Thursday, April 25, 2013

UNBREAKABLE by Elizabeth Norris

Last year, I featured UNRAVELING--an awesome YA science fiction thriller by Elizabeth Norris. I'm excited to announce that the sequel, UNBREAKABLE, just came out! I was lucky enough to get an ARC, and from what I've read so far, Liz does a great job of giving just enough detail about the first book to entice readers while moving the story forward. (Very difficult to do.) I can't wait to read the rest!

Four months after Ben disappeared through the portal to his home universe, Janelle believes she’ll never see him again. Her world is still devastated, but life is finally starting to resume some kind of normalcy. Until Interverse Agent Taylor Barclay shows up. Somebody from an alternate universe is running a human trafficking ring, kidnapping people and selling them on different Earths—and Ben is the prime suspect. Now his family has been imprisoned and will be executed if Ben doesn’t turn himself over within five days.

And when Janelle learns that someone she cares about—someone from her own world—has become one of the missing, she knows that she has to help Barclay, regardless of the danger. Now Janelle has five days to track down the real culprit. Five days to locate the missing people before they’re lost forever. Five days to reunite with the boy who stole her heart. But as the clues begin to add up, Janelle realizes that she’s in way over her head—and that she may not have known Ben as well as she thought. Can she uncover the truth before everyone she cares about is killed?

Liz was kind enough to answer some questions about writing a sequel, as well as some other stuff:

I love the premise of UNBREAKABLE! Did the idea for the book come before or after UNRAVELING?
When I first began writing Unraveling, I was focused on the first story. I envisioned it as a stand alone. My editor read it, though, and thought there had to be another book. (And she was right, I had a lot of readers who agreed). Luckily, despite the fact that I envisioned it as just one novel, I did have a vague sense of where I imagined Janelle and Ben's story going. I knew I wanted Janelle to get wrapped up in a case that would expand her world and bring her closer to the Interverse Agency. I also knew that I wanted it to tie into one of her father's old cases that's mentioned briefly in Unraveling. From there, it was just a matter of fleshing out the details.

What have been some challenges in writing the second book in a series? Is it difficult to maintain a balance between new and returning readers? Was there anything that surprised you?
Writing the second book definitely presented interesting challenges. Just being so much more immersed in the business aspect of books with Unraveling's journey to publication while also trying to write a new book could be challenging. I had never written to deadlines, which meant I couldn't just write when I was feeling inspired. Sometimes when I sat down to write, I worried that I was just forcing the words to come rather than feeling like I had to get them out. At the same time, I was going back and forth between drafting Unbreakable and editing or doing publicity on Unraveling. Plus, early reviews were coming out, and every rave review was wonderful and also terrifying, because what if my second book was a disappointment? I put a lot of pressure on myself because I really wanted to raise the stakes in Unbreakable and make it even better.

You've definitely done a great job, and I love the book so far. What is it like to keep track of story threads that span over multiple books? Does this affect your editing process in any way?
It definitely has the potential to be tough. I do a lot of brainstorming and outlining, and I take a lot of notes and I referred back to Unraveling or my notes a lot during writing and editing Unbreakable. I'm also indebted to the team at HarperCollins who thankfully caught a few of the inconsistencies that slipped past me. In terms of editing, I really like to do a read through of the novel, out loud, once we've gotten to the last round of edits or even at the copyedit stage. I catch a lot more when I have to read through and say each word out loud.

Definitely a great method! In our last interview, you mentioned the possibility of a YA mystery project. Is that still in development, or are you working on something new?

That's definitely still in development and it's a project I'm definitely excited about. It's not going to be my third book though. In the beginning of this year, I was grabbed by a new idea. I don't want to say too much about it, because I'm not finished, but I brainstormed and outlined, and then wrote about 60k words. I still have more to go, but it's definitely the book of my heart right now.

Sounds awesome! If you were stuck on a desert island, which books would you take with you and why?

I would love to take my iPad if the desert island had wireless, but if that isn't possible, I'd definitely bring Pride & Prejudice, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, and The Great Gatsby because they're books that I can always read over and over again. I'd also need a few blank journals and a pen!

To purchase a copy of UNRAVELING or UNBREAKABLE, click on one of the links below. Liz is also doing a really fun contest to celebrate the release of UNBREAKABLE. Be sure to check it out!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

HOLLYWEIRD by Terri Clark

I found Terri Clark on Twitter, and her books were so compelling that I immediately contacted her for an interview. You can keep up with Terri by following her on Facebook (, Twitter ( and her website, Her latest release is HOLLYWEIRD.

My best friend, Des, and I totally freaked when we won the contest to meet THE Dakota Danvers in Hollywood. But now we're finding out he's SO not the angel everyone believes him to be. In fact, Dakota is the son of Satan, wreaking havoc on Hollywood and creating an evil army hellbent on world domination. Lucky for us, Dakota's super-cute personal assistant, Jameson, is a fallen angel trying to get his wings back, and he's working undercover to squash his demon boss's plan. If Jameson hadn't taken me under his wing I'd be in serious trouble, because I'm a total newb when it comes to conquering evil. But, truth be told, that sexy angel's got me all aflutter and may be one temptation I can't resist.

Here are Terri's answers to some of my questions:

 Your website bio states that you have an extensive interest in not only the supernatural, but in writing characters that are different and quirky. How do you develop your characters, and which have been your favorite to write?
    Because I write magical realism and paranormals my primary character's power is usually the first thing I create and then the person develops around that newly acquired skill. Inevitably, my heroine feels like a misfit, something I think most everyone can relate to. I also like to imbue my characters with humor, peculiarities and a strength they didn't fully realize was always there. In reality we all have little superstitions, habits, colloquialisms and eccentricities that make us unique. I take great pleasure in noticing those in others and using them in my writing because I think those fine details are what makes a character memorable and stand-out. To date, my favorite character to write is Des from Hollyweird. She's fearless, fun, energetic and I had a hoot making up her Desisms (word smashes she made up).  


What a great way to make your characters unique as well as relatable! You also have a B.A. in Psychology. Has this influenced your writing in any way, and can you tell us more about your journey toward becoming a writer?
    I absolutely think my degree has influenced my writing. I believe I come from a place of psychological intent when I create my characters and I better understand the mental reasoning behind their choices. Probably the strongest example I can give is Rafe from SLEEPLESS. Psychology absolutely informed my writing that villain.
    As for how I became I writer...I had written my entire life, but never once thought of doing it as a job. I don't know why. Writing was just what I did, who I was. Only after college, when I became a stay-at-home mom and found an online writing community did I think "hey, maybe I should do this seriously." From then on I started writing. It actually took me 12 years to sell my first book. But it was worth the wait. 


Definitely goes to show how important writing communities and persistence can be. I love the premise for HOLLYWEIRD. Where did the idea first blossom, and what do you want readers to take away when they're finished with it?
    Thank you! I'm a huge fangirl of the TV show Supernatural. Several other authors and I wrote for a blog called Supernatural Sisters. At one time we were trying to arrange a set visit. I was SO excited about the idea of possibly touring the set and meeting Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki that my imagination ran away with me. I'd blush to tell you some of the fantasies I had. Unfortunately we weren't able to get clearance and I was crushed, but a story idea was born. What if two teen girls won a trip to meet their favorite TV star and when they got to the set they learned that things were just as scary and paranormal in real life as it was on the show?
    I hope that readers walk away from Hollyweird with a smile on their face. I want them to laugh more than anything, but I always hope my stories inspire readers to have a little more faith and confidence in themselves.

I love that your premise came from a real-life experience! As a Teen Patron Services Specialist, is it a challenge to allocate time for writing along with day-job demands? What time management tips have you found useful to maintain this balance?
    Oh yes! In addition to my day job, I'm also a mom to two teens so it's definitely a challenge to balance things. I don't know that I have any tips to share other than make time for yourself. There are times I forget to do that and then my writing suffers and I feel a part of myself is missing. I may only have a small window of time on some days, but I try to do something every day even if it's only for a little while. The bits and pieces add up and then I'm not so grumpy from being writing deprived. LOL 


Self-time is so important. What are some of your current projects?
    I'm currently working on a new series called VOLTAGE. It mixes comedy and mystery, much like SLEEPLESS did. I don't have a contract for it yet. I'm currently sending it to agents, so please cross your fingers and toes for me.

 To purchase a copy of HOLLYWEIRD for yourself, click on the link below:


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

THE END GAMES by T. Michael Martin

This is a really exiting debut--and a very unique take on zombies.  I was met Mike at a conference last year--not only is he a great writer, but also a great person.

It happened on Halloween.

The world ended.

And a dangerous Game brought it back to life.

Seventeen-year-old Michael and his five-year-old brother, Patrick, have been battling monsters in The Game for weeks.

In the rural mountains of West Virginia, armed with only their rifle and their love for each other, the brothers follow Instructions from the mysterious Game Master. They spend their days searching for survivors, their nights fighting endless hordes of “Bellows”—creatures that roam the dark, roaring for flesh. And at this Game, Michael and Patrick are very good.

But The Game is changing.
The Bellows are evolving.

The Game Master is leading Michael and Patrick to other survivors—survivors who don’t play by the rules.

And the brothers will never be the same.

THE END GAMES releases on May 7, but you can pre-order it starting today by clicking the button below.

To find out more, go to Mike's website or vlog.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

ASK AGAIN LATER, by Francesca Zappia

The premise of Francesca Zappia's upcoming book, ASK AGAIN LATER, immediately drew me in.

From Goodreads:

Francesca Zappia's debut ASK AGAIN LATER is about the ultimate unreliable narrator, a schizophrenic teenage girl unable to tell the difference between reality and delusion who discovers -- thanks to her Magic 8-Ball, her little sister, and a boy she thought was imaginary -- that sometimes there really is someone out to get you.

Expected publication: 2014

What would you like everyone to know about you and your journey toward becoming a writer?

It was never really a journey toward becoming a writer, because I've always been a writer. It was more a journey toward becoming a published author, and I think the most important thing about it was that it wasn't any harder or easier than anyone else's. I think when people look at a certain author's agent or book deal announcement story, they think, "Wow, why did they have it so easy? What did they have that I didn't?" I know I used to think that. But then I realized that sure, that person might have had a smooth path to getting an agent, but an extremely bumpy one to getting a book deal. Or vice versa. Or maybe they got an agent and a book deal easily, but then they run out of ideas, or can't deal with the stress of deadlines and edits. Everyone's journey is different. Mine was different than anyone else I know. But I'm perfectly happy with it.

Excellent answer. It's true--everyone's journey is different--and each author I've interviewed has a different story. Thanks for sharing yours!
I love the premise of ASK AGAIN LATER! Where did the idea come from, and how has it changed from when you first started writing it?

Thank you! To be honest, I've been working on it for so long, I'm not sure anymore. I wrote the original story back when I was in fifth or sixth grade. Before, it was about paranoid schizophrenia. Since then, it kind of mutated with each draft. Some parts of it stuck, other parts fell away. Schizophrenia became the driving force behind it. I saw someone say that they read the summary and thought it sounded like a plotting nightmare, which made me laugh--of all my stories, I never felt like I was really plotting while I wrote it. It came together from scenes from different drafts, from pieces of ideas about the characters and the places. I never sat down and made a concrete plot. It has a concrete plot, but not by design.

If I had to guess where the story originated from, it would be my need to write about the two central characters, Alex and Miles. Not necessarily as a schizophrenic and a genius, but as people. In my head, they've always existed independently of ASK AGAIN LATER, but this story was a way to show them to the world.

What a great example of how characters can drive plot--and I'm glad it wasn't a plotting nightmare after all!
The design on your website is fantastic! What recommendations might you have for authors building a website or online presence?

Thanks! But all credit for that has to go to Hafsah over at IceyDesigns. Advice? Talk to people. I mean, trust me, I am the biggest shut-in you will ever meet. If I'm not at work, I am embarrassingly socially awkward. But the best way to build an online presence is to talk to people. Get to know them. Make connections. Leave comments on blog posts, retweet giveaways and interviews, congratulate others on their good news. They'll reciprocate, I promise. (Also, the writing community is a lot more fun when you have other people to interact with.)

As for building a website, make it easy on the eyes. You don't have to hire a website designer--Blogger and Wordpress both have great templates you can use--but seriously. No neon text on a black background. No weird extra graphics all over the place. And for the love of everything holy, no Comic Sans.

Great tips! My husband is a graphic designer, and he loathes the Papyrus font (I'll have to ask him how he feels about Comic Sans!).
Is it a challenge to divide time between your artwork and writing? Has your writing been influenced by your artwork, or vice versa?

I've never seen it as a challenge, mostly because making art has always kind of been a extra facet of my writing. It's like, you have this big machine called Story Creation: the writing is the main engine driving it, but drawing is the outer covering, what makes it look pretty. My artwork has been influenced by my writing in that I rarely, if ever, draw anything that isn't in my stories. Occasionally I'll draw something that makes its way into the story. For example, in ASK AGAIN LATER, Alex has a tendency to notice Miles's freckles. He didn't have freckles until I added them in on a drawing one day.

The only time I have to divide my time is when I've been commissioned. I occasionally do artwork for other people, usually writer friends, and for that I have to force myself to sit down and just do it. I did a set of six comics for Leigh Ann Kopans's ONE, coming out this June, and I set aside a few hours every weeknight and every Saturday for a few weeks to work on them.

 Great analogy with the machine! What are some of your current projects?

It's kind of funny, because I'm in one of those in-between spots where I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to be doing next, so I'm working on a little bit of every idea I've ever had. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to give details on any of them, though. I will say that none of them are contemporary. I think people will think it's weird, but ASK AGAIN LATER is the only contemporary book I've ever written (and ever plan to write). Normally I'm a sci-fi/fantasy kind of person.

Though I am working on a story that's kind of a sci-fi/contemporary hybrid, and I think it'll appeal to contemporary fans. (Or at least I hope so!)

Thanks Francesca, for the awesome interview!