Yes, I know I’m supposed to be on a blogging break right now. But I had this opportunity for a blog tour, and the book sounded awesome. So I’m temporarily taking a break from taking a break and spotlighting a book that is jumping to the top of my to-read list as soon as I get some spare time.
About the book
Release date: September 19
Fifteen-year-old Ethan Denby doesn’t know how he got on the Marian. He just woke up one day inside the body of its captain.
The Marian is unlike any ship Ethan has ever seen. It crawls on long, metal legs over dunes of salt in search of water, despite laws granting exclusive harvesting rights to a corrupt organization known as HydroSystems Worldwide.
HydroSystems is closing in, tensions are mounting aboard the Marian, and on top of all that, Ethan is beginning to think the dreams he’s been having aren’t completely harmless. If he doesn’t get home soon, Ethan could die inside someone else’s body in this wasteland of a world. The only way back seems to be through a place known simply as the Cloud, but how can he convince the crew to take him there when it means confronting a dangerous cult and venturing into a place where the very fabric of reality has worn thin?
I absolutely loved Johnny Worthen’s Eleanor, a fantastic take on shapeshifting (see my review here). So I’m completely thrilled to be part of the Eleanor blog tour!
Below is an interview with Johnny Worthen, plus a giveaway of TWO copes of Eleanor: a signed copy, and a signed ARC!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do when you are not writing? Do you have a day job?
I was born and grew up in Utah. I earned a B.A. in English, minor in Classics and a Master’s in American Studies from the University of Utah. I’ve had many careers, and jobs, owned businesses and traveled extensively. I’ve lived in Europe for a time and about a decade in the Northwest. I’m back in Utah now, back in the dirt I was raised in.
I consider myself a full time author. It takes most my time. I do some things here and there, write for other people, speak and help out, but writing is my job.
In six words, what is ELEANOR about?
Eleanor is not what she appears.
Have you written anything else?
I’m working on my eleventh novel now. Of my previous ten, five have been picked up for publication. My debut is BEATRYSEL is an adult occult thriller and came out last fall. A companion piece, DR. STUART’S HEART came out last month. I have a story called THE POINT appearing in an anthology called in an anthology called LITTLE VISIBLE DELIGHT.
ELEANOR will begin my Unseen Young Adult Series with a different publisher, Jolly Fish Press. ELEANOR is a standalone book but there are two books that follow it that carry on the story: CELESTE and DAVID respectively. My final currently sold book is called THE FINGER TRAP, it a contemporary adult comedy/mystery introducing a slacking sarcastic everyman detective named Tony Flaner.
Where can we buy/see ELEANOR and/or your other works?
Where did you get the idea for ELEANOR? How did you come up with the title?
I was thinking about what the ultimate outsider would be like, someone vulnerable and afraid, lonely, and needing to be unnoticed for her own safety. Then I took the idea of hiding in plain sight to a extreme. Years ago, I ran across a Navajo legend in Tony Hillermans’ novel, SKINWALKERS and it stayed with me. I used that a springboard for my imagination of the story and thus ELEANOR was born.
From the beginning, I knew my main character would be a girl, a lost daughter, poor and noble. I love the name Eleanor. It is to me an old name, out of fashion and so suggested age. Also too a name of quiet strength. A name for a shy but extraordinary girl. Usually the working title for my books are the names of the main character and in this case there was no changing it. It is her story. She had to be there. The story is Eleanor. Originally I intended to call the series Eleanor, but as the story evolved and the trilogy took shape, we went with THE UNSEEN for the series name and ELEANOR, the standalone, is the first book.
How long did it take between having the idea and publication?
About two years, give or take a lifetime.
How much of the book is based on people you know and/or things you’ve experienced?
There are people I know throughout the books, places I’ve visited, experiences I’ve had. None are directly from my life but everything is a distilled version of it. Eleanor has become to my mind the daughter I never had. I modeled her much after my niece who was so shy when I first met her.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Keeping Eleanor and David apart. They’re both such strong and loving characters. I felt bad keeping them apart as long as I did, but of course I had to. Eleanor understands.
What part or scene was the most fun to write?
The first kiss between Eleanor and David was such a wonderful moment for me. I was so happy for them both.
If you had to do it over again, what (if anything) would you change about this book?
I might change my paragraph structure a bit. I don’t mind long paragraphs; it’s how I was trained. Today, there’s a push for more white space on the page, more frequent paragraph breaks, even in paragraphs that don’t necessarily need one. This is done to make the page more attractive to modern readers. It’s a different style and some say it can help sales. I’d like people to read my book, love Eleanor as I do, so I might have changed that to help her along.
How did you first become interested in writing?
I’ve always written. As soon as I could write, I loved it. I think best on paper. I decided to make it my entire life only three years ago. Before that it was always a hobby, a love and an obsession. It’s still all that, but now also it’s a job.
What is the hardest thing about writing? What is the easiest?
The hardest part is pretending someone after me will want to read what I write. There’s no guarantee it’ll be read, let alone appreciated or liked.
The easiest part happens sometimes when the story is so alive that I’m not writing but taking dictation. Sometimes when I get stuck where to go next, I put some characters in a room and they talk it out and decide for me. I love that.
How much research do you do?
Depends on the project. Several month is not uncommon. I’m in the third year of research for an Historical novel I’m mulling over. ELEANOR is a character piece so the research wasn’t so bad, a couple of months during the pre-writing phase. I did however take my family on a vacation through Wyoming to see the lonely western towns far from freeways where Eleanor is hiding.
Do you work from an outline or just write and see where the story takes you?
A bit of both. I have to know where I”m going. I always have a few way points – plot points, scenes and such, that I’m working toward. I always know the climax before I write a word. I then move between the points, letting the story unfold and adjusting course if I need to.
Do you ever get writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
There are days I just don’t feel like writing. It’s a discipline thing. When you approach it as a job, you just do it. Sometimes I have to write three thousand words to get five hundred I’ll keep. That’s writer’s block for me, wasted effort.
Who designed your cover, and how was it created?
Jolly Fish Press handled that. I was terrified. I knew from my contract that I had no say in it. Jolly Fish Press has a reputation for awesome titles, so I wasn’t too worried. Not too much, but still some. When I saw it however, I cheered. Wonderful I say. I haven’t met the model, but I want to.
How do you market your books? How much time do you devote to marketing?
Social media and networking is my main marketing tool. I do a lot of conventions and writer’s workshops. I try to give back. I’m no expert, but I’ve been there and can act as a scout for those coming up behind me. The online stuff and such takes a lot of time. A couple of hours each day. Lots.
Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?
I’m a publicist’s nightmare: I’m a multi-genre author. I wish I could focus on one type of fiction and so develop a reputation and a following for that, but I’m all over the place. I write adult horror and YA coming of age stories. I write comedy, mystery, political thrillers, short stories and shopping lists. “I write what I want to read.” My palate is broad and so is my writing.
What do you think of “trailers” for books? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your book?
I did a long blog project looking into them. If I may, could I direct you there?
That’s part five, but it has all the links for the other parts.
My conclusion is that they’re like a book signing – another form of promotion, probably not cost or time effective but still good to have in the hopes it’ll pay dividends later, provided it’s done well and not too dearly.
Do you think that giving books away free works and why?
No. People don’t value things that are free. I don’t like giving them away for this reason. I still do it though. However, I try to find people who’re genuinely interested in reading it and draw from them a promise that they will, in fact read it and then review it – Amazon, Goodreeds, Blog etc. You might say it’s not free then, but it’s not like I follow them home and check on them.
Who is your favorite author and why?
Elmore Leonard. I love his style. He’s so cool and clean. Crisp and dialog to die for.
What is your favorite book and why?
THE ROAD, by Cormac McCarthy. The story and the language are so stark. Being a father of sons, the story resonates with me particularly well. It’s powerful. I read it once a year to remind myself of what writing can do.
Is there any particular book or author who made an impact on your life?
They all have, but Jacques Derrida’s work in Deconstruction changed the way I see the world profoundly and permanently. He’s the reason why many of my books are called “upmarket” ie “literary.” I’ve been trained in literary criticism.
Do you prefer ebooks or hard copies?
Hard copies over ebooks. I don’t have a kindle. I read on my phone and my computer if I have them and it’s kind of a pain. I love audiobooks. It makes waiting for the kids time well spent.
What book(s) are you reading right now?
I’m re-reading Elmore Leonard’s CAT CHASER to get in the mood for a project I’m working on.
What are you currently writing?
The working title is HOLLAND, the name of the main character.
Can you tell us about it, and do you know when it will be released?
Elmore Leonard died last year and HOLLAND is my tribute to him. I should have the rough draft done by July. After that, I gotta edit and convince my current publishers to take it, or shop it around. If I’m lucky, I might appear as soon as Fall 2015. If I’m unlucky, it’ll be longer.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Get on with it. Memento mori.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
You DO NOT need an agent to get published. Look to small presses.
Is there anything else you want to say to your readers?
You can find me at the following places on the net. Let’s hook up.
Zombie fiction was never really my thing – but Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know Of) won me over. Which is why I’m thrilled to be part of its blog tour!
The absolute best thing about this book is it has something for everyone. Zombie fan? There’s lots of zombies! Not really a zombie fan (like me)? Bold, snarky Cassie is worth the read.
So what are you waiting for? Keep reading! (Then go buy this book!)
About the Book
Title: Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know Of)
Author: F.J.R. Titchenell
Releases: May 6, 2014
The world is Cassie Fremont’s playground. Her face is on the cover of every newspaper, she has no homework, no curfew, and no credit limit, and she spends her days traveling the country with her friends, including a boy who would flirt with death just to turn her head.
Life is just about perfect—except that those newspaper headlines are about her bludgeoning her crush to death with a paintball gun, she has to fight ravenous walking corpses every time she steps outside, and one of her friends is still missing, trapped somewhere in the distant wreckage of Manhattan.
Still, Cassie’s an optimist. More prone to hysterical laughter than hysterical tears, she’d rather fight a corpse than be one. She won’t leave a friend stranded when she can simply take a road trip to impossible new places to find her, even if getting there means admitting to that boy that she might just love him, too. Skillfully blending effective horror with unexpected humor, this diary-format novel is a fast-paced and heartwarming read.
I’ve never really read an actual zombie book before (unless you count the disappointment of Boneshaker, which I don’t). But I am a huge fan of characters with strong, interesting voices, and even from the synopsis, I was pretty sure I’d like Cassie.
I was right. Cassie was smart and brave and a bit of a tomboy, with just enough snark to make her fabulous without going overboard. She did take a lot of the deaths a little lighter than I think was realistic, but overall, I really loved her.
Norman and Hector, Cassie’s friends, were both good. Norman was a goofball, but the kind of goofball friend I’d like to have. I liked Hector, but his homosexuality bothered me. It didn’t add anything to the character dynamics (and is so unimportant it doesn’t come up in the first half) so I wish he was either not homosexual or one of those super-fun gay best friends that I enjoy despite their sexuality.
This story was exactly what I expected from a zombie novel: race to get to somewhere somewhat safe, traveling with/making friends, and lots of zombie-bashing action. It got a little gory at times, but that’s to be expected. There was plenty of action, a semi-scenic road trip, struggles for food and supplies, and a cast of great characters. And it ended on a surprisingly happy note.
Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know Of) was a fabulous zombie book. The plot seemed pretty standard from what I know of zombie fiction, but Cassie’s amazing voice was exactly the boost it needed to make me love it. There’s no sequel room here, but I would definitely be interested in another book by F.J.R. Titchenell.
I received a free review copy of Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know Of) from the author. Her generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.
About the Author
F.J.R. Titchenell is an author of Young Adult Sci-Fi and Horror fiction. She is represented by Jennifer Mishler of Literary Counsel and currently lives in San Gabriel, California with her husband and fellow author, Matt Carter, and their pet king snake, Mica.
The “F” is for Fiona, and on the rare occasions when she can be pried away from her keyboard, her kindle, and the pages of her latest favorite book, Fi can usually be found over-analyzing the inner workings of various TV Sci-Fi universes or testing out some intriguing new recipe, usually chocolate-related.
Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of) is F.J.R. Titchenell’s first novel. Her first novel coauthored with Matt Carter, Splinters, will be available fall of 2014.
F.J.R. Titchenell answers the question: Where do you get your ideas and how do you stay motivated to finish a book?
Ah, the eternal question, “Where do you get your ideas?”
Short answer: Everywhere. That’s part of how I process every bit of information I encounter. Everything goes in a mental file for later use in stories. Everything.
More specific short answer: My husband.
It’s tough to admit sometimes, but it’s true. He’s my muse, my sounding board, and my brainstorm partner, and while inspiration can and does come from anywhere at any time, nothing else gets my gears turning as well and reliably as he does. When we’re working together, most of the big ideas are usually his, and I get to focus on my favorite parts, playing with our characters’ poor little psyches and getting their dialogue just right.
Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of) was my idea (though I do owe my love of zombies to Matt in the first place). The concept for this one leaped into my head seemingly out of nowhere. In other cases, when I’ve been more pressed for a new idea, I’ve often flipped through my favorite stories that have inspired me somehow, mixed a few unlikely co-influences together, added a completely new setting, and – this is the most important part – found a way to ask myself, “Why hasn’t it been done this way yet?”
Often I get there by doing things like changing up gender roles or turning common lapses in characters’ logic on their heads. That’s how you avoid being a simple rehash.
Even in my solos, though, many of my best ideas start with Matt tossing out a passing notion that I have to dig into and build on and run with.
Perfect example, one of the touches to Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of) that a lot of people get a kick out of, one of my favorite details too, is Norman spending most of the book dressed as a clown. That was Matt’s idea… sort of.
When I told Matt I was working on a YA zombie book, he made a joke about a character staying dressed as a clown all the time so if he became a zombie, he’d at least get to be a zombie clown.
I loved the idea and knew I had to use it for the male lead. I think Matt thought I was insane when I told him that. He’d meant it as a background gag, a wacky sidekick at most, not someone who would ever need to be taken seriously, but I fell so in love with Norman once I got him in costume, he was so perfect for Cassie to bounce off of, so right for the tone of the story, I knew I could never allow him to be upstaged by some straight-faced pretty boy.
Exploring why Norman wears the costume, beyond the joke explanation, was one of the things that got me deepest into his head, his friendship with Cassie, and it helped me develop the theme of keeping sanity through laughter that became much of the book’s core.
As to where I get my motivation to finish books, that’s all mine. Not that Matt isn’t amazingly encouraging and supportive, he is, and I can’t overstate how lucky I am for that, but while he’s the kind of writer whose constant rush of ideas sometimes exceeds his motivation to use them, I’m the opposite way.
One might as well ask where I find the motivation to breathe.
Motivation will never be my problem just like inspiration will never be his. He’ll work on a story and sometimes have trouble getting through without being distracted by other ideas. I’ll have a harder time getting an idea I like and getting started, but once I’m in a story, it’s like nothing else exists. It’s one of the many ways we balance each other.
I love working on something I’m already in love with. I love that feeling of needing to bring a story into being and make it as good as it can possibly be. Not all parts of the process are fun or easy, but there’s never a question in my mind about whether it’s worth pushing through any creative blocks, tricky edits, etc. to continue writing books. That’s how much I love it.
Exciting stuff today: The Baker Street or Bust blog tour! (Isn’t that a fun name?) The book itself is fun, too. A 19-year-old girl inherits 221 Baker Street and starts solving mysteries. What’s not to like?
About the Book:
Title: Jewel of the Thames (A Portia Adams Adventure #1)
Author: Angela Misri
There’s a new detective at 221 Baker Street.
Nineteen-year-old Portia Adams has always been inquisitive. There’s nothing she likes better than working her way through a mystery. When her mother dies, Portia is left in the guardianship of the extravagant Mrs. Jones. Portia is promptly whisked from Toronto to London by her guardian, where she discovers that she has inherited 221 Baker Street — the former offices of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
Portia settles into her new home and gets to know her downstairs tenants, including the handsome and charming Brian Dawes. She also finds herself entangled in three cases: the first one involving stolen jewelry, the second one a sick judge and the final case revolving around a kidnapped child. But the greatest mystery of all is her own. How did she come to inherit this townhouse? And why did her mother keep her heritage from her? Portia has a feeling Mrs. Jones knows more than she is letting on. In fact, she thinks her new guardian may be the biggest clue of all.
I’m a huge Sherlock Holmes fan (Arthur Conan Doyle’s books, the movies with Robert Downey Jr., the BBC TV show…). So when an email appeared in my inbox saying “There’s a new detective at 221B Baker Street,” I decided to say yes before I even read anything about the book.
Portia was completely enjoyable. She was a bookish introvert like me, but with awesome deductive skills. She wasn’t quite as good at deductions (or disguises) as Sherlock, but she’s young. I’m sure she’ll get there.
There were also some good minor characters, like Portia’s guardian, Mrs. Jones, who has a lot of interesting secrets. And Constable Brian Dawes, whose parents live below Portia (and who I’m thinking may eventually play Watson to Portia’s Holmes).
The mysteries were very much like something I’d imagine Doyle would write – a little less complicated, perhaps, but still great. They were engrossing and fun, and just like Doyle’s plots, I had a hard time guessing the culprit. Angela Misri certainly did her research, and just like a good Sherlock Holmes mystery, I feel like I learned something while being entertained.
In my opinion, the writing was what really made the book. It read like an old classic book – in a good way. It perfectly fit the subject and tone and added the finishing touches to a very Sherlock-esque story.
The Jewel of the Thames was a fun mystery that definately felt like a Sherlock Homes adventure. It was a good start to a series, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Portia’s skills develop in further books.
I received a free review copy of The Jewel of the Thames from the publisher. Their generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.
About the Author:
Angela Misri is a Toronto journalist, writer and mom who has spent most of her working life making CBC Radio extraterrestrial through podcasts, live streams and websites. These days she’s focusing on her writing but taking on freelance and digital projects along the side.
Super-fun stuff today – a new book by Indie author H.S. Stone! I had the privilege of reading his Beyond New Eden (which I found much more awesome than I expected) and interviewing him about his writing process, how The Hunger Games influenced his writing, and how he’s usually sick of his own books before he’s done editing.
So when he contacted me about his new book, Keep Your Enemies Close – the alien invasion story he taunted me with in his interview – and asked me to help promote the release, I said, “absolutely!”
Now tell me, is this cover not awesome?
First, the probes arrived. Then the mother ship landed. The Lia’s world changed forever.
With the alien invaders’ arrival, Lia and her best friend, Bryn, sign up for military duty to protect their town. When the aliens attack, however, Lia and her comrades are helpless to stop them. Worse, after the attack, she discovers that several of the townspeople, including her family, were abducted. Despite Lia’s pleading, no one wants to save those taken by the aliens.
Desperate to rescue her parents and little sister, Lia turns to the only source of help she can find…a captured alien invader.
An alien invasion, and the main character gets help from a captured invader – I’ve seen this idea done spectacularly before, and from what I know of H.S. Stone’s writing, I have super high hopes for Keep Your Enemies Close. (Stay tuned for a review hopefully before the end of the month.)
And if that wasn’t awesome enough: FREE BOOKS! If you buy Keep Your Enemies Close in January and email a proof of purchase (i.e. scanned receipt or screenshot of the book on your ereader) to email@example.com, you’ll get a Smashwords coupon good for a FREE copy of any one of H.S. Stone’s books! (Take him up on it! I can personally say that Beyond New Eden is awesome, but George and the Galactic Games and In the Hands of Children look fantastic, too.)
Disclosure of material connection: I was provided a free review copy of Keep Your Enemies Close in exchange for this post and a review of the book. Back cover copy, free book offer, and cover image were provided by the author. All opinions expressed are my own.
Today’s post isn’t a typical blog tour. It’s special.
Bridget Zinn, librarian and writer, died of cancer in 2011. She was 33 years old. Now, nearly four years from the day of her cancer diagnosis, her novel Poison is published. It was released on March 12.
You can find out more about Bridget’s story, her book, and how people are spreading the word (and how you can get in on it), visit Bridget’s website. I hadn’t planned on doing anything with it, but trust me – once you read the whole story, you can’t not help promote this book.
About the Book:
Author: Bridget Zinn
Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.
But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart…misses.
Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?
I had planned to have a review to go along with this post. But of course the book gets lost in the mail and doesn’t show up. At some point, I’ll review Poison. But in the meantime, you’ll have to content yourself with visiting Bridget’s website.
About the Author:
Bridget grew up in Wisconsin. She went to the county fair where she met the love of her life, Barrett Dowell. They got married right before she went in for exploratory surgery which revealed she had colon cancer. They christened that summer the “summer of love” and the two celebrated with several more weddings. Bridget continued to read and write until the day she died. Her last tweet was “Sunshine and a brand new book. Perfect.”
Bridget wanted to make people laugh and hoped readers would enjoy spending time with the characters she created. As a librarian/writer she loved books with strong young women with aspirations. She also felt teens needed more humorous reads. She really wanted to write a book with pockets of warmth and happiness and hoped that her readers’ copies would show the watermarks of many bath time reads.
When Bianca and Melvin brave the jungle to rescue their grandfather, they stumble upon the ancient Maya city of Etza, where the people haven’t aged in 2,000 years. They must learn to work together as they face loincloth-wearing skeletons from the underworld, a backstabbing princess, and an ancient prophecy that says in three days the city will be destroyed.
No problem. They’ll find Zeb and zip right out of there. The fact that a crazy king wants to serve Bianca up to the gods as an appetizer is just a minor technicality. But this ancient evil dude has finally met his match.
Creating white space and increasing the pace and tension on the page.
One tip I learned early on was the back and forth of dialogue. Sometimes dialogue can move fast without including many tags, body language, or mixing in internal thoughts and narrative. Those aspects are needed and all good but at times it can be too much and slow down the pace. Here is a section where I went out of my way to include a little bit of this back and forth. This technique also creates whitespace on the page, which is always good.
Excerpt from Chapter 6
Melvin shifted, turning away, and continued scribbling in his notebook. “Stop trying to read my journal.”
“You mean diary?”
“This is a journal.”
“Are you writing down what happened today?”
Melvin turned to me, his eyes glittering in the firelight. “Why? What happened today?”
Zebulon flashed in my mind’s eye. He’d told me to stay away—the second person in one day. “Stop trying to make this about me. Are you writing about Tikal?”
“First impressions? Thoughts? Descriptions?”
I pointed to his notebook. “You can call it a hamster cage if it makes you feel better, but it’s a diary.”
Melvin launched into a scientific explanation about journaling as an educational tool. I had plenty of sarcasm in my tool belt to combat him, but a line of Maya men with their arms around each other kicked their way through our group and the fire. Their flickering forms danced with the firelight. No one noticed. Except me. I watched, captivated. My breath caught in my throat. Rowdy laughter and cheers of the Maya echoed between the temples.