Thursday, March 31, 2011

Give Away!!! Huntress by Malinda Lo



In celebration of this new release I will be giving away one copy of Huntress by Malinda Lo
First off, the cover is fantastic.  The artwork is pristine and sets the mood before the book is even cracked.  According to yayayas.wordpress.com about 775 children’s and YA book covers for books that have been released or will be released this year. 80% of them had people on them. A full 25% of all book covers had white girls pictured on them, and 10% had white boys. Only 2% of the titles had African American boys or girls pictured on the front cover  Don’t get me started, but this is a hot topic to discuss another time, needless to say the cute young white girl covers are tragically overdone.
OK I'm done preaching (for now).
The fantasy world of the Huntress is the same as her first novel, ASH, but in a different time period.  It is a small group’s an epic journey to visit the Faery Queen and find out why the land has fallen into an endless winter.  The two main girls have to grow up fast in order to survive the trip.  I sensed the trouble they were getting into right from page one.  Malinda’s writing style flows smoothly with great internal dialog. 
MY FAVORITE PART:   The magic!  Malinda says, “The magic system in Huntress is based in Taoism and Chinese philosophy. I actually have a master’s degree in East Asian Studies with a focus in Chinese anthropology, so it was a lot of fun to dig out some of my old books and academic articles. I read additional material, too, about Chinese medicine, divination, and meditation. I probably could have continued doing research for a lot longer than I did, since I love it so much.”  As quoted on http://yabookreads.com/blog/2011/03/29/interview-with-malinda-lo/  It is nice to know a fantasy book has research in it.  It makes the magic real.  Like Kung Fu Hussle.
MY LEAST FAVORITE PART: It was hard to attach myself to the characters.  The book is written in an omniscient point of view.  I felt like I had to spread myself between three or four people instead of just one.  It made the romances hard to believe, not because one couple was gay, but because seeing it from both sides diminished the mystery of it.  There is no anticipation when I already know what they are both thinking.
Photo credit: Patty Nason
It would be neat if Malinda carried on with her setting in another time with another set of characters.  It’s a great way to gain a following.
So, who wants to win this book?  Be a follower, tweet it, and buy my book (na, just kidding, but you could give me a vote on wattpad) then leave a comment.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Unidentified by Rae Mariz: Urban YA Speculative Fiction of the Year


As seen on goodreads.com
I know it’s only March, but I have chosen my UYASF Book of the Year and it comes as no surprise.  With friends like Hannah Moskowitz and Cory Doctorow endorsing her novel, Rae Mariz has her foot, leg and body in the best-seller door with her debut novel.  She creates a dystopian society by turning high school into “the Game” where lectures are video games, projects get you points and your popularity gets you branded by major corporations.  The students of The Game are sheltered inside a virtual world bubble that is fit to burst. The Unidentified is the only group that sees the side-effects of the corruption and challenges the unethical practice of corporate sponsorship head on.  
Mariz takes educational gaming to a whole new level. She comes up with innovative, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that fashion, communication and security measures.  The irony is exposed brilliantly without rhetoric or preachy exposition.  Mariz takes advantage of her own youth to empathize with her characters.  It is easy to understand how they feel.  It is a smooth read with much head-nodding and ah-hahs.  She even creates a new style of blasphemy when her characters curse Oh My Google!
BEWARE! MY NEXT COMMENT GIVES AWAY PLOT DETAILS!: The love triangle is a bit predictable.  No girl can be best friends with a geeky, sensitive guy for too long before she falls for him, and nothing jumpstarts this realization faster than dating her best friend’s best friend.  It’s only natural.  I don’t consider this a downside to the book, since I’d be ticked if it didn’t work out that way.
OK YOU CAN READ AGAIN!:  This book boosts my opposition to problems like social profiling, name branding and media exposure.  It gives me hope that the next generation won’t succumb to unethical propaganda, but what do I know?  I thought the same thing about my generation.
So support our youth! Stay on their good side! Support YA authors! Go out a get this book!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Low Down on Book Trailers PART 2


Welcome to Part Two of my discussion with YA Paranormal Sensation Judith Graves.  Let’s dive into some more detail about making books trailers.

photo credit: Blaise MacMullin
Where did you get your footage? 

Madison has her own sources for the still images she uses in trailers, so I’m not sure about the stills, however, we both searched iStockphoto.com for the video loops that were incorporated into the trailer for Second Skin.

There are many stock photo sites out there, if you’ve got a keen eye and the right equipment, you could create stills or film footage yourself. I have a still digital camera, as well as a HD quality video cam, my Flip Ultra HD, to take high quality footage for my vlogs.

How much did it cost?  Did you have to pay for Royalties?

I had both trailers made for under $500, the Second Skin trailer being the most costly as I paid for the video clips. Most trailers only use still photos, I wanted the Second Skin trailer to have a video montage / True Blood opening kind of feel. When you buy images through stock photo sites, the royalties are covered.

If you’re going to film yourself, my Flip Ultra was about $250 and my digital still cam, $300. Then it’s just your time and creativity. Authors can and do produce some fantasticly amazing trailers. One of my favs is Maggie St…..so talented, author, musician and dare I say, filmmaker? Here’s a link to the trailer she created for her second novel, LINGER (in an awesome werewolf series), note, she filmed, drew, and composed/recorded the music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l59sMzeA_vQ&feature=related

Then there’s the master of marketing and author of a brilliant ghost series, Tonya Hurley’s trailer for the third book in her Ghostgirl series, Lovesick. I’m guessing this one cost quite a bit, and was perhaps funded by her publisher – at least in part - but Tonya has reported on her Facebook page, that the trailer is played as a commercial in movie theatres. Again, Tonya wrote the lyrics, but the song was recorded by another artist:


So there you have author-created trailers at either end of the “cost” spectrum, Maggie’s being home-made and limited only by her time/creativity and Tonya’s limited only by a budget. ;)

How do you distribute it?

Authors post their trailers to their blogs/websites/YouTube chanel and their publishers usually feature them on their websites or blogs. They tend to go viral, that’s their purpose. So, when a blogger interviews me, they include the trailer – either a link or embedded into their blog post…and it is seen by others. Perhaps a reader likes it, so they might add it to the sidebar of their blog and feature it for a few months…and so on, and so on.

What are some other ways that you personally promote your book?

There are infinite ways to promote. I have SWAG, here’s a link to a post I did about the various kinds I’ve invested in: http://judithgraves.com/2011/01/14/get-your-swag-on/

Virtual author visits are a great way to connect with readers, without travel. You need a conferencing program like Skype (free at: www.skype.com) and a computer with a mic/camera. If you’re comfortable in front of a camera, have developed a solid approach to writing, and are keen share your knowledge of our craft, I recommend joining the Skype an Author Network: http://skypeanauthor.wetpaint.com/

Online blog tours are great for word-of-mouth and getting your name/cover out there. Author collectives, like the one I’m in, the Class of 2k10 (www.classof2k10.com) are invaluable…the group book signings and cross promotion of each other’s work has been wonderful. I have a publicist who helps set up signings and does wicked cool press releases.

Live touring is great for promoting as well. I’m a presenter, so I tour with the Writers Guild of Alberta and the Young Adult Book Society, going into schools and libraries – speaking about the writing process, writing with voice, characters to DIE for, etc. I’m also a library technician and do workshops for library staff regarding virtual author visits, booktrailers as literacy promotion tools, etc.

What other stories can we expect to see in the future?

Second Skin will be out this October and then the third book in the SKINNED series, Skin of My Teeth will be available in 2012. I have a witch tale I’m rather fond of, but it’s still a work in progress.

Judith, you are amazing.  Thanks for letting us feed off of your energy!

lucky leprechaun contest winner

And the lucky leprachaun is..... Mariah from http://livinglovinglaughingreading.blogspot.com/ Congratualtions!  Thanks to everyone who participated and for all of my new followers!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

LUCKY LEPRECHAUN GIVEAWAY HOP!

Here it is folks! The blog party you've all been waiting for!  My dad's name is Patrick (yes  he's Irish) so this is comming to you from a genuine bonnie lass.  I will be giving away either THE CANADIAN WRITER'S MARKET or a handbound art journal made by ME.  Please tell me in a comment that you follow me, or tweet about me - then join the masses and follow this link to the other 200+ contests! Name will be drawn on the 20th.  May you have the luck of the Irish! (Irish is my brother-in-law's name so maybe y'all should give him a kiss!)




Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Low Down on Book Trailers PART 1


Welcome to Part One of my discussion with YA paranormal author Judith Graves.  Her book, Second Skin, the second in her “Under my Skin” trilogy will be released in October of this year.  Check out her book, her blog and her trailer.  I have seen some great book trailers and I think it is a wonderful idea. 

So, how does one go about making one? 

If you’re keen to make a book trailer by yourself, it’s actually quite easy, making it look fantastic is the tough part. You need to invest some time (developing a script, seeking images/audio to match your trailer, working with software), some money would help (either for images/audio/software) and then it comes down to trial and error. Check out this link on my website and it will get you started, Booktrailers to DIE for: http://judithgraves.com/events/author-visits-2/booktrailers-to-die-for/

Did your publisher help you?

Nope. For most authors, even established ones, trailers and other marketing/SWAG (bookmarks, t-shirts, magnets) are created and paid for by the author. Personally, I use the skills mentioned in the Booktrailers to DIE for post to create vlogs (blog entries with video – you can see them on my website), and I hired Madison at M2 Productions to create my trailers. J When it comes to marketing, we’re all in the same rocking boat.

How much promotion does your publisher do?

As Leap Books (www.leapbks.com) is a small press, they don’t have a ton of advertising at the moment, but I’m confident that will grow with the company. Leap has a small marketing department and they handle any enquires about my books/series and work on developing Leap’s distribution within stores.

What is the result on your sales?

Being with a small press equals small sales…lol…simply due to a big splashy lack of presence in stores. But there’s a benefit to this. If my book doesn’t sell in stores, I don’t have a huge amount of returns being sent back to my publisher and perhaps affecting future contracts. A small press is happy with baby steps and developing your following over time. My editor seems quite happy with how UMS is doing in Chapters stores across Canada, and through online sales. That being said, I find the bulk of my sales come from doing author visits and directly selling copies at those events.

Let’s talk a bit about your main character.  When did you give birth to her?  Was your plot developed around her or was she developed around your plot?

Eryn McCain is half human/half shapeshifter with the ability to shift into wolf form. She’s tempted by her wolven side, but her lack of control and bloodlust is a scary thing. Eryn is stuck in small town Redgrave, Alberta and discovers that it is anything but paranorm free – as she was told. Werewolves, vampires, and hunters of her kind roam the streets. Now it’s kill or be killed in the frozen North.

I came up with the plot first – small Northern town becomes the focus of multiple paranormal creatures – the last unclaimed bit of territory. Then I asked what if…what if there was one girl who could stop them? What if she was compelled to protect the human population? From there I developed the story arc over three books.
A descriptive word I have often heard you use for her is “snarky”.  Explain to us what this means to you. 

She’s not a wallflower. She doesn’t wait for others to save her. Her trust issues often gets her into trouble. She’s got sass, but is also vulnerable. She’s sarcastic, but the girl would do anything for her “pack”.

Do you see yourself in her? 

Maybe in her hatred of country music and love of horror films. But Eryn is wayyyyy braver than I. ;)

Do you feel that your trailer truthfully portrays her?

Kind of…lol…not so much physically, because we didn’t find any images of a girl with Eryn’s trademark low-tied ponytails, but the emotions behind the trailers – yes, that’s all Eryn.

I would like to thank Judith for speaking with us.  Her ideas about trailers have really been helpful.  Some day I would like to make one for The Shifters!

Thanks for having me, Halli! With your crazy-amazing skills, I’m sure any trailer you create will be stunning. 
Stay tuned for part 2!