Wednesday, February 29, 2012


So thrilled to present the cover for book 3 ! Some older versions have been floating around, but this one is the real thing and isn't it pretty? Thank you to Sourcebooks production team for getting it just right. Drumroll please......


(the third book of the DREAMING ANASTASIA SERIES)


ISBN: 978-1402268755

Secrets within secrets. Truths within lies.


She was the darling of the glittering

Winter Palace while her half brother Viktor

was relegated to the shadows.

Now he’s ready to take his turn in the spotlight…

and revenge on the world that shunned him.


The visions won’t stop. One minute she’s in

her bedroom on her cell phone. And the next

she’s in the past witness to the

private moments of the royal Romanov family.


He’s been eighteen for nearly century and finding

Anne is the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

But the magic in his blood is turning darker,

forcing him to wonder whether

he’s the most dangerous threat of all.

History Never Tells You Everything....

Add to Goodreads

Pre-Order from Amazon

And Barnes and Noble

I am so very excited for you all to read. ARC's are coming soon. You can pre-order (see above) at Amazon and Barnes and Noble and I hope that you do. As you can see from the cover, things are getting a little darker for Anne and Ethan. Anne enters book 3 having bound herself to Baba Yaga in order to save Ethan with a kiss at the end of book 2. But will they end up together? Will they be able to stop Viktor once and for all? Free Lily the rusalka from her curse? And what's the source of the power rising inside Ethan? Everything is getting deliciously dark and romantic in ANASTASIA FOREVER!!

Romance meets paranormal meets Russian folklore meets time travel meets historical fiction.


reserve yours today!

And I'd love to hear from you! Comment and tell me what you think!

Last Stop on the HAUNTED Blog Tour

Today I'm hanging out at Once Upon a Twilight for an author interview.

So stop on by!

And in a separate post, I have a huge surprise today!
(Okay, maybe it's not that surprising. But it's pretty and very exciting. You will love it. I promise.) So check it. Or possibly you already have!

My huge thanks to Katie at Mundie Moms for organizing the HAUNTED Blog Tour and to all the bloggers who hosted stops for the past couple weeks.

And of course to the team at Sourcebooks Fire - my editor, Leah Hultenschmidt, production team Kelly Barrales Saylor and Kristin Zelazko and intrepid publicity gurus Derry Wilkens and Kay Mitchell. They support me in everything I do and the DREAMING ANASTASIA series who not exist without them.

If you enjoyed this tour, make sure to tweet that to all these fine folks!! Just add @sourcebooksfire to tour tweets and they'll all know!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

If it's Tuesday it's time for a HAUNTED excerpt

Tuesday HAUNTED BLOG TOUR stop takes us to Christin's Portrait of a Book, with another excerpt from HAUNTED, this one from Ethan's point of view. After becoming mortal again in DREAMING ANASTASIA once Anne initially rescues Anastasia from Baba Yaga's hut, Ethan leaves at the end of that book. His life has not been his own for so very long, and despite his passionate feelings toward Anne, he heads back to Europe to brood. In his absence, in that interesting space that exists between books, Anne has acquired Ben - her very normal, very sweet lifeguard boyfriend. Anne wants normal soooo badly. Saving Anastasia did not go well. People died; others were hurt; Anne is something else now - something powerful and different. And she wants no part of it. Easier to make up with Ben.

Only then in the beginning of HAUNTED, Ethan returns. Tall, dark, brooding hottie walks back in Anne's life and sparks the craziness to begin again. Of course, it's already begun. The mysterious rusalka's already been haunting Anne. And when Ethan arrives, everything ratchets up: the sexy pull of him; the feelings between them. And the danger. Lots of danger ahead. Suddenly the rusalka is luring normal Ben into the deep end. And Ethan is diving in to save him. And Anne's BFF Tess thinks it's all Ethan's fault.

The story races on from there.

Enjoy your excerpt today!
Get a copy of HAUNTED if you haven't read.
Tomorrow, last stop of the tour with an interview at Once Upon a Twilight.
And a BIG SURPRISE!!! that you won't want to miss.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Musings

Today on the last leg of the HAUNTED BlOG TOUR, I'm visiting Page Turners with a guest post, talking about taking existing lore and turning into my own for the DREAMING ANASTASIA series.

This is something I love to talk about!
The DREAMING series uses not only the historical element of the Romanovs but also a blend of a number of Russian/slavic fairy tales and some Slavic folk art!

I'll be talking about these more during these coming months leading to the August release of ANASTASIA FOREVER. But for now, here are the elements that I made my own in this series and the order in which they've been introduced:

  • Baba Yaga the witch
  • Russian lacquer boxes
  • Russian matryoshka dolls
  • all of the above plus
  • rusalki (malevolent slavic mermaids)
  • all of the above plus
  • Koschei the Deathless, a very ancient Slavic story about a man who cannot be killed. It uses the soul jar trope, which I'll be talking about more soon. (Koschei, by the way, is actually hinted at in the very end of HAUNTED!)
  • Faberge eggs
More soon. For now, stop by Page Turners and check out today's guest post.
Up tomorrow, another HAUNTED excerpt at Portrait of a Book. Wednesday, an interview at Once Upon a Twilight!

And also coming Wednesday, a super special surprise!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Five for Friday

The HAUNTED Blog Tour heads to Mundie Moms today for an interview.

Tomorrow we'll be stopping by Girls in the Stacks for a review. Please stop by!
And don't forget the giveaway of two signed copies -- one HAUNTED and one DREAMING ANASTASIA over at Cari's Book Blog!

Thank you to everybody who has been part of this tour, to the Sourcebooks team that tweets and links, and to the wonderfulness of the authors, readers, bloggers who I talk to every day, whether in person or on line. My career has blossomed because of your generosity and support.

And now for the Friday Five!

1. Yes, I admit it. My world became a better place this week because Bethenny Ever After started up again. Yup. Bethenny, Jason, Brin, Julie, Cookie... my favorite not so guilty Bravo pleasure. B's honesty may be calculated, but I dig it.

2. Lyla the wonder dog is possibly learning to settle down. Possibly. Unless there's a squirrel. Or a cat. Or a garbage truck. Or the new washing machine. Or people.

3. It is almost time for the Houston Livestock and Rodeo. Each year we eat one really bad for you fried food that we purchase on the midway at a booth called Fried What? A few years ago, I consumed fried oreos, which I blogged about here. Last year it was fried ice-cream. This year I'm thinking twinkie, but I'll let you know.

4. I think I can let you see the cover of ANASTASIA FOREVER next week. I've actually started to see it here and there, but there may be a few tweaks still...

5. I have the best agent in the universe. Her name is Jen Rofe. And yesterday when I needed it, she made me watch this:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

HAUNTED BLOG TOUR: Let's Read an Excerpt

Today Sarah's Books and Life is hosting the HAUNTED BLOG TOUR with an excerpt from Anne's first chapter in the book!

Like DREAMING ANASTASIA and like the forthcoming ANASTASIA FOREVER, HAUNTED has three narrative voices. In this second book, we see the story through Anne, Ethan and Baba Yaga the witch. You get a little glimpse of the witch through this excerpt from Anne's point of view, although Baba Yaga's own narration goes deeper into her backstory. Here we see Anne realizing that she can no longer hide from the destiny that set in motion when she met Ethan. Later, we'll see how and why Baba Yaga became what she is, a story that will continue into book 3. I loves me a good villain, but I like my villains in that gray areas: I want to know why they do what they do. And If I work up a bit of sympathy for them, that's all the better.

The rusalka is also introduced here -- this other Russian folkloric creature that's screwing with Anne's life and connected to her in ways that will surprise all involved.

Somehow, with the DREAMING ANASTASIA series, I always knew it needed more than one point of view. And so even when I scribbled that long ago first draft, writing in between classes and on yellow legal pads until I could get back to my laptop, writing at football games and even once sitting in the paper gown waiting for a doctor's appointment because that was the only ten minutes I was going to have that day, I always saw these novels as both Anne's and Ethan's. Eventually, I realized that the magic three would extend to the narration as well and added a third different voice to each book. Anastasia in book 1. Baba Yaga in book 2. And upcoming, Viktor in book 3. Because the guy's found a way to get his immortality back. So I figured we needed to know what he was thinking...

Click above to read the excerpt.
Check out the HAUNTED trailer on Sarah's site or right here on my blog.
And enjoy!

Tomorrow, I'll be back at Mundie Moms with an interview.
And then Saturday, Girls in the Stacks is doing a review.


Tomorrow, I'm also talking about other stuff I've been doing: SCBWI Austin, last night's author event at Blue Willow where I got to finally meet Beth Revis!! Who was just as funny and delightful as everyone had said she'd be! And who was excited to meet me, too, which is always a rush.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


It's day three of the HAUNTED BLOG TOUR and I'm visiting Jen Bigheart's I Read Banned Books to talk about YA books that have influenced me. And in case you missed it during my Texas Bloggers are Rockstars series, Jen has also reposted - with extra pics!-- my interview with her and Stephanie Pellegrin highlighting not only their awesomeness but also how they almost got trampled/broke a leg running at TLA to meet Suzanne Collins.

Once again, thank you to Mundie Moms for organizing the HAUNTED tour as we count down to August and ANASTASIA FOREVER! (By the way, Mundie Moms is today's stop on the blog tour of another Sourcebooks Fire paranormal, the forthcoming EMBRACE, by Aussie Jessica Shirvington)

Tomorrow you'll get to read an excerpt from HAUNTED on Sarah's Books and Life!

And now I would like to introduce my guest for today, author Kathryn Fitzmaurice, whose first novel, THE YEAR THE SWALLOWS CAME EARLY, debuted in '09 and simply blew everyone away with its wonderful, lyrical beauty! In full disclosure, Kathryn and I are agent sisters, both being represented by the fab Jen Rofe of ABLA. But I really got to know her as part of the Class of 2k9, and we've stayed friends since, watching out for each other in this crazy business.

Kathryn's new novel has been garnering amazing reviews already. It is called DIAMOND IN THE DESERT. Here's a quick summary:
For Tetsu, baseball is so much more than just a game

On December 6, 1941, Tetsu is a twelve-year-old California boy who loves baseball. On December 7, 1941, everything changes. The bombing of Pearl Harbor means Tetsu's Japanese-American family will be relocated to an internment camp.

Gila River camp isn't technically a prison, but with nowhere to go, nothing to do, and no time frame for leaving, it might as well be. So when someone has the idea of building a baseball diamond and starting a team, Tetsu is overjoyed. But then his sister gets dangerously sick, forcing him to choose between his family and his love of the game. This is an impeccably researched, lyrical story about baseball, honor, and a turbulent period in U.S. history.

Kathryn stopped by today to chat about the story behind DIAMOND in the DESERT, which is based on real events that occurred during WWII. Here's what she had to say:

Every once in a while, a really great story comes your way. This one came to me by accident. I was visiting my oldest son’s middle school National History Day competition. One of the students there had built a model of the Zenimura baseball field as it stood outside Gila River, a Japanese internment camp. Her grandfather had played outfield for the team. I asked her if I could interview him. I thought I would write a short magazine article about him, but after the interview, I immediately contacted the other two players who were still alive so I could interview them, too. This began a two-year process in which I learned everything I could about the baseball team and Gila River. I’ll admit, I never thought I’d write a story about baseball or Gila River. I didn’t even know the baseball team had existed until the day I saw the model of the field.

But here’s the thing. After listening to the men, and hearing what they went through, I wrote the story because, against all odds, in a time of turmoil in our nation, this team of young boys was able to come together and beat the Tucson High School state champs in a nail-biting extra innings game that was so incredibly remarkable, it gave a sense of hope to the other residents of the camp. It gave a sense of what is possible, if we try.

I spent many months in the Pacific Archives building of the Laguna Niguel branch, reading through all three and a half years of the Gila News Courier on microfiche, the newspaper that was published at the camp. I interviewed the men over a period of two years. After each draft of the story, I sent it to the pitcher, Mr. Tetsuo Furukawa, so he could read it to make sure I got it right. And then, I asked my son’s former baseball coach to read the book, so he could check my baseball facts, and the baseball scenes of each game. I am so very grateful for the support and help I received while writing this book.

Moreover, I would say A DIAMOND IN THE DESERT is a story of hope and courage, which happens to take place in an internment camp. It’s a story that helped me to see the good in people, and how with faith and determination, we can achieve what we want. It’s also a story about a dog, named Lefty (after Lefty O’Doul) who after he was given away (because the camp didn’t take dogs) found his way home and waited there for his owners to come back.

I hope you will enjoy the book. I am so happy to be able to share it with you.

Thanks for stopping by, Kathryn!

Check out Kathryn's website and blog.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

HAUNTED Blog Tour Continues and other stuff

Thanks to the effervescent Maria Cari Soto for yesterday's interview and giveaway. If you still want to enter to win a copy of both DREAMING ANASTASIA and HAUNTED, then pop over to her blog!

Today Mundie Moms will be reviewing HAUNTED as stop two on the tour. Thank you to Katie!

And tomorrow, I'll be visiting Jen Bigheart's I Read Banned Books and talking about 5 YA books that have impacted me as a reader and a writer. Which ones would you choose?

So lots of fun this week and next!

Because there are three books in the DREAMING ANASTASIA series, HAUNTED will always be the middle child. DA was the miracle book: first book, first published work. ANASTASIA FOREVER, when it arrives in August, will be the finale. HAUNTED does the job of bridging those two and amping up the conflicts in Anne and Ethan's love story. Anne has tried to forget what happened the past fall. She has tried to forget Ethan even though she loves him. But then the rusalka arrives and Anne can't forget anymore.

Readers don't always categorize HAUNTED as a mermaid story, but in part that's exactly what it is. Rusalki (the Russian plural) are sad and malevolent creatures. They've met untimely deaths in or near a body of water and they are doomed to haunt watery locales, luring people-- men mostly-- to their doom. They are beautiful and tragic and can't be released from their rusalka curse until the blood of the person who caused their death is shed. And this rusalka, Lily, is connected very intimately to Anne.

So new questions arise: Who caused this rusalka's death? What does she want from Anne? How does she connect to Ethan and the Brotherhood and Baba Yaga the witch? The answers begin in HAUNTED and come to their conclusion in ANASTASIA FOREVER.

More than anything, Lily seems to want both release and revenge. She wants her story to end differently. And in this epic telling of so many stories (the Romanovs, Anne's family, Ethan's journey, Baba Yaga's tale, Viktor's desires...) Lily's story always feels the most tragic to me. Because underneath it all, she's a mother protecting a child. Or at least she was.

You'll have to read the book to get the rest.
I hope that you do!
And then you won't have long to wait for ANASTASIA FOREVER in a few months.
Exciting news coming on that soon, btw!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Have You Read HAUNTED Blog Tour begins Today!

Just back from Austin SCBWI conference, which I'll post about later in the week because today is day one of the HAUNTED blog tour, hosted by the fabulous Mundie Moms, with stops at many amazing Texas blogger sites!

ANASTASIA FOREVER is quickly approaching in August, so as I wrote on Friday, Katie of Mundie Moms and I decided it was time to put everyone back into the world of DREAMING ANASTASIA (book 1) and HAUNTED (book 2)

Of course you should check out the HAUNTED book trailer here on this blog.
Remind yourself how sexy awesome blue-eyed Ethan is!
And how brave and wonderful Anne is!
And get back into the spooky, sexy world of DREAMING ANASTASIA again... or for the first time. Baba Yaga. The rusalka. Tragic Anastasia Romanov. A star-crossed romance of epic proportions.

Or as I like to say, History doesn't tell us everything....

The tour begins today at Cari's Book Blog with an interview. We're dishing about HAUNTED and other good stuff.

Click on over the Mundie Mums for the full week's fun.
Tomorrow they'll be reviewing HAUNTED on stop 2!

THANK YOU!! to all the amazing Texas book bloggers who continue to support me and my books! You are all made of many pieces of awesome!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

HAUNTED Blog Tour coming and other Good News

So things are heating up on the ANASTASIA FOREVER front. I have an exact release date-- 8/01/12!! ARC's are headed to production. The cover is being finalized. I've seen it now and it is TO DIE FOR!! You are all going to fall in big huge, slobbery love over this sexy, spooky cover. I want to show it to you right now. But, Editor Leah says I can't quite do that. And she's the boss. So hang in there. Soon, my pretties. Very soon.

Til then, something even more fantabulous!!

Katie of Mundie Moms and I and some of those fabulous Texas book bloggers that I've been raving about have partnered for a "Have You Read HAUNTED?" Blog Tour starting Monday 2/20. Because what better time to make sure everyone has read book 2 than when book 3 is almost here?

So just head on over to the Mundie Mom's website for the full deets.

And check out the HAUNTED book trailer that's right here on this blog.
Remind yourself how sexy awesome blue-eyed Ethan is!
And how brave and wonderful Anne is!
And get back into the spooky, sexy world of DREAMING ANASTASIA again... or for the first time. Baba Yaga. The rusalka. Tragic Anastasia Romanov. A star-crossed romance of epic proportions.

We start on Monday 2/20 at Cari's Book Blog with an interview with me!
Tuesday, 2/21 we'll head over to Mundie Moms for a review.
And onward from there.

I'll keep you posted each day.
And I'm so excited.

History never tells you everything....

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Of Candy Hearts and Other Things

When you teach, Valentine's Day is always a high emotion day. Love it or hate it, it can't be avoided. High schools are like this life microcosm: those who get flowers and candy and stuffed bears walk hip to hip with those who get nothing. Some give. Some avoid. Even the self-proclaimed celebrators of "Singles Awareness Day" find themselves with just a teensy bit of longing for someone to say "I Love you." Hopefully someone other than their mom.

But still I do miss this: In creative writing each year, I brought in huge bags of those chalky candy hearts. Everyone would scoop a healthy handful. "Make a poem," I'd tell them. Use as many of your heart phrases as you can. An activity that even the cynics could enjoy.

So today I dare you. Spill out those candy hearts and write something.
Too Cool
I want you
Text Me
Tell me that you
Luv me
Hug me
Even if I sense that you
Might not
Be True

Feel free to let me know what you came up with!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Lesson in Point of View

Have gotten back to Jennifer E. Smith's The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight which I picked up at ALAMW#12 because Soho editor Dan Ehrenhaft said I must, must read it. I'm not far yet, but I'm loving it and I am fascinated by its very different choices for point of view.

Like most writers, I study other writers a lot. I'm always learning from their word choices, their sentence structure, their rhythms... the things they put in and the things they leave out. Essentially this amounts to voice, but it also affects how the story is unfolding and how we learn about the characters. And okay, everything else, too.

In Statistical Probability, Jennifer Smith uses limited third person present tense, with flashbacks in limited third person past tense. It is, I think, the first time I've seen this technique and it took me a few pages to see what she was doing. Once I did, I fell in huge slobbery writer love with how this works.

Let me show you: Hadley, seventeen, is headed to London for her father's wedding to thirty-something Charlotte with whom he fell in love while teaching poetry at Oxford on a fellowship. Her parents separated, then divorced, and now this. And Hadley has missed her plane. And is about to fall in love at first sight with Oliver, who is going to sit one seat over on the next plane with her. On the page, it looks like this:

Hadley isn't so sure.

The flight attendant is now working the keyboard of her computer with a kind of ferocious intensity, punching at the keys and snapping her gum. "You're in luck," she says, raising her hands with a little flourish. "I can get you on the ten twenty-four. Seat eighteen -A. by the window."

Hadley's almost afraid to pose the question, but she asks it anyway: "What time does it get in."

As you can see, the reader is intimately in Hadley's head, almost as close as 1st person present tense, but different. A fascinating difference.

I will post again when I've finished reading. But I'm pondering Smith's book this morning. Observing how this very unique point of view allows her a smidgen more of the writerly word show one gets with third person while still maintaining the intimacy of first person.

Would love to hear your thoughts today. Any experiments with point of view that have caught your fancy? Writers whose narrative choices you find fascinating? Choices that didn't work as well for you? Your own choices and why you make them?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Random Wednesday

Yup. It's random Wednesday. Let's chat random things that come to mind. I'll start. You guys chime in!

1. I used to play the viola. I was actually pretty good.
2. I just spent a ridiculous amount of cash on a pair of Cole Haan brogans that I love. But to justify the purchase you will see me wearing them with everything I own. Be warned.
3. What has happened to small, regular sized packs of Twizzlers? I don't want the GIANT size.
4. Lost Girl is good. Thank you, Canada. But it does steal plot lines from Buffy so overtly that even my husband has noticed.
5. Going to the dog park is like a flash back to going to the play ground. And I'm just saying... if you have a pit bull puppy and you name it Patron, I'm going to assume that you have a certain set of expectations for your dog's behavior that might not mesh with mine.

Okay. Your turn!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Happy Monday and Grrrrl Power

Happy Monday!
In the great old American tradition, I am still full from yesterday's Super Bowl party. Specifically: spinach dip, cheese ball, sweet/sour meatballs and homemade thin crust sausage and onion pizza. Plus crackers. And a few carrots to round out the food groups.

And I picked the winning team and part of the final score! So there ya go.

Plus Madonna. Okay, the marching... I could have done without the marching. And the guy in the dress/toga/thing on the wire? I was nervous for him. But Madonna. The girl still has it. Serious stamina and IN SHAPE. And the commercial right after? Betty White.

So here's what I'm saying: There are two ways to go in the aging process: Madonna/Betty White reinvent/work at your craft/have fun out there. OR: Meemaw sitting around watching Dancing with the Stars.

Now I know this is a vast overgeneralization. There's lots of space in the middle. And I mean no offense to any readers who are DWTS fans. I have to admit I've watched on occasion myself.

But this is what I'm thinking this morning.

Thoughts? Let me know how you see it.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Texas Book Bloggers are Rockstars: Day 5: Maria Cari Soto, Sarah Evans, Christin Baker

elcome to Day 5 of Texas Bloggers are Rockstars! Today we’ll finish up the series with three bloggers made of awesome: Maria Cari Soto, Sarah Evans, and Christin Baker. Maria, who not only works at MD Anderson and blogs and travels to every book event she can but also works as Blue Willow Bookshop’s Web and Media Specialist, is a truly generous and amazing human being who has been a huge supporter of me and my books. Maria is passionate about the things she loves. Just ask her about her fan girl adoration for another book by my publisher, Sourcebooks, Catching Jordan! (Acutally, you don’t have to ask; she talks about it below!) Sarah is fascinating to me because she’s a math teacher who loves reading! I knew this species of renaissance woman existed, but I’d never met one before… and I taught high school for a lot of years! And Christin is a graduate student in music and from what I hear, a talented organist! All three of ladies support our local events in ways that humble us author-types and makes us teary-eyed as shove thank you chocolate in their hands.

(PICTURES: At Barnes and Noble table, from left to right: Christin Baker, me, author Chris Mandelski, Maria Cari Soto; at Empire Cafe, from left to right: Chris Mandelski, author Amy Fellner Dominy, Sarah Evans, Maria Cari Soto, me, blogger Melinda Russell Sheridan)

Make sure to visit their blogs.
You can find Maria at
You can find Sarah at
You can find Christin at

And now on with the final q/a of the week!

JP: What inspired you to begin blogging about books?

MCS: I get asked this from time to time and the simple answer is I started reading a lot after I read Twilight and the Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Claire. My friends on twitter who also loved Twilight wanted to know what i was reading now or did I have a list of what I was going to read next. From there my friend Monica who is photo/life/fashion blogger said oh you should start a blog. I had no idea that people read blogs and much less about books. I was also certain that the only readers I would have would be the friends who talked me into the blog. Two and a half years later here we are.

SE: A blogger I met through Twitter and then in person at a few local book signings talked me into it.

CB: I was actually inspired - and encouraged - by my friends who already had book blogs. Before I started my blog I had been posting reviews on Goodreads, but I wanted to do more. I wanted to be able to connect with authors and other readers in a more direct way. A book blog seemed like the perfect way to do that.

JP: Talk about your own blog: what is its focus? Do you review books you don’t like? Do you interview authors? Do you post about other things besides books? How did you develop that mixture?

MCS: My blog is kind of random and it changes all the time. I review both books that I loved and books that were not for me. I also don't review every book I read. For me the book has to have an emotional impact. The good books are easy to gush about and the bad I can easily say what I didn't love. The books that are just in the middle are harder to write reviews for. How do you write a review for a book that didn't really move you?
I love doing author interview especially after I have read their book so I can really ask questions that fans of the book would ask. I post a "To Read List" every month and I have been doing this since I started my blog which lists what I plan on reading each month. I also love working with authors to do video readings, cover reveals, trailer releases, and anything else to help shine a spotlight on upcoming books.

SE: My blog, Sarah's Books & Life, is mostly about books, but I also wanted to have to place to talk about life if the mood hit. Since I started it in May 2011 it has been mostly about books, focusing on YA and MG books. While I LOVE to read YA books that are geared toward the upper YA's, I have expanded to include middle grades since I teach seventh grade math. There is nothing like recommending a book to a student and having them come back asking if a friend can now borrow it because they loved the story that much. Plus, my students get a huge kick out of the fact that their Math teacher LOVES to read, it helps break the ice. I generally don't pick up a book if it doesn't sound interesting to me, so I guess with that most books I'm going to like on some level. I've rarely picked up a book, read it and rated it a 1 or 2 stars for that reason.
I love interviewing authors, after all, without the author we wouldn't have amazing worlds to lose ourselves in. I also like to feature book trailers because they have helped get some reluctant readers pick up books they may not have tried otherwise. I'm still working on developing the right schedule/ pattern for posts since I'm still fairly new at this but my goal is to post 1-3 reviews a week, my trailer Thursday, and hopefully another feature.

CB: I review mainly YA books or books with crossover appeal. I post author interviews and guest posts when I can, and I am in the process of creating a new feature for my blog. I do review almost every book that I read, and I like to think of my reviews as balanced and fair rather than "positive" or "negative." Because the goal behind starting my blog was to connect with other readers and authors as well as to promote books, especially books by new or lesser-known authors, I try to have a variety of posts that can bring attention to many different books.

JP: Talk about your experience with the Texas book blogging community, author book signings, conferences you’ve attended like ALA or Texas Festival of Books, the various young adult conferences like Houston Teen Book Con or Austin Teen Book Festival, trade shows like BEA, etc. What’s the most fun and why? What encourages you to keep coming out to these events?

MCS: I am a big supporter of YA Authors and our local indie bookstores so I attend practically all YA events and I love posting pictures and talking about what went on at the events.
I have attended ALA, Texas Book Festival, Houston Teen Book Con and Austin Teen Book Con. The best part for me is getting to hang out other bloggers that I don't see everyday. Hanging out with the people I talk to practically daily on twitter and who love books as much as you do is such a treat.

SE: I try to attend as many author signings in my area as I can to support them and the local bookstores hosting the authors. For me, who is so not a writer, I love hearing how they come up with their ideas and what their writing process is like. As a teacher, it gives me ideas to suggest to my students or even ways to encourage them to follow their dreams. My first conference was the Austin Teen Book Festival and it was so much fun! I had the pleasure of helping out at the first Tween Book Con in Pasadena and I had fun sharing my love of reading with students in the area. I am looking forward to attending ALA for the first time this year and I'm a little nervous about it but excited at the same time! I guess I continue to go because I love reading and then sharing what I read with my students and friends.

CB: The Texas book blogging community is, in a word, amazing. We are so fortunate to have events like the Austin Teen Book Festival and Houston Teen Book Con as well as a number of signings. I've attended events and signings in Houston, Austin, and Dallas, and every time it is just as much fun to socialize with the other bloggers as it is to meet the authors present. Everyone is incredibly welcoming to new bloggers at book events, and we all try to support each other in what we do. Many of the bloggers have become close friends and get together even outside of book events. For someone who is still relatively new to Houston, I was very thankful to find this group of people.

JP: If someone asked you why supporting books, booksellers and authors is important, what would you say?

MCS: I love books and the sense of community. Books are now a part of our social lives. Before, bookish people were considered shy and would rather live in a book and while we may be that we now can talk to our favorite authors. Go meet them and meet other people who have a passion for books and that's a great foundation for friendship. Our booksellers make it possible to have connections with the authors we love and admire.

SE: Books are a doorway to the imagination. Even though someone else created the story, the reader creates the picture in their head as they read. I think the more you read, the better problem solver you can become, I guess that's the math teacher in me coming out :). Plus it's always great to support the art you love.

CB: Reading is so incredibly important. From reading books, we learn new things, expand our horizons, open our imaginations, find words for emotions and feelings that we cannot name, and see that we are not alone. Because of that, and as someone who grew up with her nose in a book, I want to help promote books and the authors who create these wonderful stories and worlds into which we can escape. Furthermore, booksellers, especially indie bookstores, give so much back to the community by hosting great author events and signings. Supporting these stores enables more events, which in turn can help foster the love of reading. It's a win-win situation.

JP: Any favorite author stories?

MCS: Oh my gosh where to start. Last year I worked really closely with the debut group Class of 2k11 and meeting them by either video chat or in person was a blast. They are all wonderful! There are two authors who I completely go fangirl over one is Kimberly Derting who I met and I'm sure I acted like a crazy person. The other is Miranda Kenneally and after reading and re-reading Catching Jordan last year well I knew that the world had to read it and I have made it my personal mission to make sure every person I talk to knows how much I loved the book and how they must read it ASAP. If I could buy a couple hundred copies and pass them out I would. I have met a lot of authors and they were all such amazing experiences.

SE: How the covers of some books evolved is pretty funny. I also find in interesting that several authors I've met started off doing something other than writing.

CB: There are so many! If I talked about all the authors I have been fortunate enough to meet, this answer might turn into a novella. Instead, I'll just say that I have enjoyed meeting all of the authors that I have. I always think it's fascinating to hear their stories about their road to publication and learn more about their books and their writing processes. I love the conversations and the chance to know more about the author behind the book.

JP: Thank you ladies for finishing out this series with such great responses!

Let's give a round of applause to all our bloggers ! *claps hands in a circle*
And a hearty shout out to Derry Wilkens and Kay Mitchell at Sourcebooks for taking time out from planning how we will conquer the world in August when Anastasia Forever comes out to spread some blogger love on the publishing side!


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Day 4 Texas Bloggers are my Rockstars: Kristin, Tillie, Amy

(Pictures: single pic- Tillie; Group shot at Blue Willow: Kristin, blonde on far left in back row next to me. Amy in back row on far right in blue. Plus other familiar faces!)

Today on Texas Book Bloggers are my Rockstars, we will meet Kristin Rae, Tillie N. and Amy Rose Thomas. I actually don’t know if Tillie writes, but both Kristin and Amy are also writers, chasing toward publication. Amy was actually at the ABLA Big Sur Writing Conference that I attended this past December. And Kristin, who is also a fabulous photographer, writes with me at our local Starbucks when we get the chance.

Make sure to follow them!

You can find Kristin at
You can find Tillie at
You can find Amy Rose at

Now let’s get to those questions!

JP:What inspired you to begin blogging about books?

KR: Shortly after I joined my local writers guild in 2009, someone spoke about social networking and the benefits to having a blog. I knew nothing about blogging and honestly thought the whole thing was a silly waste of time. But once I explored the Internet and saw just how much information was out there and how many incredible people were blogging, I jumped on board. Blogging became an addiction very quickly.

TN: I use to blog on my main blog about the books i had read and people started asking me if I had any recommendations so I started blogging more frequently. Then someone introduced me to NetGalley and I became obsessed :)

AT: My love of reading. I wanted to share how much I adored the books I had been reading and hopefully convince someone else out there to pick up this book and give it a chance.

JP: Talk about your own blog: what is its focus? Do you review books you don’t like? Do you interview authors? Do you post about other things besides books? How did you develop that mixture?

KR: I think the Thumper Rule is a good rule to blog by, especially as an aspiring author. I'm not doing anyone, myself included, any favors by giving bad reviews. I like to highlight books and authors that I feel deserve notice. Sure I'll occasionally read a book I'm surprised made it into print, but I generally keep my mouth shut about it. Someone might like it, so who am I to keep them from giving it a chance? And for the author that wrote it, it's their baby. You never want to tell someone their baby is ugly!
I began my blog as a way to network with other writers. For me, my love of writing stems from a love of reading. I get lost inside of stories, in the worlds authors create. I get attached to characters as if they're my friends. I love being able to use my blog as a way to introduce great stories and characters I discover, and it's a unique way to hear from others that love a particular book as much as I do.
I'm not too strict about my blog topics, so I've gushed about new carpeting we got installed in the house, movies I love, conversations I've overheard that inspire my writing, vacations, my two boxers... pretty much whatever's on my mind when I sit down to write a post.

TN: I use to have one combined blog...but now I focus only on books on my book blog and I will still highlight good ones on my main blog {which really doesn't have a focus because I definitely can't stay focused lol}.

AT: My blog focuses on book reviews of YA books. I also have a feature for teen writers that are trying to break through. Their passion and creativity blows me away. I hope that I one day am reading their books and placing them on my bookshelf. I try to promote reading and writing, to encourage it in adults and teens alike.

JP: Talk about your experience with the Texas book blogging community, author book signings, conferences you’ve attended like ALA or Texas Festival of Books, the various young adult conferences like Houston Teen Book Con or Austin Teen Book Festival, trade shows like BEA, etc. What’s the most fun and why? What encourages you to keep coming out to these events?

KR: I try to go to as many local book signings as I can. Living just north of Houston, I'm fortunate to have a big Barnes and Noble down the street that brings in a lot of authors, as well as two great indies closer to town, Blue Willow Bookshop and Murder By The Book. Not only is it a great time to show support for all the work the authors put into their stories, I also get to hang out with fellow bloggers and writers, some of which I now consider friends. It's too much fun! The book world is just overflowing with the BEST people, and I love feeling a part of that.
As a writer especially, there's no greater inspiration to keep going full steam ahead than hearing directly from an author about their publishing story and writing process. I get excited at author events! I love interacting with an author who's work I admire. Even if you just chat with them for a moment, you make a connection that helps you appreciate their stories even more.
Events like Austin Teen Book Festival and the Houston Teen Book Con are fantastic because it introduces you to authors you might not have otherwise heard of. When I hear an unfamiliar author speak on a panel, that's their chance to hook me! It's not uncommon for me to run right out and buy their book just because of something they said that stuck out to me.

TN: I love the Texas book blogging community. Jenn Big Heart does a fantastic job linking up all of us linked up and organizing events within events. I started my book blog right before the Austin Teen Book Festival and I have to say the book blogging community is AMAZING. They are so supportive and informative. I was nervous showing up there not knowing anyone, but by the end I met so many great friends who I talk to on a regular basis. I love book signings too. I wind up becoming such fangirl for the authors! It is amazing to meet authors and get to know some of them. What keeps me going is learning about the authors. I think that getting to know them really does encourage me to read more and more of their books...

AT: Texas book bloggers rock! Seriously. Everyone I've met in the blogging world is so supportive and encouraging of one another. I think it all boils down to one thing in the end. We all love books.

As for events, I go to as many as I can. I can never get enough. Authors and books and booknerds all together in one place makes for fun times. My favorite events to attend so far are the teen book conferences, like in Austin and Houston. The author panels are so informative and there's still time for each person to have a little one-on-one with the authors of their choice.

JP: If someone asked you why supporting books, booksellers and authors is important, what would you say?

KR: I'm going to pull the writer card again here first. How can I not support the industry I want to break into? All of those lucky published authors were in my shoes once, dreaming about the day they could have their books out on the shelves and meet readers at their own book signings. They made it, and I'm really and truly ecstatic for them. Supporting them by buying their books and going out to their signings are really the only ways I can say, "Thank you. Thank you for putting in the work to get this beautiful story out there for us to enjoy. And thank you for showing me that it can be done." And one day, I might be in need of this kind of support too. You never know!
Booksellers, booksellers, how do I love thee? Here's the thing: books look good on my shelves. They are tangible things. I can turn their pages. I can smell them. I can get them signed. I can give them away. eBooks scare the mess out of me, and I haven't completely jumped on board that train just yet. Yes, I've bought a few "eBook Only" stories by authors I wanted to support (I downloaded Kindle for iPhone), but outside of that, hard copies are for me. Bookstores and libraries are important features in society, especially in this digital age, and I would be heart sick to see them go. We must support them!!

TN: Wow, that's in interesting question...I would tell them it's important because we need to make sure that reading books should never be a lost art. Books, booksellers and authors shape our lives. I love being able to escape to another world and I think that if we stop supporting that it will be harder to do so.

AR: The book industry is influx. It's shaky right now. And the world needs books. I recently read an article that discussed dissociative behavior in teens in Japan. The article said that none of the kids in the study read books and then went on to discuss why this is vital to a healthy growing psyche. Books open up worlds to an individual that they would never be able to experience firsthand otherwise. Books give you empathy, allow you to feel things and see things in a whole different light. Books connect people.

JP: Any favorite author stories?

KR: I've been fortunate to meet quite a few amazing authors, including (but certainly not limited to!) Rachel Hawkins, Lauren Oliver, Ally Carter, Veronica Roth, Maureen Johnson, and even Scott Westerfeld. I'm a huge huge huge Stephanie Perkins fan and I've managed to meet her twice. Stephanie isn't afraid to be herself, effectively pulling off the combat boots and the wild hair (I wish I had some sort of style outside of my yoga pants!). She's one of the sweetest authors I've met, and is genuinely thankful for readers. I'm a total fangirl, and can't wait to make a fool out of myself again the next time she comes to town!

TN: I will say with all of the "YA author drama" as of late, I am thankful that I haven't been a part of it. I love the support I get from authors when I review their books. Trinity Faegen, Cindy Bennett and Amy Clipston are some of my favorites. They all have commented on my reviews as well as pimped them out on twitter. Amy in particular is wonderful and has answered questions I have had on her last series! Plus she made sure I got an ARC of her latest book since she knows how much I enjoy her series and reviewing her books. I love when authors actually talk to us on twitter/email. It makes me feel more invested in them. Oh, and I wind up going a little fan-girl but they don't seem to mind :)

AR: At Austin Teen Book Fest in 2011, I saw Scott Westerfield speak on a panel. He was intelligent, witty and a tad bit cocky. But when the time for questions came, all these kids wants to talk to him. His books had really made an impact on their lives and their own writing. Yes, many of these kids were writers. Each time that a kid addressed a question to him, Scott devoted every single bit of his attention and focus on them. He would lean out of his chair and over the table, getting as close to them as possible. He cared so much what these kids had to say. It humbled me and inspired me and made me realize all over again what the YA genre is all about. The kids.

JP: Thanks, ladies, for some amazing answers! I hope that by the end of this series everyone understands not only how much work and passion bloggers put into their work but also how thoughtful they are about the publishing industry!

And for our last day tomorrow, another trifecta!! The fabulous Maria Cari Soto, the delightful Sarah Evans, and a blogger who also is a talented organist, Christin Baker!