Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Moa Blog Tour and Excerpt

I'm participating in the blog tour for Moa, a paranormal YA with a literary bent, and get to share an excerpt with you! :)

First, a little about the book, its sequel, and the author:

About Moa: Eighteen-year-old, Hillary, anticipates adventure as she embarks for trip to Honolulu, but gets more than she bargained for when Moa, an ancient Hawaiian spirit, pays her an unexpected visit. Get it on Amazon.
About Statue of Ku:  The second book in the Moa Book Series, “The Statue of Ku” follows Hillary and Moa as they jet to Egypt on the Prince’s private plane to reclaim Moa’s family heirloom, the inimitable statue of Ku. Get it on Amazon.
About the author: Tricia Stewart Shiu combines her addiction to the written word with her avid interest in the healing arts and all things metaphysical in her novels Moa and Statue of Ku and looks forward to finding new ways to unite her two loves. Visit Tricia on her websiteTwitterFacebook, or GoodReads.

And now, the excerpt (let me know what you think in the comments - are you hooked?):

Eighteen-year-old, Hillary Hause’s left thumb searches frantically to turn on the “I’m Okay to Fly” hypnotherapy recording. Her nerves on edge, fuchsia fingernails press into the blue pleather armrests of her airplane seat.
“No spells can help you now,” she whispers to herself under her breath—then checks to see if anyone notices. Nope, they don’t.
The plane lifts through the early morning, gray fog of California, “June Gloom” giving way to the azure sky, and Hillary covers her curly brown head and retreats beneath the questionably clean plane blanket cranking the volume to drown out the drone of the engines.
“Outer shell close to breaking.” This time she doesn’t care if anyone hears.
I hover just beyond her “outer shell”—a movement in the periphery, a faintly familiar scent, a fond memory just beyond recognition, a non-human observer. Before the week is up, Hillary will save my life, as I will hers. But, for now, more about Hillary.
The drink cart rolls past the blanket, which has, by now become a moist steamy cave.

“Hey, freak. I hope your plane crashes.” The memory reverberates through her brain despite her attempts to distract herself with the hypnotherapy recording. She increases the volume, but the ugly conversation, which occurred just before school ended, still haunts her mind.
“I guess the only people they check on those flights are the suspicious ones,” Krystal Sykes, a bully from her home room, leans in as Hillary hastens to grab books for her next class. Krystal, also a senior, has hounded Hillary since the first day of freshman year and this is the final day during the final hour at this tiny high school of 376 students —where everyone knows everyone else’s business.
“Look, Krystal.” Hillary turns her eyes toward the sneering blonde. “It’s the last day of school, we’ll never see each other again. Can you give it a rest?” These are the most words the two young women have exchanged in the entire four years of high school.
A look of shock replaces Krystal’s smug snick, “Oh, so now you talk.” She leans in, so close that her spray tan becomes a patchy Impressionist painting. Her pores are blotched with cakey, two shades too dark powder, her unblended cream eyeshadow creases across the center of her lid and her tropical breeze flavored breath threatens to strangle the words right out of Hillary.
“I know all about your witchcraft practices and have made a few spells of my own. Trust me. You’ll never make it to your sister’s house in Hawaii.” Krystal’s backpack jingles and Hillary watches her spin around and skip down the hall.

Hillary is not a witch. She has, however, carefully crafted a “shell” to protect herself from bullies like Krystal—who, as far as Hillary can tell—is not a witch either. She has watched Krystal throughout elementary, middle and high school and has not been able to discern whether or not she practices witchcraft. No matter what Krystal’s background, her intent is to harm. And there is nothing worse than a spell with an aim to hurt. Hillary has had no choice but to remain in a constant state of defensiveness.
The twenty-minute recording ends and Hillary falls into a troubled sleep—feeling every bump and hearing every creak of the plane.
With about an hour left in the flight, Hillary awakens with a “turtle headache.” Hillary’s older sister Molly taught her this term which means a headache caused by sleeping too long underneath the covers of one’s bed.
Sadly, Molly lost her husband, Steve, last year in an unfortunate surfing accident. The throbbing pain in Hillary’s left temple could be the result of remaining submerged beneath an airplane blanket and wedged between the window and armrest, or it could be from worry about how Molly and her niece, Heidi are dealing with their devastating loss.
Disoriented, Hillary pokes her head out just in time to glimpse puffy clouds and sparkling sea below. A flood of excitement and sheer wonder flows through Hillary in the form of a tingle from her head to her toes. And then, a lovely thought:  “…And for an Everlasting Roof, The Gambrels of the Sky…” She will enjoy this plane ride, thanks in part to Emily Dickinson.

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Moa and Statue of Ku eBook editions have both been dropped to just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing either of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $600 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of each book.
All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!
To win the prizes:
  1. Purchase your copies of Moa and Statue of Ku for just 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Blog Design Swap for Beta or Critique?

We all have various strengths, and since we're friends now, I thought it would make sense to pool those strengths and all come out better for it! So, I'd like to make a proposal:

As you might have noticed, I'm not in the least graphic design savvy and have used a relatively standard bog template here. It's really not a good fit though, and I'd love to have something more personal. Unfortunately, my knowledge in this particular area is somewhere around zero and it would probably take me a really long time to come up with something that, in the end, will be sub par. So, this is where you come in, my lovely readers :) I happen to know that some of you excel in this area and I'd like to propose a swap of services!

Personally, I'm a pretty good critter (or so I've been told), and I'd like to swap a blog and banner design for either a full Beta read of your finished manuscript, or a 100 page critique, to be redeemed at the time of your choice. Any takers?

And, in case anyone else out there is in need of something writing/reading related which they could use a little help with, propose a swap of your own in the comments :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Choose Your Own Adventure

I'm participating in a fun writing contest to support the DINOSAUR JAZZ by Michael Panush blog tour. The below text is a story starter provided by Ink in the Book and the text in blue is my personal addition to the story. Each participating blogger has added their own ending, so be sure to check out the final list of links to each post over at Ink in the Book.

Hope you like it :)

What Jack loved the most about his new mechanical night vision glasses was how well they matched his hat. Really, they would go with anything in his wardrobe and he was glad they did.

One night as he sat reading his favorite book a strange noise came from the attic. Jack wanted to go find out who was up there, but he needed his hat and goggles.
Walking into the closet, Jack noticed something was terribly wrong. His steam-carriage idled quietly, yet Jack did not remember cranking the engine. He tried cutting the engine off but it still hummed softly in the darkness. It was time. Jack's mouth went dry and his fingers trembled with excitement.

He knew that once he entered the steam-carriage he might never return. But unfortunately for him, the Society left him no choice. At least they had given him the option to take Lucy, if she would go. Jack hoped she would. He knew she had some kind of strange power. Every time she was around, the air stilled and went absolutely quiet, as if the entire world was holding its breath.

With his goggles in place and properly adjusted, he swept his hat onto his head and crept into Lucy's room. The Society has sent for us, he said, nudging her awake. Will you accompany me to Never Never Land and stay forever young?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday

This Week's Topic: 
If you could go on a writing retreat anywhere, where would you go & who would you bring?

If time and money were no object, where would you shut yourself away to write the great American novel? And what friends, crit partners, or inspiring authors (living or dead!) would you bring along?

Road Trip Song of the Week: "Somewhere Only We Know" by Keane

I have a few different ideas for the perfect writing retreat, The first involves a cabin in the woods somewhere on Maine coast or in the Pacific Northwest. Something along the lines of this picture. Preferably, my writing friends would each have their own one of these bad boys and we'd be spread out within walking distance of each other - just far enough away for each of us to feel alone in our part of the forest, but close enough to gather in the afternoons for crit groups and discussions. And if we were in walking distance of the ocean, well that would just be amazing! Nothing is as relaxing as the sound of the ocean. 

And who would I bring along? Well, a whole group of crit partners from Scribophile and just about any YA urban fantasy/paranormal author/agent/editor who'd be willing to come along!

Here's another equally wonderful option for my perfect writer's retreat: The Gatehouse at Thornbury Castle. It has everything I'd need that I might not get in a hotel (kitchen, extra rooms, peace and quiet) and yet it's close enough to the hotel (which just happens to be a castle) that I would be able to come over for afternoon tea or order room service. Plus, I'd have the castle gardens to walk whenever I would need a break. 

What do you think about my picks? Do you dream of a writer's retreat in a cabin or a castle? Where would your perfect retreat take you to?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Weekend Progress Report

I've been super busy lately, but in a good, very productive way :) Unfortunately, that productivity hasn't spilled over to my blog, but the wave of writing/personal/work deadlines has passed (for now) and I'm looking forward to focusing on the blog again - I've missed you guys!

So, what have I been up to (in the writing world, anyways - the rest is just boring)? Well, I polished up my pitch and first chapter for DAUGHTER OF THE MOON and entered it into three contests. And guess what?! I won two of them - and the results for the third still aren't in. When I first realized I'd actually won, I was floored, and then giddy. And then panic set in. You see, both wins ended in full requests. Which is AMAZING...but, what if they don't like it? The full manuscript has only ever been read by CPs and Betas in our safe, fluffy, little writing world. Yes, some critiques can be hard, but I can't even imagine what an editor or agent might have to say. So, the waiting has begun and I'm equal parts terrified and over-the-moon, out-of-my-mind excited. It's actually kind of exhausting. How do you deal with the wait? Any tips? ;)

To keep my mind off of my email inbox, I've been keeping busy catching up on all of the critiques I didn't have time for the past couple of weeks on Scribophile. Seriously, if you guys aren't on that website, check it out. I can't say enough good things about the Scrib community :)

And finally....

Theresa Paolo - YA writer and blogger - surprised me with the Booker Award! So here's how this one works:

This award is for book bloggers only. To receive this award the blog must be at least 50% about books (reading or writing is okay)
Along with receiving this award, you must also share your top five favorite books you have ever read. (More than five is okay) You must give this award to 5-10 other lucky book blogs you adore.

It might be bending the rules of the award a bit, but I'm going to choose my top 5 favorite stories, rather than books, so I can include some series too. It's just too hard for me to separate a series into individual books once I've read the whole story. 

So here goes:

1) The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind
2) The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan (with a little help from Brandon Sanderson)
3) The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein
4) Lord of the Rings trilogy by Tolkein
5a) The Axis trilogy by Sara Douglass
5b) Kushiel's Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey

Ok, so I cheated again and the fifth choice was a tie. It was really hard narrowing it down that far though, really! So what about you? Have you read the books on my list? Did you love any of these as much as I do? And, you might have noticed that I only chose adult books. This wasn't on purpose, but I think the reason behind it is that these are the books I was reading in my young adult years. I skipped the whole YA genre until I was an adult for some odd reason and so when I think about my favorite stories, the ones which shaped me as a reader are the first to come to mind. What about you? Would your list be made up of mostly adult? Mostly YA? A healthy mix?

So now I need to pass on the Booker Award. I choose:

Clare Dugmore
Melissa Buell
Leigh Ann Kopans
McKenzie McCann
Dorothy Dreyer

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday

This Week's Topic: 
What was the best book you read in May?

Road Trip Song of the Week: "Paradise City" by Guns N' Roses

I only read two books in May, Insurgent and Evermore, and I gave them both 4 out of 5 stars. And since they were both so different but equally enjoyable, I'm  going to cheat and pick them both! Here are the reviews I wrote for Goodreads:

Insurgent (Divergent, #2)Insurgent by Veronica Roth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book and it was a quick read! The writing was smooth and polished and not a word was wasted, allowing me to completely immerse myself in the story and never reminding me that I was actually reading. Veronica Roth is a very talented writer!

But...maybe that also means that I hold her stories to higher standards than I would hold other stories. And I have to say, there were some things about Insurgent that I didn't like. The pacing was too intense, imo. I felt slammed with plot point after plot point and didn't have a moment to catch my breath and really think about what had just happened and what it meant before the next bit of action was thrown at me. This might actually be a point of praise for other readers, but for me, Divergent set up this amazing world full of possibilities and I was looking forward to really digging deeper into the world in Insurgent. We did get a look at the other factions in Insurgent, but the surface was just scratched before moving on to the next faction of society and the depth we got with Dauntless in Divergent was missing.

That being said, I still honestly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the next in the series!

Evermore (The Immortals, #1)Evermore by Alyson Noel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. At first, I wasn't sure where exactly things were heading and was worried that this was going to be a Twilight rehash - but it wasn't! And I was so relieved (don't get me wrong, I love Twilight. But it can never be redone, imo). The unique take on the immortal + mortal love story was a lot of fun, the pacing was perfect (nice and quick), and the writing was smooth and never pulled me out of the story. Still though, the overall story structure and plot seemed familiar and that held be back from giving this all 5 stars.

View all my reviews

What about you? What was the best book(s) you read in May?