Monday, December 22, 2014

Interview with Eric Smith

Yes, this is really happening: a blog post from me. Some of you might be aware that I've been slacking on posts lately. Some of you (not going to mention any names here) might've already pointed this out to me. Like, several times.


(Cue the excuses)

I had a deadline, which butted up to an extended European vacation, which butted up to another deadline, which butted up to...well, right now. 

Anyhoo, this post was worth the wait because I was lucky enough to recently chat up the charmingly funny Eric Smith, author of INKED, which is due out on January 20th.  


Here's a little bit about INKED:

Tattoos once were an act of rebellion. Now they decide your destiny the moment the magical Ink settles under your skin. 

And in a world where Ink controls your fate, Caenum can’t escape soon enough. He is ready to run from his family, and his best friend Dreya, and the home he has known, just to have a chance at a choice. 

But when he upsets the very Scribe scheduled to give him his Ink on his eighteenth birthday, he unwittingly sets in motion a series of events that sends the corrupt, magic-fearing government, The Citadel, after him and those he loves. 

A high-octane fantasy adventure, perfect for anyone who has dreamed of being different… only to discover that fate is more than skin deep.

Awesome premise, right? Right. 
Check out the interview:

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Sure! I grew up in Elizabeth, NJ, a city just outside of Newark and not too far from New York City. I grew up a total bookworm, and ended up going to Kean University for my BA in English. I moved to Philadelphia to get my MA, with the goal of one day being an editor, teacher, writer... anything that let me fuss with words. Eventually I found my way to Quirk Books, an indie publisher in Philadelphia, where I do social media marketing, while writing during my free time. Something they certainly encourage, considering they put out my first published book, The Geek's Guide to Dating, in December. 

What drew you into the young adult genre?

I grew up reading a lot of YA, but what really set it off was something at work. We had started prepping to market Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, our first YA book, and I felt like I need to get to know the genre. So I read a few. And then some more. And then OMG MY BOOKSHELVES ARE FULL. I fell in love with a genre I hadn't read in a long time, and thought maybe this was the genre I should be writing in. I gave it a go, and now here we are. 

What is your writing process like?

I can really write whenever, but I do enjoy sitting in coffee shops, being the cliche. :-) I generally dedicate Sundays to a full day of writing, working on my blog posts, essay ideas, and bookish stuff the entire day. I write during the week too when I have time, but Sundays are my one full day a week, and I try to get a lot done. 

Where is your favorite place to write?

A place called Coffee Bar in Philadelphia. It's quiet, the staff are great. It's a bit of a ritual, and I like it. I also love my undergrad's library. I'll go home to NJ for a week of vacation, to write and relax over there. 

Is there anything in particular that gets you in the writing zone?

Good music helps! And chatting with my writer friends. 

Do you ever get writer's block? Any tips to get past it?

But of course! I like to cure writer's block by reading something great. I'll pick up a new book, snuggle up, and usually that does it. Or browsing around in my favorite bookstores. 

Who are some of your favorite authors?

These days I'm reading a lot of John Scalzi, trying to catch up on his sci-fi books. I really love Cory Doctorow, Daniel H. Wilson, Cheri Priest, Ben H. Winters, Susan Dennard (who I read as research, and now we're friends)... I really dig sci-fi and fantasy. I'll also read anything and everything Rainbow Rowell, John Green, and Nick Hornby write. And in terms of classics... Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. Always. <3 

What advice would you give your younger self?

Read even more! And don't do that thing where you compare yourselves to others. Jealousy doesn't help anyone. 

What inspired you to write INKED? 

Reading a ton of YA, and my pal Brian. He's a tattoo artist from the area, and gave me my first tattoos (quotation marks on my wrists). He made some comment about how he is covered in tattoos, and how basically, he'll be a tattoo artist for the rest of his life. "What else am I going to do?" He asked. Now, he LOVES his work and he's great at it, but my mind started spinning a bit. What if he didn't? This was around the time I was trying to think of a fantasy novel idea, and it all just sort of mashed together. 

What was the hardest part about writing this particular book?

Trying to get the voice right. Sometimes it felt too old, sometimes it felt too young. It's a tough thing! That and trying to make sure my characters were strong. 

Can you tell us a little bit about your hero/heroine?

Sure! Caenum. He's a headstrong, nervous teen who gets caught up in things way bigger than he is. I like to think he reacts to things the way most teenagers do, when thrown into extraordinary circumstances. He's skeptical of a lot of what is happening around him, to him and those close to him... but tries his best to adapt and move forward, helping those along the way. 

What other projects do you have coming up?

Trying really hard to write a sequel to this book! :-) And writing essays whenever I can. 


Eric Smith is an author, blogger, gamer, and publishing geek living and writing in Philadelphia
His latest book, The Geek’s Guide to Dating, was published by Quirk Books in December 2013, and was an Amazon 2013 Best Book of the Year selection in Humor. He still can’t believe that happened.
His first Young Adult novel, Inkedwill debut with Bloomsbury Spark in January of 2015.

You can preorder INKED on AmazonBarnes and NobleGoogle Play, and Kobo.  And/or add it on Goodreads.

Say hello to Eric on his website and Twitter

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

SILO Blog Heist

*dings water glass to get everyone's attention*

People. Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you've heard of Lindsay Currie and Trisha Leaver, YA authors of CREED, the gripping psychological thriller due out this November. 

Well, the thing is...






They're hanging out on my blog today to share a crazy-exciting announcement!!!  (And you're going to want to hear what they have to say because--HELLO--it's crazy-exciting.;)

*hands over the mic and then jumps up and down in the corner of the room like a fangirl lunatic*

Trisha: With the release date of CREED rapidly approaching, Lindsay and I have been fielding questions about what our co-authored voice sounds like,  how psychologically twisted our collective mind is, and do I need to read all of your co-authored pieces with the lights on?
Rather than simply answer those questions, we thought we’d take it one step further and actually show you! We toyed with writing a prequel-type novella to set the stage for CREED, but you know us…why write a novella to CREED when you can give them  entirely different book to enjoy!
After much discussion with our agents and an enthusiastic ‘go for it’ from our publisher, we have decided to utilize Wattpad to give the world a sneak peek at what they can expect from our co-authored voice. So here it is, a new, psychologically twisted, co-authored YA Thriller.

“The darkness would’ve scared me years ago, but not anymore—if you couldn’t see it, then you didn’t know it was there to be afraid of.”~Jake Holloway, SILO

Starting today, we will be sharing a chapter a week of our co-authored book, SILO, on Wattpad for the world to enjoy, hate, question our sanity, run screaming from… The last chapter of the book will drop the week of November 8th, the same week CREED releases!
So, go forth and be appropriately frightened as you realize just what our twisted minds of capable of.  Spread the word, leave a comment on Wattpad or simply enjoy the book in the dark confines of your own home. 
Link to SILO on Wattpad:

Trisha Leaver lives on Cape Cod with her husband, three children, and one rather irreverent dog.  Her co-authored, YA Psychological Horror drops November 8, 2014 from FLUX.  Her solo YA Contemporary, THE SECRETS WE KEEP, releases April, 28th 2015 from FSG/ Macmillan.

Lindsay lives in Chicago, Illinois with one incredibly patient hubby, three amazing kids and one adorable, but irreverent Bullmastiff named Sam. She graduated from Knox College in the heart of the Midwest and has been writing for as long as she can remember.

Today, Lindsay is an author, as well as a freelance editor for young adult, new adult and middle grade fiction.  She is a proud member of SCBWI, The YA Scream Queens and OneFourKidLit. 



Friday, June 6, 2014

Interview with Kerry O'Malley Cerra

I'm SO EXCITED today to be interviewing my fellow Fearless Fifteener/Diversity Leaguer, the remarkably kindhearted Kerry O'Malley Cerra, whose debut MG novel, JUST A DROP OF WATER, comes out September 2, 2014 via Sky Pony Press. Which is--GAH!--right around the corner! 

And I. Cannot. Wait.   :)

*Cue inner fireworks*

Here's a little bit about the story:

Ever since he was little, Jake Green has longed to be a soldier and a hero like his grandpa, who died serving his country. Right now, though, he just wants to outsmart—and outrun—the rival cross country team, the Palmetto Bugs. But then the tragedy of September 11 happens. It’s quickly discovered that one of the hijackers lived nearby, making Jake’s Florida town an FBI hot spot. Two days later, the tragedy becomes even more personal when Jake’s best friend, Sam Madina, is pummeled for being an Arab Muslim by their bully classmate, Bobby.

According to Jake’s personal code of conduct, anyone who beats up your best friend is due for a butt kicking, and so Jake goes after Bobby. But soon after, Sam’s father is detained by the FBI and Jake’s mom doubts the innocence of Sam’s family, forcing Jake to choose between his best friend and his parents. When Jake finds out that Sam’s been keeping secrets, too, he doesn’t know who his allies are anymore. But the final blow comes when his grandpa’s real past is revealed to Jake. Suddenly, everything he ever knew to be true feels like one big lie. In the end, he must decide: either walk away from Sam and the revenge that Bobby has planned, or become the hero he’s always aspired to be.

A gripping and intensely touching debut middle grade novel by Kerry O’Malley Cerra, Just a Drop of Water brings the events of September 11, which shook the world, into the lens of a young boy who is desperately trying to understand the ramifications of this life-altering event.

Congratulations on your debut, Kerry! Can you tell us a little about what inspired you to write JUST A DROP OF WATER?

You’ll find a longer—and very personal—version of this answer on my website, but in short, one of my good friends is Muslim and in the days following 9/11, I had some serious doubts about his family’s innocence when I learned that some of the terrorists lived and learned to fly practically in our backyards. The FBI was certain local people had to have helped these guys at some point. All the “what ifs” and “maybes” swarmed my head. Even though I was friends with this family, I doubted them. When the fear subsided and my head cleared, I knew, for certain, that it was crazy to think they’d be involved, and I hated myself for ever being suspicious of them in the first place.

Couple that with the fact that I used to teach social studies and wanted to make sure kids really understood the events leading up to and following that tragic day, well, a story was brewing in my head before I even realized it. Kids are our hope for the future. They need to understand more than what a textbook will ever give them. I hope they find that in Just a Drop of Water—the future is theirs.

Who are some of your favorite authors? 

This one is easy. I have a ton of YA and adult authors that I like, but I’ll stick to middle-grade since that’s what I write. In no particular order, I absolutely love, LoVe, LOVE a story with a rich setting that takes me somewhere I’ve never been. For that, I’d say my favorites are Jo Knowles, Kathryn Fitzmaurice, Jennifer Holm, Linda Mullaly Hunt, RJ Palacio & Christina Diaz Gonzalez. But, I also love stories that make me laugh, so I pretty much bow down to authors like Donna Gephart, Tim Federle, Chris Rylander, and Gennifer Choldenko. Whew, that’s a lot of people and I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few. Basically, if a story sticks with me, you’re on my favorites list for life. So in that case, throw in Judy Blume because the first book I ever fell in love with—and surely the one that led me to become a writer myself—is Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Love!!

What advice would you give your younger self?

I had a really great group of friends all through high school. And they were smart—like genius smart. But guess what? I wasn’t. That said, I didn’t have many classes with my best friends because they took all sorts of AP courses and honors and the typical stuff brainiacs do. They never made me feel inadequate, but I certainly made myself feel that way. I’d love to go back and tell myself that even though I would never be the smartest, it turns out life is more about effort and if you can give it your best, you’re gonna be just fine. On a side note: I swear if my older self had told my younger self I’d be a published author someday, I’d have spewed Dr. Pepper out my nose in disbelief.

What was the hardest part about writing this particular book?

I’d have to say it’s super hard to admit—so publicly, mind you—that I doubted my friend and his family. Even though they say they understand, it doesn’t make it easier. But I can’t explain my reasoning without admitting it. Forgiveness is a powerful thing! The research was also difficult. The day I wrote the actual 9/11 scene was gut-wrenching. I watched one YouTube video after another, taking detailed notes so I could describe the scene the way a typical, innocent thirteen-year-old boy would. Then I went for a walk and threw up. I’m not even kidding.

Where is your favorite place to write?

Hands down, the beach is my favorite—and most productive—place to write. It’s soothing, it gets my mind going, and there’s no housework, dogs, or kids to deal with. I get so much done when I go. I went just yesterday and have almost finished outlining a brand new book.

Thanks again for asking me to join you, Marci.

My pleasure, Kerry! I cannot wait to get my hands on this book!

About Kerry:

Kerry O'Malley Cerra's career as an author began at age five when she wrote her first story using crayons on the back wall of her family’s house. She later graduated with a Social Science Education degree from the University of South Florida—GO BULLS!—and taught high school history. After meeting her most awesome critique pals, she joined SCBWI, helped launch Whatcha’ Reading Now?, got an agent, sold a book, and the rest is history—which is her favorite subject ya’ know!

Her middle-grade novel, Just a Drop of Water, debuts on September 2, 2014 from Sky Pony Press. You can best find her on her Website and Twitter.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Interview with Heather Marie

Guys, it's March! Which means that the clocks are springing forward and the cold weather is about to crawl back to where it belongs--Ohio or Ontario or some other godforsaken, miserably cold, north-ish place that begins and ends with an O. Also, March means that we are one step closer to the summer, when Heather Marie's GATEWAY THROUGH WHICH THEY CAME hits the shelves.


The thing about Heather is that she's so adorably sweet that there's probably a butterfly fluttering around her all day long. And the other thing about Heather is that when she sits down to write, that very same butterfly probably skitters off to the corner of the room, shivering and cowering and covering his eyeballs with his antennas. 

Yeah. She writes some creepy stuff. 

Case in point:

To seventeen-year-old Aiden Ortiz, letting the dead walk through his body to reach the other side comes with the territory. Being a Gateway isn’t an easy job, but someone’s gotta send Bleeders where they belong. Heaven. Salvation. Call it whatever you want. Dead is dead. But when his search for Koren Banks––the girl who went mysteriously missing seven months ago––leaves him with more questions than answers, he finds himself involved in something far more sinister and beyond his control. 

With the threat of the Dark Priest's resurrection, and his plan to summon his demon brothers from hell, Aiden is left to discover his identity before the Dark Priest's curse infecting his blood consumes him, and before the world as he knows it succumbs to the darkness of hell on earth.

So recently I picked Heather's brain about her stories, her road to publishing, her inspiration for GATEWAY, and her characters. And you're going to love what she had to say:

What drew you into the young adult genre?

I've always felt like a big kid myself, so it seemed fitting for me to write for teens. Initially, what drew me into the genre, was the idea of first love. It's such a sweet experience that happens to all of us, and I love reading about characters experiencing it for the first time. With that being said, when I really started getting into YA, I was searching out anything paranormal. Vampires, ghosts, werewolves, you name it. This may or may not have started after the Twilight phase, as it did with everyone. Though, to be honest, my favorite part about Young Adult literature is that the pacing is always very on par. I have a short attention span, so it's hard for me to read adult books without losing interest fairly quickly. 

As for writing YA, I feel more connected with the characters due to their age. My teen years were important to me, and I experienced so much, which is what I keep in mind as I write. I want to show people, especially teens, through my books that there's so much to learn and enjoy in within those teen stages in life. But, of course, I throw in some crazy supernatural to make it a bit more interesting, but the idea is still there. Our choices as human beings are incredibly important and I tend to demonstrate this through my characters. 

Was there ever a time that you considered giving up on your aspiration to write?

Oh, most certainly! Who hasn't? I went through a really hard time after I left my agent. It always seems like the a**backward thing to do, but it was right for me at the time. And when I continued to get rejections with my next manuscript, I was starting to worry that my writing career had ended before it even began. That seems really dramatic, but I was in such a dark place, I didn't know how to feel exactly. I'm really glad that I moved forward and forced myself to keep writing. I'm so incredibly happy with my publisher Curiosity Quills Press, and beyond thankful to Alisa Gus for signing GATEWAY. 

What advice would you give your younger self?

Believe that things will get better, because they will. Be strong. And brave. One day you'll be able to leave all those things, and people, behind that are weighing you down. None of it will matter, because you're so much better than that. 

And go to college, for goodness sakes! Man, I wish I would have gone with my gut and followed my writing dream way sooner. But, hey, it's okay now! 

What inspired you to write THE GATEWAY THROUGH WHICH THEY CAME? 

Ghost Adventures. Well, not that show exactly, but my love for the supernatural is what started it all. But I'm pretty sure the idea came to me while I was having a GA marathon. I'm a huge believer in ghosts having had my own experiences, so a lot of what I write is based on the supernatural. I just find it fascinating. 

Can you tell us a little bit about your hero/heroine?

Oh, Aiden. He is such a genuine guy. The biggest part of Aiden is the gift he was born with that has become such a burden. Having the dead following you in order to pass on is extremely annoying, but strangely satisfying. He loves helping others and doing what he can, but in the end, he just wants to be normal. This dream to be like everyone else crashes and burns when his gift becomes more of a curse than anything else. When his life begins to change in a big way, he struggles with his beliefs and where exactly he fits in this world. It's something every kid goes through, and he wants so badly to be good, but much like life, there's just too much temptation. 

I really love Aiden as a character, and I feel bad every time I have to complicate his little world. What can I say? I'm such a meanie.


Heather Marie writes YA supernatural horror, but sometimes dabbles with dark contemporary. She lives in Northern California with her husband and spends most of her time reading through a horde of library books. Her debut, THE GATEWAY THROUGH WHICH THEY CAME, is forthcoming from Curiosity Quills Press on August 25th, 2014.  

Heather's Twitter, Facebookand Blog