Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

First of all, thank you to everyone who supported the Publishing Hearts for Connecticut. They were able to raise $5,500 for those families and victims of the Sandy Hook incident. It really showed that there is hope and goodness in the hearts of people.

Check out my blog post over at the MiG's on what to ask if you get that agent call.

I will be taking a short break from blogging to enjoy the holidays (and get some writing projects finished too!).

And then it's 2013!!!! I'm super excited about this year because this is my pub year!

This time of year can be extremely busy and hectic but I'm hoping you'll find peace and joy through it all.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Publishing Hearts Connecticut

This past week has been a tough time for our nation with those who we lost in Connecticut. As an elementary teacher myself, the incidents that occured really hit home for me.

I am so thankful for the Publishing Hearts Connecticut that has formed this week. This is a fundraiser in the publishing industry to benefit families and victims of the Connecticut Sandy Hook Shooting. All donations will be made directly to the Newtown Connecticut Youth and Family Services
I am honored to be able to donate a query and a 25-page manuscript critique for this event. Follow this link to make a bid.

I strongly urge you to support this need either through promoting the event on Facebook or Twitter, or bid on one of the many items being offered.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Challenges of the Publishing Journey

Today I'm vlogging over at The Lucky 13s. This week we are discussing what the hardest part of the publishing journey has been for us so far. When I sat down to talk about it, I realized there is no "easy" involved. Just lots of hard. But one part isn't necessarily harder than the next. Each step of the journey has it's own challenges.

I hope you'll stop by and say hi.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Winner of Sanctum

I am happy to announce the winner of Sanctum by Sarah Fine is Medeia Sharif! Congrats! Email me your address at farley dot christinal at gmail.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Author Skype Visits

Not long ago, I had my first Author Skype Visit. It was so much fun and I would definitely do it again. My previous school that I taught at, Seoul Foreign School in Seoul, Korea, has a program where they take a week off from studies and explore other cultures or areas of expertise.

One of the programs is a writing course where students learn about how to write as well as tour and write around Seoul. My presentation kicked off their week and I hope inspired them in their writing.

How I did it:
1. First I set up a Skype account for me as an author. This was separate from my personal account.
2. I emailed the school my account details as well as an agenda of our visit and handouts for the students to use throughout their week of writing.
3. About 30 minutes before the visit, I set up my area where my computer was. I even had 'props' to show the students an insider's view on how I write and what I do.
4. Once we were connected, I introduced myself and gave them a background of my writing experiences and what my upcoming book was about.
5. Their teacher had the student's prepare questions to ask me. This was really fun because it gave me a chance to go into more details on how I work as a writer.
6. At the end of our time, I promised them bookmarks once they were designed. If I were to already have my book out, I would've emailed the class bookmarks and personalized autographed bookplates for each student.

Things to keep aware of:

1. Skype might blink out and you get disconnected. Don't panic. Just decide ahead of time who is going to call who to get reconnected.
2. I had some time lags on my end. Stay calm and and ask the student's to repeat their question.
3. In my situation, I couldn't see the whole class at one time, only when the students came up to the camera in groups. I felt like I was talking to the wall so I had to 'imagine' a whole class in front of me.
4. Remember to smile and speak clearly.

Great links on Skype you should check out:
Have you ever participated in a skype visit as an author or audience? What was your experience like?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Using a Plot Grid

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned pulling out my plot grid when I was revising a manuscript and promised to talk more about that later. Now that NaNo is finished and many of you have a very rough draft in place, it's key to pull out or create a plot grid.

Why have a plot grid?

1. Plotting- Gives you a bird's eye view of the structure of your plot.

I'm a sucker for a good plot. Especially one that's unpredictable. Of course, creating an unpredictable plot is another whole blog post for another day.

2. Character Appearances- Allows you to see how often and which one of your characters appear throughout the book.

3. Setting- Where is your story taking place? Are you switching up your setting? To me nothing is more boring than bouncing your characters between the school cafeteria and home. Please don't do that. At least for my sake.

So, you're probably wondering what a plot grid looks like and how to put it together. Click here for the word document that I use. If you have a mystery plot, check this plot grid out.

You can also watch my vlog on how to make a bigger version of this. Personally, I need both.

So what do you find is helpful to making sure your plot flows, doesn't lag, and isn't filled with holes?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review and Giveaway of SANCTUM

I have been excited to review for you SANCTUM by Sarah Fine. Honestly, I wasn't sure how Fine would deal with the issue of suicide, which is ultimately what this book was about. But she creates characters and a world that are both intriguing and so real that I was sucked in from the get-go.

The Blurb from Amazon:

"My plan: Get into the city. Get Nadia. Find a way out. Simple."  A week ago, seventeen-year-old Lela Santos’s best friend, Nadia, killed herself. Today, thanks to a farewell ritual gone awry, Lela is standing in paradise, looking upon a vast gated city in the distance – hell. No one willingly walks through the Suicide Gates, into a place smothered in darkness and infested with depraved creatures.

But Lela isn’t just anyone – she’s determined to save her best friend’s soul, even if it means sacrificing her eternal afterlife.

What I love about this book: There really is so much to love about Fine's writing. She brings a unique twist on Heaven and Hell, which allows readers to look at the tough issue of suicide and rape in a different light. Her characters are real people. Nadia ,who is bogged down in the pressures of our society to be perfect. Lela, the "bad girl" who struggles to get her life on track despite no support from home. And yet despite these girls differences, how much they need each other to survive.

What makes this book unique: The concept of this book blew me away. Fine created a whole new world to set her story in, including characters such as Mazikins (demons). This allowed her to deal with issues teens face today by taking readers away from their own world and reliving those same conflicts in a fantasy setting.

Why you should read it: The romance, oh the romance. Malachi is hot, hot, hot. Do I need to say more?

My favorite line: "Either you're a Mazikin, and I will destroy you, or you are ready to go before the Judge and get out of this city."

Stalk Sarah Fine on her website or Twitter.

I'm also giving away my ARC to one person who comments below. Giveaway open to North American residents. Ends Dec. 9th.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

GILDED is on Goodreads!

GILDED is now on Goodreads. My emotions are all jumbled up right now. Excitement. Scared. Freaking out (this is REALLY happening!). And so so happy. My dream is coming true.

I'd love you forever if you'd add GILDED to your Goodreads "read list". Click here to find it.

Many of you have been reading my blog since I started this journey as a writer. Thank you for cheering me on and being totally amazing

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Lucky13's- Creating a Playlist

Have you ever made a playlist for your book? I'm totally addicted to them. Check out my post here on The Lucky 13's blog for the why's and how's to have one for your book.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Winner! And Stuff

It's been a while since I've posted. I've been very busy lately. You know, eating turkey, consuming heaps of birthday cake and writing, writing, writing. It's been a great month and I'm so excited about December because it's just one month away from 2013, my debut year!!!!!

Okay, so I'm just a teeny, tiny bit excited over 2013. But you really can't blame me.

Today I get to announce my winner of RENEGADE by J.A. Souders. It goes to Akoss! Just pop me an email with your address and I'll send you that gorgeous book. My email is farley dot christina L at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Book Launch for RENEGADE

Last night my friends, Larissa, Tara, Liz and I headed to downtown Orlando to attend Jessica Souders' book launch for RENEGADE. Jess had her launch in a cool, high-rise, open-spaced office area. This was one of the locations that inspired the setting for RENEGADE.

There were stacks of yummy food and these adorable cupcakes!

We jumped in line and got the last of the books she had. Jess signed them with her tagline, "Never forget". I even got an extra autographed copy for you guys to give away at the end of this post!

Then we decided to make Jess cry by giving her an engraved bookmark with her book's cover on it and the famous line from her book.
 Jess and Me!

Jess read a portion of the first chapter. Very moving. 

Group shot!

We had such a fun time hanging out and celebrating Jess' big day. I won't ever forget when she first got her editorial letter and later reading her revisions of RENEGADE. Last night was so exciting to see it all come together into a beautiful book to hold.

If you haven't read RENEGADE, I highly recommend it. It's full of action, mystery and romance. And if you haven't, then enter my contest below. I'm giving away an autographed copy and swag (bookmark, pins and a magnet). Just enter the form by Nov. 24th!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 5, 2012

Prepping to Write a Novel

NaNo is underway and I've been plugging away at my next novel. If you're mildly interested, I've started storyboarding it over here on Pinterest. I'm so hooked on Pinterest with having pictures relating to my novels. They're great visuals for me to use as I'm writing and adding details to the settings.

One of the things that's helped me write my first drafts quickly is prepping for my novel. I do a lot of my research in advance. This book, just like Gilded, required lots of research to make sure my details were correct.

I also plot out my novels in detail and imagine the story in my head so I know what feel I want the novel to have.

If you're getting ready to prep for your next novel, check out my vlog for ideas:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaNo Starts Today!

I'm doing NaNo this year. I know. Crazy idea. I will be sleep deprived. I will be haunting Starbucks. But I'm determined to get most, if not nearly all, of this writing project I'm working on finished.

Any of you doing NaNo? If you are, sending luck your way!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Tackling the Killer Manuscript

So you’ve written the story of your dreams. You’ve stamped your soul’s signature onto it. With all your heart, you believe it’s publishable, unique and marketable. It just has one itsy problem.

It’s a big fat mess.

Yep. That’s me with my latest WIP. It’s a new series that’s been rattling around in my brain for about five years. While GILDED was on submission I decided to write the impossibly complicated story.

It has earned the fond name of THE BEAST. You might have heard me refer to this in previous blog posts and on Twitter. Let me tell you, that book practically killed me. And I’m not finished with it. I don’t even know if it will sell. But I truly believe the story is stronger because of the process I put it through.

If you have a story like mine and you’re willing to not give up on it even though it’s a big fat mess, then here are some steps that might help you.
1.       Ask yourself if you’re committed to the story. Are you willing to do anything for it? This includes major rewrites, structural, plot, or overarching changes in the main character’s internal conflicts? If you can answer yes to all of these things, then keep reading. If not, forget your story and write a new one.

2.       Okay, so now that you’re committed, you need to write a query, synopsis, and a detailed outline. The query will tell you the central issue your story will face. The synopsis will give you an idea of flow of the story, and the outline will show where your plot holes are located, among other things.

3.       Study your query, synopsis, and outline. Personally, I like to also use a plotting grid. See the one attached that I made up using a traditional one with my own personal tweaks. (Don't worry, I plan on vlogging more on this plot grid later) Find where your weaknesses are. Number them from biggest issues to smallest issues. Tackle each one step at a time.

4.       Now send it to two or three critique partners who will tell you if it’s awful or not. When they send back their notes, take them seriously. If more than one person is saying the same thing, you should strongly consider changing what they say is the problem. I find that my critique partners are right 99.9% of the time.

5.       At this point I print out their suggestions and highlight them in various colors. An example is: character issues,  I highlighted in blue, plot is in green, internal conflict with main character in purple. I’m a visual person and right away I can see where the central problems are lying in.

6.       From there, I brainstorm ways to fix my problems using a flow map. Something like this.

7.       Don't be worried about trying multiple versions. In THE BEAST, all three of my crit partners didn’t like the opening. It was too slow, but they didn’t know how to solve it. They all gave me suggestion though.

What I found after looking at my color scheme of highlighting that most of my issues stemmed back to my main character’s internal conflict. It wasn’t strong enough and therefore those opening chapters reflected that. So I decided to write three different versions of chapters 1-3. It was hard work, but I think I got closer to solving the problem. Hopefully, you’ll be able to fix the problem without writing three different versions.  

8.       Mission accomplished! You’ve now finished another draft of your beloved manuscript. You read it and it’s all fixed. Yay! Go celebrate! But this was not the way it went with me. I felt I still had problems. I didn’t know what they were but something was still not right.

9.       Try, try again. So…. If this happens, write a new query, synopsis and outline (or plot grid). Then pull out your old versions and compare the two. What changes did you make? How did these changes improve your story? Can you take it to another level?

10.   Get More Feedback. If you’re like me, I decided I needed more feedback from my crit buddies. I resent it to two of the girls and they took another look at it. While they were looking at it, I didn’t even think about the manuscript. Instead, I took a break and started writing another book. I think sometimes, stepping away from a project helps you get a clearer picture of that project later on.

11.   Take a Break! After a few months break I took on the new suggestions that my crit partners gave me. I reread the manuscript with fresh eyes and made the changes I felt were needed.

12.   Send it off! A couple of weeks ago, I sent THE BEAST to my agent. Last week the two of us chatted. It's still not submission ready, but it's closer. He had great ideas of how to fix my biggest problems. I've been playing around with some different scenarios and seeing which angle will work best. I'll let you know what happens!

Ultimately, the key to revision is the ability to adapt and be open to change. If you can do those two things, you have a chance to slay THE BEAST before it kills you.

Any revision tips that you have?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Blog Tag- The Next Big Thing

I've been tagged by Justina Ireland, author of upcoming VENGEANCE BOUND, and Tara Gallina.

I'm supposed to answer all kinds of questions about the book I'm working on. I'm actually working on two other projects, one a sequel to GILDED, and another is a dystopic fantasy. Even though I'm over-the-moon excited about these two projects, they're still in the secret stages where only the Brilliant Ones (my crit partners) and my ninja agent know details.

I thought you might want to hear a little more about GILDED because this baby is coming out to the world next November (Yes! My editor gave me a release month). 

What's the working title of your book?

GILDED (Crossing fingers I get to keep the title)

Where did you come up with the idea for your book?

I love mythology. While living in Korea, I was teaching Greek mythology to my students. I thought it would be fun to learn more about mythology of the country I was living at. When I came across the myth of Hameosu and Princess Yuhwa, I was hooked. I knew I was going to write their story.

What genre does your book fall under?

Mythological paranormal

Which actors would you play the movie rendition?

For Jae, I'd choose Song Hye Kyo because of her look.

This is how Jae looks most of the time (ticked off, thanks to Haemosu)

But when she's around Marc, the world changes:

For Marc, it would have to be William Moseley.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

About a 16-year old Korean-American girl who discovers an ancient Korean god has been kidnapping the first-born daughters of her family for generations. And she's next. 

If you're interested in a pictorial idea of GILDED, you can check out my Pinterest page here.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Um.... there really isn't much out there in YA. The closest would be the Percy Jackson books. I'm anxiously waiting to read Amanda Sun's INK. From its blurb, it might be the closest YA out there in similarity.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Living in Korea absolutely inspired GILDED. I wrote what I saw, heard, smelled and lived. Most of the scenes were recreations of stuff that actually happened to me. Like the ski scene. So me.

What else about this book might pique a reader's interest?

If you like books with: tough fighter girls, romance, lots of action, dragons, portals, fantasy and mythology then you'll like GILDED.

Now who to torture next? *rubs hands deviously*

Andrea Mack!

Monday, October 22, 2012


The day has come to announce the winners of my EPIC book deal contest. First of all, thank you to everyone who tweeted, blogged and Facebooked the contest. You guys are so amazing. If I could give you a hug I would.

Thanks to Rafflecopter, it tallied up the totals and determined winners for me.

Here they are:

Writer's Pack: Joy McCullough

Reader's Pack: Jude Griffin

Traveler's Pack: Jaime Heller

Email me your address at farley dot christinaL at gmail dot com


Friday, October 19, 2012

Smart Ways to Sweat It Out

The other day, I was sitting on the sidelines watching my son's soccer practice. On the field behind me a football coach was yelling at his players, saying, "If you're not sweating, you're not working hard enough!"

My first thought was, “Man, I’m glad you’re not my boys’ coach.”

But that line bothered me for the rest of the day. Was he right? Will working hard make them better players? My thoughts turned to writing. If I worked harder, wrote more, would that make me a better writer?

The conclusion I came to was ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Yes, in that the more you do something, your craft is developed. But at the same time, if you’re doing it wrong, it’s like banging your head against the wall. It can hurt your craft and frustrate you.

How can we as writers be smart in our craft?
1.      Write as often as you can. I work a full time and part time job. I’m a mom and I’m taking classes. Time is more valuable than gold. But if I want to write, I just have to suck it up and sit down and write. That means I might only have an hour a day. But the reality is, the more I write, the better I get.

2.      Read. When you read, study the way the author has constructed the story. Pick one or two elements that you feel are lacking in your book such as plot, character arcs, or conflicts within a scene. Focus on those two elements as you read and see how that author has developed them. Write down notes in your journal at what worked and what didn’t. Read another book and do the same thing. I find I learn so much by reading other author’s books.

3. Find critique partners who know their stuff. These people don’t have to be writers. Sometimes your best critiquers are actually readers that have the eye for when a character isn’t being true to themselves or the plot is sagging. Trust them. Listen to them.
4. Attend writing conferences. Develop your craft by learning from experts. Your focus might change over the years, but there will always be new ways to develop yourself as a writer. You will never be too accomplished of a writer to not learn.

5.      Try something new. One of the best ways to stretch yourself at anything is to break out of your box. If you have this fabulous new idea of a book you’d love to write, but you think it will be too hard to accomplish, that means you need to write it. It may end up taking you many drafts and many years, but you’ll be a better writer by challenging yourself.

6.      Get online and know what’s going on in the market. If you’re reading this right now, you are already doing this point. I learn so much from other bloggers on what’s happening in the market as well as ideas to make myself a better writer.
What about you? What are smart ways that you make the most of your writing time?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My First Lucky13s Post!

After I announced my book deal, I joined The Lucky 13s which is a group of children and YA writers who are debuting in 2013. I'm really excited to be a part of a group of authors who are going through the same ups and downs as I am.

Today is my first post on The Lucky 13s blog. All week long on the Luckys we're interviewing members from the Class of 2012 as well as talking about characterization. My post is about Creating Three Dimensional Characters. I hope you'll stop by and say 'hi'!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

At the MiGs- After the Book Deal

Over at the MiGs, I wrote a post called After the Book Deal- The First 3 Months, which will end up being a series on things you can do after you get your book deal. The whole process can be daunting and you might wonder, where do I begin? Hopefully this series, After the Book Deal, can help you navigate your way through it.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Facing Your Fears

Every day we as writers face fears.

Fear of rejection, fear of reviews, fear you'll never land an agent or editor, fear that your next book won't sell, fear your agent or editor won't approve those edits.

The list is endless. But the only way to overcome those fears is to face them. While I was in Europe this summer, I filmed this short vlog with tips on how to face those fears.

Do you have any tips that you'd like to share?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Epic Book Deal Contest!

This weekend has been overwhelming. I've been blown away by the well-wishes on Facebook and Twitter, the emails and blog posts. It's moments like these that all the years of late-night writing, tears over rejections and fighting self-doubt become worth it.

I'm so excited to celebrate my book deal with you that I'm giving away three prize packs. I know some of you are readers, some are writers and some are travelers, so I've created a pack for each of you.

Writer's Pack
  • Critique of your first 10 pages by me
  • $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card- your choice!
  • $10 Starbuck's gift card
  • Journal and writing pens
  • Query critique from my writing partner, Kate Fall, who has just opened her own editing business 

Reader's Pack
  • Copies of my writing partner's books: autographed copy of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis, I'M BORED illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi, and a preordered copy of PROPHECY by Ellen Oh 
  • A Samjokgo amulet (or some spell it as Samjogo)- this represents strength and was considered the most powerful symbol in Korea during the Koguryo Kingdom. This amulet has a big role in my book!

Traveler's Pack
  • Traveler's journal and writing pens
  • "Woman On the Go" traveler kit
  • Kindle or Nook (your choice!) versions of these great YA books: TEN by Gretchen McNeil and DEFIANCE by C.J Redwine.

Fill out the Rafflecopter form below to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My Book Sold!

Finally, finally I can scream from my rooftop that I've got a book deal! I've been keeping this little secret for a hundred years now. (Okay, maybe that's a slight exaggeration).

I am so pleased to announce that my young adult paranormal, GILDED, sold to Amazon Children's Publishing (formally Marshall Cavendish)!

Here's the blurb from Publisher's Marketplace:

Christina Farley's GILDED, in which a 16-year-old Korean-American girl with a black belt and a deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows discovers an ancient Korean god has been kidnapping the first-born daughters of her family for generations, to Miriam Frank at Amazon Children's, in a nice deal, for publication in Fall 2013, by Jeff Ourvan at Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency (world).
I know you're waiting for all the gossip on how it happened. So...

Let's rewind back to January, when on Martin Luther King's birthday I got this stop-your-heart kind of email from Margery Cuyler, Publisher of Marshall Cavendish, saying she loved my book and was taking it to acquisitions. (Wow!!!!! She loved my book!!!!!!)

For the next week I was on pins and needles. Waiting, staring at my phone, waiting and staring at my phone some more. Then I got the call from Jeff, my agent. THE CALL. It was during my school day and I'm not allowed to answer my phone so he sent me a quick email first. Amazon Children's had offered to buy my book. Squeal!

Somehow I got through the school day. I have no idea what I told my students or if I even taught the math lesson correctly. All I know is that I had this huge smile plastered across my face. As soon as I herded my students out the door, I was dialing Jeff to talk about all the juicy details.

Signing my contract
I am just so thankful to my agent who knew how to navigate through the whole submitting maze because the next few months after that were a bit insane. And he put up with my bizarre emails that looked something like this:


(I know, who sends crazy emails like that?)

Yes, he's totally a black belt in agenting.

I am thrilled to be working with my editor, Miriam Frank, who said she fell head-over-heels in love with GILDED (I can't help but love her already).

Below you will find a short video I made that highlights my journey in writing this book. If you have read my blog over the years, these pictures will be familiar to you. Most of the pictures my husband or myself took while living in Korea.

Thanks as always to my crit buds who have endured emails and reading too many versions of this manuscript among others: Casey McCormick, Beth Revis, Larissa Hardesty, Ellen Oh and the amazing girls from the MiGs!

I hope you will stop by later this week to celebrate with me because I'm holding an EPIC contest giving away books, critiques, gift cards, and jewelry based on GILDED.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Contest Winners!

I'm finally announcing my contest winners. I got a bit distracted last week with Open House at school, Grandparents Day and finishing my latest manuscript which I aptly named THE BEAST (that's its nickname).

I am happy to say that my poor agent now has it and now he gets to face THE BEAST. *laughing deviously* Although, if anyone can deal with monsters or impossible manuscripts, it's my agent.

ANYWAY! (yeah, my critique partners won't let me ramble in my stories so I get to torture you here)

The winners are:

Kelly Polark for DEVIANTS by Maureen McGowen

and Stina Lindenblatt for I'M BORED by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi.

Email me your address. My email is farley dot christinaL at gmail dot com.

Woohoo! I still have my review and contest for SANCTUM by Sarah Fine coming up and a stack of autograph books that I've been meaning to do a giveaway with. Soon! 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Interview with Debbie Ohi and Giveaway!

I am thrilled to have my critique partner from the MiGsDebbie Ridpath Ohi, chatting with us here at Chocolate for Inspiration. I've known Debbie for a number of years and I've had the chance to read her middle grade and picture books. She is incredibly talented and I can't wait to see all of other projects come out to the light of day over the next few years.

Now for the interview!
Me: There is so much fun and humor in your illustrations. What springboards you to come up with these creative ideas?
Debbie: Thanks, Christy! I draw a lot, just for the fun of it, and I think that helps a great deal. If I only drew for work-related projects, I suspect my illustrations would tighten up and lose much of the energy that people seem to like. So I try to sketch and doodle digitally and on paper as much as I can.

I admit it was an adjustment at first. Once I started working on I'M BORED, my doodling went way down at first because I figured I needed to put the time into workstuff instead…but then I found this had a negative influence on my workstuff. Once I started drawing for fun again on the side, things got better again.

Now I'm thinking I should starting doing more of the same for my writing as well. I used to keep a private daily journal, just for random thoughts, and I think I'll start it up again.

Me: How do you look at a story from an illustrator's perspective?
Debbie: That's an interesting question, mainly because I've always looked at stories visually when I'm reading.

However, working on I'M BORED as well as my new picture book project for Simon & Schuster BFYR has certainly started me thinking a lot more about the picture book reader experience. There are so many aspiring picture book writers and illustrators out there who think that it's just a matter of writing the story and then adding pictures.

It's so much more, however. Writing picture books is HARD. Or rather, writing a good picture book that stands out in the marketplace and is appealing to young people (rather than grown-ups who are used to the classic type of picture books from the past) is hard.

Those who illustrate as well as write have a definite advantage when it comes to creating picture books because/we can't help but think of how the text and illustrations can function as one unit AS we write the story. I'm always asking myself, "How can I show this in the illustrations instead of in the text? What can I add in the illustrations that will enhance the story?"
It's a challenging but ultimately immensely satisfying process.

Me: And the most important question, what's your favorite chocolate?
Debbie: Good quality dark chocolate.

A fellow chocolate lover! Yay! Thank you so much Debbie for hanging out with us!

Stalk Debbie at:

Twitter: @inkyelbows


Debbie and Simon and Schuster have also offered to give away a copy of I'M BORED! Just comment in the section below. Get an extra entry for tweeting, blogging or mentioning this interview on Facebook. Just let me know in the comments section!

Contest open internationally until Sept. 19th.

Monday, September 10, 2012

DEVIANTS and ARC Giveaway!

Today's highlighted book is DEVIANTS by Maureen McGowan published by Amazon Children's Publishing. I received the ARC in the mail late last week and as soon as I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. The style and action-packed pace made it impossible to set aside.

The release date is Oct. 30th!

Here's the blurb from Amazon:

In a post-apocalyptic world, where the earth is buried by asteroid dust that’s mutated the DNA of some humans, orphaned, sixteen-year-old Glory must hide and protect her younger brother. If their Deviant abilities are discovered, they’ll be expunged—kicked out of the dome to be tortured and killed by the Shredders.

Glory would give anything to get rid of her unique ability to kill with her emotions, especially when Cal, the boy she’s always liked, becomes a spy for the authorities. But when her brother is discovered, and she learns their father, who was expunged for killing their mother, is still alive, she must escape the domed city that’s been her entire world.

Outside in the ruins, they’re pursued by the authorities and by sadistic, scab-covered Shredders who are addicted to the lethal-to-humans dust now covering the planet. Glory’s quests to transport herself and her brother to safety make up the thrilling and fascinating first volume of The Dust Chronicles.

What I love about this book: I really fell in love with the main character, Glory. She's tough and knows how to kick butt, yet at the same time she's thoughtful and sacrificial. Glory is willing to do just about anything to keep her brother hidden. Because of this, she is drawn into a whole new world that she never knew existed.

What makes this book unique:

I loved the angle that McGowan brought in at the end of the book which leads into book 2. Of course I can't ruin the ending but I thought it was unique and something I hadn't seen in dystopian literature that I've read. At the same time I was slightly annoyed because now I'll have to wait for book 2 to be released before I get to find out what happens next! What's up with cliffhanger McGowan? I think she's trying to torture us.

Why you should read it:

The writing was just flawless. As a writer myself, I'm a tough critic when it comes to style and the right mix of well, everything. McGowan knows how to tell a fast-paced story without allowing the writing to suffer. And excellent world building!

My favorite line:

"I've tried to be a good person, to do the right thing, but I am not a good person."

Stalk Maureen on her blog or Twitter: @MaureenMcGowan

I'm also giving away my ARC of DEVIANTS! It's simple. Leave a comment below. Tweet it and tell me you did so and get an extra entry. Contest ends Sept. 17th.