Friday, September 30, 2011

Character Interview: Cate Cahill

Hi! Here’s an interview of sorts, between the protagonist of BORN WICKED, Cate Cahill, and her neighbor Mrs. Corbett. They’re discussing the arrival of Cate’s new governess, Elena. As you'll see, there are certain challenges in being a Victorian young lady in this society--even without taking into account that Cate and her sisters are also witches. Also, there is often a discrepancy between what Cate says and what she thinks.

MRS. CORBETT: I’ve just had a letter from Elena, confirming that she’ll be arriving Monday! I do hope you’ll make her feel welcome.

CATE: I’m sure she’ll be marvelous. I can hardly wait to meet her.

This is all your fault, you meddling old bat. The last thing I need is a stranger swanning about the place, poking her nose into our business.

MRS. CORBETT: I thought it my neighborly duty to tell your father what I’ve been hearing, you know. You girls are getting a reputation. As eccentrics. And eccentric girls don’t marry well.

CATE: We’re very—grateful for all your help.

I’ll have to buy us new dresses. Call more often on our neighbors. I can't have them gossiping about us. They can’t suspect the truth.

MRS. CORBETT: Elena was wonderful with my daughter Regina. Of course, she was only with us for a few months before Regina was married. (preens) It was a very advantageous match.

CATE (with a steely smile): You must be very proud.

Could she be any more transparent? Father’s hired a governess to help me catch a husband. How mortifying.

MRS. CORBETT: Indeed. You know, your own intention ceremony is coming up soon.

CATE: I’m well aware, yes.

As if I could forget for a second. If I don’t find a husband soon, the Brotherhood will choose one for me. And it could be anyone. A widower with half a dozen children. An old man three times my age. Someone from another town. I don't want to leave my sisters.

MRS. CORBETT: You must start planning for it. Assuming you intend to marry, and not join the Sisterhood (Cate thinks: as if I'm the sort to spend the rest of my life shut up in a nunnery, studying Scriptures!) would do well to learn to be a bit more pleasing. Gentlemen prefer women who are a bit—softer. Less snappish. Who take more care with their looks.

CATE: Yes, ma’am.

Gentlemen prefer girls who would never disagree with them, because they don’t have a single thought in their pretty little heads, she means. As if I would marry a man like that!

MRS. CORBETT: Your father has encouraged your eccentricities, with his notions of educating girls. But the Brothers would hardly approve. You must be more circumspect. For your own safety.

(CATE is silent, as she panics.) What is she saying? Do they suspect us? Girls have been arrested for less than reading banned books. If they knew what we really are—that we’re witches—it’d be the asylum for us. Or the prison ship.

MRS. CORBETT: I daresay your mother would have instructed you in all of this, Lord rest her soul. You poor girls. It can’t be easy, coming of age without a mother’s guidance.

CATE (biting her tongue): No, ma’am. We miss her very much.

I wish she were here. I wish she could tell me what to do. How to keep my sisters safe.

MRS. CORBETT: Well, good day.

CATE: Good day.

Good riddance.

Jessica Spotswood is the author of BORN WICKED, the first book in the Cahill Witch Chronicles, coming Feb. 7, 2012 from Putnam. She likes reading stories about independent girls who still get in a fair amount of swoony kissing, so that's what she tries to write. She lives in Washington, DC with her playwright husband and a cuddly cat named Monkey.

Currently on her nightstand: CINDER, by Marissa Meyer.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Why Halloween Still Kills

Wherein Danny talks about his favorite Halloween movie and generally makes a fool of himself for your entertainment...

So cough up the answers folks! Let's show "The Man" that Nightstand readers leave comments!


Danny Marks is a YA Fantasy Author, Vlogger and General Smart-ass. His Debut YA novel, VELVETEEN comes out in the Fall of 2012 from Delacorte/Random House Kids. Until then, he's more than happy to dance like a monkey for your pleasure!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Favorite Time of Year

The chill in the air, the turning leaves, the shorter days and longer nights...all these things herald my favorite time of year.  Autumn.

And with autumn comes the world's best holiday...Halloween.

Look, I don't care that you get presents at Christmas or an all-you-can eat feast on Thanksgiving or marshmallow chicks at Easter.  Halloween is, hands-down, the best holiday.  You are actually encouraged to a) demand candy, b) stuff your face with said candy once you get it, and c) cause mischief.

I go all out for Halloween.  This year I'm considering constructing a graveyard on my front lawn.  And for the past few years I've had a pumpkin-carving party a few days before Halloween.  My specialty is a jack o'lantern of wolves howling at the moon.

So it may surprise you to know that I'm an absolute baby when it comes to horror movies.

Seriously.  All my husband has to do to send me screaming from the room is hum the theme music from the classic horror flick Halloween.

I can't watch any movie based on a Stephen King novel, and I'll never see Rosemary's Baby no matter how many times my husband begs me to watch it.

I have two exceptions to this fear of mine.  One is Hitchcock.  Although it took me many years to work up the courage to see Psycho, when I did finally watch it (on Halloween, no less) I loved it.  And although most of his other movies aren't necessarily scary or spooky, they are psychological thrillers, which I love.  And, honestly, that is often scarier than a slasher film.

The other exception is a good old-fashioned ghost story.  I remember seeing The Others, curled up in my movie theatre seat, heart pounding, and loving every minute of it.  And in a way, ghost stories are more terrifying to me because I truly, deeply believe in the existence of ghosts.

Maybe it's that belief in the spirit world that my love of Halloween is rooted.  It's said that on Halloween (or Samhain, the pagan new year) the veil between our world and the spirit world is very thin...and those spirits like to cross over and get a little mischievous on us.

And from this love of ghosts and spooky stuff grew my love of all things supernatural.  Witches, magic, vampires, the Benandanti, ancient Egyptian curses, crop circles, time travel, unexplained phenomena...I'm drawn to all of it like a werewolf to the full moon.  It's why I love Buffy and Angel, The X-Files and Fringe.  All of these shows are more psychologically-driven than horror-driven, and there's something so tantalizing about the unknown rather than what's seen on screen in a slasher flick.

So while I'll happily curl up with one of Meg Cabot's Mediator books, don't ever, ever ask me to read The Shining.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Shades of Gray

This week, I’m interviewing Gray Newman from my upcoming YA debut, A Breath of Eyre. Gray and my protagonist, Emma, have known each other since they were little, but now that they’re teenagers, they’re not sure how they feel about each other. Here, Gray offers a rare glimpse of the heart hidden under his sleeve.

EM: Tell us a little about yourself.
GN: Um, well, I’m eighteen. I’m a lifeguard. I’m on the swim team at school.

EM: And where’s that?
GN: Braeburn Academy, outside of Boston.

EM: Braeburn?
GN: Yeah. It’s this hippie alternative school my parents sent me to a few years ago. We have harmonic huddles every week where we sit around in a drum circle and bare our feelings. It’s torture. I try to act mysterious and disturbed so I don’t have to talk.

EM: You prefer sitting alone and brooding?
GN: No, I prefer swimming. Head under water; no talking, no thinking.

EM: So you’re the strong silent type.
GN: I guess so.

EM: Funny, because I heard stories that you were a big party animal. Hot lifeguard making the moves on the summer girls?
GN: I’m officially over summer girls. (EM looks at him in disbelief.) Seriously. They’re so shallow. All they care about is how they look in a bikini, and they want you to remind them of it every five seconds. Don’t get me wrong, I like a girl in a bikini. It’s just, I’m looking for something more than that.

EM: So no more one-night stands?
GN: Definitely not.

EM: And what about the partying?
GN: Let’s just say the party’s over for me. Can we change the subject, please?

EM: Sure. Do you have a girlfriend?
GN: Wow, you’re direct.

EM: Is that the same as being pushy?
GN: No, you just ask some pretty personal questions.

EM: I’m just trying to figure you out. You’re kind of cryptic and evasive. You dodged that last question by deflecting, so we ended up talking about whether I was pushy or not instead of whether you had a girlfriend. (GN gives a sly smile.)  So? Oh, come on, give me something. At least tell me if you have a crush.
GN: Alright, yeah. I have a crush. Happy?

EM: Not yet. Can you tell us a little about her?
GN: I’ve known her, like, forever, but I only realized recently how cool she is. She’s super smart and pretty in this quiet way that gets more obvious every time you spend time with her. And she’s got these incredible deep brown eyes. I swear they can see right through me.

EM: And what do they see?
GN: I don’t know. Hopefully not the same thing I see.

EM: So why don’t you tell her how you feel?
GN: It’s not going to happen between us.

EM: Why not?
GN: She’s two years younger than I am, and I’m joining the Coast Guard after I graduate. It’s not like I can ask her to wait for me.

EM: No, you’re probably right. Why bother? Besides, if she’s as great as you say she is, I’m sure she'll have guys beating down her door. She’s probably better off without you anyway.
GN: Yeah. She most definitely is.

And on that note, I conclude my interview with Gray Newman, a modern guy who takes a lot of his cues from the brooding men of Victorian literature. To take a quiz to find your literary soul mate or to learn more about A Breath of Eyre, come visit my website or add my book to your Goodreads list.
Eve Marie Mont is the author of A Breath of Eyre (Kensington/KTeen, March 2012), the first in a trilogy about a girl who gets lost, literally, in her favorite books. Please stop by her website for more info, news, and updates.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Larry King Interviews Calder White

Larry King: So, Calder White, is that your real name?

Calder: *rolls eyes*

Larry King: Thank you for taking the time to visit with us. I understand you’ve got somewhere to go.

Calder: Not that I have any say in it. Migration, y’know.

Larry King: Well, we don’t know. That’s the point of this interview. We’d like to know more about you. So, I understand you were born a mermaid?

Calder: Merman, and no, I’m not that kind.

Larry King: Kind of what?

Calder: The born kind.

Larry King: Care to elaborate?

Calder: No. I don’t like to share too much, unless of course, there’s something in it for me.

Larry King: Well how about something easy then. Date of Birth?

Calder: That’s easy? Fine. Whatever. I don’t know the day, but I was born in 1964.

Larry King: Really? You don’t look a day over eighteen. Kind of like me. Heh, heh, heh.

Calder: I age slowly. Like dog years in reverse. Next question.

Larry King: Best job ever?

Calder: Fry cook in the Abacos. That’s in the Bahamas.

Larry King: Type of girl you’re looking for.

Calder: I’m off the market, but in the past I’d say anyone who was happy, optimistic, excited. Of course, girls like that never lived long when I was around. These days there’s just one girl in my life, but the best thing about her is she doesn’t give a crap what people think. She’s . . . what do you call it . . . a nonconformist. It’s the one thing I wish I could be. Of course, conformity is kind of a requirement where I come from.

Larry King: And where do you come from?

Calder: That’s what I’m trying to figure out. Lake Superior, of course. That’s where I was when I came to be this way.

Larry King: This way, as in a merman?

Calder: Right. But at the beginning of LIES BENEATH I’m coming from the Bahamas. Like I said, I’m trying to figure things out.

Larry King: Greatest desire?

Calder: Freedom.

Larry King: Glass half empty or half full?

Calder: Half Empty. Definitely.

Larry King: If you could be any animal--

Calder: Seriously? Theses are the best questions you’ve got? What about something like best Tennyson poem ever?

Larry King: Okay.

Calder: The Lady of Shalott.

Larry King: Care to elaborate?

Calder: Ha! Nice try! I guess you’ll have to read the book: LIES BENEATH, Delacorte Press, June 12, 2012.

Friday, September 23, 2011

What's on Your Nightstand? #14

Zoraida Cordova: CONEY ISLAND LOST AND FOUND...It's research time for me!

Gina Damico: I'm between books, but I just finished the second book in the Maze Runner trilogy, THE SCORCH TRIALS. And oh my hell, I friggin' loved it. I love that these books are written like they're essentially these confusing, unpredictable games, and the characters are supposed to puzzle out what they're supposed to do. I can't wait for the last one in October.

Danny Marks: Well it's What's on Your Nightstand time, again, and guess who's a big loser and is still reading the same book as last week? Yeah, me. So, it's THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett, which has the misfortune of being my book of choice to accompany me during my hellish revision weeks. If I read a word per day right now, it'll be a miracle from little baby Jesus or something. Seriously. Send me every carb you have. NOW!

Eve Marie Mont: I am reading DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, and so far, it is living up to the hype. The world building is incredible, and the writing lush and hypnotic. I feel like I'm in Prague, and I'm dying to know how hand prints are burning their way onto all the doors of Europe. I also have NO idea where the book is going, which is refreshing.

Gina Rosati: I finally mailed off my first pass pages and got to curl up in The Big Cozy Chair and finish POSSESS by our own Gretchen McNeil. This book has it all ... fabulous ass-kickin' heroine, swoon-worthy guy, one of the best YA voices I've read in years and a plot that will make you want to sleep with the lights on. If Gretchen needs a beta reader for her next book, I am available.

Jessica Spotswood: I just finished Veronica Rossi’s UNDER THE NEVER SKY. I’m always impressed when an author pulls off dual points of view so well and so inventively. I love how the reader gets to see Aria and Perry grow, both toward each other and as individuals, discovering strengths they never expected, banishing their initial misconceptions. Aria is a strong, brave heroine and Perry is—well, he's a killer archer with blonde curls and tattoos who nevertheless has a tender side. The romance is swoony. And the supporting characters are fabulous, too.

What about you guys? What are you reading this week?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Interviews, Hemlock Style

This week’s task for the Nightstand was to interview one of your characters. I was all set to do that—I swear I was—but it occurred to me that it might be more fun to interview people about my characters.

Hemlock revolves around three friends all trying to come to grips with the death of one girl: Amy.

Mac, the protagonist, was Amy’s best friend. She’s resilient and a little bit jaded. She tries to protect the people she cares about—even when they don’t want or deserve it.

Jason was Amy’s boyfriend and can probably be summed up with the words “sexy” and “train wreck.”

Kyle is Jason’s best friend. He’s quiet and serious and he doesn’t back down.

The book was still barely a glimmer in my eye when pals and fellow writers Jamie Blair and Laurie Devore were kind enough to beta read an early (we’re talking prehistoric) draft*.

Almost immediately, Laurie proclaimed herself “The Original Jason Fangirl” while Jamie started sending me comments like “HATE HIM! GRRR!” when Jason was being, well, Jason. Given their awesome (and entertaining) reactions to the characters, I thought I’d ask them a few quick questions about why they preferred one character over the other.

Laurie: What drew you to Jason?

Jason is not your typical bad boy (take it from me, I like nice guys). He broods, he drinks, he acts out, and yet he's never another angst-ridden paranormal guy. He's a jackass, but he's THAT boy: the one who makes you feel everything all over, who makes you laugh and cry more than anyone else can, sometimes at the exact same time. You'll find yourself wanting to kiss him and slap him all at the same time, so drawn in, so repulsed, you don't know what you're feeling anymore...he's the hot to Mac's cold and the Yin to her Yang.

But back off, ladies. I'm the Original Jason fangirl.

Jamie: Why did you think Kyle Is a better fit for Mac?

Because he's not a selfish, spoiled rich kid like another certain someone who thinks he's all that...not naming any names...ason-Jay. Kyle truly, madly, deeply cares for Mac.

Laurie: What three words best describe Jason?

Consumed, broken, stealth-sexy

Jamie: One quality that you associate with Kyle?

Just one? Ugh...okay...loyalty--no, wait. Fierce-snuggly. NO. Heartbreaking sensitivity. Yeah. I'm going with that one. Sensitivity. Smexy sensitivity.

Thanks, guys!
Jamie Blair's fantastic book, Leap of Faith, debuts 2013. You can find her on Twitter @JamieMBlair. Laurie Devore crafts beautiful angst in prose form (seriously, her sentences and descriptions twist me up in jealous knots). You can find her on Twitter @laurie_devore.

* Debra Driza was Hemlock’s other early beta. I didn’t ask her any questions because she seemed to like both boys just fine.


Kathleen Peacock is a semi-reformed vampire addict and unapologetic geek who has taken to writing about werewolves. Her debut, HEMLOCK, will be published by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, in Summer 2012. Visit her website at

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Claim Your Space

Lately, I've had kind of a weird problem.

I haven't been able to write in my office.

It's not as if I don't love my office.  I do.  It was built specially for me, after we turned our former office into a nursery when we had our baby last year.  Although my husband uses it too, it's primarily mine.  And so I've filled it with the things I like to have around me when I write - candles, talismans, the Lady of Shalott print on the wall, favorite books for inspiration, research books within arm's reach, and the old 1917 L.C. Smith & Brothers typewriter that I bought at a yard sale for $3.

Years ago, when I first started writing seriously, I worked for a huge investment bank as an administrative assistant on a trading desk.  There were people screaming trades over my head, phones blaring, televisions flashing...and yet, I was somehow able to put on mental blinders and write despite the constant chaos.  I wrote half of my first novel while working there.  I prided myself on being able to write anywhere.

And yet, for the past few weeks, my Muse has become very resistant whenever I pass through the doorway to my lovely office.  She turns me into an antsy six-year-old child who can't sit still in her chair and restlessly looks for some distraction - any distraction -  to keep me from writing.

And so I've had to escape to various LA-area coffeeshops in order to get anything done.  (Favorites: multiple locations of Le Pain Quotidien, Solar de Cahuenga in Hollywood, and Simply Coffee in Burbank.)  What's so bad about writing in a coffeeshop, you might ask.  Well, nothing, really.  Except it gets expensive; they don't let you sit there for free.  Also, you can't sneak out to a coffeeshop after you put your baby to bed at night.  And why should I have to, when I have a perfectly good office right here in my house?

Seriously...what is wrong with my Muse?

I don't know.  I'm sort of content to let it go for a while, figuring that I'll eventually find my way back to my office.  But one of my other writing friends, who teaches writing & creativity workshops, has become fascinated with this problem.  She's been asking me every day whether I've written in the office, and given me all sorts of advice on how to trick my Muse into getting back in there.  It's like her Muse is my Muse's therapist.

As writers, we know how important it is to claim your space.  Even at a coffeeshop, we need a good table where there's no glare on our computer screen and far enough away from the counter traffic and anyone who looks even remotely chatty.  We all  have our rituals that we perform before we face the page - lighting a candle, reciting an affirmation, holding a talisman, or praying to the writing gods to please please please let me finish this freaking chapter.  These rituals are important.  They are as sacred as crossing yourself when you enter a church, praying before a meal, or chanting Om Namah Shivaya during meditation.  After all, treating your space seriously means treating your writing seriously.

So in an effort to make my space more sacred, I cleaned the office the other day.  Not a big purge or anything, just a good thorough dusting and straightening up.  I'm happy to report that I'm writing this blog post while sitting at my desk.  But I can feel my Muse squirming in her chair...

Where do you write?  What are some of your favorite writing rituals?  And is there a place where you absolutely can't get any writing done?

Nicole Maggi lives in Los Angeles, CA with her amazingly supportive husband and is a mom to one-year-old Emilia.  She worked as an actress for many years in New York before the lure of sunshine and avocados enticed her to the West Coast.  Though she still acts, her focus now is on her writing.  In her very limited spare time, Nicole enjoys yoga, hiking, baking (and eating what she bakes), reading, reading, watching reruns of LOST, and more reading.  Please follow her on Twitter so she can reach her goal of 1000 followers by her book's release date!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Plodding or Plotting Along

It's happened to all of us at one time or another. The dreaded WRITER'S BLOCK.

Dun dun dun duuuuuuuuuuun.

You totally got the shivers, didn't you? It's because, for a writer, there is nothing worse to productivity than writer's block. I think the cause of writer's block is different for everyone. Take me, for example. I'm a plotter, so when I get writer's block, it's not because I don't know what's going to happen next. It's usually because I'm just not feeling it. That could because my kid has a fever, I just opened the power bill, the dog barfed on the rug, or any number of things that would put me into a bad mood.

Unfortunately, when you have a contracted sequel to write, an editor isn't likely to care if you were having an "off" day. You're going to have to write despite those days when your brain is elsewhere. So what do you do?

I'll share my personal secret weapon with you. Granted, some of you already know about this program, but for those of you that don't, it's a lifesaver.

Write or Die

What is this awesomely awesome website of awesomeness, you ask? Let me break it down.

First, you can use the features on the website for free, or you can buy the desktop edition for ten dollars. I bought the program. Totally worth it. Next, enter the amount of words you wish to write and the time you wish to write them in. I usually put in 1000 words and I want to have them done in thirty minutes.

Next, select your consequence. You can choose "Gentle Mode" which will have little dialogue bubbles pop up on your screen and reprimand you if you stop writing. This option is for wusses. You can also choose normal mode which will play annoying sounds (like car horns and babies crying) if you stop writing. This option is for school girls.

Or *insert devilish grin* you can choose kamikaze mode which will delete the words you've written if you stop writing for several consecutive seconds. That's right. It. Will. Delete. Your. Words.

This is the only option I use because it's the only one I've found that can adequately motivate a mush-brain such as myself. And it works. Ohmigosh does it work. Now I realize that you're worried that the words written under such pressure are most likely going to be crap. And you're right--they will be crap. Complete crap. But that doesn't matter when it comes to writing what I like to call "The Zero Draft." All that matters is breaking free of the "I can't do this today" block and getting the words on paper.

So there's my secret. I'd love to hear yours. What do you do to break free from writer's block?

When Cole Gibsen isn't writing books for young adults, she can be found rocking out with her band, sewing crazy costumes for the fun of it, picking off her nail polish, or drinking straight from the jug--provided no one is looking.

Her debut novel, KATANA, will be available March 8th, 2012. For more information about Cole you can check out her

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Get a Signed Pre-Order Copy of DARKER STILL: A Novel of Magic Most Foul!

Exciting news!

Sourcebooks Fire and I have parnered with the fabulous WORD Bookstore in Brooklyn, New York City, a fabulous independent bookstore, to enable exclusive, personalized (if you want), signed pre-order copies of DARKER STILL: A Novel of Magic Most Foul! If you're interested in supporting YA fiction at indy bookstores, this is a great way to do so and also to get an exclusive copy! At only $8.99 for a Trade Paperback book, it's an affordable holiday gift for anyone and everyone in your life who might be up for a spooky, Gothic, romantic adventure! Please note: put any personalization requests into the comment field of the order.

We're really hoping this book hits big. And with your help, it can. Thanks in advance for your interest and support.

From the back cover of DARKER STILL: A Novel of Magic Most Foul:

New York City, 1880:

“I was obsessed. It was as if he called to me, demanding I reach out and touch the brushstrokes of color swirled onto the canvas. It was the most exquisite portrait I’d ever seen. Everything about Lord Denbury was unbelievable-- utterly breathtaking and eerily lifelike.

There was a reason for that. Because despite what everyone said, Denbury never had committed suicide. He was alive. Trapped within his golden frame.

I’ve crossed over into his world within the painting and I’ve seen what dreams haunt him. They haunt me too. He and I are inextricably linked- bound together to watch the darkness seeping through the gas-lit cobblestone streets of Manhattan. And unless I can free him soon, things will only get darker still..."

Praise for DARKER STILL:

"Hieber applies some real imagination to the story...A good romp with some effective suspense." Kirkus Reviews

"Spooky, tense, and wonderfully romantic." - Kady Cross, author of The Girl in the Steel Corset

"A lush, Gothic tale that begs for reading." -Sarah Maclean, New York Times bestselling author

"A spirited Victorian heroine, a hot, haunted painting, and a murderous mystery that brings them together - readers will find Magic Most Foul most fabulous!" -- Mari Mancusi, Award winning author of The Blood Coven series

Pre-order a signed copy of DARKER STILL: A Novel of Magic Most Foul - and spread the word!

CHEERS! And, as Natalie would say... "Find your voice..."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The one where the author interviews her main character

Searching, with a shirt on.
Hi. My name is Zoraida Cordova and I'm the author of the up and coming urban fantasy The Vicious Deep. It's about the return of the Sea Court to the coast of Coney Island.

I've spent a few weeks sucking at blog posting. This is because I've been searching.

"Searching?" you say.

"Yes," I say. Look, Look at me searching the beaches of Coney Island. <--

I've been on the lookout for a certain merman. If I know one thing about how to catch a merman, is that you need a good bikini, some bacon, and a little bit of sea mead.


Sorry, he's actually here right now and he's finished ALL the bacon.

Z: Hi Tristan.
T: What's up?

Z: That's it? That's all I get? I bring you this bacon, extra crispy. YOUR FAVORITE? And seaweed beer and all you have to say is What's Up?
T: Uh....You look nice. White goes well with your hair color.

Z: Well, when you put it that way--
T: I don't want to be rude, but, how come you called me?

Z: I'm your creator. I wanted to show you off on my blogs.
T: That's cool.

Z: As you know, I wrote your story
T: (yeah, without my permission)
Z: *louder* I wrote your STORY because mermaids are shiny and pretty--
T: I'm all man, lady! And it's merman. Merbro, if you prefer.
Z: Because you're not on the cover of the novel--
T: *crosses arms* The bad guys get all the credit...
Z: *pats his head* Don't you worry. This is your chance to shine. To let the world (wide web) know more about you.
T: Fine, but lets go on the beach. Your fingers are getting prune and its grossing me out.

*hides hands*

Z: I'm going to give you a series of random things and you have to pick the first one that comes to mind.
T: Okay, but shouldn't you be writing book 2?

Z: Shhh. Summer or Winter?
T: Summer.

Z: Blond or Brunette?
T: Brunette, def.

Z: Cake of Pie?
T: Cherry pie

Z: Buffy or Faith?
T: Who?

Z: Chicken or Bacon?
T: chicken WRAPPED in bacon?

Z: Girlfriend or One time make-out buddy?
T: You wouldn't think so by looking at me, but, girlfriend.

Z: The book or the movie?
T: The book, but don't tell anyone. I don't want to ruin my rep.

Z: An eternity in the seven seas or finishing high school?
T: You can't ask that! No spoilers!

Z: Phone or e-mail?
T: Neither. I like face to face time.

Z: Ocean or pool?
T: My scales look SICK in the pool when it's light out and stuff. But The ocean stings my gills less. So it's hard to choose.

Z: Zombies or Unicorns?
T: I haven't met either-- but I guess, unicorns wouldn't try to eat me. Right....?

Z: Layla or Gwen?
T: Listen, lady! I said NO SPOILERS!

*pushes himself off the rock and swims away from me.*

He's not usually so crabby. But, there you have it. Tristan Hart, a merman out of water. For more about mermaids, Tristan and The Vicious Deep, head over to my blog and Goodreads.

Zoraida Córdova lives in New York City. Unlike Tristan, she loves getting texts, tweets, and all kinds of messages! Just like Tristan, she loves chicken wrapped with bacon. 


Friday, September 16, 2011

What's on Your Nightstand #13

First: Congratulations to the winner of the POSSESS giveaway,CHELLEYREADS! And stay tuned--there will be more Friday giveaways in the future. Now, let's see what our members are reading this week:

Zoraida Cordova: I just got TEXAS GOTHIC by Rosemary Clement Moore. I loved her MAGGIE QUINN: GOOD VS. EVIL series so much! I read THE SPLENDOR FALLS a few weeks ago, and now I must devour this one!

Elisa Ludwig: I'm reading THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN by Josh Berk, about a deaf overweight kid who's sucked into a murder mystery at his new school. So far I'm drawn right in by Hamburger's sardonic wit and the mystery is just getting started so I expect to be entertained this weekend.

Nicole Maggi: I just started BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS by Anna Godbersen. It's about, well, bright young things in 1929 NYC. I devoured her LUXE series so I'm looking forward to reading this with the same relish!

Danny Marks: I did, in fact, pick up Kathryn Stockett's THE HELP again and after the first few chapters I was eating it up. The writing is like liquid silver and the character's spring right off the page. I also, as part of my early Halloween reading, started Andrew Smith's THE MARBURY LENS. It's quite possibly the darkest piece of YA fiction I've had the salivating, heart palpitating pleasure to crack open. Genius stuff!

Gina Rosati: I know I'm supposed to finish proofing my first pass pages by this weekend, but I kept sneaking away to read POSSESS by our very own Gretchen McNeil - it's amazing and brilliant and terrifying! My daughter's dolls must go!!!

Jessica Spotswood: I'm reading Claudia Gray's FATEFUL. It's got a great hook: werewolves on the Titanic! The feisty, sympathetic protagonist, Tess, is a servant to a wealthy family with lots of secrets. I'm a sucker for historical paranormal and this has a great voice.

What about you guys? What are you reading this week? Tell us about it in the comments!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


The topic du jour is plotting, or more specifically, what are my favorite ways (like shower, laundry, exercise) to figure out plot.

Actually, I like to plot while I drive. There are no laws prohibiting plotting while driving, and I have yet to squash a squirrel as a result of my multi-tasking. I plot while driving out of necessity … I have two teenagers so I’m in the car a lot. I drive up the Daniel Webster Highway. I drive down the Daniel Webster Highway. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. When I’m just driving around delivering children to wherever they need to go, I love loud music, but when I’m plotting, I like it on the quiet side. You’ll know I’m plotting if you pull up beside me at a red light, and I’m scribbling maniacally in my Moleskine. Sadly, I can’t always read what I’ve written, because it looks something like this: adv crse so T hs chnc to scr phn –ck lgstcs

I also plot in the wee hours of the morning. If I fall asleep before 11 p.m., I often wake up at 3:15 a.m., which creeps me out because that’s the same time the guy in Amityville Horror woke up. The nice thing about 3:15 in my house is it’s dark and quiet so while I’m waiting to fall back to sleep, my characters usually pop into my head and start chatting with each other until a scene forms, then I write it down (in the dark) and the next morning, it looks something like this: ȸɐɏɠ ɥɰɶ ʠΐηϬ. No, I can’t read that, either.

I’ve been inspired by chopping vegetables, cleaning the toilet, flossing my teeth, eating cereal, sitting on a boat, getting the mail . . . the list goes on. But usually I plot best when I sit my tush in the desk chair and work it. Plotting is equal parts whimsy and logic and willingness to make your characters suffer. I aim for about sixty scenes in a novel, and every one of those scenes must contain some kind of conflict, each building off a previous scene and contributing to the next. I’ve said it before . . . writing a book is like putting together an 80,000 piece puzzle. There will be pieces that won’t fit, and these are the pages I wave good-bye to and add to my widow & orphans file. William Faulkner said to kill our darlings. William Faulkner was right.

When I wrote the first draft of AURACLE, I pantsed my way through it. I had a concept (astral projection) a protagonist and an antagonist. Since I was writing a paranormal romance, I needed a love interest, too, so I came up with one of those (that’s a story for another day ; ). I had a solid setting, a theme, and a good enough writing voice to attract the attention of an amazing agent (Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger) who very nicely let me know the one thing I was missing … a plot. I am forever grateful to Andrea – it’s with her help that AURACLE took shape, and under the loving care of my editor, Katherine Jacobs from Roaring Brook Press, we polished it up and it will launch on August 7, 2012 …

… which means it’s time to fold some laundry and see what I come up with next.

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Gina Rosati is the debut author of AURACLE, a YA paranormal romance (Roaring Brook Press, August 2012.) She lives with her family in southern NH. She likes trees, cute fuzzy animals, and cinnamon red hots.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Give Your Monkey a Task

As writers, we face a lot of obstacles while trying to plot out a novel.  But probably the biggest obstacle we have to hurdle is our very own busy-busy-busy minds.

I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.  You're writing along, and you come to a place in the story where the plot is a little murky, or where you're unsure of your character's next move.  And suddenly your mind comes up with a million things that you need to be doing: laundry, grocery shopping, paying bills...anything except writing.

Monkey Mind, be gone!
Monkey Mind has struck again.

According to the incomparable Natalie Goldberg, we all have a Monkey Mind; that part of our brain that chatters and jibber-jabbers on and on and won't shut up.  The part of brain that tells us we suck as writers and we'll never amount to anything.  The part of our brain that tells us we'd be better off doing the laundry than writing.

You must learn to shut your Monkey Mind up.

How do you do that?  Well, like all monkeys, Monkey Mind likes to be busy.  So give it a task.  Once your Monkey Mind is nice and distracted, your Wild Mind will be free come out and play.  And your Wild Mind is where all your ideas live.  Wild Mind is that juicy, fertile land of plots and character and inspiration.  Writers live in Wild Mind.

Wild Mind Territory
Two of my favorite Monkey Mind tasks are cooking and walking.  (Driving is also a good one, but it's hard to stop and write down ideas when you're driving.)  My Monkey Mind loves to chop vegetables and measure ingredients and bake cakes.  And while it's busy doing that, my Wild Mind roams free over the hills and valleys of whatever plot points I'm trying to figure out.

When I was working on my novel Shift, my husband and I would take long walks after dinner every evening.  As we walked, we'd brainstorm plot ideas.  (A lot of his ideas were ripped from television shows and I'm not ashamed to admit that I used one from that guiltiest of guilty pleasures, Nip/Tuck.)  There was something about the simple act of walking through the tree-lined streets of our neighborhood that facilitated these productive brainstorming sessions, much more so than if we'd been sitting on our living room couch.

So the next time you get stuck on a plot point, and your Monkey Mind won't stop twittering in your ear, pull out an elaborate souffle recipe.  Or grab your sneakers.  Find a task that will occupy your Monkey Mind for hours, and take the scenic route through Wild Mind.

Nicole Maggi lives in Los Angeles, CA with her amazingly supportive husband and is a mom to one-year-old Emilia.  She worked as an actress for many years in New York before the lure of sunshine and avocados enticed her to the West Coast.  Though she still acts, her focus now is on her writing.  In her very limited spare time, Nicole enjoys yoga, hiking, baking (and eating what she bakes), reading, reading, watching reruns of LOST, and more reading.  Please follow her on Twitter so she can reach her goal of 1000 followers by her book's release date!