June 26, 2012

RPG as Trope - or, Astrópía

I've never played a role playing game -- I've got to say that right out front. That's because, when I was a kid, there was This Huge Thing about D&D, the most popular role-playing game in town, and it was bandied about by some to be satanic and whatnot. That was enough for the kids who played it to get a Reputation, and everyone else to either try to get in on the action (that was five minutes when D&D was judged super-cool), or if they were a little more timid, to steer away. Ditto, Magic, the Gathering. So, no RPG's for me - however, I've since done a lot of observing, hanging-over-shoulders, and lusting after the fourteen-sided-die of the hipster gamers and their tabletop madness. And, also watching, you know, the awesomely Wheaton-filled Tabletop. And feeling really bad that I never got to jump around and scream and play Settlers of Catalan or anything. Some childhood deprivations must be rectified!!!

So, I thought I'd start out by watching a movie.

I know. Makes perfect sense, no?

(No? Well, ...no. It doesn't. I know that. We don't review movies routinely @ Wonderland, but stick with me here - we'll get to the book in the end.)

An indie from Iceland which debuted in 2007, Astrópía (the American version is called Dorks & Damsels. Ignore that. I like the Icelandic name better.) features Hildur, an early twentysomething who is imaginative and beautiful but also fluffy-headed and unsure of herself, though basically kind. Her only task in life thus far has been to look nice, and do PR for her boyfriend Snorri's car dealership. She's not required to do anything but show up and show off - and she's not really even comfortable with that, but she does what Snorri says, and remains one of the best dressed, hottest girls in town.

Her life is all about the surface, but when the surface cracks - and it turns out Snorri is a shyster and going to jail - Hildur falls through the veneer and into a reality where friends don't stick around if there's no money and no gossip to be shared, she's expected to clean up her messes and work for a living and be a good example to a child. It's a rough transition, from someone used to being photographed next to her boyfriend or at clubs to be homeless, jobless, and completely unsteady on her five-inch-heels. What's a girl to do? Get a job, yes. But, at a comic book store? Selling RPG hardware to hardcore fans?

In a word, yes. And what follows is the funniest, sweetest, dorkiest and most ridiculous love letter to gamers, ever. No, seriously. Granted, I watched this movie on a flight (incidentally from Iceland) and I was jet-lagged and travel-stoned, but it was the best thing on earth to distract me for a lovely couple of hours. Despite some of Hildur's more ridiculous outfits and a little comic-book style violence - a lot of roaring, and running around with swords - it's family friendly, and good for a Saturday night with kettlecorn and corn dogs.

Now, what, you may ask, does that have to do with a book?

Well, it's not just ANY book. It's THE OTHER NORMALS, by Ned Vizzini, and it's out this fall... and since I've talked so much about the movie, I've run out of space to talk about the book - but stayed tuned for my review next week. For now, please just admire this lovely cover! Yep, RPG figurines, a gameboard, and a completely adorkable guy. More on this later...meanwhile, please enjoy the movie Astrópía!

June 25, 2012

Looks Like Someone's Got a Case of the Mondays


Yes! That someone is me! You guessed it. Anyway, in lieu of all the grumbling I would really like to do, I will leave you with a few links that crossed my path over the past week or so.
  • First, a couple of news items from GraphicNovelReporter.com: For an exhaustive slideshow review and preview of the best graphic novels of 2012, as reported at BEA, check here and proceed to drool. Among other things, I'm looking forward to new titles from Raina Telgemeier (author of Smile) and Derek Kirk Kim, co-author of Level Up

  • Also, going on RIGHT NOW (well, this week) at ALA is a brand-new Eisner Graphic Novel Prize for Libraries, "a contest that will award libraries with $1,000 worth of Eisner Award-nominated books, $2,000 in a voucher to be used to buy more graphic books, and a $1,000 stipend on top of all that to go toward an event or signing featuring a graphic novel creator." How awesome is that? Read the full article here.

  • Lastly, there's been a fair bit of discussion lately on the Kidlitosphere Yahoo Group about When Good Authors Go Bad. That is, when an otherwise perfectly sane human being sees a less-than-favorable review of their book and goes apeshit in public, to the detriment of his or her reputation and to the dismay of the blogger who worked hard on his or her review. We don't like to think about this sort of thing happening--we authors AND bloggers try to be professional--but the truth is, it does happen. On the CBC Diversity blog, read one author's perspective on what to do with a bad review
As a blogger, I try to be diplomatic when highlighting what I see as a book's weaknesses, and I generally don't review books that I can't say something positive about. (Of course, there are plenty of other reasons why I might not review a book on this blog--please don't assume, if we didn't review your book, that it's because we didn't like it!) However, other people approach reviews differently.

As an author, I don't have control over other people's reactions, and they're entitled to their opinions. I can't control whether someone writes a review that is complimentary, or professional, or accurate, or fair, but I certainly can do my best to control how I react in a public forum. Bloggers are not necessarily professional reviewers, but I see myself as a professional writer, and I want to behave accordingly. That means if I feel like I have to throw a tantrum about something someone says about my work, I'll throw my tantrum in private and make my cats stare at me in bewilderment. In public, I'll do what seems appropriate, which in many cases is nothing at all. Because, when it comes down to it, once my work is out in the world, people are going to think what they think, and I no longer have control over my babies after they've left the nest.

My job is to write. End of story.

(Okay, sorry, I DID grumble a bit. Whoops.)

June 21, 2012

Toon Thursday: More Psychobabble!

Last week was supposed to be Toon Thursday week, but it was pushed back a week because of the Summer Blog Blast Tour (go check out our interviews, if you haven't yet!). Accordingly, with an extra week to think about it, I have produced what might be my favorite cartoon yet. Enjoy! (Click the cartoon to view a larger version.)

As always, for more cartoony goodness, take a look at the Toon Thursday Archives. Happy Thursday!

June 20, 2012

The COOLEST

Via The Mary Sue, I've gotta wonder: is it too late to get a dollhouse??? I'll have to Roominate on it...

June 18, 2012

Authors in the News, and Various Things I Want

I'd meant to do a book review today, but this past week--including today--ended up bursting at the seams with stuff to do, places to go, crap to haul, people to see, and public speaking to suffer through. Suffice it to say that I AM TIRED.  Therefore I am offering you these enticing links to amuse and entertain you, since I lack the energy to do so myself. Please to enjoy.
  • A friend of mine from college sent me a link to this giveaway and said simply "you need this." I took one look at it and. WANT. Every writer should have a Writer's Clock, and, gosh, it even has Adult Beverage Time on it. It's perfect. Just look at it. And it couldn't be easier to enter the contest. GO DO IT.

  • YA author Megan Kelley Hall wrote a heartfelt piece on bullying for the Huffington Post. She talks about her fears, her growing-up years, and what we can all do to help confront bullying. "One by one by one, we will stop the bullies and we will save lives."

  • Here's another Thing I Want: John Scalzi's new book, Redshirts. Our blog bud Sheila Ruth wrote up a great review of it, and now I want to read it even more. (Luckily, a friend of mine has already bought it and I've got second dibs on borrowing it.)

  • You know we loves us some Cover Chatter. Coverfail is always a major topic of conversation around here, and we particularly like it when there are good-quality, well-designed, diverse YA book covers that don't just feature the same generic "pretty white girl" over and over again. Ellen Oh feels the same way, and contributed a must-read post for Racialicious on "Why The Pretty White Girl YA Book Cover Trend Needs To End." Go, Ellen!

June 16, 2012

Wrapping Up the SBBT and Catching Up on Reading

If you're on the West Coast today, you're probably propped up in front of the fan, marveling that a day which had a reported high of 95°F has become 103°F in your neck of the woods! It's a perfect time to catch up on your blog blast tour reading - get something icy and wet into you and read away.

I was out and about on Friday and missed checking in with the fabulous goings-on during the Summer Blog Blast Tour this past Friday - but I am happy to report today the introduction to yet another author I hadn't "met" - Benjamin Alire Saenz, who spoke about his fab sounding book, ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE, and other writerly details about his style and his view of the world. I also was pleased to read about blog-buddy and returning European traveler Ashley Hope Pérez at Edi's Crazy Quilt blog, where Ashley talks about her latest book THE KNIFE AND THE BUTTERFLY as well as Liam-ese, her son's Spanish-English-French language; the glamorous Paris life;; writing rules, and the Academic Ashley. Go - read!

Our stats tell us that we had a jump in visitors this week, as usual - many people come by the blog during blog blast weeks, because we interview such fabulous people - another big shout-out of thanks to Rosemary Clement-Moore and Robin LaFevers for being our guests this week! We look forward to our next blog blast tour, and are already busily thinking of authors to chat with...

Once you're caught up on your Blog Blast reading, don't miss this piece from Patrick Ness @ the Guardian - he's he's sick of hearing crap about teens, and rightly so. Also at the Squeetus Blog, there's talk of a book club. If you read The Princess Academy, it'll be awesome to have a re-read before Palace of Stone comes out - and don't miss the unpubbed prologue from the sequel!

Hope you're enjoying this sizzling summer day.

June 14, 2012

Summer Blog Blast Tour 2012: Robin LaFevers

For today's installment of the Summer Blog Blast Tour, we're thrilled to welcome back Robin LaFevers, aka R.L. LaFevers, author of a plethora of enjoyably adventuresome books for MG and YA readers, including the Theodosia series, the Nathaniel Fludd: Beastologist books, and the recent YA release Grave Mercy, which has its own absolutely drop-dead gorgeous website. We love her for her books, but also because she is a writing and blogging bud and a kindred spirit, whose advice we have repeatedly sought and appreciated via the blog she shares with Mary Hershey, Shrinking Violet Promotions.

Back in 2008, we talked to Robin about the Theodosia books for that year's SBBT. We were so pleased that she agreed to answer our questions about her latest book release for young adults. Read on to find out the story behind the story for this intriguing historical fantasy adventure.



FW: What initially attracted you to this time and place--medieval Brittany--as a setting for your novel?

RLL: You know, I just started getting this itch, this desire to write a great big, sweeping, epic romance. Not just in the boy meets girl sense, but in the tradition of the medieval tales that told of knights and chivalry, hard choices, and lives and kingdoms lost.

And then I thought, nah. You can't write that kind of book for teens. But the idea stayed with me and wouldn't leave. So just on a lark, I let myself start noodling around, researching the middle ages and different countries and milieus that might make an interesting backdrop for such a story. When I learned about Anne of Brittany, something clicked and I realized that maybe, just maybe, this might work. After all, the middle ages were a very young society—teens held positions of power and were making major life decisions. That might be the exactly right place to set a book with teens front and center.

Then the more research I did, the more I became hooked into the time and place, and the medieval elements—patron saints, the drama, the intensity—became integral to the story. I don't think those aspects of the story would have worked as well in another time or place. That, I think, is a key to historical fiction or historical fantasy—the setting has to be so deeply woven into the story that they are inseparable.

FW: The setting and the power plays really resonated, and just made the book for us. And we know that must have required a ton of research. What is the most interesting/amazing/unbelievable historical fact you found out while researching your book? And/or: what astounding thing about your book would readers be amazed to find out was actually true?

RLL: Oh this is a hard question because I am fascinated by so much of what I stumble across in my research! However, I think one of the true shockers for me as a 21st century woman was learning that some medieval women preferred joining a convent because it would give them more freedom, independence, and autonomy than their other life choices! Being as how I think of becoming a nun one of the more limiting choices one could make, that really gave me pause and drove home just how little control of their own lives these women had.

As readers might be amazed to discover is actually true, I would have to say they might be amazed by just how much of the story was based on actual facts and historical figures. There really was a twelve year old girl who inherited one of the wealthiest duchies of its day, and she really had been promised in marriage to about half a dozen noblemen or princes, and her court was rife with betrayals and treason, many of those traitors some of those who had sworn to protect and serve her.

FW: Speaking of Breton independence, did you actually travel to visit modern-day Brittany in order to research the book? (Please say you did...) What was your favorite part?

RLL: I'm so sorry to have to crush your hopes, but no. I did not travel to Brittany, although I would love to. If I sell enough books, that's definitely on the top of my wish list! There are so many well-preserved medieval cities and towns there, just thinking about them make me start to drool.

FW: We hope you do get to go!!
It was pretty squee-worthy to read Nuns Behaving Badly in the NY Times in April. Was that your first NYT review? We read your Writer Unboxed piece on taking risks leading you to great rewards. Is there anything that you feel changed in your writing or your style which has turned this corner for you? Or is it entirely down to a riskier writing choice? What do you think was making you hold back?

RLL: Yes, that was my first ever NYT review! And yes, it was a totally squee worthy moment.

It turns out that the Sunday Times is very hard to find in my small town. I went hunting for a copy that Sunday and couldn’t find any! But in a truly serendipitous moment, I arrived at Starbucks JUST as they were putting their last copy out. It had somehow inadvertently been left in the back by accident until just that moment. So I have a hard copy of the real live actual newspaper that I will treasure forever.

As for what changed in my writing, hmmm. I would have to say it was mostly a matter of having written a lot, and in doing that, working my way down to my core themes and stories. And it probably has to do with letting go of fear. (Isn't it always about fear, in some way?) And the thing is, the fear never really goes away. Even now, I’m afraid that someone will laugh at the books or worse, laugh and say "Psyche! Just kidding. This book sucks and it was all an elaborate joke and we're returning ALL THE COPIES."

Or the second book will not live up to the first.

Or I won't be able to pull off in the third book what I hope to try.

That's not to say I wasn’t taking risks or trying to go deep with my earlier books. But I think it is also a process that occurs over time and with each book we write, we go a little deeper, get a little bit more used to being exposed or speaking our truth. The sky does not fall, we are not struck my lightning, nobody toilet papers our house. Life goes on. All those things we feared—even though we didn't even realize we were afraid of anything!—begin to recede or seem less threatening.

Then other times I think it has to do with reaching middle age. I know that sounds odd, but it seems like there's a certain amount of freedom that comes as you get older—especially for women—as our focus and energy moves away from family and our biological programming to nurture and act as social glue—we get to start really rolling up our sleeves and dig into our own work.

FW: I hope you did a happy dance in that Starbucks, and that everyone KNEW it was your book being reviewed in that paper!! Nurturing your craft and digging into your work really, really, really has paid off.
All of your novels have subtexts featuring empowered women. Theodosia wants to be taken seriously as an Egyptologist, a mature girl, and a sleuth. Aunt Phil balances her loving nature with a big dose of determined, brisk, and businesslike. Ismae struggles with her place as a 15th century woman, then as a Handmaiden who might know more than her patron God. How do you feel about being known as a "girl power" author? What other less obvious subtexts do you feel you weave in all of your books ( because we've all discovered that we do that, to a certain extent)?

RLL: I am wildly happy to be known as a girl power author! That totally works for me. However, maybe because I had seven brothers and raised two sons, I am also aware that not every boy child is born understanding that they have power and knowing how to wield it. I tend to think of myself as driven more by kid and teen power than by any actual gender.

And that is SUCH a good question about identifying the less obvious themes in our work, because they do crop up, whether we mean for them to or not, so best be aware and use them to the story's advantage. Being an outsider or odd duck and finding a place to belong is definitely one I see show up time and again. Also the eternal struggle to be true to ourselves, yet please others who are important to us. That is something that has dogged me all my life and I wrestle with even today. But mostly my themes are about power because it's something I've struggled with forever. I have been very blind to my own power and have often given it away by the bucketful without even realizing it. So one of the things that drives me is that voiceless child/powerless teen who was desperate to locate some small measure of power in her life.

A really interesting response - and yes, we SHOULD use our recurring themes to our advantage!
Switching gears, let's move to five lighter questions:

1. St. Mortain? Was that the first name you came up with, or were there other clunkier ones? Do tell!

RLL: Saint Mortain was actually his name from the very beginning. I knew I wanted to have mort in the name, the French word for death, and that felt right. Few things come to me that easily. :)

2. Well, is the first sentence in the finished novel identical to the first sentence in your draft? If not, what was the original? Did they go with the first cover? Can you share some cover concepts that didn't work?

RLL: Yes again! That first sentence was one of my original anchors into the story; it set the tone, the voice, the mood, everything I was shooting for. As for the cover, the concept was always a girl with a crossbow in front of a castle looking fierce, but the first photograph they were considering ended up not working out. Which was great because we got this perfect one instead!

3. Do you bounce your books off of your partner or spouse? What was their take on your first finished draft? When did you know you had something big? Or, did you know? Did someone else have to know first?

RLL: I don't bounce my books off my spouse. He always loves what I write and is not given to critical analysis where my books are concerned so he didn't read it until it was an ARC. He loved it quite a lot, but then, he is my husband, and a dyed in the wool romantic, so . . .)(Wonderland: Awww!)

I didn't know it had potential for big until I showed it to my agent, and she got kind excited. But that ended up being really distracting and I had to put her reaction aside and concentrate on finishing the story and not weigh it down with those external sorts of expectations. It is SO easy, once you begin thinking things like big, and market, to let those influence your story decisions and choices as opposed to having them serve the story, and I really wanted to avoid that.

4. You're touring with this book – what’s your best book tour experience so far? Your worst?

RLL: You know, the best tour experience is always meeting the passionate booksellers and getting a chance to connect with teens who've read and loved the book. Hands down, the best part. The worst? Eh, planes that don't have enough leg or shoulder room. And having my bra set off every metal detector on the tour. :)(Wonderland: We FEEL YOUR PAIN!!!)

5. What's one thing you'd like your readers to know about you, or your series, that you are never asked?

RLL: That I write stories because I am fascinated by questions and interested in exploring them, not because I have all the answers—or sometimes any answer at all.

YES. And don't those become the best stories, where we're just as intrigued by the answers and the things we discover as our readers? What a fabulous thing.
Robin, thank you, as always, for being willing to be part of our tour! We absolutely adore this series, we support your work, and we value your wisdom. Thanks again!



Don't forget to check out the other stops on the Blog Blast Tour for today:

TeenBoat's Dave Roman @ Bildungsroman

L. Divine @ Crazy Quilt Edi

Check out the full schedule for the week at Chasing Ray.

June 13, 2012

Summer Blog Blast Tour 2012: Rosemary Clement-Moore

Welcome to Wonderland's first stop for the Summer Blog Blast Tour 2012! This year there's already a great crop of interviews with authors and illustrators to whet your appetite, pique your fancy, or whatever figure of speech you prefer. Today, at Wonderland we interview the most awesome Queen of Southern Supernatural Gothic YA, Rosemary Clement-Moore. Ghosts, inexplicable powers, demons and demon-fighters laced with snappy dialogue and a soupçon of sass and humor --if those are up your alley, you'll want to read on. 

Finding Wonderland: Hey, Rosemary, thanks for visiting! Without further ado, let's get right to it. Of all the different ghost-busting, demon-fighting, supernaturally gifted heroines you've written about, do you have a favorite? What did you enjoy most about writing that character? 

Rosemary Clement-Moore: I love all my children the same! No, really. There are pieces of me in all of my characters. Maggie Quinn was one of the most effortless because she’s very open about her emotions, her goals, her doubts, her conflicts. She’s very self-aware and not afraid to lay it out there. It’s refreshing to write a character who just says what she thinks.

Sylvie Davis from The Splendor Falls, on the other hand, kept her emotions deeply in check. She didn’t want to admit them to herself, let alone tell how she felt in the narration. I had to give her a little dog so she would talk about her feelings sometimes. But I sort of loved her because she was so prickly and cranky when the book opens. She’s a wreck, and her putting herself back together as she solves the mystery of her family’s haunted home was very rewarding.

FW: Aw. We loved us some Sylvie, too - we do cranky well around here. ☺ Many of your books take place in a Southern setting. Did you look to other Southern literature for inspiration in writing vividly about the region? Who are some of the authors who have inspired you as a writer? 

RCM: I grew up in Texas (which is not technically The South, except geographically) and I’ve always been a little in love with how the culture and history of a place can become like another character in the story. Gothic literature is like that--whether its the wild moors of Wuthering Heights or the wave-battered Cornish shores of Rebecca, setting becomes an inseparable part of the book.

I also loved the books of Barbara Michaels and Mary Stewart, who wove the history of a place into the mystery of the book. When you go to the real South, you see that in the preserved homes and traditions as well as some less positive ways. That’s where you get the Southern Gothic tradition, and you definitely see that in The Splendor Falls. Texas Gothic does the same sort of blending of past and present mysteries, but with the history, traditions and culture unique to my state, including some parts that not everyone knows about.

FW: The blend of history and mystery really works - readers who don't live in Texas now are even more intrigued about the state! It seems like all kinds of awesome things happen there... Last year on the VOYA blog interview, you said, "It seems like all the advice you get as a teen either centers on “Be sensible” (uninspired) or “Follow your dreams” (utterly impractical). It’s like you only get a choice between being a tortoise or a hare. But there is a middle ground between a safe, sensible rut and throwing yourself off a ledge and hoping you’ll fly. Dream big, with a hare’s energy and enthusiasm, then work toward it with a tortoise’s dedication and purpose." That comes across as the Best. Advice. Ever for a young person or, heck, anyone. How do you apply that to your writing life? Do you feel that you take risks in your work, or are you more of a writer on the middle ground? What do you think of the idea that writers must take risks and ride the edge, or fail to make an impact in this market? Do you have any thoughts on the YA market right now, with ebooks on the rise?

RCM: I recently saw The Avengers, and the reason that’s such a great movie is that the director doesn’t hold anything back for the sequel. Whedon doesn’t say “Oh, we can’t go that big, or how will we top it in the next movie?”

One of the things I struggle with as a writer is holding back from big ideas, big emotions, big risks. I’m worried it will seem cheesy or over the top, or my characters will seem melodramatic. But holding back cheats me out of my best work, and my readers out of the best story--especially where emotional stakes are concerned.

As for how that relates to the market, I’m not sure. It’s a very fluid time, with e-books and small/big/self publishing opportunities. But this will always be true: You have to write the book that you want to write. Art should, first and foremost, tell the story you want to tell. Because you can’t control all the variables of the business end of things. All you can really control is the words on the page, so they should make you proud, whether they’re read by a hundred people, or a hundred-thousand. 

FW: "The book you want to write" -- exactly. Some excellent words of wisdom. So, we've noticed that writers are often thematically recognizable – that is, eventually, you can discover a common thread throughout most of their books. We’ve determined that at least one of your threads is the strong, feisty, “make-the-best-of it” heroine who may not have had her first choice in chance, family, or location, but who pulls things off regardless. (Maggie really would like to ignore a.) prom and b.) Stanley c.) her ability to see the supernatural; Sylvie does not want to be in Alabama, period, not to mention not the not dancing and the ghoulies; even as she loves them, Amy really wants to disassociate from the WEIRD known as her family) What would you say are your recognizable themes? Do you build your story for them deliberately, or do they show up in your writing more organically? 

RCM: I like to think about my heroines as “resourceful,” so I totally see how “make the best of it” fits into that. I keep hearing Tim Gunn from Project Runway in my head: “Make it work.” But that’s sort of my life philosophy. Happiness and success aren’t handed to you--but the tools for achieving them are inside all of us.

It’s extremely important to me that my girl protagonists solve their own problems--even if it means recruiting help from a guy or a mad scientist sister or evil genius BFF. Sometimes life isn’t about being the best at one thing--strongest, smartest, most superpowered. It has to do with being able to adapt to the needs of the situation. Plus, I think the most interesting stories are about what a character does when they can’t have what they want.

Family is a big theme in my books, which I think comes from reading Little Women sixteen times when I was a kid. You’ll also see a lot of old things in my books--history and legend and actual artifacts that intertwine with the present-day story. That’s just because I love history. (Archeologist was on my short list of career choices, but I don’t like to camp.)

FW: Hah! Well, dirt-free archaeology is working for you so far - research on the computer instead of in the dirt. ☺ According to our research, PROM DATES FROM HELL, published in 2007, boasts the same first paragraph as the initial quick scribbles from your original manuscript. Have you ever been that lucky again? Do you normally do several stand-alone scenes from what’s going on in your head, and then piece them together, or do you come up with a continuous full-length full draft, and go from there? What book has been the hardest to piece together craft-wise? 

RCM: I almost always write the first paragraph first, which stays virtually unaltered throughout revisions. The opening image is pretty solid in my mind when I put fingers to keyboard. I generally do a lot of thinking about a book before hand. It’s like filming a movie in my head. (Sometimes my working looks a lot like staring into space.) When I get enough key scenes visualized, I can start to put them into words. But I always start with the beginning and movie forward.

 I write mostly in sequence, with one big exception. I always get to page 286 and then have to skip forward to the end of the book. Page 286 (give or take a few manuscript pages) is that moment when the characters gear up for the final confrontation. I always get stuck there. But if I go and write the climactic battle, then I know what they need to collect/learn/do in order to get to the big boss fight at the end.

Well, now you can stare into space and visualize your answers for five lighter questions: 

1. Do you have personal stories of ghoulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night that turned out to be actually scary and/or funny? 

RCM: When I was in high school I was up late reading a spooky novel, when I heard footsteps on the gravel outside my window. I froze, trying not to even breath, then heard a tap on the glass, and someone whisper my name. Of course I screamed bloody murder. And of course it was just my brother sneaking in late, having forgotten his key. He was so busted, and so mad at me.

2. In previous interviews, you mention being involved in theater. Are you still actively involved? Would you consider turning a book of yours into a play? Which one do you think lends itself to that treatment the best? 

RCM: I’m not involved in theater any more, but I have to say that I use all my acting chops in my writing--characterization and motivation and internalization and “method” acting. Only it’s more fun because I can play any character and I don’t have to stay on a diet.

I do miss performing, though. It’s a thrill. But it’s also really stressful and time consuming, and I have books to write!

My books would have way too high special effects budgets for the stage, but I’ll bet any of them would make a great movie. I always envisioned the Maggie Quinn series as a monster of the week TV series (can you imagine the cross-over potential if Maggie and Lisa met Sam and Dean Winchester from Supernatural?) but I think Texas Gothic would make the best movie. (I can dream, right?)

3. You have had a bunch of jobs – and we can certainly see where having been a ranch hand comes into play in TEXAS GOTHIC. You mention having a science degree – what science? You’ve also been a wedding singer and a telephone operator – two pretty decent jobs, and a … hair model? Please discuss this Most Awesome, Effortless Job, Ever. (And, if it isn’t effortless or awesome, we’d love to know that, too!) 

RCM: Yes, hair model. Basically it means you have to let them cut or style your hair however they want to and take lots of pictures. It was really fun to do, but the problem with those edgy styles they do for hair shows is that they take way too much effort and styling product for my daily life. I’m all for a great haircut, but my requirement is Low Maintenance.

4. In an interview with your Prom Dates From Hell character, Maggie Quinn, you said you are known to sing random snippets of Gilbert and Sullivan. Which operetta's your favorite? 

RCM: Probably Ruddigore, which isn’t as well known. But it’s a gothic story with ghosts and a cursed baronet and a heroine named Rose Maybud... Sort of irresistible, really. HMS Pinafore is also a favorite and, of course, the Pirates of Penzance. Because I love Penzance and I love pirates.

5. What’s one thing you’d like your readers to know about you, or your series, that you are never asked? 

You know what’s weird? No one ever asks me if D&D Lisa has a last name.

The answer is, “yes.”

Thanks for interviewing me! It’s great to get to talk writing with people who love reading!

Thank YOU for all the thought-provoking and hilarious answers! We're jazzed about Texas, crossing our fingers for your TEXAS GOTHIC: the movie, and honored that you stopped by to answer our questions. Thank you for continuing to write -- we can't wait to read what's next from you! 



Yesterday Tanita was interviewed at the Happy Nappy Bookseller, and Doret makes her look intelligent! Go, read! And for today's other SBBT interviews, see:
And visit Chasing Ray for the full SBBT schedule for the week, complete with links.

June 12, 2012

Kidlitosphere Interviews, Calls for Submission News & Views

Happy Tuesday!

One of my favorite Blog Blast Tour stops yesterday was Crazy Quilt Edi's interview with Randa Abdel-Fattah, she of "Does My Head Look Big In This" authorial fame. Do drop by and give her interview a read. Nalo Hopkinson is an award-winning SFF author and I haven't yet read her books!!!!. So exciting to find someone new to me - and who is talking diversity over at Doret's Happy Nappy blog. I always love the SBBT for giving me so many new authors and books to track down.

Today's schedule has a stop I'm especially interested in - YS Lee @ The YA YA YA's. Her historical mysteries have received nothing but praise from the kidlitosphere readers, and I CANNOT WAIT to get my hands on her books! (It's so nice to be back in the states for that very reason - quick library/bookstore access.) Master Schedule @ Colleen's as always.

Summer Reading... but some also ought to get on with the writing! Readers who are also writers will be interested in these opportunities - hat tip to InkyGirl.

Futuredaze: An Anthology of YA Science Fiction seeks fiction and poetry for teens, young adults and the young at heart. Pays $200/story, $25/poem. Deadline: June 30, 2012.

YA steampunk (SQUEE!) anthology seeks submissions (via Mindy Hardwick). Deadline: Sept.1/2012.

Indie publisher Buzz Books seeks YA short stories for a new monthly Mythology High series. 3000-4500 words.

Three words: feminist speculative fiction. Say yes to a new anthology.

YOU KNOW YOU WANT THIS: Tor has released FIERCE READS, an original collection of short stories by a group of YA authors. They're online at Tor.com, but you can also upload them to your e-reader - for free - because they're cool like that.

Enjoy your day!

June 11, 2012

This Week in the Kidlitosphere: Summer Blog Blast Tour Returns!

Hey everyone: it's that time of year again! The 2012 Summer Blog Blast Tour kicks off today with interviews on Chasing Ray, with Kate Milford; Crazy Quilt Edi, with Randa Abdel-Fattah; Bildungsroman, with Tim Lebbon; and The Happy Nappy Bookseller, with Nalo Hopkinson.

Our own contributions to the SBBT this year will be interviews with Rosemary Clement-Moore on Wednesday and Robin LaFevers on Thursday. We have been squee-ing with delight that they both so graciously consented to participate!

And, a bonus: check The Happy Nappy Bookseller TOMORROW for an interview with Finding Wonderland's own Tanita Davis, whose latest book Happy Families came out just last month. (Check out an excellent review here on Jen Robinson's Book Page.) Don't miss it!!

For the full SBBT schedule, check Chasing Ray--the page will be updated with links as the interviews are posted.

June 07, 2012

Get Ready...Get Set...

The (I can hardly believe it) SEVENTH Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge, hosted by MotherReader, starts tomorrow--are you ready to read for hours on end? I know I am. Twist my arm. Go ahead.

You see, normally it's Tanita who represents for Finding Wonderland during the 48HBC, but this year, I have somehow discovered that I have two days in a row WITHOUT MAJOR COMMITMENTS during the weekend of the challenge. And because I can and will find any excuse to sit on my butt and read for several hours, I am not going to miss this golden opportunity.

The great thing is, this year, participants are being encouraged to sponsor ourselves for every hour read and donate the total amount (the hourly rate being up to us) to Reading Is Fundamental and their wonderful Book People Unite initiative. I haven't donated to RIF in a little while (proceeds from Latte Rebellion swag have been a bit slower as of late) so I'm excited to do something like this. I therefore have decided that I will donate $1 for every hour that I successfully read during the 48-hour period from Friday to Sunday (exact morning start time TBD).

I've also decided that I'm going to blog the books as I read them over on my personal blog, aquafortis. I've been neglecting my personal blog quite horrendously and I thought this might be a fun way to rekindle our relationship. Also, I think I will be focusing mainly on adult books, since there are several I need to catch up on reading, so it seems better to write about them there. The reviews will likely be short, unless I decide to harp on something. But then, at the end, I'll post the summary here as well as on my personal blog.

Now, off to mentally prepare myself by--what else--reading! (Dude, totally not kidding about that.)

Also, P.S: Tune in Monday for links to the first day on the Summer Blog Blast Tour. We're posting interviews later in the week with the fabulous ROBIN LAFEVERS and ROSEMARY CLEMENT-MOORE. 

June 06, 2012

Read, Read, Read!

Oh, the JOY of summertime is upon us.

First and ALWAYS, the 48 Hour Book Challenge, yo. MotherReader is doing it again for YEAR SEVEN, oh, my word, and you know you want to be there. Prizes! Pride! Bragging Rights!

Via Lady Leila @ Bookshelves of Doom, behold, FREE audiobooks, all summer long, two a week. The pairings are wonderful to see - Jon Scieszka and Mark Twain? YES.

Via SF Signal, Book View Cafe, and its rich grouping of YA SFF has relaunched; some good stuff there.

SUMMER BLOG BLAST TOUR - NEXT WEEK!!!! It seems impossible that it's snuck up on us, but yes, it's coming, and we've got two great interviews here with some fabbity people we love to bits. So, stay tuned!

Right now, there is a book calling my name...

June 04, 2012

Monday Author and Publishing News: Nancy Bo Flood

If you have an interest in YA/MG historical fiction, you might remember our Summer Blog Blast Tour interview with Nancy Bo Flood, author of Warriors in the Crossfire. She was kind enough to answer our questions about her wonderfully detailed, touching, and informative novel that followed the lives of two young men on the island of Saipan during World War II.

We enjoyed Warriors in the Crossfire--as a story as well as an account of history--so we were excited to hear that Ms. Flood has a new novel, also out from Namelos Editions: No-Name Baby, which Kirkus Reviews called "an agreeable, ultimately optimistic tale of the strength of the human spirit." Though I'd definitely classify this one as a quiet read, intense emotions run just under the surface in the story of Sophie, a 14-year-old girl who is confronted with one family trauma after another in the hardscrabble years after World War I.

As I read, it was clear that Sophie was, in many ways, trapped in her life--things happen TO her and around her, but she isn't able to affect her world or even to conceive of having the power to do so. From time to time, I found myself frustrated on her behalf, and even frustrated with her, wanting her to assert herself more. However, surrounded as she is by closemouthed adults who still see her as a child in many ways, Sophie's story is sure to evoke sympathetic feelings in teen readers, and appeal to those who enjoy historical fiction that portrays day-to-day life in vivid detail.

A quick postscript--don't forget to check out the newly launched website for Namelos, which is devoted entirely to publishing YA books and has a wide lineup of new authors and books in a wide range of genres, including many multicultural titles. It's also got a great design, reminiscent of Pinterest with a bulletin-board feel.  

Review Copy Source: Netgalley


You can find No-Name Baby by Nancy Bo Flood at an independent bookstore near you!