Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bookanistas: THE DIFFERENT GIRL by Gordon Dahlquist

Plot without spoilers...Ooooh, that is tricky. Veronika is different from the other three girls on the island because her hair is "the color of red rust." The four live on the island with their caretakers and teachers, Irene and Robbert. Each day includes walks, naps, and lessons of various levels of difficulty. Veronika is obedient and studious. But is she the "different girl" of the title? This is one of those stories that you just can't say too much about without wrecking things for readers.

Of literary interest...Dahlquist, a playwright and adult novelist, creates a compelling voice for Veronika, staying true to her unique POV and drawing readers along with her on a truly fascinating journey.

Finally, just gotta say...This is a very worthwhile read for the eloquent writing and complex moral scenario the author presents. I think the best way to show you this without giving too much away is to share a snippet from the novel. Here Veronika explains her reactions to the other girls' descriptions of their beachside explorations:

"...I was outside of everything they said, like I listened to their stories through a window. I could imagine everything they said--I understood the words, but the understanding happened in me, by myself, not in me with them." (from Kindle edition, so I don't have the page #)

Here are three titles that I think would be great read-alongs:

 And for more Bookanista book love...

Elana Johson  is gaga for GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFever
Jessica Love delves into BITTERSWEET by Sarah Ockler
Katy Upperman  wonders at IF I LIE by Corrine Jackson
Nikki Katz  celebrates THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY by Katja Millay

Christine Fonseca marvels at MIND GAMES by Kiersten White
Shelli Johannes-Wells explores ESSENCE by Kimberly Derting

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: THAT TIME I JOINED THE CIRCUS by J. J. Howard

Still having fun with BREAKING THE SPINE’s fabulous midweek meme.Here’s this week’s pick…

Why?...I've always been fascinated by circuses, from the Ringling Brothers to the Big Apple Circus to Cirque du Soleil. The pageantry, the kitsch, the passion of that world is so amazing. Add music, tragedy and fortune-telling and I've gotta read it. Plus JJ has an amazing playlist for this book on her website. Check it out here.

Preorder at AMAZON
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Back to Business: The amazing that is AUTHORGRAPH

Recently, the delightful and talented Corinne Jackson told me about a terrific way to send VIRTUAL AUTOGRAPHS to folks who read books on Kindle devices. It's a site called and lots of authors are signing on. Here's MY PAGE:

If you're a published author, check out this easy and fun way to connect with readers. You can personalize each autograph, and actually draw your signature with a mouse--or even with your finger if you have a touch-enabled device.

If you're a reader or educator, this could be a fun opportunity to personalize your e-book collection or to connect students with favorite authors in a new way. It's easy. And it's free!

Check it out!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bookanistas: Why WriteOnCon rules and I'd be a lousy Spice Girl

Things are sizzling in Bookanista-ville. Many of us are crawling out of revision caves or recovering from book launch madness to return to our frenzy of Thursday book love posts. It is so great to reconnect with the Bookanistas--a group to which I am so proud to belong. One thing I discovered after joining is what amazing contributions my colleagues make to their communities (bookish and otherwise): writing for additional blogs, working as librarians and educators, volunteering in Haiti, mentoring new authors... I'm pretty sure if they nicknamed Bookanistas they way they did the Spice Girls, I'd be "Lamest Spice" or, er, "Lamest Bookanista." Whatever. You get it.

Today, I want to point you to an amazing program that boasts several Bookanistas as founders and current staffers. It's called WriteOnCon . It's an Online Children’s Writers Conference (rated MC-18, for Main Characters under 18 only) created by writers, for writers. And it's free.

Right now, they're running a LUCK O' THE IRISH PITCHFEST. Learn about it here: Then vote for your top 3 here:

  • You will learn a ton about pitching your own work.
  • Favorites in each category will win prizes, including some great agent feedback or membership in the official WriteOnCon mentorship program!
  • There are agent-voters looking to sign clients and you'll get insights into what they enjoy.
  • And you'll be all signed up to get details about the upcoming HUGE SUMMER 2013 CONFERENCE.
WriteOnCon boasts many success stories because it's a place where aspiring and published authors at all levels can get advice directly from fellow writers (click HERE to see some of the books WoC peeps have written), amazing agents and other publishing pros. Perhaps most importantly, it is a place to find your COMMUNITY of fellow book people.

Leave a comment below to let me know you registered, voted, or even just checked out WoC ( Include a blog/website/twitter connection AND I WILL VIRTUALLY VISIT YOU by Sunday and we can continue chatting about the value of community for writers and readers.

And, of course, the Bookanistas have lots of book love for you this week.

Tracy Banghart revels in ROMEO REDEEMED by Stacy Jay
Corrine Jackson is redeemed by HOPELESS by Colleen Hoover
Jessica Love gets lost in TAKEN by Erin Bowman
Shannon Messenger celebrates upcoming spring reads

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: I CAN ONLY READ THIS IF...

I've been watching with fascination as writers (and, uh Veronica Mars people) have raised funds online to make books and all kinds of incredible stuff happen. THAT I WANT.

So, this week, my WoW is a book I won't be able to read unless its Indiegogo campaign is a success. Normally I don't discuss such things on my blog BUT the brains behind this project are the amazing Sara of my (and author of the Bluewater comics graphic novel bio of The Hunger Games' Suzanna Collins) and the writing genius Julia Kagawa.

Now you're curious, right?

The project: Bluewater Comics plans  to turn Julie's incredible book THE IRON KING into a four-part Manga/graphic novel series. And you, me and the world can only read it if we Indie it into gear!

From Sara..."Publishing comic books is a pricey endeavor (no surprise there), so we're trying to raise the funds to cover the costs up front.... We still have a ton of awesome prizes for anyone who contributes...The Indiegogo campaign can be viewed here: " Check it out!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Back to Business: FREEBIES & GIVEAWAYS

A few months ago, I wrote a post entitled "I'm Not Gonna Give It to You," in which I reflected on the way I have begun to perceive the explosion of give-aways and contests as so much virtual white noise. As an author, the time and expense required to post, publicize, process entries, contact a winner and mail a prize (book or whatever) far outweigh any benefits gleaned from the project. Personally, I no longer enter contests. If I want a book, I support the author by buying it and if I were to win a book and then didn't read it and post about it, I'd feel terrible guilt (maybe that's another issue entirely but, whatever, we'll leave Dr. Freud out of it for now).

THAT SAID (and, boy, do I overuse this phrase in blogging)...

With apologies for the secrecy there is this a COOL ITEM that plays a role in my upcoming novel that I would like to use as a theme for a giveaway because I think it would be awesome fun.

This, of course, would make me a total hypocrite and invalidate my promise in the aforementioned "Not Gonna..." post. (Although not too badly as I'd start the giveaway in November, probably, so almost 2014.)

This thing is NOT A BOOK.
It is sorta ONE-OF-A-KIND.

So, now I am wondering, is there anything out there worth giving away anymore? Is there anything people really want to WIN? If you genuinely have something special you'd like to share, is there a way to create a giveaway that doesn't get lost in the sea of rafflecopters swirling through the web?

Questions. Not answers. I know. HAVE YOU GOT ONE (an answer, I mean)?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bookanistas: IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS by Cat Winters

I am buried under revisions right now so I'm going to do something I swore I'd never do...use a plot summary from Goodreads. I LOVE writing plot summaries because it helps me clarify my thoughts about other aspects of a novel--themes, imagery, structure. But I'm tight on time and wanted to sign a little Bookanista light on this terrific book and SOON because it pubs next month. So, with apologies...

Plot (from Goodreads--ack!)...In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.

Of literary interest...This beautifully designed book (cover, page numbers, chapter headings, font choices) incorporates vintage photographs and other historical images. The story is also peppered with letters Mary Shelley exchanges with her soldier-love, Stephen, and her imprison father. These elements create a richly textured novel that explores on many levels the way we see, what we believe, and how this relates to the way we understand our hearts, ourselves.

Finally, just gotta say...This is one of those reads to get lost in.  With a hint of magic, a mystery, and a unique love story play out in a fascinating historical setting. Rich, romantic and impeccably researched, this is a must for your spring TBR list!


Jessica Love covets the cover of ALIENATED
Elana Johson thinks MAGISTERIUM is magical
Shelli Johannes-Wells  is wild for POISON
Katy Upperman  shares her passion for ELEANOR AND PARK


Monday, March 11, 2013

A point I often make about verse novels...

Nobody asked T.S. Eliot, “why didn’t you write THE LOVE SONG OF J. ALFRED PRUFROCK as a novel instead of a poem?”
Go visit Eliot's beautiful verses at POETS.ORG

Or, if you want more reasons to love verse novels, go to the wonderful website WWW.VERSENOVELS.COM where you might see, in the upper right hand corner of the wallpaper, a snippet of a certain ballet book cover...