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YALLFest Interview with Ransom Riggs

YALLFest is coming! YALLFest is coming! On November 9th, 2013, fifty YA authors will descend on Charleston, SC, for an amazing day of free panels, presentations, and book signings. Visit the YALLFest website for more details and follow them on twitter @yallfest. In the weeks leading up to the big event, I’m hosting interviews with the talented YALLFest authors several times a week, so keep stopping by to learn more about these fabulous folks. 
YALLFest
Today’s author is Ransom Riggs, and in researching him, I have discovered that he’s just like me. Not only does he write novels, he also writes screenplays and makes short films. So, see, except for the fact that he’s a super successful New York Times bestselling author, Ransom and I are exactly alike!!! *ahem* Okay, not really, but it’s still fun to find out that he got his start with the movie-making side of storytelling. Ransom was born in Maryland, but mostly grew up in Florida, and now lives in Los Angeles. His novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is about creepy children and includes even creepier photographs to make it all more haunting. 
Ransom Riggs Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
And now for the Q&A with Ransom:
 
What one thing do you need to have when you write?
Silence. My noise-cancelling headphones have become almost essential.
 
What is the hardest line to write - the first or the last?
The first. I rewrite and rewrite it a million times. The last comes easy.
 
Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.
I’m six foot four. I lived on a working farm until I was five. I used to know how to cook Indian food but now I’ve forgotten. I love documentaries. One day I will conquer the moon.
 
What are you working on now?
A novel for Little, Brown the plot of which is SECRET! (Sort of, for now. But I’m really excited about it.)
 
What is your favorite genre to write in? To Read?
Oh, definitely YA to write in. I read everything, lots of YA, lots of adult, nonfiction of all sorts. I even read poetry when I’m feeling ambitious. I think it’s crucial to have lots of different influences. If you only read in the genre you write in, your writing will sound like everything else that’s already out there.
 
You can learn more about Ransom at his website, on facebook, and on twitter.  
 
Are you planning to attend YALLFest? Have you read any of Ransom’s books? Which one(s) are your favorite(s)?
 
You can read about the first two YALLFests here and here.
 
Previous interviews:

YALLFest Interview with Rainbow Rowell

YALLFest is coming! YALLFest is coming! On November 9th, 2013, fifty YA authors will descend on Charleston, SC, for an amazing day of free panels, presentations, and book signings. Visit the YALLFest website for more details and follow them on twitter @yallfest. In the weeks leading up to the big event, I’m hosting interviews with the talented YALLFest authors several times a week, so keep stopping by to learn more about these fabulous folks. 
YALLFest
I’m giddily excited about today’s YALLFest author because I recently finished reading Eleanor & Park, and although I haven’t had a chance to write up a Read-n-Feed post about it yet, here’s a spoiler – I LOVED it! The person responsible for this heart-wrenchingly beautiful novel is Rainbow Rowell, an author with a super-cool name living in Nebraska. Rainbow has also written two adult novels: Attachments and Landline (coming Spring 2014). Fangirl, her second YA novel, released earlier this month and is about a teen who’s so caught up in the fandom of a fictional character that she might be missing out on living her own life.
Rainbow Rowell fangirl
And now for the Q&A with Rainbow:
 
What one thing do you need to have when you write?
Lip balm.
 
Describe your book in 5 words.
FANGIRL
Earnest, snowy, swoony, minty, bookish.
 
What is the hardest line to write - the first or the last?
THE FIRST! The whole first page is a nightmare. I want people to just skip it. And I always end up rewriting it.
 
Best writing tip you ever received?
“Just finish your book.”
 
What one young adult novel do you wish you had when you were a teen? Why?
Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt. I think it would have made me feel less alone.
 
Where's your favorite place to write?
At coffeeshops. In giant overstuffed chairs.
 
What are you working on now?
I’m revising my adult novel, Landline, which comes out in spring 2014, and playing with a romantic/political/tragicomic fantasy.
 
What is your favorite genre to write in? To Read?
I write mostly contemporary. I read mostly fantasy.
 
At what point in the development of an idea do you know that it will become a full-length novel?
All of my ideas are full-length novels. I have a hard time narrowing my scope.
 
You can learn more about Rainbow at her website, on facebook, and on twitter.  
 
Are you planning to attend YALLFest? Have you read any of Rainbows’s books? Which one(s) are your favorite(s)?
 
You can read about the first two YALLFests here and here.
 
Previous interviews:

Cover Reveal for Undead America: No Angels

Today I’m honored to participate in the cover reveal for Leah Rhyne’s novel Undead America: No Angels. I first met Leah at Blackbaud, the computer software company where I used to work. We spent years hunched over computers testing education software before I found out that we both spent our weekends hunched over computers writing novels. Not only that, we share a love of horror, which Leah gleefully demonstrated in her debut novel Zombie Days, Campfire Nights.
 
Leah has been hard at work on the second book in her Undead America series, and it's now time to reveal its cover:
Undead America: No Angels
I like how everything is in silhouette because I think it gives it a more sinister feel - especially with those perfect-for-horror colors. So what's this creepy novel all about? Here's the synopsis:
 
Jenna, Sam and Lola were lucky to survive the horrors of a zombie-filled New Orleans, but they still have a lot to learn about living in Undead America.
 
First, you can never let your guard down.  Even when you think you're safe, dangers lurk around every corner. Sometimes the dangers are from the undead, but more often they're from the living.
 
Next, it's easier to inspire a group to fight for their lives than to lead them through everyday hardship. For Jenna, the pressure of managing an ever-growing group of survivors may be too much to survive.
 
And finally, in Undead America, no one is quite what they seem. Everyone has something to hide. 
 
From the bowels of a rundown farmhouse to the plains of Nebraska, from a leather-clad human monster to the tiniest of child zombies, there are truly no angels.
 
Since Leah is dropping by my blog at the same time as all the YALLFest authors, I thought it would be fun to ask her the same questions they’ve been answering.
 
What one thing do you need to have when you write?
A glass of water. Not lying. I can’t write without it.
 
Describe your book in 5 words
Five words? Really? :D Ok, I’ll try.
 
Post-zombies, fear the living!
 
There. I did it in four.
 
What is the hardest line to write - the first or the last?
The last. I am TERRIBLE at ending things. I always have this knee-jerk reaction to end with a bang or a twist, when sometimes a story just needs to end gracefully. I’m not exactly graceful.
 
Best writing tip you ever received?
Don’t sweat the first draft. Get the story out, don’t let anyone see it, and you can fix it later.
 
Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.
1.    The word most commonly used to describe me is “cute.” I am not, however, a fluffy little puppy.
2.    I can’t stand to have anyone or anything touch my neck.
3.    My name has two syllables – Leeee-ah. If you call me Lee, I won’t answer.
4.    I know every word to the soundtrack of Rent.
5.    I have an overwhelming fear of vomit. Seriously. It’s paralyzing.
 
Where's your favorite place to write?
The right-most cushion of the couch in my living room. I have an end table beside me (for my water, of course), and there’s usually something going on in the room around me. Cats, dogs, husband, kid – I’m never alone here. I guess I’m a social writer.
 
What are you working on now?
I’m editing The Mothers Club, my first ever straight-up sci-fi novel. A group of women comes together to survive in a city under siege on a planet on the other side of the universe. (That’s not the official pitch…just a general description.) I love it though. These women? They’re my favorite people I’ve ever written.
 
At what point in the development of an idea do you know that it will become a full-length novel?
I have no idea! Usually, when I have an idea, it comes to me as “this is a book idea” or “this is a shortie idea.” I don’t necessarily know why, I just know the amount of time I’m willing to invest in a particular thought. “This thought only gets a couple days.” “Oooh, this one gets a few months.” Make sense? 
 
Thanks, Leah, for the extra insight! And now here’s her official bio:
 
Leah Rhyne is a Jersey girl who’s lived in the South for long enough to say “ma’am” without irony. By day, she’s a writer, wife, and mom to a fantastically cool little girl. In her spare time, she loves to read, run and play fetch with her hound dog. 
 
Leah grew up watching science fiction and horror flicks with her dad and brothers, and is most at home writing about monster-slaying and searching for lost universes.
 
You can find Leah at her website, on twitter, and on facebook.
 
What do you think about the cover? Are you a fan of zombies? 

YALLFest Interview with Sean Williams

YALLFest is coming! YALLFest is coming! On November 9th, 2013, fifty YA authors will descend on Charleston, SC, for an amazing day of free panels, presentations, and book signings. Visit the YALLFest website for more details and follow them on twitter @yallfest. In the weeks leading up to the big event, I’m hosting interviews with the talented YALLFest authors several times a week, so keep stopping by to learn more about these fabulous folks. 
YALLFest
Today we welcome Sean Williams, a prolific author from Down Under. There must be something in the Australian air that makes award-winning words pour out of him because he’s written forty novels, eighty short stories, and even a sci-fi musical. Say what?!? The New York Times bestselling author writes books for adults, young adults, and middle grade readers, plus he writes across multiple genres, with a focus on sci-fi and fantasy. His YA thriller, Twinmaker, releases on November 5th and is a near-future tale of technology, identity, and the lengths one girl will go to save her best friend.
Sean Williams Twinmakers
And now for the Q&A with Sean:
 
What one thing do you need to have when you write?
The right music. And chocolate as a reward when I finish.
 
Describe your book in 5 words.
Jump meets Uglies. But different.
 
What is the hardest line to write - the first or the last?
The first line is often the hardest to write, but I like a good challenge. The line I like writing the least is the last because it means I have a whole load of rewriting ahead of me.
 
Best writing tip you ever received?
Give up. If you can do that, you’ll be happier and probably better off as a result. If you can’t, then you know writing is exactly the right thing for you!
 
Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.
1) I live in Adelaide, South Australia, a place that’s home to about a million other people but somehow feels like a small town, which is why I love it.
2) I still think music from the 1980s is cool.
3) My stepson has situs invertus, which means his heart is on the wrong side of his body. That’s not really about me, but it is pretty random.
4) I’m a huge fan of Doctor Who.
5) I’m minding a pair of green tree frogs, Skipper and Jumpy, for a young friend while she’s overseas with her family. You can see pictures of them on my Facebook page.
 
Where's your favorite place to write?
In my study, a lovely upstairs nook containing all my favorite book-related things, but I’ve trained myself to write anywhere as long as I have my headphones and some music. I quite like writing in hotels, probably because someone else does all the household chores.
 
What are you working on now?
Crashland, the sequel to Twinmaker.
 
You can learn more about Sean at his website, on facebook, and on twitter.  
 
Are you planning to attend YALLFest? Have you read any of Sean’s books? Which one(s) are your favorite(s)?
 
You can read about the first two YALLFests here and here.
 
Previous interviews:

YALLFest Interview with CJ Lyons

YALLFest is coming! YALLFest is coming! On November 9th, 2013, fifty YA authors will descend on Charleston, SC, for an amazing day of free panels, presentations, and book signings. Visit the YALLFest website for more details and follow them on twitter @yallfest. In the weeks leading up to the big event, I’m hosting interviews with the talented YALLFest authors several times a week, so keep stopping by to learn more about these fabulous folks. 
YALLFest
We’re kicking off the interviews this week with author CJ Lyons, a girl from Pennsylvania who grew up to be a pediatric ER doctor. But CJ had always been a storyteller, so after seventeen years of saving lives, she took the leap and became a full-time writer – a gamble that paid off since she's now a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of many books for adults that she classifies as ‘thrillers with heart.’ On November 5th, CJ is debuting her first YA novel, called Broken, about a teen with a rare and untreatable heart condition who discovers something sinister happening at her high school.
 Broken
And now for the Q&A with CJ:
 
Describe your book in 5 words:
Girl dying of broken heart (literally)
 
What is the hardest line to write - the first or the last?
The first. I’ll often return to it over and over again until I’ve sliced and diced and fine-honed it to that perfect combination of intrigue, visceral reaction, and emotional connection with the reader.
 
What one young adult novel do you wish you had when you were a teen? Why?
Code Name Verity because it is so emotionally honest and inspiring, empowering, not to mention gut-wrenching. Really brings the era to life as well as the sacrifices made in the name of freedom.
 
Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.
When I was a kid I worked summer stock theatre and was actually a theatre major undergrad before switching to pre-med. I’ve had two hard landings in helicopters while working as a flight doc. I survived rampaging Cape Horn Buffalo and a pack of wild baboons, not to mention a leopard (he’s already eaten) while hiking in Hells Gate Park in Kenya. I’m a Capricorn. I diagnosed my niece with the heart condition that’s at the center of my YA thriller, BROKEN.
 
What are you working on now?
DAMAGED, my next YA thriller, due out in 2014. It deals with the really tough topic of abuse and coercion and is the most difficult book I’ve ever tackled—there have been times while writing when I was literally in tears as I typed.
 
What is your favorite genre to write in? To Read?
I created my own genre of Thrillers with Heart—I love writing fast paced stories with raising stakes but centered on the emotional heart of an evolving relationship. As for reading, I read almost every genre but especially love YA, magical realism, and thrillers. As long as a story grabs me by the throat and won’t let me go because I’m too worried about what the characters are going through, I’ll read it and love it.
 
You can learn more about CJ at her website, on facebook, and on twitter.
 
Are you planning to attend YALLFest? Have you read any of CJ’s books? Which one(s) are your favorite(s)?
 
You can read about the first two YALLFests here and here.
 
Previous interviews:

YALLFest Interview with Lauren Oliver

YALLFest is coming! YALLFest is coming! On November 9th, 2013, fifty YA authors will descend on Charleston, SC, for an amazing day of free panels, presentations, and book signings. Visit the YALLFest website for more details. In the weeks leading up to the big event, I’m hosting interviews with the talented YALLFest authors several times a week, so keep stopping by to learn more about these fabulous folks. 
YALLFest
Today’s featured author is Lauren Oliver, a New York born and bred gal, whose books have not only been New York Times bestsellers but have also been on just about every other noteworthy list as well. Seriously, way too many accolades to mention in one blog post. Her YA books include Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy (as well as other stories set in the world of Delirium), and she’s also written books for younger readers like Liesl & Po and The Spindlers.
Lauren Oliver  Requiem
And now for the Q&A with Lauren:
 
What one thing do you need to have when you write?
Coffee!
 
What is the hardest line to write- the first or the last?
Honestly, neither. It’s just every single line in between that feels impossible.
 
Best writing tip you ever received?
Aim for truth and beauty will follow.
 
Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.
I have fourteen tattoos. I can fall asleep any time, any place. I have a phobia of worms. I hate fruit. I wrote my first novel largely on my Blackberry.
 
Where's your favorite place to write?
In my sunroom in upstate New York.
 
What are you working on now?
Two different middle grade books and an untitled young adult novel that my agent described as “the most disturbing thing he’s ever read.” Oops!
 
What is your favorite genre to write in? To Read?
I love realistic books that include just a hint of fantasy.
 
You can learn more about Lauren at her website, on her blog, on facebook, and on twitter.
 
Are you planning to attend YALLFest? Have you read any of Lauren’s books? Which one(s) are your favorite(s)?
 
You can read about the first two YALLFests here and here.
 
Previous interviews:
 

YALLFest Interview with Cinda Williams Chima

I’m so happy pumpkin spice lattes are finally here – not only because they are super yummy but also because fall’s arrival means YALLFest is just around the corner. I had so much fun at YALLFest the past two years, and they have another great lineup of YA authors appearing on November 9th, 2013 in Charleston, SC.  
YALLFest
Adding to my excitement? YALLFest has selected my blog to help with hosting author interviews as part of the countdown to the main event. Whoo hoo! Each week I’ll share interviews with the fabulous authors appearing at YALLFest, and I can’t wait to find out more about them.
 
First up is Cinda Williams Chima, a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author from Ohio. She’s written a high fantasy series called the Seven Realms, which is four books set in the queendom of the Fells. She’s also written the Heir Chronicles, which is a contemporary fantasy series set in Ohio. There are currently three of those, with the fourth book The Enchanter Heir releasing on October 1, 2013.
Cinda Williams Chima The Enchanter Heir
And now for the Q&A with Cinda:
 
What one thing do you need to have when you write?
A computer
 
Describe your book in 5 words
Wizards misbehave, magic goes mutant.
 
What is the hardest line to write - the first or the last?
Usually the lines in between.
 
Best writing tip you ever received?
Give yourself permission to write badly.
 
Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.
1.  I am a twin.
2.  I am named after a character in a novel.
3.  I didn’t really start driving until I was 27.
4.  I am descended from Puritans and scoundrels.
5.  I used to be in a folk music band.
 
Where's your favorite place to write?
On a balcony overlooking the ocean.
 
What are you working on now?
I’m writing The Sorcerer Heir, the fifth book in a trilogy.
 
At what point in the development of an idea do you know that it will become a full-length novel?
When I’m finished with a full-length novel. 
 
You can find out more about Cinda at her website, on her blog, on facebook, and on twitter.
 
Are you planning to attend YALLFest? Have you read any of Cinda’s books? Which one(s) are your favorite(s)?

Sweet Legacy + Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 85

A few years ago I was searching for books about Greek gods and stumbled across the Oh. My. Gods. series by Tera Lynn Childs, and today I’m excited to be part of the blog blitz for her new book Sweet Legacy, which is the third book in her Sweet Venom series. The series is set in a world where “Medusa wasn’t a monster, she and her gorgon sisters were guardians who protected the world of man from mythological beasts. Grace, Gretchen, and Greer are her descendants, triplets separated at birth who must reunite, fulfill ancient prophecy, and take up their legacy in a world where monsters lurk in plain sight.”
 
Here’s the blurb for Sweet Legacy:
Sweet LegacyGreer has always known she was privileged, though she had no idea how special her second sight made her, even among her triplet monster-fighting sisters. But when a god starts playing with her mind, can Greer step up in her pretty high heels to prevent anything from stopping her sisters’ mission?
 
Grace loves her adopted brother, Thane, but now that he’s back and has joined her sisters’ team, it’s clear his past is full of dark mysteries. She wants to trust him, but will Thane’s secret put the girls in even more danger?
 
Gretchen knows she can rely on her sisters to help her stop the monsters. But after getting to know some of the beasties in the abyss, she finds her role as a huntress comes with more responsibility than she ever imagined. How can she know what her birthright demands of her now?
 
The girls cannot hesitate as they seek the location of the lost door between the realms, even as monsters and gods descend on San Francisco in battle-ready droves. In this exciting conclusion to the Sweet Venom trilogy, these teenage heirs of Medusa must seek the truth, answer the ancient riddles, and claim their immortal legacy.
 
Sounds exciting! And to celebrate the release of Tera’s book, I asked her to give me one-word answers to five questions:
 
Most inspiring goddess? 
Artemis
 
Favorite dog breed? 
Mutt
 
Food you absolutely refuse to eat? 
Meat
 
Word you overuse while writing a first draft? 
Just
 
Favorite beverage for celebrating exciting writing news? 
Barq’s root beer
 
Thanks for stopping by, Tera! You can find out more about Tera at her website, on twitter, and on facebook. And you can buy her book at all the usual places: AmazonBarnes & Noble, IndieboundApple, Books-a-Million, and Book Depository.
 
Tera is also giving away a complete set of her books, as well as other prizes, so enter using the Rafflecopter form. The giveaway is US/Canada only. Good luck!
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 
15 Minute Tweet TalesAnd now on to today’s regularly scheduled 15 Minute Tweet Tales. I had planned to somehow incorporate Sweet Legacy into the tweet tale on 9/3 to commemorate the release of the book, but was worried the #15tt word of the day would make it too tough. I couldn’t believe my luck when the Rare Words book gave exuviate as the word of the day – too perfect when the inspiration for Tera's series had snakes for hair.  
 
Enjoy the tales:
 
8/28 - The ubiety of the sprawling oak served as the landmark for giving directions, so when a developer cut it down, the entire town was lost.
 
8/29 - He loves her truly, deeply. But he needs to sleep with other women. The antinomy of their marriage causes her to weep softly at night.
 
8/30 - The writer manqué sits in cafés talking characters & themes, but when he goes home each night, the cursor blinks from a blank document.
 
8/31 - He says their love is olamic, claiming they've lived many lives wrapped in each other's arms. She switches to another seat on the bus.
 
9/1 - She had a heart of gold, but her invidious beauty made the women shun her. Heart turned to lead, she stole their husbands in return.
 
9/2 - Amy is thrilled to hold her first book in her hands until she sees the comma corrigendum in her bio: Amy loves eating dogs and cats.
 
9/3 - Medusa brushes off her shoulders with a sigh. When her snakes exuviate, no amount of dandruff shampoo can help with her first impression.  
 
If you're not familiar with old shampoo commercials, here's an example with the slogan that inspired my Medusa tale.
 
Have you read any of Tera’s books? Play along and write tweet tales for the above words. If you’re willing to share, post them on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add them below in the comments because I’d love to read them. Any thoughts about this week's tweet tales or #15tt words?

Where Things Come Back - Read-n-Feed

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway for the signed copy of The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd. There were lots of fun answers to the question of what animal people would like to be spliced with, but birds and felines were the clear winners. From reading the answers, I think if we could all be flying cats, most of us would be pretty darn happy! 
 
So now, the moment you’ve been waiting for . . . according to Rafflecopter, the winner is . . . Wayne D. Congratulations! I’ll send you an email to get your address.
 
For today’s Read-n-Feed post, I'm jumping back to last year's YALLFest and featuring one of the authors I saw there.
 
Category: Young Adult
Genre(s): contemporary literary
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (2011)
Pages: 228
Awards: Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature (2012) and William C. Morris YA Debut Award(2012)
Amazon Description: 
In the remarkable, bizarre, and heart-wrenching summer before Cullen Witter’s senior year of high school, he is forced to examine everything he thinks he understands about his small and painfully dull Arkansas town. His cousin overdoses; his town becomes absurdly obsessed with the alleged reappearance of an extinct woodpecker; and most troubling of all, his sensitive, gifted fifteen-year-old brother, Gabriel, suddenly and inexplicably disappears.
 
Meanwhile, the crisis of faith spawned by a young missionary’s disillusion in Africa prompts a frantic search for meaning that has far-reaching consequences. As distant as the two stories initially seem, they are woven together through masterful plotting and merge in a surprising and harrowing climax.
 
This extraordinary tale from a rare literary voice finds wonder in the ordinary and illuminates the hope of second chances.
 
Since I’m more of a thrills-and-chills-plot-driven kinda gal, I don’t read literary fiction as often as I probably should (I also usually skip my veggies to guarantee room for dessert). But I saw John Corey Whaley speak as part of the History & Mystery panel at YALLFest, and he was so charming and adorable as the lone dude on a panel of kick-butt women (like Robin Wasserman and Sarah Rees Brennan) that I decided to add his book to my frightfully high TBR pile.
 
After reading Where Things Come Back, my writing lesson is to experiment more with POV and tenses, since Corey uses various configurations within his novel. The odd numbered chapters are written in first person past tense by the protagonist Cullen. But at certain points Corey strategically breaks the strict POV/tense rules that are drummed into writers’ heads: when Cullen relays wisdom and advice given to him by the mysterious Dr. Webb, it is in first person present tense; and then there are other sections that always start with “When one is” which explain in third person present tense what Cullen is doing (sneaking out the window, lying on the floor, etc.) and describe the elaborate scenario he imagines as he does it.
 
As for the even numbered chapters, they are written in third person past tense and cycle through the POVs of several seemingly unrelated characters. They wouldn’t be included if they weren’t going to ultimately converge with Cullen’s story, but seeing how all the pieces eventually fit together is itself a lesson about how the most random things (such as walking out of a boring movie) can have huge repercussions on many lives down the road. 
 
At first the various POV/tense switches were a tad confusing, but I eventually settled into the rhythm, and as I did I realized it was the rhythm of a classic southern storyteller. Corey captured on the page the way my grandparents used to tell us stories in a languid manner, winding from one part of the story to the next, summarizing some parts, sharing small, quirky details at other parts, and along the way switching tenses and POVs as needed to best tell an entertaining tale. Instead of boxing himself into one POV and tense, Corey manipulated them to give his novel a particular voice.
 
I tend to gravitate to first person past tense in my writing, but this shows me how important it is to play around with the various options to give a different sound and feel to my stories. Who knows, maybe I’ll even go hog wild and use second person!
 
If you’ve read Where Things Come Back, what did you think? What POV and tense do you usually use in your writing? Do you ever use more than one in a story?

The Madman’s Daughter – Read-n-Feed

For this week’s Read-n-Feed post I’m featuring a book by another writing friend: Megan Shepherd. I met Megan at the Highlights Writers' Workshop at Chautauqua in July 2009. There were people there from all over the world, so it was fun to run into another Carolina girl (she’s from NC). Then in the fall of 2010, at the regional SCBWI-Carolinas conference, Megan and I were randomly assigned to the same red-eye critique group. Such a small-world moment! It was great to catch up and then follow her writing journey on Facebook.
 
I was thrilled when I learned Megan had sold a trilogy, and even more excited for her as I started reading the advance praise from places like Entertainment Weekly. It was even optioned for a movie almost a year before its release date. So awesome!
 
Megan signing Jocelyn's bookMegan’s book launch was in January, and she had it at her parents’ bookstore in NC. As luck would have it, I was visiting my sister that week, and she lives about an hour away, so we decided it would be fun to attend. And it was fun! They’d created a creepy signing corner to match the creepy vibe of Megan’s novel, and there were drinks and snacks (always a bonus!). It was very inspiring to see Megan on her big day and to get my very own signed copy of The Madman’s Daughter.
 
Then life interfered, and much to my embarrassment, I entered another reading drought. But now that I’ve gotten back on the reading bandwagon, Megan's book was at the top of my towering TBR pile.
 
Category: Young Adult
Genre(s): Gothic Thriller
Publisher: Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins (2013)
Pages: 432
Amazon Description:  Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.
 
Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island's inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius—and madness—in her own blood.
 
Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect.
 
Even though I was familiar with the story of The Island of Dr. Moreau, I’d never read the original. After I finished The Madman’s Daughter, I found a detailed summary of TIoDM and was impressed with how Megan pulled things from the original, but manipulated them in a way to make them completely her own. 
 
She also did a masterful job of twisting the clues for the mysteries she created through plot points and characters from the original, so it all ended up weaving together into a beautiful whole. I know that’s really vague for a post that’s supposed to share the writerly things I learned from reading, but to be more specific would risk revealing spoilers. Let’s just say that she’s inspired me to take another look at my WIP (a mystery/thriller) to make sure I’m seeding my clues in the best possible way – subtle, but the reader will still go, “Well, damn!” when they reread sections. Lots of really clever writing by Megan.
 
There was also lots of beautiful writing. Megan takes full advantage of her tropical island setting, making it drip with menace in the same way it drips with humidity. Her descriptions do that double-duty thing that’s so hard to achieve – establish the setting but also create mood and atmosphere.
 
I’m looking forward to reading the next part of Juliet’s journey in Her Dark Curiosity. Check out the gorgeous cover here.
 
Giveaway
While I was at Megan’s launch, I bought an extra book for her to sign, and I’m giving it away this week to celebrate my super fantabulous news (read about it here).
 
Since Dr. Moreau is infamous for his experiments on animals, I’m asking: If you could be spliced with any animal(s), what would it be and why? To enter the giveaway, leave your answer in the comments.
 
I’ve had a lifelong obsession with dolphins, so I’d want to be part dolphin to zoom through the water. But maybe also add in something with huge wings, like the condor, so I could zoom through the air, too.
 
There are also social media related ways to receive extra entries – just fill in the Rafflecopter form, and I'll use it to pick a random winner.
 
The giveaway is now over - congratulations to Wayne D. for winning!
 
I’m willing to ship internationally, so this is open to everyone. The giveaway will be open for a week, and I’ll announce the winner next Friday, August 9th. Good luck!