New YA Publishing Imprint, Sourcebooks Fire!

January 8, 2010

Sourcebooks publishing is introducing a new imprint for young adult literature. It’s called Sourcebooks Fire! The website to go along with it, http://teenfire.ning.com, has a couple of interesting pieces of news that may appeal to teen readers.

One is a writing contest for teens that will accept submissions from February 1 to February 28, 2010. Sourcebooks Fire! is also searching for teens to give editorial input into the titles they choose to print. Here’s a description from the website of what review board members do:

“What you’ll get to do:

• Make editorial suggestions on novels in progress • Give feedback on covers in progress • Discuss books with other teens as smart and cool as you are—long before the books are in stores • Participate in the publishing industry • Meet authors, editors, and designers • Shape the next wave of teen fiction”
For complete details of how you can be eligible and apply to be a member of the teen review board, visit http://teenfire.ning.com/events/join-the-sourcebooks-fire-teen. You can also take part in discussion groups of  Sourcebooks Fire! books.

Check Out This Contest for a Sony Reader at Booking Mama

December 30, 2009

I was reading Booking Mama’s blog yesterday and found out about a great contest she’s got going on until January 3. As part of a campaign by Sony to promote its new website, Words Move Me: Connecting Readers Around the Literary Moments They Love, Booking Mama will be giving away a Sony Reader to someone who leaves a comment on her blog post about a favorite book read when growing up. If you’re like me, it may be difficult to choose one.

I learned to love historical fiction when I read The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth Speare and Drake: The Man They Called a Pirate by Jean Lee Latham. Later I devoured all the historical fiction by Gore Vidal I could find. The best part is that I couldn’t wait to share the things I read as a child with my daughters when they were old enough. It’s so rewarding to see your children fall in the love with the same books that meant so much to you. I’ll be commenting at Booking Mama as soon as I decide which book to single out. Then I’ll be checking out Sony’s new website.


Book Review and Giveaway: The Last Will of Moira Leahy, Interview with Author Therese Walsh

November 4, 2009

Today I’m excited to feature Therese Walsh and her new book The Last Will of Moira Leahy. This was such an interesting book to read, and I’m eager to share more about it with you. First up is my review, followed by an interview with Therese. Then look for details so you can win a copy of her book.

Review: The Last Will of Moira Leahy

Moira Leahy

Twenty-five-year-old Maeve Leahy likes her life orderly with limited surprises. But she’s feeling restless one November night as she thinks about her twin, Moira, whom she lost to a night in November nine years before. As a distraction, she attends an antiques auction where she places the winning bid on a special dagger, a Javanese keris, very much like one she accidentally dropped into a bay years ago while playing a pirate queen with Moira.

Soon mysterious things begin to happen. A book on weaponry is nailed to the door of her office at the small college in New York State where she teaches. She feels she’s being watched. Then she receives a note asking her to travel to Rome where she can learn more about her knife from a man who uses an age-old tradition to make blades just like it.

In Rome she’s joined by Noel, the only man Maeve has let into her inner world while still keeping him at a distance. Noel has been in Europe searching for answers from his own past and escaping from the uncertainties of his relationship with Maeve. Together they start to unravel their feelings for each other, the mystery of the keris, the man behind the blade, and the voices in Maeve’s mind that refuse to go away. Maeve also finally confronts her own feelings for her twin and the shocking event that separated them as teenagers.

The Last Will of Moira Leahy by Therese Walsh is a richly conceived tale that weaves mystery, romance, adventure and self-discovery into one beautiful package. Moira’s story from years before appears tucked in between Maeve’s narrative in the present. The twins’ inseparable bond is both a comfort and a burden to them as they learn to find their own talents. Topics to discuss include the special bond that exists between twins, learning to be true to your own personality without taking away from family members, honesty in relationships, deciding to have sex with a boyfriend, learning to deal with family tragedy and more. The Last Will of Moira Leahy is billed as women’s fiction, but it is appropriate for book clubs with girls aged 15 and over. Highly recommended.

Interview: Author Therese Walsh

Therese Walsh

Most people recognize the special bond that exists between twins. What prompted you to write about twins?

TW: Believe it or not, I didn’t intend to write about twins. When I first began writing, I meant to create a simple love story between Maeve Leahy and her friend, Noel. Moira kind of appeared on the page one day and changed the dynamic of the book. I rewrote the story to center it around the relationship between the twins when I realized the emotional power of their story.

The book is mostly told in Maeve’s voice, with small glimpses of Moira’s point of view. What do you want the reader to learn about Moira when we hear her voice?

TW: I wanted readers to get to know Moira and realize she wasn’t a bad person, and I felt that hearing only from Maeve’s point of view might have meant people didn’t give Moira the benefit of the doubt. I think that both girls were good people, and I wanted them each to be understood.

Maeve and Moira’s mother plays a crucial role in their lives through her decisions on how to direct their talents. But she also seems insignificant in some ways. Do you think the twins didn’t need her as much because they had each other?

TW: That was definitely Abby’s perception—that they didn’t need her. The truth was that the twins needed her in ways that felt unsatisfying to Abby, because they were drawing so much emotional support from one another and they understood one another exceedingly well. But Abby was their mother, and so they did need her in a million little ways. There’s a hole in Maeve’s life after she loses her twin but there’s another beside that one because she’s lost her mother in a sense, too. That hole wouldn’t be there if Abby was truly insignificant to her.

How did you become aware of and interested in the keris?

TW: I found the keris almost by fluke. As I said, I’d first planned to write a simple love story. Well, Noel was an antiques dealer, and I spent many happy hours going through eBay listings, looking for antiques that I planned later to describe in his shop. One of the items I found was an antique Javanese keris—a dagger with a wavy blade. It looked interesting, so I made a record of it. I wanted my first scene to take place in an auction house and wasn’t sure which item should draw my characters’ attention. I chose the keris from my list without much thought.

I gave my scene to a friend, who read it with interest and then asked if the keris would be important to the rest of the book. It sounded like a good idea. I dug in, did some research, and realized the keris was so much more than a pretty blade. Maeve Leahy, the main character, realizes the same throughout the course of the novel.

What kind of research did your conduct for your book and how long did you spend on research?

TW: I traveled to Castine, Maine; I read books (on twins, on Rome, on strange phenomena), I spoke with people (about Castine and Rome and the Javanese keris); and I did more online research than I can name (on twins and post traumatic stress disorder and antiques and airlines and sailing and pirates and more!).

I love research, and I spend far more time on it than I’ll admit in a public forum that may be visited by my editor. But seriously, I do love it and I let it divert me and inform the direction of the story if it’s juicy enough.

Your book takes place in Maine, New York and Rome. Are any of these places special to you in some way?

TW: When I first began writing this story, I chose to center the book in upstate because it was what I knew; I live in upstate New York. I ventured out of “safe” territory shortly thereafter by sending my characters to Rome, Italy. When I rewrote the book to focus on the twin sisters, I decided to add scenes from Castine, Maine, as well. I don’t have a special connection to Rome or Castine, but I did visit Castine and learned much about the town on that trip.

Tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to be a novelist.

TW: I was hired as a features researcher for Prevention Magazine out of graduate school. I’d long loved to write, though I hadn’t considered it as a career until my stint with Prevention. Opportunities were born, and I took them. And when my daughter was born, I left my in-house job to become a freelance health researcher and writer.

Fiction became a part of the everyday at that point—reading to my daughter, then my son. And because I liked to write, one thing led to another; I started writing children’s stories. None were published, but that didn’t matter; Pandora’s Box had been opened. One thing I learned while writing children’s stories was that I loved a good juicy sentence, so I thought I should try my hand at adult fiction. And I did.

Can you tell us about your next book and when we can expect to see it in print?

TW: Yes, I’m writing about a blind woman who travels across West Virginia in search of her dead mother’s unfinished story and along the way teaches others how to see the world. It’s another novel with cross-genre elements—some mystery and psychological suspense, a little romance, and some mythical realism. But this book also has a whole lot of Quirk, and I love that. My deadline for the book is 12/10, so it should be on the shelves sometime in 2011. That may seem like a long time, but I’ll use every minute wisely.

Anything else you’d like to say to members of mother-daughter book clubs?

TW: Just that I’m flattered to be featured here, and I hope that The Last Will of Moira Leahy inspires some interesting conversations between mothers and daughters. Please send me a note when you’ve finished the book to let me know your thoughts. I welcome the feedback. Happy reading!

About the Author

Therese is the co-founder of Writer Unboxed, a blog for writers about the craft and business of genre fiction. Before turning to fiction, she was a researcher and writer for Prevention magazine, and then a freelance writer. She’s had hundreds of articles on nutrition and fitness published in consumer magazines and online.

She has a master’s degree in psychology.

Aside from writing, Therese’s favorite things include music, art, crab legs, Whose Line is it Anyway?, dark chocolate, photography, unique movies and novels, people watching, strong Irish tea, and spending time with her husband, two kids and their bouncy Jack Russell.

Win:  One Copy of The Last Will of Moira Leahy to be Given Away

If you’re intrigued by this review, interview and Therese’s background, you’ll definitely want to read her book. You can win a copy right here by commenting on this post. Tell us which element of Therese’s story intrigues you the most, or make a comment on one of her interview answers. One winner will be chosen from all who comment before midnight, Pacific Daylight Time on Thursday, November 5.


NaNoWriMo Writing Contest

October 30, 2009

It’s hard to believe that it will soon be November. Trick or treaters will herald the last hours of October and then we’ll fall back into daylight standard time. But besides rainy, dark days, November also brings National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo as it’s more affectionately called. There’s lots of great information at the website.

This year marks the first time I will kind of sort of be participating. I’m not really writing a novel, so I’m not signing up for the official festivities. It’s more like an inspiring goal setting opportunity for me to actually get lots of words on the page in November.

But plenty of other authors will be officially taking part of NaNoWriMo, and this year, there’s also a young adult novel writing contest that anyone 13 and over can enter. Here’s a bit of information about the contest:

“Serendipity Literary Agency, in collaboration with Sourcebooks and Gotham Writers’ Workshop, is hosting its first Young Adult Novel Discovery Competition for a chance to win a one-on-one consultation with one of New York’s leading YA literary agents!

If you’ve written a novel for young adults—or have an idea for one that you would like to write—we invite you to enter our contest. Simply submit only an enticing title along with the first 250 words from the opening of your original YA novel using the form below. There’s no entry fee or purchase requirement.” Click here to find out the rest of the story and to see the entry form.


Guest Posting at Writers Inspired

October 29, 2009

Mary Jo Campbell is hosting me at Writers Inspired, which is a great place for writers to find encouragement. I’m talking about how good readers make great writers, and how discussing books helps writing too. Comment on the post for a chance to win a copy of Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs.


Great Review from Booking Mama

October 28, 2009

Woohoo! I was blown away reading the new review for Book by Book from Booking Mama, who’s focusing on mother-daughter book clubs all week.

Julie at Booking Mama may be a little biased since she’s quoted in Book by Book, but her words are sincere and thorough, and they help readers know what to expect when they pick up my guide to creating mother-daughter book clubs. I believe the advice I gave in the book is stronger because moms in book clubs all over the country contributed stories about their own experiences and thoughts about what has been successful or not in their groups. Connecting with moms like Julie was one of the most enjoyable parts of working on my book, because it was fun to see how so many people can take one concept—creating a mother-daughter book club—and turn it into their own unique experience.

Don’t forget to visit Booking Mama by Monday, November 2 and enter the drawing to win a copy of my book plus five sets of three Heather Vogel Frederick novels: The Mother-Daughter Book Club, Much Ado About Anne and Dear Pen Pal.

bookbybook


Mother-Daughter Book Club Week Continues at Booking Mama

October 27, 2009

Booking Mama continues the mother-daughter book club week fun today with an interview of Heather Vogel Frederick, author of The Mother-Daughter Book Club, Much Ado About Anne and Dear Pen Pal. Find out how Heather started on her mother-daughter book club series, and learn a little more about the fourth book in the series she just finished writing. And there’s a surprise too! Click here to read the interview on Booking Mama. And for more info on Heather, read my interview with her at Mother Daughter Book Club.com.

Don’t forget to enter Booking Mama’s giveaway this week. Two lucky winners will get 1 copy of my book plus 5 copies of Heather’s three books mentioned above. It’s a perfect way to start a new mother-daughter book club or add to one that’s already in existence. The chance to enter the giveaway ends Monday, November 2 at 11:59 p.m. EST, so don’t wait to get your name in.