Saturday, June 30, 2012

Rolling with the Shamlessness

One of the things I love most about being the official Enchanted Inkpot Ambassador of Shamelessness (I feel like I need a badge or something...) is that I get to bring you news like this:

The cover for my friend and fellow Inkie Ellen Oh's debut PROPHESY.

Not only that, but I get to bring you the two FANTASTIC blurbs!
"What an adventure! I fell in love with the lush, richly woven world of PROPHECY. Kira is truly a force to be reckoned with. When I finished my journey with her, all I wanted was more. Spectacular!" - Marie Lu, author of the LEGEND trilogy

"Filled with ancient lore, political intrigue, non-stop action, and a fiercely determined heroine, PROPHECY is a rich and thrilling read—my favorite kind of book!" - Robin LaFevers, author of GRAVE MERCY
I love my job.

Meanwhile, Nancy Holder has a whole flurry of news this week. First, she sold Bulgarian rights to POSSESSIONS, her YA horror series.  Next, she sold the short story "Love and "War" to THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF ER ROMANCE.  And then she'll be the keynote banquet speaker at Slayage 5: Conference on the Whedonverses, July 12-15 in Vancouver, Canada.

Yeah.  She's boring like that.  ;)

In review news, early reviews are coming in for Grace Lin's STARRY RIVER OF THE SKY, with Fuse8 rounding the bend in first.  Spoiler: they loved it.

And lastly, my newest horror title TEN has been included in the Junior Library Guild book club for fall.  WOO HOO!

Okee.  That's all for this week!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Interview: Nancy Holder & Teen Wolf novel, ON FIRE!

New York Times' bestselling author, Nancy Holder, is about to release her latest work, ON FIRE!, a Teen Wolf novel about Scott facing a new threat from the elusive Alpha. I was fortunate enough to snag an ARC and get an exclusive interview for the Enchanted Inkpot.

Given this is a novel about established characters in an established world, where did the unique idea for this book come from?

I was approached by an editor, who asked me if I would be interested in writing a TEEN WOLF book. After I watched the full season and went to the panel at Comic-con, I had a meeting with the creator, Jeff Davis, and we talked over some ideas for the main plot. The subplot came to me as I thought about what kind of character Jackson was. I also wanted to give the character named Danny and his boyfriend, Damon, an integral role in the story.

Were you a TEEN WOLF fan of the movie/TV show before you took on the book?

I love Michael J. Fox, so I had fond memories of the movie, but the TV show is nothing like it. I was approached about writing a TW novel at Comic-con last year and I went to the Teen Wolf panel, and immediately bought the first season on iTunes. I absolutely loved it. The writing is sharp and witty the way Buffy is. I'm so proud to be associated with it.

What was the most interesting thing about "inheriting" a story's setting and cast of characters? What were your favorite parts and which were the hardest?

The first season of TEEN WOLF is very linear, and there is a big reveal as well as a cliffhanger in the season finale. I had a big phone conference with the people at MTV about how to do the novel without spoiling the reveal and how to insert a new adventure into the narrative. Then I had a meeting in L.A. with the creator/show runner, Jeff Davis, who had a great idea for the "A" plot. I figured out which characters to use in that plot, and then created a "B" plot using other characters. Then I made them intersect. Jeff definitely gave me the starting point. He's smart, articulate, and so creative. I have such respect for him. Probably the hardest part was "freezing" the story between two of the episodes. I watched all the episodes many times, but I only watched up to Episode 5 more times than that, so I would internalize what a viewer would "legally" know up til then. I doubt any of my readers will care, but it was important to me.

You can tell the difference when an author takes note of the details; especially things like modern technology to make a story feel real. What are some of the advantages and challenges of including things like cell phones, GPS, and downloadable apps?

In some ways, it's harder because we're more tethered and it's harder to create an air of mystery about where someone is or what they're doing. There are a lot of dropped calls in ON FIRE! But I'm actually following a thread that Jeff Davis laid down in the episodes with the phone finder-app.

I think that was a great thread and one readers can relate to as well as that "loss of control" feeling that's a common theme of lycanthropy stories. (Also true for teenage boys!) How do characters like Scott and Derek deal with these struggles and how does it show up with their relationships to girlfriend Allison, hunter Kate, and each other? What parallels did you draw between werewolves and adolescence?

At this point in the series in which ON FIRE takes place, Scott is having a lot of trouble controlling the shift. Derek helps him, but Stiles does, too. Stiles also figures out that Allison anchors Scott. A lot of Derek's backstory is revealed in ON FIRE, especially his relationship with Kate. He's fighting for control as well. The parallels between werewolves and adolescence are very direct--kids battling hormones, acting like animals, losing their cool. It's a perfect metaphor.

Who is your greatest influence as a writer?

Shirley Jackson, hands down. I love her.

And most important question: what is your favorite flavor Jelly Belly?

Licorice. I love it!

Thanks, Nancy, for stopping by the Inkpot! You can read more about Nancy and her other books at!

Monday, June 25, 2012

TOTW: There's Always Time for a Good Book

Fantasy is what happens when "What If?" meets world-building, creating incredible people and places full of magic and mystery yet to be discovered until the pages start flipping and we end up reading until the wee hours in the morning. There are themes that grab us and refuse to let go, leaving us bleary-eyed and wondering when the hours flew by. I find one of the most challenging and rewarding ways to turn the world as we know it (or think we know it) on its head is when the author bends or breaks the boundaries of time.

Time is linear, the dash between dates on a tombstone: it starts at the very beginning and continues all the way to the end (or perhaps somewhere after Happily Ever After), but the story takes place on the journey; somewhere or somewhen in-between. The march forward seems like a straight road until, like Harold with his Purple Crayon, we veer off the path in order to discover adventure. To bend time or travel through time changes the landscape; from the classics like A Wrinkle in Time, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and The Girl, The Gold Watch and Everything to modern twists like Myra McEntire's Hourglass & Timepiece and Hermione's Time-Turner in The Prisoner of Azkaban, the wrap-around is a fun way to wrap our brain around a new set of old circumstances and see things differently the second time around.

My childhood favorite, Tuck Everlasting, hit the Pause button on time and allowed me to ask my first questions about immortality and what it was like to exist outside of mortal time; questions reflected back in tales like Lois Duncan's Locked In Time, L. M. Boston's The Children of Green Knowe, and the return of the Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve in The Chronicles of Narnia.

Sometimes time-travel is a quest to preserve history or to right a wrong as in Diana Wynne Jones' A Tale of Time City or to understand it as in Jane Yolen's The Devil's Arithmetic, or to want more of that precious commodity like in Kate Thompson's The New Policeman; longing to live longer is part of what time is all about: we want to keep going, we don't want our story to end. (And if that's not enough, there are some who sneak in extra hours such as in Philippa Pearce's Tom's Midnight Garden and Scott Westerfeld's Midnighters series. Haven't we all wondered what we'd do with more time?)

There are lots of wonderful stories that play with the fantasy of having more time, endless time, time stops, and to travel through time. This long, lazy summer, take some time to kick back with a cold butterbeer, check your gold pocketwatch, and catch a tesseract to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. You can pick up a favorite book and read it again, transporting yourself back to the first time you met your heroes and find that they're still there, waiting for you as if time stood still.

What favorite time-themed book would YOU suggest for a great summer read? Take some time to add a comment to the thread!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Jacqueline West and THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE

It is a delight to welcome the immensely talented and witty Jacqueline West to the Inkpot!  I remember picking up the first of THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE (#1, THE SHADOWS) in a bookstore because I couldn't resist the cover image of a girl climbing through a picture frame into a clearly very magical woods.  When I started reading, I was thrilled to find myself in the thick of a magical adventure with all the best ingredients:  a spunky, imperfect heroine (Olive), a spooky house, extraordinarily gifted cats, and, of course, those enchanted pictures a girl might want to climb into.  I loved THE SHADOWS and could not have been happier to ask Jacqueline West a few questions, now that #2 (SPELLBOUND) is out and #3 (THE SECOND SPY) on its way to bookstores in a couple of weeks!

Anne, on behalf of the Inkpot:  Thank you so much for stopping by, Jacqueline! Standing in front of a painting and dreaming oneself into it--we've all probably done that at least a few times.  Your books confirm my suspicion that no portal could possibly be as satisfying as a painting in a frame!  Do you remember any particular paintings that you wanted to enter, back when you were a child?

Jacqueline:  When I was little, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ house.  It was a big old house (so of course it seemed absolutely gigantic and ancient to little me), and it had a lot of interesting antiques and art objects in it.  I can still remember many of the paintings that hung on the walls: a girl picking wildflowers in a long pink gown, a shepherdess on a dark hill, a crumbling brown barn, several Norman Rockwell prints… It was very un-menacing stuff, unlike the collection in Olive’s house!  I remember giving names to the people in the paintings, deciding ‘She looks like a Gretchen,’ and ‘He looks like a Charlie,’ and imagining what they might have been saying to each other when they were captured in paint, mid-scene.  I almost got myself to believe that the paintings would come to life as soon as no one was looking, and the people in them would finally go back about their business.  I think that’s where the idea of the living paintings came from.  It’s funny: I never imagined myself actually climbing into a landscape or joining the painted people.  I just wanted to live through the characters I created in my mind.        

Anne:  How about painting people or worlds?  When I was in college, my friends and I worked for months on a collective felt-pen masterpiece, an illustrated map of fairyland. (Alas, it faded to nothing in the sun a few years after graduation.) Have you ever painted or drawn a landscape that you wanted to wander through?  Or have your landscapes always been written, rather than drawn?

Jacqueline:  Oh, I love the idea of a collectively created fairyland map!  Maybe it faded because the fairies wanted to keep their secrets…

I’ve always enjoyed painting and drawing, and I’ve dabbled in art off and on, but I’m always frustrated by not being able to get the image in my imagination onto paper or canvas.  My pictures never turn out the way I intend them to—sort of like Olive’s disastrous experiment with powerful paints in THE SECOND SPY!   With writing, I’ve realized that I can get a lot closer to transferring what’s inside my mind to the outside.  Now and then, I even put together a line or find a simile that’s exactly what I meant to say, and that’s a wonderful feeling. 

Anne:  Leopold, Harvey, and Horatio join a long and august line of fabulous fictional cats.  All the best magical stories seem to have 'em, and I have to say yours are some of my favorites.  But what is it with cats, do you think, that makes them so very story-worthy?

Jacqueline:  Young readers often ask me that, especially when they learn that I’m a cat-allergic dog-lover!  I explain that cats seem to me like they’d be awfully good at keeping secrets.  My dog would give up all his secrets (if he had any, which he doesn’t) in exchange for a baby carrot.  Cats always appear to have an interesting inner life.  They’re so independent and self-contained and regal—it just seems like there has to be something fascinating going on in there.

Anne:  Olive's parents make me chuckle every time they wander into the story, with their obsession with numbers and complete inability to understand what's really going on in Olive's life.  Do you have any math-oriented people in your world, or does the mismatch between Olive and her parents really just stand in for the mismatch between almost every child of Olive's age and his or her well-meaning but slightly clueless parents?

Jacqueline:  Ah, the Dunwoodys…  No one in my world is quite like them, although I’m sure fragments of former math teachers are mixed into them here and there.  I decided that math should be the Dunwoodys’ calling because I thought of it as the counterpoint to the McMartins’ magic.  Math and magic each have their own rules and logic and complexities, but they run along parallel lines—or at least they do in Olive’s world.  Because Olive is so different from her parents, she notices things about their new home that her parents don’t perceive at all.  While they are caught up in the magic of numbers, she’s caught up in the magic of art. 

Anne: Olive herself is a great character.  She is lovable, but not perfect.  She's a good friend, but she makes mistakes.  She's scrappy and creative, but also has her worries and fears and weaknesses.  Who are some of your favorite fictional heroines or heroes?  Do you have a larger picture of how Olive should be growing and changing across the series?

Jacqueline:  Thank you so much.  The setting and many of the characters around her are fantastical, but I wanted Olive to feel real.  She doesn’t have any inborn magical talents or superpowers; she’s not secretly a demi-god or a chosen one.  She just uses the strengths that she does have to change her own world for the better, when she can. 

Some of my own favorite fictional heroes and heroines are like Olive in this way.  As a kid, I loved Anne of Green Gables, in part because of how Anne imbues the real, natural world around her with beauty and excitement and magic.  I also loved Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes, who is weirdly similar to Anne in that he uses his imagination to transform his whole world (with much more violent and sometimes disgusting results, of course).  All of the animals in the Hundred Acre Wood are alive because Christopher Robin believes in them.  Wonderland may only exist because Alice dreamt of it, or was curious enough to discover it. 

Olive is flawed in many ways, and sometimes her shyness or her reluctance to trust others gets her into trouble.  Throughout the course of the books, I knew Olive would find good friends for the first time in her life, and that she would then have to learn how to be a good friend herself.  A lot of Olive’s inner conflict stems from this issue, and from her learning to have faith in her own strengths and talents—even if they aren’t exactly what she or her parents hoped they would be. 

Anne: Since I brought up the "series" question just now, let me say that this is one series where the books just get more vivid and more fun as you go.  I think my favorite so far is actually the third!!  This makes me so happy, just to know that it is POSSIBLE to write sequels that have all the zest of the original, and that truly can stand alone.  I hadn't reread THE SHADOWS (#1) before starting SPELLBOUND (#2), and I wasn't lost or confused for a moment.  Kudos to you for bringing the reader so seamlessly along!  Did you know from the outset that this would be a series?  A series longer than three books?  How many more do you have plotted out in your mind?

Jacqueline:  Woo-hoo!  So glad to hear that each of the books stood on its own!  The truth is: I didn’t know that this would be a series until THE SHADOWS was finished.  I had assumed that no one would want to publish one book by me, let alone two, so when my agent and editor first brought up the idea of a sequel, I was surprised, and then nervous, and then ecstatic.  Maybe I had been subconsciously writing the start of a series all along, because there was nothing in THE SHADOWS that had to be changed in order for there to be a Volume Two.  Most of the doors were closed, but a lot of windows were left open.  Almost as soon as I started work on SPELLBOUND, my amazing editor (Jessica Garrison at Dial) brought up the idea of a longer series, and suddenly I had the freedom and the space to think in terms of a big, multi-part story.  I’m revising Volume Four right now, and Volume Five will be the final installment.  I know what’s going to happen in the last book, but I haven’t put anything more than sketchy notes on paper—I only work on one book in the series at a time; I can’t move on to the next until I know the one before it is truly finished. 

Anne:  Are there parts of Elsewhere we have not yet seen?

Jacqueline:  Oh, yes.  Absolutely.  There are many more secrets waiting to be discovered, both inside and outside the house. 

Anne: Your #1 villain is named Annabelle McMartin.  I always knew Annabelle was a scary, scary name--I have friends who call me "Annabelle," and it makes me shiver.  Now I understand why!  I won't rest easy until Annabelle is thoroughly defeated, evaporated, melted, and/or reformed.  When does the next installment of THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE come out?  How long do I have to keep looking over my shoulders whenever I go outside??

Jacqueline:  Just one more year, I promise!  Volume Four will be released in summer 2013, and if everything goes according to schedule, Volume Five will follow in summer 2014. 

Anne:  And . . . are you working on anything else that is non-Elsewhere-related?

Jacqueline:  I am indeed.  I’m currently at work on a YA project (the title is currently in flux) that’s very different from THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE.  It may be released between books four and five of ELSEWHERE, but nothing’s set in stone yet.  I’ll keep the Inkpot posted!

Anne:  Thank you for taking on these questions, Jacqueline!  I can't wait to see THE SECOND SPY hit the bookshelves in July--it's a great yarn, thrilling and moving.  Congratulations on these lovely, wonderful books!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Happy Ever After Endings...Sort Of.


Ahhh, endings. That last page, or last paragraph or last line that closes out the story. A good ending sticks with you when you close the book, leaves you feeling satisfied, but at the same time sad that the story is over.  A bad ending--one that's too confusing or simplistic---can ruin a book, leaving a sour taste in the reader's memory. It used to be that endings were as simple as adding a happy-ever-after. Not anymore. Endings are slippery, tricky beasts, hard to pin down and even harder to write well. 

Fortunately, we here at the Enchanted Inkpot are brave, intrepid souls and endings don't scare us (much). And to prove it, we've gathered some of the endings from our current projects. Some of these endings, are final, some aren't. But all of them are awesome.


And if you were watching when the sun slunk behind the dark mountain ridge, you would have seen four shadows run across the tarmac, two holding hands, and one chasing a huge shaggy dog, all spotlit by the NASA Ames Research Center lights, falling into the outstretched arms of two shadows crying with happiness. 
     --Keely Parrack

This time, setting out wasn't a new thing. But the day was new, and Piri was new, and so were her wings.
     --Kate Coombs, from  Lemonade Wings (WIP)

Once he'd finished learning all there was to know about Claudette McGavin, he'd go to bed, ready for another day.
     -- Caroline Hooton

"I'd start making up some house rules right now," Conor told Grump's new mum. 
     -- Ellen Booraem

She curled one hand around the carved tiger in her pocket and the other around Emil's strong fingers. Then, connected to both her past and her future, she looked the man in the eye. "My name," she said. "is Shar."
  -- Miriam Forster, from the prequel to City of a Thousand Dolls. (WIP)


In the lantern light she could see that her gift was a strong, slender sword, its silver hilt scored with sigils and set with moonstones. Meg lifted it to the night. "Once upon a time," she said, "there was a princess who knew she was meant for more than twirling her tresses and swooning."
     --Kate Coombs, from The Runnaway Princess

“You could still be cursed,” I said.
“My curse is broken, right?”
I didn’t say anything.
“Right?” Henry said again.
I tossed the remote onto the futon and headed for the door. “I guess we’re going to find out.”
     -- P.J. Hoover, from Tut (Tor Children's, Winter 2014)

Braeden looked over his shoulder, watching as Inisfail grew farther and farther away, until they sailed through the mists and it disappeared from sight. He was momentarily overcome with sadness, but then he turned back around and saw his parents, friends, and Kira, and knew that wherever he was, as long as they were with him, he was home. 
     -- Erin Cashman, from Legend of the Four

Josie rolled over in bed and opened her eyes. She could still see Nick's face. "I'll wait for you," she said even though she knew he couldn't hear her. "I'll wait forever."
    -- Gretchen McNeil, from 3:59 


What's YOUR favorite last line?  Any thoughts on happy-ever-after? 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Pour on the Shamelessness

You know, us Inkies get around.  Last weekend, we descended about New York City for BEA 2012, with signings, meet and greets and cocktail parties galore.  I had an amazing turn out for my signing of TEN, and Grace Lin's upcoming middle grade novel STARRY RIVER OF THE SKY was part of the middle grade buzz panel!  Which is pretty rad.

Next week?  It's Anaheim's turn for ALA 2012!

Cindy Pon has both a panel AND a signing at ALA.  The Not Another Boring Vampire Romance: Going Beyond the Norm in YA Paranormal Fiction will be led by the fabulous librarian, Angei Manfredi where Cindy will be joined by Kendare Blake, Jackson Pearce and Kenneth Oppel.
Saturday, June 23, 8-10am in the Anaheim Convention Center, Room 209B.

Then from 12.30-1.30pm, Cindy will be signing along with Tahereh Mafi at the HarperCollin’s Booth 2558. Cindy will be signing BOTH Silver Phoenix paperbacks as well as Fury of the Phoenix hardcovers.

Nancy Holder is also signing at ALA: 1:00 – 2:00 PM, in the Simon & Schuster (Booth #2600-2601).  And don't forget Robin LaFevers,1pm Saturday at the Houghton Mifflin Booth!

I'll be at ALA as well, roaming around the convention floor Saturday June 23rd.  No signings for me (boo hoo) however, I will be doing a special TEN giveaway.  BUT YOU HAVE TO FIND ME AT ALA TO WIN!  Details coming on my blog next week.

We've got a huge cover reveal coming up next week.  Ellen Oh's PROPHECY reveal will be hosted by the YA Book Central on Monday, June 18th at noon EST.  Don't miss it!

A couple of weeks again, we announced that William Alexander got an amazing blurb from Ursula Le Guin for his upcoming release GOBLIN SECRETS, and now Ursula herself is blogging about the book.  Yes, that scream your heard just now?  Inkie fan girl/boy screams from around the country.

Speaking of blurbs, Miriam Forster has two to share for her upcoming debut CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS:
"A truly unique treasure, Forster's debut is storytelling at its best. With a chilling mystery, a forbidden romance, and delightful characters I fell in love with, I wanted to spend more time in the City of a Thousand Dolls." —Elana Johnson, author of Possession

"With fantastic world building and a wonderful heroine, City of a Thousand Dolls intrigued me from the first page. Forster took me on a fascinating journey full of twists and turns--I can't wait for the sequel!" --Cindy Pon, author of Silver Phoenix
Lastly, Lisa Gail Green has two short stories out in the new anthology JOURNEYS OF WONDER on sale only at now! $.99 or free through the Amazon Prime lending library.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Interview with P. J. Hoover, author of SOLSTICE

Today we have our own P. J. Hoover (aka Tricia) with us on the Inkpot. I've asked her to share about the publication journey of her young adult futuristic fantasy, SOLSTICE, from submissions to digitally publishing to a book deal with Tor Teen.

author photo P. J. Hoover
MG & YA Fantasy author, P. J. Hoover
P. J. Hoover first fell in love with Greek mythology in sixth grade thanks to the book Mythology by Edith Hamilton. After a fifteen year bout as an electrical engineer designing computer chips for a living, P. J. decided to take her own stab at mythology and started writing books for kids and teens. When not writing, P. J. spends time with her husband and two kids and enjoys practicing kung fu, solving Rubik's cubes, and watching Star Trek.

For more information about P. J. (Tricia) Hoover, please visit her website

Welcome, Tricia! 
Thanks so much for the interview opportunity, Lena! I’m excited to be here! J

First off, what is SOLSTICE about and when will it be published?

SOLSTICE is a YA novel set at least eighteen years in the future when global warming is killing the earth. This girl, Piper, gets a mysterious box as a present for her eighteenth birthday, and her entire world shifts. She discovers that, in addition to her global warming world, there’s this world of mythology, and somehow she’s deeply connected to it. Her mother is psychotic and won’t give her any freedom, so when Piper gets a rare opportunity for freedom, she seizes it. And the next thing she knows, her best friend almost dies, she visits the Underworld, and gods are walking the earth. And that’s only in the first eighty pages.

As for when it’s coming out, SOLSTICE will be published by Tor Teen in June 2013.

So you self-published SOLSTICE first. How did that come about?

When I originally wrote SOLSTICE (summer 2008), I always intended to publish it traditionally. I sent it to my agent. We revised it back and forth a couple times (and then a couple more), and then it was ready to go out. And we got great feedback from editors. People loved the story. In fact, it went to acquisitions but the deal fell through at the last moment. After this, I was completely disheartened, but I revised it again and we were going to submit it for another round.

About this time, the whole self-publishing market all-of-a-sudden got huge press. And my agent, Laura Rennert, presented the option of digitally publishing SOLSTICE with the help of the agency, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. It sounded exciting to me and because I was all about trying something new, I decided to give it a go. And so in May 2011, I independently published SOLSTICE.
I was thrilled with this decision. I loved how quickly the process worked, how fast it got into readers hand, how immediate the results of my efforts were. And so all was good…right?

Sounds great! So, how was your self-publishing experience?

It was wonderful! First, there was the time leading up to publishing SOLSTICE. I had input into the cover design, the pricing, the formatting. And yet, I didn’t have to do any of the work besides the revisions. And of course the marketing, too. But the process of making SOLSTICE into a book was handled completely by the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, and they did a fabulous job.

In the six months SOLSTICE was available, I met fantastic readers, bloggers, teens, librarians, etc, all excited about the story. The best thing about being an author is hearing from readers who loved the stories I’ve written, no matter whether a book has been self published or traditionally published. The readers make it all worth it!

How did SOLSTICE go from self-published to being published by Tor? What happened?

Right, so this kind of came out of nowhere. I was busy marketing SOLSTICE and also finishing up revisions for a MG Egyptian mythology story (TUT). And when TUT was ready, my agent sent it out traditionally. Susan Chang, one of the editors at Tor Children’s, loved TUT and asked my agent what else I had written. Laura Rennert mentioned SOLSTICE, and Susan was immediately interested, and so we sent her the manuscript. It wasn’t long before an offer came in for SOLSTICE which then turned into a two book offer for SOLSTICE and TUT. Needless to say, I was thrilled, especially because it came as such a surprise.

The cover for the digitally published version of SOLSTICE (it's a beauty, right?)

So what's next? Will SOLSTICE change? Your current cover is gorgeous, but do you think it will change for your upcoming release?

Well, I get to launch the same book twice! That said, SOLSTICE has gone through revisions with Susan Chang, and I love how the revisions have made the story so much stronger. I’ve had the benefit of taking a year of review feedback along with the eye of a very talented editor and making changes I feel great about.

As for the cover, I’m fairly sure it will change, but I haven’t heard any information about a new cover yet.

Finally, tell us about TUT: what is this story about and when will it be published?

TUT is my favorite book I’ve written yet and tells the story of a young immortal King Tut, who's been stuck in middle school for over 3,000 years and must defeat an ancient enemy with the help of a dorky kid from school, a mysterious Egyptian princess, and a one-eyed cat. It’s going to be published by Tor Children's in Winter 2014.

Thanks so much for interviewing me, Lena! It’s been fun!

Thank you, Tricia! I've loved hearing more about SOLSTICE’S publication journey. Thanks so much for sharing. TUT sounds amazing too. I can’t imagine being stuck in middle school for 3000 years—it’s tough enough to go through it once! LOL

Interview by Lena Goldfinch
Lena Goldfinch is the author of The Language of Souls. She lives in New England with her husband, two teens, and a very spoiled black lab. You can visit her online at

Monday, June 11, 2012

Just for Fun -- Fantasy Haiku

For some early summer fun, I challenged our venerable fantasy writers to create a fantasy haiku. Here's the word cloud they had for inspiration, with a directive to use at least two words.

Take a look at what they came up with:

Arms raised to the sky
Shorts wet with the playful surf
A mermaid is born

Angel in my yard
a crack of lightning and smoke.
sundress in ashes.
--Lisa Amowitz, BREAKING GLASS (Spencer Hill Press, July 2013)
Beach, sea, sunny air         
But the thunder gods gather
To make me their heir.

blistering climate
ice is but a memory
eternal solstice
--Tricia (PJ) Hoover, inspired by SOLSTICE (Tor Teen, June 2013)

immortal pharaoh
thunder smashes obelisks
king tut can't relax
--Tricia (PJ) Hoover, inspired by TUT (Tor Childrens, Winter 2014)

Hot island breeze swirls,
as sorcerer chants and spins
web of black magic
--Lena Goldfinch, inspired by island-set YA fantasy WIP, working title SONGSTONE or GIRL OF BLOOD & STONE

Princess sees visions:
ocean voyage, stolen girl,
boy who flies as hawk
--Lena Goldfinch, inspired by YA fantasy WIP, working title AIRE

I think writing haiku can provide a fun break for novelists. It's a way to take a short break from the work at hand and refresh. Novels are labors of love, lasting anywhere from many months to years to write. Haiku and other poetry forms can give novelists a chance to write something short. The constraining rules can stump the old left cortex, allowing you to shift over to your free-wheeling right brain, which can boost creativity. 

Also, it's just plain fun, for anyone. Give it a try! And feel free to post in the comments. :)

Lena Goldfinch is the author of The Language of Souls, a short-but-sweet tale that will "appeal to teens who enjoy fantasy with a side of sigh-worthy romance". She lives in New England with her husband, two teens, and a very spoiled black lab. You can visit her online at

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Arc Sharking at the BEA, 6/5 and 6/7/12

The BEA takes place in the sprawling Jacob Javits Convention Center on the western edge of Manhattan between 33rd and 38th street. It is roughly the size of the Continental Airlines Terminal at Newark International Airport. In other words—vast. The visitor check-in area even reminded me of an airport check-in.
BEA 2012 logoThe booth floor is basically five city blocks of wall-to-wall books and the people who love them—publishers, bloggers, writers, booksellers and books everywhere! New, not yet released books being given away in piles. People with bags chocked full of these free arcs! For me it was like dropping a kid in a toy store and telling them the toys are free.
The bigger publishers occupy the mid-zone area with booths that are more like portable showrooms. It would be like going to Barnes and Noble except the authors show up, sign their book, and then let you take it away for free. I picked up an arc from the author Mark Frost of his new book The Paladin Prophecy from Random House and only later (still kicking myself!) realized the man co-wrote one of my favorite TV shows of all time, Twin Peaks, wrote the screenplay for the Fantastic Four movies and went to my alma mater, Carnegie-Mellon University. Okay—so I really am going to start looking in those about the author blurbs fast before I walk away. And you can be sure I am reading that book.
Lesson learned: you need a BEA strategy
The back of the booth floor also has a table area where people assemble (in very long lines) to get arcs signed by authors, as well. There are also multiple panels taking place throughout the day in the staging areas. I caught part of a YA panel with Melissa Marr. Honestly, the place is so huge and frenetic, I am certain I missed most of what was going on.
So, I had originally taken it upon myself to be the Enchanted Inkpot BEA roving reporter. Armed with a small digital recorder and my smile, the first day I got there I wandered around asking people this question:
What do you see as the most important trends in children’s book publishing in the next five to ten years?
First of all—full disclosure. I somehow managed to erase everything I’d recorded. Apparently the recorder kept turning on in my purse—and poof! All gone. But, it’s not really a problem because, in the end decided to give up the whole idea. A lot of folks were reluctant to be quoted knowing that their words would be published and I thought it would be dishonest to do so without their consent. However, if you simply engaged people in conversation, they were very happy to talk and that was so much fun.
So I’m going boil down what I learned into a pastiche. A few people were okay to go on the record, so I’ll mention them by name.
Lisa interviews the Sock Monster, Lish McGlovin
The first person, or to be specific, non-person, I encountered was the sock monster, Lish McGlovin , who was hitching a ride in Kate Milford’s bag. I did ask the question of Lish and her response was, “Phumph. Come back later after Kate and I discuss this for a bit.”
But after a series of interesting and animated conversations, I was able to draw a conclusion.
No one has a clue where publishing is going.
If you ask a small publisher they will tell you the future is theirs. A larger publisher will tell you that they are all about great content and the delivery method is always evolving. I heard from a lot of people that ebooks are it and also Ipad interactivity. I also heard from other people that no one thinks real solid books are going anywhere—instead that they may become even more valued as objects of art, that ebooks, Ipad apps and traditional books can all co-exist in one happy world.
The one thing, though, that everyone, seems to agree about is change. Things are shifting and changing right under our feet. But no one seemed particularly downbeat or nervous. In fact, they seemed happy to embrace the unknown and actually be excited about it.
I did have a nice little chat with my publisher, Kate Kaynak of Spencer Hill Press, and she believes that there is plenty of room for publishers of all sizes. That change is good, and in fact presents more opportunities for everyone, including smaller publishing houses and indie writers.
It’s an exciting time. You can feel the buzz in the air.
Eventually, I found my way back to Kate Milford and Lish McGlovin who then pointed out that indeed, Kate herself was on the cutting edge of publishing innovation. With her were copies of the arc for her forthcoming independently published novella, The Kairos Mechanism. Lish nodded her little horned head and said, “See? Kate’s leading the way to the future of publishing!”
I had this conversation while waiting online to get an arc of Suzanne Lazear’s new book, Innocent Darkness. While sitting on the floor chatting with Lish and Kate, I also started talking with the young lady sitting next to us, who happened to be a blogger from Virginia named Jessica Coates of Book and Sensibility. Turns out I was so impressed with young Jessica that I walked her over to the Spencer Hill Press booth and got her an internship with them.
So, in conclusion, the coolest thing in this brave new world is interaction. And I don’t mean Ipad interactivity (which seemed to have everyone intrigued)—I mean human interactivity. Writers interacting with readers. Bloggers interacting with publishers, etc. BEA is a hive of interactivity and it is just plain awesome.
And the best thing about it is the arc booty I took away—I really got the hang of that Arc Sharking thing on my second trip back. If you do ever come to BEA, bring a sturdy shopping bag and comfortable shoes!

from Left to right, Jessica Coates with Lish McGlovin, Kate Milford

Suzanne Lazear holding Lish McGovern

The people at Spencer Hill Press--From Left to right, Marie Romero, Associate Editor, Vikki Claffone, Editor (she is my editor!), Trisha Wooldridge, Editor, and Kate Kaynak, Editor

Lisa Amowitz writes YA paranormal thrillers. An artist and graphic designer by trade, she teaches graphic design at a NYC college. Lisa designed her own book cover and hopes to do more. She is a mom of an an actual teen, so YA; she's living it. She is represented by the Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider. Her young adult novel, Breaking Glass, will be out in July.

Monday, June 4, 2012

DARK and STORMY First Lines!

Okay, who doesn't love a great first line? First lines can set the tone for entire stories. They can convey raw emotions. They can be the inspiration for entire novels. P. J. (Tricia) Hoover here, and I am totally guilty of having an entire novel of mine inspired by a first line. The funniest part? That line didn't even survive revisions! But the novel remains (SOLSTICE, Tor Teen, June 2013), so all is good.

Anyway, here at The Enchanted Inkpot, we thought it would be fun to collect up a bunch of first lines for our works-in-progress (WIPs). Some first drafts. Some final. All amazing! So here they are for your reading pleasure.



Lots of people in New York go to church on Sunday. Even more than that sleep in. Mike and I meet for pizza.
“My treat,” I say.
Mike slaps down a twenty before I can get my wallet out. “Next time, Logan.”
I scowl but don’t argue because Mike always pays. I used to put up more of a fight; it never works. And since I don’t have a job and my aunt has a strict no-allowance rule, I’m penniless lots of the time. Truly, I need to find a job. Having no money sucks. -- P. J. Hoover, title TBD

Death stalked the spider, pre-algebra book in hand. --Ellen Booraem

Lydia Cohen gazed at her fingers, the bare swath of nail revealed by the chipped black polish reminding her vaguely of the Horn of Africa. -- Lisa Amowitz, EXCEPTIONAL

There's a right way to do things and a wrong way, if you're going to run a hotel in a smugglers' town. -- Kate Milford, GREENGLASS HOUSE

Surely it was the persistent Yorkshire wind that made the legions of gravestones all lean towards the parsonage, but ever since Anne was a child she'd had the notion that the stones were straining towards her home, their progress glacial, yet inevitable, their one aim to break through the low stone wall that held them back, to invade the little patch of green that separated the parsonage from the graveyard, and envelope them all. -- Lena Coakley, THE WORLDS BELOW

The girl with no name stood on the stone steps looking up at the building in front of her. -- Miriam Forster, prequel to CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS

Josie's ancient Tercel shuddered in protest as she stepped on the accelerator.
"Come on." She leaned forward in her seat, willing the old car to go faster. "If I'm late again Mr. Reed is totally going to fire my ass."
As if in answer, the Tercel lurched forward. The car, a hand-me-down from her cousin, was older than she was, and the engine screeched in protest as she held the pedal to the floor. The speedometer flickered, desperately grasping for 45MPH. For a fleeting moment, Josie thought the Teal Monster, as her friends had dubbed her car, might actually have some kick left in her.
Yeah, not so much. The engine sputtered, momentum slowed, and Josie had to downshift to third gear.
"I hate you," she said, slapping the steering wheel with the palm of her hand. "Just so you know." -- Gretchen McNeil, 3:59

The music beat hard against Joy’s ribs. -- Dawn Metcalf, INDELIBLE (Harlequin Teen, July 2013)

Joy grabbed the first ceramic platter piled high with Cobb salad and ran a moist towel around the rim, making it neat. -- Dawn Metcalf, sequel to INDELIBLE, 2014

I was twelve the day the king ordered Nowan flogged to his death.
It was not the first time he had been beaten, for he was my whipping boy. But, unlike on previous occasions when he had been punished for my mistakes, I was unaware of having done anything wrong, and couldn’t understand my father’s sudden rage. -- Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban, THE REVENGE OF THE WOLF KING

It hung there, suspended between two trees, a giant bolt of cloud. A promise. I am not a cloud. I am a flying saucer. I can take you away. Just stretch out your hands and leap. Tempting. -- Keely Parrack

The mirror shattered into a thousand tiny fragments. -- Leah Cypess, sequel to DEATHSWORN

By the time Jonah broke into the dungeon, the sorcerer was dead. -- Cinda Williams Chima, THE ENCHANTED HEIR

Queen Calendrea stood high on a hill at the edge of a clearing, shrouded in shadow, a wolf her sole companion. The old woman’s brilliant green eyes pierced the darkness, scanning the field. She tentatively stepped forward, the hem of her cape billowing out behind her in the bitter wind. Satisfied, she quickened her pace, as the thick clouds that wrapped around the sky parted directly above her, allowing the moon to shine down brightly. She stopped at the edge of the precipice and stared down at the village hamlet below, only a few lights twinkled against the night sky. -- Erin Cashman, LEGEND OF THE FOUR

The alarm sounded at 3:35 in the morning. The lights flashed blindingly bright, illuminating the frightened faces of my capsule mates Specimen Iota and Specimen Theta. I wasn’t frightened, though. That was an emotion I hadn’t been programmed with yet. -- Sybil Nelson, DARK MARCO

Arms pumping, Thackery sprinted for the chainsaw and swept it up from where it lay on top of a fresh grave. -- Caroline Hooton

Riev crouched in the wagon's shadow, watching and listening. -- Hilari Bell, THE FIXER

The last day of Kaile's life did not start well. -- William Alexander, GHOULISH SONG

The Envoy tossed itself at the world. -- William Alexander, WIP

May your first lines be fun, crisp, and free of cliches, back story, and characters looking in the mirror. And may you nights be ever dark and stormy!

Thanks for reading!