Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sweet Reads Spooky Edition: Halloween Chex Mix and The Monstrumologist

Once a month I'll be posting a dessert recipe and an excerpt(s) from a book that's struck me just right, whether it be gorgeous descriptions, funny dialogue, swoon-worthy kisses, sarcastic come-backs, or spine-tingling encounters.

As I was perusing my shelves for a scary pick this month, I was coming up a bit dry, as I don't really read 'scary'. I'm a chicken. But when my eye landed on The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey(you know that The Fifth Wave guy?) I knew I had a winner. This book delivers on the gore; within the first twenty pages we have the body of a girl on an examination table- with a dead monster still attached. Funny enough, it choked on her pearls while munching away...

The mc, Will, is one brave little man. He follows Dr. Pellinore Warthrop(that's a mouthful) into some heart-pounding scary places. But as the good doctor took him in when his parents died, Will feels like his home is by the doctor's side, despite what goes on in that man's basement. Not for the faint-hearted, lemme tell you. Here's the monstrumologist teaching Will a few things:

"Their reach exceeds that of an average man by nearly a foot and a half. Observe how large its hands is." He placed his own hand, palm to palm, against the monster's. The creature's hand engulfed the doctor's as an adult's would a child's. "Like the lion, it uses it claws as its primary form of attack, but, unlike the large mammalian predators, it does not attempt to kill its prey before it begins to feed. More like the shark or an insect, the Anthropophagus prefers living flesh."

Charming. And b/c no spooky edition isn't complete w/out a good chase scene, here ya go:

They came from the trees; they poured out of Eliza's grave, dozens of them, scores, sprinting with arms outstretched and mouths agape, their colorless skin radiant in the starlight, as if every tomb and sepulcher had vomited forth their foul contents. Clearly we were being outpaced. I watched in helpless horror as the swarm of fiends closed the gap.

Now on to something more cheery- sweet stuff!

Halloween Chex Mix

8  oz white chocolate baking bars, coarsely chopped
4  cups Corn Chex or Rice Chex cereal
2  cups bite-size pretzel twists
1/2  cup raisins
1  cup candy corn
1/4  cup orange and black candy decors

1. In large microwavable bowl, microwave chopped baking bars uncovered on High 1 min 30 seconds to 2 mins 30 seconds, until melted and smooth.

2. Gently stir in cereal, pretzels and raisins until evenly coated. Stir in candy corn and decors.

3. Spread on waxed paper or foil until cool and chocolate is set, about 30 mins. Break into chunks. Store loosely covered.

I couldn't find any decors(what the heck...?) so I just bought sprinkles. Happy "goblin"! And for all those who might be trick or treating this year- stay safe out on the roads!

Friday, October 25, 2013

I Won Something!!!

Last week I entered Natalie Whipple's(author of Transparent) seven line pitch contest over on her blog Between Fact and Fiction. Pitch your story in seven words(to celebrate her seven year blog anniversary) and she would pick seven winners to receive a query and 10 page critique. Woo-boy! So when it came time to find out who the winners were, I had that yucky tummy feeling as I scanned the page and then...I saw my name! It was the best.feeling.ever.

This is the pitch I submitted: Grieving teen fights gargoyles in 1777 Boston.
And here's what Natalie said: I liked the historical aspect of this, and am interested to see how the implied paranormal elements play in. Maybe because I'm in love with Sleepy Hollow, but 1777 Boston sounds like a cool time period to showcase.

Squuuueeee!!! I think it's so neat that Natalie did something like this. Plus, it was super interesting to get to read all the entries. Natalie's also got a new book coming out soon(April 15th 2014) called House of Ivy and Sorrow that promises to be terrific.

So how 'bout you all- anyone have any good news to share too? Love to hear it!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sushine and Sweet

I was recently nominated for two blog awards- the Sunshine Blog Award by Ashley Nixon and the Super Sweet by Ruth Schiffmann from Out on a Limb. Yay! It's always so nice when someone does that. And yes, I'm cheating by doing them together. Forgive me, please? *puppy dog eyes*
Fav color: I don't really have one... It just depends what jumps out at me on any certain day.
Fav animal: Or otter. Perhaps the fox.
Fav number: I don't like odd numbers. That's sorta an answer...
Fav non-alcoholic drink: I've got this one! Diet vanilla coke from Steak 'n Shake.
Fav alcholic drink: N/A(I love getting to put that on forms at work- it's like na-na-na! I don't have to answer that.) 
Facebook or Twitter: I don't tweet(is that the correct term?), so I guess Facebook. In small doses.
Passions: Reading & writing.
Prefer giving or getting presents: Giving! My step-dad once said I was one of the most thoughtful 'gifters' he knew. Until the ripped marlin shirt incident...Lets just say my Christmas Eve was spent doing some desperate(bad) sewing. Dang sales rack and poor eye sight.
Fav city: Though I've not been there, I'd really love to visit Charleston, SC. Delicious food & history, can't beat that combo.
Fav TV show: Whatever happens to be on Disney Jr. that lets me take a shower in peace. =)
1. Cookies or cake? Don't force me to choose! The agony! Cake...cookie...cookie stuffed in cake?
2. Chocolate or vanilla? Vah-nee-lah! Though I won't turn my nose up at chocolate. Mama didn't raise no fool.
3. Favorite sweet treat? Anything w/cream cheese.
4. When do you crave sweet things the most? After eating lunch or dinner. Time to fill the dessert 'shelf'!
5. Sweet Nick Name? My husband calls me Babe.
Thanks again to Ashley & Ruth! You two are both fun gals, whose blogs I always love to visit. Now, my cheating is not done for today. This is the part where I'd nominate other people, but truth be told, I'm starting to run out of people. =/ And options, as I've noticed just about all my blogger buddies have already done their rounds w/these particular awards.
So if you're reading this and would like to snag these pretty awards for yourself, consider yourself tagged! If you'd like to send me an email when you post, I'd love to stop by to check out your answers. Or everyone can join in the fun and answer any of the above questions in the comments.
Ta-ta for now!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Kidlit Blog Tour

I was asked by the lovely Becky Shillington over at Tapestry of Words to take part in a blog tour in which writers answer questions about their writing. And what writer doesn't love to talk about their made-up worlds and characters dear to their hearts? =)

1. What are you working on right now?
A House Divided, a YA historical fantasy set in Charleston, SC, right before the battle over Fort Sumter. It involves gryphons, verandas, languid fanning, spying, and parties. Yes, dahling.
2. How does A House Divided differ from other works in its genre?
Well...I guess the way it differs is that I've taken history and jumbled it about w/mythological creatures that I don't think have been seen alot in fiction(as of yet): gryphons. And boy, do I love them! I want one of my own. You can fly on them...and now you want one too, don't you?  
3. Why do you write what you do?
I love to read YA, so therefore it's what I naturally gravitate towards when writing.
4. How does your writing process work?
I outline loosely, getting down on paper the 'big' scenes that come to me when I first start brainstorming(Imagination Movers, anyone?). Then after that I just start writing, adjusting or adding or cutting as I go.

5. Any departing words of wisdom for other authors?
Never eat yellow...oh. Not that kind of wisdom! ;) Well, I'm no expert on writer wisdom, but here goes: Go w/what feels right. If it's writing everyday- cool beans. If it's not- cool beans. I think we've all read a million times(and it's so true) that what works for one person, won't always work for another. Find your individuality in the way you approach your writing, so that you're not struggling to fit a mold that isn't you. And as w/everything, there will be good days and there will be bad days. But I promise you especially bad days if you eat yellow snow.
And now here are three other fantastic writers, who will be talking about their writing on October 21st. Make sure to check them out!
Happy Monday everyone!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

In Which I Design A Book Cover

Before I tell you why this post is named the above, here's some backstory first.

When I was younger I liked drawing, and when the muse was present, I wasn't half bad. But sadly, you don't use it, you lose it, and I haven't touched a pencil in years. My 'drawing' now happens at work on scraps of paper. Embarrassingly my last doodle involved a medieval sort of man running w/a sword held over his head(and a customer saw it). But he was able to tell what it was even upside down, so I guess it wasn't too horrible... I digress. So: history of drawing. Present: Sadly out of practice.

But when I read about a certain contest over on Sara B. Larson's blog, I knew I was going to jump at the chance to participate. Design a cover for her upcoming debut, Defy, post it on your blog or submit it on Facebook, and she could pick you to win a signed ARC of Defy!

I immediately commenced to doodle some stuff. Like arms holding swords. Which looked like noodles holding lumpy sticks. Then I thought I'd go w/collage. Except everything I printed off the 'net was too big or too small. And then I thought about silhouettes. Silhouette covers are some of my absolute fav covers. When I see them my heart gets happy.

So here is the cover I designed for Sara B. Larson's Defy, due out Jan. 7th, 2014. Tah-dah!!!

And here is the blurb, lifted off of Goodreads:

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?
* * *
On the original template I did, the swords looked much better, but when I transferred it over to the black card stock, it was a little harder to get them as sleek. They came out a bit clunky. *le sigh* I chose to go w/the swords stuck in the ground as it came across as defiant to me. And since much of the book sounds like it takes place in a jungle, I think the tree fits in perfectly as well.
And, finally, here is the real cover:
It's beautiful, isn't it? I want to grab that dagger and sta- uh, admire it, while hurting no one! ;) If anyone else wants to get in on the action, Sara's running the contest until Oct. 21st. And if you haven't an artistic bone in your body, she's also running a Rafflecopter giveaway for a second copy of Defy to give out. Yippee! Now everyone wish me luck, please! ;)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Great Author Born On This Day

James Alfred Wight
Oct. 3rd, 1926- Feb. 23rd, 1995

I can't remember what age I was when my mom handed me one of James Herriot's books. I just remember that I devoured it, loved it, and wanted to read everything he'd ever written. JH was one of the reasons I wanted to be a vet(until I learned how many years it took(8) and required strong math skills(ha.ha.)).

James Alfred Wight(pen name James Herriot) was a country vet who started practicing in the 1940's in Yorkshire. Now for those of you who've I've just lost b/c you're not a fan of animals: hang on. Herriot's books are as much about people as they are animals. He was a master of making human nature come to life on the page- but he did it humbly, with simple words.

And if you are an animal lover, then who wouldn't love to read about dogs and cats, sheep and pigs, cows and horses? Also, I have to admit, JH is the reason I won't eat lamb. I've fond memories of being curled up in a chair reading about soft, wiggly lambs being born on cold, windy hillsides. Anytime I do think I'd like to try a genuine gyro, those memories rare their inconvenient heads. So far I've not ate lamb in all my twenty-nine years. (Now steak on the other hand...)

In honor of Herriot's birthday, I'd like to give away one of his books, James Herriot's Animal Stories. This is a collection of his work w/beautiful, whimsical illustrations. There's also a Cat Stories and Dog Stories, if you're so inclined more strongly toward one than the other. I once owned Cat Stories but that is a tale for another time(like if you loan out books make sure it's understood that you want them BACK!)

If you're a fan of JH and would like Animal Stories, all you have to do is comment. And if you've not read him yet, then I promise you this'll be a treat! Here's the book, just waiting to find its new home:

Anyone who comments from between 10/3 and 10/4 will be entered to win. Good luck!

Happy Birthday, James Herriot!!!
*Also, b/c I'm feeling lazy(sorry), I'm just going to announce the winner in the comments section.