Jodie Andrefski has gathered a ton of fabulous authors (and me!) for a Halloween blog hop from October 28 to midnight, October 31. You could win a literal bucketful of our books and glorious treats. No tricks!
Stay tuned for details on how to enter in the next few days.
In the meantime, tell me, do you have a costume ready for Halloween? This adorable chocolate labrador I found on Pinterest has the right idea:
YA author Tina Ferraro and I may reside on opposite ends of the world, but I feel like I’ve known her my whole life. She’s been such a great support throughout my writing career. This weekend we’re joining paranormal-author forces to bring you a very special Halloween giveaway!
We’re giving away Kindle copies of my ghost book, THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE and Tina’s spooky e-novella, HALF-LIFE. In addition to our e-books, one lucky person will win an exclusive THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE mug (there’s just one of these babies in the world, you know!) and a chocolate spoon to die for.
Haunt me over at my Facebook author page to find out how to win! Entries close November 1, 11:59pm Australian Eastern Standard Time. Good luck!
About Tina Ferraro’s HALF-LIFE (Shine/Leap Books)
Probably not a good idea to take advice from your dead twin sister. High school sophomore Trisha Traynor and friends have played the Halloween mirror game for years, the one that’s supposed to show a glimpse of the guy they’ll marry. But no one’s ever seen anything. Until tonightwhen Trisha is gob smacked by the candlelit arrival of her long-deceased twin sister, instead of her crush, Kirk Maxwell. In a voice and vision that only Trisha can hear and see, Chessie claims to be back on a compassionate journey. Trisha fears she’s gone nuthouse crazy. But she nonetheless follows the instructions Chessie outlines in their nightly conversations, until she finds herself stepping across some ethical lines, and probably ending all chances with Kirk. When a sisterly showdown ensues, resulting in the shattering of the mirror, Chessie’s gone again, and a heartsick Trisha sets about righting her recent wrongs. That is, until she stumbles upon the real reason Chessie had come back and the most important glimpse yet that the mirror could never predict.
My sister visited me here in Sydney, and this gave us both a chance to see this city through the eyes of a tourist. We took endless shots of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Lucky for you, I won’t post all 500 photos. Just five…
Unofficial ferry race
The Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Harbour Bridge
The sails of the Opera House – up close and personal
I received some fantastic news today: My book, THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE, is a YA finalist in the First Coast Romance Writers’ National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award! A huge thank you to the judges for nominating AFTERLIFE! My fab critique partner Anna Campbell also nabbed a berth in the finals in the Historical/Regency category with WHAT A DUKE DARES. Congrats to Anna and all the finalists!
Have you played tourist in your own town? What discoveries did you make?
Looky here! It’s another dreamy cover reveal for a Dreamweaver (aka a member of my 2014 Golden Heart class)! Asa Maria Bradley‘s debut paranormal, VIKING WARRIOR RISING (Sourcebooks Casablanca), will be out November 3. Congrats, Asa!!!
ABOUT VIKING WARRIOR RISING…
Immortal Vikings are among us.
Leif Skarsganger and his elite band of immortal warriors have been charged to protect humanity from the evil Norse god Loki.
Under attack from Loki’s minions, Leif is shocked to encounter a dark-haired beauty who fights like a warrior herself. Wounded and feverish, the Viking kisses her, inadvertently triggering an ancient Norse bond. But when Naya Brisbane breaks away and disappears before the bond is completed, Leif’s warrior spirit goes berserk. If Leif doesn’t find her fast, he’s going to lose himself to permanent battle fury.
But Naya doesn’t want to be found…and he’ll do anything to find her. Because they’re both running out of time.
“Asa Maria Bradley creates a swoon-worthy hero who sizzles across the pages in this tale full of passion, blood, and destiny! Sexy, stubborn, and smart lovers clash in a tension-filled race to outwit science and control fate. Bradley is a new force to be reckoned with in the paranormal genre! Move over Highlanders…the Vikings are coming!”
– Rebecca Zanetti, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Dark Protector series
“Strong world-building, and a hero that will make you want a Viking of your very own!”
– Paige Tyler, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the X-Ops and SWAT series
“An intensely thrilling and unique romance that whisks the reader into the intricate, smart, and sexy world of these wickedly hot Viking warriors.”
– Sara Humphreys, award-winning author of Vampires Never Cry Wolf
About the Author Asa Maria Bradley grew up in Sweden surrounded by archaeology and history steeped in Norse mythology, which inspired the immortal Vikings and Valkyries in her paranormal romances. She also writes romantic suspense and currently resides on a lake deep in the pine forests of the Pacific Northwest with a British husband and a rescue dog of indeterminate breed. Asa graduated from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers MFA program at Eastern Washington University with an MFA in creative writing and also holds a Master of Science in Medical Physics from University of Colorado. She’s a 2014 Golden Heart finalist and represented by Sarah E Younger at the Nancy Yost Literary Agency.
Asa and me are crazy about Cheetos. I practically live on those chips when I go to the US. We love snacking while writing/editing. We don’t love cheese-encrusted fingers soiling our keyboards. Asa’s solution? Use chopsticks! (Or ChipSticks — patent pending.)
If you missed Asa’s post on my blog about how she comes up with her brilliant story ideas, check it out here.
OK, I am officially flabbergasted…in the best possible way. This morning I learned that This Is Your Afterlife is a finalist in the OKRWA National Readers’ Choice Award in the YA and the Best First Book categories. To the reader judges, I can’t thank you enough! Good luck to all the finalists! Click on the logos below for the full list of nominees and add their books to your reading list.
One person who helped me bring This Is Your Afterlife to, er, life is the enormously talented Pintip Dunn. Her debut YA, Forget Tomorrow, will be out this November from Entangled Teen. She’s celebrating the sale of her trilogy to Turkish publisher Pegasus Yayinlari. Congrats, Pintip!!! #turkishdelight It’s been a while since I last blogged, so here’s a quick update in picture form. Click or hover over the pics to read the captions.
My first book signing! That was my set-up at the excellent Readers & Writers Down Under event on the Gold Coast.
I lured readers with Easter chocolates and glossy postcards.
This is Australia, and that ain’t snow!
Passionfruit vine pre-hailstorm. Post-hailstorm – the vine is no more. 😦
At the moment, I’m hard at work writing another paranormal YA. But I’ve been sneaking peeks at a stack of books my Bloomsbury publicist shared with me:
I’m so excited to present to you one of my most dear and supportive friends, the fabulous Tina Ferraro! Tina is a RITA-nominated YA author whose teen heroines are courageous, have a strong moral compass, but have a tendency to get into a few scrapes. 🙂 And her heroes are totally endearing too. Today I’m celebrating the release of Tina’s latest novella, HALF-LIFE, which is out now from Leap Books‘s new line, Shine!
Congratulations on the release of HALF-LIFE, Tina! What was the inspiration behind the story?
The novella opens with a Halloween game, an old legend that if you look into a mirror at the stroke of midnight, you’ll see your future husband’s face. I’d heard girls playing it when I was 12 or 13, but not me—I found the supernatural aspect terrifying. As I matured both in age and in writer’s brain, the game took on an intriguing edge. Especially how playing it could go so very, very wrong. So while I never actually played it, the game became the genesis for this story.
Are you very superstitious? Which superstitions do you swear by?
I actually don’t know many superstitions, except that it’s bad luck when a black cat crosses your path. But being a cat lover, I think the crossing of any cats in my path is good fortune! But I do get a little nervous when my ears are itchy because isn’t that the one where people are talking about you? Yikes. I wonder if there’s a physical reaction when people are reading your stories…
Plots involving twins immediately draw my interest. What’s your theory on why these stories are popular?
I wonder if it’s the idea of a person being only half of a whole entity. Again, back to my younger days, I read an article about a set of teenaged twins, one an honor student, the other mentally challenged. One day the at-school twin was overcome with grief that something had happened to her sister, and managed to get to a phone, only to find out her sister was indeed terrified and needed her. I was mesmerized by the idea of twin telepathy and innate connection, that neither was complete on her own.
What are your favourite books and movies that feature twins (aside from HALF-LIFE)?
Definitely “The Parent Trap,” both the original Hayley Mills version (which I loved as a kid) and the remake with Lindsay Lohan (with a shout-out to Dennis Quaid for being so hot as the dad). I also liked “Twins” and “Overboard.” As for books, I fondly remember The Bobbsey Twins, and recently enjoyed The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen.
Danny De Vito and Arnold – spitting images of each other
Lindsay Lohan in “The Parent Trap”
On the craft side of things, what are the challenges and benefits of writing a novella?
I’ve spent most of my writing career either writing ~ 5,000 word short stories or 50,000 word novels, so to type “The End” at 25,000 words is a whole new experience. Basically what I do is establish the story the same way I would a full-length, knowing it’s easier to streamline after-the-fact than add. And I control myself from veering too far into the lives of secondary and tertiary characters…gotta save the limelight for the principals! Mostly, what I like about writing novellas is that I can convince myself I’m making lots of progress and to keep with it, even on those days when I delete more than I add!
Talk us through your typical writing day.
I usually get to writing after internet/e-mail checks, and go on and off until early afternoon. (I admit to losing myself in Facebook and Twitter far too often!) If the writing is really working, I’ll write up until the evening, but then it’s reading or family time.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on two projects: a humorous YA short story, and another YA novella for Leap Books. The novella leans a little darker and more serious than my usual fare, involving a mystery. I get to trade off between projects, depending on—to use an old American saying—which side of the bed I got up on that day.
You are famous for being a friend to all felines, and you have two cats of your own. What are your cats doing right now? (Please include a photograph or two or three!)
Both my cats are rescue cats. Rascal is 8 years old, a tender hearted (although quite large) Balinese-mix. Ruby, who I found living in a patch of ivy as a tiny kitten, is now 5 years old. As you can see from a picture taken when she was about 4 months old, Rascal stepped up to help raise her! He still grooms her, which she rewards with a low rumble purr. Also included is a photo of Ruby snuggling in blankets on a winter’s day, and a not-so-clean Rascal, after he’s come inside from rolling around in the yard.
That dirty Rascal!
Behind Rascal is the itty-bitty cat door through which a 25lb raccoon tried to enter!
Tina, thank you so much for being with me today. I adore HALF-LIFE and I wish you every success with it!
Happy birthday to me….and to HIDDEN DEEP, the brand-new YA fantasy by my talented friend, Amy Patrick! Help us blow out the book birthday candles. Ready? One, two…
Amy, thanks so much for being here with me today. Congratulations on the release of HIDDEN DEEP! It’s the first in a trilogy. Tell us about the evolution of this story. How did the idea come about?
Thank you Vanessa! I’m so excited. This book is my passion, and it’s been thrilling to work on it and book two, which is now in the editing process. The evolution was a loooong process. HIDDEN DEEP was actually the first novel I ever completed (five few years ago) but because I was so new to novel writing, it wasn’t ready for publication. It took me a couple of years of really studying writing, going to workshops, reading craft books, and working with critique partners to get that original nugget of a story to the point where it was in good enough shape to go out into the world. I was thrilled when HIDDEN DEEP was selected as a Golden Heart finalist in 2013, but I put it aside for a little while as I wrote other books and continued to learn. Then last year I picked it up again and completely revised it, using all my new ninja writing skills. Now it’s something I’m proud to share with readers.
As far as where the idea came from, I am a huge sci-fi/fantasy fan, and in middle school was THE biggest Lord of the Rings fangirl. I read the trilogy 17 times back-to-back! When I discovered that J.R.R. Tolkien was inspired by Norse mythology, I looked into it myself, and the idea for this story was born. It’s inspired by a mix of those Norse legends and Celtic Fae mythology.
Wow, 17 back-to-back readings of LOTR?! Now, that is one quest that deserves a medal. Or a ring. And that’s so interesting about the amount of work you’ve put into perfecting your craft, particularly with this book. It’s obviously paid off. I’m intrigued about your hero Lad’s hidden world. How does his world compare to ours?
Unlike LOTR or Game of Thrones, my book isn’t high fantasy—it’s more along the lines of urban fantasy and paranormals in that it takes place in a version of our current world. In HIDDEN DEEP, Lad’s people are careful to stay separate from humans, living in hiding and very close to nature. There’s also another faction of his race that live among humans in plain sight, but use glamour enhanced by modern technology to hide their true identities and basically get whatever they want. As the series progresses, we’ll see a widening of the gap between those two factions of this mysterious, secret race.
You’ve put together a gorgeous book trailer for HIDDEN DEEP. Let’s all have a good look and listen now!
Is that trailer beautiful or is that beautiful? Congrats, Amy! You are known for writing fast and writing well! Take us into your hidden world as a writer. How do you make the magic happen?
Thank you! I started off as a total pantser, but now I plot my stories out very thoroughly before actually beginning the drafting phase, determining the inner and outer journey for each character and the major plot points, then writing a few words about each scene (in pencil). I think it’s the ultimate prevention for writer’s block, and it definitely speeds things up for me—when I know where the road leads, I can drive fast!
I do make room for things to change along the way, though, and sometimes unexpected pieces will just fall from the ether and click into place within the overall master story plan. I write almost every day for 3 to 5 hours, going to the library and sitting in the same chair in the same corner in the very back, where there’s nothing to look at but a wall of old reference books. Can you tell I’m easily distracted? I have a tough time writing at home, but sometimes can pull it off when I do a writing sprint with friends—they keep me focused, at least for 20 to 30 minute bursts.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
First drafts are allowed to suck! That was really freeing to me, that I could just let the story flow during the first draft and not worry about making every word perfect. That’s what revisions are for, and this approach to drafting has allowed me to write a lot of books quickly.
Which YA books are on your “keeper” shelf and why do they resonate with you?
I’m crazy about the Sweet Evil trilogy by Wendy Higgins—they’re paranormals (which I usually gravitate toward) and have the perfect blend of romantic tension and sweetness and an ultra-hot book boyfriend for me to love. I was crazy about the Hunger Games and Twilight series and still re-read them from time to time. On a non-fantasy-paranormal note, 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher is another enduring favorite—so poignant and haunting and brilliantly written. And there’s this debut author who wrote the coolest YA ghost story… This Is Your Afterlife… *loved* that one. 😉
Aw, you are very sweet and generous for mentioning that ghost book! Now for something completely different… You’re also well known as a singer. I’m dying to hear your voice! Be careful — I may drag you into a karaoke bar in New York come July. What are your top three karaoke songs?
Oh my goodness- how funny! We are *totally* going to do karaoke in NYC this summer—I smell a duet. Okay, let’s see. Anything by Bonnie Rait is right in my vocal range—I’m an alto. That’s a bit old school, but I’m going to go even older for the next one—Hopelessly Devoted To You- Olivia Newton John—the ultimate karaoke ballad. And for something a little more up to date, I’m in love with “Try” by Colbie Callait. I’m a fan of all Maroon 5’s songs, but I’m not sure I can sing as high as Adam Levine!
Thank you for having me here today, Vanessa! It’s such an honor (and I really do love THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE).
Amy, it’s always a pleasure to have you on the blog. I look forward to our duet in New York! I will bring earplugs for you. I guarantee you’ll need them when I start singing. 😉 Congratulations again. Many happy sales to you!
When she’s not singing in karaoke bars or busy writing her YA and New Adult books, you’ll find Amy at these places:
Sixteen-year-old Ryann Carroll has just run into the guy who saved her life ten years ago. You might think she’d be happy to see him again. Not exactly. She’s a bit underdressed (as in skinny-dipping) and he’s not supposed to exist.
After her father’s affair, all Ryann wants is to escape the family implosion fallout and find a little peace. She also wouldn’t mind a first date that didn’t suck, but she’s determined not to end up like her mom: vulnerable, betrayed, destroyed. Ryann’s recently moved back to her childhood home in rural Mississippi, the same place where ten years earlier she became lost in the woods overnight and nearly died.
She’s still irresistibly drawn to those woods. There she encounters the boy who kept her from freezing to death that long ago winter night and was nowhere to be seen when rescuers arrived. He’s still mysterious, but now all grown-up and gorgeous, too. And the more she’s with him, the greater the threat he poses to Ryann’s strict policy– never want someone more than he wants you.
Seventeen-year-old Lad knows the law of his people all too well: Don’t get careless and Don’t get caught. It’s allowed his race to live undetected in this world for thousands of years, mentioned only in flawed and fading folklore…
Lad’s never been able to forget about Ryann since that night ten years ago. When he sees her again, his fascination re-ignites and becomes a growing desire that tempts him to break all the rules. He’s not even supposed to talk to a human, much less fall in love with one.
And the timing is atrocious. The Assemblage is coming, the rift between the Light and Dark is widening, and mysterious celebrity fan pods are becoming more and more widespread and influential. Lad may have to trade his own chance at happiness to keep the humans, especially Ryann, blissfully unaware and safe.
Tell us, readers — what are your signature karaoke songs?
I’m really ashamed to say it, but until last night I’d never visited the iconic Taronga Zoo during my thirteen years living in Sydney. But I finally did make it there. Not to see the animals but to see jazz musician James Morrison‘s Twilight at Taronga concert. The zoo exhibits were closed, but we did spot tree kangaroos* on our way to the stage as well as a male Asian elephant. In between songs, we could hear what sounded like a jungle full of animals screeching and baying. It wasn’t clear whether or not their calls were in appreciation of the human trumpeters, though.
*I’m also ashamed to say I didn’t know tree kangaroos existed. Did you know? I shot a little video, so now we have proof:
This is not a zoo animal. It’s my cat.
Tomorrow (that’s Monday, March 16, US time), I’ll be a ghost…sorry, guest on Darynda Jones‘s blog for Beam Me Up Mondays. Join me as I talk about guests…uh, ghosts, and you could win a This Is Your Afterlife audiobook!
Tickets are on sale for the Readers & Writers Down Under event on the Gold Coast, Australia, March 27 to 28. I’m looking forward to two days of workshops and panels. Visiting authors include bestsellers Kylie Scott and Abbi Glines. If you’re planning to come along, be sure to drop in at the book signing on Saturday, March 28. I’ll be there alongside my fellow Bloomsbury author Marianne Curley. Click here for more details.
Thanks so much to all who entered my Valentine’s Giveaway Rafflecopter prize draw! The winner of a Kindle copy of This Is Your Afterlife plus a $10 Amazon e-card is Zoe M!
And the YA/NA Heartbreakers Tour is over. That was soooo much fun! Huge applause goes to Judith Tewes for organising it and to the bloggers who hosted 14 authors. Thanks to the readers who followed us on the tour. Linda R won a Kindle and a $20 Amazon card — congrats!
I’ve still got Dirty Dancing on my mind, so here are a few more gifs for your viewing pleasure (and mine!).
I’m celebrating the day with the 4,786th viewing one of my favourite romantic films ever: Dirty Dancing. My husband used a Johnny Castle line on me when we were dating, and I subconsciously chose a wedding dress that looks a lot like Baby’spink dress in the final scene. (Nope, not tragic at all…)
When DD came out in 1987, it wasn’t expected to be a hit. The distributors had apparently planned to release the film to theatres for just one weekend before flinging it straight to video. Fast-forward almost thirty years, and DD is a true classic. Funny, warm, full of great dancing, music, Patrick Swayze, and watermelons — what’s not to love?
There’s still time to enter two Valentine’s Day promotions that I’m participating in!