• Patience and Publishing, Part One: The writer as crockpot

     I’ve been away from the blog for a couple weeks as I was working on another blog/website that reviews YA romances. The experience of reading so many newly released books in such quick succession reinforced something that I have suspected for a long time: it is better to not rush a book, no matter how impatient(…)

  • Snark and Stage Fright Cover!

    Here it is, folks! The cover to the Snark enovellas’ sequel.   I am so happy that Michael finally has his curls in place. And here’s the official blurb: Happily-ever-after isn’t as happy or forever as Jane Austen makes it look. Just something Georgia Barrett learns when her sharp tongue costs her the only guy(…)

  • A plea against pirates

    I like free stuff as much as the next person. Even if it’s something I don’t particularly want, like a magnet (who needs another one of those?), I will pick it up if it is free. When I take yard waste to my community “dump” I have to steel myself against the urge to bring(…)

  • Marketing advice from Lloyd Dobler, or, a pretty painless way to sell your book

    I saw Say Anything when it first came out in 1989 and I really identified with Lloyd Dobler in many ways despite the fact that  I never foresaw kickboxing as the sport of the future. Many years later, with my first book out in all four installments and trying to get it to the readers(…)

  • 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(…)

Patience and Publishing, Part One: The writer as crockpot 0

512px-Oval_Crock_Pot I’ve been away from the blog for a couple weeks as I was working on another blog/website that reviews YA romances. The experience of reading so many newly released books in such quick succession reinforced something that I have suspected for a long time: it is better to not rush a book, no matter how impatient you are to get it out into the world. So, with this revelation in mind, I am going to devote September’s posts to a plea for patience in writing and publishing.

PART ONE: THE WRITER AS CROCK POT

I’ve said it before: for better or worse, I am a child of the Seventies. I know from crock pots. As moms went to work in those heady days of the Women’s Movement, crock pots allowed them to stick some meat and veggies and sauce stuff into the pot as they left in the morning and then come home in the evening to a kitchen that smelled like they’d been toiling in it for hours (instead of toiling somewhere else).  And your book (and your brain) are kind of like a crock pot.

Your story/novel/poem needs to marinate in its own juices, as it were, for a good long time, and you, the writer, are the crock pot in which all that juiciness simmers into something tasty. But you’re not really a crock pot, of course, and there is no such magical appliance that will make your story/novel/poem marinate to glorious fruition while you go do something else. You have to do the writing. But you also have to give it time. And sometimes that means walking away from your manuscript and coming back to it weeks or even a month later to see it with fresh eyes. An undercooked book is as unsatisfying as an undercooked meal.

I’ll talk next week about the signs of a book that needed more time in the creative crock pot. For now, I’ll talk about patience and why it is a virtue in publishing as in all other walks of life.

A few years ago, when I was drafting and drafting and drafting, I heard a joke-story about a guy who’s at dinner with his in-laws. He tells them he wants to be a writer and the imperious father-in-law says something like, “Ah, you want to have written!” And that made sense to me. The actual writing part, much as I love it, is not always all that fun. It can be very frustrating an make you want to go

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But being published! We all imagine that that would feel like

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So many people I know who are just starting out as writers are focused on being published, not on writing. They think about finding an agent and making a book trailer or making cover art more than they do about writing (and rewriting, and rewriting, and rewriting again). They’re not focused on the actual book.

I also know a few people who rushed into self -publishing because they were convinced that their book was ready and didn’t want to go through the query-and-wait process. I have enormous respect for self-publishing but recently I have read enough self-published books that certainly would have benefited from not just an editor but from a third or fourth or fifth revision. And those revisions take time.

No one likes to wait. And no one likes rejection. Those two factors make querying your work as painful and drawn-out a process as performing a root canal on yourself with a pair of pliers. But so often rejection comes from an editor or an agent because the book is just not ready. Unfortunately, they won’t always tell you that. They get so many queries that often they don’t even respond. But when they do send comments, they can often be summed up by the phrase “this manuscript is not ready yet.” The characters’ motivation may not be clear yet. Plot points may be confusing. The writing may need more polish. Scenes need to be cut that delight the writer but don’t further the plot. It will hurt when you receive these comments but you’ll get over it and get back to work, producing a better book for having learned its faults and corrected them.

As a child of the Seventies, I remember those commercials for Ernest and Julio Gallo wine. I think Orson Welles was their spokesman, and he would intone in his deep, important Orson Wellesian way:

We will sell no wine before its time.

This is sound advice from a man known for his meticulous attention to his craft (okay, at the time he was shilling discount wine, but still. The man was an auteur and he’s not wrong about this.) So my advice, to be read in a deep important Orson Wellesian way:

Don’t put something out there just so you can say you have something out there.

Take your time. Let the ideas, sentences, scenes marinate in the crock pot of your brain and time and your book will be the better for it.

Next week I’ll cover the signs of a Rushed Book (and how to avoid putting one out there yourself) and the following week will be dedicated to the Rushed Romance. Please check back and weigh in with the comments! Cheers. imgres

Snark and Stage Fright Cover! 0

Here it is, folks! The cover to the Snark enovellas’ sequel.

SnarkAndStageFright

 

I am so happy that Michael finally has his curls in place.

And here’s the official blurb:

Happily-ever-after isn’t as happy or forever as Jane Austen makes it look. Just something Georgia Barrett learns when her sharp tongue costs her the only guy she’s ever really cared about: Michael Endicott.

Determined to move on, Georgia lands the lead role in the school’s fall musical. But to survive on stage, she’ll need to learn to express herself without her protective shield of snark. She soon discovers being honest with others means being honest with herself, and the truth is she’s still in love with Michael.

But from the looks of Michael’s new girlfriend, Georgia isn’t the only one who tried to move on. Apparently, some people are just better at it than others. And when Michael and his girlfriend join the cast of the fall musical, Georgia finds out that snark and stage fright are the least of her worries…

Add it on Goodreads, please.

As I await the release date, I’ll fill you in on what George and Michael have been up to, my own experiences with snark and stage fright, and all sorts of other stuff. But if you want a little visual preview of the book, check out my Pinterest board for Snark and Stage Fright.

And a big, big thank you to all the bloggers who shared my cover today! 200

A plea against pirates 0

Pirate_Flag_of_Jack_Rackham.svg

I like free stuff as much as the next person. Even if it’s something I don’t particularly want, like a magnet (who needs another one of those?), I will pick it up if it is free. When I take yard waste to my community “dump” I have to steel myself against the urge to bring home every dirty, discarded broken down table or chair I can fit in my car, none of which I will ever fix but want just because they are free.  Remember that Seinfeld episode in which Elaine is trying to eat her way through ten awful sub sandwiches just to get to the eleventh one because it’s free? I could see myself doing that.

And free books? Well, I can think of few other things that would make me as smiley as these goats.

All_Smiles

And there are plenty of websites – more every day – offering books for free download. I know, because my books are on some of those sites. One even has all kinds of disclaimers about their support for the DCMA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) and even provide a convenient online form for a writer to complain that the site has violated the DCMA in their case.

But sometimes “free” isn’t free. It’s stolen. If someone stole a TV and and gave it to you, and you knew it was stolen, you would probably hesitate to take it. “Free” also is not without cost. Every book that is downloaded illegally represents hours and days and months and sometimes years of labor on the part of the writer, who is probably struggling with a day (and night) job or two to support the luxury of being able to write his or her book. They need to make the money they’ve earned through their labor just like any other worker does.

The internet feels like a liberated and lawless place; that’s much of its appeal. The opportunity to commit all kinds of “sins” we wouldn’t in real life (sniping anonymous people with mean comments, ogling half naked people or drunk celebrities, taking stuff without paying for it) presents itself readily, easily, and, in most cases, without consequences. But that doesn’t make it right.

I’m asking you, on behalf of my fellow writers, to resist the temptation to download free books illegally. It’s hard, I know. But libraries are full of free books and they’re great places to be.

So even if this is your pirate bearing a book, and he shows up on your doorstep, resist it. (Better yet, send him to my house).

 

640px-Jack_Sparrow_-_Johnny_Depp_(Madame_Tussauds) And no, this isn’t Johnny Depp. It’s his Jack Sparrow wax figure from Madame Tussaud’s in London in a photograph taken on March 29, 2008 by Ashley Rehnblom of Scottsdale, AZ , available through Creative Commons.

I couldn’t use a “real” photo of Johnny Depp because that would be piracy of a photographer’s work.

And that would be wrong.

What I’m reading

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What I’m listening to

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Marketing advice from Lloyd Dobler, or, a pretty painless way to sell your book 0

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I saw Say Anything when it first came out in 1989 and I really identified with Lloyd Dobler in many ways despite the fact that  I never foresaw kickboxing as the sport of the future. Many years later, with my first book out in all four installments and trying to get it to the readers who might like it, I am haunted by the scene in which his girlfriend’s father asks Lloyd what he wants to do with his life. He says

I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.

Yeah, me either. And I bet a lot of writers feel that way; in fact,  I bet a lot of us wanted to be writers in part to avoid being sold or processed. We are making art. We are above that. We aren’t going to shill for anybody, not even ourselves.

But I know that this is not a realistic way to look at book marketing. If you want your books to be read, you have to make readers aware that your book is out there. Especially if your book is published by a small press and/or available only via electronic means, no one  is going to stumble upon your book on the library shelves the way I discovered so many of my favorite books as a younger person.

   tumblr_inline_mlrdqrzETR1rkdxlq You have to do something to get your book out there, but what?

To be honest, I’m still trying to figure that out. But here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • Facebook release parties are fun, but they may not be that effective for YA. I have made so many writer friends when I’ve helped other writers with these online chat and giveaway sessions, but some of us are wondering if they really work for YA readers, or YA readers who are actual young adults, as Facebook is skewing more toward grownups and less toward adolescents.
  • Joining groups dedicated to tweeting your book sales links may be a great idea. Or it may turn you into an unintentional spammer. I know that my Twitterfeed lately looks a lot like this (in 140 characters without the cat) images-2.  I’m part of a large group that tweets about each others’ books on a rotating basis and I hate the fact that I am clogging up others’ feeds and worry that I am tweeting into the void (for all I know I am trying to sell a YA book to people who would sooner stick a fork in their eye than read one. More likely, the tweets are going out to other writers who also want people to buy their books and tweet about it).  Here are some suggestions from Book Marketing Tools that I, admittedly, have yet to take, but they could be useful. I still feel like my Twitterverse is a closed loop right now of writers shilling to other writers; the loop grows  but remains the same. Still, there’s got to be a way to do this well.
  • For me, the most successful thing by far has been getting on to book blogs, having the book reviewed and doing guest posts to help out the busy bloggers who are willing to host me and read my book. So if you’re at the beginning of your marketing journey, find some book review blogs soliciting books to review. Concentrate on the review sites that focus, if possible, on your particular type of book. You’ll find your audience better that way. Why expend your energy (and a review copy you probably have to pay for) on a military action fiction website when you write sweet Regency romance? That just doesn’t make sense, right?

This summer I helped start a book review site so I am aware of how this works from both ends now. I see how eager other writers are to get their work out there, and I respect and relate to that. One our website Breathless Ink we have easy request forms for writers of adult, NA, and YA to fill out and most review sites do that. Google blogs and reviewers in your particular genre and see what you can find, then ask what you can send them. If they don’t have the time or the means for a full review now (which takes weeks to set up), maybe they can do a blurb or a meme or a cover reveal for you to get people interested and do a review later. I need to get more aggressive or proactive (you choose the very un-Dobleresque word for it) and actively revisit some review blogs that looked at the first installment of the book as well as to seek out new venues. If I can do it, you can do it. I am not a selling machine. I could barely sell cookies to my own family back when I was a Girl Scout. And they love cookies like the Queen loves England.

http://platonicconception.wordpress.com/2008/10/16/death-of-a-salesman/

http://platonicconception.wordpress.com/2008/10/16/death-of-a-salesman/

The cartoon says “I am Willy Loman” but I am not. I am not a salesperson by nature.

But now that I’m soliciting books to review a for my own part of a book review/news website, I know how much bloggers/reviewers need content. If you’re shy about suggesting they include your books, I get it. So am I. So look at it as helping them out.

This experience on the other side, as the blogger/reviewer, has also taught me that a writer needs to be a little persistent. Months ago, when Prom and Prejudice came out, I was approached by two bloggers about being featured on their sites some time in the future. The dates we talked about rolled around and I hadn’t heard from them. So I figured they changed their minds or something. Now, as a blogger trying to manage lots of writers and content, I realize that they  probably got busy and needed a gentle nudge or reminder. I regret not following up on that so learn from my mistakes. Don’t stalk somebody, but if some time goes by and you don’t hear from them, follow up.

images Lloyd Dobler would do that, for something he believes in. Selling your book is not selling out. It’s not selling your soul. But the recognition and sales you earn could be what allow you to keep writing.

 If you’re a writer of adult, NA, or YA romance and would like Breathless Ink to review or feature your book, click here. If you’re YA romance, you can write me directly at steff@breathlessink.com. We do honest reviews (which means we can’t guarantee a rave) and know how hard it is to get your book out there to the world.

Good luck! And happy reading and writing.

what I just finished reading 

Gone_Girl_(Flynn_novel) it lived up to the hype!

what I’m listening to literally at this moment

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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. 

Tourney_Button_v2 

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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