Friday, June 29, 2012

Feature & Follow #15

Welcome to Feature & Follow

Feature & Follow is hosted by Alison of Alison and Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View. It's a fun way to make new friends and to interact with old ones. Click the links above to learn more and to join the fun.

Birthday Wishes -- Blow out the candles and imagine what character could pop out of your cake...who is it and what book are they from?

The first character that comes to mind is Vlad from The Grave Series, because I think he'd be interesting to talk to. And, well, he's sexy as all heck. (Have you seen the cover of his book?)

Now if I were to wish for a character from television, it would be Dean Winchester from Supernatural.

Who would pop out of your cake?

Hey everyone, A Tale of Many Reviews is co-hosting a Summer Reads Event with the YA titles of Omnific Publishing. The event will run August 6-11, 2012. Click here to learn more!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Swoon Thursday

The girls over at YABound are hosting Swoon Thursday, a HOT meme that I couldn't resist joining.

Here's how it works: From the book you're currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering.

Shout it out on Twitter with the hashtoag #YABound, post it here in the comments, or grab the adorable button above and share it on your blog! Don't forget to stop by YABound to read what got them swooning!

I had to  cheat a little, because I just returned a bunch of books to the library. I went to one of my favorite books to share the scene that got my heart fluttering.

This is from Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater:

I kissed her. Just the barest brush of my lips against hers, nothing animal. Even in that moment, I deconstructed the kiss: her possible reactions to, her possible interpretations of, the way it made a shudder tighten my skin, the seconds between when I touched her lips and when she opened her eyes.

What if? #2

First, I'd like to congratulate Jenny C for winning the autographed copy of Calli Be Gold by Michele Weber Hurwitz! To read an excerpt from this fun middle grade novel click here.

And now for the What if? question of the Week. 

What is this? I'm glad you asked. It's a random question that happened to pop in my head, which I decided to post on my blog on Thursdays to help bridge the gap between hump day and Friday.  

Today’s question: What if time moved backwards?

How would that work? Would we start out adults? And would we possess the knowledge of someone in their nineties and then get younger each year? The saying “if I knew then what I know now” would be obsolete.  And you definitely wouldn’t want to tick off the people around you, because someone is going to have to look after you when you’re an infant.

Maybe it just means the sun would set before it rises. That might not be too weird. Unless it meant we’d moved through our day as if someone pressed rewind. You know, like a movie played backwards. But then the outcome of everything would happen before we actually executed any plans.

Any sci-fi fans out there? Do you know how this works, because I’m really at a loss?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Spotlight: While He Was Away by Karen Schreck

Today I'm talking with Karen Schreck, author of While He Was Away, a young adult novel that isn't just about the struggles of young love separated by war and the loneliness that comes when the person you love is serving overseas. It's a love story that spans generations.

While He Was Away
by Karen Schreck

From GoodReads:

"This is just something I have to do, okay?" I hear David say. "The right thing."

He cradles my face in his hands. He kisses me hard. Then he lets go of me. His eyes dart from me to whatever's next.

All she wants is for him to stay. She's been doing pretty well, pretending he doesn't have to go. But one day, after one last night to remember, she wakes up and there's no denying it anymore. He's gone.

When Penna Weaver's boyfriend goes off to Iraq, she's left facing life without him. As summer sets in, Penna tries to distract herself with work and her art, but the not knowing is slowly driving her crazy. Especially when David stops writing.

She knows in her heart he will come home. But will he be the same boy she fell in love with?

Without further ado, please give a warm welcome to Karen Schreck.

Cherie:  Tell us about your novel, While He Was Away , in your own words.

Karen: While He Was Away is about a young woman, Penna Weaver, whose boyfriend David is deployed to Iraq.  In the weeks immediately following his deployment, Penna is faced with the challenges of loving-at-a-distance, loving someone who’s at risk.  Confronting her loneliness and her rising sense of concern for David, she works to understand who she is now that he is gone, connecting with a grandmother she’s never met, whose first husband was killed in WWII.  Kirkus Reviews has called While He Was Away “a strong entry in the growing genre of literature about the Iraq War.”  But this novel is also a love story for now that also holds a love story from the past.  It’s about family connections, and how these bonds can be broken and forged anew.  It’s about making art and making friendships, too.

Cherie: The novel sounds wonderful, and I like how you’ve bridged the two wars together through the grandmother. When will your book be available and where will readers be able to purchase it?

Karen: While He Was Away is available now in paperback or as an ebook . . . at Amazon, B & N, Indiebound, and Sourcebooks.  And I bet your local independent bookstore would be delighted to order it for you, too!

Cherie: Where did you get the idea for your novel?

Karen: I grew up hearing war stories from my Dad, who served in multiple theaters of WWII, and right before she died my mom told me that she’d been married before, to her childhood sweetheart from Oklahoma, who died heroically in WWII.  Their stories—what I knew and what I didn’t know—always lingered in my mind.  When I started hearing and reading stories about the young men and women being deployed to Iraq, my parents’ stories rose to the surface of my consciousness again.  I found myself thinking about the differences and similarities between that earlier war time and now.  There are many differences that both intrigued and troubled me.  But the similarity I kept coming back to is this:  what is it like to love someone who goes to war?  Especially when you’re so young—18, 19?  What is it like to have your loyalty tested in this way, and to face the possibility of loss?  I quickly realized I wanted to explore both my family history and this particular historical moment in a book.  The character of Penna’s grandmother, Justine, came to me first, and Penna soon followed.  And then there was no turning back.

Cherie: How wonderful that you had your parents’ story to draw from. What was your favorite and most difficult chapters to write?

Karen: I love writing details of time and place.  And particularly, I loved any opportunity I got to write about Oklahoma.  I grew up going to Oklahoma; in fact I’ve visited OK two times in this past year, touring for While He Was Away and happily seeing my family on my mother’s side.  It is truly a place of my heart.  Describing it was pure joy!  In terms of challenging:  I have to say the ending of this book was very hard for me to write.  I don’t want to say why, because it will give it a way.  Just know:  I struggled.  I guess that’s appropriate.  Dealing with war, there should be no easy resolutions.

Cherie: I haven’t been to OK, yet. Maybe one day. And that is so true about war. Can you share with us a little about your current work-in-progress?

Karen: People have encouraged me to write a sequel to While He Was Away.  I’m going to wait a little bit to do that, though.  In the mean time, I’m working on another young adult novel that’s set today (in Sanibel Island, Florida, another of my favorite places), and a novel for adults that’s set in Chicago in the 1930s (one of my favorite eras). 

Cherie: Sounds like you're quite busy! Because I like to sneak in a few fun questions, what’s your favorite color?

Karen: My favorite color is most definitely red.  Or purple.  Or blue.  Or green.  Or orange.  Actually it’s not the color so much, as the quality and density of the hue.  Like, you know those paintings by Mark Rothko?  He captured color the way I love it.  Dense, rich, spiritual, alive.

Cherie: If you could be any mythical creature, who would you be and why?

Karen: I would like to fully experience another element.  So . . . I guess I’d either be a mermaid or a naiad.  Or a winged creature that is not a harpy.  An angel?  A nice, fallen angel who wants to do right by people and build a bridge to heaven?

Cherie: Great choices! Do you believe in love at first sight?

Karen: Yes.  Or more, I believe in recognition.  That’s what happened with my husband and me.  I opened the door to him, and thought, oh.  I know you.  You’re who I’ve been looking for.  But I don’t consider myself a total romantic, where love is concerned.  Because since I opened the door that first night, we’ve spent 21 years working hard, choosing day by day to say yes to love.  Love is work.  But of course it’s worth it.  If it’s right.

Cherie: The “oh” moment of first meeting someone is something everyone should experience. How wonderful you did with your husband. What’s your favorite food?

Karen: I love really good fish tacos—the kind I’ve only had on the harbor in San Diego.  Also delicate, crispy white corn tortillas chips and guacamole.   (Sometimes I think I could live on guacamole.)  I also really love Thai and Indian food.  For years, chicken tikka masala was my comfort food. And there’s nothing like a honey crisp apple.  Or an excellent orange.

Cherie: Do you have a favorite place to write?

Karen: If I’m able to write with a view of water—especially an ocean or a large lake—I am a very happy woman.  A river or a stream or a pond are good too!  But there’s something about that watery horizon, where the land on the other side is a mystery to be imagined, and the way the clouds hang in the sky above, that really (as they say) floats my creative boat.

Cherie: I would love love love to write near the ocean. OMG, I’d never come inside. (Pauses to picture that watery horizon.) Sigh, maybe one day. Are there any types of books you don’t read?

Karen: I read wildly and widely . . . but I am becoming more selective as time becomes (with every passing day) more precious.  Use to be I felt compelled to finish every book I started.  It felt like hanging up on a friend, or something, if I left a book unread.  But now . . . not so much. 

Cherie: I can understand that. There are so many great novels to choose from that it doesn't make sense to force yourself to finish one you're not particularly enjoying.

Thanks for being with us today!

            Learn more about Karen                       Purchase While He Was Away
 website | blog | Twitter | GoodReads                 Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Thursday, June 21, 2012

What if? Crazy question of the week #1

I’ve decided to break up the week with regular What if? posts. Since I try to post every Tuesday as it is, I’m going to use Thursday to do this. We’re past hump day, waiting for Friday. At least, I am.

For my first What if? I’m asking, 
What if you had the power to move things with a wave of your hand?

I would totally use this gift all the time. Have you ever been driving and someone pulls out in traffic in front of you only to drive five to ten miles under the speed limit? Not a problem, with a sideways movement of your hand through the air, their car will slide into the next lane. Of course, you’d make sure it was clear first. And how about when you’re in a hurry and the people in front of you are walking really slowly.  Swoosh, and you’ve cleared yourself a path. I’d do good things too. That object you can’t reach, because it’s on the top shelf, I’d scoot it to the edge and have it fall into your waiting hands.

No need to thank me.

How about you? Would you find this power useful?

If you’d like to join in answering the weekly What if? on your blog, leave a comment and I’ll add Linky to my next post. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Book Tour: One Day I Went Rambling

I'm very excited to be a stop on the One Day I Went Ramling Tour. Terri Murphy is not only an incredible illustrator, but she is a member of my critique group so I got a sneak peek at this fun and entertaining picture book before it was released, and I got to see some of the illustrations while Terri was working on them. I'm always amazed at the detail that goes into each page.

For my stop, I have the pleasure of interviewing Terri.

One Day I Went Rambling
by Kelly Bennett
Illsrated by Terri Murphy

From Amazon:
When Zane goes rambling, his friends call him crazy and refuse to play along. When he finds a shining star, it doesn't bother him when his friends try to tell him it's just a hubcap. Undaunted, Zane uses his finds to create a secret project that piques his friends' curiosity. After watching him ramble around the neighborhood, finding magic in the ordinary, his friends are eventually drawn into his imaginative game. Through the book's art, attentive readers will see that Zane is using his finds to create a pirate ship, and once his friends realize what he's up to, even the most skeptical realists join the fun and sail the afternoon away. Zane's imagination sees the cowpoke's lasso in a piece of vine, the pirate's golden ring in an old pop top, and many other treasures that have been stolen from today's children by electronic entertainment. Rambling enforces the joy of imaginative play.

Please give a warm welcome to Terri.

Cherie: Hi Terri. Thanks for being with us today and congratulation on your new picture book. Can you tell us about One Day I Went Rambling

Terri: It’s a book about imagination and invention.  Did you ever see something and imagine it to be something else? In this picture book story, Zane picks out objects in his environment and re-imagines them into something fanciful.  There are nay-sayers in his group of friends that just don’t see eye-to-eye with him, but they are a good-hearted bunch and eventually they all come together and build something spectacular from their treasures!
Cherie: The certainly do create something fun and Zane is a great character. What made you excited to illustrate this book?  

Terri: It seemed like the author Kelly Bennett was inviting me to ramble through my own imagination to conjure places to take this roving gang of scavengers!  I decided to set the tale in the city and in keeping with Kelly’s theme. I included a visual element of my own, which was to add a chameleon.  A chameleon is adaptable and flexible, as is Zane and his imagination.  He sees the possibilities and whenever that happens in the book, the chameleon changes color.
Cherie: I had a lot of fun finding the chameleon on each page. Do you have a favorite illustration in this book?  

Terri: The first moment when a child other than Zane has the imaginative thought and says it out loud. That is the turning point of the book.  Ruth declares a broken comb is actually a viper’s fang and the chameleon changes to Ruth’s dress polka dots!
Cherie: How fun! What medium do you use when creating your illustrations? 

Terri: Typically I use gouache, but for this book I used acrylic gouache which is different in the handling of it.  I also pre-texturized the boards with light molding paste and took the finished illustrations into Photoshop to layer in additional textured patterns.  It was labor intensive but truly a labor of love.
Cherie: Do you have any advice for aspiring illustrators?  

Terri: One of the hardest things when first starting out is to develop a style.  It is also the most energizing time.  Don’t be afraid to experiment, and fail, and start again.

Cherie: That's great advice!  Terri was kind enough to share one of the illustrations with us:

To visit the rest of the stops on this tour and to learn more about Terri and her books, please click here

Find Terri Murphy

Find Kelly Bennett
Website | Facebook

Purchase book
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Friday, June 15, 2012

Feature & Follow #14

Welcome to Feature & Follow

Feature & Follow is hosted by Alison of Alison and Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View. It's a fun way to make new friends and to interact with old ones. Click the links above to learn more and to join the fun.

Happy Father's Day! Who is your favorite dad character in a book and why?

First to come to mind was Mr. Weasley. I know Alison said this too, but he popped in my head before I read her answer.

Second was Mortimer from Inkheart. He's a Silvertongue and has spent years protecting his daughter, Meggie, while he searches for the book his wife is trapped in. 

Who'd you think of when you read this question??

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Spotlight & Giveaway: Calli Be Gold by Michele Weber Hurwitz

Meet Calli Gold, average eleven-year-old in a family of louds, as Calli calls them. Michele Weber Hurwitz weaves together an engaging story that will grab a reader on page one in Calli Be Gold. 

The way I look at it, you can divide all the people in the world into two categories: the loud ones who shout about who they are and what they do, and the quiet ones who just are and do. 
I suppose one kind balances out the other kind, like black letters on white paper, or frozen teeth from a Popsicle on a ninety-five-degree summer day. 
Except for this: if you’re a quiet person randomly and hopelessly born into a family of louds, then it isn’t a balance at all. It’s downright lopsided. 

Michele is generously offering an autographed paperback copy of her book, so be sure to page down and enter the giveaway!

Calli Be Gold
by Michele Weber Hurwitz

Synopsis from Amazon:
Eleven-year-old Calli Gold is the quiet third child in a family of loud overachievers. In fact, the family motto is Be Gold. Calli's sister is on an ice-skating team, and her brother's a basketball star. Her parents are sure she has a hidden gift for something. They just have to figure out what it is! But Calli has flopped at everything she's tried. She sure doesn't feel like a Gold.

Until a new person enters her life. Second grader Noah Zullo might seem strange to some people, but Calli can't help liking him, and they become partners in their school's Peer Helper Program. 
When they create a booth for the Friendship Fair, they fill it with secrets and surprises. And as Calli and Noah work and learn together, they even surprise themselves.

Michele Weber Hurwitz's debut is an endearing and gently humorous story about the true meaning of achievement and the important things an "ordinary" kid has to offer.

           Find Michele Weber Hurwitz                         Purchase Calli Be Gold
            website | blog | Facebook                           Amazon | Barnes & Noble

And now for the Giveaway. There are four different ways to enter! Good luck!!
(Open to US residents only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cover Reveal: The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell

I'm very pleased to be a part of the THE CADET OF TILDOR by Alex Lidell and Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin) cover reveal for this exciting debut novel. And to celebrate Alex is offering two giveaways. 

The Cadet of Tildor
by Alex Lidell
Scheduled Release Date: January 10, 2012

Having already survived six years at Tildor's top military academy, sixteen-year-old Renee De Winteris determined to graduate, training day and night to compete with her male classmates. When the boys overpower her parries, she works harder. When a bully sabotages her gear, she fights without it. But when an underground crime group captures her mentor for its illegal gladiatorial games, she must choose between her career and her conscience. Determined to penetrate the group's inner circles, Renee will leap from academia to the crime filled streets, pick up a sword, and weigh law against loyalty.

Swag Pack 
IDog Tag necklace, 9” x 6” zipper pouch with hidden 
internal compartments, 3 port 2.0 usb hub.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Teachers (Educators) Only

Laminated & Scratch-Off vocabulary word cards. All words are SAT words that appear 
in CADET.  Teacher’s guide for using cards in higher level thinking classroom activities. 
25 each: laminated word cards, definition cards, scratch cards. 75 cards total.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!
Find Alex Lidell:

Pre-order or add The Cadet of Tildor to your TBR now

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Insecure Writer’s Support

Hosted by Alex J Cavanaugh

I tend to lurk around the blog-sphere and often come across these posts. I think they are a wonderful idea. I've been wanting to join the group, but I always manage to miss the first Wednesday. Not this month, though. Hi everyone!

As some of you know, I’ve been working on the sequel to my debut novel EMBRACE. I started the sequel in response to readers' emails and comments hoping there would be another book Even though I had written EMBRACE to be a standalone novel, it was easy to continue Madison’s story. After all, life doesn’t end when the bad guy is caught. It goes on. I always had an idea what Madison would face next. Even when I was working on EMBRACE I knew if there was a book two Madison would meet new supernatural creatures. EMBRACE even hints to this, even if it’s ever so slightly and done in a way that wouldn’t leave any loose ends in the story. These creatures are a part of her world, even if she didn’t know that in book one.

The thing about a sequel is you don’t want to disappoint your readers. After all, I’m writing the book for them. I don’t want them to read it and think WTF?! As I work on HOLD TIGHT I’ve had to remind myself to trust my instincts and to trust that book two is telling the story that needs to be told. And as I write it, ideas for another book have already crept into my mind leaving me to wonder if I’ll have the same insecurities about disappointing readers as I have writing book two.

Have you ever felt this way?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Meet the newest character in the EMBRACE sequel

Thanks to everyone who 
participated in the Vote to Win contest. 

The name with the most votes is . . .

drum roll please

(throws confetti)

entered by C.J. Cantilena

The truth is I've been calling him Zion - Kashmeir - Dellis for a few weeks now and I've sort of grown attached to all the names. 

And he is a faery, after all. Did I mention that?? If not, the cat's out of the bag now.

In some lore humans can control a faery if they know his or her full name. My book follows this lore. While I had only planned to add the winning name in the character name I came up with, I'm already missing Zion and Kashmeir. So, I've decided to use the three finalists as part of my character's name and then use the winner as the name that readers will learn in the book. 

Without further ado
I'm pleased to introduce to you

 Dellis Zion Kashmeir ... 
(I'm withholding the rest of his name as to help him keep his secret. 
I'm sure you understand.)

What do we know about him so far? Well,
he’s a male in his late teens with stormy white
eyes and pale blond hair. He’s one of three
supernatural creatures being introduced in

Congratulations to the winners of the contest:

C.J. Cantilena
Submitter of the winning name Dellis 


Molly Nudo Frenzel
Lucky voter

Since I decided to use all three names, I will be sending Dave Martinez (submitter of the name Zion) and Alexis Peplow (submitter of the name Kashmeir) an ebook of EMBRACE or a $5 gift card (their choice) as a consolation prize.

Thanks to all the students who entered names! You guys came up with some great suggestions!


Friday, June 1, 2012

Feature & Follow # 13

Welcome to Feature & Follow

Feature & Follow is hosted by Alison of Alison and Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View. It's a fun way to make new friends and to interact with old ones. Click the links above to learn more and to join the fun.

Q: You are a matchmaker -- your goal, hook up two characters from two of your favorite books. Who would it be? How do you think it would go?

I’d match Jezebel from Hell’s Belles and Vlad from the Grave series. They’re both strong immortals with good hearts. Not to mention, they’d be hot together. I’m not sure who I’d want to write that book, Jackie Kessler or Jeaniene Frost. Either one would guarantee a sizzling romance.

And how about Nuala who is a faerie from Ballad and Cam from the Fallen series. They’re both supposed to be evil and not care about humans, but they do. Well, at least some humans. I think they would bring out the best in each other.

How about you? Any characters come to mind?