Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday - The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

An intern in my office just finished reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth and we gushed about it Monday afternoon. My favorite thing about Carrie Ryan's debut? The fact that no character is safe, and the fact that there are thrills at every turn. So as a result, this Wednesday, I'm waiting for the companion novel,


And here's the cover copy for The Dead-Tossed Waves:

Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She's content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse.

But there a
re threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry's mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry.

And suddenly, everything is changing.
One reckless moment, and half of Gabry's generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother's past in order to save herself and the one she loves.

Back in April, after The Forest of Hands and Teeth came out, Carrie Ryan released a cover picture of The Dead-Tossed Waves (cover art probably by the same artist).


Then, just a week ago, she announced that there will be new covers for The Forest of Hands and Teeth when it comes out in trade paperback and a new cover for The Dead-Tossed Waves.


Now for the real question - which cover do you like better? I actually really like them both - but I think they set a much different tone for the book. There's a wistfulness and a longing to cover one while cover two is definitely darker. I love the creepiness of cover two, but part of me is still partial to cover one since it matches the tone of my copy of Forest of Hands and Teeth.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Best Poem Ever

Ode to the Slush Pile - Dr. Seuss Style

Charlaine Harris Giveaway #1 - Win Grave Secret

Grave Secret is the fourth novel in the Harper Connelly Mystery Series by Charlaine Harris, and the mystery hits much closer to home for Harper and Tolliver than any of the previous books.

Following their major investigation in An Ice Cold Grave in North Carolina where they uncovered the identity of a pair of serial killers, Harper and Tolliver are finally taking some time to rest and visit their half sisters, Mariella and Gracie, who live with Harper's Aunt and Uncle. While polite, her Aunt and Uncle can't help act condescending towards Harper and Tolliver for what they do for a living and can't seem to decide whether they want to two in the girls' lives. And they aren't too keen about Harper and Tolliver together as a couple.

While doing a job in town for the wealthy Joyce family heirs, Harper tells them, their Grandaddy's caretaker was killed during childbirth rather than the appendix rupture they'd all thought, and the oldest Joyce, Lizzie, sets out to find the missing baby. And then of course that catapults Harper and Tolliver into the middle of a mystery. Tolliver gets shot, Harper has a death threat on her head, Tolliver's dead beat dad, Matthew Lang, shows up begging to be in his son's life again, and of course this is the book where Harper will find out what happened to her sister Cameron all those years ago.

Grave Secret was a little slow to get started - it didn't feel as action packed as An Ice Cold Grave, and I was impatient to find out clues about what happened to Cameron. There were a few twists and shocks in the last half of the book that had me unwilling to put it down, but I'm not sure how I feel about the ending. I think I wanted something a little more climactic. I'll also admit that it took me a little while to get used to Harper and Tolliver's relationship, if only for the fact that she kept calling him her "brother" - in previous books when she realized her feelings for him, she was loathe to call him that and constantly pointed out that they weren't really related. Now she's back to calling him her brother.

All in all, it won't disappoint fans of the series, and I can't help hoping Manfred gets his own spin-off series.

CONTEST: One lucky commenter will win a brand new copy of Grave Secret, the fourth book in the Harper Connelly Mystery Series. Be sure to include your email address so I know how to contact you.


Extra entries:
+1 New followers
+2 If you're already a follower
+1 Linking to my contest on your blog, twitter, etc. Include links. (up to 5)
+3 For posting about my contest on your blog. (Must be actual post)
+2 Add me to your blog roll
+3 for referring someone to the contest
+3 for being the person referred

This contest is open internationally! It will end October 26th at 11:59 pm Eastern time. Winner will be announced October 27th. Good luck and happy entering!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Frostbitten by Kelley Armstrong

Set in the bleak and wintry scenery of the Alaskan countryside, Elena and Clay chase a young Australian werewolf mutt to Anchorage in hopes of keeping him alive (he'd recently parted ways from a man-eating duo known to kill young immigrants and blame the man-eating on them). And they found a pack of even meaner mutts - man-killers and gun runners holding a different young werewolf hostage.

Frostbitten, Kelley's Armstrong's tenth novel in the Women of the Otherworld Series, is nonstop action with a few twists and turns in the middle of the book that had me gasping. Elena's narrative voice is strong as ever, and Clay is at his best. We even get a glimpse of their werewolf twins Kate and Logan, who are adorable and show shades of their parents, and other members of the pack get to show up for some quick cameos and action. Plus there are a few new men in the Otherworld, including Reese, the Aussie werewolf with a secret - can't help hope there's a story coming for him.

The series is best read in order, starting with Bitten. It's not my favorite - that spot reserved by Stolen and the Men of the Otherworld Anthology, but Frostbitten definitely delivers.

What a Literary Agent Does...

Check out this great post by Nathan Bransford about what a Literary Agent actually does.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Banned Book Week



Next week is Banned Book Week and in celebration I will be reading And Tango Makes Three, the cutest and most challenged picture book based on the true story of Roy and Silo, two male penguins in New York's Central Park Zoo.

What will you be reading - or what's your favorite yet commonly challenged book?

*Special thanks to Ruth who brought the awesome picture to my attention!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Devil's Kiss

Billi SanGreal is the only girl in the Knights Templar. At fifteen, she doesn't have time for a social life - or for homework. Her life is a rigorous and brutal round of weapons practice, demon killing, and occult lore – and a whole lot of bruises. It doesn't matter that Billi doesn’t want to be a Templar. She doesn't have a choice. Her father is the Grandmaster of the Order and when she was ten, he forced her to take this path. There is no sacrifice he will not make in his war against the Unholy. And Billi hates him for it. Originally an official Church-sanctioned crusading order, The Knights Templar were officially disbanded and declared heretical in the thirteenth century. Now they exist in secret, based in London and charged with protecting humans from the Unholy: vampires, werewolves, and demons possessing dead bodies.

Billi's already fed up with her life when it takes a turn for the worse: her childhood friend, Kay, who is also a part of the Knights Templar returns home from Jerusalem. He plays a different role in the Templar - he's an Oracle, a psychic, and he's gone from a skinny and timid kid to a gorgeous and confident guy with a dangerous chip on his shoulder. He's ready to reclaim his place in Billi's life, but she's can't get over the bitterness she feels about the fact that he left her with no word for over a year. And she's met someone new: Michael, who seems to understand her like no one else.

But the Templars are called to duty before Billi can enjoy the pleasant new twist to her life. One of the order's ancient enemies, the Angel of Death, has resurfaced, searching for a treasure that the Templars have protected for hundreds of years - a cursed mirror powerful enough to bring down the Tenth Plague on humanity and kill all of London's firstborn. To save her city from catastrophe, Billi will have to put her heart aside and make sacrifices greater than any of the Templars could have imagined.

First check out the two covers. Which do you like better?

This one?


Or this one?
The Devil's Kiss opens with a bang and the first chapter is excellent. Billi SanGreal is facing The Ordeal, her last test before she can be initiated into the Order of the Knights Templar and all she has to do is kill a six year-old boy, who despite his angelic innocent appearance is demon-possessed. Sarwat Chadda opens with this tense and hauntingly written passage and marks a dazzling beginning to what proves to be an enjoyable read.

After the great opening, the pace slows down for the next hundred pages or so, weaving the interesting backstory of the Knights Templar and Billi's character and her history with Kay into the present day drama. The lead characters are strong and memorable, and they come alive. At times, Billi's thoughtfulness turns to angst, but she's still a feisty heroine, her father is stern and demanding, and the mysterious Michael is larger than life. On character that annoys me is Kay. At times, he's too bitter and too arrogant and even too whiny.

The narrative is compelling and Sarwat Chadda makes modern day London seem mysterious and otherworldly, bringing a unique and superb atmosphere to life. I did find myself mystified as to why all the Knights except Billi were named after Arthurian figures (Arthur, Percival, Gwaine, Bors, Balin, Pelleas, Kay, Elaine)? I know there are, apparently, some modern conspiracy theories connecting the Templars to Arthur, but neither these theories nor King Arthur are mentioned in The Devil's Kiss, so it became a curious mystery to me.

I saw Sarwat Chadda speak at BookExpo America in New York this summer before The Devil's Kiss came out, and he mentioned his life-long love of the Crusades gave birth to this book and his two daughters inspired the character of Billi. What he came up with is a cross between Buffy, The Bible and The Da Vinci Code - a fast-paced, action-packed and thought-provoking novel with clever, subtle and balanced use of religion.

Monday, September 21, 2009

On Rejection...

Check out this great post on the top five ways to deal with rejection - from two writers' perspectives.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Critiques

When a writer submits a manuscript to an agent, they obviously will get an offer of representation or a rejection. But rejections come more often than offers, even for some of the great writers out there, and when writing a rejection (I always feel bad, I mean I want to love everything), I can send off a quick "form rejection" - the it's not for me but I'm sure someone else will love it or I can send notes with reasons why I don't love it.

So, once upon a time I was a writer - I think a lot of people in publishing have done some writing. But I'm better at editing and critiquing than I was at writing, and I'm sure the whole I never let anyone read what I wrote thing didn't help me much.

But when I read a manuscript (and this is when I've requested the full) I don't want to send just a form rejection or a rejection that doesn't really explain why I'm rejecting. Because if I was the writer and I was taking the step to send my work - my blood, sweat, tears, and tireless nights - out into the world, I'd want feedback. Or at least, I think I would. And of course, as the reader I've spent a few hours of my life reading and taking notes on this manuscript trying to think of ways to make it better. I don't want to throw those notes away, then all that time I spent has no pay off.

I've taken to sending rejections with a few of the most important notes I've written just as a this is what turned me off kind of way, and I do make sure to mention that they're only my opinions and someone else could totally disagree with me.

Some writers have written back to express thanks for my opinion and time and effort - a few I've even kept a running dialogue with and have looked at the manuscript again as another set of eyes before they submitted to another agent - and some writers don't respond at all which is fine too because there's enough traffic in my inbox. But some writer responses, which usually fall into the rant or justification category, make me wonder if a form rejection would just be better off.

Rants. I've gotten a few scathing responses about how I didn't understand the genius of the work (which is quite possible. When I was teaching, I told my students quite often I did not know everything). But this is kind of, well, rude. And unnecessary. There aren't any writers or any books out there that everyone loves. (As a camp counselor I tried to connect with all the little kids by talking about Harry Potter and three little girls told me he was evil and against Christians. And those classics? People argue about them all the time, they even have a name for them - literary critics.) Writer's have to learn to take criticism - even if they don't agree with it. I have no problem with a writer who thinks I didn't understand the genius of their work, but I don't need them to write me a manifesto via about it either. And it's a poor way to represent yourself. Publishing is a small industry and people network with each other a lot. What if an agent who likes a manuscript runs into someone who has received a rant from the writer? Most people don't want to work with people who send ranting emails.

Justifications. I know a writer hasn't just slopped something down on paper for no reason. I know there's a reason, probably a good one, for the choices the writer made. But as a reader who can't see into the writer's mind I have a different impression and a different perspective. That doesn't mean I'm right, but it might mean another outside person should read it too. And while I'll take a justification over a rant any day, it doesn't really accomplish anything for the writer. It's not going to change my mind. My reactions are mine and they're honest, and they still exist no matter the writer's intention. And manuscripts and books don't go out to editors or the public with a justification attached for the writer's choices. Perhaps for the writer it's a more cleansing thing - to write a justification down, but it probably doesn't need to get sent off to the agent. I think these emails are ones that can get written and saved but never sent.

In Love...

I must have this chair - or more than one. It is fabulous!

Thanks to the wonderful and amazingly talented Kristin Miller for bringing this to my attention!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rosemary and Rue Giveaway

CONTEST: One lucky commenter will win a brand new copy of Rosemary and Rue, the amazing debut of the new urban fantasy series. Be sure to include your email address so I know how to contact you.


Extra entries:
+1 Commenting on my review here.
+1 New followers
+2 If you're already a follower
+1 Linking to my contest on your blog, twitter, etc. Include links. (up to 5)
+3 For posting about my contest on your blog. (Must be actual post)
+2 Add me to your blog roll
+3 for referring someone to the contest
+3 for being the person referred

This contest is open internationally! It will end October 1st at 11:59 pm Eastern time. Winner will be announced October 2nd. Good luck and happy entering!

Contest Winner: Barely Bewitched

The Barely Bewitched by Kimberly Frost contest has now officially come to a close and I'm excited to be giving away the ARC. After using the Research Randomizer, the winner is...


Congratulations! I've sent you an email. Send me your address within the next 48 hours so I can ship your new book!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Interview!

Check out Mary's interview of new YA author, Victoria Schwab, whose fantastic novel NEAR WITCH is due out with Hyperion in Winter 2011.

Vote in the ALA Teens Top Ten

About the Teens' Top Ten

Teens' Top Ten is a "teen choice" list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year! Nominators are members of teen book groups in fifteen school and public libraries around the country. Nominations are posted on Support Teen Literature Day during National Library Week, and teens across the country vote on their favorite titles each year. Readers ages twelve to eighteen can vote right here, online, anytime between Aug. 24 and Sept. 18; the winners will be announced in a webcast featuring WWE Superstars and Divas during Teen Read Week.

Voting

Voting for the 2009 Teens' Top Ten is now open! Teens can vote for up to three of their favorite titles from the 2009 nominees (PDF). Click this link to vote through Sept. 18. Winners will be announced during Teen Read Week in a webcast. Stay tuned for more details!

Want to get teens at your library to vote? Download the button below, put it on your web page and link back to www.ala.org/teenstopten. You can also see more ideas on our Teens' Top Ten publicity page.

2009 Nominations

Download the 2009 Teens' Top Ten nominations (PDF) ! Use the lists in your summer reading program (hand out these bookmarks (PDF) to help!); teens will vote online from Aug. 24 through Sept. 18 at www.ala.org/teenstopten for their favorite books. The winners of the 2009 Teens' Top Ten will be announced in a webcast featuring WWE Superstars and Divas during Teen Read Week, Oct. 18-24. Tell your book group, youth organizations you work with, and any other groups you know that work with teens to come to www.ala.org/teenstopten between Aug. 24 and Sept. 18 and vote. The more teens who participate, the more accurately the winning list will reflect the reading tastes of teens all over the country!

* information copied from ALA Teens Top Ten Website: http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/yalsa/teenreading/teenstopten/teenstopten.cfm

Impossibly Haunting and Breathtaking

The day I lent my copy of Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater to a friend, and gushed about how amazing it was, she insisted I read Impossible by Nancy Werlin and promised to bring me her copy to borrow. She brought me the paperback with a cover I hadn't seen before, but her recommendation was more than enough (and of course, later when I looked it up and found the cover art of the hardcover, I recognized the title immediately - more on cover art later).

Impossible has an achingly beautiful conception: Nancy Werlin once loved the song "Scarborough Fair" by Simon & Garfunkel and thought it a beautiful love song, only to later realize, as an adult, how sad the lyrics truly were - a man asking his supposed true love to perform three impossible tasks in order to prove herself. And she wondered what was the story between those two people?

What she came up with is a dark and twisted fairy tale. Lucy Scarborough is the latest Scarborough girl in a long line of cursed women, doomed to become pregnant at 17 and then begin a descent into madness. On prom night, her date rapes her, and she becomes pregnant. She decides to keep the child, supported by her foster parents and Zach, her childhood friend who she just might be in love with. Then she discovers the curse on the women in her family when she reads her mother's diary. Lucy is destined for madness at 18 unless she can perform the three impossible tasks described in the song and break the curse of the Elfin Knight. Despite the ridiculousness of it all, she and Zach, along with her foster family, are determined to rid herself and her unborn child of the curse.

Impossible is fantasy in the same way The Time Traveler's Wife is a fantasy novel. It's grounded in reality but saturated with some sort of fantastical twist which drives the plot and despite the outward ridiculousness (an Elfin Knight cursed a long line of women to get pregnant at 17, have their baby, and go crazy?), it's completely believable. Even the characters' reactions as they begin to uncover the puzzle of the curse and put together their plan to defeat it are all completely believable and realistic. At no point, did I have any doubt or skepticism about what was happening. And I was incredibly sucked in. Once I picked it up, I had to finish it in that one sitting, because I was enthralled by Lucy and Zach (I love him) and how they would be able to conquer this magical curse.

I've mentioned before that I'm hopelessly drawn to first person narratives, and despite how engaged I felt by this story, I felt a certain detachment from the voice, as it was written from third person point of view. True it allowed readers to see glimpses into the minds of all the characters involved - Lucy, Zach, Soledad and Leo, and even the Elfin Knight himself. But I missed the connection and the resulting emotions from hearing the story from the protagonist's voice. I would have loved to hear Lucy and Zach tell the story in alternating voices. But that is the only critique, and it's a minor one.

Impossible is a beautiful story, and as soon as I have to give back my loaned copy, I will have to go out and purchase one for my home library. Which begs the question - should I get the paperback or hardcover? Normally, I'm drawn to hardcovers. I can loan them out (without the dusk jacket) and they don't look beat up or creased when they come back, and they just look nicer (I know I'm kind of a neurotic freak). But since Impossible has different cover art on the hardcover and paperback editions, I'm torn between which one I like better.


Impossible (Hardcover, released September 18th, 2008)

Impossible (Paperback, released August 11th,2009)

So one of my questions is this: why the cover art change? To me, both covers are beautiful, and I'm shamelessly attracted to the simplistic enchanting beauty of both. So why would the publisher change the art? The only thing I can think of is that the first cover looks more adult to me (don't ask why, I have no reasons, just that it does). What do you think? And which one do you like better - if you had to choose?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rosemary and Rue: The Best New Urban Fantasy Series

Seanan McGuire's Rosemary and Rue is one of the best urban fantasy novels I've read all year.

October Daye is a changeling, half-faerie and half-human, and a knight who owes her allegiance to Duke Sylvester Torquill - a title she earned despite her half blood inferiority. One night while tailing the Duke's brother, Simon, and investigating the disappearance of the Duchess and her daughter, Toby takes a wrong step and winds up on the wrong side of magic she isn't strong enough to defend herself against - magic which causes her to go missing (can't tell you how/why - no spoilers!).

Fourteen years later, she's back and having lost everything in her old life including her human fiance and her daughter, Toby turns her back on faerie and tries to live as human. Until she wakes up to hear a string of frightening voicemail messages from Evening Winterrose, Countess of Goldengreen. Just before she's murdered, Evening calss Toby and binds her with a curse: Toby has to find the murderer and dispense justice. Begrudgingly but determined, Toby immerses herself into the world of Faerie, renewing contacts once lost, making new enemies, and finding herself on the verge of death more than once.

Toby Daye is one of my favorite new heroines. She's tough and determined with a wry sense of humor, but she's also aware of her own shortcomings and knows when she needs help - even if she's too stubborn to ask for it or accept it. Her memories of Evening Winterrose made me mourn her loss even though I never got to see her character.

The plot moves quickly - the story taking place in the span of about a week, and blends the perfect amount of fantasy and magic with mystery and crime-solving. The clues and steps Toby takes to solve Evening's murder are believable and easy to follow without being predictable. The page-turning suspense had me dying to get to the end and unwilling to put the book down. Fully developed imagery and the descriptions of the elaborate world-building rival the best urban fantasy writers (such as Kim Harrison). I became so immersed in Seanan McGuire's Faerie world that I think there were times I forgot I wasn't actually a part of it.

The minor characters are complex and enthralling, each with an extent of the devious, self-serving attitude and perverted sense of honor bound loyalty, one could associate with a race of superior immortal magical beings. Tybalt, King of Cats and leader of the Cait Sidhe, was my second favorite character. His biting verbal jibes and arrogant attitude yet helpful actions had me looking forward to his scenes. And even though Toby thinks he hates her, I think he'll become a love interest in later books - at least, I hope so. Devin, the changeline leader of Home and Toby's ex-lover, and Connor, her pureblood adolescent crush, are the other two men in her life, each with their own set of complicated secrets within their backstory. And both seem to regret losing her. Then there's Cliff, her ex-fiance - so who knows what's in store for Toby's love life.

The ending didn't let me down either. I was thoroughly surprised when I learned who the Bad Guy was, and yet it made complete sense. I could look back and see the hints as well as understand her/his motives (I didn't think Bad Guy needed to explain her/himself at the end, but s/he didn't have a long monologue so it worked for me). I also liked how there are openings and subplots unsolved yet there's still a sense of closure. Evening's murder is solved, but other mysteries and problems within Faerie remain. It feels real. There's still way more to this story, but I feel satisfied. Toby's life isn't fixed by any means, but she's getting it back together, and hopefully loose ends will be tied up in the books that come.

I'm already scheming to get my hands on an early copy of book 2, A Local Habitation out March 2010, and book 3, An Artificial Night out September 2010.

Check out Seanan McGuire's website.

Friday, September 11, 2009

My New Favorite Commercial

Contest Winner: Snap by Carol Snow

The Snap by Carol contest has now officially come to a close and I'm excited to be giving away the ARC. After using the Research Randomizer, the winner is...


Congratulations! I've sent you an email. Send me your address within the next 48 hours so I can ship your new book!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Some Girls Are Amazing - Courtney Summers is One of Them

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Cracked Up to Be, Courtney Summers' debut novel, became one of my instant favorites - it made me laugh, made me cry, made me blush. It was awesome.

She's done it again with her second novel, Some Girls Are which is due out with St. Martin's Press January 5th 2010.

Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard--falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her and her best friend's boyfriend start going around.

Now Regina's been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day. She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully. Friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend... if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first.

Tensions grow and the abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be.

After loving Cracked Up To Be, I was both excited and nervous to get my hands on Courtney Summers' next book. I had high expectations. Even with those high expectations, it blew me away.

I'm not going to go into too many details because I don't want to spoil a single moment of reading Some Girls Are for anyone, but Courtney Summers has such an amazing talent when it comes to emotional writing. I was fortunate enough to snag a copy of the ARC and have an evening to read it, and I was glued to the pages, sucked into Regina's world - and her life - and I laughed, cried, blushed, and even felt giddy and later a little nauseous at everything Regina faced.

The plot takes place during senior year over less than the course of a semester, and it starts just before the incident and takes readers through Regina's freeze out. I've already gushed over Regina and her voice, but the other characters shouldn't be ignored. Michael is a complex character whose feigned nonchalance at times hides a complex pattern of bitterness, depression, hope, and eventually acceptance. Even Anna, the queen of Hallowell, despite her moments of evil incarnate also has moments where you can actually identify with her (even if you really don't want to).

Written in the same minimalist style as Cracked Up To Be, Courtney delves into the gritty high school experiences with honesty and a painfully real edge. With her ability to crawl into the sometimes twisted, mean, brutal, and tormented space that is the mind of a teenage girl, she's cemented herself as one of my favorite writers.

It's Scary How Close to Reality This Is...

Check out this hysterical post - Writer's interaction with Agent and Intern.

New Book Today...

Thanks to the amazing, wonderful, and talented Janet Reid, I have a copy of Break by Hannah Moskowitz to read this weekend.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

On Interviews

Our interns officially started today - we did an orientation last week, but today was Day 1 - and I have to admit I'm impressed and feeling great about the group we have.

But a colleague and I waded through 50+ intern resumes and interviewed 40+ potential interns, and I couldn't help feels surprised at how unprepared some of the applicants were. (Obviously not any of the fabulous interns we ended up with.) But as with many things it brought me back to when I was teaching, and I couldn't help reflect on mock interviews I did with my freshmen a few years ago.

The top three biggest mistakes:

1. Lack of Research. Anyone interviewing for a job should check out the company they're interviewing with. When I snagged an interview for my internship, I went out and bought a book on the agency's website - one I'd had on my wishlist anyway - and read it before the interview just so that I could come in and say "I read this book" and then hold an intelligent conversation about it. That may be extravagant, but checking out a agency's website and taking note of bestselling books and authors is a must.

2. Over Familiarity. I understand that I'm young - sort of - and I look younger than I am, and I like to think I'm pretty friendly, but I was surprised at how many people came in and chose familiarity over professionalism. There's nothing wrong with showing personality in an interview, but it's so important to also convey that you're there to do a job and do it well, not necessarily make friends. Occasionally, a few applicants actually acted is if they had already gotten the job.

3. Snubbing Genre Fiction. Everyone in publishing (or at least almost everyone) loves the classics. We all have an appreciation for beautifully written literary fiction, but we also love and appreciate genre fiction including books that people might consider beach reads or fluff. There's purpose and value in books that you can read cover to cover in a few hours without putting it down. It isn't necessary to like all genres (thrillers really just aren't my thing - usually - they tend to all seem like the same story to me), but anyone with an interest in working in publishing should understand there are places for all different genres and they shouldn't turn their nose up at any of them.

* Along these lines, the worst thing anyone interested in a career in publishing can do is trash a specific popular book, company, genre or *eek* the industry as a whole. It's okay to say "I want to help great books get made" - we all want that. It's not okay to say "I want to help great books get made because there aren't any great children's books out there anymore." Because chances are, the interviewer has worked on or likes a lot of the children's books out there.

The top three impressive moves:

1. Well Thought-out Questions. By asking good questions about the internship, the agency, or even my job or my clients, some applicants showed not only their preparation, but also their interest in the agency as a team. One of my favorite interviews was when an applicant pulled out a sheet of questions and a pen and took notes on our answers. The unique and in depth questions showed the applicant's interest and research as well as attention to detail and a level of seriousness about doing a good job.

2. Excitement. I love talking books. I can do it all the time, on and on and on. I love my job. I find everything about the publishing process exciting! It was great to see applicants come it and light up when they talked about books they'd read recently or books they'd loved. Everyone wants to work in a place, and with people, that possess positive enthusiasm. So it was great to see that in interviews.

3. Thank You Notes. It seems silly to say it out loud - I've always thought it was silly, and I definitely didn't do this after my interview (FAIL), but getting a thank you note after interviews serves two purposes. It makes the interviewers feel appreciated - and hey our time is valuable, interviewing all those people was hard work - and it helps interviewers remember that applicant. Getting a card in the mail or even a quick email made me pause to remember that person, think back to who they were and what they said.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Barely Bewitching


A Review of Barely Bewitched by Kimberly Frost

Barely Bewitched is the second novel in Kimberly Frost's SOUTHERN WITCH series, and if you're new to the series, you'd be better off starting with the first novel. The events of this novel take place almost immediately after the end of book one.

Tamara "Tammy Jo" Trask wants to be a normal pastry chef, but she had to spell-cast as a result of werewolves (in book one, Would-Be Witch). Now the World Association of Magic (WAM) has classified Tammy Jo as a witch and she unwittingly became subject to the laws of magic. WAM sends two representatives to help prepare Tammy Jo for her mandatory Initial Challenge. If she refuses to take it or fails, she will face imprisonment or death, and she has a problem – she can’t control her magic. And to make matters worse, a wand-wielding wizard and a menacing fire warlock have come to Duvall to train her, and their arrival is most likely more than what it seems.

Then a curse and a huge spill of pixie dust, and the town goes wild. Tammy Jo needs the sinfully handsome Bryn Lyons to help her, even though WAM has declared him off-limits, and her ex-husband, Zach, refuses to believe the things he saw last week (in Would-Be Witch) and wants to talk to her about it.

Tammy Jo is a relatable heroine; she’s sassy but sweet, down-to-earth but embroiled in a quirky world of magic. Her character gives the paranormal romance genre a unique and refreshing protagonist who’s creative and has an endearing Texas charm. Many of the minor characters are also uniquely quirky and interesting. Of course, they are the ones who are trying to help but actually end up hindering Tammy along the way, during the story – and as a result the relationships between the characters seem to be ones we’ve all seen before.

The plotline is interesting, but nothing unique or out of the ordinary. Tammy's a reluctant and bumbling witch-in-training who as a result finds herself in trouble. She is also unsure about who she can trust, which then adds to the trouble. Minor characters who want to help, actually mess things up more, and problems are springing up everywhere – supernatural and not – and Tammy’s the only one who can fix them.

The love triangle bothered me. In continuation from book one, Tammy has two sexy guys she’s trying to decide between, and she’s drawn to the mysterious and possibly dangerous Bryn Lyons. Though his character is more fully developed in Barely Bewitched, I just don’t quite find him believable or as likable as Tammy’s ex-husband Zach (and I can’t understand why she broke up with him in the first place). But my partiality for Zach might be my own hang up.

The series is fun and definitely great if you're looking for a light urban fantasy/paranormal romance with some laughs. But it’s not necessarily one I’ll be continuing with.

CONTEST: One lucky commenter will win the ARC for Barely Bewitched. Be sure to include your email address so I know how to contact you.

Extra entries:
+1 New followers
+2 If you're already a follower
+1 Linking to my contest on your blog, twitter, etc. Include links. (up to 5)
+3 For posting about my contest on your blog. (Must be actual post)
+2 Add me to your blog roll.

This contest is open internationally! It will end September 15th at 11:59 pm Eastern time. Winner will be announced September 16th. Good luck and happy entering!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September Giveaway: Molly Harper

September appears to be a huge giveaway month by the look of the number of contests I've entered. So I'm adding my own sweet contest here.

One lucky commenter will win books 1 and 2 of Molly Harper's Nice Girls Series. Fans of Sookie Stackhouse's engaging wit will love Jane Jameson, the heroine of both books.

Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs

Maybe it was the Shenanigans gift certificate that put her over the edge. When children's librarian and self-professed nice girl Jane Jameson is fired by her beastly boss and handed twenty-five dollars in potato skins instead of a severance check, she goes on a bender that's sure to become Half Moon Hollow legend. On her way home, she's mistaken for a deer, shot, and left for dead. And thanks to the mysterious stranger she met while chugging neon-colored cocktails, she wakes up with a decidedly unladylike thirst for blood.

Jane is now the latest recipient of a gift basket from the Newly Undead Welcoming Committee, and her life-after-lifestyle is taking some getting used to. Her recently deceased favorite aunt is now her ghostly roommate. She has to fake breathing and endure daytime hours to avoid coming out of the coffin to her family. She's forced to forgo her favorite down-home Southern cooking for bags of O negative. Her relationship with her sexy, mercurial vampire sire keeps running hot and cold. And if all that wasn't enough, it looks like someone in Half Moon Hollow is trying to frame her for a series of vampire murders. What's a nice undead girl to do?

Nice Girls Don't Date Dead Men

Once a devoted children's librarian, Jane Jameson now works at a rundown occult bookstore. Once a regular gal, she's now a vampire. And instead of a bride, she's an eternal bridesmaid -- which leads her to question where exactly her relationship with her irresistibly sexy sire, Gabriel, is headed. Mercurial, enigmatic, apparently commitment-phobic vampires are nothing if not hard to read. While Jane is trying to master undead dating, she is also donning the ugliest bridesmaid's dress in history at her best friend Zeb's Titanic-themed wedding. Between a freaked-out groom-to-be, his hostile werewolf in-laws, and Zeb's mother, hell-bent on seeing Jane walk the aisle with Zeb, Jane's got the feeling she's just rearranging the proverbial deck chairs.

Meanwhile, Half Moon Hollow's own Black Widow, Jane's Grandma Ruthie, has met her match in her latest fiancé. He smells like bad cheese and has a suspicious history of dead spouses. But Jane's biting her tongue. After all, would a nice girl really think she has a future with a vampire?

Check out Molly's website and her funny Single Undead Female blog.

How to Enter:
Leave a comment with a valid e-mail address. No e-mail address, no entry. (If you are uncomfortable leaving your e-mail in a comment, then e-mail it to me.)

Extra entries:
+1 New followers
+2 If you're already a follower
+1 Linking to my contest on your blog, twitter, etc. Include links. (up to 5)
+3 For posting about my contest on your blog. (Must be actual post)
+2 Add me to your blog roll.

This contest is open internationally! It will end September 30th at 11:59 pm Eastern time. Winner will be announced October 1st. Good luck and happy entering!

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Five Random Things About Suzie

1. I drink so much orange soda, it's probably running through my veins. I've been known to go through a twelve pack of diet sunkist in a day.

2. I'm legitimately nocturnal (or a vampire). I will be so exhausted at two pm that I'm falling asleep standing up - it has happened before, at Six Flags no less - but as soon as the sun goes down I'm wide awake.

3. I have a gorgeous unused $6000 Reem Acra wedding dress hanging in my closet, and it showed up on my doorstep the same day my (now ex) fiance broke up with me. And thank God for that. I wouldn't have wanted to waste that dress on him.

4. Social anxiety plagues me daily. I write a script and practice in front of the mirror when I have to make a phone call, but most people who interact with me have no idea how nervous I am (or perhaps they lie) because I've worked so hard to try to overcome it.

5. I'm actually worried that I will never love my children (when I do have them in the far off future) as much as I love my dogs. I just like animals better than people - they're sweet and innocent and soft and furry - is that so wrong?