Monday, May 28, 2007

It's 2:15. Do you know where your page count is?

Bear with me once again, as I've disappeared into that oh-so-common author place known as "deadline hell."

To everyone here and over at my MySpace account, thanks for all the messages, comments, blog posts and emails to my gmail account. I'm reading all and responding ... but I'm about a MONTH behind on comments now. Yikes!

I feel like such a slacker. But I do appreciate everyone's notes and comments! Don't stop. I'll catch up eventually. And when I do (and this project hits the shelves) hopefully everyone will say it was well worth the deadline dementia!!!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

GCC Tour: COUPON GIRL by Becky Motew



ORDER THE BOOK!


Check this one out! It sounds like fun!


"Hi, you've reached the voice mail of Jeanie Callahan. I'm auditioning right now for the lead role in The Sound of Music and hopefully not throwing up or fainting. If you're a business owner and would like to do a coupon to attract more customers, leave me a message." BEEP

"Hey, Jeanie. I can't give 25 percent off a donut. Do you think I’m crazy?" BEEP.

"Miss Callahan? This is Sergeant Smith at the Worcester Fire Department. We got your grandfather down from the roof again, maam, and he’s okay like usual. But maam, you need to call us. " BEEP.


"My name Mike. You call." BEEP


Jeanie Callahan sells coupons. Dry cleaners, mechanics, pizza guys—all of them are friends and clients, deadbeats and tormentors. This summer Jeanie has joined the local community theatre, hoping to snag a collection of customers to win her company’s sales contest.

But weighed down in a nun costume and fighting with middle-aged women about whose crucifix should be bigger, she wonders if it was a good idea. Frankly, there’s not a business owner to be seen. The handsome director is in sight, though, and Jeanie thinks she may have found true love. Or maybe it’s a course in Sex Fetishes 101. Opening night looms and some unusual sales propel Jeanie to the brink of victory.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Becky Motew sold coupons on the road in Worcester for more than ten years and those experiences are reflected in COUPON GIRL, her debut novel. Becky’s second love is the stage and she has been active in numerous community theatre groups in Massachusetts. She has played Ado Annie in Oklahoma!, Rosalie in Carnival, and Miss Hannigan in Annie, where she scared her own daughter.

Here are Becky's answers to my GCC questions:


HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR TYPICAL “WRITING DAY”?

I like to eat some ham and grapes, do a little web browsing, and then start in. If I’m lucky, things start to take shape. I try to finish the scene or the part of a scene from the day before and go forward into new territory before I stop. The worst thing is to stop at the very end of a scene without starting another. That’s a sure invitation to disaster the next day. If I’m really stumped, I go back to a previous scene and work on it until an idea presents itself. Eventually, it’s lunch time. I sometimes come back in the evening and work as well.
DO YOU RECALL THE KERNEL OF INSPIRATION FOR THIS BOOK?
I always knew I would write CG. The kernel of inspiration was having that job. Sales people are buffeted by everyone—the boss thinks he knows the best way for you to do something, the customers don’t want it that way, and THEY tell you how you should do it. Then your colleagues have their own ideas. You have to find your own way and that’s the story I tried to tell with Jeanie.

PICK A CHARACTER IN THE BOOK AND TELL US WHAT TRAIT YOU SHARE (OR COME CLOSEST TO SHARING) WITH THAT CHARACTER.
It would be foolish for me to deny my connection with Jeanie. She is me in many ways, though I got lead parts in shows and was never in the chorus. Wow, that sounds snobby. I don’t mean it to be. But that is a key difference between us—Jeanie is not interested in performing and I was.

IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND, WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE A MAGICAL TRUNK THAT GAVE YOU LIMITLESS BOOKS TO READ, OR A LIMITLESS SUPPLY OF PAPER ON WHICH TO WRITE?
Wow, good question. Probably books to read, because I don’t really trust the cruise line to rescue me and maybe I could find a way to read a book, then write over it.

BEER OR WINE? Wine, dahling.

CHOCOLATE OR VANILLA? Chocolate in Perpetuity

WHAT’S YOUR ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOK?
Catch-22

How to visit Becky or learn more:

Her web site: www.beckymotew.com
Her blog: www.beckymotew.blogspot.com

Saturday, May 19, 2007

GCC Tour: Grafitti Girl by Kelly Parra



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This week, I'm hosting Kelly Parra and her new release, GRAFITTI GIRL, an awesome young adult novel. Check it out:

Graffiti art. It's bold. It's thrilling. And it can get a girl into serious trouble...

Raised by her single mom (who's always dating the wrong kind of man) in a struggling California neighborhood, Angel Rodriguez is a headstrong, independent young woman who channels her hopes and dreams for the future into her painting. But when her entry for a community mural doesn't rate, she's heartbroken. Even with the winning artist Nathan Ramos--a senior track start and Angel's secret crush--taking a sudden interest in Angel and her art, she's angry and hurt. She's determined to find her own place in the art world, her own way.

That's when Miguel Badalin--from the notorious graffiti crew Reyes del Norte--opens her eyes to an underground world of graf tags and turf wars. She's blown away by this bad boy's fantastic work and finds herself drawn to his dangerous charm. Soon she's running with Miguel's crew, pushing her skills to the limit and beginning to emerge as the artist she always dreamed she could be. But Nathan and Miguel are bitter enemies with a shared past, and choosing between them and their wildly different approaches to life and art means that Angel must decide what matters most before the artist inside her can truly break free.

Praise for Graffiti Girl


"With characters as bold and exciting as the art they love, and an honesty that keeps them raw and real, Graffiti Girl shows us that they only thing better than discovering your talent is finding yourself along the way." ~ Jenny O'Connell, author of Plan B and The Book of Luke

"Graffiti Girl is a fast-paced story that boldly looks dreams and temptations in the eye. 16 year-old Angel Rodriguez steals your heart as she tries to find her place in the world--artistically, socially, and even inside her own family. Don't miss this one!" ~ Tina Ferraro, author of Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress

"This book blew me away. Kelly Parra writes with the keen eye of an artist. Graffiti Girl is warm, gutsy, and true-to-life--an unflinching, honest portrayal of young adults. A seamless and impressive debut." ~ Anne Frasier, USA Today bestselling author of Pale Immortal

About the Author

Kelly Parra writes young adult fiction for MTV Books. When not at work on her current novel, she spends her free time roaming book stores, surfing the blogosphere, and watching reality TV. Graffiti Girl is her debut novel. For an excerpt visit, www.kellyparra.com or check out the YA Fresh blog at http://yafresh.blogspot.com


And here are Kelly's answers to my GCC questions! (Check out her answer to the favorite book question ... I'm right there with Kelly!


HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR TYPICAL “WRITING DAY”?

KP: My typical day is to get up and ready my kids for school and get them out the door. Then when I return home, I refuel, check email and my numerous blogs, and that takes at least an hour. I can then settle into where I left off with my current book. I usually read the prior chapter to get back into the tone and scene, and that goes on with breaks until it's time to pick up the kids. Pretty typical day unless, you know, the procrastinator bug bites me in the butt. :)

DO YOU RECALL THE KERNEL OF INSPIRATION FOR THIS BOOK?

KP: Basically my love for art in high school and my friends who were into Graffiti art inspired me to write Graffiti Girl. When I was sixteen, I tried my hand at graffiti designs in what is called a "piecebook" but could never really do justice to the bold style. I pretty much flunked as a graffiti artist in training.

PICK A CHARACTER IN THE BOOK AND TELL US WHAT TRAIT YOU SHARE (OR COME CLOSEST TO SHARING) WITH THAT CHARACTER.

KP: My character Angel has a whimsical artistic style in the book and while I was in high school I felt the same way about my own art. My creativity was not realistic enough to satisfy me for some reason. So it was just as easy to give all my feelings to Angel to work through in Graffiti Girl. I'm such a stinker. :)

IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND, WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE A MAGICAL TRUNK THAT GAVE YOU LIMITLESS BOOKS TO READ, OR A LIMITLESS SUPPLY OF PAPER ON WHICH TO WRITE?

KP: This is not a fair question! Reading and writing are pretty much equal with me. If I really have to choose, I'd have to go with limitless books to read forever.

BEER OR WINE?

KP: Sorry, neither! I'm all about taste and they just don't taste good to me.

CHOCOLATE OR VANILLA?

KP: Chocolate. Yay!

WHAT’S YOUR ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOK?

KP: I do not have an all time favorite single book, but an all time favorite series of books. The Death Series by J.D. Robb.

Monday, May 14, 2007

My First Lesson in Motherhood - New York Times

This article had me in tears.

By ELIZABETH FITZSIMONS
Published: May 13, 2007

I SAW the scar the first time I changed Natalie’s diaper, just an hour after the orphanage director handed her to me in a hotel banquet room in Nanchang, a provincial capital in southeastern China.


To read the rest: My First Lesson in Motherhood - New York Times

Thursday, May 10, 2007

GCC Tour: INSIDER DATING by JENNIFER O'CONNELL

I'm thrilled to be hosting Jennifer and her new book, INSIDER DATING, this week as part of the GCC Tour!




ORDER THE BOOK!

Here's a bit about the book:

Abby Dunn, barely past thirty and still reeling from her divorce, has taken herself off the dating market. Instead, she’s using her experience to turn the tables on the opposite sex by building a database to rank underperforming men and set women straight when investing their greatest asset: themselves.

Now, what started as a pet project is becoming a full-time enterprise. But while Abby’s busy hedging bets, someone is skewing her data and threatening to ruin her business. Abby is about to find out that sometimes even the savviest market wizards can be headed for a crash.

While it may be perfectly legal, nothing good can come from insider dating.



ABOUT JENNIFER:

Jennifer O’Connell received her BA from Smith College and her MBA from the University of Chicago. She lives outside Boston and when she’s not writing, she spends her days as a market strategy consultant. She is the bestselling author of Bachelorette #1, Dress Rehearsal, and Off The Record.

PRAISE FOR JENNIFER'S OTHER TITLES:


“Insight and humor…entertaining.”
—The Denver Post

“A poolside page-turner.”
—Cosmopolitan

“Hot.”
Us Weekly

JENNIFER'S ANSWERS TO MY GCC QUESTIONS:



HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR TYPICAL "WRITING DAY"?
The only thing that’s typical when I’m writing is that I hit the “word count” function in MS Word about a million times. I’m very goal oriented – it’s all about the word count.

DO YOU RECALL THE KERNEL OF INSPIRATION FOR THIS BOOK?
One summer afternoon I was out on our deck, flipping through People magazine. One of those blow-ins for the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes fell onto my lap and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a clearinghouse for men.” The idea for INSIDER DATING came immediately, that a woman could create a sort of clearinghouse that allowed women to share information in a members-only club.

PICK A CHARACTER IN THE BOOK AND TELL US WHAT TRAIT YOU SHARE (OR COME CLOSEST TO SHARING) WITH THAT CHARACTER.
Out of all of my books, Abby, the main character in INSIDER DATING, most closely resembles me. We’d both like to believe we can control what happens, that as long as we’re prepared for the worst, we’ll never be caught off guard.

IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND, WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE A MAGICAL TRUNK THAT GAVE YOU LIMITLESS BOOKS TO READ, OR A LIMITLESS SUPPLY OF PAPER ON WHICH TO WRITE?
I’d read. I always read when I’m writing, I find it inspiring to read what other writers are writing, see how they’re thinking. I read with a pen and paper in hand, because books always spark ideas. I’m actually a frustrated editor masquerading as a writer. I love to read.

BEER OR WINE?
Beer

CHOCOLATE OR VANILLA?
Chocolate

WHAT'S YOUR ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOK?
So hard. Probably a book I read in high school, it’s YA – IT’S OKAY IF YOU DON’T LOVE ME by Norma Klein. The best ever.


Thanks, Jennifer! The book sounds great!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Ah, the Drama of it All!

I've been a bit out of touch for the last week. Why? Because my girls (and me) have been in rehearsals and performances for a local homeschooling kids' group production of THE WIZARD OF OZ.

More about that later (many blog-worthy episodes!), but I just wanted to show you some photos that my friend Julia London took at today's matinee performance!

My eldest is the tinman, my youngest both a flying monkey and a munchkin. And I (in order to wrangle the youngest) am the tallest munchkin ever and a monkey!

(As a sidenote, the play premiered at just about Chenchen's 6 month anniversary in the states. How cool is that? So much has happened in 6 months it's hard to believe!)

Life is good! Busy, but good!



Sunday, May 6, 2007

Another awesome review!




After reading The Givenchy Code and The Manolo Matrix, I was anxious to read The Prada Paradox. Julie Kenner surpassed my expectations on every level with this story. First, it continues her trend of fantastic, winning characters, suspense, and complex puzzles. The pacing is excellent and the plot never falters. Instead, readers are kept on the edge with one puzzle and conflict after another. The answers to the puzzles seem to remain just out of my reach, but always make sense once solved. Devi and Blake are a dynamic couple readers will relish getting to know. Her sense of humor and his unyielding commitment make their scenes rich in emotion. The secondary characters are just as engaging and made sure I was never quite sure which direction the story would go. Readers of this series might find some story elements in common with the rest of the series, but make no mistake, The Prada Paradox is an original story that will lure and maintain readers’ interest from start to finish. This is a wonderful conclusion that lives up to the standard established throughout this series.


Fallen Angel Reviews


Click here to order the book!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Guest Blog: A PIECE OF NORMAL by Sandi Kahn Shelton

Today, I have the pleasure to host Sandi Shelton, who is blog-touring her current release, A PIECE OF NORMAL. This looks like a great read, and Sandi is an absolute hoot! So be sure to check out the book!



Click here to order!

Here's the blurb about the book:

Dear Lily . . .

At age thirty-four, Lily Brown has her life just the way she likes it. And what’s not to like? She’s got a great job as an advice columnist for the local newspaper, an adorable four-year-old son, and an ex-husband, Teddy, who still thinks she’s wonderful. She even lives in the same beach house where she grew up, with a great view of Long Island Sound and plenty of beach roses to smell.

So what if she won’t let herself date anyone until she finds a new girlfriend for Teddy, who happens to still be hung up on her? So what if she hasn’t changed a thing in her parents’ house, even twelve years after their tragic deaths? So what if it’s been ten years since she’s heard from her younger sister, Dana, who stormed out of the house in a rage when she was a teenager? Lily is fine.

But it’s funny how life has a way of upsetting even the most perfectly laid-out plans, and when one night Lily finds herself painting ghastly orange highlights into her lovely auburn hair, even she suspects that she’s been in something of a rut. And then, when her long-lost little sister shows up, bringing with her the fun and drama and hell-raising spontaneity Lily has missed, her life suddenly takes a turn for the unexpected.

To Lily’s chagrin, Dana’s energy seems to enthrall everyone, especially Teddy. As the tension between the sisters escalates, Dana reveals decades-old family secrets that she’s been burdened with all these years, and Dear Lily must heed her own advice about accepting life’s messiness and chaos.

With her trademark blend of sparkling wit and characters you can’t forget, Sandi Kahn Shelton tells a compelling and universal story of two sisters who learn what they need to let go of, and what they have to hold on to as tightly as they can.



Check out my quickie interview with Sandi:

Even your bio is funny. If we met at a cocktail party, would I walk away thinking you’re quiet or a hoot? And, just to keep you on your toes, one word answers are not allowed. Please elaborate.

That’s a great question, Julie. And thank you for the compliment (as well as letting me come onto your blog for a visit). I come from a Southern family where humor seems to pervade everything. If you can’t tell a story that makes everybody fall down laughing, you just get pushed over to the side. Go make Auntie Pem another drink and content yourself with being part of the audience. That’s the way it is. Compared to my mother and grandmothers and aunties, I’m known as the shy, quiet, reserved one. Now that I live up in the North, I often notice that my dark Southern humor isn’t always taken the way I mean it; I get frequent shocked looks when I do my over-exaggerations. (I didn’t even know they WERE over-exaggerations until I moved up here.) So basically, I think I’m probably funnier in my writing than at cocktail parties. But give me a couple of glasses of merlot, and you never know…


Isn’t being a mom great? (That one’s a freebie. I still get two more questions, but feel free to answer this one, too.)


Oh, my goodness! It’s the best thing ever. I have three kids, and I cannot imagine what my life would have been like without them. They’re all out of the house now…but we still all talk every day, which I know makes me sound like some kind of clingy mom. (I’m really not, I swear.) One day recently I was working on my novel, and suddenly one them IM’ed me and a little screen showed up in the upper left portion of my novel page. So I typed with that kid about his car needing to be fixed…and then *bling,* up came another screen in the bottom of the page. My daughter wanting to know my recipe for chicken curry. And then *bling*--over on the bottom right was my other daughter just wanting to say hi. I sat there, shocked­all three screens were covering up my novel! It seemed symbolic of just what my priorities are, LOL.


Your bio talks about the 17 year gestation of your first novel, and the 10 months to write A Piece of Normal. Was the shift from leisurely (haha) writing to a strict deadline difficult? How did you cope ­ other than eating all the banana popsicles, I mean?

That’s a good question! Well, when I first found out that I had ten months to write Novel #2, I almost had to take to my bed with the vapors. I said to my agent, “What were you thinking? Tell me now: was there anything I ever did or said to make you think I could write a book in ten months?” She laughed and said she knew I could do it. And sure enough, I did. And, although I hate to admit this, there was a way in which it was actually easier. For one thing, when you have a strict deadline like that, IT GETS YOU GOING. You don’t wake up in the morning, yawn and stretch and think, “Hmm, do I feel inspired to write my book today…or would I rather, um, go anywhere else and do any other possible thing?” You know what you have to do.

On the advice of a friend of mine who has written one mystery a year for the past 11 years, I made up my mind to do three pages every single day. No matter what else was happening in life, I knew I had to do those three pages, inspired or not. And that worked to keep me in the book. It kept the material fresh in my mind and kept new juicy stuff for the book flying over to me, even when I wasn’t writing. It was an amazing thing, actually. Not having to sit down and re-read the whole book each time I sat down to write was a big bonus, too; the stuff was still so familiar to me, I could re-read it as little as possible and therefore not get tired of it. You know how when you’re working and working on a book, and you’re reading it too much, you can actually get bored with it and then you have utterly no distance on the writing at all? I found that if I just re-read and edited what I’d written the day before, I could keep going without wanting to press the DELETE button and get rid of the whole thing and go off to join the circus.

So for my third novel (which I am working on now) I also have a (rapidly approaching) deadline of ten months. I love the clarity of focus that comes when you know you have one true priority…and it’s not cleaning the bathtub!


What was the kernel of inspiration for A Piece of Normal?


I always love to write about family relationships, because I think they’re the most fascinating, complicated things going. I’m always struck with how other people’s families always look so together on the outside, and yet when you get to really know them, you see that everybody’s got quirky relatives to deal with, and weird past histories, and buried secrets. (Well, almost everybody. I do know a few people who seem to come from genetically secret-less people. But I’m still digging around, so I’ll get back to you.) I’m particularly interested in the ways that being in a family often requires us to understand and forgive acts that may at first seem like real catastrophic (even if unintentional) betrayals, but which in many ways, serve to enrich and open us.

I think it is these powerful relationships that shape us most dramatically and hold the key to how we see ourselves. (Isn’t there a saying that goes: “Families­-can’t live with ’em. Can’t kill ’em”? Until I take up writing murder mysteries, I guess I’m stuck writing about how families manage to forgive each other and go on.)

My first novel-­What Comes After Crazy-­was about a complicated mother-daughter relationship­-briefly, the mom was a flaky, itinerant fortune-teller and the daughter grew up with almost no skills in making a normal life for herself and her kids. (It should be noted that I thought it was a very serious novel, but when it came out, critics called it “hilarious.” That was a bit of a surprise.)

In A Piece of Normal, (which I had wanted to call “Ordinary Forgiveness”) it is two sisters­-Lily and Dana Brown­-who couldn’t be more opposite. Through their betrayals and long-buried sibling rivalries, they come to realize that they each have something the other one needs. And when the betrayal comes­-well, oops, I should stop here. You see, I always have a tendency to tell too much. I’d write the whole plot here if I’m not careful, and all you asked for was the “germ of the idea.”

Thanks so much, Sandi!

Sounds great, doesn't it? Rush out and get your copy! And you can visit Sandi on the web at http://www.sandishelton.com/