Monday, June 22, 2015

Your Questions Answered! (By a Nice British Author)

Author Mike Revell is back, and with answers. Thanks to all who submitted a question-- you'll find your reply below!

Kristen: What is your hidden talent? Something you're good at that most people wouldn't know?

Hmm... what a good question! I wish I had something quirky, but alas not. I'm not too bad at art, although I haven't drawn anything properly for around nine years. I'd love to try making picture books or comics though.

Tiana: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

To make yourself a promise: never give up. So many good books wouldn't be around if the author gave up when an earlier story was rejected. Even though Stonebird is my first published book, it's the third one I've written. The other two were rejected by everyone. Keep writing, even when it's hard, and keep finishing stories and keep sending them out, and never give up.

Kimberly: What's your favorite American TV show?

Game of Thrones, without a doubt. It's easily the best thing on TV! But it takes so long to get here, then vanishes in the blink of an eye. If not that, then probably something like Jimmy Fallon - I wish we had his show over here!

Beth Ellyn: What inspired you to write this particular story?

It was a bit of a collision between two different ideas. Whenever an idea pops into my head, I write it down in a notebook, and sometimes two or more fragments bump into each other and become something I never expected. My grandma had dementia for a long time, and I wanted to write about the importance of memories. But I also wanted to write about a gargoyle that came alive under the moonlight. Then I started wondering, if gargoyles can protect buildings from evil spirits, what else can they protect?

Suzanne: How long did it take you to write Stonebird?

The first draft happened very quickly. Probably around two months to write the majority of the book, because a lot of it was based on real experiences. But then there was about a year of editing, both with my agent and my editor, so I guess just over a year from first word to completely finished manuscript.

Kelly: What's the most interesting fact you learned about gargoyles while researching?

That not all gargoyles are actually gargoyles. Many of them are grotesques!

Vijaya: What is your personal connection with dementia and the gargoyle?

My grandma had severe dementia for many years, so I saw firsthand how it affected our family, and how we remembered more and more of her even as her own memories slipped away. By the end, when she wasn't really herself anymore, those memories were more important than ever. My interest in gargoyles really came about through the cartoon when I was a kid. I just thought it was so brilliant seeing these stone monsters erupting into life in New York.

Sioux: Who is your favorite Doctor?

Easily Matt Smith! I just thought he captured the madness perfectly, and his monologues were generally the most epic scenes I've seen on the show. Plus, bow ties are cool.

Marcia: Have you considered a sequel?

I don't think I'll write a sequel, purely because the story has always felt very standalone to me. My next book is similar in some ways, but very different in others. And after that, there are too many other ideas to dive into!
* * * 
And a big thank you to Mike, as well as best wishes for Stonebird and his writing career! 

When eleven-year-old Liam moves house to be closer to his grandma, he's thrown into an unfamiliar place, with a family that seems to be falling apart.

Liam doesn't remember what Grandma was like before she became ill with dementia. He only knows the witch-like old woman who snaps and snarls and eats her birthday cards. He desperately wants to make everything better, but he can't.

Escaping the house one evening, Liam discovers an old stone gargoyle in a rundown church, and his life changes in impossible ways.

The gargoyle is alive. It moves unseen in the night, acting out Liam's stories. And stories can be dangerous things . . .

But Grandma's illness is getting worse, Liam's mum isn't coping, and his sister is skipping school.

What if the gargoyle is the only thing that can save Liam's family?

Ready. Set. Write! Week 3

Ready.Set.Write! is a summer writing intensive hosted by Jaime Morrow, Alison Miller, Katy Upperman, Erin Funk, and Elodie Nowodazkij. Every Monday participants share how they're doing in reaching their goals for the summer. To see a full list of participants, go here.

1. How I did on last week's goals: 50/50. I got 72 pages of hard copy edits in, when my goal was 60, so hit that. My word count goal on my WiP was 8K and I hit 4,711. *sad face*

2. My goals for this week: To write 5,500 on my WiP. And another 60 pages of hard copy edits into the computer.

3. A favorite line from my story: There’s so much to see, the memories coming quickly and leaving just as fast, while more bloom simultaneously. At some point, Shane draws me down beside him. Hands intertwined, we lie on the roof and watch the memories play across the sky.

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week: Motivation was the biggest. I just wanted to surf Goodreads, and look at publisher submission pages, and stare at pretty author websites. My second challenge was the fact that I'm nearing the middle of my WiP. And that means I'm figuring out some of my earlier 'rules' for my necromancy world aren't working and need changed. Which meant on some of my writing days, I was confused on how to go forward, so...{pulls up pretty author website!} What actually helped me pull out of it was to jump forward and write a new scene, one I'd been looking forward to. And I usually NEVER write out of order. 

5. Something I love about my WiP: That it's set in a place I'll be visiting soon. New Orleans!! We leave at the end of the week for a trip there. So. Excited. There will be much beignet eating. All in the name of research, of course. *wink* So with that said, you all won't see me around for the fourth week of RSW! But I'll be back for Week 5, possibly with vacation pictures... 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Organizing a Book Festival: A Guest Post by Vanessa Barger

{All pics from the Hampton Roads Teen Book Festival}
Today, author Vanessa Barger has stopped by to talk about organizing a book festival. I can only imagine all the work that took! But what a cool endeavor to undertake. Here she is, to tell us all about it:

First, Thank you for having me out to your blog! I really appreciate it!
So, in case you didn’t know, I’m here to talk about creating and putting on the Hampton Roads Teen Book Festival! The event went well – let me say that first off, and offer a huge thank you to all the amazing authors who came out, to Books-A-Million, and to the Virginia Beach Public Library (especially my contact, Martha Hewitt!)
The idea for the festival came about because in my day job, I’m a technology education teacher in a high school in Hampton Roads. I also run a Young Writers club. I’d been looking for writing events to tell my students about and/or be able to take them to, but honestly, there’s not much on the east coast, at least in our price range. So I decided that it was time Hampton Roads had its own festival. We have a lot of writing and writers down here, but there hadn’t been anything specifically geared for teens. So after going to the Hampton Roads AuthorFest at the Central Library, I thought I’d contact them and see if they’d be willing to host it.
That’s where things started.
I put out a call for authors interested in coming and got some amazing response. I never would have thought so many people would put out the time and money to come to a free event that they weren’t getting paid for. But they did, and I shall love them forever for it!
I knew I wanted authors, I wanted someone to sell the authors’ books, and I wanted panels and workshops and such. So I went about contacting local booksellers, and after a rough start, the Landstown Commons Books-A-Million in Virginia Beach came through and were the friendliest, nicest people to work with. We did have some snafus, but they were great about trying their best to work them out, and now I know what to look out for next year.
The biggest challenge in the whole thing was probably getting the word out. The authors were amazing and extremely flexible and helpful. Getting the word out was harder. Since the library was giving us the space for free, they posted to their events page, but that’s all the publicity from that end. I wrote emails to ever librarian and/or English department chair of every high school (and some middle schools) in the Hampton Roads area that I could find. Hopefully they don’t want to kill me for that.
I made a website, a printable flyer, made a brochure for the day of, setup Survey Monkey’s for attendees and author feedback, and put the word out on the local events pages for the state, and local news channels. I sent out information to anyone I could think of that would spread the word.
Honestly, the only money there was to spend was what came from my own pocket, so advertising was the hardest bit.
We had a decent turnout, considering how close to SOLs (that’s what Virginia calls their state testing. Go ahead and laugh. We do.) and the end of school it was. I think it was a success for being the first go around. The attendance was between 45-75 (we think) and we sold some books. With better advertising, I think it would be much more well attended. Possibly a change in date too.
The authors were fabulous and I cannot begin to thank them enough.
Like I said, this was a starter year, and I learned a lot. I’m definitely planning to do it again next year. I’ve already contacted a possible organization to partner with and I’ve redesigned the website and I’m plotting away. Anyone who knows me will tell you – I don’t do anything by halves. So next year will be amazing, or there’s no point in doing it. ☺
I’ve already got a dedicated domain name and email address, and I’m compiling lists. So if you’re an author and you want to attend…. ;)
I’d be happy to answer any questions you have as well! And if you were there, feel free to leave a comment and tell us what you thought!


To view more of the festival visit

* * *

Vanessa Barger was born in West Virginia, and through several moves ended up spending the majority of her life in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is a graduate of George Mason University and Old Dominion University, and has degrees in Graphic Design, a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, and a Masters in Technology Education. She has had articles published in Altered Arts Magazine, has had some artwork displayed in galleries in Ohio and online, and currently teaches engineering, practical physics, drafting and other technological things to high school students in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She is a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and the Virginia Writer's Club. When not writing or teaching, she’s a bookaholic, movie fanatic, and loves to travel. She has one cat, who believes Vanessa lives only to open cat food cans, and can often be found baking when she should be editing.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Monday, June 15, 2015

Ready.Set.Write! Week 2

Ready.Set.Write! is a summer writing intensive hosted by Jaime Morrow, Alison MillerKaty UppermanErin Funk, and Elodie Nowodazkij. Every Monday participants share how they're doing in reaching their goals for the summer. To see a full list of participants, go here.

1. How I did on last week's goals: I forgot to set goals last week to report on for this week, but I got in 3,690 words on my YA paranormal, and I got 20 pages of my hard copy edits into the computer. I got a bit derailed by writing an adult short story that has a bit of a literary twist (at least for me) and then also writing a picture book. With art notes and everything! It's not very good, but it's something I've wanted to do for awhile, so I did it. 

2. My goal(s) for this week: Write 8,000 words on the paranormal. Get in 60 pages of hard copy edits.

3. A favorite line from my story: 

Just a ghost dog and a ghost horse, keeping watch on a French Quarter street corner.

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week: My computer being broken until Wednesday. So I did most of my writing at work. I sit in front of a computer, so when I'm not helping members, I'm pecking away at a Word doc. I will admit, it is one of the perks to being in banking. =)

5. Something I love about my WiP: That the main character, Flannery Hale, has a limp. I've wanted to write a character with a limp for forever! As a kid I was fascinated by limps, and used to practice walking with one. Which I know is terrible. Now, all grown up, I am very grateful I do not have a limp. I just impose them on fictional people.

(And on a side note, today I'm celebrating my short story being published. There are cupcakes and a giveaway, which you can find here!)

Release Day for Brave New Girls + a Giveaway! (AKA I'm now published!)

Yay!!! Brave New Girls: Tales of Girls and Gadgets is now live! It's available on Amazon, B&N, and several other retail sites. To celebrate, I'm giving away a copy*. I've also baked cupcakes to take around a few places today, b/c you can't celebrate properly unless there's cupcakes.

These are Cika's Cupcakes. Literally. See-- he's sitting on them! 

I went with a spicy chocolate cupcake so they'd have a bit of a kick to them... (See what I did there? Heh.) I blew up and copied the illustration of Cika from my title page for The Mad Scientist's Daughter. Isn't he just the cutest?

Sixteen-year-old Viala Chesney keeps her inventions a secret. Because when you're the daughter of a mad scientist who committed murder, it's better that way. The last thing she wants is for people to think she'll turn out just like her father. Not that there are many places to hide when you live on a starship.

Starved for company, Viala invents a way to talk to a boy left in a coma following a shuttle crash. But what she discovers leads her to stumble upon a plot that endangers everyone aboard the ship. And it's up to her to stop the threat - before it's too late.

First line: 

No one wants you around when your father is the mad scientist responsible for a dozen murders.

24th line since there are 24 letters in the title: 

At the sound of a chime, she put away her knife and placed her chopping efforts in the chiller.

A favorite line (b/c I like the idea of a tiny robot lizard hiding in my hair. Yes, I'm weird):

She powered up her computer, and her messy topknot on her head wobbled as Cika scrambled from it.

And lastly, a random line: 

His eyes lost some of their edge as he heard the sadness she couldn't keep from her voice. 

* * * 

This collection of sci-fi stories features brainy young heroines who use their smarts to save the day. Girls who fix robots and construct superhero suits, hack interstellar corporations and build virtual reality platforms. Who experiment with alien chemicals and tinker with time machines. Who defy expectations and tap into their know-how—in the depths of space, or the bounds of dystopia, or the not-too-distant future—to solve despicable crimes, talk to extraterrestrials, and take down powerful villains.

All revenues from sales of this anthology will be donated a scholarship fund through the Society of Women Engineers. Let’s show the world that girls, too, can be tomorrow’s inventors, programmers, scientists, and more.

 Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Smashwords

"Brave New Girls shows young girls that math, science, and engineering are not a 'boys only club.' Girls are not only allowed, but should be celebrated. I'm incredibly proud to be part of it."

--Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author, scientist, and mom

I also want to say a big congrats to my fellow anthology authors, and a HUGE THANK YOU to Paige Daniels and Mary Fan for all their hard work. They dreamed this project up together, and hustled tirelessly to get it done. Just like all our girl heroines in Brave New Girls, they rock. Thank you, ladies!! It's much appreciated.

*Shipping to US only (but I do love all my non-US readers!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Would You Like to Ask a Nice British Author a Question?

Mike Revell is the author of the recently released Stonebird from Quercus books. And he will be answering your questions! From now until June 14th, feel free to ask him anything you want (well, you know, within reason. I'm sure he doesn't want to share his bank account number with you, or anything of that sort). Just submit your question in the comments section and I will then scoop them up and send them on to Mike. Writing, reading, books, life in general, bring it on! 

His answers will then be posted on June 19th for all to read. So yay, I'm super excited! And if you think Stonebird looks good (I sure do!) then feel free to mark it on Goodreads. And check out Mike's website, which has a fantastic design.  

So ask away, lovely readers!

When eleven-year-old Liam moves house to be closer to his grandma, he's thrown into an unfamiliar place, with a family that seems to be falling apart.

Liam doesn't remember what Grandma was like before she became ill with dementia. He only knows the witch-like old woman who snaps and snarls and eats her birthday cards. He desperately wants to make everything better, but he can't.

Escaping the house one evening, Liam discovers an old stone gargoyle in a rundown church, and his life changes in impossible ways.

The gargoyle is alive. It moves unseen in the night, acting out Liam's stories. And stories can be dangerous things . . .

But Grandma's illness is getting worse, Liam's mum isn't coping, and his sister is skipping school.

What if the gargoyle is the only thing that can save Liam's family?
Amazon | B&N

Monday, June 8, 2015

Ready. Set. Write! Summer 2015: Goals

(June 8th-Aug. 31st)

Ready. Set. Write! is back! This summer writing intensive-- hosted by Jaime Morrow, Katy Upperman, Erin Funk, and Elodie Nowodazkij-- helped me a lot last year. I finished my dystopian while participating, and I know if I didn't have the public goals I'd set to drive me on, instead of by the end of summer, I wouldn't have finished until the end of the year. RSW! works people! 

So today, I'm setting my GOALS for the summer, which are:
  • Finish revising the dystopian so I can get it to my critique partners.
  • Finish fast drafting a paranormal novel set in New Orleans. 
  • And if I get all that done before the end of RSW!, start back on my middle grade ghost story that's almost 50% complete.

There you have it! What I'm hoping to accomplish this summer. Did you hear that, super-competitive, hate-to-fail-at-goals, self? It's on! ;)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Author Stop: Jessica Lawson

1. I love the title Nooks & Crannies (ampersand, woot!). Was this always the working title or was it something that you collaborated with Simon & Schuster on?

I’m so glad you like it! I have a Word document that’s nothing but title ideas that pop into my head— things that seem catchy to me and might have a story behind them, but don’t at the moment. “Nooks & Crannies” was sitting (poor lonely title!) in that document for awhile before I wrote a story that it would fit with. When I realized that my main character, Tabitha Crum, was heading to a isolated manor house, I dusted off the title and slapped it on my manuscript. Simon & Schuster was kind enough to keep it!

2. What fruit do you like to eat the most?

I had my first pomegranate last year and fell in love. Before that, I considered them too high-maintenance and fancy for my fruit-eating needs, but once I watched a half-a-dozen (literally) YouTube videos on the best way to get the seeds out, I was hooked. Have been ever since.

3. A mystery seems to be at the heart of your book. Did you grow up reading mysteries?

I grew up reading chapter book mysteries in the vein of Cam Jansen—those were always fun! While mysteries weren’t necessarily the genre of books I gravitated toward as a young reader, they definitely were present in my reading life.

I distinctly remember reading Agatha Christie’s And Then There were None in late middle school or so, and being SO creeped out. The psychology behind the plot was disturbing in nature, but fascinating in terms of “Wow! How did she come up with that???” And one of my aunts was a big mystery reader and whenever I went to her house, she had stacks of mystery paperbacks—Mary Higgins Clark, P.D. James, Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot books, etc. When I read mysteries, I tend to do it in spurts of 4 to 5 books in quick succession and then take a break.

4. Name your favorite vegetable. Wait, never mind, this is getting too healthy. Name your favorite junk food. 

I tend to crave things that are savory, not sweet. Crunchy, salty things like chips/fries/onion rings/fried pickles are my favorites. Hey, fried pickles/onion rings/fries—all combos of vegetable & junk food ☺. 

5. And lastly, what is a fav line (s) from N&C?

Inspector Pensive is a mystery book character that my protagonist loves/admires, and quotes from those made-up books start each chapter. Those Pensive quotes are among my favorite lines in the book. They tend to be a little eccentric and were loads of fun to come up with. Here are two:

“Physical drills are nonsense, Tibbs,” said Pensive, waving a hand at his partner. “Mental acuity provides the lion’s share of an Inspector’s strength, thus making daily observations my particular version of organized exercise. Feel free to keep swinging your arms in those ridiculous patterns, though. Quite entertaining.”

—Inspector Percival Pensive, The Case of the Backhanding Butcher

“A ghost is a ridiculous excuse for a poorly-executed boat party, Tibbs. The ‘disturbances’ can more likely be attributed to resident rats than angry spirits. Though I daresay I’d be angry too if I had to haunt this odorous nightmare. Smells like bad tuna and feet. Do take my extra hanky for your nose.”

—Inspector Percival Pensive, The Case of the Galley Ghost’s Gumption

*Thank you SO much for having me on your fabulous blog!!!

* * * 

You are welcome!! And, mmm, fried pickles. I'd eat up a plate of them right now, if you someone handed them to me. And, dear readers, there are TWO GIVEAWAYS today! Thanks to Jessica's generosity, one commenter will win a hardcover of Nooks & Crannies! And the other a $5 Amazon gift card. Please just remember to follow Jessica at one or more of her social media links, thanks! {Winners announced via comment section on Sat, 5/6}

Jessica Lawson is the author of The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher, a children’s novel that Publishers Weekly called “a delightfully clever debut… a rewarding read on many levels” in a starred review. Her second book, Nooks & Crannies, has received three starred reviews (School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist) and is a Junior Library Guild Selection. Jessica lives with her husband and children in Palmer Lake, Colorado, where she regularly sees a fox family trotting around the neighborhood (which makes her feel like she’s in one of her favorite Roald Dahl books). You can visit her at

Tabitha Crum is a girl with a big imagination and a love for mystery novels, though her parents think her only talent is being a nuisance. She doesn't have a friend in the world, except her pet mouse, Pemberley, with whom she shares her dingy attic bedroom.

Then, on the heels of a rather devastating announcement made by her mother and father, Tabitha receives a mysterious invitation to the country estate of the wealthy but reclusive Countess of Windermere, whose mansion is rumored to be haunted. There, she finds herself among five other children, none of them sure why they've been summoned. But soon, a very big secret will be revealed— a secret that will change their lives forever and put Tabitha’s investigative skills to the test.