• Five things I have in common with Mark Ruffalo: An announcement

    I’ll count down the similarities in the grand tradition of David Letterman’s Top Ten but in half the time. THE TOP FIVE THINGS I HAVE IN COMMON WITH ACTOR MARK RUFFALO 5. We are animal rescuers. I used to volunteer with a local rescue group here in western Massachusetts and hope to get back to(…)

  • If the title fits: What I’m officially calling the Snark series sequel

     Some things just don’t fit, sometimes both literally and figuratively. The working title for the sequel to the Snark and Circumstance series was GEORGIA BARRETT’S SUMMER OF LOVE AND AUTUMN OF DISCONTENT. It was just a working title, but it worked, mostly. It “fit” in that it described what happens in the book, gives the(…)

  • Defining YA

    I’ve been asked to define YA literature as a category twice recently.  I am giving a talk about YA to the inaugural class of writers in the MFA program at the college where I teach and part of my role as such is to define YA lit. And with writers Rebecca Moree and Dylan Quinn, I am starting a romance(…)

  • “By Ullr’s Ring”: Vow to Vote for Ull in the NA Crush Tourney

     Most of you know this handsome guy Ull, Norse god and hero of ST Bende’s NA romance series ELSKER. On Thursday, June 26th, he’s in the first round of the NA Crush Tourney. He’s immortal, he’s smexy , and he needs your vote.    If you’re wondering why a god gifted with immortality, superpowers, and the best(…)

  • Ull Myhr’s wedding registry and NA Crush Tourney giveaway

     Most of you know this guy, ST Bende’s cashmere-clad Norse god hero of the ELSKER saga, Ull Myhr. And some of you may even know that he’s been nominated in NA Alley’s NA Crush Tourney for 2014 (more about that below). But do you know that he’s getting married soon? And that I have access(…)

Five things I have in common with Mark Ruffalo: An announcement 0

I’ll count down the similarities in the grand tradition of David Letterman’s Top Ten but in half the time.

THE TOP FIVE THINGS I HAVE IN COMMON WITH ACTOR MARK RUFFALO

5. We are animal rescuers. I used to volunteer with a local rescue group here in western Massachusetts and hope to get back to it soon (I still send them student interns all the time to make up for it). And all five of my cats (yes, five, I know) are rescues who either wandered into our loves or were adopted from local shelters.

Mark Ruffalo rescued a little black dog years ago when he was a struggling actor in Hollywood and tells the story here.

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4. We both think that cutting off water to the poor people of Detroit sucks. I know that people need to pay their debts – but what if they can’t? I know, also, that this is a complex issue for many. But in other ways, it’s really simple. Water is a basic necessity. Without water you can’t live. If you’re not alive, you can never pay your debts. Ergo, you need water. The logic seems unassailable.

Read about Ruffalo’s participation in the Detroit protests here.

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3. According to his Instagram account, we both love the Clash, “the only band that matters.” I do not have an Instagram yet, but I am working on one for the sequel to Snark. We also both have Tumblrs, though they are very different, the main difference being that Mark Ruffalo probably remembers his password so he can update his.

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The similarities are getting pretty eerie by now, aren’t they, but WAIT!

2. We’re both Dr. Bruce Banner, brilliant renegade scientist and victim of gamma radiation. tumblr_mdh7ruOGCD1qmccp7o2_r3_250-1 Okay, not really. He only plays him in the hugely popular Avengers franchise, but I get to play him now on the hugely popular blog YAvengers, starting this week!  I’ll be joining Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Tony Stark, Black Widow, and even Loki to talk about “Writing YA Fiction for the Greater Good.”

Which also means

1. We’re both the Hulk! It takes a lot to make me angry, but when I am, you don’t want to be around for that. I won’t smash anything, but the weight of my disapproval could crush you. Trust me on this one.

me-hulk  And trust that this is the only topless shot of me you will ever find on the internet.

You’re welcome.

COME CHECK ME OUT AT YAVENGERS FOR ALL KINDS OF WRITING ADVICE, CRITIQUES, AND GENERAL AWESOMENESS.

If the title fits: What I’m officially calling the Snark series sequel 0

giphy-1 Some things just don’t fit, sometimes both literally and figuratively.

The working title for the sequel to the Snark and Circumstance series was GEORGIA BARRETT’S SUMMER OF LOVE AND AUTUMN OF DISCONTENT. It was just a working title, but it worked, mostly. It “fit” in that it described what happens in the book, gives the impression of what the book is about. But it literally did not fit on the cover, despite the diligent efforts of the cover-making team at Swoon. Bless them for even trying.

So I had to go back to the drawing board.

Sometimes coming up with titles is fun. You get to play around with words and if you really let yourself play, you can come up with some pretty silly ideas. Like “Pride and Penis Jokes” or “Fifty Shades of Snark”, both of which are perfectly awful. But when you have a deadline – or, rather, when I have a deadline – I tend to panic. Deadlines turn me into Tweek from South Park even faster than caffeine does

giphy-2.  But I came up with one and I actually like it. So does my editor and publisher, so the new title is

drumroll, please

200-1   close enough. It’s

SNARK AND STAGE FRIGHT!!!

(But to some of us, it will always be known affectionately as SNARKNADO!

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Stay tuned for release dates.

What I”m reading

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what I’m listening to

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Defining YA 0

Colbert defines YAI’ve been asked to define YA literature as a category twice recently.  I am giving a talk about YA to the inaugural class of writers in the MFA program at the college where I teach and part of my role as such is to define YA lit. And with writers Rebecca Moree and Dylan Quinn, I am starting a romance news and reviews blog called Breathless Ink. I’m in charge of the YA stuff, so I had to define it for writers wanting to submit books for review. Within the first day or so it got sticky when I corresponded with a writer whose book was classified by her publisher as YA but had 28-year-old protagonists who go back to high school through time travel. (More on that conundrum later). As someone with a blog called “Stephanie Wardrop, YA Writer” you would think I would have the definition practically embedded in my fingerprints. But it’s surprisingly complicated.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF YA

The coming of age or rite of passage tale is as old as literature itself. As an undergrad at Carnegie-Mellon, I took a wonderful course called “Rites of Passage” that included Hamlet, the Oresteia, and Joseph Andrews. Some of the most enduring and popular books since the 18th century fall into this category.

Take Jane Eyre, for instance; certainly with a sentiment like this from our beloved main character

https://www.etsy.com/listing/60562233/charlotte-bronte-jane-eyre-gocco-print

https://www.etsy.com/listing/60562233/charlotte-bronte-jane-eyre-gocco-print

Jane Eyre would seem like a perfect YA novel. But is it? She’s married with two sons at the end and begins the narrative as quite a young girl. So does it fit? Probably not.

What we would today call the YA novel emerged in the 1960s, when one of the biggest sellers was SE Hinton’s The Outsiders (1967). Hinton was fifteen when she wrote it, eighteen when it was published. YA flourished in the 1970s with Judy Blume, Ricard Peck, Norma Fox Mazer, Richard Cormier, Paul Zindel, and E L Konigsberg. But twenty years later,YA became the most popular branch of the publishing industry (in terms of sales) with blockbuster series like Harry Potter and Twilight, spawning sub-genres and series and movie franchises.

YEAH, BUT WHAT IS IT?

In a special YA/Children’s Lit issue of Writer’s Digest, Andrew Karre defined YA as the difference between John “Cougar” Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

The narrator of Mellencamp’s song is looking back at adolescence as a grownup, “long after the thrill/of living is gone.” He is nostalgic for the teenage years (something many teenagers cannot imagine feeling). But Nirvana’s speaker is an adolescent (or late adolescent) describing life as s/he sees it (“I feel stupid/And contagious/Here we are now/Entertain us.” There’s no sense that this is the pinnacle of his/her life here. It’s all pretty alienating and confusing.

I think Karr articulates the critical distinction here. YA is about voice and perspective for me. It’s told from the point of view of a a young adult (which is why the time travel book I mentioned above, though fab, is not YA by my definition).

I can illustrate this difference with two classic mid-century tales about young adults: The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

url and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. the-bell-jar2

Both have smart, snarky, seriously depressed protagonists but only one is YA.

Here’s Salinger’s narrator, Holden Caulfield, the godfather of all YA narrators, introducing himself:

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably

want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy

childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and

all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of

crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

This book has appealed to so many adolescent readers because that is the voice of a fifteen-year-old boy from his limited perspective. He’s no longer a child but not “all grown up” yet, if that is even possible. He has no perspective beyond that of a troubled adolescent boy.

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Here’s Plath’s narrator, Esther Greenwood:

 For a long time afterward, I had put [the presents] away, but later,

when I was all right again, I brought them out, and I still have

them around the house. I use the lipsticks now and then, and

last week I cut the plastic starfish off the sunglasses case for

the baby to play with.

She’s an adult, a mother, crucially, and she is looking back at her adolescence from the perspective of someone who survived it. (Spoiler alert: Even if you know nothing about Plath, the entire narrative leads us to believe that Esther does not survive unscathed and is probably not as healthy as she purports to be in this passage).

The critical distinction for me is perspective.  holden_caulfield_quote_jd_salinger_catcher_in_the_rye_1

How do you define YA and what books would you consider classics of the genre? Leave a comment, please!

Happy reading and writing!

What I’m Reading

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what I’m listening to

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“By Ullr’s Ring”: Vow to Vote for Ull in the NA Crush Tourney 1

10363554_1501408160074616_241589859901113510_n Most of you know this handsome guy Ull, Norse god and hero of ST Bende’s NA romance series ELSKER. On Thursday, June 26th, he’s in the first round of the NA Crush Tourney. He’s immortal, he’s smexy , and he needs your vote. 

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If you’re wondering why a god gifted with immortality, superpowers, and the best romance skills since Cary Grant deserves your help, let me show you how much ST Bende has improved on the original material.

1. I mean no disrespect to the good people of ancient Scandinavia, but isn’t this guy 

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at least 75% hotter than this guy?

tumblr_lgkq7dW2NS1qer9b0o1_400 I like a man in bear ears as much as the next gal, but I have to put our 21st-century Ull head and cashmere-clad shoulders over the original. Either he has a massive dry cleaning bill with all of that fur or he smells of roadkill.

2. His name means “the brilliant one.” The original Ull was associated with the Aurora borealis, which he sent out  Aurora2 each winter to light the darkest nights.

Our Ull is still a star – and also an excellent student at Cardiff University in Wales. He’s not resting on his stepdaddy Thor’s fame or his own; he continues to improve his mind through study. Now that’s brilliant. 800px-Cardiff_University_main_building

 

3. Our Ull has better taste in women and knows how to woo them.  Old School Ull was, by some accounts, involved with the death goddess Hel, whom the Prose Edda describes as having “a gloomy, downcast appearance.” One of her brothers is a wolf, the other a snake. Not the most promising set of in-laws.

The Children of Loki by Willy Pogany (1920)

The Children of Loki by Willy Pogany (1920)

Twenty-first century Ull, on the other hand, is engaged to a smart, thoughtful, and braver-than-she thinks American college student named Kristia.

10440673_10152086632502142_4245897042010644550_n She looks much better in a ski hat than Hel and has fun flatmates to hang out with – way more fun than a wolf and a snake.  There’s going home to Kristia after a hard day fighting the Elf Uprising, and then there’s going to Hel. Which would you choose?

4. He surely gave Kristia a better engagement ring than these associated with Old School Ull.

Recently, archaeologists uncovered a site near Stockholm believed to be used by a cult of Ull worhshippers containing remains dating back to the fifth century. They also found 65 amulet rings

rings01 which they believed were used to swear oaths or to bear witness. The ancients, it is believed, would make a vow and then bury the ring in the shrine; Ull’s job was to guard those oaths.

So on Thursday, June 26th, join the 21st-century cult and take the pledge to vote for Ull in the NA Crush Tournament. I’ll post the link here as soon as it’s up on Thursday.

After all, who else would look this good in a snow globe? Vote HERE

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Ull Myhr’s wedding registry and NA Crush Tourney giveaway 5

1558495_590068494442500_6926730638072895968_n Most of you know this guy, ST Bende’s cashmere-clad Norse god hero of the ELSKER saga, Ull Myhr. And some of you may even know that he’s been nominated in NA Alley’s NA Crush Tourney for 2014 (more about that below). But do you know that he’s getting married soon? And that I have access to the happy couple’s bridal registry, thanks to a well-placed waffle recipe?

So if you were wondering what to get the Norse god couple who has everything to mark their nuptials, you’re welcome.

They are registered at Norse-strom,

nordstrom_zpsfc6c2d86the retail choice of all the realms for all your household and fashion needs. Plus some extras, as you can see below.

On their registry:

1Defrostinator – a device used to de-ice a room when a goddess-in-training accidentally freezes the entire living area Heimdall_an_der_Himmelsbrücke_by_E._Doepler

while practicing her powers. Also works on car windshields on chilly days.

 

1 set Balance Bands – bracelets that tap a pressure point in the wrist to optimize balance, in case the goddess-to-be doesn’t absorb the appropriate amount of coordination-genes while crossing over to the Asgardian side. Can also be used by humans.  128px-As_seen_on_TV.svg As seen on TV. Norse god TV. (You should see how they do Shark Week.)
1 Dis-Nauseator – a headband that drives a light current against the backs of the ears to quell nausea brought on by sudden Bifrost transports. Not suitable for use by children. giphy
Air purifier – sometimes Asgardian Assassins come home from work smelling like they spent the day in Helheim. 256px-Febreze_air_freshenersBecause they did.
A dual sided waffle maker.  Waffle_iron_closedFor the rare occasion you actually want a Belgian waffle along with your #ChurchWaffles.

Okay – this was all I could copy before Inga caught me snooping around her laptop.  I’ve got dibs on getting the waffle maker. But if you guys have any other suggestions SHARE THEM IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! The best gift suggestion for the happy immortals wins a copy of ENDRE, the next installment in the ELSKER saga, as soon as it comes out!

And don’t forget to vote for Ull in the NA Crush Tourney at NA Alley.

Congratulations, Ull and Kristia. I guess my invitation is just lost in the mail, right?

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Review: E. Lockhart’s WE WERE LIARS 0

we-were-liars Every now and then I read a book that makes me think, “Well, that’s it. I should stop now because I will never write anything as good as this.” E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars is such a book, but this post is not about my bouts with low self esteem as a writer. It’s about how good this book is.

We Were Liars is narrated by Cadence Sinclair, called “Cady”, who summers every year with her extended family on their island off the coast of Massachusetts. They are the kind of people who use “summer” as a verb and have their own islands off the coast of Massachusetts. And, as the title suggests, they are all liars, or at least the grownups are and are teaching their children to be duplicitous and scheming, at least with other family members. Cady is just starting to realize this when something terrible happens to her and her cousins on her “fifteenth summer”, something that takes her the entire arc of the narrative to remember, something her family is dedicated, on doctor’s orders, not to reveal to her. She’s on a lot of painkillers and traumatized, so she’s not only unaware of what happened one night that summer but also not terribly conscious of what’s going on in the present. Her struggles are utterly believable and while I often figure out twists I was unable to recognize what happened to Cady until the moment she recalls it. I read it all in one night because it was so compelling.

Cady’s a very real character, as are her cousins and friend, Gat, with whom she experiences the beginnings of a very sweet, somewhat star-crossed love right before tragedy strikes. Each character, including the adults, resonates as whole and believable, and you get sucked into their world pretty willingly. Cady’s narration is a bit of a departure for Lockhart; her main characters are usually clever, snarky, and more than a little full of themselves (like Frankie Landau Banks and Ruby and Sadie) and I love laughing with them and their view of the world. There are some truly funny moments in We Were Liars as well, but the story is more poignant, even heartbreaking at times. I admire Lockhart a great deal for the masterful way she presented a narrator who is unaware of what’s happening around her and desperate to find out what caused her memory loss while giving the reader enough clues to follow the thread of the narrative, to make guesses about Cady’s trauma, and feel a genuine punch in the gut of surprise and horror along with Cady when she unravels the mystery and has to live with the consequences.

Even if you’ve never read another E. Lockhart novel, pick this one up. And if you have read Lockhart’s work before – what are you waiting for?

Feel free to share your reactions to this or recommend other books to me here in the comments. I love to hear from you!

Happy reading and writing!

what i’m reading now

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what i’m listening to 

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Characters in the cards: using the Tarot in my WIP 1

Sola-Busca_and_Waite-Smith_analogies_10_Wands  I’ve gone back to a WIP, A Time of Shadows,  that I put away last fall when I just had no focused time to work on a fantasy YA. It’s about a 400+ year-old Scottish witch living as a seventeen-year-old girl in modern-day Colorado and fighting all kinds of evil. (You can read about it here or even here .) One of the characters is a tarot reader, and I used to read cards pretty regularly back when I was in high school. I bought a new deck a few years back and have been thinking about my characters in terms of the cards they would match up to. This allows me, when I’m writing and I’m not sure how a character would react, to think, “Hmmm, what would the Knight of Cups do?” because each card’s symbols represent a number of qualities.

My main characters have correspondents in the Major and Minor Arcana and the Court Cards of the standard Tarot deck. Like a standard deck of playing cards, outside of the Major Arcana, the deck is divided into four types of cards: Wands or Rods (like clubs in a regular deck), Cups (hearts) , Swords (spades), and Pentacles (diamonds). Roughly, Wands represent fire, the ego, inspiration, work; Cups water, melancholy, dreams, imagination; Swords air, truth-seeking, thinking, judgement; and Pentacles earth, stubbornness, stability, the concrete.

Here’s how my main characters match the cards:

Rebecca/Becca MacCracken, a 400+-year-old witch trapped in the body of a seventeen-year-old girl living in contemporary Colorado. She’s the Queen of Swords

morgan-greer-08032 as depicted on the Morgan-Greer tarot deck (the first pack I had was the Morgan-Greer and I miss it since it was stolen. Someone accumulated some bad karma there.). She’s smart, good at assessing situations, honest, witty, but can also be kind of cold and distant (she’s been keeping the secret of who she really is for four centuries now – that’s bound to put some distance between you and your peers, plus she fears getting close to anyone since they’ll eventually notice that she doesn’t age.) The Queen of Swords is someone who has seen and done it all, which is true for Becca, though she has a thing or two to learn about love.

She learns this through Jack Fowler/Alaric MacGregor, the Knight of Cupsgtkntcup He’s  pictured here in the Golden Tarot deck as young man full of passion and poetry, ready for love with an open heart. He’s a dreamer, which can be a problem when you’re living in the real world, but he’s prepared for a life full of magic. He lost Rebecca in a past life and doesn’t want to lose her again.

Standing between these two lovebirds is the villain of the story, Giancarlo Montoni, the Magician,

RWS_Tarot_01_Magician depicted here on the Rider-Waite deck. He represents power (and wants more of it), energy, manipulation, and trickery. He also knew Becca in the past but needs to combine her gifts with his to fulfill his ultimate goal, and he’ll do what he needs to do to make that happen. He’s charming and seductive; I imagine he looks like Colin Farrell.

Becca meets and befriends Lily Dawson, a high school student struggling to understand her gift for empathy, reading others’ feelings the way some can read minds. This makes her very much like the Queen of Cups.

48_hanson_robertsLike Lily, the Queen is blonde and blue-eyed in most depictions, loving and sensitive, intuitive, psychic, and accepting of others (which is a good quality in a best friend if you’re a secret witch). She can be overwhelmed by her feelings, though,and retreat into herself.

Lily has a crush on Kaito Murasaki, one of Jack’s best friends and the Knight of Rods in my WIP. knight_of_wands-RWS2 Kai is action-oriented. He’s smart but unlike his friends Jack and Ben, he doesn’t want to sit around and discuss things for too long. His courage is going to come in handy when they take on Montoni and his minions and he’s up for any challenge. Ironically, he’s trained in martial arts and the use of the katana, but he’s not the Knight of Swords.

Ben Glassman, Jack’s oldest friend, is the Knight of Pentacles. pents12 He’s very smart, a scientist by nature, and disinclined to believe the supernatural. He’s drawn to Montoni at first as his science teacher, a mentor who seems to offer a great deal of knowledge and the potential power of that knowledge and is reluctant to see him for what he is at first.He digs in his heels when events seem to defy logic, but once he’s on board for a fight, he’ll work at it as diligently as he does anything else.

I could go on and on with a card corresponding to each character in the book; it’s provided me with a neat way to develop plot and character. If I’m stuck with a plot point or a character’s actions/reactions, I’ll take a look online or in a book on Tarot for an idea. (For example, that line above about Ben’s initial hero worship of Montoni just came to me after looking at images and descriptions for this post. I hope I don’t forget it).

If you’d like to learn how to read the Tarot for fun and inspiration, there are plenty of great books out there (even a “For Dummies” version). And if you’d like to use the Tarot specifically for writing, check out Corinne Kenner’s

imgres. It contains info on the tarot and its history, writing exercises, and instructions on reading the cards. As any tarot reader knows, each card conveys a story in pictures, and some aspects of those stories can inspire your own.

Happy reading and writing!

What I’m reading:

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What I’m listening to:

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Fear of the Sophomore Slump, Or, Why Am I Even More Neurotic with Book Two? 0

20100830193250!The_Scream I just sent the manuscript to the sequel to Snark to my editor. And in the days leading up to it, I have been a cranky angst-y mess.

This time I didn’t even have to query agents or editors. This time I have a publisher and an editor who like my work and want to see more of it. I even have readers- huzzah!- wonderful people who read Snark and Circumstance, liked it, and want to see more. And I know how lucky all of this makes me. Two years ago this boon was unimaginable. So why was I even more nervous last week as I readied my second manuscript for my editor than I was when I queried the first book? 

Maybe it’s because I had nothing to lose the first time. Not that I have so much to lose now – it’s not like I am rich and famous and can go down in a blaze of self-destructive glory after phenomenal initial success. I am not going to be the Hindenburg of YA literature*.  256px-Hindenburg_disaster

But for me, my fear is not so much about losing anything (or exploding midair)  as it is about disappointing people. With one book out, I have a horizon of expectations now, things people liked about the first book and want to see in the second, things that I could fail to deliver. What if my editor looks like this after reading it?

lucy-disappointed

What if my editor gives it the green light anyway and it’s published and people buy it, happy to continue the amorous adventures of Georgia and Michael but they get two pages into it and feel like this:

 

juhf

I don’t want to make readers look like this, especially sad Kenan Thompson.

Excuse me while I breathe into a paper bag.

In short, I fear the sophomore slump. Named for the perhaps inevitable decrease in enthusiasm in second-year college students, due to the inevitable lack of new-ness to their experiences, the phrase has come to refer to any disappointing second effort.  As in “That band’s debut album was amazing! But the second one . . .meh.” Or “Her first book changed the way at look at the world! But I couldn’t get through the second one.” It makes an artist’s first success seem like a fluke, like a lucky accident that a lack of talent couldn’t sustain. And we can probably all think of examples of this. Thinking of the number of sequels that did not live up to the first effort makes me want to hide in my closet with a bowl of Cap’n Crunch.

So what do you do? Grab the Cap’n Crunch and head for the closet? I’ve got stuff to do, so that’s not an option.

Instead, I’ll look at things from the perspective of someone who survived sophomore year a long time ago. Yeah, it was not as exciting as freshman year, when everything and everyone was new to me. I was older but not much wiser and I had some sad stuff coming my way that year. But looking back now, even that sad stuff (including the death of a very dear friend) taught me something, eventually. Sophomore year was not the Annus Mirabilis that freshman year was (Annus Horribilis is more like it). But it was a year of growth as well as pain, the year when I first felt in my bones that youth was not going to be mine forever and that I had better hope some wisdom came with age. And I think it has, though I’m still learning, and thank god for that.

So, even if my worst fears are met, even if my second book is so hideous no one will have one kind or merciful thing to say about it, I will learn from it. I’m a sophomore – and my job is to learn. I’ve already learned a lot through the experience of writing that second book, so already it’s a win.

Here’s hoping you’re learning, too – and are a lot less neurotic about it than I am.

Happy reading and writing!

What I’m listening to

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What I’m Reading

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*The Hindenburg zeppelin made a successful flight to Rio from Germany in 1937; its second trip was famously disastrous.

Elsker Waffles, Snark Style 0

512px-Waffles_with_StrawberriesToday, in honor of the release of ST Bende’s Elsker, I’m turning over the blog, but not to this hot guy.Close-up portrait of a very handsome young male model in bright studio

 

Apparently being the Norse god of winter is very time consuming so I couldn’t book him.  

However, the heroine of my YA romance novels and a devoted vegan was inspired by the ELSKER saga to makeover Ull’s Olag’s waffle recipe and she’s here to share it with you:

When many people hear the word “vegan” used as an adjective and placed in front of a word for food, they groan. I’ve seen some seriously sweet-toothed people turn down some amazing chocolate peanut butter pie just because it was a vegan chocolate peanut butter pie. Now, usually I would say, Great. More pie for me. But for Ull I am going to go the extra mile and try to make his Olag’s waffles a little more animal- and heart-friendly. I know he’s immortal, but he still doesn’t need to be weighed down by cholesterol when the Elf uprising hits.

When converting recipes from the standard artery-clogging variety to the more animal- and artery-friendly vegan version, you have to think of what you can substitute for milk, butter, and eggs, and to do that, you have to think of what those ingredients are there for, chemistry-wise. Besides flavor, what do they do for the recipe? In the case of Olag’s waffle recipe, the eggs bind the ingredients together – they make them stick.

There are lots of great substitutes for eggs. You can use applesauce, for example, or nondairy yogurt, or mashed banana, though I am not sure how well any of these would work as binding agents to hold the waffle together. That’s where “flax eggs” come  in handy.  Take 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds and add it to 3 tablespoons of water and let it sit for a bit. It will become like a gel and kind of like egg whites in its consistency. In fact, it could be used as a hair gel if you can grind the seeds small enough! But in this recipe, they hold all the flour and other ingredients together. They’re don’t affect the taste at all, except maybe to add a very slight and very tasty nuttiness.

I think mashed banana and a little cinnamon or some pureed pumpkin would be awesome in this recipe, too, but I haven’t tried them yet. I don’t have a waffle maker at home, so I had to make these at my boyfriend Michael’s house, which was more than okay with him and his family because they like baked goods. His dad ate, like, four of these monsters. So try them yourselves. They make great eating while you’re reading about Ull and Krystia and Welsh universities and Ragnarok. They go great with a cup of Earl Grey.

 

PREPARE YOURSELF FOR WARM, WAFFLE-Y GOODNESS:

1 CUP ALMOND MILK (you can also use soy or rice or coconut, but remember that coconut milk in the batter will make your waffles taste like, well, coconut)

1 TABLESPOON GROUND FLAX SEEDS (you can get these at most grocery stores now- try Bob’s Mill brand)

1 CUP FLOUR

2 TEASPOONS BAKING POWDER

1/4 TEASPOON SALT

1 TABLESPOON SUGAR

DASH OF VANILLA (you can add cinnamon, too, or nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spices)

1/4 CUP OF OIL

For this recipe, your flaxseed eggs will be made with milk – just combine the ground flaxseeds with your milk and let the combo sit for a little bit. While its sitting, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Stir the oil into that mixture, then add your flax eggs to the bowl and mix thoroughly. You don’t want lumps. Then just use your waffle iron the way you are supposed to and voila! you will have 4 nummy waffles.

 

By Arnold Gatilao from Fremont, CA, USA (Crispy Waffle's Crispy Waffle) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Arnold Gatilao from Fremont, CA, USA (Crispy Waffle’s Crispy Waffle) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Happy eating! And if you want to check out Stephanie’s review of Elsker, find it out here.

Spend your summer with the Norse god of winter 0

 

 

51TX4KFalCL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_I am very happy to welcome back to the world of NA romance ST BENDE and her superhunk hero, Ull. He and Kristia are back in action!

 

Sexy portrait of a young confident businessman

What reviewers are saying about The Elsker Saga:

 

* “The characters will leave an imprint on your heart and mind for a long time to come.” -Lisa (Bound by Books)

 

*”Bende takes classic bits of Norse mythology and throws in original elements to create her own tasty Nordic blend… I’ll definitely be checking out the sequel!” -Bookalicious Reviews

 

*”One of my favorite books of the year.” -White Zin Bookends

 

*”Action packed with a heart pounding romance!” -Curse of the Bibliophile

 

*”This book was nearly impossible to put down and I’m dying for the sequel!” -Brittany and Bianca Blab Books (now BiblioBelles)

 

 

The Elsker Saga: Elsker

Coming May 29, 2014

You don’t win the heart of an immortal assassin without making a few enemies along the way. Kristia Tostenson prefers Earl Grey to Grey Goose and book clubs to nightclubs, but when she transfers from her one-stoplight town to Cardiff University in Wales she falls in love with Ull Myhr. Her new boyfriend isn’t exactly what she was expecting. He’s an honest to goodness Norse God – an immortal assassin fated to die at Ragnarok, the battle destined to destroy Asgard and Earth. Kristia’s crazy visions are the only thing that can save their realms.

 Her orderly life just got very messy.

 

Tur: An Elsker Saga Novella

Coming May 2014

Inga Andersson is the envy of every girl in Asgard. On the surface she has it all — great friends, a job as Odin’s personal fight choreographer, and a happy ever after with her realm’s hottest assassin. But when evil invades Asgard, her perfect world comes crashing down. Someone is planning to kill off the gods, and Inga’s best friend Ull is first on their list. With the Norse apocalypse a nanosecond away, Inga has to decide how she’ll spend her final moments of freedom. Because from the moment this battle begins, Inga’s happily ever after will be nothing more than a memory.

Some things are worth fighting for.

ELSKER is available now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.

And there’s a big party on Facebook to welcome Ull and Krystia back! I’ll be there between 9-10 AM EST so come check us out. There will be waffles and prizes all sorts of fun things. Hope to see you there!

 

AND FINALLY – A GIVEAWAY! WIN $10 ON AMAZON TO BUY THE ELSKER SERIES!a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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