Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Stephenie Meyer's New Novella

Publisher's Weekly announced yesterday morning that Stephenie Meyer will be publishing The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, available June 5th. Bree Tanner is, if you remember (it's okay, I didn't either), a minor character in Eclipse.

So, what do you think? Are you excited? Not so much? Will you buy it, borrow it, or read it online?

Read the PW article here.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

What if you only had one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: the world’s most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.

Instead, it turns out to be her last. Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.



When I started reading Before I Fall, I immediately took note of two things: Lauren Oliver is a talented writer and Samantha Kingston would never be a character I liked.  A few times I even felt tempted to put the book down, despite the great writing.  I can only sympathize so much with a girl I would have hated in high school.  But I had a few pretty strong recommendations (including this one) and tales of missed subway stops to urge me on.


So now I'm going to do the same.  No matter how you feel about Sam when you open Before I Fall and read that first chapter. Don't. Stop. Reading.


Not that you'll have too much of a choice once you get a few chapters in.  Before I Fall has that eerie train wreck allure where you just can't look away.  You have to keep turning pages to find out if she can redeem herself.  I even ended up missing my own subway stop to finish the last chapter.


And Kent McFuller - where have you been all my life?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Dead Tossed Waves

Last night I found myself awake well into the hours of the morning, tense and turning the pages fiercely, trying to get to end of Carrie Ryan's sophomore novel The Dead Tossed Waves, the companion novel to The Forrest of Hands and Teeth (see my review).

Gabry lives a quiet life, secure in her town next to the sea and behind the Barrier. She's content to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. Home is all she's ever known, and all she needs for happiness.


But life after the Return is never safe, and there are threats even the Barrier can't hold back.


Gabry's mother thought she left her secrets behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, but like the dead in their world, secrets don't stay buried. And now, Gabry's world is crumbling.


One night beyond the Barrier...


One boy Gabry's known forever and one veiled in mystery...


One reckless moment, and half of Gabry's generation is dead, the other half imprisoned.


Gabry knows only one thing: if she is to have any hope of a future, she must face the forest of her mother's past.

The Dead Tossed Waves picks up a generation after the end of The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  Gabry is Mary's daughter, and the opposite of her adventurous mother.  They live in the town of ocean town of Vista where Mary found herself at the end of the first book.  And while they aren't in the Forest, most of the problems Mary faced, Gabry faces as well.

The Unconsecrated are back.  Only in Vista, they have different names for them.  Mudo are the normal slow zombies, and Breakers are the fast ones (and we get more explanation for how/why Breakers exist!).  The zombies and the zombie virus is of course still the main threat.  And just like in The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan doesn't pull any punches.  No characters are safe.

The pacing, action, and suspense is fantastic.  I could not put the book down.  Even though it was late.  Even though I was exhausted.  There were several twists I didn't see coming, and there was more than one time, I thought everyone was about to perish.  And the love triangle had me torn.  I couldn't even choose a team because I liked both guys!  I found myself waffling back and forth over which guy I wanted Gabry to choose.

Carrie Ryan is a master at creative tension.  In fact when I got to the end (which I'm not a hundred percent sure I loved, though it is realistic), I realized similar to my feelings about Mary, I actually didn't like Gabry all that much.  She's flawed and not always sympathetic.  But that didn't stop me from reading the entire book and still rooting for her to make it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Win a copy of Hourglass by Claudia Gray

CONTEST: One lucky commenter will win a brand new copy of Hourglass, the third novel in Claudia Gray's Evernight series. Be sure to include your email address so I know how to contact you.

Extra entries:
+1 Commenting on my review of the series HERE.
+2 Commenting on my interview with Claudia, 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 April 15th at 11:59 pm Eastern time. Winner will be announced April 16th. Good luck and happy entering!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

You Have to Read This.

When the wonderful and benevolent mean and sharkly Janet Reid tells me to do something.  I do it.  So when she told me to steal an ARC of You by Chuck Benoit, I did.  (Okay so I didn't actually steal it...but I managed to obtain a copy - thanks to the goddess of Harper publicity and marketing).

Wow.

Stylistically brilliant, You, had me sucked in from the first line, turning the pages into the middle of the night, and gasping on the last page.  When I got to the end, I promptly turned back to the first page and reread the beginning, and then I flipped to certain scenes and reread them.  (And then I emailed a friend and said Oh. My. God. You have to read this so we can talk about it.  And then I laid awake in bed thinking about it.)

It. Was. That. Good.


It's out August 24th, 2010.  Put it on your wishlist.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Check it Out!

Congratulate Lisa Desrochers who was featured in Galley Cat this week, signing her contracts! Yay Lisa!

And, there's a fun query blunder post featuring the marvelously talented Kathleen Ortiz from Lowenstein Associates and some other girl (oh, wait that's me).

And...

Drumroll please.

(okay wait, this is actually not as exciting at all, but...)

After this weekend, I will no longer be living in Philadelphia and commuting those two hours on a good day into NYC.  I will officially be a New Yorker :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Interview with Claudia Gray

I'm lucky to have the fabulously talented Claudia Gray on the blog today for an interview.  Her novel Hourglassthe third installment of the EVERNIGHT series, is due out Tuesday March 9th!


From her site:
Claudia Gray is not my real name. I didn't choose a pseudonym because my real name is unpleasant (it isn't), because I'd always dreamed of calling myself this (I haven't) or even because I'm hiding from the remnants of that international diamond-smuggling cartel I smashed in 2003 (Interpol has taken care of them). In short, I took a pseudonym for no real reason whatsoever. Sometimes this is actually the best reason to do things.
I am a full-time novelist based in Chicago. So far, in life, I've been a disc jockey, a lawyer, a journalist and an extremely bad waitress, just to name a few. I especially like to spend time traveling, hiking, reading and listening to music. More than anything else, I enjoy writing.
***


How long does it take you to finish a book? What's your writing process like?

There's no one answer to that -- I've had it take me as long as a year and a half to finish a book, and as little as four months. But I only recently went full-time as a writer, so I expect to work more quickly now that I can concentrate every day. My writing process also varies, but it starts with me putting together an outline. Outlining isn't for every writer, but I rely on it. The more I write, the longer and more detailed my outlines become. That said, I do sometimes deviate from the outline once I have it together, usually to add more action or scenes I didn't realize I'd need. But as a rule, once I have my outline, I know my central points for the novel and can dive in.

Usually I put together a soundtrack, too -- it helps me find the right mood and energy for the book.



Speaking of your soundtrack, what are some of the songs that were on your soundtrack when writing Hourglass?

These were probably the main songs:
"Keep the Car Running" by Arcade Fire
"Steal My Kisses" by Ben Harper
"Conquest" by the White Stripes
"Heaven" by Lamb
"You Got Yr Cherry Bomb" by Spoon
"Razor" by the Foo Fighters
"Apocalypse Please" by Muse
"Open Your Eyes" by Snow Patrol
"Breathe Into Me" by Red
"Through Glass" by Stone Sour
"Rolling" by Seal
"I Just Wanna Live" by Good Charlotte


So far, each book has had a great twist that caught me by surprise - did you plan for those or do your characters ever surprise you?

All the big plot turns are planned. I knew the big twists in EVERNIGHT before I ever started that book, and I knew the majority of the big twists in the whole series before I was done with the first one. Like I said, I'm an outliner; I have to know where I'm going.

But the characters do surprise me sometimes, just in different ways.

It's more likely to come out in terms of how a character feels about something that happens, or something they'll say about their past.

Raquel surprised me, BIG time, with something that started for her in STARGAZER but becomes part of her story in HOURGLASS. So it's not the overall plot that surprises me as much as the characters and how they develop.


Were you similar to Bianca when you were in high school (other than the whole *being a vampire* thing of course)?

I wasn't tremendously like Bianca, though I think we would probably have been friends if we were classmates. What we have in common:

shyness, bookishness, a lot of daydreaming. But Bianca is a lot more driven than I was, and after the first few chapters of EVERNIGHT, she's also much more independent. Her astronomy love is definitely her own. And she's a lot luckier in love than I was in high school!

None of my prom dates came close to Lucas or Balthazar, that's for sure.


Can you give us any hints about what's to come in Afterlife or Balthazar's stand alone novel?

Let me talk about Balthazar's book, because I was working on that a little last night. We're going to learn a lot about his past -- particularly who Jane was, why he's still so torn up about her after all these centuries, and also what really happened when he turned Charity. (Although Balthazar has told the truth about his sister's murder, in some ways we still haven't heard the full truth; it's darker and scarier than anything Balthazar was willing to discuss with Bianca or Lucas in the EVERNIGHT series.) 

We'll mostly be dealing with a new set of characters, and the setting moves to a town in upstate New York. An old enemy of Balthazar's shows up there, with a very evil plan of action that Balthazar will have to stop. I'm still working out the bigger plot details, but I know a lot of it and hope you guys are going to love it.



(Swoon - I can't wait for this! :)

What's one book that changed your life?

Honestly, I would have to say the biggest game-changer for me was AND THE BAND PLAYED ON, by Randy Shilts. I was never a homophobe, but reading his amazing study of the early years of the AIDS epidemic, and how hard it was for gay people to even get into hospital rooms to see their sick partners -- it just woke me up to how wrong that kind of prejudice is. Also, I made the decision to get involved in AIDS-related volunteer work and spent two years helping out at an organization that helped sick people sort through any legal problems that might arise. I know this question probably was looking for a book that made me want to be a writer, or something like that, but in truth there were dozens of books that played a part in that. For one book having significant impact on its own, this would have to be the one.


Thanks so much to Claudia for the interview!  Check out the Hourglass trailer and Claudia's upcoming tour dates below, and get a sneak peak inside HERE.





Tuesday, March 9
Anderson's Bookshop
7:00 PM
123 West Jefferson
Naperville, IL 60540


Wednesday, March 10
Barnes & Noble
7:00 PM
1201 Lake Woodlands Dr. #3008
The Woodlands, TX 
77381

Thursday, March 11
BookPeople
7:00 PM
603 N. Lamar
Austin, TX 78703

Saturday, March 13
Barnes & Noble
2:00 PM
7660 North Point Parkway
Alpharetta, GA 30022

Thursday, April 1
Borders
7:00 PM
1 N. La Grange Road
La Grange, IL 60525


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Requested Material Recap

In 2009 I kept track of how many books I read.  So far in 2010, I'm not reading books at quite the same pace.  I am however reading a ton of manuscripts.  For statistics purposes, here's where I am right now.

In 2010...

I've been a second reader on 6 manuscripts for other agents in the office.

I've read and sent editorial letters on 23 client manuscripts - some of them more than once.

I've read 92 manuscripts I requested (some partials, some fulls).

Of those 92...

I referred 1 to another agent (they're now working together).

I sent editorial letters to 5.

I offered representation to 3.


And how many published books have I read so far in 2010?  ::hides face in embarrassment:: 7

Friday, March 5, 2010

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Claudia Gray's Evernight Series

What I enjoyed most about reading each of the books in the EVERNIGHT Series by Claudia Gray were the twists and turns.  Each book had several that caught me completely by surprise, and yet when I looked back, I could identify the hints and clues leading up to the moment of discovery.

Bianca is a great character.  She's young and naive compared, but she's also headstrong and determined.  She's isn't a pushover or a weak character by any means.  And both Lucas and Balthazar are swoon-worthy guys attending Evernight Academy.  (I'm totally Team Balthazar - I love him!)


Evernight 


Bianca wants to escape.

At the eerily Gothic Evernight Academy, the other students are sleek, smart, and almost predatory. Bianca knows she doesn't fit in.

When she meets handsome, brooding Lucas, he warns her to be careful—even when it comes to caring about him. But the connection between them can't be denied. Bianca will risk anything to be with Lucas, but dark secrets are fated to tear them apart . . . and to make Bianca question everything she's ever believed.



Evernight Academy: an exclusive boarding school for the most beautiful, dangerous students of all—vampires. Bianca, born to two vampires, has always been told her destiny is to become one of them.

But Bianca fell in love with Lucas—a vampire hunter sworn to destroy her kind. They were torn apart when his true identity was revealed, forcing him to flee the school.

Although they may be separated, Bianca and Lucas will not give each other up. She will risk anything for the chance to see him again, even if it means coming face-to-face with the vampire hunters of Black Cross—or deceiving the powerful vampires of Evernight. Bianca's secrets will force her to live a life of lies.

Yet Bianca isn't the only one keeping secrets. When Evernight is attacked by an evil force that seems to target her, she discovers the truth she thought she knew is only the beginning. . . .






Bianca will risk everything to be with Lucas.

After escaping from Evernight Academy, the vampire boarding school where they met, Bianca and Lucas take refuge with Black Cross, a fanatical group of vampire hunters. Bianca must hide her supernatural heritage or risk certain death at their hands. But when Black Cross captures her friend—the vampire Balthazar—hiding is no longer an option.

Soon, Bianca and Lucas are on the run again, pursued not only by Black Cross, but by the powerful leaders of Evernight. Yet no matter how far they travel, Bianca can't escape her destiny.

Bianca has always believed their love could survive anything . . . but can it survive what's to come?


Check back on Sunday for my interview with Claudia!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Query Recap

In honor of Kathleen Ortiz's (who I want as my publicist, think she has time for that?) recent contest featuring Joanna Stampfel-Volpe's honesty regarding all things query.  Here's a break down of the queries I answered tonight.

Total Queries Answered: 41

***
Form Rejected: 38

The Reasonings....

Just not for me: 11

This isn't a genre I represent: 7

The premise sounds interesting, but I'm not grabbed by the voice in the pages: 5

Themes/Premise too similar to one of my clients' projects: 4

Word count is way too high or too low: 3

I have an angel/demon book already: 3

I'm not sure what the book is about: 2

Query is full of grammatical and spelling errors to the point that it's hard to understand: 1

Writer referred to themselves as the next JK Rowling/Dan Brown/Stephenie Meyer: 1

I'm not sure this is really a query (what's happening?): 1

***
Requested Full: 3

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Jane Austen Gave Me Unrealistic Expectations in Men

It's true.  She did.

But I love her anyway.

Earlier this month, agent extraordinaire Joanna Volpe and I took the fabulous FinePrint interns to the Morgan Museum where we checked out the Jane Austen exhibit: A Woman's Wit, Jane Austen's Life and Legacy.

From the Morgan Museum:
This exhibition explores the life, work, and legacy of Jane Austen (1775–1817), regarded as one of the greatest English novelists. Offering a close-up portrait of the iconic British author, whose popularity has surged over the last two decades with numerous motion picture and television adaptations of her work, the show provides tangible intimacy with Austen through the presentation of more than 100 works, including her manuscripts, personal letters, and related materials, many of which the Morgan has not exhibited in over a quarter century.


A Woman's Wit: Jane Austen's Life and Legacy also includes first and early illustrated editions of Austen's novels as well as drawings and prints depicting people, places, and events of biographical significance. A highlight of the exhibition is a specially commissioned film by the noted Italian director Francesco Carrozzini, featuring interviews with artists and scholars such as Siri Hustvedt, Fran Lebowitz, Sandy Lerner, Colm Tóibín, Harriet Walter, and Cornel West.

The exhibition is organized into three sections: Austen's life and personal letters, her works, her legacy, and concludes with the documentary-style film.


I took a few pictures (without my flash) until the security guard scolded me.  But I did managed to snag this great shot of a handwritten Jane Austen "plan of a novel."

The real event began though downstairs in JP Morgan's personal library (My dream library!) where Jane Seymour did a fantastic dramatic reading of the beginning of Pride and Prejudice.  (I just hadn't realized how incredible dramatic readings could be until I managed to see - in person - someone do it so right.)


Oh yes, this is the dream library!

And this was all in celebration of the release of Beth Pattillo's new novel Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart.

Claire Prescott is a sensible woman who believes in facts and figures, not fairy tales. But when she agrees to present a paper to a summer symposium at Oxford on her ailing sister’s behalf, Claire finds herself thrown into an adventure with a gaggle of Jane Austen-loving women all on the lookout for their Mr. Darcy. 

Claire isn’t looking for Mr. Anyone. She’s been dating Neil, a nice — if a bit negligent — sports fanatic. But when a tall, dark and dashing stranger crosses her path, will the staid Claire suddenly discover her inner romantic heroine? Her chance meeting with a mysterious woman who claims to have an early version of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice — in which Lizzie ends up with someone other than Fitzwilliam Darcy — leads to an astounding discovery about the venerated author’s own struggle to find the right hero for Lizzie Bennett. 

Neil’s unexpected arrival in Oxford complicates Claire’s journey to finding her own romantic lead. Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart is the story of a woman who finds that love isn’t logical and that a true hero can appear in the most unexpected of places.

Her first book Jane Austen Ruined My Life is the story of my life.  (Okay not really, but I swear I feel like the cover of the book was stolen from my diary.)  It is truthfully one of my favorite modern Jane Austen-esque works of fiction.

Emma Grant has always done everything just the way her minister father said she should — a respectable marriage, a teaching job, and plans for the requisite two children. Life was prodigiously good, as her favorite author might say, until the day Emma finds her husband with another woman. Suddenly, all her romantic notions a la Austen are exposed for the foolish dreams they are.
Denied tenure in the wake of the scandal, Emma packs what few worldly possessions she has left and heads to England to find the missing letters of Jane Austen. A reclusive widow claims to have the author’s correspondence, but she allows Emma to see the letters only if she promises never to tell anyone about them. Emma reluctantly agrees and sets off across Austen’s England — from Steventon to Bath to Lyme Regis — to complete a series of tasks that bring her closer and closer to the secret Jane Austen hoped to bury. And the reappearance of Emma’s old friend Adam doesn’t make her quest any easier.
As Emma uncovers the legendary author’s innermost thoughts, she begins to understand the reasons for her idol’s secrecy and Austen’s own struggles as a woman of faith. Laced with excerpts from the missing letters, Jane Austen Ruined My Life is the story of a woman betrayed who discovers the true meaning of loyalty.

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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?