Friday, April 27, 2012


Today I am delighted to have the opportunity to talk to Sage Collins about her YA novel, Love Sucks, which is being released TODAY! Greetings, Sage. Please make yourself comfortable and help yourself to a beverage of your choice. By the way, please share with us what choice that might be, and whether or not you have a favorite concoction that you sip or guzzle while working on your manuscripts?

What a great question!  In fact, I could probably ramble on about drink preferences all day.  My very favorite writing drink is no longer available, much to the sadness of my taste buds (but to the joy of my hips).  I used to write a lot at the bookstore Borders, sitting in the café there for hours.  It was seriously my writing home and the best place to get in the zone.  And every time, I would get a Javanilla milkshake and try to make it last as long as possible while I worked.  Well, Borders doesn’t exist anymore, so usually I drink a bottled Frappacino while I work, unless I make the drive to my favorite café, 45 minutes away, and then it’s a Mudslide Mocha blended drink (non-alcoholic).   And let’s not even start in on what I would have been drinking 99% of the time while I was writing Love Sucks but no longer drink at all (hint: it’s Diet Pepsi).  Have I mentioned that I could ramble on about drinks for quite a while?  How did you know it was a good opener?

I didn’t! But I’m glad it worked out well for you. Hope you’re nice and relaxed now. Just sit back and sip on that Frappacino and we’ll get started.

Sage, I must say, the title of your book is very interesting. And your tagline absolutely slays me. Will you please share with us a small blurb of the book, along with where the inspiration came from?

Absolutely, and thank you! 

The blurb from Musa is:

Mailee is about to answer the age-old question: "How much love would a love sucker suck if a love sucker fell in love?"

Mailee’s greatest wish is to be an ordinary teenage girl, but thanks to one stupid demon gene she consumes love from any human she touches.  The only person she can touch is her best friend Eric, a hot lust-drainer.  Except for slight hand-brushes to keep from starving, she avoids humans.

Until she meets Logan, a diabetic and the first human who could understand Mailee’s diet angst.  She grows closer to him, but each touch risks his love for her.  If she wants a normal relationship, she’ll have to become human. But the only way requires her to free and be infected by demons representing the Seven Deadly Sins. Sloth? Pride? No problem.  But when wrath-infected Mailee punches the cheerleader who’s making eyes at Eric, she realizes getting through the sins might cost too much.

Like Eric. Because if she turns human, he’ll be the only one she can’t touch.

This is one of the rare novels of mine that wasn’t inspired by a song (it’s also a rare novel of mine that doesn’t have a winged girl or an invisible/imaginary boy, weird).   I actually got the inspiration for this novel from another writer.  We were playing a game where your character answers a question and then asks another, and then the next character answers that question and asks another.  The point of it was to develop the voice of your character and, of course, have fun.  Her character was a demon that drained some sort of negative emotion. Fear or sadness or something.  And my character from an older novel exclaimed how awful it was that he drained emotions.  Her character answered that it wasn’t awful at all.  It was the love drainers you had to watch out for.  Bam!  I was hit with the idea of a reluctant love drainer who had no choice but to feed on the love of humans to survive but was terrified of draining them completely.  And what was the worst thing that could happen if you were in that situation?  You’d fall in love with one of those humans, of course.  The tongue twister came to me the next day and pretty much solidified the whole thing.

How fun. I guess that just proves how valuable some of the games we play can be. The whole concept of this novel seems pretty unique to me. Can you shed some light on whether or not this has been done before? Perhaps I’m reading the wrong books, but I, personally, have never run across it.

I don’t think it’s been done like this before.  There are other literary characters that are vampires who feed off emotion in one way or another (incidentally, Mailee hates being called a vampire).  The adult urban fantasy series The Dresden Files comes immediately to mind, although the feeding works in a very different way.  I know that at a few points after I wrote Love Sucks, I would talk to an author who wrote about a character that feeds off emotion (demon, vampire, or otherwise), and of course one writer I know was working on one before I started, but she didn’t complete that story.

So, I’m curious. Does Mailee attend a special school for kids who are part-demon? Or are most of the other kids normal humans?

There are exactly three Haustores—that’s the name for the emotion drainers--at Mailee’s school at the time of the book:  Mailee, Eric, and Justin.  Everyone else is a regular human, which is great for Eric and Justin, who don’t mind draining lust and inhibition, respectively, but not so good for love-draining Mailee.  So, the Haustores are “in the closet,” so to speak, and, except for a few exceptions like Eric’s parents and Logan, the rest of the world doesn’t know about them.

Do you usually have a specific method of creating and visualizing your characters? I know some writers create character sketches for each one, and some choose actors, or a look that an actor has acquired for a specific film, when visualizing their characters. What works for you?

I don’t do this anymore, but I used to create avatars for them on  Spent maaaany hours procrastinating on there.  So you can see my Mailee and Logan, but I never could manage to make an adequate Eric. 

Eric is one of two characters to be visually based on an actor, and it’s really from one show (he also was named after the same character—Eric from the little-known show Wonderfalls). But I visualize my characters and my novels more as animation than as actors or real-life people.  But I also don’t visualize them very sharply, if you know what I mean?

Mai and Lo are better defined visually than the main characters from my WIP because I had those avatars.  Despite this, I know what the new characters look like enough to describe them as well as I can describe Mai and Lo.  As to whether this means I describe them well or not...  Well, the readers will have to judge that.

Oh, Sage, I really like those. You're very creative, lady. Please tell us which part of the writing process, from idea conception to final approval of galleys, do you find to be the most exhilarating? Stressful?

 I find so many parts exhilarating, so I’ll answer stressful first.  And that is absolutely waiting on full requests.  I’ve mellowed out a lot, but back when I was querying Love Sucks and my following novel Fireflies (which is currently published in short-story form in the Absolute Visions anthology), I was a nervous wreck.  Every second I was away from my e-mail was torture.  Of course, every second I was near my e-mail was also torture.  Refresh refresh refresh.  Meanwhile, I was doing some really repetitive and boring work at my job, and this actually started me downloading audiobooks to listen to at work, just to give me something else to concentrate on for those 8 hours a day.

There are lots of really exciting parts from conception to publication.  Even though I am super-excited that my book is coming out today, I don’t think this is actually the most exciting part for me.  I love coming up with the new ideas.  Starting them can be daunting, but in that initial “I have an idea and I can visualize scenes I might write” phase, I am so twitterpated with the novel.  Most of my ideas come from me taking something that’s meant to be figurative and making it literal (often from a song).  My current project is about a boy who is fighting alongside the girl of his dreams for the rights of these androids that are built to be the perfect boyfriends...and then he finds out that he is one built for her.  The came from Colbie Caillat’s “Tailor Made,” when I was listening one day and thought, “What if the boyfriend really was tailor-made for her?” 

But, speaking of music, one of the most exciting parts of writing novels for me is making a soundtrack for each one.  As much as I love books, I love music even more.  I have actually found that if I don’t make a soundtrack, I almost never get the project to a querying level.  In some ways, the soundtrack works as an outline for me while I’m writing the novel, but it’s also very fluid because I’m a lot more flexible moving around, deleting, and adding songs than I am with a paper outline that tells me what order I should write it in.  If I get stuck in the novel, the right song can inspire me.  When I get through with the novel, the soundtrack keeps the story fresh in my mind, so that I’m still enthusiastic about it during edits and querying.  In fact, the android story I mentioned above is one that I abandoned three years ago, and I picked it up again in February because I happened upon the barebones soundtrack I had started back then.

Wow. I don’t know how you find the time to manage all of these aspects of your writing. You’re very thorough in the process, Sage. If you could choose any setting to travel to in order to work on your next novel, where would that be, and why?

Borders café.

Okay, but seriously, that’s really hard because there are so many places I’ve never been that I’d like to go.  However, as a writing vacation, sometimes the more exciting places are not the best to travel to.  I took a cruise to Hawaii a couple of years ago, fully intending to work on novel revisions during my downtime, and I didn’t do a thing because I was always running to one activity or another or sight-seeing.

I’d say that the cabin in the Hocking Hills that I went to last August was absolutely perfect for writing.  There was no internet, it had a pretty view, and I got tons done there (I wrote a middle grade novel in 3 days there, actually).  I’ve written at Martha’s Vineyard and in a cabin at Pigeon Forge, but the Hocking Hills cabin was far more productive.  And cheaper, too.

You’ve had some great experiences and some amazing views to enjoy for inspiration. The only place you mention that I’ve seen is Pigeon Forge, and it is beautiful, but I wasn’t there for the muse.

If you were given the opportunity to be mentored by any author, past or present, whom would you choose? And again, please tell us why?

Does it have to be a novel writer?  I’d love to be mentored by Joss Whedon.  Yeah, I don’t think it’s a big secret that I am a huge Buffy, the Vampire Slayer (Angel, Firefly, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog) fan, and if it is, well, there, I’ve outted myself.  But I’m aware that novel writing and screenwriting are two totally different skills.

I do have a lot of great mentors and crit partners within a group of YA writers I met online five years ago, and we’ve been each other’s sounding boards, betas, and support group ever since.  So within my genre it’s really hard to choose someone else that I would look to for that role.

Do you feel that the ebook industry is becoming stronger in the genres most read by young people? Are there ample opportunities to market your book and to reach your intended audience?

I’m not very good at marketing, but I think that for someone like me, who’s socially awkward and can’t sell a thing in person (I remember my days in the Girl Scouts), having an e-book means you can stick to e-marketing, which is really advantageous when you can barely hold a conversation. 
I do think teens are starting to explore the e-book market.  The YA market obviously hasn’t exploded yet like romance did, but teens love to get the newest technology, and it allows them to read whatever they want without any judgment from their peers or even adults.  Yeah, my parents sometimes dismissed what I was reading as a teen too, and I totally worried that other teens were judging my choice in books.  So if a guy wanted to pick up Love Sucks, but wouldn’t normally have wanted a book with “love” in the title and a heart on the cover, he can read it anywhere and not worry about what anybody thinks.  If adults want to read YA, they don’t have to feel judged by others based on the cover or even by being in the YA section of a book store.  I’m not marketing to guys or adults, but if they want to read my book, they’re free to do so ;) 

Speaking of covers, I think yours is amazing. I’m glad you brought it along with you, because I wanted my readers to have the opportunity to see it, also.

So what can we expect to see next from Sage?

I’m hoping you’ll either see superheroes or androids from me.  I’ve already told you a little about Taylor-Made, my WIP.  I’m also querying a novel that’s told from the POV of both the superheroine and the supervillain, who are obsessively in love with each other.  I adore both these novels, and I hope they get published, mostly because I want an excuse to write sequels!

Great! We’ll be on the look-out for them. Okay, last question Sage, and please bear with me. I know it’s a bit silly. If you had the choice of becoming a character in one of Dr. Seuss’s tales, who or what would you be, and why? Also, would you remain true to that character, or would you change him/it in some way?

I should probably say the Lorax, seeing how I work in an environmental lab.  But I don’t think I’d want to be the Lorax.  I think I would like to be Sam I Am.  That guy could convince people of anything.  He convinced someone to eat eggs and ham that were green.  And every time the other guy gave him a no, he had a fresh new idea, and he never let it get him down.  I’d want his confidence and persuasiveness for sure.  Plus, querying my books would be so fun.

Would you read them in a house?
Would you read them with a mouse?
Would you read them in box?
Would you read them with a fox?
Would you, could you in a car?
Read them, read them!  Here they are!

Ha! I love your sense of humor. I hope there’s a lot of it evident in Love Sucks, and I have a feeling there will be. Thank you so very much for sharing with us today, Sage. I wish you the absolute best of success with all of your books. Please tell everyone here where you can be found, and when and where they can purchase Love Sucks.

Thanks, Cordelia!

Love Sucks is available (starting today!) at Musa Publishing (you can link to: , Amazon, and Barnes and Noble’s website.

If you happen to have found me totally fascinating, you can read more of my ramblings at or on Twitter, where I’m @sagecollins.  And I promise I will use fewer exclamation marks than I do in this interview, but I’m a little hyper today.  *bounces*  And I haven’t even had a Frappacino yet.

Lots of love,

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I am excited to introduce my guest for today, YA author R. K. Ryals. She has just recently released The Acropolis, which is a spin-off from her paranormal series that includes Redemption and Ransom. Hello, and welcome, R. K.

I do want to talk about your writing, but after reading your blog, I must confess that there are several areas of your life that I found to be interesting. First let me say that as soon as I read your About Me page on your blog, I knew I’d found a kindred spirit. My poor husband was not raised in the south, so he just doesn’t get the “take your shoes off at the door” admonition. Do you have any thoughts that you can share which might shed some light on why northerners sometimes struggle with that concept?

LOL! I love this question! I know, personally, that growing up in the South meant mud, creeks, four-wheelers, fishing, being barefoot, and climbing as many trees as we could. This being said, I think Southern women either learned to tell everyone to keep the mud on the shoes and at the door or run the risk of having the filthiest living conditions in America. But I also have a lot of Northern friends who do the same thing. I think, when it comes to the South, the traditions that differ the most is the food we eat, how fast we talk, how we drop the last letter in most of our words, and our hospitality. I lived in North Carolina for a while in Jacksonville, which is mostly military personnel. Because of this, many of them were from the North. The weirdest thing I ever got asked to do when living there was to spell Mississippi at a party because Mississippians can supposedly spell it extremely fast without messing up. They also loved my accent, though I honestly feel like I don't have one. I love being from the South. I even love the humidity, and nothing beats the humid summer nights filled with chirping crickets. Except for the whole pesky mosquito thing;)

 Well, I love southern accents, but y’all can keep your humidity and mosquitoes to yourselves. You share on your blog that you love to cook. Please give us a sampling of your favorite meal to prepare. I’m talking appetizer, main course, and dessert, of course. And if there isn’t something on the menu that’s deep-fried, I want to know, why not?

My husband's favorite meat is pork chops so I do this a lot. And it is always fried. Basically, I take a pork chop and dip it in milk before placing it in a batter of flour, pepper, salt, garlic powder, and onion powder before putting it in grease. A hit every time. Fried squash is also a supper favorite here. (It's supper, not dinner in the South). For this, I take a flour, pepper, and salt dry mix and add milk till a consistency enough to stick to the squash, then dip a sliced squash in and fry. Throw together some butter beans (made with butter and maple bacon), and mashed potatoes and that is a great meal. As for an appetizer, snake bites (which are jalapeno slices dipped in corn meal and fried) and fried dill pickle slices are a must. For dessert, my favorite is peanut butter cake. Not fried, but absolutely delicious! I don't fry the mashed potatoes or butter beans, but left over mashed potatoes are fried the next night to make potato patties. The best stuff ever! Yes, we tend to overdo the cholesterol in the South. lol.

Hey, my parents were both from Tennessee, so I’ve eaten my share of grease. And I agree, potato pancakes can’t be beaten with a stick. Also, I’d much prefer fried green tomatoes over squash. Yum!

You also share that you love playing with your three daughters. Considering their ages, if you could take them into any book for a visit, where would that be, and why?

Take them into a book world? Hmmmm, my oldest daughter is nine, and she loves to read. She has just started getting into the Chronicles of Narnia, and I think I would definitely take her to visit that world. She reminds me so much of Lucy from the Chronicles of Narnia, and I see her becoming a fixture in the world of Narnia, and a great friend of the creatures there.

As for my four-year-old, Rae has a tremendous sweet tooth. She starts every day asking for ice cream. lol. I don't let her have it, of course, except as an occasional dessert, but she is always begging for candy and chocolate. There's no doubt, I'd love to take her into Charlie and the Chocolate factory. I'm afraid of what she'd do in there, but she would have a blast!

My one-year-old is an adventurous little thing. She will be two this summer, and she is really into animals. She loves when I read the Curious George books to her, and she is FASCINATED with monkeys. I'd definitely take her into those books. She would be so smitten with George, I'd have to let the man with yellow hat adopt her.

 Interesting. I’d probably go with your nine-year-old, since those were my favorite books way back in the fourth grade. Continuing with that theme, if you could leave your children in the care of a trusted individual for an extended time, what book would you travel into, and why? Also, would you go as yourself, or as one of your creations, or as some other other-worldly creature?

I'd have to pick two books actually. One would be Pride and Prejudice. And I'd definitely go as Elizabeth Bennet. Seriously, all I want to do is kiss Mr. Darcy and then return to my own world, but what a moment that would be. Shhhhh, don't tell my husband.

But I would also want to travel into a book called the Barbed Coil. I read it forever and ever ago, and it is the book that got me into reading Fantasy/Paranormal. Honestly, I can't remember the author and if I read it now, I may not even like the book anymore, but I'd love to travel into it anyway. I think I'd like to go into that one as myself. It would be interesting to see how I would fare in a fantastical world, but I would want some kind of awesome ability. Not sure what, but I'd definitely want a magical ability. 

Well, now we also know you have great taste in men! As for The Barbed Coil, I’d have to say you are much braver than I am. I don’t think I could survive a paranormal fantasy world.

How long does it usually take you to write a book, R.K., from the time of conception until the final edits are complete?

It actually doesn't take me long. Once the idea is in my head, I have to get it out. Redemption took me three months to write, two months for editing as my editor (the wonderful Melanie Bruce in North Carolina) and I went back and forth with revisions. Ransom took a month to write and a month to edit. The Acropolis took me about a month to write, and even though it has been revised, my editor and I are always still finding mistakes I go in to fix even after editing is done. We are perfectionists. lol. Generally, it takes me anywhere from a month to three months to write a book, but it takes about an extra month to a couple of weeks for editing.

 I notice that you chose to self-publish. Did you try the conventional route first? I know from my own writing experience that finding an agent who is the perfect match for a particular manuscript can seem overwhelming at times. Do you think you will continue with the self-publishing route, or do you have other plans for future volumes?

I did try the conventional route to begin with, and while I received acceptances for queries, I never received one for the manuscript. I actually never intended to self-publish. I had never even heard of self-publishing, but Melanie Bruce and my best friend, Audrey Welch, both mentioned it to me and both encouraged me to do it. I just wasn't sure about it. It seemed the traditional route was the most accepted and the most promoted, but self-publishing ended up giving me an outlet to publish while still attempting the traditional. I am still attempting traditional publication, but its importance isn't what it used to be. I enjoy the freedom I've found in self-publication. Would I turn my nose up at traditional if given the opportunity, no, but I'm glad I was encouraged to self-publish as well. I have met the most remarkable people.

I think writers are all remarkable people! They are extremely supportive of one another, and most of them I’ve met have been endlessly helpful and willing to invest time and effort into assisting others in their field.

I’ve read The Acropolis, and I must say you have created some very unique characters. Where do you find inspiration for them?

From everywhere. I actually don't have specific people or events I draw from. Dreams help, but I also draw from personal experience and family. With Emma, for example, I thought of my grandmother. She is a hypochondriac who was always ill. If anyone coughed in front of her, she would be sick the next day. I drew on that. Emma is NOT a hypochondriac, but she is sick, and she doesn't know why, and doctors are baffled. She is also afraid of everything, and there doesn't seem to be much reason for that, either. But she is also brave. A strange mix, but it really works to create what Emma is.

I already had Conor created. He had a back story, and I think, with Conor, I just produced a character who is a hero but who is real. He has a past. As much as some YA authors want to shy from this, it's real. I actually drew from someone I know in my life who is the best gentleman you could ever meet, but he spent his teenage years dating a lot. I'll leave the rest implied. But, he is also the best friend any person could have.

I want real characters with real issues who live in a world that isn't normal. So, I guess the easiest way to answer that is to say I draw my inspiration from my surroundings, from watching people, and from day dreaming about things I wish would happen.

So are your plans to continue with this series, or do you have other ideas floating around that don’t encompass the paranormal genre?

I definitely intend to continue the Acropolis Series, hence the large and interesting ensemble cast. I'm not sure how long the Acropolis Series will go, but I am in love with many of my characters. Weirdly, I have a real affection for Deidra, Bruno, and Lyre especially. And I definitely have plans for Will. I do have ideas that don't encompass the paranormal that I want to write, and I also want to delve into writing adult paranormal at some point as well. I also have an idea for a fantasy series I'd love to write.

I am not sure who my favorite is in your book, but Conor sort of tugs at me. If you could spend a quiet afternoon, let’s say a sultry Mississippi day in mid-July, with any author of your choosing, who would it be, and what would you talk about? And would you be drinking sweet tea, lemonade, or something a little more potent?

Sweet tea definitely with extra sugar! As for who I'd spend it with, I'd have to say Fyodor Dostoyevsky who wrote Crime and Punishment. Is this a weird choice for someone who reads mostly paranormal books, yes. lol. I had to read this classic in an advanced English class my senior year of high school, and it blew my mind. I still believe Raskolnikov had split personality disorder, and I did a whole paper on this where I argued it in high school. I'm not sure my teacher was convinced, and I'd love to ask Dostoyevsky if he wrote the book with a dual personality in mind. Now the author might be slightly freaked out by the Southern U.S. and I might, quite honestly, be freaked out by him, but it would be fun!

Extra sugar in your sweet tea? How do you sit still long enough to write a sentence? My final question is, why YA? What is it about that age that makes you want to write to them in particular?

I'm honestly not sure what led me to YA. When I started writing my first series, I actually intended it to be adult but sometimes your characters choose for you. Adults experience adventure, and they feel things, but I think it's when we are young that we "feel" the most even if it's only because the young tend to be dramatic. They love too hard and hurt too much. I like that. I like that Young Adults love just because it feels good. I honestly would probably consider my books more New Adult because I do use language, such as the F-word, in my books, but I also think we are lying to ourselves if we believe that teenagers are not proficient cussers. lol. I know I was whenever I wasn't around my mother (otherwise, I would have gotten my butt whooped), but teens cuss. It's a reality. I do market for 16 + because of language, though.

Well, I personally enjoy YA and MG books, mostly because the pacing is so fast and they are hard to put down. But I have my favorite adult authors, too.

Thanks so much, R.K., for coming by and letting us get to know a little more about you. I know there are others on your blog tour that will ask more book specific questions, but I wanted to find out about other aspects of your life, too.

You can find R. K. Ryals at these locations:

To purchase The Acropolis on Amazon go HERE

Sunday, April 22, 2012


I've been busy lately working on my tagline, blurb, and excerpt for Michaela's Gift. For any of you who may not be writers, or familiar with the terms, I'll explain as best and as simply as I can.

A tagline is a one-sentence hook that is designed to tempt a potential reader into pick up your book and begin reading. The goal is for them to continue reading, so a tagline takes a lot of thought.

A blurb is a short synopsis of your book, but doesn't give away the ending. Again, you want to hook your reader to want to take an interest in the tale, or the characters, or both, and keep reading.

An excerpt is a snippet from your book. You want something interesting, and usually from the first half of the book, and hopefully with enough of a cliffhanger to once again keep the reader interested enough to continue reading.

Three separate tools, but with a common goal. And they seem pretty simple, but they take lots of thought and in my case, at least, lots of work. I think the reason I feel so pressured about them is because they are so necessary. The pressure is severe. I mean, no one pressured me to write the book. I did it on my own and at my leisure. I know this doesn't always happen, because top selling authors eventually get to the point where they have deadlines for the next manuscript. I'm nowhere near there yet, and may never be, so I'm not sweating it at this point.

I didn't have to query my novel, either, which means I never had any pressure to write the dreaded query letter. Queries are the bane of my existence as a writer. Some people seem to find them effortless, probably because they are much better writers than I am. And I've also heard from a writer who claimed to love writing query letters. (shudder) I just don't get it. But the writers over at Absolute Write are brilliant with helping out with query letter woes. I highly recommend them to anyone struggling.

But now I have a deadline to get my act together and be prepared for release day. The pressure is building daily. I think the anxiety is all probably a waste of time, because everyone on the staff over at Musa Publishing has been amazing to work with. I cannot compare them with any other publishers yet, except for a small picture book publisher who I have communicated with to some extent and who are also amazing, but I hope our relationship is long and productive, and that they are as pleased with me as I am with them.

I am participating in a blog hop to help promote another author. In a couple of days I will feature an interview with author R.K. Ryals. I hope you'll stop by and join the fun. I have a couple of more interviews coming up in the next few weeks, too. Until then, I hope everyone is enjoying their spring. I did take the time to plant some flowers today, and then my young granddaughter helped me "wash" them. It's nice to know my blooms are clean.

Happy Writing!


Sunday, April 15, 2012

My Louisiana Sky by Kimberly Willis Holt

I wasn't sure I would like this when I began reading it. I don't usually read the cover blurbs, so I had no idea how the story would develop. But I enjoyed it quite a bit. At first I couldn't understand how Tiger could have special needs parents and be so mentally capable, but, of course, the author explained it in due time.

A very touching story about a young girl struggling to find her inner strength. I fell in love with Tiger and found her to be an admirable, realistic character. As the parent of a special needs daughter, I admired the author's handling of a still somewhat delicate subject. I would love to read more of this type of story.

The setting of the story is a small town in 1950's era Louisiana. Twelve year old Tiger lives with her intellectually challenged parents and her granny. She longs to be part of the popular crowd, but because of her parents' limitations and her own self-doubts, she is pretty much a loner, save for her best friend, Jesse Wade. But when Jesse Wade begins acting weird, Tiger feels pretty much like the world is just too strange for her to understand.

I don't want to give away any more of the story than that, because it's a lovely journey and I don't want to spoil it for any of you that choose to share it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cannibal Island

I finally finished Cannibal Island, and I loved it!

Okay, I don't read much steampunk, although I do actually know what the genre is now, but this was such a fun read that I think I will check out a few more titles of the same genre.

Cornell Deville puts a lot of detail into this work, but it's done in an interesting way and in no way bogged down the story for me. Admittedly, some of the ship details were too complicated for my feeble brain, but I loved the descriptions of the journey itself. The train ride in Dakar was especially fun! And the way the author describes the various 'new' inventions made me laugh out loud. (It took me forever to figure out the perpetual matches.)

I loved the characters in this novel. For some reason, Angus Callahan reminds me of Ernest Borgnine. I don't know why, but that's the picture that came into my head every time the old Scotsman spoke. As far as I know, Borgnine is not Scottish, so what can I say? His little monkey, Nugget, is adorable, and although his part was small, like himself, he brought a definite cute factor to a gruesome tale filled with danger from the hideous creatures on the island, and the dastardly Hans Von Hisle. What an oily-haired, spotty faced creep, who proves just how dastardly  he is by what he does to poor Wren!

I definitely will recommend this one to all of my young friends, and even those who are simply young at heart. I can't wait to see what the next installment in this series will bring.

Happy reading, everyone. And if you've read something lately that really stands out for you, please share it with the rest of us. I'm always looking for something interesting.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Kids Rock The World

Did you all have a relaxing Easter weekend? Or did you wear yourselves out catching up on yard work or travelling? 

My yard is a wreck, but I ignored it this weekend and took a little road trip up to Kansas City to attend a conference for Leadership Training for Christ. To say that it was awesome would be an understatement.

I'm exhausted after two long days chaperoning, judging, scoring, sponsoring, and herding our small group of kids. And I was only one of several parents that went up to help. There were at least 800 young people gathered at the hotel to compete and share in this wonderful work. The kids had a blast, but they did it with much  restraint and stellar behavior. 

Aside from helping the kids grow and have fun in a huge social gathering, it was a great opportunity to sit back and be an observer of youthful behavior. As a writer, the experience was priceless. I had the opportunity to be a fly on the wall as young people talked, played, and performed. Of course, they weren't always being themselves, especially during the puppet shows or while they practiced for their vocal performances. But they were entertaining and interesting, regardless of the activity in which they were involved. 

I think the one place where I saw them at their most natural selves was the swimming pool late Friday night. The pool was overflowing with laughing, screaming, hilarious kids. They overflowed its banks while parents stood around and shivered in the brisk night air to take snapshots. 

By late Saturday afternoon, the tone had become somewhat subdued. Kids were tired. Parents and coaches were beyond exhausted. But I never once heard a whine or saw a pout in that large congregation, and that's a testament to the state of mind everyone shared. The kids were proud of the hard work they had invested, and were pumped at the success that had come as a result. I couldn't be more proud of the small group of kids we took up there. And next year we're going to have to make time for a few more pillow fights. 

If you write for kids, involve yourself by hanging out with a few of them every chance you get. It will help you create a fantastic voice, and keep you abreast of the latest slang expressions and interests of the younger generation. More than that, though, will be the experience of meeting some amazing, true-life characters that will touch your heart and fill you with joy.

Hope everyone has a wonderful week. I'll be back.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bliss by Kathryn Littlewood is a Delight

I have neglected my blog, but I'm full of excuses that justify my absence. Besides finishing up with the first round of edits, I've been reading a lot. And my to-read list is growing at a rapid rate. If people would quit writing such awesome books, I could actually make more progress on my current project, but I'm not really complaining.

I'm currently in the middle of a great little novel titled Winterlings. I'll get back to it on another post. But right now I want to praise author Kathryn Littlewood for her middle grade novel, Bliss. I believe this is only the first book in a series, but please don't quote me on that.

Bliss was a delightful change of venue for me. I had been reading a lot of boy-centric books as of late, and they were of a more serious nature than I usually take on. So when I saw the cover of Bliss, I had to pick it up. The cover art was sufficient to lure me into taking it home.

The premise of Bliss is a rambunctious family of bakers who own a magical cookbook. Mom and Dad are called away on an emergency, and leave instructions for the book to be left under lock and key in its secret room. The daughter of the house, Rose, is given a copy of the key to the hidden room, but admonished to not mess with the book.

Of course, it doesn't work that way. Rose is of an age where self-doubt fills her days, so when a mysterious, glamorous stranger shows up proclaiming to be Rose's Aunt Lilly, Rose falls into a trap that leads to mayhem. Not only does she tamper with the book, she also creates an array of culinary delights that has calamitous results for the townspeople.

The book is a recipe for fun and beyond the believable silliness, but the author has baked in a sweet story of a young girl finding her strength and worth within her zany world. I gobbled it up and can't wait for the next serving.