Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Almost Next-Month

We have a little tradition in our family. When something fun is coming up (usually for the kids for whom counting down days is very fun!) we will talk about how long is almost left. Like, "Your birthday is almost tomorrow," when it is two days till the birthday.

Well, today is a special day, because my book is coming out almost-next-month!!! I have so been looking forward to being able to casually tell people, "Oh yes, my book comes out next month," and as of tomorrow, I can!!!

Today also makes thirty-five days till Wings comes out. Five weeks exactly. Somehow that seems like a lot closer than six weeks. Like, more than seven days. Does that make any sense at all??

And let me tell you about my next five weeks! They are Craaazy!! This week is revisions, revisions, and more revisions. Next week I am going to my mom's house in the hopes that I can actually finish said revisions. While we are there we will have Easter and my daughter's sixth birthday. Then I come home to the rush of finals and putting our current house on the market the week after that. Week four is Kenny's graduation (!!!) from law school complete with a big graduation ceremony and party. The day after we have a big dinner for a bunch of authors here in Utah. And then one week to frantically pack for tour, and I will be in Arizona, signing at Changing Hands Bookstore, the day that Wings comes out. Whew! (And don't even get me started on the wild rush that will be happening the six weeks after that, culminating with, yanno, moving!) So yeah, good times!

So one last post on edits . . . well, probably the last post . . . I guess we'll see.;) I wanted to talk about what actually changes. I think it is every author's nightmare to get that first ed letter that says, "Well, we like your main character, but can she be a guy? Also, we love the plot, but can they be hunting for a legendary lamp instead of trying to survive in the Antarctic? Also, could you please cut about 40,000 words? this book is too long." And then the author can do nothing except yeild to the demand of her editor and basically re-write the entire book.

I've never actually heard of an ed letter that bad. And even big changes (Can you just nix this minor character?) are usually just that; a minor character. (I realize that doesn't make you feel better in the moment.) Most ed letters are not about changing, but enhancing. Consider a black and white picture of a girl standing beside a lamp-post. I think the scenario that a lot of aspiring authors have in their head is an ed letter that goes like this: "We don't like the lampost, can it be a tree instead? And that dress, it's awful. Can she be wearing overalls? And her hair is so short, please make it long." When really, most ed letter go like this: "We love the girl, but she is black and white. Can we put her in color? How about some vines on that lampost? With purple flowers maybe? Or red? What do you think? And the background is just a grey slate, what do you think about putting in scenery? A lush meadow. Perhaps a sharp city-scape! You can do whatever background you want, but we need a vibrant background! And you might consider airbrushing her clothing just a bit so you can't see the mud on the hem or that tear in her sleeve."

Do you see the difference?

When an editor buys a novel, they see the girl and the lampost. If they are going to buy it, they need to love the girl and the lampost. The editor will almost never ask you to change the girl, or the lampost. (Please tell me you are still following my metaphor here!) It's not about changing the girl and the lampost; it's about enhancing them so that everyone can see in the photo, what your editor saw.

Let's go to my edits specifically. Now first off, I am a minimalist. When I first started writing I wrote a huge fantasy tome (it seems like everyone has to do that once and get it out of your system . . . unless you are Brandon Sanderson, and then you get paid to do it.:)) When I realized that no one was going to look at it the size that it was, I sat down with my shears and cut 60,000 words.

And it was painful. Excruciatingly so. By the end I wanted to cut the last 20 pages just so I could be done!!;)

But it made me a minimalist writer. My ed letters always ask me to add. Always. And I'm okay with that.

So here were the big things I was asked to do in my ed letter:

-Add at the beginning (I have a series of events that, although they are important to the plot, can be lengthened or shortened without affecting the plot. Tara wanted more . . . I hope forty extra pages was her idea of more . . . .)

-Add a few more hints to the mystery. I am good at being subtle. So good, in fact, that nobody notices.:D Note to self, be a little less subtle.

-Work on my pacing. I always have to do this. I'm not good at pacing. It is something I work very hard at. Usually several times.:D

-Focus more on interesting elements instead of mentioning them and then letting them fall to the side. I have to remember that I have been living in this world for two years; so the things that are no longer that interesting to me, are still interesting to the reader.

-Enhance, enhance, enhace. Make characters more fun/hawt/compassionate/smart/etc. Give the scenes more mystery/tension/romance/etc. Just make everything in color, instead of black and white.

And that is basically my ed letter minus spoilers.

It's not about change, it's about bringing out what's already there. So really, don't be scared of the ed letter. It is a TON of work, yes--and feel free to be afraid of that!--but as far as actual "change" goes, if your editor didn't love the girl and the lampost, she wouldn't have bought the book in the first place.

How's that for a full-circle metaphor?;)


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Underwear and Mules and Tattoos, Oh My!

Welcome back to blog tour! It's been a while, but we are back with the lovely, fabulous Neesha Meminger and her novel Shine Coconut Moon, winner of the Coolest Title Ever Award! Seriously, it makes me want to go out and eat coconut shrimp! I am really excited to read this book. Here is a bit about it!

Samar–a.k.a. Sam–is an Indian-American teenager whose mom has kept her away from her old-fashioned family. It's never bothered Sam, who is busy with school, friends, and a demanding boyfriend. But things change after 9/11. A guy in a turban shows up at Sam's house–and turns out to be her uncle. He wants to reconcile the family and teach Sam about her Sikh heritage. Sam is eager, but when boys attack her uncle, chanting "Go back home, Osama!," Sam realizes she could be in danger–and also discovers how dangerous ignorance is.

One of the things I love about Neesha is that learning more about her, makes me want to read her book even more. Neesha was born in the village of Punjab, India in the sixties. I love this picture of her with her mom. She came to Canada in the seventies and went to college, grad, school, and eventually taught college in New York City. She is now a mother of two and is working on being the novelist of two books.;) I highly recommend reading her Bio on her website; it is fascinating! . . . Plus it has lots of pictures that she probably wouldn't appreciate me posting here. *laugh*

And, of course, what Blog Tour would be complete without the Feasty Five!!!

AP: What kind of soda does (would) your MC drink?

NM: Probably Ginger Ale.

AP: Man, I love Ginger Ale. What is your MC's favorite kind of flower? How about yours?

NM: Lilacs. Mine are roses. I'm boring like that. :)

AP: No, no! Not boring--Classic! Does your MC believe in magic? Do you?


AP: Good answer! From both of you! Superman or Batman?

NM: Batman. But really Wonder Woman.

AP: *blinkblink* Well, okay then.;) Give us one line from your book. You don't even have to give it context.:)

NM: "If I could have a body like Gisele, I'd never wear underwear," she says. "I'd just parade around town buck nekkit."!

AP: *snort* Wouldn't we all.

You can visit Neesha and Neeshameminger.com to find out more about Shine Coconut Moon!!


Friday, March 27, 2009

It Has Been a Stellar Week!!

I have had a lovely week. Busy--thus not posting in five days, but lovely nonetheless.

On Monday night, my husband was looking at houses online (we're moving to Phoenix this summer.) We like to look early. It's fun! I LOVE house shopping. If possible, I like to drag the process out for months. And he found a really great, just-listed house that seriously hits every point on our must-haves list and most of our optional-but-we-would-really-like-to-have list. We have spent the last four days drooling over it. *le sigh*

Tuesday was a working day for me. Not that I don't work every day (especially during revisions, eek!) but on a day I label a "working day," it means I leave the house and work for as long as my computer's battery will last. One of my favorite places to go is here:

It is this old trolley car restaurant that has been updated and expanded into a full restaurant, but they have kept the trolley section up at the front. I always go in and ask to sit in the trolley section (as much so I'm out of the way as because it's awesome!) and I spread out my work and order a very large salad. Now, I have ordered the full sized salads here before. And they always come stacked rather high in one of those plates that is more like a shallow bowl. But hey, I generally sit there for three to four hours, so I like having something to slowly munch on the whole time. But nothing prepared me for the mound 'o salad that they brought me this time. I noticed they printed out new menus and had added a few items . . . but I didn't think they had changed the size of the salads! Check this out! (Yes, I am a nerd, I took a pic of my salad.;))

That is a big salad.

(Also, that plate is like a foot in diameter!) And it was piled so high that every time I tried to take a bite things would fall off onto the table. So I gave up and asked for an extra plate. I kid you not, I made three salads out of that monster. I thought my tummy was going to burst by the time I left!

It was really good though.:)

And I got a TON of work done!

Wednesday I went to my husband's school's Barrister's Ball, also known as the law school prom.:D We had a nice dinner, my husband got an award with a really nice plaque, and I even got to meet a fellow author who is the wife of one of Kenny's professors! It was a great night, and a nice break from the kids. (We don't actually go out by ourselves very often so this was nice.:)) It was funny though, I posted about the Barrister's Ball last year too, so I spent a good chunk of the night reminiscing over how much has happened in the last year. It's been a big year. Last year at this time I had just completed the first revision on WINGS. Since the Barrister's Ball I received my contracts, went to NYC to meet my agent and editor and team at Harper, finished three rounds of editing and countless rounds of copy-editing, got four covers (only two were keepers;)), wrote the sequel, finished another book I've been working on for almost three years, sold translation rights into three countries, went on a pre-publication tour, signed over 1350 title pages, and am halfway done with revisions on the sequel. What. A. Year. It has been amazing!

And now we've almost reach the pinacle of all that work! WINGS comes out in less than six weeks (39 days!!!). Wow! I can almost say, "Why yes, my book comes out next month!" It has been a long, fun year and really has been a lot of work! I never understood how authors without dayjobs (and especially without kids) could be panicked about deadlines. I mean, they have all the time in the world, right? I understand now. It IS a lot of work. I don't actually know how authors with day jobs do it. I am baffled. But even though I stay very busy, I love what I do and it has been an amazing year.

Oh, and yesterday my husband flew down to Phoenix and bought the house. *SQUEE!!!!*


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ed Letter and Chapter One!

The really exciting thing first (IMO;)).

Harper has posted the first chapter of WINGS!!! You can read it here!(It's a little hard to find; it's under the "Sneak Peak" link that is below the video interview.) I am so excited to share it with you; I hope you enjoy it!

And with that we are on to the ed letter.

You never know what to expect when you get an ed letter. When it's your first book it is especially important because even if you have had long conversations with your new editor, (I hadn't, but some authors do) you cannot tell exactly what their vision of the book is until you see their ed letter (BTW, ed letter is short for editorial letter, just in case you didn't know;)) And that means that it is the first time you truly see if their vision meshes with yours.

My first ed letter was eleven pages long. The first page was mostly my editor telling me how much she loved my book. That is important because, especially with that very first ed letter, your first thought upon completing it is, "Why in they world did she buy this book?!?!? She obviously HATES it!!!" And you know what? That's totally normal. No seriously. Every author I know has had that moment. That is why that first page is there. So you can go back and re-read how much your editor loves the book.

For me, my first ed letter was really important because WINGS is the first book of a series. That meant that we had to get all of the logistics of my mythos hammered out in this first book. Because book one sets the rules for the entire series--so those rules needed to be solid. Also, my backstory had . . .um . . . a few kinks.:D Basically I had to rewrite about half of my backstory so that it made sense on more than a superficial level. There were also big character arc things. Making David more well-rounded, Tamani a little more "human," Laurel more interesting, etc. We had a character we brought more to the forefront (Chelsea!) because everyone who read the book loved her, and Tara (my editor) suggested chopping the end of the book to give it more oomph!

An interesting thing that Tara did which I often chuckled at, was that when she presented a big problem, she was also present a few suggestions. For example, if the question was, (and yes, this is a very silly example) Why is Chelsea's hair brown? Tara might suggest, maybe she dyed it, maybe a witch cast a brown hair spell on her, maybe she wished for brown hair from a genie.

Now, the point of the suggestions was to get me thinking, so often Tara's idea were just things she threw out there. But I always laughed because I almost never used her suggestions. I would be like, "No, the reason Chelsea's hair is brown is because her parents both have brown hair," and then work my solution into the story. It didn't matter than I didn't use Tara's suggested solutions for the problems in my book, the point was that she pointed out the problems and I fixed them. But some of the suggestions she threw out for fixing them gave me a good laugh.

So it took me about four weeks to complete those edits, but it probably would have taken a bit longer if I hadn't been able to go to my mom's house for the first week of work where she watched my kids and kept a plate of something always in front of me. I got about a full forty hours worth of work done in that first week. Thanks Mom!

So, in comments, the question was asked, what do you do if the editor wants changes you don't agree with? Well, that happened in my first ed letter. Personally, I think the mistake that a lot of authors make is that they immediately call up their agent or editor and want to have it out right there. I think that is akin to the concept in writing that is generally referred to as "telling instead of showing." So as I mentioned above, Tara suggested cutting the last chapter (it was an epilogue) and letting the last actual chapter stand on it's own to end the book in a more dramatic way. (Not a cliffhanger, don't worry!) I kept coming back to that part in the ed letter and thinking that the last chapter alone was not enough. So when I got to that point in my edits, I made some changes to the epilogue, and then left it there. I let her know that I had done this in the email that I sent with my completed edits, but I didn't make a big deal out of it. I wanted to show her that I could fix it instead of cutting it, rather than just tell her.

So then my second ed letter came. This one was eight pages and came with a marked up manuscript. (Which was exciting to me. The first ed letter she told me flat out that there was no reason to send any line edits since she knew the text would be changing so much . . . and it did.:)) But, near the end of the letter, the epilogue came up again and she said that she had read through it several times and still thought the ending would be stronger without the epilogue.

So at that point, I had a choice. I could go along with it or I could fight it. Now THIS, in my opinion, is the time to actually make a fuss if you really think you want it your way. (And trust me! Editors sometimes are wrong!) But ultimately, I decided that she was right, and I went ahead and cut my epilogue. (There is a funny story behind that, but I'll share it at another time.:))

And you know what? She was right. No really. She was absolutely spot on. I can't tell you how many times on my pre-tour people told me that the ending was just perfect. And it's Tara's fault.:) So that was my half-hearted "fight" over something I didn't want.:D

However, particularly when you get to things like line edits, there will often be changes you don't like. For me, I took about 90-95% of Tara's suggestions, but that leave 5-10% that I didn't. So what did I do?

I just ignored them. I didn't point them out, I didn't make a fuss, I just kept it the way I had it, or changed it my own way, etc. Like with the whole epilogue thing, if it was really a big enough deal to Tara, she would point it out again in the next round of edits, and then we could talk about it if need be. And that seems to have worked out just fine for us.

So this year I got my ed letter (Nine pages, BTW) and the subtle differences were very interesting. Tara has realized that I, personally, am the kind of author who doesn't need a lot of praise. So my "I Love This Book!" section of my ed letter is less than half a page. Enough, but not overdone. Also, as mentioned about, Tara has seen that I don't really need suggestion for fixing problems, so she hasn't done that this time. There are just open ended questions for me. Why does XYZ happen? I like to think that it's because she trusts me to come up with a good solution on my own.:)

I really feel like Tara's and my editing relationship has grown. I have learned about the way that she edits, and she has earned about the way I revise, and I really feel that my newest ed letter reflects that. She had learned what I need, and what I don't need. And I have learned to trust her absolutely exquisite taste! As a testament to that--I kid you not--there is not a single thing in my ed letter this year that I don't agree with. Not. A. Single. Thing.

But that doesn't mean that I didn't have those first couple of days when looking at the ed letter made my head swim. In fact, because much of my revising is on the first quarter of the book, it felt especially intimidating to me because I find beginnings really, really difficult and I was going to have to re-do my beginning.

But I also have the confidence of knowing--absolutely knowing--that she is right. That this is going to make the book a lot better! And that's exciting to me.:) . . . even if it is a ton of work. *Eek!*

So . . . yeah . . . I gotta get back to it.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hallelujah It's Raining Edits!!!

Okay! The promised post!! I've been working really hard this week, so it has taken a while, but here is a very full, very long, very picturesque post on edits!!!

First off, for your viewing pleasure.:)

Welcome to my closet office! Yes, I work in a semi-organized mess!

So the first thing that happens with edits is that you get your ed letter (I am doing a whole post on that later this week since it's something a commenter wanted to know about. So specifics on the ed later will come soon. I promise!) I generally get mine via email. Even if Tara is sending me a physical ed letter, she always emails it to me first so that I can have it and have time for it to sink in, etc. So I generally read it a couple of times before I get started. Then, when I am ready to get started, I print it out. Then I go through and I look at every change and suggestion she has made, and I make notes about it. Agree, disagree, how I am going to change it, etc. I was so pleased with my letter this time. I kid you not, there was not a single thing in there that I didn't agree with. I LOVE it when it happens that way! But even if I agree, I still make a note of how I am going to fix it.

Then I move on to the marked up manuscript which contains both notes and line edits. (But mostly notes since a hefty chunk of the manuscript is going to change.) I do the same thing, I make notes beside every one of her notes with a brief description of how I am going to fix it.

Then, this year I did something a little different. I have a bunch of flags compliments of my lovely friend, Carrie Ryan, and I flagged every note that wasn't a line edit. That way, as I am doing my first pass through the manuscript I can follow along with Tara's notes and get more done the first time. So here is the marked up and flagged manuscript.

And I'd like to say that I have a special, organized system for what each color of flag means . . . but, um, no. They are just random.:)

Then I'm ready to get down to work! . . . Almost. I need my snacks:

And my drinks:

And, for inspiration, a bunch of second books from popular series!

Then . . . well, I'm afraid there's no magic of puffs of smoke in this section . . . I just work. I tend to go chapter by chapter, in chronological order. I'm on chapter three. Hehehe. *fail*

Actually, it's really not fail as I wrote the first two chapters almost completely from scratch. So it really is a lot of work behind me! But unlike last year when I finished my revisions in just under four weeks, I suspect this time it will take almost the whole six weeks that I have. The nice thing about that is that once I am finished, I will be about two weeks away from the release of WINGS and will be able to really concentrate on that!

Wish me luck!


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Secrets and Secrets and More Secrets, Oh My!

It is blog tour time again!! And I am so excited to present Heather Duffy-Stone's This Is What I Want To Tell You!! A few months ago I got to read the first chapter of this book and am so excited to read the rest! It is from a small publisher called FLUX and if you are unfamiliar with them, they generally serve a niche market, but they have a stellar reputation for putting out amazing books! This one, will be one of them!

A bit about This Is What I Want To Tell You:

Fraternal twins Nadio and Noelle share a close connection—and as Noelle’s best friend since they were five, Keeley Shipley fit perfectly into their world. But everything changes after Keeley spends the summer before junior year at Oxford. When Keeley returns, Nadio falls in love with her. Noelle, ripped apart by resentment, sees her as an ungrateful rich girl. But Keeley has a painful story that she can’t tell yet. As Nadio and Keeley hide their romance, Noelle dives into something of her own—a destructive affair with an older boy.

Beautifully presented by dual narrators in a haunting stream of memories, this is the deeply moving story of how secrets can consume a friendship—and how love can heal it.

*looks right, looks left* Also, there some cool tattoos in it.:)

And a bit about Heather who is lovely and wonderful! (And has this gorgeous curly hair that is, of course, totally natural.:))

Heather Duffy-Stone writes stories and essays that are mostly inspired by high school—either her own or someone else’s. This Is What I Want to Tell You is her first novel. She has lived in Vermont, England, Los Angeles, rural New York and Rome, Italy. For now she cooks, sleeps, explores, writes and teaches in Brooklyn, New York.

And now for our Feasty Five with Heather!!

AP: What kind of soda does (would) your MC drink?

HDS: Probably none. Coffee with milk.

AP: What is your MC's favorite kind of flower? How about yours?

HDS: I think we all love orchids. So complicated…

AP: *grin* Orchids? Hmmm, why does that seem familiar???;) Does your MC believe in magic? Do you?

HDS: Noelle doesn’t, but I wish she did. Nadio might, but he would never admit it. Do I? Sadly, no.

AP: I love that answer. Superman or Batman?

HDS: Batman. He’s so dark…

AP: Mmm, dark, eh? Give us one line from your book. You don't even have to give it context.:)

HDS: “What about the way being left out of love can wreck you?”

AP: *sigh* Can you guys see why I'm so excited about this book?!?!? Go and check it out! Or buy it! Or whatever, but find it and read it!

Also, check out Heather at www.heatherduffystone.com

Tomorrow, I promise you will get my big editing post!!


Monday, March 16, 2009

Win an ARC of WINGS!!

Popping my head out of my hole really fast to let you guys know that Elizabeth Scott, author of the amazing Stealing Heaven, is giving away an ARC of WINGS on her blog to help celebrate the release of her new book, Something, Maybe in eight days! This is a one-day thing, so if you want to enter, you better hurry!

Also, I am HarperTeen's blogger today on their MySpace page!

Back to the cave.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Winners, Debsness, and Stuff

Okay, winners first.:)


I promise this actually was random. Matt had one of the most creative entries, but I didn't judge it on that. I called out to my husband and asked him to pick a number (without telling him what he was picking it for) and he picked Matt's number. It really was just chance!! So Matt, I already have your address and I will send you your wife a copy of The Forest of Hands and Teeth next week.:)

Next up, it is Debs-ness day again!! I totally dropped the ball on announcing it last month so I am trying to make up for it now. In case you don't know what is it, the Debs at feastofawesome.com are giving away one very full gift bag on the fifteenth of each month this year. You have one day to enter, winners are announced promptly, and there are bonus prizes too! Click on the icon below to find out more details and to leave your comment to enter!

Find Out What's In The Bag And Win It Today

So it has been a very busy week for me, and not just because of edits. I have also had a ton of company of the teenaged variety. (Yay!) My brother is on his high school's ballroom dancing team and they came down to Nationals this week which was held at my husband's school. It was so fun to go and see him watch, and also to watch the really professional people dance. Wow!! I mean, I danced in college and all, but I never danced like that! It was amazing!

It was also fun to hang out with the teenagers. Five of them stayed with me for four days. I find that I write my books much more easily if I am around teenagers at least a little. It makes things easier when I don't just have to rely on my memory of when I was a teenager.

Plus teenagers are fun.

And easy to please.

Seriously, feed them good food and they are pretty much happy.:)

So next week starts my posts about edits. I'll start with talking a little bit about my ed letter and how it differed from last year's ed letter, and a little about my process of editing and how that is also differing from last year. So go enter to win a Debs-ness bag and get ready for editing week!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

USA TODAY!!!!!! . . . uh . . . yesterday . . .:)

Okay, this is officially the coolest thing that has ever happened to me. I got mentioned in USA Today!!! I kid you not! I got like an entire sentence plus a parenthetical!! I think that's better than a mention. (But less than a story . . . it must be a stention . . .or a menory . . . take your pick.;))

So yeah, check it.:)

*dances gleefully!*

If you prefer the online story, you can find it here, but there's something about seeing the actual printed copy that is really cool to me!

In other news, my editorial letter got here this week for my sequel, and even though I knew it was coming, there's nothing like the actual letter to remind you how much work an author puts into editing. Good stuff though! Seriously. I wish you all the synergy that my editor and I have. I love what she molds my books into! But still, lots of work. So I will try to keep up regular posts (as a break if nothing else!!) but the next four to six weeks are going to be a bit brutal with edits and all the other stuff I have to keep up on.

Such as . . . blogging on the Harper Teen MySpace page!! (How did you like that segue??;)) I am tentatively scheduled to have my first official Harper blog on Monday! (Assuming, of course, that I get the blog done. *laughs maniacally*) I think I am going to blog about "Getting My Teen On." So I would love it if you guys would read and comment . . . mostly because it makes me look good to marketing.:D

So back on the editing subject, I will be blogging about the editorial process in general, and about my method specifically in the next couple of weeks, so if you have any particular questions about editing that you are wondering about, please leave them in the comments and I will answer them!! (As best I can . . .)

And don't forget to enter the contest to win a copy of The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. You can enter right down there, under this entry.:D

So have a lovely night. I am waiting for six teenagers to invade my house for the next four days. Yay!! Free babysitters . . . I mean volunteer yard workers . . . I mean story research subjects. YES! That's what I meant. Story research subjects!!! *grin*


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Zombies and Rules and the Ocean, Oh My!

It is Blog Tour time again and I have so been looking forward to touring my good friend Carrie with her absolutely amazing novel, The Forest of Hands and Teeth!! Most of you have probably heard about this fantastic book already (the hype is not inflated! It really is that good!!) but if not, here is the run-down:

"In Mary's world, there are simple truths.

The Sisterhood always knows best.

The Guardians will protect and serve.

The Unconsecrated will never relent.

And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village. The fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

But slowly, Mary's truths are failing her. She's learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power. And, when the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness.

Now she must choose between her village and her future, between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded by so much death?"

A literary Zombie Apocalypse novel. People always look at me funny when I say that, but I kid you not! The Forest of Hands and Teeth, or FHT and we like to call it, has been getting excellent reviews already, scoring a coveted starred review from Publisher's Weekly, who said: "Mary's observant, careful narration pulls readers into a bleak but gripping story of survival and the endless capacity of humanity to persevere...Fresh and riveting." And reviewers are not the only ones to weigh in. Popular authors are flocking to be part of Carrie's fan club too! Check this out:

"A post-apocalypse romance of the first order, elegantly written from title to last line."
—Scott Westerfeld, author of Extras and Leviathan

"Intelligent, dark and bewitching, The Forest of Hands and Teeth transitions effortlessly between horror and beauty. Mary's world is one that readers will not soon forget."
—Cassandra Clare, author of the Mortal Instruments trilogy

"Opening The Forest of Hands and Teeth is like cracking Pandora's box; a blur of darkness and a precious bit of hope pour out. This is a beautifully crafted, page-turning, powerful novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it!"
—Melissa Marr, bestselling author of Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange

"Dark and sexy and scary. Only one of the Unconsecrated could put this book down."
—Justine Larbalestier, author of How to Ditch Your Fairy

See, you don't even have to take my word for it that FHT is an amazing-original-scare-your-pants-off-never-the-likes-of-it-seen-before kind of book. They all agree with me too.:)

And a bit about the lovely Carrie Ryan:

Born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, Carrie Ryan is a graduate of Williams College and Duke University School of Law. A former litigator, she now writes full time. She lives with her writer/lawyer fiancé, two fat cats and one large puppy in Charlotte, North Carolina. They are not at all prepared for the zombie apocalypse.

(But Aprilynne hopes she is ready for bestsellerdom because that is where she is headed!!!)

And without further ado, we have my Feasty Five!!

AP: What kind of soda does (would) your MC drink?

CR: Tough question! There's really no soda (or as we call it down south, coke) in her world so I have no idea!!

AP: Cheater!! I declared Mary to be a Sprite drinker! Just like Laurel.;) What is your MC's favorite kind of flower? How about yours?

CR: My favorite flower is the daffodil -- I pretty much love all flowers but I love that the daffodil blooms so early, is so bright, and smells so yummy! Mary's favorite flower would be something simple like the little white and blue flowers that carpet meadows in the spring!

AP: Does your MC believe in magic? Do you?

CR: Yes and yes :)

AP: Explanation?

CR: . . . .

AP: Perhaps your silence is explanation enough.;) Superman or Batman?

CR: Tough choice! I think I give Batman the edge because he doesn't have inherent powers to fall back on -- he's a mere mortal who accomplishes great things!

AP: Kind of like *koffkoff* Mary! Give us one line from your book. You don't even have to give it context.:)

CR: On the edge of sleep when my thoughts are no longer my own but controlled of their own volition, the sound of the ocean comes to me: the rustling of leaves of a hundred thousand trees that surround me, pulsing with the wind as the waves crash over my head.

AP: Okay, if that does not make you want to run out right now and buy the book, my life has been wasted.;)

Seriously though; this is a book you do not want to miss out on! And I am so sure you are going to love it that I am putting my money where my mouth is and giving one away!! (See, it pays to read all the way to the bottom of the blog tour entries.;))

Okay, entering is simple. The Zombies are attacking and you have time to grab one thing in each hand!! What do you grab??

Let me know what your most important two things are by midnight on Friday and you will have a chance to win FHT!!

However, if you don't want to wait that long, FHT comes out TODAY and is being stocked in both Borders and Barnes and Noble for your reading pleasure!!

Also, feel free to visit www.carrieryan.com for more about FHT, reviews, an awesome book trailer, and tons more!

Happy release day Carrie!!!


Thursday, March 05, 2009

Since I Have an Incredible Memory . . .

I KNEW there was one more thing I was supposed to put in my blog entry last night!

The winner of the signed copy of THE SEASON!!

There were some really, really beautiful ball gown described in the comments and I had a really hard time picking, but I am going to have to go with the dress from FitToSeeJane!

"My dress would definitely be white, soft and empire waisted, with embroidered flowers around the neckline, (which is just low enough to still be tasteful) in jewel tones of scarlett, purple, burgandy and gold. It would have sweet little gathered short sleeves, so I could wear long gloves.
Oh, and a scarlett shawl and matching little scarltt slippers with embroidery."

Please email me your address at aprilynnepike at gmail dot com so we can get this awesome book on its way to you!

And now back to your regularly scheduled blogging.;)


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Wishes and Haircuts

A couple different things tonight; a friend of mine, Jeanette Rallison, sent me an ARC of her book, Just One Wish, a while ago. She is also the author of a book that's been getting some good buzz lately called My Fair Godmother which came out in January.

Since I am a fan of stealing content from Amazon, here is a bit about Just One Wish!

"Seventeen-year-old Annika Truman knows about the power of positive thinking. With a little brother who has cancer, it’s all she ever hears about. And in order to help Jeremy, she will go to the ends of the earth (or at least as far as Hollywood) to help him believe he can survive his upcoming surgery.

But Annika’s plan to convince Jeremy that a magic genie will grant him any wish throws her a curveball when he unexpectedly wishes that his television idol would visit him. Annika suddenly fi nds herself in the desperate predicament of getting access to a hunky star actor and convincing him to come home with her. Piece of cake, right?

Janette Rallison’s proven talent for laugh-out-loud humor, teen romance, and deep-hearted storytelling shines in a novel that will have readers laughing and crying at the same time. "

So, to be honest, I expected a light read with a happy ending. I didn't expect the emotion and bittersweetness that came with this novel. It really is a funny book, full of misadventures and hilarious accidents and coincidences. But at its heart, it is still a fight for a young boy's life.

It's a fun book and if it sounds interesting it will be out *drumroll* tomorrow!! At a store near you.;)

In other news, today was my son's birthday! This is unfortunate for me, because he is now four and I have lost the fun of bragging that I have a three year old who reads.

*shameless* Of course, I felt the same way when he turned three and I could no longer brag that I had a two year old who reads.

Oh, the things I have to deal with. *sigh* *snerk*

But today is a momentous day because it was also the day of the haircut!!! *cue ominous music*

My son hates haircuts. He is afraid of the buzzers, he is afraid of scissors, this has led to me doing several very, very awful haircuts in five minutes or less. (Seriously bad haircuts . . . ones that don't take weeks to start looking normal again, but months. I think some of the other mothers in my neighborhood think I am a blind moron.)

But about three months ago, I made a deal with him. I told him that when he was four years old, he would be big enough to be brave. And so we decided that he would have a haircut in a real "haircut store" when he was four. (And I am sure he only agreed because his birthday seemed so far away.)

But today it was time to pay the piper! (Also I swear his hair grew a whole inch in the last two weeks!)

So here he is before:

And after:

Isn't he cute?

I actually like the long look and if he would sit for a haircut once a month I would keep it but . . . well, he won't.

I could make some obscure comparison about revisions or shaving unneeded scenes and words . . . but in actuality, i just wanted to show you how cute my son is.:)


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Lenore . . . ?

I am mailing out prizes today for my ARC giveaway and I haven't heard from Lenore. So Lenore! I'm talking to you!!;)

Unfortunately, if I don't hear from you in the next three days, I am going to have to reassign your prize. Because I have a big gift bag and I don't want it to go to waste!

So email me at aprilynnepike at gmail dot com.

(This has been a friendly reminder, courtesy of . . . me!:D)


Sunday, March 01, 2009

Diets and Cookies and Mean Girls, Oh My!

It's been a busy but good week for the Blog Tour this week! A warm welcome to Erin Dionne with her book Models Don't Eat Chocolate Cookies!

A bit about the book:

Thirteen-year-old Celeste Harris is no string bean, but comfy sweatpants and a daily chocolate cookie suit her just fine. Her under-the-radar lifestyle could have continued too, if her aunt hadn’t entered her in the HuskyPeach Modeling Challenge. To get out of it, she’s forced to launch Operation Skinny Celeste—because, after all, a thin girl can’t be a fat model! What Celeste never imagined was that losing weight would help her gain a backbone . . . or that all she needed to shine was a spotlight.

I actually got a chance to read this book a couple of months ago and it is SO fun! For any 8-16 year old girl who is struggling with self-confidence in any way, this is great book. It's technically Middle Grade, but it was such a fun book, I really think it can skew older. A very real, very enjoyable read. I highly recommend it!

A bit about the lovely Erin Dionne:

Erin Dionne has lived on two coasts and in four states. Her debut novel, MODELS DON’T EAT CHOCOLATE COOKIES, was inspired by events that occurred in seventh grade, when she wore a scary peach bridesmaid dress in her cousin’s wedding and threw up on her gym teacher’s shoes (not at the same event). Although humiliating at the time, these experiences are working for her now.

And I know you all look forward to my Feasty Five! Here they are!

AP: What kind of soda does your MC drink?

ED: She's definitely a root beer girl. At least, she used to be....

AP: *laugh* I suspect she's a Diet Coke girl now! What is your MC's favorite kind of flower? How about yours?

ED: Celeste likes daisies. I'm a fan of violets.

AP: Awww, I love violets! Does your MC believe in magic? Do you?

ED:If you asked her, she'd say maybe, but on the inside she'd really want to believe.
Do I? Absolutely.

AP: Aren't so many of us like that? Believing on the inside? *sigh* Okay, back on track, Superman or Batman?

ED: Batman, baby. Batman. It's all about the car.

AP: Batman still winning. Give us one line from your book. You don't even have to give it context.:)

ED: From when Celeste finds out she's a contestant for Miss HuskyPeach:

But instead of picturing MY FACE THERE, all I saw were Lively and her posse from school, ponytails bobbing, fingers pointing. And what I heard was more moos.

AP: Oh man, that part of the book is so sad! Seriously, people, for an excellent read on how to have confidence no matter what you look/sound/act/smell like (well, maybe smell was going too far . . .) check out MODELS DON'T EAT CHOCOLATE COOKIES! You will not regret it!

And while you're at it, visit Erin at www.erindionne.com