Friday, June 26, 2009

Spotlighting Mandy Hubbard's PRADA AND PREJUDICE

Mandy Hubbard is here today for the Debs Blog Tour!

Mandy grew up on a dairy farm outside Seattle, where she refused to wear high heels until homecoming—and hated them so much she didn’t wear another pair for five years. A cowgirl at heart, she enjoys riding horses and quads and singing horribly to the latest country tune. She’s currently living happily ever after with her husband (who, sadly, is not a Duke) and her daughter (who is most definitely a princess).

In PRADA AND PREJUDICE, Callie just wants to impress the popular girls when she buys a pair of Prada heels on her class trip to London. She didn’t plan on tripping, conking her head, and waking up in 1815! Now she’s wearing corsets with her designer pumps, eating bizarre soups, and breaking up engagements. If only the nineteen year old Duke of Harksbury wasn’t so bloody annoying, she might have a little fun in Austen-Era England…

Here are Mandy's answers to the Thorough Three...

NM: What is the age of your protagonist/s?

MH: 15

NM: What is the single, most important bit of advice you'd give to the You that was the same age as your protagonist/s?

MH: Boys are not as scary as you think they are. Also, being 5'10 is a good thing. It might not seem like it now becuase all the boys are still really short, but don't worry about being so tall-- rock a pair of heels now and then. It won't kill you.

NM: Complete the following sentences:

Everyone should definitely, for sure _____________.

You should NEVER, EVER ___________. But if you absolutely must, make sure to ____________.

MH: Everyone should definitely, for sure, read FAIRY LUST by Cyn Balog. Because it rocks.

You should NEVER, EVER try to ban a book, but if you absolutely must, make sure you only ban it in your own house and not in the whole freaking school district.

Thanks, Mandy!

To find out more about Mandy and her work, visit her site. To order P & P, click here!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What a wonderful way to start the week! Here is a snippet from an online review that a friend forwarded to me:

I loved this character and I couldn't put down the book. It was suspenseful, and at the same time, it was thoughtful and real. I felt the ebb and flow of Sam's emotions and her blossoming maturity, and I was fascinated by her journey into discovering her cultural and religious roots. I recommend this book to everyone, especially teens. It is unique, yet familiar in its exploration of a girl's journey to becoming a woman, and it offers a thoughtful glimpse at contemporary history. I found it to be thoroughly unforgettable.

Suh-weeet!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Spotlighting Sarah Ockler's TWENTY BOY SUMMER

Today, we have Sarah Ockler, author of TWENTY BOY SUMMER in our spotlight!

Sarah wrote and illustrated her first book at age six—an adaptation of Steven Spielberg's E.T. Still recovering from her own adolescence, Sarah now writes for young adults. After several years of wandering between New York City and Denver, she and her husband Alex now live in Upstate New York with lots of books and an ever-expanding collection of sea glass.

TWENTY BOY SUMMER is about best girlfriends Anna and Frankie who conspire to find a boy for Anna’s first summer romance while on vacation in California. But Anna harbors a painful secret that threatens their lighthearted plan and their friendship.

Here are Sarah's answers to the Thorough Three...

NM: What is the age of your protagonist/s?

SO: 16

NM: What is the single, most important bit of advice you'd give to the You that was the same age as your protagonist/s?

SO: The only person you need to impress is yourself. Of course, 16-year-old me wouldn't buy that advice. And 30-something me still struggles to remember it, too! But it's true. I wasted a lot of time back then trying to fit in to a place where I didn't belong by acting like someone I wasn't.

NM: Complete the following sentences:

Everyone should definitely, for sure _____________.

You should NEVER, EVER ___________. But if you absolutely must, make sure to ____________.

SO: Everyone should definitely, for sure try new stuff, like listening to a new genre of music, chowing on some funky regional cuisine, or trying out a totally crazy hairstyle.

You should NEVER, EVER cut your own hair. But if you absolutely must, make sure to use super sharp scissors and not the plastic safety kind. That just makes a mess!

Thanks for stopping by, Sarah!

To find out more about Sarah and her work, go here. To buy a copy of TBS, click here!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The little one is out of school. This means that my time is no longer my own until summer camp starts (on which day I shall whoop with delight and dance on our furniture to celebrate being in possession of said Time once again!).

I will update when I can, but it is summer and that means a s-l-o-w hush all across the Publishosphere.

However, I have some reading/signing/discussion events on the horizon and I will be updating with those, so stay tuned! And, of course, the Debs Blog Tour, like the Titanic (or is it my heart?), will go on . . .

Sunday, June 14, 2009

*whispers* The other night, H and I got to go out. Like, really out -- it was almost like the old days with loud, thrumming music and sweaty people dancing too close to you.

Except this was not a night club. This was a show. And it was one of the most amazing experiences, ever. If you're in or around NYC, you MUST check it out. It is called Fuerza Bruta (Brute Force); it is participatory, active, and you are visually and audio-ly (auditorily? earily?) hyper-stimulated throughout, but not in a bad way.

On the floor, we -- the observers/participants -- were young, old, gay, straight, white, brown, male, female (someone even brought their young children, though I wouldn't recommend this, personally) and we all had the same "seats." The lights were out most of the time and it didn't matter how much you owned or what suit or shoes you had on. During that performance space and time, we all had to move around the stage ("stage" being a relative term referring to conveyor belts, people dangling from cables in the ceiling, and sliding through giant plastic pools above our heads) as we became part of the set. We watched the characters breaking out, breaking free, yelling, pounding and screaming their way through the disconnect in life.

Here is one of my favorite bits from the show...

video

And here I am jumping up and down like I still have the knees of a teenager...

video

Big fun. Seriously -- next time you're in New York...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I am such a Canadian. I mentioned this in my opening comments during the Toronto launch for SHINE and some of my long time friends looked at me like, "Aw, hell. She done gone to the U.S. and changed."

See -- when I lived in Canada I always identified as Indian or Punjabi or South Asian. I never considered myself a Canadian. Until I moved to the U.S.

In one of my college classes, a professor asked us what the difference was between American culture and Canadian culture. No one knew the answer. Not a single one of us could name ONE thing that made us different from our southern neighbor, and unique as Canadians.

But now I can. In Canada, the arts are federally funded. Health care is free (at least for the time being). Gay marriage is legal, nationally. Education is more of a priority than the military. And within the communities I came up in, the arts were always intertwined with the spiritual, emotional, social and political. Nothing was created within a vacuum because the idea was that everything we created had the potential to influence, to transform, to evoke and to provoke.

I have grown up with the Canadian winds shaping me (along with freezing my buns). And I still adhere to those values I grew up with. They speak through my bones and form the very essence of who I am.

That's not to say that Canada doesn't have a whole heap of its own issues. It most definitely does. But it also produces artists who create works like this -- and for that, it will always be home:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

On Writing and Balance

One of my favorite book series ever is the Darkover series by the late Marion Zimmer Bradley. I read each of those novels in one sitting. Seriously. Loved them.

It's no secret that I am a HUGE fan of feminist fiction -- whether obviously stated as such by the author, or a label the poor author has to tolerate from me. In any case, I went back to MZB's site tonight (a habit -- I re-read books I fell in love with, and wander over to websites of authors who once stirred that passion within me, when I want to remind myself of why I began writing in the first place).

I am a firm believer in the whole, "knowledge speaks when the student is ready" thingie and I believe this to be true about the timing of books and other reading materials -- that they show up when you need them to. So, tonight I rediscovered MZB's thoughts on "wanting something badly enough" and it put a lot of things into perspective for me.

I realized that, although writing (and seeing my books in print over a lifetime) is my dream and goal, I am not willing to sacrifice certain things to achieve it. My goal, more than anything else, is balance. And writing books is a part of creating that balance. The other things are my relationships (primarily with my husband and children), my personal growth and evolution, my health (emotional, physical, spiritual), community service and involvement, and being an active contributor in the world as we spin toward a common goal.

I'm sure there are things I am missing, but what's important to me is not being able to "do it all." It's that all of these things work together in a harmony, blending and flowing to create the same tune -- one that represents who I am and what I care about most during my time here.

Writing is certainly one element in the symphony, but it is equal in importance and weight to all of the others.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Book Covers, Gender, and South Asian Women

There's a fascinating discussion going on in one of the listservs I subscribe to. It is about covers for books written by South Asian women.

Mary Anne Mohanraj presented a paper (part of which can be found here) at a conference on this subject. Her position was that most covers for books written by South Asian women featured motionless models -- often sexualized, wearing saris (usually red), with only part of their faces shown. She also mentioned that the covers, if not featuring the aforementioned models, might have depictions of food or plants (sometimes in addition to the models). She argues that women's writing is often seen as easy reading, "women's" literature/chick lit, and not taken seriously (if the covers are any indication).

She went on to write that the covers for South Asian male writers are very different, and that it seems once South Asian women authors have a few titles under their belts (and are perhaps taken more seriously), their covers begin to look a lot more like their male counterparts.

It's a fascinating paper and I'd encourage you to read it (even if it is frustrating that it ends part way through. Mary Anne has informed the listserv that her paper is a work in progress and the rest should be up some time before the end of the summer). She also posts the various covers of her book -- an original, more "literary" cover with the image of an open book, juxtaposed with a later one featuring a headless, sari-clad woman who is naked underneath her sari.

Then, go and check out a fairly comprehensive display of book covers by South Asian women authors. Keep in mind that these book covers are not just for books published in the U.S. or Canada -- there are books published in India and Sri Lanka, as well. It would be interesting to see the covers arranged according to where they were published, though.

I happen to know that Sarah Dessen has some covers with sexy, headless models and so does Megan McCafferty. And Carolyn Mackler has a nice roundup of her various covers, both foreign and domestic, here.

So, do book covers by male authors also have these types of sexualized, motionless, partial-face covers? A lot of Chris Crutcher's novels seem to have motion (ANGRY MANAGEMENT, WHALE TALK, IRONMAN); John Green's book covers are certainly more "literary" looking; and my friend and fellow debut author, Jon Skovron's cover for STRUTS AND FRETS seems to indicate motion and is illustrated, sans sexy partial-face model.

And, speaking of fellow debut authors, two other authors from the Feast of Awesome have "boy books" coming out: Sarah Cross's DULL BOY, and Kurtis Scaletta's MUDVILLE. Like Jon Skovron's, both covers indicate motion and are void of Teh Sexy, Partial-Face Model.

What do you think? Different types of marketing based on who's writing the book? Or based on who's reading it? Or is it more about genre, i.e. chick lit versus...um, non-chick lit? Or, (d) this is all a huge pile of horse dung -- marketing is marketing, and sales are sales. You do what you can to sell the book. Period...?

Edited to add: Minal Hajratwala just commented on the red sari phenomenon here, pointing out that THREE different books were released around the same time with similar covers, including hers.

Spotlighting Aprilynne Pike's WINGS

Today, I spotlight Aprilynne Pike's WINGS which is a New York Times Bestseller! W00t!!

WINGS is the first of four books about an ordinary girl named Laurel who discovers she is a faerie sent among humans to guard the gateway to Avalon. When Laurel is thrust into the midst of a centuries-old battle between faeries and trolls, she's torn between a human and a faerie love, as well as her loyalties to both worlds.

Aprilynne has been spinning faerie stories since she was a child with a hyper-active imagination. At the age of twenty she received her BA in Creative Writing from Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. When not writing, Aprilynne can usually be found at the gym; she also enjoys singing, acting, reading, and working with pregnant moms as a childbirth educator and doula. Aprilynne currently lives with her husband and three kids in Utah, and dreams of warmer climates.

Here are Aprilynne's answers to the Thorough Three...

NM: What is the age of your protagonist/s?

AP: 16. Well, she thinks she's sixteen, and acts it. She may as well be 16. But technically, she's 20.

NM: What is the single, most important bit of advice you'd give to the You that was the same age as your protagonist/s?

AP: Stop worrying about weather or not you're popular and concentrate on having really good friends. Quality over quantity.

NM: Complete the following sentences:

Everyone should definitely, for sure _____________.

You should NEVER, EVER ___________. But if you absolutely must, make sure to ____________.

AP: Everyone should definitely, for sure chase an unrealistic dream. Just for fun.

You should NEVER, EVER give up just because someone tells you you can't do it. But if you absolutely must, make sure to be responsibly rebellious.

Thanks, Aprilynne!

You can find out more about her and her work here; and you can get your very own copy of WINGS here! Happy reading!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

After brunch with some Debs and Tenners, I met up with this awesome blogger I've admired for some time now. Ms. Awesome Blogger is a fun, warm gal and we had a grand romp through Union Square, the farmer's market, Whole Foods, and the Strand bookstore.

I got to sign copies of SHINE where it is housed in the bowels of the Strand bookstore, and bought a whole bunch of things (books, food, knick-knacks for the kiddies, BOOKS) that I had to lug around all day until my dinner date with one of my oldest and dearest friends.

All in all, a fantastic, satisfying day. As insane and neurotic as this business sometimes makes me, meeting amazing new people and reconnecting with old friends brings me back to what we're all really here for: connection and love.

Now holding on to that realization as I muddle through WIPs that I just can't crack, and good news that's taking FOREVER to get to my ears is the REAL challenge. *SIGH*

Have a fantastic day, all!