Echo and Noah leaving town after graduation. Two, I wanted to write two characters who were facing over- whelming issues and who, through battling these issues, found hope at the end of their journey.

Q: How did you come up with Echo’s name?
A: Echo went through several name changes as I wrote the manuscript. For a while, she had a very normal name, but it always felt off. It wasn’t until I looked at Echo from her mother’s point of view that I found her name. Echo’s mother loved Greek mythology so it made perfect sense that she would name her children after the myths. I read several Greek myths and the moment I found Echo’s, I fell in love. Echo, to me, was the girl who lost her voice. Thankfully, she finds it by the end.

Q: Which character is the most “like” you?
A: All of them. I gave each character a piece of me (though some have larger slices of me than others). Overall, I’d say I’m a strange combination of Echo, Lila and Beth. Echo has my need to please, Lila has my unfailing loyalty to my friends and Beth encompasses my insecurities.


Q: Did you experience friendships with Grace types when you were in high school?
A: Yes. And the more people have read this story, the more this question comes up. Grace has struck a stronger nerve in people than I ever would have imagined. It seems most of us have unfortunately experienced a relationship where a person wants to “like” you and wants “be your friend,” but only if it serves their needs. In case anyone is wondering, that isn’t friendship.

Q: Are there any parts of the story you feel particularly close to?
A: Yes. The relationship between Noah, Isaiah and Beth. Beyond my parents and sister, my nearest family members were over fourteen hours away. My friends became my family. The people I grew up with were more than people I watched movies with or talked to occasionally on the phone. These were people with whom I shared life’s most devastating moments, but also my hardest laughs. These were people who I would have willingly died for and I know they would have done the same for me. They shared my triumphs with smiles on their faces and congratulatory hugs. They held me when I cried and offered to beat up whoever hurt my feelings. These were also the same people who were more than happy to get in my face if they thought I was making a wrong decision.

Q: Did anything that happens to Echo happen to you?
A: Sort of. I was bitten by a dog when I was in second grade and repressed the memory. It felt very strange to have no memory of an incident that other people knew about. It was even stranger to have injuries and not have an inkling where they came from. In college, I finally remembered the incident when a dog lunged at me. I relived the horrible event and sort of “woke up” a few minutes later to find myself surrounded by people I loved. Even though I “remember” the incident, I still don’t remember the whole thing. I only see still frames in my mind and there is no blood in any of the memories.

Follow Katie:

Trailer:


Available for purchase:

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Open to US and CAN.

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Review: Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown

Synopsis:

Kendra has always felt overshadowed by her older brother, Grayson, whose OCD forces him to live a life of carefully coordinated routines. The only way Kendra can stand out next to Grayson is to be perfect, and she has perfection down to an art -- until a cheating scandal threatens her flawless reputation.

Behind the wheel of her car, with Grayson asleep beside her, Kendra decides to drive away from it all -- with enough distance, maybe she'll be able to figure everything out. But eventually, Kendra must stop running and come to terms with herself, her brother, and her past.

With undeniable grace and humor, acclaimed author Jennifer Brown explores OCD, the pressure for perfection, and the emotional highs and lows of a complex sibling relationship.

Details:

Published July 10th 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers  

The Elliott Review:

I had to read this book because it deals with OCD and the effect that it has on those around that person. So far, most of the books I've read touch on the bizarre, disturbing thoughts of the OCD person themselves. It was interesting to get to read what it's like on the other side, having to deal with the absurd behavior. Kendra's manner of dealing with Grayson's mental illness is to try to be the "perfect" one who gives her parents no problem, almost like she's related to an addict. She feels enormous pressure to preserve that image at all costs, including cheating and getting herself into massive trouble at school.

Rather than facing the consequences of what she's done, Kendra decides that she and Grayson need to escape via ultimate road trip. She's escaping from the idea that she is not perfect, and she wants to help Grayson learn to escape from the controlling compulsions he always succumbs to, kind of like an intense sort of exposure therapy session. At the end of their journey, she's hoping to reconnect with a friend that they lost due to Grayson's illness, that things can be the way they once were.

Along the way, they meet Rena, who decides to escape her own problems along with them. Their journey teaches them many things in different ways. This is a book that takes a lightish view of a heavy subject and makes the trip enjoyable.

Young Adult Notes:

This is a relatively warning-free read. Mild language, sensitive topic of mental illness.

Source: ALA


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Random Blog Hop & Follow Friday...

Book Blogger Hop
Hosted by Crazy-For-Books. Click above to join the hop.

I have not blog hopped in FOREVER. Oh, how I have missed it!!!


This week's question:

When a book goes “viral” (Hunger Games, Fifty Shades, Twilight), do you rush out to read it like everyone else, even if it’s not in your typical genre?

I usually just read whatever I want to read, and a lot of times word of mouth does attract my attention. So, sometimes that might mean hype is involved, like with Twilight. But just because a book is hyped doesn't necessarily mean I'll read it.


Hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read. Click the graphic to follow the hop!

This week's question:

Do your reading habits change based on your mood? Do you read a certain genre if you are feeling depressed or happy?

Not really. Reading itself usually makes me chillax since it's a major source of escape. Sometimes I might have to STOP reading a book if it changes my mood too much in a bad way, but that usually doesn't happen to me anymore like it used to when I was in high school. For some reason, even the darkest, grittiest writing is really cathartic to read rather than pulling me down.


What about you?!!