The time it was SDCC 2014

SDCC is always a given for us. 2014 was my 18th year going and it’s something I look forward to every year.

We didn’t get preview night this year, but went down to the gaslamp quarter to hang out. We walked around a few art galleries,  got drunk ate at Barley Mash and met up with Colleen for even more drinks.

Thursday

Thursday was our first official day.

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We picked up our badges and headed straight to the Penguin booth to get signing tickets for Morgan Rhodes.

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From there, we headed over to Macmillan to get Ruin & Rising polish say hi to Molly. We ended up running into Katie and Michelle at the booth and took photos before making plans to meet up again at Penguin.

On our way through Artists Alley, we found these awesome metal bookmarks and talked to the artist for a bit.

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We found Karen Hallion and took a photo with her while I was wearing her shirt. Her booth was sort of a mess of people, so we didn’t stay long.

Somehow we ended up in Ballroom 20 and watched part of the panel for Under the Dome while eating some snacks, drinking some water and resting our feet.

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We made our way toward Penguin and stopped at the Harper Collins booth. I had seen the Epic Reads tote and wanted one, so I went in. I somehow ended up with a ticket to see Veronica Roth the next day.

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We got over to Penguin just in time for Morgan to start signing. They were giving away paperbacks of Falling Kingdoms and arcs of Gathering Darkness. As Morgan was signing, I went to take a photo. She looked up at the same time and started a conversation about resting bitch face and how she’s trying to remember to make herself look happy while on panels because she has resting bitch face.

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We made our way around to buy a Doctor Who Yahtzee set in a Pandorica and Hubs bought a zombie Kirk Hammett for an autograph ticket. And then the goal of the day was to find Daniel from MasterChef. There is a long, somewhat detailed story about why I wanted to see him {much more than it being because I love the show and he’s my favorite contestant}. It involves Paula Stokes and twitter and our maybe threat of objectifying him.

While looking for Daniel, we stumbled upon Yaya Han.  Like, literally stumbled.  There was a bit of a hold up in one of the aisles and there may or may not have been some slight pushing.  Turns out Yaya was signing some paperwork in front of her booth.  After she was done, she posed for photos and was genuinely so nice.

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We kept wandering around a bit more and I kept my fangirl eyes open so wide and yet, I didn’t see Daniel.  Fast forward a bit and I got this…

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The worst part? I was already home and Daniel was only going to be attending Thursday.  I guess I’ll just have to continue to objectify him on Twitter.  Sigh.

Friday

Friday brought us right to Mysterious Galaxy for signing tickets to Marie Lu, so we went there first. On the way we ran into Ksenia from Macmillan and chatted with her for a couple minutes. When we got to MG, I ended up getting numbers 3 & 4 for Marie.

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We stopped at the Harper booth to see what time the line up for Veronica Roth was going to start. They told us that the it would start at 10:15. We wandered around and then at 10:15 a huge mass of people swarmed the aisle. It was a hot mess, but Harper handled it.

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We got up to Veronica pretty quickly {thank you, Harper Collins people for being so organized and running a great signing!}. She wasn’t taking posed photos, but you could take photos from the line. When we got up to her, I thanked her for doing the signing. Hubs showed her the selfies he was taking with her in the background. She laughed and said it was awesome.

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From Veronica, we went straight to the line up for Lo & C. As I was waiting for them, Christina and Lauren saw me and stopped to say hi and give hugs. I had my manuscript of Sweet Filthy Boy to have signed and Hubs took a copy of Beautiful Bastard for reasons unknown.

The line was very organized this time around. They had big signs indicating where the line started and ended and took a few people at a time over to the signing table. When I got up there, Christina hugged me again. We chatted about it being a while since they had seen me and I mentioned that it had been since last year’s SDCC.

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After that, we just wandered around. Hubs had learned that the 4 guys from Impractical Jokers had gotten to the convention center and were walking around, so we went on the hunt.

At 1pm, hubs and I separated. He went to a booth for Kirk Hammett and I went to stand in line for Marie Lu. Even though the tickets were numbered, we were told that the numbers were just to control how many arcs they had to give away.

We got to Marie quickly and were able to get the SDCC exclusive arc as well as the copies we already had signed.

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Michelle and I walked back to the video game area, where we ended up running into Hubs. She went to meet up with her husband before leaving as they were lining up for Hall H that evening. We ended up stopping at Macmillan once more to take a photo with Ksenia before leaving ourselves.

Saturday

Saturday we had absolutely no agenda, so we didn’t get down to the convention center until 10:30 or so.  We found ourselves at the DC booth since they had a really fantastic Batman display set up.

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They had the masks from 1989-1997 on one side and stuff from The Dark Knight series on the other side.

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Remember I mentioned going to the art galleries on preview night? Well, the distributor for the galleries had a booth on the floor and I bought a hand drawn sketch of Toothless.   I had seen it at the gallery and pretty much fell in love with it, so I was beyond thrilled to be able to get my greedy hands on it.

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After wandering around the convention floor for a bit, we left and headed back into the Gaslamp Quarter to see about getting the Mockingjay pins.

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Instead of the Lionsgate booth giving them out like previous years, there was an entire “experience” to do before seeing the trailer and getting the pin. It was held at the Hard Rock hotel and the line was ridiculous.  However, while we waited, we saw all sorts of celebrities walking by.

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That’s Jeremy Renner, Michael Emerson and Sarah Paulson.  They were all leaving the Hard Rock and walked right in front of us while we were waiting.

After about an hour of standing in line, some lady behind us heard them say that if you didn’t want to go through the experience, you could skip the massive line and go into a smaller line.  The smaller line was just to see the trailer and then get the pin.  We were taken inside the hotel and handed the pin, then ushered to a sort of holding area.  As soon as we got around the corner, we skipped the line.  I’ll see the trailer soon enough, but I couldn’t wait for the pin.

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After getting the pins, we called it a day and went back home.

Sunday

For Sunday, we didn’t have much of an agenda either.

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We ended up mostly wandering around with Colleen and happened to walk by one of the booths when two of the men from Supernatural were coming out of a virtual reality area.

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The only thing I had planned was to see CJ Redwine. I have her complete trilogy in arcs {thank you, Rachel and Rachel} and I was dying to finally meet her.

The panel signing before the YA panel had been moved, so we were able to line up early {even if the security guard fought me on it a bit}. The first 100 people got an arc of Unmarked by Kami Garcia. I was able to chat a little bit with Katie and Michelle.

The panel of authors got to the table early, so they started early. We went to Kami first and we said hi. She signed my arc and told me to help myself to the swag she had.

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I was still standing in front of Kami when I looked over to CJ Redwine. I thanked Kami for the book and slid over to CJ. I gave her my arcs and actually identified myself by telling her my twitter handle. She said she was happy to finally meet me and I told her that Sunday was all about her. That if she wouldn’t have been there, we would have skipped Sunday. CJ told me that I was going to make her cry and stood up to hug me.

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After she signed, we took a photo. I thanked her for being at SDCC. She said that now she could say that there was at least one person who showed up just for her.

On the way out, I sort-of-maybe interrupted Tahereh Mafi to squeeze her and say hi. We chatted for a second with her before chatting for a minute with Lo & Christina.  Then we started making our way to leave.

On the way out, Hubs wanted to walk by the Fox booth to see if the Sons of Anarchy panel signing was still happening. It was, so we walked through the mass of people to take photos.

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After going through the area twice, we made our way out of the convention center. And as fun as SDCC is, I won’t be missing this anytime soon.

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The time she had laryngitis

I met Deborah Harkness last year during SDCC, so it seemed only fitting that I would get see her again this year. Somehow I got approved for The Book of Life on NetGalley and I devoured it.

On the day of the signing, we were coming from SDCC and got down to Warwick’s around 6:45. I had a reserved seat, so I skipped standing in line and just settled in on the bench and waited.

I got to my seat at 7:10 or so and was immediately told that I could get in line to have my books signed. Deborah was already at the table and they were taking people row by row to get their books signed beforehand.

I got up to Deborah and thanked her for coming. I asked if she had survived SDCC. She said that her panel was the next day and that she was looking forward to it. I told her that I loved The Book of Life and she said she was so happy to hear it.  After the books were signed, we were able to take a photo with her. Warwick’s had one of the employees ready with cameras. We took a quick photo and then I went back to my seat to wait.

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Deborah came out and mentioned that she had a touch of laryngitis so she had to put her teacher voice away. She thanked everyone for coming to support her, especially when she was a history teacher who wrote a vampire book.

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She had the people who had read the book raise their hands. When she saw that people hadn’t read it yet, she told everyone to keep that in mind when asking questions.

There are 3 MCs in the books: Diana, Matthew and Ashmole 782. She talked about the series and how Diana’s vision expanded like a circle of light to show different parts to the reader. The circle of light gets smaller in The Book of Life.

She then had a friend read the passage of the book.

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I get such a kick out of hearing the words I wrote while in my pajamas read by someone else.

One of the things I did in the first chapter was try to show Diana and Matthew’s homecoming through several pairs of eyes. 1592 changed Diana and Matthew. As Gallowglass said, she is not the witch she was in the beginning. She’s grown into her powers. She really comes out of her cocoon of grief with both arms swinging.

Then there was a reading from chapter 3.

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So you can see that they’re going to have an interesting time of it since that’s chapter 3. Often I’m asked what are your books about. There are a few themes that are important. One was to accept what you are and not run away but embrace it. Once was to have empathy for those who are different from us. The last one was about family. The advertising for Discovery was “a tale of forbidden love” which probably worked better than “a tale of two dysfunctional families”.

The journey Diana and Matthew take in book three are about how important it is to have family around you. Now I want to thank you all for taking the Bishops and De Clermonts into your house and your hearts.  For remembering them and rereading about them and loving them.

Who is your favorite character to write?

That’s a fun twist on the question. That’s definitely Gallowglass. Whenever I’m having a bad day, he always makes me laugh. A very close second is Miriam. She says all of the things that I’d love to say because she doesn’t care.

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Is there any way that it may continue?

This is basically a question of is it really a trilogy. Yes, it is. The story of Diana and Matthew and Ashmole 782 is definitely finished. I have a lot of stories, but I don’t know what is going to come out first. I need to take a bit of a break, a bit of a breather, but yes. I don’t want to tell you that I have something written before I do.

Why do you seem to love Elizabethan England so much?

I’ve loved it since I was about 7. My mother is from England and we went back and it was just all over. They could take me to any castle and I was done. I don’t know what sort of alchemical love thing happened when I fell in love with a time period. It’s also my field of study.

During your research did you find anything interesting?

I’ve been studying alchemy and Elizabethan England since I was in college. When people ask me how long it’s taken me to write the book, I’ll say 30 years. In grad school, you don’t really learn the velocity of a horse riding on frozen ice.

There were days that I would learn something and it was sort of eerie. One of them is on the front page of your book. The snake and the firedrake, that’s a real alchemy symbol.

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How do you make the transition from academic writing to fiction?

I wrote from 1982 to 2008 without any plan to write something else. I love teaching and I love taking complicated ideas and making them accessible to people. I do see my writing as teaching, just now I have a really big classroom. I’m just taking something I love and sharing it.

They’re both really difficult. I just tried really hard for the fun and the story tell itself. I’ve learned that a little bit of history goes a long way. I have to remember that if it were modern times, would I go into 7 pages of description for a table?

HBO or movie and who’s playing Matthew?

In spring of 2011, WB optioned the trilogy when Discovery had been out for 3 months. They got it for 18 months and had to either put it into production or let it go. We decided to let it go because we realized that it couldn’t be made into a 2 hour movie. When it came up again, I was full blown working on book 3, so I decided to let it sit on the shelf for a bit. I’ve just started conversations with interested parties now.

I’m not going to say who would be good for the part. Partly because I don’t know how how a movie goes. Do you know how hard it is to get your family to sit down to dinner? I can’t fathom getting 185 people to commit to one movie for 3 months.

I also won’t say anything because I’d hate to have the actor cast as Matthew to sit down for his first press tour interview and someone say, “did you know that at Warwick’s in 2014, Deborah Harkness told everyone who she wanted to play Matthew and it wasn’t you?”

How did you decide what locations to include?

I lived in upstate NY and I went to Oxford. If you think about Discovery, Diana and Matthew don’t really leave the house. For Shadow, I had to actually to travel. I focused on smells, but as a novelist, I was able to focus I bumblebees for 3 hours. It was fabulous.

Then I remembered that Matthew went to Prague in the springtime, so I got on a plane and went. I spent 10 days walking up and down the street, just to get the feeling. There’s sensory details that I think need to be part of it, not just a house by house description.

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Did the idea of Ashmole 782 come from you finding a lost manuscript?

I really found a lost manuscript at the Bodleian. I looked for it for years and when I finally stopped looking for it, I found it. I was looking for something else and found it instead. It sort of formed the idea of how magic is in a library. No matter how much I thought I knew, there’s so many magical things that happen. For the record, Ashmole 782 is real, it is missing. I’ve called for it many times.

What would be your witchcraft reference book?

It works probably be an alchemical text called {I have no idea}. Diana reads it and it’s just beautiful.

When you first started, did you ultimately know where the arc was going to go?

I had an idea of the trajectory, but there were very surprising things that happened along the way, mostly characters. Like there was no Hamish. Or Gallowglass. And I had to change a lot because he takes up a lot of space.

As I was writing, some characters became more important and some were less important.

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What was your favorite book to write?

Hands down: Shadow. They are all very different. They’re like children, each one is unique.

What was special about Discovery was that I was anonymous and I could write it without expectation. Also, I was meeting these people for the first time. Shadow was my time period and I loved it. Book of Life was challenging because I’ve learned my favorite thing about writing is creating more characters. If you’re going to have a trilogy that is actually three books, I had to stop doing that.

In terms of emotion, I cried so much and laughed so much with book 3.

How did the idea come to you?

I had just finished a scholarly work on Elizabethan England, which basically me at I was in the library for 8 hours a day. I went on vacation in 2008 and in the airport saw that there was an entire wall on books with vampires, witches, werewolves and shapeshifters. What happened when I was in the library?

Then it turned into what would my vampire neighbor be like? He couldn’t have fangs because I would definitely know. And why do these women want to be witches? Don’t they know historically that it ends badly? In between classes I would keep thinking about it. If you were a vampire, how would you date? I would just make up stories and eventually these 2 imaginary characters started talking to each other and I started writing it down.

How do you work around your school schedule?

As a scholar, you’re always writing, so we become adept at working around writing. Basically, writing is a lot like yoga. It’s a daily practice.

I just have to write a word. Maybe a couple of words. If I ended up with a couple of pages every day, that would be great. After a couple of months, I had Discovery. I think that when people decide to write a book, they sit down and psyche themselves out about it. All they have to do is write one word. Every book that has ever been written was done one word at a time.

The Q&A was finished with that question and since my books were signed, I was able to leave.

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For the last 3 years or so, I’ve really only read YA. A Discovery of Witches was very highly recommended to me and now I will do the same to you. If you haven’t read them, you’re really missing out. I cannot suggest them enough.  Not only are the books amazing, Deborah really is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

The time it was about Sisters’ Fate

I’ve been a fan of Jessica Spotswood from the very beginning.  I mean, she had me at witches.  But, it’s not just witches because Cate is a fantastic main character and Finn is about as swoony as they come.  Plus magic.  It’s totally win win.

I did have the chance to meet Jessica once and even though it was at The Bookstore Which Shall Not Be Named, it was still awesome.  Since then, I’ve devoured the Cahill Witch Chronicles series like crazy.  Thankfully, I’ve always been able to get my hands on an arc and Jessica has been so nice in letting me email her with all of my flails when I was done with them.

It goes without saying that when I got the email from Jessica inviting me to be part of her mini-blog tour, complete with an excerpt, I jumped all over the chance.  Before we get to the awesomeness, let’s check out the book, shall we?

17620113A fever ravages New London, but with the Brotherhood sending suspected witches straight to the gallows, the Sisters are powerless against the disease. They can’t help without revealing their powers—as Cate learns when a potent display of magic turns her into the most wanted witch in all of New England.

To make matters worse, Cate has been erased from the memory of her beloved Finn. While she’s torn between protecting him from further attacks and encouraging him to fall for her all over again, she’s certain she can never forgive Maura’s betrayal. And now that Tess’s visions have taken a deadly turn, the prophecy that one Cahill sister will murder another looms ever closer to its fulfillment.

Sounds good, right? {It’s amazing}

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If you haven’t read Star Cursed yet, do not continue.  There are serious spoilers below.

This excerpt comes from chapter 5, where Cate encounters Finn for the first time since Maura erased his memories of her. They’re at the Christmas bazaar in Richmond Gardens, and Cate is working at the Sisters’ booth, and it’s all a bit heartbreaking.

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“Sister Cate?” The words are unfamiliar, but the voice isn’t.

I drop the clockwork dragon onto the pile of scarves as I turn.

Finn’s ears are flushing red, the way they do when he’s embarrassed. His brow is furrowed, the space between his eyebrows pulled into the upside-down V that my fingers itch to smooth. His coppery hair is messy as ever, as though he’s run his hands through it a dozen times since it last saw a comb.

But behind his wire-rimmed spectacles, his eyes are different. Not full of love or want. He doesn’t look at me like I’m his anymore.

My heart breaks all over again.

“Brother Belastra.” I choke out the words. They feel foreign, too formal on my tongue. “How are you?”

He gives me a smile that reveals the tiny gap between his front teeth, but it’s only polite. The smile he’d give a stranger, a customer at the bookshop. “Very well, and you?”

“Fine.” I’m not fine. I pull my elbows in tight, folding my arms across my chest. “Are you enjoying the bazaar?”

“Yes. I’ve been hunting down a gift for my sister.” He examines the wares. “Are any of these yours?”

I laugh, short and staccato, before I realize he won’t know his question is ridiculous. “Er, no. I’m a terrible seamstress. I prefer to spend my time in the gardens with my hands in the dirt—or now that it’s winter, in the conservatory.”

It’s futile, testing him like this. He won’t know. Won’t remember the way he snuck out and met me there and kissed me senseless. But—

“I remember,” he says, and hope blooms through me, bright and lovely as an April tulip.

“You do?” My voice is too sharp, too desperate.

“Your father told me. We were—I don’t quite remember.” Finn frowns, the V in his forehead deepening. “He said you weren’t the scholarly sort, that you preferred gardening to books. Funny that you’ve ended up in the Sisterhood.”

Funny? An ache cuts through me, bitterer than the December wind. “I could say the same for you.”

Finn glances over his shoulder. There are no Brothers in the vicinity. He gives me another bland smile, but now his eyes are curious. “I’ve always liked books.”

What is the point in this? What am I trying to prove? I know I’m being foolish, and yet—

“But you’ve never been the Brotherly sort.” My voice is so low, he has to lean over the booth to hear it.

He stares at the ground, shifting his feet. “I confess, of late, I’m not entirely certain what sort of man I am.” His tone is rich with disgust. What must he be feeling, having found himself a member of the Brotherhood, with no notion of why?

“What do you mean?” I ask, then flush. In his mind, we barely know each other; I’ve been an occasional customer at his mother’s bookshop, nothing more. Nothing to invite confidences. But I can’t bear the notion that he’s confused and alone and—damn Maura for doing this to him.

“Nothing.” Finn straightens, running both hands through his hair. “I’m sorry to have bothered you.” His voice has gone starched and his shoulders stiff as he remembers the proprieties.

I reach out, fingertips just brushing his wool cloak. “You’re no bother. If I can do anything to help—”

“That’s very kind of you. Very—neighborly.” He barely glances at me as he pulls his hood up and steps away. “Thank you, Miss Cahill.”

Neighborly? I watch him blend back into the crowd, my eyes blurring with tears.

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Jess1blog-200I heart books, yoga, tea, cardamom cookies, the color pink, board games, theatre, twirly dresses, and bells chiming the hour. I’m frighteningly enthusiastic.

I grew up in a tiny one-stoplight town in Pennsylvania, where I could be found swimming, playing clarinet, memorizing lines for the school play, or—most often—with my nose in a book. I’ve been writing since I was little but studied theatre in college and grad school. Now I live in Washington, DC with my brilliant playwright husband and a cuddly cat named Monkey.

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Huge thanks to Jessica for the invite! Make sure you’re subscribing to her blog, following her on Twitter, liking her Facebook page and adding all of her books to your Goodreads TBR shelf.

Now.  Want to get your greedy hands on an arc before it comes out? Jessica has so nicely offered up a signed copy.  Contest is US/Canada only, additional giveaway rules are here.

**Good Luck!!**

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The time it was the end of a trilogy {6}

There are so many trilogies ending this year!  I know how it feels as a reader to have the excitement of finding out what the final outcome to the story will be while simultaneously weeping inside because it’s over. I thought it would be fun to see how authors think and feel about ending their trilogies.  So, I’ve contacted some writers about doing guest posts to talk about the other side of it.

I’m pretty sure everyone knows about my undying love and affection for Susan Dennard.  I’m so thankful I had the chance to meet her at SDCC, even though it was brief.  Somehow that sort-of-chance meeting has turned into an awesome friendship and I cannot wait to see her again to fangirl all over her in a manner that she deserves.

I contacted Sooz about doing a guest post in honor of Strange and Ever After and she agreed! Before we get to her post about her writing process, let’s check out the book!

17902141In the conclusion to the trilogy that Publishers Weekly called “a roaring—and addictive—gothic world,” Eleanor Fitt must control her growing power, face her feelings for Daniel, and confront the evil necromancer Marcus…all before it’s too late.

He took her brother, he took her mother, and now, Marcus has taken her good friend Jie. With more determination than ever to bring this sinister man to justice, Eleanor heads to the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt in hopes of ending this nightmare. But in addition to her increasingly tense relationships with Daniel, Joseph, and her demon, Oliver, Eleanor must also deal with her former friend, Allison, who has curiously entangled herself in Eleanor’s mission.

With the rising dead chomping at her every move and Jie’s life hanging in the balance, Eleanor is convinced that her black magic will see her through to the bitter end. But there will be a price. Though she and the Spirit Hunters have weathered every battle thus far, there will be consequences to suffer this time—the effects of which will be irreversible. And when it’s over, only some will be able to live a strange and ever after.

Susan Dennard will leave readers breathless and forever changed in the concluding pages of this riveting ride.

Sounds good, right? {OMG IT’S SO GOOD}

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And now, everyone welcome Sooz to the blog!

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Everyone knows the idea of a “character arc”—the character that starts a book will grow and change based on the story. Thus, the character at the end of a book is a different (hopefully improved) person.

But one thing I’ve discovered since writing the Something Strange and Deadly series is the idea of an “author arc.” The Susan who sat down to write Eleanor’s story 4.5 years ago was not the Susan who finally typed The End 3 years later.

Writing ain’t easy. Writing a series is even harder. Writing a series with characters who suffer a lot is even HARDER. I’m a “method writer”—I become my characters as I draft. I feel everything they feel. I triumph with them, I cry with them. So I guess it’s no surprise that I would grow alongside Eleanor.

Just as Eleanor learned to dive into the battles head-on, I learned to dive in too. Okay, so she was fighting the Dead and I was battling the words on the page, but the emotional struggle sometimes felt just as intense.

And just as Eleanor learned to face her fears, I learned to embrace them too—my fears of failure, of rejection, of watching everything I cared about get crushed and forgotten. Turns out if Eleanor can aim for the knee, so can I. ;)

But the most important lesson of all that I learned from Eleanor—from Daniel, Jie, Oliver, and Joseph—was that I always have a choice. I can choose to let the world run my life or I can choose to run the world. And when I stumble and fall, it’s my choice whether I stay down or claw my way back up. I can choose to be the victim, or I can choose to be the driving force—and just like Eleanor, I choose the latter.

Strange and Ever After was the hardest book for me to write on an emotional level. All the heartache and horror Eleanor experienced—I lived that right alongside her, and goodness! I have never cried so many tears in my life writing a book! But I embraced it—I didn’t shy away from digging deep and pushing my prose hard.

Could I have done that 3 years ago when I wrote Something Strange and Deadly? Nope. I wasn’t strong enough, I wasn’t self-aware enough, and I sure as hell wasn’t brave enough.

But just like Eleanor, I learned to seek the flames in the darkness. And I learned to shape the world into what I want. As Eleanor says in Strange and Ever After: “My life. My choice.”

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Susan2I’m a 30-year-old reader, writer, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. I used to be a marine biologist, but now I write novels. And not novels about fish either, but novels about kick-butt heroines and swoon-worthy rogues (I really like swoon-worthy rogues).

I live in the Midwestern US with my French husband and Irish setter, and you can learn more about my crazy thoughts and crippling cookie-addiction on twitterfacebook, or Goodreads.

My debut, Something Strange and Deadly,  is now available from HarperTeen along with its sequel, A Darkness Strange and Lovely. The final installment in the series, Strange and Ever After, will release 7/22/14. Plus, my new epic fantasy series–Truthwitch–will release from Tor in fall 2015!

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Huge thanks to Sooz for always being so awesome and taking the time.  Make sure you’re checking out her website, following her on Twitter, liking her Facebook page, subscribing to her newsletter {really, definitely do this}, and adding all of her book to your Goodreads shelves.

Now, I was able to get my greedy hands on an extra arc of Strange and Ever After and I want you to have it.  Not only is Sooz’s trilogy one of my top five favorites, SaEA holds the extra special title of the only book that has ever made me cry.  Contest is international and additional giveaway rules can be found here.

**Good Luck!!**

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The time it was about the other side of a tour

If you’ve ever gone to one of the Fierce Reads tour stops, more than likely you’ve seen Molly Brouillette.  She’s a publicity manager for Macmilan and probably one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met.  When I saw her during the latest Fierce Reads tour stop in San Diego, Michelle and I were briefly catching up with her.  Somehow we got on the topic of getting Molly’s side of the tour and she agreed to do an interview!

So, without further ado, let’s welcome Molly to the blog!

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1. Please give us the details on your job.

In a nutshell, my job is to help people find out about Mac Kids books (picture books through young adult). This can range from securing reviews and features in traditional media outlets to setting up blog tours to planning (and attending!) author tours and festival appearances. There’s a lot of variety but the gist of it is that I get to talk a lot about books, which I’d probably be doing even if I didn’t get paid for it!

2. Now describe your job in 5 words.

Fun. Rewarding. Chaotic. Nerdy. Awesome!

3. Describe a typical day while on tour.

Well, it’s not nearly as glamorous as it may sound! We usually wake up early, head to the airport where (if we’re lucky) we have enough time to grab a quick, usually unhealthy breakfast before flying to our next city. Upon arrival, there is usually a short period of downtime to check into our hotel and nap/relax/catch up on email before we head to our event. We precede every event with a blogger interview and follow each panel with a signing and when crowds are big, they can last quite a while! If we all have energy after the event, we try to have a nice dinner together, but sometimes we are exhausted and end up ordering room service by ourselves. Then the next morning we wake up and do it again!

Airport Escalator- I think Dallas

4. Can you tell us the absolute best and the absolute worst that has happened while on tour?

The best is really any time I get to see fans getting really excited about meeting their favorite authors- the Austin Teen Book Festival last year was a particular favorite event because there were literally thousands of teenage fans and they were all crazy excited. I overheard two girls get in a fight about Mal vs. The Darkling in the bathroom, and I witnessed a very adorable love connection between two adorably awkward fans of Ann Aguirre’s Razorland Trilogy. It was heartwarming, even if it did make me feel about 100 years old!

The worst… I got pulled aside in the security line at the Albuquerque airport last fall and had to undergo a really extensive search in a back room by a gruff woman named Officer Trout. She was actually really nice, but wouldn’t tell me why I’d been detained, and the whole process took so long that I came thisclose to missing the flight. The authors had gone on to the gate, but they’d confiscated my cell phone so I couldn’t communicate with them and I was panicking that they wouldn’t get on the flight. She did let me out just in time, and finally informed me that my HAND LOTION had somehow set off their sensors as a possible explosive. Still not sure how that happened but needless to say, I don’t bring that lotion on tour anymore!

5. Who has been the most fun author to work with?

Oh, that’s like picking a favorite child. Impossible! I don’t know if YA authors are just generally awesome people or if Macmillan has just gotten really lucky, but every author I’ve toured with has been fantastic in a different way. Anna Banks never fails to make me giggle at her inappropriate jokes. There is no morning too early for an airport heart-to-heart with Emmy Laybourne and Leigh Bardugo. SA Bodeen can throw down football smack talk with the best of them, even if she IS a Green Bay fan. Jessica Brody is the #1 best person to go to Target with in the world. Ava Dellaira inspires me with her perfectly-themed outfits for every city. Leila Sales can really spice up a car ride with a Matchbox 20 sing-along…I could go on and on. The bottom line is, getting to know these people whose writing I so admire is the absolute biggest perk of this job.

June Fierce Reads With Space Needle

6. What is your must have when traveling? Do you have a plane routine?

Snacks!! There’s nobody in the world that’s immune to becoming ‘hangry’ so I always try to have an arsenal of snacks with me on the road to keep everyone’s blood sugar pumping. My personal favorite is salt & vinegar chips, but I also try to bring healthy snacks and sweets to make sure there’s something for everyone.

As for the plane, we actually try not to have everyone sit together- when you spend this much time traveling in a group, you have to grab ‘alone time’ when you can. I don’t want anyone to feel pressure to chat when they’d rather be reading, sleeping, writing, etc.

7. What is your favorite part of your job?

Seeing fans, particularly kids and teenagers, get excited about reading. I’m immensely jealous of today’s teenagers- there was nothing like the Fierce Reads tour when I was growing up, and there certainly was no online community of YA fans like there is now. For some reason, most of my friends weren’t huge readers and I always wished I had more people to talk about books with.

Forcing Authors to Pose with Jack Daniels in Nashville Airport

8. What’s coming up for you?

Next week is San Diego Comic Con, where I’ll get to hang out with Leigh Bardugo, Ann Aguirre, and Marissa Meyer! After that, I have a little break before the two legs of Fall Fierce Reads will be here before I know it- I can’t reveal where we’ll be going yet, but it’s going to be a blast.

Speed [ish] Round:

1.What three things would you take to a desert island?

Books! A toothbrush! Sunscreen! (Boring, but I’m very dedicated to oral hygiene and also very fair!)

2. You can only read one book for the rest of your life. What is it?

Torture! But I’d have to go with my all-time favorite, Gone With The Wind. Scarlett O’Hara is kind of a hot mess, but I love her dearly.

3. Who are your favorite swoony boys?

Michael B Jordan and the guy who plays Bennett on Orange is the New Black! HE-llo! Or for book boyfriends, I’m all about Sturmhond from the Grisha Trilogy and Niko from Monument 14. Sturmhond is just so charming and witty, and the latter reminds me a lot of my real-life boyfriend (who should probably get a shout-out among all this swooning).

4. Favorite Darcy: Colin Firth or Matthew McFadden?

Firth forever!! Not even a question!

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Huge thanks to Molly for taking the time! You can follow her on Twitter for more shenanigans.  Make sure you’re checking out the Fierce Reads website, Twitter and Facebook page to get the scoop on all of the awesome things!

The time I tried again

Queen of the Tearling came really highly recommended.  I’ll admit that I did DNF the book after 30% or so, I didn’t connect with the main character and just couldn’t get into the world. When I saw that Erika Johansen was going to be at Warwick’s, I told  Michelle that she needed to read it and tell me if we were going.  After she finished the book, she was gushing about it and told me that I needed to read just a bit further than I did for it to really get interesting.

So I tried again and she was right.  I ended up really enjoying the book {changing my 1 star DNF review to 4 stars}.  Michelle ordered the books and we were 1 & 2.

We got down to La Jolla early and killed time eating.  We got back to the bookstore right before they closed to set up for the event.

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They reopened at 7pm and Erika was already there.  The event was listed as starting at 7:30, so we asked about book 2 made some small talk for a bit.  One of the employees asked if we wanted to get our books signed while we were waiting for other people to show up, so we did.

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She told us that early copies of book 2 should be out by the end of the year and laughed at our mustache post it notes.  She even moved my post it from the flap side to the page she signed.  After she signed my book, I asked if I could get a photo with her.  Erika said yes, but asked that I didn’t post it on any sort of social media sites.  I said that I wouldn’t and then mentioned that I was working on a blog post, would she rather there not be photos.  She said that blogs were fine, she just had a problem with Facebook and Twitter and didn’t have any social media accounts.

The event officially started around 7:15 or so.  Erika started by talking about how she got the idea for the story. In 2007, Erika was in second year of law school and saw Obama give a speech on tv. She had a dream about ships going over the horizon and had an idea about what would happen if someone got into power who really wanted to do right.

Wrote over two years while in law school. Out of law school at 2009 which was the worst time, new lawyers weren’t being hired.

Went to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and had confidence destroyed because she was trying to write literary fiction. Decided to work on what she wanted to. It was important to write a heroine who wasn’t pretty. There’s an entirely different set of problems that women who are not standardily pretty have to deal with.

Erika then asked how many people had read the book and gave a synopsis to the book.

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I wanted it to not have a romance. She has better things to do. Even in books like The Hunger Games, romance is being pushed in when it’s not needed. I was told by the publisher to up the romance, but I find it insulting to women. Publishers assume that women wouldn’t read the book if there wasn’t a romance.

I’m always asked about the main character talking about not being pretty. Growing up as a teenager who wasn’t attractive, it came at me 30 times a day.  You could be having a great day and then something would be said and all of the self-confidence is gone.

Erika then read part of chapter one before opening it up to a Q&A.

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How did you come up with the concept?

I needed an outlet for my political views and it’s always been writing. I needed something that I could shape. I wanted to have a queen who had power, not a ceremonial position.

What happened before?

It’ll be told in future books. I’ve read several hilarious negative reviews. I love when authors don’t tell me everything. The comparable thing would be the American revolution. No one ever thinks of it the way it’s explained in dystopian books. I’ve purposely constructed it as a mystery. It’s enough to follow the story, but not with all of the answers.

The film rights were optioned so early and Emma Watson was immediately attached. Do you have any issues?

I always figured that it wouldn’t be my book. I do talk to the screenwriter every couple of days, but only because he has so many questions. Hollywood has the right to fill in the holes to what I haven’t told yet.

They told me early on that because it was such a huge project, they would never attach a plain looking actress to it. I’m happy that Emma Watson is attached because she projects intelligence and my main character is smart. That aspect is important to the story. I was secretly hoping for Ellen Page. I think she’s gorgeous, but she’s not classically gorgeous.

I thought the Harry Potter movies were just okay. I didn’t think they did the books justice. But the production company has done other movies that I loved.  I think it’ll be a good movie. I don’t have an artist’s ego, it won’t kill me to have it changed. If it’s entertaining, I’ll enjoy it.

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Are you well read in fantasy?

My genre is horror and I tried so hard to be a horror writer. {There was more to this, I missed a bit while taking photos}

Favorite horror author?

Stephen King. He’s my favorite author. Always and forever.

Are there other writers who influence you?

It’s books more. For this one, it’s Dune. I don’t want to say that I stole it, but the beginning of each chapter has a bit of the story that is like written history. {There were several other books mentioned, but I couldn’t type fast enough}  I  think about what I wanted to see and look for ideas.

How difficult was it to get published?

It was easy. I got so lucky. At the Iowa workshop, agents walk around every ten minutes. I gave my literary fiction book to one and 6 weeks later, got the letter that it was horrible. And it was.  I kept writing because if I don’t, I can’t sleep. I went back to the same agent because I appreciated her honesty. I understand that it’s very hard for many people, but it was sort of like magic. Now I get to write for a living.

My life changed overnight.  I thought I would sell the book for a small amount and have a small core group of fans who would buy everything I wrote.  I asked my agent to send me an email with the number because I knew I would wake up and think it was all a dream.

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Do you have the rest of the book mapped out?

I do now. I’ll have a mediocre outline, but it’ll change because all of my great ideas come while I’m writing.

Do you want it to extend past book 3?

It already has. When I have a block, I’ll work on other things. There are other characters who have some interesting stories, that may or may not be more interesting than my main character’s story.  They deserve to be told in more detail than just a back story. It just depends on whether or not it’ll be published. They’ve told me that I can write forever and I don’t see myself running out of ideas.

What about your magic?

I know it all. It’s all mapped out in my head. I don’t like the info dump, it’s like the author got into the main character’s head and is controlling them like a robot.  I don’t like rule based magic. I love the Harry Potter books more than almost anything, but I didn’t like that there were so many rules to it. I like magic to be magic.

How long did it take you to write?

4 years, but 2 years I was in law school and I was only writing maybe 1 hour a week. Books 2 and 3 have to be written in a year.

What did you find most difficult while writing?

Plot. Character is easy. I’m most interested in how people change, I’m not a plotter. I need to come up with more ideas, my books are never going to be action packed because it’s not interesting to me.

How does a character death effect you?

This just happened. I cried at the end of this book. The reaction that the reader has is usually the reaction the author has. I’m getting to the part of the book where characters have to die and even though they’re characters I care about, the book demands it.  If the book demands it, then it’s easy.

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Do you have a favorite character?

Father Tyler. I am a stone cold atheist and writing about someone who was so religiously devout was interesting. My friends were laughing. It’s fun to write about someone who’s beliefs are so different from mine.

You wrote from 4 character’s point of view, how did you decide?

I take a look at the scene and decide who will be the most fun to tell the story. Usually it’s the character who knows the least. If the reader knows, but the character doesn’t, it’s fun.

Is it hard to create a different voice for each?

Hard only because I’m not a fan of the info dump. I can’t have a character just tell everything. No one thinks like this, so it’s difficult to create characters without giving exposition.  My editor always points out places where I could write some exposition, but I just can’t. I have to stay true to myself.

With that being the last question and our books already being signed, Michelle and I slipped out of the store while the rest of the audience lined up.  Queen of the Tearling is an interesting read.  I highly suggest it — and definitely make sure you give it a chance or you might miss something.

The time it was about Everything Leads to You

I have always loved Nina LaCour’s words.  She has such a lyrical way of writing that I’m pretty sure I would read her grocery list.  I was able to get my greedy hands on an arc of her newest book, Everything Leads to You and devoured it.  So, of course when I was invited to be part of the blog tour, I jumped at the chance.

Before we get to Nina’s guest post, let’s check out the book, shall we?

18667779After being entrusted with her brother’s Los Angeles apartment for the summer as a graduation gift, Emi Price isn’t sure how to fulfill his one condition: that something great take place there while he’s gone. Emi may be a talented young production designer, already beginning to thrive in the competitive film industry, but she still feels like an average teen, floundering when it comes to romance.

But when she and her best friend, Charlotte, discover a mysterious letter at the estate sale of a Hollywood film legend, Emi must move beyond the walls of her carefully crafted world to chase down the loose ends of a movie icon’s hidden life, leading her to uncover a decades’ old secret and the potential for something truly epic: love.

Sounds good, right? {Oh man, it’s soooo good.}

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And now, here’s Nina discussing romance!

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Emi’s relationship with her ex-girlfriend Morgan is tumultuous. Because Morgan isn’t able to make up her mind about them, they’ve broken up and gotten back together half a dozen times. Emi doesn’t want to humiliate herself by taking Morgan back yet again, but she can’t help herself: she spends far too much time hoping things will work out between them.

I’ve never had an on-again-off-again relationship. (In fact, I’ve been with the same girl since I was nineteen!) One of the wonderful things about writing fiction is that it makes me think about different life experiences and try to imagine what it feels like for people to go through things that I haven’t. However, I believe that emotions are universal, and that, in many instances, loss is loss and heartache is heartache. And I also believe that after a loss often comes an opportunity to allow in something—or someone—new.

In this case, Morgan’s belief that the world is vast, and that its vastness means she needs to move on from Emi in order to see who else is out there for her, leads Emi to discoveries she may never have made if her heart hadn’t been broken in this particular way.

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kngbknmripvfo113htgu_400x400Nina LaCour grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has tutored and taught in various places, from a juvenile hall to Mills College, where she received an MFA in Creative Writing in 2006. She is the author of the award-winning Hold Still and widely acclaimed The Disenchantments. Formerly a bookseller and high school English teacher, she now writes and parents full time.

Nina lives with her family in Oakland, California.

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Huge thanks to Nina for taking the time to share this with us and to Dutton for the invite.  Make sure you’re checking out Nina’s website, following her on Twitter, liking her Facebook page and adding all of her books to your Goodreads shelves.

Haven’t had a chance to pick up this gorgeous book? Well, I’m giving away my arc.  Contest is international and additional giveaway rules are here.

**Good Luck!!**

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