Monday, September 16, 2013

GYDO: Amanda Sun

Amanda Sun, Author of Ink

Tomo’s Tips on Controlling the Ink
Domo. I’m here to save your life. You’ve heard about the moving drawings, haven’t you? That what I sketch becomes real? Only there’s something darker that seeps into the sketches, and if you aren’t careful, it’ll take your life—or someone else’s.
You think the worst part of puberty is zits? Just wait until your drawings try to kill you. In case this starts happening to you, here are my tips for surviving being marked by the ink. No, not surviving…prolonging your life. I’m not sure there’s an escape for any of us.

Don’t use Calligraphy Ink
If you’re in Calligraphy Club, drop out now. Throw out all bottles of ink, cartridge pens, sumi-e brushes and inkstones. You might as well open a vein if you’re going to let the demons out to play. You think you can control it—you’re wrong. You won’ t last a minute when the ink takes over. Your drawings will attack before you even know what’s happening. Stick to pen ink, or pencil.

Mess up your Drawings
When you write kanji with radicals that flick to the side, draw shortened edges. Your teachers will probably give you crap for bad handwriting, but I can live with that. Better than being eaten alive by a mouth of sketched teeth.
You think I’m joking. I’m not. Scratch out every drawing that starts to move on the page. Chain it to the page with X’s, or scribble it into a cage of ink. Ink drawings can’t be killed, but they can be contained.

Don’t Stop Drawing
At this point you’re thinking you’re clever, right? If it’s so dangerous, just avoid it. But you can’t. You’ll draw in your sleep. You’re going to have to write exams at school. What are you going to do then?
Anyway, if you stop drawing, you block the ink like a dam on a river. And that dam’s going to burst, and the consequences will be messy. Keep drawing—you’re only hope is to learn how to control it.
You can’t stop the ink. You can only try to keep others safe from it. You can only buy time.

Don’t Sleep In
Ah, the nightmares. They’re part of the package. If you’ve had them, you know what I’m talking about. Otherwise, they’re better left unsaid. I don’t want to invoke those kind of things in the daylight.
You’ll try to avoid sleep, but that could kill you too. Never mind how I know. Sleep as much as you have to, and no more. Sometimes my heart’s beating so fast when I wake up—if you sleep in, you might not wake up.

Don’t Let Others In
Avoid friendship. Avoid attention. Wear long sleeves and wristbands to cover the scars. They can’t know—even if your friends beg you to spill your secret, they don’t know what they’re asking. Showing them could kill them if you lose control.
If you have some control—don’t trust anyone. People are easily corrupted. I know I sound cynical, but I have my reasons. You’d be jaded too if you lived with this ability.
Being marked by the ink is lonely. But it’s better than hurting others.
Except…it’s too much sometimes. Katie showed me that. So, I take this back. Keep your circle of friends small, but…some people will be there for you. You’ll know when you’ve found one of the special ones.

That’s all I the wisdom I can impart. If you are marked like me, then I’m sorry. You know none of this advice will do much to help you. The best advice? Just survive.
Ganbatte ne. Good luck.

Ink Blurb
On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.
Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.
Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.

Author Bio
Amanda Sun is the author of The Paper Gods, a YA Paranormal series set in Japan. The first book, INK, is a USA Today Top 10 YA Summer choice, an Indigo Top Teen Pick of 2013, a Junior Library Guild selection and a Summer 2013 Indie Kids' Next List selection. She has also been published in the Aurora-nominated Tesseracts Fifteen by EDGE Fiction and in Playthings of the Gods by Drollerie Press. She currently lives in Toronto, where she keeps busy knitting companion cubes, gaming, and making elaborate cosplays.



Sunday, September 15, 2013

GYDO: Miriam Forster

Miriam Forster, Author of City of a Thousand

Hello, wonderful reader-type people!

I was going to do some sort of light hearted guest post about my book, maybe a character sketch or a playlist or something. But when I sat down to write it, I found myself writing something entirely different.

That happens to me a lot. And sometimes? Sometimes it’s really discouraging.

Let me explain. As I write this, I’m working on the second Bhinian Empire book. It’s longer than the first one, and much more involved. I’m doing things I’ve never done before. A lot of time this past year I’ve felt over my head.  And I get that horrid, sour little voice in the back of my mind. Maybe you know that voice? The one that says. “You’re not skilled enough.” “You’re not experienced enough.” “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” When nothing sounds the same in our heads as it does on the page, when nothing is clicking right, that little voice is right there to tell us we’re not qualified.

“Go away,” the voice says. “Come back later when you’re better.”

I hate that voice. It’s a stupid voice. And it doesn’t just happen to writers. It happens to artists, dancers, speakers, anyone who’s had a passion. Because our passions don’t always line up with our experience level. What we love is sometimes so much bigger than what we can do with it. And it’s easy to get discouraged and give up.

But for me at least, I’ve learned it’s important not to listen. Because the story/art/whatever that you want to make right now, that’s today’s story. It’s not tomorrow’s story. Tomorrow, you’ll have a new story, one that will stretch you just as much.

Because creating things that are hard is how growth happens. That’s how we learn and get better.  

And so I’m writing this post, because I’ve been thinking a lot about art and passions and skill and how all those things intersect.  And I think we, all of us, should make what we’re passionate about now, for today. Don’t wait for some fabled time when you’re “better” Let your art be messy and not as good as you wanted it to be. Let your passions show up on the page like an awkward baby gazelle, with skinny little legs and a tendency to stagger around and fall down. (Also that analogy came out way stranger than I intended. It happens.)

Tell today’s story today.

City of a Thousand Dolls Blurb
An exotic treat set in an entirely original, fantastical world brimming with deadly mystery, forbidden romance, and heart-stopping adventure.
Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. Nisha makes her way as Matron’s assistant, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city’s handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.
Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls’ deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but her own life.

Author Bio
Miriam Forster learned to read at the age of five, wrote her first story at the age of seven and has been playing with words ever since. CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS, her debut novel, will be coming from HarperTeen on February 5th, 2013.


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Saturday, September 14, 2013

GYDO: Amy Butler Greenfield

Amy Butler Greenfield, Author of Chantress
            How does the story start?
            It’s one of the most important questions a writer faces, and it’s not always easy to answer. 
When I sat down to write Chantress, I knew my main character, Lucy, was in her teens, but I started with a prologue about something that happened when she was much younger. Here’s how one of those early drafts began:

            Lucy has no memory of that night. Oblivion was part-payment for her safety, and the bargain cannot be undone. But what she has lost sometimes returns to her in dreams. And they always begin this way:
            With singing.
If you could call it singing, that is, for the eerie melody is unlike anything Lucy has ever heard from human lips. And yet singing it unmistakably is. The notes snap on the wind and soar into the salty sky—a wild song for a wild night, churning the sea into fury…

             I truly loved writing this prologue, and for a long time I wanted to keep it exactly as it was. After it got a special mention in a writing grant contest, I was even more determined to stick with it.

The trouble was, I couldn’t seem to make that voice work for the rest of the book.
Not sure what to do, I kept going, but I ended up with several drafts that didn’t quite work. I felt removed from the story, and at a distance from Lucy herself.
            One day, while unpacking from a big move, I ran across some very early writing I’d done, back when I wasn’t sure how to start the story. In that snippet, I’d let Lucy speak for herself. And when I read it, I knew that’s what had been missing: Lucy’s true voice.
            It meant a lot of rewriting, but I tackled the story again, and this time I let Lucy tell it. Even as I wrote it, I could feel the book coming alive in a whole new way. When I sent the manuscript out, it was snapped up by an agent right away, and soon we had editors racing to buy it. This is the beginning of what they read – and the way Chantress still begins now:

I was digging in the garden when I heard it: a strange, wild singing on the wind.
I sat back on my heels, a carrot dropping from my mud-splattered hands.  
No one sang here. Not on this island.
Perhaps I’d misheard—
No, there it was again: a lilting line, distant but clear. It lasted hardly longer than a heartbeat, but it left me certain of one thing: It was more than a gull’s cry I’d heard. It was a song.
But who was singing it?
I glanced over my shoulder at Norrie, hunched over a cabbage bed, a gray frizzle poking out from under her linen cap. As far as I knew, she was the only other inhabitant of this lonely Atlantic island, but it couldn’t have been Norrie I had heard. For if there was one rule that my guardian set above all others, it was this one: There must be no singing. Ever.
Sing and the darkness will find you...

            So what did I learn about beginnings? Two things stand out:

(1)   Don’t get too set on one way to tell your story. Be willing to try new things.
(2) Trust your instincts! When it’s right, you’ll know.

Chantress Blurb
“Sing, and the darkness will find you.” This warning has haunted fifteen-year-old Lucy ever since she was eight and shipwrecked on a lonely island. Lucy’s guardian, Norrie, has lots of rules, but the most important is that Lucy must never sing. Not ever. Now it is 1667, Lucy is fifteen, and on All Hallows’ Eve, Lucy hears a tantalizing melody on the wind. She can’t help but sing—and she is swept into darkness. 
When she awakes in England, Lucy hears powerful men discussing Chantresses—women who can sing magic into the world. They are hunting her, but she escapes and finds sanctuary with the Invisible College, an organization plotting to overthrow the nefarious Lord Protector. The only person powerful enough to bring about his downfall is a Chantress. And Lucy is the last one in England. 
Lucy struggles to master the song-spells and harness her power, but the Lord Protector is moving quickly. And her feelings for Nat, an Invisible College apprentice and scientist who deeply distrusts her magic, only add to her confusion... 

Author Bio
Amy Butler Greenfield was on her way to a history Ph.D. when she gave into temptation and became a writer. Among other honors, her books have won a PEN/Albrand Award, the Veolia Prix du Livre Environnement, and a Beacon of Freedom Award.
Born in Philadelphia, Amy grew up in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. She studied at Williams College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and she earned a graduate degree in history at Oxford University on a Marshall Scholarship. She now lives with her family on the edge of the Cotswolds in England, where she writes, reads, and bakes double-dark-chocolate cake.
She loves music, romantic adventure, history, quirky science, and suspense, which explains how she came to write her first YA novel, Chantress, due out from Simon & Schuster in May 2013.


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Friday, September 13, 2013

GYDO: Erin Bowman

Erin Bowman, Author of Taken

Which character from TAKEN has the most "you" in it?
Blaine, Gray's older brother, shares my intense desire to avoid confrontation at all costs. Like me, Blaine is a peace-maker. He'll say what makes the majority happy, rather than be brutally honest and risk upsetting anyone. 
You can get any 2013/14 releases now, what would they be? (Remember, they have to be released after Sept. since that's when this is posted!)
I am absolutely dying to get my hands on Raging Star, the final installment in Moira Young's Dust Lands trilogy.

What's your favorite part of the writing process? Why?
It's hard work, but I really love revising. That moment when your mess of words begins to resemble a polished, read-able book is truly magical. It makes all the sweat and tears worth it.
What's one of your favorite non-spoiler quotes from TAKEN?
Maybe it takes going crazy to face the truth.

If you had to read one book over and over and over for a year, what book would it be?
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I could read about time-turners and the Marauders forever.
Why did you decide to dive into a dystopian world?
I didn't intentionally set out to write a dystopian with TAKEN. When I first drafted it, I was just trying to tell the tale of a boy looking to find himself and his way in life. The setting eventually grew to showcase a dystopic backdrop, but TAKEN was first and foremost about a boy in search of answers. That said, I've always been a fan of dystopian stories. They tend to take some of the evils that exist in our own world and amplify them, letting us experience a "what if" scenario while reading. For me, reading about broken worlds and watching people fight back--even when everything is stacked against them--is incredibly inspiring and hopeful.

Debut (of any year)
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. I was so blown away by this book when I first read it.
Book-to-Movie adaption
Fight Club. This is one of the rare instances where I liked the movie better than the book.
Paranormal creature
Dragons. All the way.
I can't get enough action/adventure/fantasy/sci-fi. (I realize I just cheated and listed four sub-genres. I regret nothing.)

Fairy tale
Andersen's The Little Mermaid will always hold a dear place in my heart.

Taken Blurb
There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.
They call it the Heist.
Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.
Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?

Author Bio
Erin grew up in rural Connecticut, where she spent most of her childhood telling stories. It is rumored that her first words were not “Mama” or “Dada,” but “Once upon a time.” In middle school, when kids were going off to sleep-away camp for the summer, Erin was attending writing camp and penning short stories.


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Thursday, September 12, 2013

GYDO: Lenore Appelhans

Lenore Appelhans, Author of Memory of After/Level 2

Most authors will tell you that titles are hard. You want something that evokes the atmosphere of the book, that’s easy to remember, and is not like anything else out there. Tall order!

My debut novel is out in the world in two incarnations.  When it was published in January in hardcover, it came out with the title LEVEL 2.  When it comes out in paperback next month (September 3rd), it will be under the title THE MEMORY OF AFTER.

Why? Well, feedback from sales was that book browsers in stores overlooked LEVEL 2 because they thought the “2” meant it was a sequel. This hadn’t occurred to me (or my publisher) before publication, but in retrospect, it makes sense. Thus, the rebranding/redesign.

LEVEL 2 was my working title, and though we did have a title brainstorm before the hardcover publication, nothing seemed to fit as well as LEVEL 2, so we kept it.

When the feedback came in from sales post-publication, we all put our heads together again.

Here are some of the rejected titles:

THE MEMORY CHAMBERS (the memory chambers are central to the concept, so this was a strong possibility)
MEMORY ADDICTS OF THE AFTERLIFE UNITE AND TAKE OVER (my nod to The Smiths, but makes the book sound like a comedy, which it is not)
WHAT ELSE IS THERE? (Doesn’t really say much)
HIVELAND (speaks to setting, but doesn’t give the full picture like LEVEL 2 does)
RECAPTURE (I like the double meaning and how both are relevant to the book)
ESCAPING AFTER (was in the top 2 – I like it because of the action it promises)
NEXT (action-packed but too generic)
LIMINAL (too obscure of a word)
SANCTUARY (Makes me think of LOGAN’S RUN)

Independently of each other, the publisher and I both came up one title on the list that we loved: THE MEMORY OF AFTER, paired with CHASING BEFORE for the sequel.

While the title LEVEL 2 evoked the action/sci-fi side of the novel, THE MEMORY OF AFTER is more mysterious, which I think fits the narrative incredibly well.

So yes, coming up with titles is hard work – but finding the right one makes it all worth it!

Memory of After/Level 2 Blurb
Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost-family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.
Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian-a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life-comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.
Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.

Author Bio
Lenore Appelhans has been blogging about books at Presenting Lenore ( since 2008. She is the author of the Memory Chronicles, which includes Level 2 and the forthcoming Level 3. She lives with her illustrator husband Daniel, and their first picture book together, Chick-O-Saurus Rex, is being published in 2013 by Simon & Schuster. She splits her time between Frankfurt, Germany, and Benton, Kansas.


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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

GYDO: Ashley Elston

Ashley Elston, Author of The Rules for Disappearing

I’m so excited to be a part of GYDO! And since this has been a wild and crazy ride – I thought I would give you my “Rules” for surviving your Debut Year:

Rule #1: Be prepared for your family to act crazy.
Your mom will approach strangers is a bookstore and stalk them until they agree to buy your book. You may be present and watch in horror as this happens or she may call you afterward to report her sales for the day. I’m sorry, book-shoppers. She means well.

Rule #2: Do not Google yourself.
Ever. Or search for your book’s title on Twitter, Goodreads, Tumblr, etc… This is a hard one. No matter how many gushing, awesome, incredible reviews and posts you find where the reader loves your book, it only takes one gif of a guy banging his head against a wall, screaming, “Noooo!” to crush you completely. Save yourself that heartache.

Rule #3: Find 348 ways to tell the same story.
            I’m not kidding. Friends, co-workers, family, and strangers in the grocery store all ask how you sold your book. In order not to be completely sick of yourself before your book hits the shelves, find a way to replay this story in an entertaining way so you don’t drone on like that teacher from FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF. 

Rule #4: Hope for a crowd but be prepared for empty seats.
Sometimes you will have awesome turnouts for events and sometimes you will hear crickets. My first book signing was incredible – Barnes and Noble sold out at 175 books. And then I had an event where the only attendees were my parents and a random family of three that probably thought they were there for something else. Both were incredibly humbling experiences.

Rule #5: Have fun!

            This is the most important rule. You are only a debut once so make the most out of it!

Rules for Disappering Blurb
She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.
Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do – or see – that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all the Suits’ rules — and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself.
But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters — survival.

Author Bio
Ashley Elston is the daughter of an attorney and grew up surrounded by talk of court cases and the law in general --- all of which triggered the ideas in her debut YA novel, THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING. She has a Liberal Arts degree from Louisiana State University and worked for many years as a wedding/ portrait photographer. She is also a licensed landscape horticulturist. Ashley lives in Shreveport, Louisiana with her husband and three young sons.


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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

GYDO: Kelly Fiore

Kelly Fiore, Author of Taste Test

A lot of people ask me why I write Young Adult fiction. Because my writing beginnings centered around verse (I have an MFA in Poetry), I think a lot of people would assume that I’d want to write things that are more…poem-ish. Not only that, but many also will ask what the appeal is in writing for young adults – as in, why write for children (who have seemingly less buying power) than for adults (who have, theoretically, plenty of buying power)?

People couldn’t be more clueless or wrong about young adult readers.
First, let me say that there is a reason young adult literature is booming – it’s the most visceral, exciting, emotional literature around. Teenagers feel things and they feel them hard. Their literature must be a reflection of that. As a writer for teens, it is my job to reflect that in my work.

Moreover – this whole buying power scenario? Trust me, there are lots of adults buying YA for themselves and the teens in their lives. When you write teen literature, you aren’t just writing for teens – you’re writing about a time period that everyone has lived through and that everyone can remember as, most likely, a dramatic part of their lives.

Another reason writing teen lit is such an amazing ride is because so many coming-of-age “firsts” happen for teenagers – there’s writing gold there, people! I mean, think about it – driving, proms, school, jobs, crushes, relationships. It’s not that adults don’t have those things – but isn’t the first time you do something way more exciting than the 200th? I can still remember on my 16th birthday, getting behind the wheel of my 1987 red Chevy Nova and jamming to Spacehog’s “In the Meantime” on my cassette player as I drove down the street. But if you asked me what song I listened to in the car just yesterday, I probably couldn’t tell you. Teenage moments matter and they last. Who wouldn’t want to catalogue that?

But, most of all, I write young adult literature because, the majority of the time, I feel like a young adult. I still dream the way my teenage self would dream. I’ve never lost that inexplicable sense of hope – of what if – of one day. If there were a way to encapsulate that wonder, wouldn’t you do it? I get to do it on the page and it’s pretty much the coolest job ever.

Ask any YA writer why they write YA, and you’ll probably get a different answer from each one. But, in the end, we can all agree that YA lit is the place where we can remember how it felt to do something amazing for the very first time. The fact that I get to share those feelings with others – well, that just makes it all the more important.

Taste Test Blurb
Nora Henderson has been basting baby back ribs for as long as she could reach the counter of her dad's famous barbecue joint. When she's accepted to Taste Test, a teen reality cooking competition, Nora can't wait to leave her humble hometown behind. On set, run-ins with the maddeningly handsome and talented son of a famous chef, Christian Van Lorten, make Nora wonder if it's him or the win she really wants, but as she and Christian emerge as front-runners for the final prize, Nora can't ignore the mysterious accidents plaguing the kitchen arena. Someone is conducting eliminations of their own, and if Nora doesn't stop them, she could be next to get "chopped" for good. 

With romance and intrigue as delectable as the winning recipes included in the story, this debut novel will be devoured by all.

Author Bio
Kelly Fiore has a BA in Creative Writing from Salisbury University and an MFA in Poetry from West Virginia University. Cooking and writing are two of Kelly's greatest passions; others include cupcakes, facials, and VH1 Classic. She lives in Maryland where she lives with her husband and son. Taste Test is her debut novel.


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