Monday, February 28, 2011

News Week - 02/28/11

Hey, guys! Just a brief update. I'm still polishing up a synopsis among other work. Aside from that, I just had my birthday, and Joey took me to a restaurant called Salty's to celebrate. Wonderful sea and city view (even though it was snowing when we went) and delicious crab legs! I got a nice white chocolate cake there with a candle in it. If you ever visit Seattle, go there!

Though I am journeying further into my twenties, I don't feel too bad (yet)...because everything I do gets better as I age.

By the way, did you guys get to check out the Valentine's video from Aperture? Check it out. Yay.


I also wanted to share that Gretchen McNeil just announced her cover design! Isn't is so beautiful? Love the tree branches.

Congrats, Gretchen!


Heads up, I will soon call for guest-bloggers, for I shall be gone for a week at the end of the month!



Monday, February 14, 2011

Author Interview - SUZANNE SELFORS (second visit)

Today we have author Suzanne Selfors back again! Last time, she interviewed for Coffeehouse she returns with a new YA book called MAD LOVE. Just in time for Valentine's Day!

Neat fact: In MAD LOVE, there's a character named Realm. Here's what Suzanne said about her character Realm in the 2009 interview, "I met you last year at an event at Barnes and Noble in Bellevue. Your name really stuck with me. I'd never heard it before and loved it. So in my next teen novel, which I'm currently revising, there is a girl named Realm. She's darker than my usual characters. She struggles with an eating disorder."

It was trippy and cool to see my name in a book.

For the illustration, I drew Tony Lee -- a character from MAD LOVE. He has a skateboard with a dragon on it. I'd love to have such a skateboard myself.

1) What is MAD LOVE about?

It's about love in all its crazy shapes and sizes. Motherly love, neighborly love, burn-a-hole-in-your-gut yearning love, eternal love, lost love. It's all in there.

It's about a girl named Alice who tries to write her mother's next romance novel, with the help of a boy named Errol who claims to be Cupid.

2) What inspired the story?

I'm really into mythology. In my last book, Coffeehouse Angel, I reimagined Hermes, turning him into a modern-day messenger. Years ago I wrote a book in which I reimagined Cupid. It was for adults and I never did anything with it. But I really liked the idea of bringing Cupid to a contemporary setting so I rewrote the book, changing the main character to a teen.

3) Can you tell us about your outline or drafting process for the story?

I never outline. It just doesn't work for me. I've tried it and I ended up changing the direction of the story almost immediately. My process, if you can call it a process, is this - I always know the beginning and the ending of my story, but the journey inbetween is a mystery. That's the fun and terrifying part of the writing. I discover the story as I go.

4) How did you apply your research to the story?

I did some research on bi-polar disorder. I personally know a lot about depression, having suffered a serious, clinical bout in my early 20s that knocked me out of the world for a good year. And I knew a bit about the manic side from my father. But I still needed more research. Since my books tend to have touches of magical realism, I played a bit with the illness. That's what a fiction writer gets to do.

5) What kind of lesson does the heroine of MAD LOVE learn?

Alice wants desperately to be loved. She's grown up with a bi-polar mother and there's been a great deal of neglect and lonliness. As a little girl, she blamed her mother's illness on herself, as young children tend to do. She's felt unloveable and this effects everything she does. What she learns is that she won't be open to love until she learns to love herself.

That's a great lesson. Thanks for joining us again, Suzanne! Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!



If you're an author, editor, agent, or illustrator and would like a five question interview and a drawing of your character (or of yourself), email me at rtlovejoy (at) yahoo (dot) com. Check out the FAQ page for more information!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Jen's Blog Tour Interview - POSSUMS ARE AWESOME

Welcome to the POSSUMS ARE AWESOME blog tour for the middle-grade book, POSSUM SUMMER by Jen K. Blom, coming out in March! (Have you preordered yet?) Jen was interviewed on The Blog a while back, so check that out, too -- it has a lot of info about POSSUM SUMMER.

Today Jen answered a few questions for The Blog! P also joined in and well, did her thing...but you have to wait until the end of this little interview to see what she did!

First off, a little about the book:

a lonely kid.

an orphaned baby possum.

a dad that says no way.

how do you keep that kind of secret?

and what happens when you’re found out?

So! On we go with the Thrilling Three questions!

Realm: Princess sounds like a great character. How do you relate to the main character Princess and how did you use your own experience to create her?

JKB: I'd like to think that I had a bit of P's spunk, but I just don't know. She seemed to jump into my head about 15 years ago, and commented and railed and hissed until I broke down and wrote what she was saying. I admire her attitude and I'm proud of her being a strong-willed girl! We need those in our literature!

Realm: Princess has Oklahoma as Tom Sawyer has Mississippi. I imagine the setting must be very well done. What is your process to establish a scene/setting?

JKB: Gosh I love this...and you're absolutely right! P *is* Oklahoma, just like Tom *is* Mississippi! I like to think that they'd be best friends if she could get Mart to give up his spot. And if she moved to Mississippi, of course.

But setting. I grew up with the Oklahoma plains as my best friend, so it's very important to me in all my books that the setting has as much to say as the characters themselves. You could consider the setting a character, if you like. After finishing my first draft, I go through in successive drafts checking off particular aspects that are important to me ... and setting is first on my list. If you can't sit down and feel that story, well then, what's the point in reading it?

Realm: I don't see a story with a possum often (or ever) so I think that makes your story very unique. What drew you to them and what's an interesting possum fact you've found?

JKB: Possums get a bum rap. They're actually amazing animals, and I should know - I had one when I was little. Let's see. A very cool fact? It's extremely difficult for possums to contract rabies (practically impossible) as their blood temperature is lower than that of most other mammals. Possums FTW!

And now...Princess joins us!

Princess: HELLO MISS REALM! Miss Jen says you're an ARTIST! I am a FAN! You did a good job of drawing me here even though you gave me too many freckles! I don't like freckles!

JKB: P. Not again.

P: The last one went good! You're not the boss of me! My question is What's your favrite food?

Realm: I like steak. *JKB gives up*

P: Steak! Steak! I like steak! My dad raises Charolais! Have you ever had them? They're fat! Well, what's your favrite activit
ies? *JKB tries to chill*

Realm: Writing and drawing!

P: I don't like writing any, but drawing! Yeah! NEXT: What's yer most inneresting body part about yourself?

Realm: I am Eurasian so I have distinctly shaped amber eyes.

P: Wow! I think your eyes are really neat! They look like an animal I saw just the other day, so I already knew who I'd pick for you as an Oklahoma animal! I drawed you! I hope you like it seeing as you're a profes-proffe-an expert drawer!

P: You're definitely a Western Grey Fox, what with your eyeballs! They are really neat and did you know they can climb trees? True story! I wouldn't lie to you! Why, the other day ...


JKB: I hope you enjoy my little interview, here! *P stutters* Next up is the amazing and talented Gretchen McNeil, author of POSSESS !

Jen K. Blom writes about animals, the land, and kids, not necessarily in that order. Her debut, POSSUM SUMMER, is available March 2011. Just the thing to give to a kid to start their summer of reading off right! (Available from your local indie, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, or Book Depository!)


Hurray, thank you, Jen! I am honored to be a part of your tour...and what a treat to have a drawing for me! Love the gray fox!


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Author Interview - MARIAN PERERA

Author interviews are back! Today we have author Marian Perera. She is a laboratory-technologist-in-training by day and a fantasy writer by night. I asked her how she got into laboratory technology and she said, "I’ve always been fascinated by diseases, especially those caused by microorganisms. It’s like an arms race with microbes on one side and humans on the other. And since I love writing fantasy novels with scientific slants, what I learn comes in useful out of the laboratory as well."

Pretty cool author, huh? Her new adult fantasy book BEFORE THE STORM is out this month from Samhain Publishing, so be sure to check it out.

The illustration featured is of Mayerd -- the captain of Lord Robert Demeresna’s household guard. He’s a foreigner, but he’s also mentally crippled so that he can no longer use magic. Marian described him as, "He rarely smiles and never laughs. He’s loyal and brave, but he’s also hiding an ugly secret. " So I gave him a dark look -- probably my favorite way to draw.

1) What is BEFORE THE STORM about?

A baron and a whore who fall in love as they struggle to save their land, although they know their relationship is more doomed than the land.

2) From the description I read, the setting sounds very interesting. Can you tell us more about the world the story is set in?

If Victorian England and medieval fantasy had a bastard child, that would be Dagre. It’s a land of manor houses and ancient castles, elegant banquets and clandestine plots. The official religion, propagated by a church called the Quorum, involves worship of the Benevolent Ones. But the Quorum is also – in secret – experimenting with scientific devices that can be used in war.

Dagre’s dual nature runs deep. Dagrans consider themselves far more civilized than the people of neighboring lands, yet foreigners are viewed with suspicion or treated with cruelty if they happen to be magic-users. It’s also acceptable for the nobility to own and use certain women, but those women are referred to by the polite term “mares”.

This deeply flawed condition parallels the state of the world. Dagre is one of the lands in the continent of Eden , which was once perfect. But now it’s corrupted, and each land reflects the Fall in a different way.

3) That's a great description of Dagre! What inspired you to set your story in a medieval world with steam engines?

Dagre is on the verge of the Industrial Revolution, and whenever I think of that turning-point in history, I think of steam engines.

Plus, it was sheer fun to play with war-engines that have spiked wheels, like the ones on Messala’s chariot in Ben-Hur. With the added bonus of blowing up real good in the battle at the end.

4) What's your advice for effective world building?

If I condensed it to three points…

1. Know what has been done and what could be done. Read both speculative fiction and non-fiction like Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel.

2. Make the world different in as many ways as possible. There’s not much point in having a five-armed purple-skinned alien who calls his girlfriend Sweetie – unless the story is a parody. The mentality and culture of alien or fantastic races needs to be different as well.

3. It’s about the story. Original worldbuilding is great, but don’t let the plot come to a halt so someone can explain the history of the world or the intricacies of the magic system. Ideally, worldbuilding should make readers want more, not less.

5) Great advice! Many of us are curious about all the different publishers that are out there. Can you tell us about your experience working with Samhain Publishing for BEFORE THE STORM?

My favorite part of the Samhain experience has been working with my editor and with the artist who designed the cover of my novel. Not only are they both very good at what they do, it was easy to communicate with them and develop my manuscript into the best possible book.

I’m also pleased with my sales – and those are just from the e-book. The paperback will be released in February of 2011. So all in all, it’s been a very productive experience that I’m hoping to repeat with the sequel.

Sounds awesome. Communication is everything. Marian, thank you so much for the interview!

Readers, check out BEFORE THE STORM here.




If you're an author, editor, agent, or illustrator and would like a five question interview and a drawing of your character (or of yourself), email me at rtlovejoy (at) yahoo (dot) com. Check out the FAQ page for more information!