Friday, 24 May 2013

Hiatus Update

Hey guys, long time no see. I'm just popping back online to let you all know that I'm extending this hiatus for another two weeks. This is mainly due to having a full work load right now as term begins to come to an end. I hope you all understand and I thank you all again for sticking around. So far it's been a lovely relaxing break and I've read a few books, not as many as I would have liked, but some good ones at least. I shall see you all soon! Thank you guys for understanding! 


Friday, 17 May 2013

Submerged Blog Tour: Guest Post By Nicole Sobon


Welcome to this stop on the Submerged Blog Tour hosted by Itching for Books. Today I have a guest post from the author of the novel. First of all I will introduce you to the novel, Submerged. 


Submerged
Series: Outbreak #1
Release Date: 14th February 2013
Format: Paperback / ebook
Pages: 384

Synopsis: After a mysterious virus makes its way into the United States, the government demands that states seal themselves off from one another and do their best to protect their surviving residents. When the state of Florida is bordered off from the surrounding states, Taylen Fincher, a seventeen-year-old girl with a yearning for her former life finds herself wondering how much of what they’ve been told is true.

When Troum took control of the state, he told the residents that the other states had fallen to the virus and that he wouldn’t allow the same thing to happen to them. But Taylen doesn’t believe it. She insists that there is still life outside of the state, and she is going to do whatever it takes to prove it… but her actions will cost her more than she ever expected.

Troum kidnaps Taylen’s sister, Penelope, in hopes of coaxing her into behaving – into being a submissive resident, much like the others. But Taylen isn’t one to give in that easily.

Eager to rescue her sister, Taylen will set out on an adventure that’ll force her to open her heart to the unexpected and to uncover secrets that will change everything.


Guest Post
My Writing Process By Nicole Sobon

Before I even start an outline, I usually start jotting down scenes/ideas as they come to me. I need to make sure that there is enough of a story behind the idea before I commit to it. Once I’m comfortable enough with continuing, I begin the dreaded outline process. (I don’t always outline, sometimes I just allow the story to tell itself.) 

This is also when I’d begin doing my research if the book requires it. 

Sometimes I can knock out an outline fairly quickly, other times, it can take weeks (which is usually the case with any outline I draft for the Emile Reed Chronicles). I’ll be honest, I don’t like outlining, at all. I only do it when I have to. With the Emile Reed Chronicles, I have to outline because I have to know where I’m going with the story in advance. I’m currently working on Deprogrammed, the second novel and fourth installment in this series, and I’m carefully following my outline. One little mistake could easily ruin the final outcome for Emile’s story, so I have to be incredibly careful. But with a book like Submerged, I didn’t outline. I tried, but the story kept moving away from where I intended it to go (the outline is a completely different book than the final product). Sometimes, I just have to allow the story to tell itself. 

If it is part of a series that I am working on, I keep a print out of the prior book next to me. I’ve read all of my books at least twenty times. Program 13 I have read close to fifty times. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to remember every single detail. So I try to jot down the basics (eye color, hair color, style, etc.) on a sheet of paper and attach it to my outline, if there is one. I also keep the print outs next to me in case I have to go back and re-read anything (when you’re connecting three novels and four novelettes together, you have to be incredibly careful that the story lines up correctly). 

Once I feel comfortable, I open up Word and start typing. 

I know people say not to edit while you write, but I do. I actually double check each chapter with the help of Grammarly after I have finished writing it. This is probably why it takes me so long to write a book, but I want the first draft to be as clean as possible. 

After I finish the first draft, which is usually around 60k words, I send it off the beta readers. I let them mark it up and tell me what needs to be changed while I take some time away from the story, this way, when I come back to it later on I have refreshed eyes. 

After I go through their edits, I let it sit again for a bit before I start my own edits. 

I usually send it off to the betas again at this point so that I can do one final round of edits. Once I receive it back from them, I go over it again with Grammarly and my red pen, and I clean it up as best as possible. This is usually when the manuscript goes from 60k words to 70k words. 

After I’m satisfied with the final product, I either prepare for the query process or I format the manuscript for publication. 

Random facts: 

· I listen to a lot of music while writing – mainly White Lies. 

· I usually go through an entire notebook per manuscript full of jumbled ideas. 

· Capture is the only book that I’ve written in parts, meaning that I jumped around while writing … it was also my first novel, so I wasn’t entirely sure how to go about writing it. 

· When I traveled to Seattle, I took a lot of photographs that later became my inspiration for the settings in Program 13. (I do try to familiarize myself with the setting if the story takes place in a real location.)

Thank you to Nicole for the great guest post! 

About the Author: 

Nicole Sobon is a YA author of several novels, including Program 13, The Emile Reed Chronicles, Capture, No Place Like Home, and the latest Submerged. This is the first in her dystopian duology. 

Find Nicole here: 

Giveaway: 

Thank you all for stopping by. Be sure to check out the rest of the tour, the schedule can be found here. Thank you Nicole for the awesome guest post! 


Friday, 10 May 2013

UK Cover Reveal: Siege and Storm By Leigh Bardugo


Hey, I'm still on hiatus right now but I had to break it to share the UK Siege and Storm cover with you all. I love all things Grisha and Shadow and Bone and I want to share the excitement. Yesterday the UK Cover for the second book in the Grisha series was revealed and here it is: 


Siege and Storm
Series: The Grisha #2
Release Date: 4th June 2013
Publisher: Henry Holt-US, Gollancz-UK
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 448 

Synopsis: Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can't outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling's game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Ooh I really like the vividness of the blue and how it contrasts with the rest of the cover. I love it so much and I can't wait to get my hands on a finished copy! Well done Gollancz for topping the first cover. I have so much love for it, it really would make me pick it up in a bookstore! 

Here's the US Cover for Comparison:

 

What are your thoughts on the UK Cover? Which one do you prefer? Let me know in the comments! 


Monday, 6 May 2013

Blog Tour + Author Interview: The Last Academy By Anne Applegate

Welcome to this stop on The Last Academy Blog Tour! Today I have an interview with the author Anne Applegate and also a giveaway, so be sure to enter that. First here's some info about the book: 

The Last Academy
Release Date: 1st May 2013
Publisher: Point
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 320

Synopsis: Curtis Sittenfeld's PREP meets THE SIXTH SENSE in this spine-tingling, unforgettable debut. 

Camden Fisher arrives at boarding school haunted by a falling-out with her best friend back home. But the manicured grounds of Lethe Academy are like nothing Cam has ever known. There are gorgeous, preppy boys wielding tennis rackets, and circles of girls with secrets to spare. Only . . . something is not quite right. One of Cam's new friends mysteriously disappears, but the teachers don't seem too concerned. Cam wakes up to strangers in her room, who then melt into the night. She is suddenly plagued by odd memories, and senses there might be something dark and terrible brewing. But what? The answer will leave Cam--and readers--stunned and breathless, in this thrilling debut novel.

Author Interview: 

First of all Welcome to Read Write and Read Some More, we are very pleased to host you!
Hi Annabelle, thanks for hosting! Great questions – I had fun answering them. 

First of all can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 
Sure! I have a pretty good case of social dorkwardness in real life, so I’m well-suited to a job in which most of my coworkers are imaginary. 

When did you start writing and when did you begin to take writing seriously? 
I’ve always loved to write, but I’ve also had the writer’s equivalent of stage fright. Up until my thirties, being afraid was more important to me than being a writer. Finally, I realized I wasn’t a kid any more – if I kept putting off my dreams until I was braver, I might end up dead before I ended up a writer. There were lots of baby steps to getting here, and even now, my delete key takes a lot of abuse. 

The Last Academy is your debut novel, can you tell us a bit about how it started from an idea in your mind to becoming a published novel? What was the whole process like? 
I had an unusual path to publishing. As part of getting over my stage fright, I kept an anonymous blog (now defunct). It was a place where I could try any goofy thing without anyone I knew looking. That space felt like the very best possible version of being Tom Cruise circa RISKY BUSINESS in the underwear dancing scene. One day, a literary scout/ film producer named Cori Stern emailed me. She’d stumbled across my blog, liked my writing, and wanted to see more. It was one of those fluky, one-in-a-million kind of things. All I could do was laugh. That’s what you get for dancing around like no one’s watching, I guess. 

I’d just finished THE LAST ACADEMY and was getting up the nerve to send it out to agents, so I sent the manuscript to Cori too. She got it into the hands of the producer who optioned the movie rights. Shortly after, I lucked out again when Scholastic’s fantastic senior editor, Aimee Friedman, decided to take THE LAST ACADEMY on. She and the publication team at Scholastic have been incredible. Basically, it feels like this book fell out of the lucky tree and hit every branch. 

Where did the idea for The Last Academy come from? 
I met Barnaby Charon on an airplane when I was fifteen. You can read more about that on a hidden page on my website: anneapplegate.com/secret 

I’m really intrigued that the novel is set in a boarding school. What made you decide to choose this setting? 
I went to boarding school, so Lethe Academy felt familiar to me. Most of my high school memories are wrapped up with Pacific Ocean views, red tiled roofs, and an absence of family. 

What was your favourite part about writing The Last Academy? 
My favorite part was about three quarters through the rough draft, when I finally believed I’d finish a whole book. Up until that point, I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. Once I could see how the end would fall together, I knew I could keep revising until the story made some kind of sense. That transition from a place of insecurity to a place of surety? Amazing. 

You have one gorgeous cover! What were you first thoughts when viewing the final concept? How well does it fit the story? 
Thank you! I think so, too. I was completely in awe when I first saw the cover. Yaffa Jaskoll created an image that beautifully conveys the book’s emotional tenor and storyline. 

Which authors and novels have influenced you and your writing? 
Oh man, that is a tough question to answer, for fear of leaving out the dearly adored. Growing up, I loved THE YELLOW WALLPAPER, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS by Thomas Harris, and anything by Stephen King. 

As I’ve gotten older, I’m more influenced by bits and pieces of books. For example, in HOUSE OF LEAVES by Mark Z. Danielewski, the story included a coded note from one character to another. The reader was required to count lines and mark letters to reveal the true message. When I glanced at my transcription and saw this CREEPY letter, written in my own penmanship, I had to stop reading for a day or two while I got over my heebie-jeebies. That’s the sort of thing I love – when a story is so unnerving you throw the book across the room, but so intriguing you are forced to pick it up again, desperately curious to read a little further. 

Do you write your novels by hand or straight away on the computer? 
Computer! I’ve heard writing by hand is a good technique – it makes you slow down and think about what you’re saying. But for me, I like to fly via typing. Sometimes, I can go so fast, I am almost actually there, in the story. It’s like breaking the time-space continuum for make-believe. 

Thank you so much Anne for answering my questions! It's been great hosting you!

About the Author: 
Photo credit: Brittany App

Anne Applegate was born in Chico, California. Most of her childhood was spent moving across America with her family, nomad style. 

When Anne was fourteen, her parents sent her to boarding school so she could spend four years in a single educational system. As it turned out, her family then promptly settled into a small mid-western town and lived there for the next sixteen years. Anne still hasn’t figured out if this means something. 

After graduation, she went on to Tufts University in Medford, MA, where she had a wicked good time. Eventually, she wound up back on the west coast, where she married a fantastic Californian guy. Together, they have three children. 

For the last twelve years, Anne has lived in San Luis Obispo County. This is by far the longest time she has stayed in any one place her whole life. She immensely enjoys living where 1) the sun always shines and 2) she isn’t the weirdest person in town.

Find Anne here:

Giveaway:

Huge thanks to Anne Applegate for answering my questions and for stopping by. Also thanks to Shane at Itching for Books for hosting the tour. You can find the rest of the tour schedule here

Friday, 3 May 2013

Blog Tour + Author Interview: Zenn Scarlett By Christian Schoon

Hey guys, I'm super excited to host the sci-fi debut that is Zenn Scarlett and the great author Christian Schoon today! I have an interview with the author for you guys but first I'll let you know more about the book. 

Zenn Scarlett
Release Date: 7th May 2013
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Format: Paperback
Pages: 304

Synopsis: Zenn Scarlett is a bright and occasionally a-little-too-smart-for-her-own-good 17-year-old girl training hard to become an exoveterinarian. She specializes in the treatment of exotic alien life forms, mostly large and generally dangerous. Her novice year of training at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic on Mars was going well - until there are a series of inexplicable animal escapes from the school that Zenn finds herself blamed for. As if this isn't enough to be dealing with, her father vanishes under strange circumstances, and Zenn is worried that she has started hearing the thoughts of the creatures around her... 

With the help of Liam, a towner boy, and Hamish, an alien bug also training at the clinic, Zenn must try to find her father, rescue the animals and unravel the mystery of who is behind the attacks on the school. And all without failing her first year.

Author Interview: 

1. First of all can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 
Let’s see…I was born in glamorous downtown Sioux Falls, South Dakota. My first cat was a Siamese named Phurtadateedah. During junior high, I was shot at by the police (mistaken identity. Honest.). I spent my senior year of high school as an exchange student in Djursholm, Sweden. My four college minors were English, astronomy, anthropology and the Lakota Sioux language. (I cannot, however, speak this language now). I’m a major sci fi geek, a fanatical animal person and a Capricorn but seriously, Saturn or any other planet or star has absolutely no influence over my life. Other lives? That's anybody’s guess. Planetary influence over my fiction is another matter entirely. 

2. Before Zenn Scarlett you were a scriptwriter, what made you change
to writing novels and ultimately becoming an author? 
Yes, I wrote TV scripts for live and animated shows during my years in Los Angeles. But after we moved back to my Midwestern stomping grounds and bought a farm, my interests shifted, for several reasons. One: it’s tough to keep your oar in the water, scriptwriting-wise, when you don’t live in LA or New York. TV and film are collaborative enterprises, and the people running these things want your body and mind there to collaborate with. There are exceptions to this rule, but they’re rare and didn’t apply to me. Novels, on the other hand, are the ultimate one-person-show. I’m the writer, director, cinematographer, set designer, lighting director, best boy, gaffer and craft services person all in one. Plus, no commute. I kinda like that. 

3. Zenn Scarlett is your debut novel, where did the idea come from? 
After our move to the back of beyond in gorgeous rural America, my wife and I began accumulating animals on our farm and volunteering with animal welfare groups. Before long, I was hanging out with veterinarians who specialized in exotic animal medicine and found myself interacting with bears, cougars, big snakes, horses, etc. Along with my fondness for sci fi, this new arena of interest lead to the idea for a novice exovet working with alien animals. 

4. Can you tell us a bit about how it started from an idea in your
mind to becoming a published novel? What was the whole process like? 
The real lightbulb-popping-on-over-my-head moment was the simple concept of an alien animal vet. I couldn’t recall ever reading, or even hearing about, a similar character/situation in either books or films. From there, the rest of the story rapidly fell into place. Then, I worked and re-worked the story in my spare time over several years while I continued to work my day gig full time. I submitted to my list of chosen genre-specific agents. Got politely rejected. Main comment: “Awesome concept. Not ready for prime time.” And I quickly caught on to the fact this was all too true. So, I polished. Then, as I was about to submit to my next round of agents, an agent contacted me. He’d come across the manuscript at his former company and had pushed it, but his bosses passed. Now, he was at a new agency and wondered if I’d been signed. No, I had not. He signed me, we worked to streamline the story, split my one long book into two and a few months later he sold the books as a series to Strange Chemistry, who by the by are awesome as they come. The whole process was both educational for me as a noob novelist – I knew scriptwriting, but novels are a whole ‘nother animal… and it was angst-making during the submission process, but euphoric when the books sold. 

5. In the novel Zenn is training to become an exoveterinarian. How
much research did you have to do into the world of animal medicine and
animal welfare? As an animal management student myself, I’m very
intrigued. 
My research for the vet science part of Zenn Scarlett really grew out of my “on the job” experiences as a volunteer with several animal welfare groups. One is the Iowa Equine Rescue and Awareness League. This group works exclusively through law enforcement agencies and steps in after horses, donkeys or burros are confiscated due to neglect or abuse. The equines come to our farm, and other foster sites, where we tend to any outstanding medical issues, then get them back to a healthy, stable weight, work with them on handling issues, and adopt them out to qualified owners. Another group is called Witty Kitties, Inc., but the name is a little misguiding. In addition to providing housing and life-long care for felines with special medical needs (FIV, Feline leukemia, etc.) Witty Kitties is also licensed to rescue and rehab exotic animals like bears, cougars, coyotes, emus, Burmese pythons, American alligators, iguanas, tortoises and other critters. 

6. You have wide variety of pet’s yourself, did they inspire you in any way?
I’d say my affection and admiration for my horses, cats, dogs and ferrets is a direct inspiration for Zenn’s similar attachment to the unearthly animals residing at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic where she's undergoing her novice year of training. 

7. I’ve just got to throw this one in there, you have 30 cats? I love
the kitties but how do you have enough space for them all? Are they
generally outside cats?  
Good question! Most of them are outside barn cats. But we provide heat lamps and hay bales in the “cat barn” for these outdoor guests here on the farm, and they’re almost as pampered as the felines living indoors. More than a few of our barn cat contingent are now in their second decade, which as you probably know, is well beyond old age for a cat living outdoors. And, as outdoor cats show signs of being true “seniors,” we move them indoors to live. Iowa winters can be pretty gnarly. 

8. The main setting for Zenn Scarlett is Mars, what made you set the
novel in outer space? Did this entitle much research on your part?
The desire to incorporate a Martian setting probably arose from my early reading of the Edgar Rice Burrough’s Barsoom books. Plus, I’ve watched the various NASA Mars rovers with great interest; the reports on Mars’ environment seem to get more life-friendly all the time (even if that life turns out to be "simple" microbes and lived there long ago). And yes, I did need to brush up on my Mars facts as I wrote, so I now have a fairly full shelf of books on the subject. 

9. What was your favourite part about writing Zenn Scarlett? 
Some of the most fun scenes to write were Zenn’s interactions with her alien patients. She’s very good at what she does, and it’s always enjoyable to be around someone who’s competent at their job! 

10. What are your current writing projects and what can we expect from
you next? One of the most important questions, Will there be a sequel?
Next up from me is, in fact, the sequel to Zenn Scarlett, where we’ll follow Zenn off Mars and into thrilling encounters with outlandish new creatures, fascinating alien races and mind-boggling interplanetary intrigue! It’s due out about a year from now so… I’ll be in touch! 

11. Which authors and novels have influenced you and your writing? 
The above-noted Burroughs, as well as Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, William Gibson’s Neuromancer, T.H.White’s The Once and Future King, and too many more to even get into here! 

12. Describe Zenn Scarlett in 5 or less words? 
Compassionate, empathetic, fearless, determined, way-cool! 

13: What’s your favourite Animal? 
Rikkasets are pretty fabulous. But, here on earth, I really love the grace and inscrutability of cats.

Bonus Question: I’m guessing you’ve been bitten by an animal with all
the ones you have, what’s been the worst one though? I was bitten by a
ferret last week and damn it hurt!
Yeah, I’ve still got tiny teeth marks sprinkled across one arm from one of my own ferrets. Have been nipped by several kinds of snake (nothing serious), chomped pretty good by horses (leaves nasty teeth-mark-bruises) but I have to say the worst bites of all are from those graceful, inscrutable felines. Especially if they get you in a finger joint; almost certain to get infected. But, still not bad enough to dull my fondness for the little varmints. 

About the Author: 
Born in the American Midwest, Christian started his writing career in earnest as an in-house writer at the Walt Disney Company in Burbank, California. He then became a freelance writer working for various film, home video and animation studios in Los Angeles. After moving from LA to a farmstead in Iowa several years ago, he continues to freelance and also now helps re-hab wildlife and foster abused/neglected horses. He acquired his amateur-vet knowledge, and much of his inspiration for the Zenn Scarlett series of novels, as he learned about - and received an education from - these remarkable animals.

Pre-order Zenn Scarlett:

Find Christian here: 

Huge thanks to Christian for answering my questions and thank you to Amanda at Strange Chemistry for allowing me to participate in the Zenn Scarlett Tour! Thank you for stopping by and Happy Reading!