Category Archives: YA Novels

Writer Wednesday: Hitting the Mark with Amy Durham

I am pleased to welcome author Amy Durham back to Writer Wednesday! Amy has a captivating new release, Asher’s Mark, a New Adult Romance book. Please check out the book’s description, excerpt and buy links after Amy’s wonderful guest post about doing the hard stuff.
THE HARD STUFF
by Amy Durham
My oldest son is a junior in high school. YIKES! It seems like just yesterday I was writing about him on my website as he was beginning middle school!
High school is a really fun stage in his life, as he’s discovering the things he loves to do, fine-tuning the things he’s good at, and beginning to make decisions about his future. I’m enjoying every minute of watching him become a young man.
When he was a freshman, he auditioned for All-State band for the first time. This is a rigorous audition process – that involves 2 different “cuts” – to determine the very best instrumentalists in the state. For his instrument (French Horn), only 20 players from the entire state are selected each year. He made it through the first cut, finishing 5th overall in our district. Already a tremendous accomplishment for a freshman competing against students who are sophomores, juniors, and seniors in high school. When he didn’t make it through the second cut to be one of the 20 selected, he was bummed. So was I. But not too terribly disappointed.

We had a talk about what it meant to do the “hard stuff”. Auditioning for All-State band, especially as a freshman, was hard. He didn’t have to do it. He CHOSE to do it. And choosing to do the “hard stuff” is how we improve, how we grow, and how we eventually “get there”. There’s such value in doing the hard stuff. When we stretch ourselves past what is comfortable or easy, that’s where we find who we truly are. Where, after several tries, we find success.

I told him it was sort of like writing a book. Writing a book is not easy, as all authors know. It’s difficult, toiling, gut-wrenching work. It takes a long time and can drain you mentally and emotionally. But authors choose to do it, because we know that by “doing the hard stuff” and stretching ourselves beyond where we’re comfortable, a book eventually comes to fruition. And with each “stretch” and each “completed product”, we grow and improve.

This idea is true no matter what area you pursue. So… dream big… run, don’t walk toward the things you want most out of life… even if it means you have to do the hard stuff. It’s always worth it in the end!

I agree with what Amy says in her post. It’s all too easy to slip into a comfort zone, doing the same thing day-after-day more because it’s comfortable than because it’s the best thing for us. I retired from the practice of law last year and threw myself off of a proverbial cliff to pursue a writing career. And boy, is it a hard thing! A full year later, I still feel like I’m trying to figure out my day, my routine and truly own my choice. But I can absolutely agree with Amy that doing the “hard stuff” is worth it. 

Back to Asher’s Mark, Amy’s newest release:

Asher’s Mark Book Description:
 
Asher’s Mark by Amy Durham
Grace Ballard has been
in love with Asher Howell for a long time. When she was sixteen, he became her
hero, and she fell head over heels for the boy with a ring through his eyebrow,
a big heart, and an unending sense of justice. But two years ago he left for
college without a backward glance, leaving Grace to wonder if she’d imagined
everything.
With no reason to wait
for Asher to return, Grace moved on, and Asher’s brother, Adam, stepped in to
help her pick up the pieces. But Asher never left her thoughts … or her heart.
Now, two years later,
tragedy brings Asher home and back into Grace’s life. The boy who left her
behind is now very much a man – a licensed tattoo artist, much to his parents’
dismay, and still carrying a major torch for Grace. But two years apart has
changed them both, and the things that happened during their separation may
create a divide that can’t be crossed.
Asher and his brother both left their mark on
Grace’s heart. Will Asher’s be able to stand the test of time?

**This New Adult romance features characters 18 years and older. However, this title does not carry a content warning, indicating readers should be over the age of 17.

Would you like a little preview? You’ve got it. Here’s an excerpt of Asher’s Mark:
Asher

I’m kissing Grace. Finally. Every molecule in my body screams with the rightness of it. How had I ever thought I could stay away from her? How could I

have put so much distance between us?
         I have no answers. All I know is that my arms are locked around her as her mouth
fuses to mine, and I never want to let her go.
         There are all sorts of reasons I shouldn’t be doing this… namely Adam… but I can’t stop. I don’t want to. Something in me shouts I saw
her first!
Two years of wanting her, loving her, have finally exploded between us. She’s in my arms. In my lap. Under my skin. In my heart.
She is everywhere and everything.
         Maybe to her it’s just a way to forget. A way to stop thinking about losing Adam. But I just don’t care. I don’t care at all.
         All that matters is that we are together in this moment.
         I pull back a fraction of an inch, still hugging her close. Her golden green eyes
are glassy and gorgeous, hazy with the desire we just stirred up. Strands of her auburn hair have escaped her ponytail and now hang wistfully around her
face. She’s so beautiful it makes me ache.
         She doesn’t look upset, which is a relief. I thought I’d gauged her reaction
correctly, but I’m glad to know I was right.
         She’d wanted to kiss me just as badly as I’d wanted to kiss her.
         I refuse to think too much about the ramifications of it.
         I run my hands up her back, from her waist to her shoulder blades, pulling her toward me again. Pressing a kiss to one eyelid, then the next, I take a deep
breath and speak.
         “Mom’s gonna text me any minute,” I say, already dreading the moment I’ll walk out her door. But I know it’ll be better to leave now, while things are still dreamy between us.
         Grace nods, letting her hands slide out of my hair, over my shoulders, then coming to rest on my chest. My stomach flips over.
         No one’s ever made me feel like this. Not even close. A simple touch from Grace does so much more than…
         I shove that thought way down and slam a lid on it, knowing that after all the stuff I’ve done the past year to try and forget Grace, I shouldn’t even be touching her.
        “I should go,” I whisper, leaning in to brush another kiss on her lips. “Before she gets antsy.”
         Grace smiles. “Okay.”
         “I don’t want to, though.” I grin back at her.
         All this talk about me leaving, and yet she’s still on my lap and my arms are still
wrapped around her. If I don’t go now, I might not ever.
         I stand up, taking her with me and placing her feet on the floor. I grab my button-up shirt from the love seat, throw it over my shoulder, and turn back to
face her. Our hands find their way to each other, fingers lacing together as we walk toward the door.
         I shift close before opening the door, intending to ask if I can see her tomorrow. On the bulletin board by the light switch, I see the picture… the picture I drew her just before I left for Flagstaff two years ago. Had it been
there the night before? I think back and realize it wasn’t. It must’ve been covered up by the big picture of Grace and Adam.
         Between last night and tonight she’d uncovered my picture. My mind races with what that might mean. I open my mouth, unsure what I’m about to say.
         But she speaks before I do. “We should probably talk about…” She doesn’t finish the sentence.
         But I know she means Adam.
         The guilt bounces around inside me, but I can’t find it in myself to regret what just happened. What I hope very much will happen again. Very soon.
         “Later.” I reach up and push a stray tendril of hair behind her ear, my hand lingering on the soft skin of her neck. “I know we’ll have to, but not right now. I just want to feel this right now.”
         She nods. “Me too.”

         Leaving her right then is about the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I do it, before something ruins what was absolutely the most perfect moment of my life.
 
*     *     *
If you’d like to check out more of Asher’s Mark, please use these handy buy links:
 

 
 
Author Amy Durham
After spending every work day with classrooms full of tweens and
teens, then going home to three boys of her own, two of whom fall into the
tween/teen category, you’d think that Amy Durham might like to leave the world
of teens and young adults behind. Not so!
Instead, she spends her spare moments – which sometimes consist of
waiting twenty minutes for her oldest kiddo to get out of band practice – with
her laptop and a multitude of teenage characters trying to navigate their way
through the twisted, difficult road of adolescence.
You might ask… “Why Young/New Adult Fiction”? Well,
because it’s what she knows. As a teacher and a parent, Amy is around teens and
young adults on an almost constant basis. And while it’s true they can be – ahem
– challenging, they are also full of life, vision, and dreams. And that’s a
really cool place to be.
Young Adult and New Adult Fiction allows young readers the opportunity
to find hope for the situations they find themselves in, find determination to
keep on going, and courage to pursue their dreams. It also allows adult readers
the chance to revisit the exuberance of youth, remember the joy and poignancy
of first love, and recall how it felt to dream with abandon.
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Amy
Durham is a wife and mother, an author, a teacher, an avid reader, and a
musician. If she weren’t writing books, she’d be a celebrity chef!

 
You can touch base with Amy here:
 
Twitter – @amy_durham
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Instagram – @authoramydurham

 

Summer Teen Reading Party with Marva Dasef

Happy Wednesday! We continue the Teen Reading Party and I welcome Marva Dasef, author of a fabulous series, The Witches of Gadlorheim, as my guest today. Check out these great covers:
Marva’s stories incorporate Celtic mythology by way of Scotland. My first novel, Emily’s House, incorporates Celtic mythology by way of Ireland, so I enjoyed this post from Marva a lot! And there is an excerpt of Scotch Broom so be sure to read through and check that out:
SCOTCH BROOM: Book 3 of The Witches of Galdorheim
A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the
Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.

Blurb:
Kat expects to have a great time on her graduation trip to
Stonehenge. However, from the moment she leaves the witches’ arctic island,
Galdorheim, she gets in nothing but trouble. 
Her younger half-brother tries to horn in on her trip, she gets lost in
the magical Otherworld realm, is led astray by a supposed friend, then she has
to confront a Scottish goddess who’s fallen on hard times.
While dodging the goddess’ minions and trying to find her
way out of the Otherworld, Kat soon learns she shouldn’t underestimate the old
has-been for one second; the crone still has a few tricks that can drain a
witch’s magic in a flash. To make matters worse, Kat’s brother secretly
followed her into the Otherworld. Now he’s in danger too.  Kat has to go one on one with the goddess to
save herself and her brother.
Leave a comment to win a free ebook of any of the Witches
of Galdorheim. To win a GRAND PRIZE, read the posts carefully, then answer the
easy quiz on Marva’s Blog at
http://mgddasef.blogspot.com
between May 27th and 31st. All the information and links
you need will be posted.
The Cat Fairy, Cait Sidhe

From
the Encyclopedia Mythica:
Sidhe (pronounced ‘shee’) literally means “people
of the (fairy) hills”. It is the Gaelic name for the fairies in both
Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland. Usually these fairies are attracted to
those who are beautiful as well as wealthy.

Many
many, many, many writers are in love with the Celtic myths. I’ve delved into
them, too. However, I’m not a big fan of the flitty little cute faeries (or fae
or fairies). In Celtic mythology, there’s a fairy (or fae or faerie) for just
about any purpose. The “serious” fantasies love the idea of the fairy troupe.
More than a few equate fairies to Arthurian legends, many specifically to
Merlin.
The third book in the Witches of Galdorheim series, Scotch
Broom
, is set in the Scottish Highlands, or, rather, the Otherworld which
is another dimension that exists within the Flow Country. Of course, I had to
include at least one fairy in the mix or I’d be violating some unwritten
fantasy rule.
If you write Celtic fantasy, then you know that Sidhe is
pronounced Shee in Ireland and Sith in Scotland. I wonder where George Lucas
got Sith lords? Hmm.
Anyway, I found a particular sidhe I liked. She’s a big
black cat with a white chest. Aha! I happen to have the model for said cat (in
a much reduced size) sitting at my door every morning demanding a handout. We
call her Bitch Kitty. Yes, she has attitude in spades. So, there’s my model for
Cait Sidhe, a companion to my erstwhile heroine, Kat.
Excerpt

Kat has already found two companions: Sianach a stag
and Cusith (another sidhe) a giant, green hound. They’re tromping through the
swamps trying to find the Trow King’s hall in the middle of the Otherworld (the
alternate magic world in the Scottish Highlands).
They marched on in a
straight line, having no better idea of which direction to go, while Cusith
zigzagged ahead of them with his nose close to the earth. Suddenly, the green
hound raised his head and bayed. A moment later, he galloped across the moor,
water splashing when his huge paws hit the tiny pools.
“What’s up with him?” Kat asked.
Sianach lifted his chin for
a better view. “He appears to be in pursuit of an animal of some type.”
“I hope he’s not hurting some
little swamp creature.”
“If he is, then the beast is
making Cusith pay for the privilege.”
Kat and Sianach walked
faster after Cusith, the dog’s trail marked by flying grass and water. When
Cusith finally stopped, Kat and Sianach trotted to catch up. The hound was
standing over something furry and black that lay on the ground beneath his huge
paw.
“No, don’t! Don’t hurt it,” Kat
called out. Cusith turned his head toward her, tongue lolling.
“I won’t. It’s not food.”
Kat reached Cusith’s side
and knelt down to examine the raggedy clump of ebony fur. It leapt up,
scrabbling for a foothold, but Cusith clamped his paw down harder to hold it
still.
“It’s a cat!” Kat reached out with
her mind but met the same blank wall she had with Sianach and Cusith. So, she
tried the old-fashioned way. “Here kitty, kitty. Nice kitty.” An ear-splitting
yowl almost knocked Kat back on her rear.
“I am not your ‘nice kitty,’ you
rude thing! I am Cait Sidhe; I’ll have you know. Surely, this stag…and
mutt…have heard of me.”
Sianach, who stood to one
side to stay out of the fray, nodded his elegant head. “Yes, I know you. Not
that it is a pleasure.”
The cat hissed and swiped a pawful of razor sharp claws
across Cusith’s foot. The big dog quickly released the black cat. “Sorry. Just
having some fun.”
Cait sat up and licked a couple of swipes over the white
spot on her chest. “Now you’ve covered me with mud. It’ll take hours to get
clean again.”
Although it looked much like a normal house cat, standing
Cait Sidhe would reach Kat’s knee. The cat had to weigh in at thirty pounds or
more. Both Sianach and Cusith were of the extra-large size, so she wasn’t too
surprised.
Kat stood and moved closer to the cat. “Hello. I’m Kat, a
witch from Galdorheim. I’m pleased to meet you.” She resisted the urge to
scratch behind the cat’s ear. She had a feeling she might end up with severe
lacerations.
“I didn’t quite catch your, um,
last name. How do you spell it?”
“S-I-D-H-E. Just like it sounds,
stupid biped.”
Kat gritted her teeth at
the cat’s rude answer but decided to stay calm. “Is that sidhe as in faery?”
The cat quit licking and looked at Kat with penetrating
yellow eyes. Curling her lip, she exposed gleaming fangs. “The pronunciation
varies, depending on where one is. Sidhe is shee in Ireland and sith in
Scotland. We are in the Scottish section of the Otherworld, thus sith is
proper.” Cait licked her right paw and swiped it over her ear. “Personally, I
prefer shee since it is more commonly used. Nobody seems to say sith anymore.”
She tipped her head in Cusith’s direction. “Except that dog, of course.”
“Um, okay. That’s interesting. Are
you friends with Cusith and Sianach?” Kat asked.
“Not even.” Cait Sidhe glanced at
Cusith. “Cusith is a mutt, or dog, if you will. And I am a cat. We do what cats
and dogs do, but we are not friends. Sianach, well, as a meat eater, I see
Sianach as lunch.”
“Oh, sorry. I just assumed since
you know each other—”
“Do not assume anything in the
Otherworld.” Cait Sidhe examined Kat. “What are you doing wandering around in
the magical realm? Witches generally stay in the mundane world.”
“Oh, I’m looking for King Connor’s
hall. I have messages, or I guess I should say I had messages. Someone stole them and took my map to the hall. Now,
I just hope he can get me out of the Otherworld in one piece.”
“I see. Well, I have nothing better to do today, so I’ll come with
you.”
“Sure, if you’d like to. Do you
have any idea which way to go?”
“I do. However, my path to the
Hall isn’t one you can follow.” The cat raised her head and looked around.
“Maybe I can find an alternate way. After all, I am a hunter, therefore I
hunt.”
“Makes sense,” Kat replied, a
little doubtful of the cat’s word. She had the same sense about Sianach’s
reasons for helping her. A private matter, he had said. The cat didn’t give any
reason at all. Should she trust Cusith? He seemed to be Sianach’s good friend,
so that might be his only motive for coming along on the trip. It troubled her
she could not delve into the minds of any of them.
* * * *

About Marva:
Marva Dasef lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband
and a fat white cat. Retired from thirty-five years in the software industry,
she has now turned her energies to writing fiction and finds it a much more
satisfying occupation. Marva has published more than forty stories in a number
of on-line and print magazines, with several included in Best of anthologies.
She has several previously published books. Her latest pride and joy is the
Witches of Galdorheim Series from her super duper publisher, MuseItUp.
Where to find her:
MuseItUp Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/MIU-MarvaDasef
Twitter Handle: @Gurina

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Writer Chat Wednesday: Welcome Back Tamara Rose Blodgett!



I am pleased to welcome back to Writer Chat Wednesday one of my favorite YA Indie authors, Tamara Rose Blodgett. Tamara is a wife, mother and busy author, prodigious in the extreme! Listen in as I chat with Tamara to see what she’s been up to:


Natalie Wright (NW): Do you have any news to share about your work?

Tamara Rose Blodgett (TRB): Oh my, yes! Most recently,
my first book in the Blood Series was released, with plans for book #2 to
publish before the end of the year. Little known fact: it was actually the
first book I’d ever written (in 2007) and after extensive editing, it was a
full-circle, warm fuzzy to finally get it 
in the hands of my readers 🙂
NW: That’s awesome! And is another example of the kind of freedom and flexibility we have as independently published authors. What books have you
published so far?
DEATH WHISPERS (#1) March
31, 2011
DEATH SPEAKS (#2) Sep. 1,
2011
DEATH SCREAMS (#3) Jan. 13,
2012
THE PEARL SAVAGE (#1) Jun.
15, 2011
THE SAVAGE BLOOD (#2) Thanksgiving
2011
BLOOD SINGERS (#1) March 9,
2012
THE SAVAGE VENGEANCE (#3)
*Releasing Mar. 31.


NW: What was the inspiration for your books?
TRB: The Death Series is an easy
one. I had four kids that loved  zombies
but felt like boys weren’t being betrayed in YA accurately. I thought to
myself, “Huh… I can do that!” And I did.
In the Savage Series, I had
a couple of ideas that collided together to create a a story about a princess
who hails from the future but lives and old-fashioned existence. Her life is
rife with challenges that belie what most would assume to be an easy lifestyle.
It is an epic fantasy with great Alpha males and dark undertones.
The Blood Series is about a
special sub-species of humans that balance the food load for vampires and offer
genetic properties which allow the werewolves to become moonless changers. The
MC, Julia, has what they need but her resolve for personal liberty puts a major
crimp in their plans.



NW: What genre do you write in?
TRB: I’m of that “new breed” of
authors that are putting out mixed-genre books. Mine are mainly comprised of
the following genres within the YA/YA mature umbrella: futuristic science
fiction, paranormal romance, urban fantasy/fantasy and action. I usually have a
thread of intrigue running through all my works. I wouldn’t say that I’m a
“mystery” writer by any stretch but I definitely believe in intrigue for those
“ah-huh!” moments/revelations.

NW:What works in progress do you have?
TRB: I just finished writing book
#3 in the Savage Series, THE SAVAGE VENGEANCE. It is currently being edited and
I will do a final edit/read through in about a week (for release on Mar. 31). I
‘m currently writing book #4 of the Death Series, DEATH WEEPS, for release in
May. I will begin writing both BLOOD SONG (#2) and Savage (#4) after April
1.  I have an exciting new series (my
fourth)  planned that will have a blurb
and cover reveal within a month. I’m nuts over it and have to hold myself back
from beginning work on it right this second!
LOVE this Cover!
NW: Which character from your books do you like most
/ are most like?
TRB: I love Jonesy from the Death
Series and Gramps. People that are brave and candid. Jonesy is that way because
he doesn’t know any better but Gramps is purposeful with who he is. That’s its
own kind of bravery.
I love Clara so much in Savage!
She is intrinsically good. She just wishes to do the right thing, it’s by
default, she doesn’t deliberate about her actions. I shouldn’t admit this but
it was really fun to write the “bad” people in that series, it was definitely a
love-hate thing. 😉
Julia in SINGERS is great
because her freedom is precious. She’s not really blown away that she’s
“special.” To her, she just wants to reclaim the life that was stolen from her.
When she comes to terms that she can’t, the axis of her world gets turned upside
down and she has to cope with the cards she’s been dealt. Love her resolve, her
unwavering bravery in the face of no hope.
I’m not like anyone in the
series. Although, snippets of my humor bleed through….

NW: I love Jonesy too – he’s funny. You have a knack for capturing teen dialogue in a much more realistic way than most.

If you walked through a portal to dimension
without books, what three books do you want to take with you?
TRB: Well, right now I’m nuts
over
Beautiful Disaster, by Jamie McGuire. I love Stephen King (The
Master) and think The Stand would have to come. And since I love to
laugh, I’m going to take @hit My Dad Says as well.  And that is a grotesquely small list! Haha~

NW:Who is your favorite author and why?
TRB: Stephen King, for having the
cajones to write “real” and with just the brand of humor I like in
combination with the fragility of humanity as an appetizer.

NW: How long have you been a writer?
TRB: I’d like to say forever, but
that’s not exactly accurate!  I had a
moment in junior high when I realized that I could write a story. That
self-awareness, the realization… never left me and when I began this odyssey,
it gave me the spark that eventually ignited into a career.

NW: What is your favorite part of the writing
process?
TRB: When I’m in the middle of a
day dreaming fugue and an idea strikes me between the eyes and I know
that it is my next book. I sit up straight in my chair or in the middle of some
random store and get chills.  SO normal!
Lol!

NW: What is your favorite movie – the one you can
watch over and over again?
TRB: The Last of the Mohicans.
Wow~

NW: What is your favorite band or musical performer?
TRB: I have a ton that I like but
right now I’m diggin’ on Parabelle.

NW: What do you hope readers will take with them
from your writing?
TRB: I’m hoping they receive the
same sense of escapism I do from the creation of it all. For me, when I’m
writing, it’s like that great book you can’t wait to read when you’re done with
your chores… so, it doesn’t feel like work, not really. Pure entertainment
would be a great bonus as well. I’d like to take the time to thank Natalie, for
offering to do this and my amazing readers for supporting me by purchasing my
work. Thanks for reading my stories!

NW: And Thank You Tamara for writing them! If you enjoy reading about teens with paranormal abilities and like realistic dialogue, check out Tamara’s books.

You can connect with Tamara here:

Some of my titles are available on Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=tamara+rose+blodgett
As always, comments are welcome. Have you read any of Tamara’s books? If so, share with us your favorite book or character. Or just say “hi.”

Writer Chat Wednesday: Janine Caldwell

I am so pleased to have as my guest today for Writer Chat Wednesday Janine Caldwell, a fellow Arizonan and debut YA author. Janine just released her first two novels and I’m glad she was able to stop by so you have a chance to get to know this dynamic woman.

Natalie Wright (NW): Do you have any news to share about your work?

Janine Caldwell (JC): I just released my debut YA fantasy series
called The Vortex Series. The e-versions are available everywhere and the print
versions will be available soon through Amazon.
NW: That is exciting news!  What books have you written so far?

JC: Rematch and Double Fault are the first two
books of The Vortex Series.

NW: What was the inspiration for The Vortex Series? 

JC: A few years ago I was leading a Bible
study in my house for a group of eighth grade girls when they introduced me to
The Twilight Series. Not only did I fall in love with the books, my girls also
informed me that Stephenie Myers lived in the next town over from us. Now, as
an English major I’ve always loved literature and have even dabbled in
screenwriting, but I had never tried to write a novel. Something about knowing
an author such as Stephenie was creating these stories miles from my house
inspired me to write again. I’m a sucker for all things fantasy and romance, so
I dreamed up a story that I myself would want to read. Living about an hour
from Sedona, naturally I was drawn to the mysterious nature of the Sedona
vortexes and what hidden power they might have. Combine all that with learning
that I’m a direct descendant of The Brothers Grimm, I felt my true calling was
to write YA fantasy.
NW: What is one of  your favorite scenes from one of your books and why?

JC: In REMATCH, it has to be the last scene of
the book when Trent’s heart is truly revealed to Cassie. We learn that even the
best of intentions can still cause life to go terribly wrong if it’s not the
destiny you are to follow.
NW: What genre do you write in?

JC: YA fantasy
NW: What works in progress do you have?

JC: I’ve completed about a third of a new
novel entitled VISITED and am outlining DEUCE, the final book of The Vortex
Series.
NW: Which character from your books do you like most / are
most like?

JC:  I would have to
say that in high school, I was most like Kelli, Cassie’s best friend. She’s
sort of tough and mistrustful of high school boys and is very selective about
who she gives her heart away to.
NW: Which book do you wish you had written?

JC: The Hunger Games–doesn’t everyone?
NW: What is your favorite movie – the one you can watch over and
over again?

JC: Jane Austen’s “Pride
and Prejudice” with Keira Knightley and every single Harry Potter movie. I
could never get tired of either story.
NW:  What is your favorite band or musical performer?

JC: I’m hopelessly addicted to alternative
rock and have been an avid fan of the Foo Fighters since Dave Grohl started the
band. I wish I could’ve quoted every line from “Times Like These” in REMATCH
because the song depicts Trent’s agony and crossroads in life perfectly. In
fact, “Times Like These” would’ve been a great alternative title to REMATCH
since there is an element of time traveling in the series.

NW: What do you hope readers will take with them from your
writing?



JC: I hope that they will be entertained first and foremost, but for my teen readers, I also hope Cassie
and Trent’s story will make them pause before they make any major decisions 
in their lives that
will influence their future forever.

You can connect with Janine here:

Janine Caldwell, YA Fantasy Author

www.janinecaldwell.com

Friday Book Review: Fracture

This weeks’ Friday Book Review is of Fracture, a debut novel by Megan Miranda.
Premise/Plot: Seventeen year old Delaney is getting ready to play man hunt with her friends around a frozen lake (they live in Maine). The ice begins to crack and Delaney falls through. Her friends, being from Maine, know how to rescue people from the ice and set about gathering rope. When they finally pull Delaney out, she has been in the water for 11 minutes and is officially dead.
Delaney’s best friend, Decker, begins CPR and Delaney is brought back to life but is in a coma. Miraculously, Delaney comes out of the coma and appears normal. Well, she appears normal. While scans show significant damage to her brain, she is completely fine except that she is drawn to people that are dying. Delaney keeps this fact secret from all but one person, Troy Varga, who it just so happens was once in a coma and has the same affliction/gift that Delaney has.
What ensues is a book that is part love quadrangle, part exploration of the meaning of life, with a splash of paranormal (sort of) thrown in.
Review: I’m doing this review in sandwich format – some good, some not so good, and some good again at the end 😉
First the Good: The novel starts out right in the middle of some great action with Delaney falling through the ice and dying right off the bat. Since it is told in the first person, it is chilling to hear Delaney describe her own death. I was hooked immediately and felt compelled to keep reading. I liked Delaney’s witty and somewhat sassy voice.
Out of the chute this is a fast-paced and intriguing read. The author does a great job describing the brain injury and sets up a plausible scientific explanation for why Delaney may have her strange ability while still leaving an open question: Is it just a brain anomaly? Or is there a true paranormal aspect that happened to her because of her own death? The questions set up in the first 50 pages or so (plus the blooming love interest with her best friend Decker and the new guy on the scene, Troy) move us into the middle of the book.
The Not So Good: While I devoured this book in one day, upon reflection there are some things that keep me from loving it completely. First there’s the relationships. Delaney is making out with one boy before her coma, but in love with Decker, her long-time best friend (though they don’t actually talk about their feelings for each other), then there’s Troy Varga, the creepy fellow who stalks her and has the same ability (condition?) she has. Delaney’s actions are all over the place which I can buy to a point. Sometimes it’s just confusing how one feels. But she is a very bright young woman (vying to be first in her class) yet she just goes along with Carson making moves on her when she seems to not want him to. Is she completely powerless? At first she seems like a kick-ass female character but soon falls into the damsel in distress, going along with the “cool” guy to save face, even if it means hurting her friends or compromising her own needs. From a writer’s standpoint, it seemed like perhaps the author wasn’t totally clear what Delaney wants or who Delaney is. The character seemed inconsistent.
Second, there is the whole paranormal aspect. While I really appreciated a more literary take on paranormalcy, at the end of the day I’m not even sure this is paranormal fiction. It seemed in some respects that the author was steering us in the direction of a “rational” scientific explanation for Delaney’s ability. Which is it? I was really loving the literary telling of the paranormal story, the author putting quality into the telling of this kind of story. But then it lost its paranormal feel and that’s when I felt a bit disappointed.
The story then switched in some respects to being a story about the meaning of life. I recently read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (a 5+ Star book, BTW, you must read it – NOW! here’s my review of that one), and there are aspects of Fracture that reminded me of Fault in Our Stars. Both books explore death and life through the eyes of teens that have experienced death – either their own or loved ones. Both have active roles for the parents in the book, something that is lacking in most YA books. And I think both authors in some respects come to the same conclusions. I enjoyed this aspect of Fracture – the more literary aspect.
In my opinion, Fracture was, well, fractured. It tried to be two stories at once and didn’t 100% succeed at either.

Image of Megan Miranda
Megan Miranda, Author of Fracture
The Rest of the Good Part – Wait, before you think I’m not recommending this book, I do recommend it! As I said, I read this in one day and it was a compelling read. The faults I’ve noted above were found more upon reflection than in the moment. Despite a few blemishes, this is a compelling read. If you enjoy literary fiction, I think you may very well enjoy this offering by Megan Miranda. If you are a fan of paranormal fiction, give this one a try and let me know if you enjoy the different feel of this author’s treatment of paranormal. I think this is a wonderful first effort by Megan Miranda and I look forward to her next book.

4 Hawks to Megan Miranda’s novel, Fracture

WINNERS of December Book Giveaway for Emily’s House!!!

A great big THANK YOU to all who took the time to post comments and enter my first ever Book Giveaway on both the blog and my YouTube channel. I’ve decided to give away THREE books. Why three? Because that’s how many books I have left from the first print run : )

So, without further ado, here are the WINNERS:

From the blog, JOSHUA GLENN.

And from the YouTube channel, BOOKMOVIEGUY and BOOKTRIXIE

How to claim your prize:

Simple, e-mail me your mailing address and I’ll ship the book off to you, U.S.P.S. Priority Mail. My e-mail address is: NatWritesYA@gmail.com.

YOU MUST E-MAIL ME YOUR ADDRESS BY MONDAY, 1/9/12 or you forfeit your prize and I’ll announce an alternate winner.

To all of you who have read Emily’s House – and those who will get the book in the mail – I really appreciate reviews on Goodreads and Amazon and tagging the book on Amazon with appropriate tags is awesome too.

The last week of December was exciting with Emily’s House hitting the top 25 in YA Science Fiction/Fantasy & Magic category!! Thank you to all who have purchased or borrowed the book.

In other news, I’ve decided to start posting reviews of reads I’ve enjoyed and I’ll be doing that every Friday. My reviews will be a mix of adult and young adult reading as well as Indie books and traditionally published books. So check back on Fridays to catch my reviews and suggestions for good reads.

Thanks everyone and I hope you had a great holiday season and wishing you all a fantastic New Year filled with things you love!

3 Places to Enter December Book Giveaway for EMILY’S HOUSE

December Book Giveaway for Emily’s House

Contest Rules & Fine Print:

WHAT YOU WIN: A signed copy of the paperback version of Emily’s House: Book 1 of the Akasha Chronicles, by Natalie Wright. For every 100 entries, 1 book will be given away.

HOW TO ENTER: Leave a comment here OR on my Facebook Fan Page  OR on my YouTube Channel. In your comment, tell me what special ability or power you would most like to have OR special power or ability that you DO have. You can leave more than one comment, but you will only be entered one time.

WHO CAN ENTER: Contest open to anyone 13 or older. No purchase necessary.

WHEN: Entries closed December 31, 2011 at midnight.

WINNER(S) ANNOUNCED: Winner(s) will be announced January 4, 2012 HERE, on my blog AND on my Facebook Fan Page.

*OTHER RULES: Please adhere to the rules of Facebook, Blogger and YouTube in your comments. DO NOT post obscene or offensive material. Any such posts will be removed and will NOT be an entry in the contest.

Sometimes Editing can Kickstart the Muse

You’ve been working on a novel for about three years.  You finished it and put it away for a while as you began your next project.  Then you pulled it out, revised, tweaked, revised, got feedback then revised some more.  You’ve been doing this for about six months now and think you’ve gone as far as you can without professional help.

Then you pull a book on writing off the shelf and start reading a chapter about editing and revising your own work.  Two pages in  you realize you’re not done revising.  And as you read the instructor’s advice you see revisions that you need to make spring to your mind’s eye.  And suddenly you even see a new end to your novel, and that leads you to see how to polish the first chapter.  Now you’re juiced because you weren’t content with those two paragraphs – you thought you could do better – but couldn’t see how to improve them.  But now you do and you found it on your own and isn’t that amazing.

So you put on music that fuels your fire and you grab the large mug of coffee and get to the keyboard.  Your fingers are like lightening across the keys.  You can’t type fast enough to get it all down but you do your best.  You create and fill the pages with new and better material.  You write for hours not paying attention to the clock or the hunger in your stomach or the tiredness of your eyes.  You have to get it all down in that magic moment that is so elusive.

Now it’s time to put it away again, at least for a few days.  No need now to worry about puncutation and spelling and grammar.  It’s not necessary to fret over word choice or voice or pacing or any other element.  Just open the decanter and let it breathe for a while.  Let the pages swirl around in your subconscious while you go about the business of your life and your writing.  Plenty of time to come back to it later and see it once again with fresh eyes.