Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Interview with Laurisa White Reyes

With me today is the wonderful Laurisa White Reyes, author of the middle grade fantasy, THE ROCK OF IVANORE.  Here is the description from Amazon:

The annual Great Quest is about to be announced in Quendel, a task that will determine the future of Marcus and the other boys from the village who are coming of age. The wizard Zyll commands them to find the Rock of Ivanore, but he doesn’t tell them what the Rock is exactly or where it can be found. Marcus must reach deep within himself to develop new powers of magic and find the strength to survive the wild lands and fierce enemies he encounters as he searches for the illusive Rock. If he succeeds, he will live a life of honor; if he fails, he will live a life of menial labor in shame. With more twists and turns than a labyrinth, and a story in which nothing is at it seems, this tale of deception and discovery keeps readers in suspense until the end.

Middle readers will find that The Rock of Ivanore fits nicely among the traditional fantasies they so enjoy. They will also appreciate its fresh and inventive take on the genre.

1. Where did the idea for Rock of Ivanore come from?

When my now 15-year-old son was 8, I read to him every night. One night he asked me to make up a story instead. Every night he would tell me what he wanted to hear, which usually involved dragons, magic or sword fighting. Eventually I started writing the story down and ended up with a rough draft of the novel.

2. I know you've had quite the journey to publication, care to fill in our readers?

I spent thirteen years writing for magazines and newspapers, but all my life I dreamed of writing novels. When I finally decided to live that dream, I quit the periodicals cold turkey and wrote my first book, which was really awful. But my second book was The Rock of Ivanore. Like many brand new writers, I thought I had written the greatest book ever. I sent it out to 50 publishers (that was before e-subs) and waited. And waited. I received more than 40 rejections over the course of two years. Naturally I got pretty discouraged, but then one day out of the blue I received an email from Tanglewood Press asking if my book was still available. Of course I said yes! Then it was another three years before it was actually published. From the time I wrote the first word to the day it hit the shelves was five years and eleven months.

3. Who is your favorite character - yes I'm making you choose - and why?

That is hard to say. I like them all since they are all, in some sense, a part of me. But I really fell in love with Jayson, the adult in the story. He is half human and half Agoran (a feline-type race). Long before the book begins he fell in love with a human and was exiled for it. I actually have written rather hefty novel about him called The Crystal Keeper, but I haven't found a publisher for it yet.

4. I hope you do! The sequel to this book is slated to be released in November 2013. Can you tell us a little about that?

Lord Fredric is dead.

Months have passed since Marcus and Kelvin succeeded in their quest to find the Rock of Ivanore. Now Kelvin is in Dokur living a life of luxury, Jayson is preparing to bring the Agorans back to their homelands, and Marcus is studying magic with Zyll. When Fredric is murdered and Kelvin becomes king, Zyll and Marcus head for Dokur in hopes of protecting Kelvin from meeting the same fate. Dokur, however, has worse troubles. An Agoran rebel has killed several of Kelvin’s guards and has set one of his ships on fire. In response, Kelvin refuses to allow the Agorans to return to their lands, a decision that may result in civil war. To make matters worse, someone is trying to kill Marcus.

Plagued by pain caused by bringing Kelvin back from the dead, Marcus vows not to use magic again. But dark forces are at work in Dokur and Marcus must make a choice: protect himself or save his friends. With the help of Clovis, Bryn, and Lael, a feisty girl in search of her mother, Marcus uncovers a powerful secret that will change the course of his life forever.

5. Sounds amazing! What's been the best part of publishing THE ROCK OF IVANORE?

Visiting schools. Three things I've always enjoyed doing are writing, public speaking and teaching. Authoring a children's book allows me to do all three on a regular basis. I love talking with students about books and about living their dreams. I try to encourage them to never give up on their dreams even when challenges arise. I call this "finding your magic."

I love that! Thank you so much, Laurisa for stopping in. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

What We've Learned About Writing Fantasy

As I've been chipping away at the third book in my Unfairy Tale series, I've been reflecting on how much I've learned about writing fantasy over the years. The main thing I keep coming back to: Be patient with your story. The characters, plot, world, etc. might feel flimsy at first, but every round of revisions will make them stronger. 

That's my bit of wisdom. Let's hear what some other Inkies have to say.

Hilari Bell's 3 rules for writing about magic:
1st Rule: Magic must cause more problems for your characters than it solves. 
The title of the writing tip in which this appears is: Taking Away the Easy Button--'nuff said.
Corollary 1 of Bell's first rule: If the climax of your novel is a magical duel, it better be something besides magic that lets the hero win.
Corollary 2 of Bell's first rule: Don't make your magic so powerful that there's no excuse for the hero not to use it to solve his problems.
2nd Rule: Magic can't happen offstage.
Which not only means that the POV character can't just shut her eyes while magic is happening, it means that the author has to describe it in detail.
3rd Rule: All characters in your novel must react to magic in the way that a real person in that situation would.
Because the way to make your reader believe in the unbelievable is not to have the POV character accept it, but to have the POV character doubt it, and have it proven to him.

Dawn Metcalf's three magical tips: 
1) Read, read, read & write, write, write. (True of all genres, but still!)
2) Believe it. If you, the author, believe in yourself and your world and could answer any question that might come up in order to explain how everything works, then that will read true on the page.
3) Don't go with Idea #1. Your first idea lights the spark, but it's usually the easiest idea, the one that floats on the surface of your thoughts. Keep pushing, delve deeper, ask hard (and often contradictory/devil's advocate) questions in order to have what Terry Pratchett's witches might call Second Thoughts and Third Thoughts about your idea. It's amazing how it will gain width and breadth and spread in directions you never would have imagined. That is it's own kind of magic!

Lisa Gail Green's short but sweet advice:

1. Always write about what excites/interests you the most.
2. Write what scares you. Let go of your inner editor at least for the first draft.
3. READ.

Erin Cashman's writing encouragement:

1. Allow yourself a lot of imagination time. Take walks, turn off the radio if you're driving alone . . . really let the What ifs play out in your head. Have the courage to take a big leap of faith.
2. Don't talk yourself out of something because you're afraid it seems stupid. When I first wrote the scene when my main character communicated with a hawk I worried it seemed cheesy. It ended up being my editor's and my agent's favorite part of the book.
3. If a character has a power or gift, it should feel authentic to that character. Don't just put it in as a plot device. Think about what it would be like to be him or her, and write accordingly.
4. Have fun and have faith!

Jennifer Nielsen's words of wisdom:
I've learned that magic has to have rules. As a beginning writer, I looked at magic as the er, "magical solution" to any sticky situation in which my characters might find themselves. Now I understand that within any world that I create, there must be strict definitions for what magic can and cannot do, where it originates from, who can and cannot use it, and whether there is a price for its use. Defining those rules gives structure and authenticity to a fantasy story.
Okay, now it's your turn! What's the biggest thing you've learned, as a reader or a writer, about fantasy?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Hi, P. J. Hoover, here, and I'm so happy to be here today featuring A. G. HOWARD and the release of her debut YA novel. I adore everything about this book, from the cover to the author to the words inside!

SPLINTERED by A. G. Howard (Amulet Books, January 1, 2013)

And now here is A. G.


PJHoover: You’ve run into an old classmate from high school and you tell them SPLINTERED just came out. They ask what it’s about. What do you say?

AGHoward: It’s a modern spinoff of Alice in Wonderland, in which Alice Liddell’s granddaughter has to face the darker side of Wonderland’s whimsy to fix Alice’s mistakes and the resulting curse on her family.

PJHoover: I love hearing happy publication stories. Can you tell us the path to publication for SPLINTERED?

AGHoward: Wow, that’s a tough one to sum up in one answer. To really get the full effect, you’d have to know how low I was just after writing it. I actually left my first agent over this book, and worried I’d never find representation again. As any good writer knows, showing beats telling, so these three links can show you my journey better than I can tell it:

PJHoover: I love the blend of classic literature and fantasy both above ground and down the rabbit hole! What made you decide to create this wonderful, twisted retelling for ALICE IN WONDERLAND?

AGHoward: Thank you! I’ve always been a huge fan of Carroll’s masterpieces, but the actual spark lit back in in April, 2010, when I first saw the Tim Burton & Disney Alice adaptation. I’m a very visual person, and the Burton cinematography was so vivid, techno-colored, and evocative that I didn't want the movie to ever end. So I came up with my own settings in my mind, and played out Wonderland continuations and scenarios. The idea became too big to contain in my head and I needed to get it out on paper.

PJHoover: There are tons of books out there. What are five awesome reasons why SPLINTERED should be the one for them to read?


1. SPLINTERED’s main character, Alyssa Gardner, has been blessed (or cursed) with the power to talk to bugs and hear their whispers, the very thing that sent her mother to an asylum. So to keep herself from going crazy, Alyssa does the only thing she can to silence them: capture and smother them in bug traps. But, being a frugal and artistic gal, she doesn't waste the corpses ... she preserves them and uses them in her mosaics. The girl's not squeamish, which is a good thing, considering some of the creatures she encounters in Wonderland.

2. Alyssa’s best friend/secret crush, Jebediah Holt, is a bit of a bad boy due to his scarred childhood. He rides a souped-up Honda CT70, wears a lip labret, and is fiercely protective of Alyssa and his younger sister, which sometimes triggers glimpses of his white-hot temper. But like Alyssa, he relies on his art for therapy, curbing his violent side through sketching and painting. His favorite subject? Gothic faeries with veined-wings—black tears pouring from their eyes as they stand over withered human corpses in haunting depictions of misery and loss.

3. Alyssa’s sexy-but-enigmatic guide through Wonderland’s warped landscape is Morpheus, a fae-like creature who may have dark motives all his own. His characterization, wardrobe, and smug sneer were heavily influenced by two of my favorite anti-heroes in fantasy movies from my teen years: Jareth from The Labyrinth, and the Crow from, you guessed it … The Crow.

4. Both Alyssa and Jeb skateboard, proof that an author’s passions sometimes bleed into their books. Although I never actually learned to skateboard, I can rollerblade with the best of them. In fact, when I get stuck on a story and need inspiration, I go to a neighborhood park and roller-blade several times around. It opens up my mind to new ideas and directions I might never have come up with while sitting boxed inside four walls.

5. Throughout SPLINTERED, Alyssa often turns to her mother’s copy of Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece to help her solve riddles. I’m hoping this will set my book apart from the other Alice in Wonderland young adult spinoffs being released in the near future. From what I’ve seen, SPLINTERED is the only one that is actually a tribute to the original Lewis Carroll tales, with creepy counterparts of the characters from both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

PJHoover: When it comes to marketing, what do you think makes the biggest difference in whether a book is successful?

AGHoward: An online presence. Especially for YA authors. You need to be on FB or twitter and have a blog / website where you can connect with your fan base and let new readers know about your books.

PJHoover: What is next? WIPs? Future publications? Please tell all!

AGHoward: I was signed for two YA novels, but the contract didn’t specify a series, so I’m working on another contemporary fantasy. I’m not at liberty to give any more info than that yet (but soon, I hope!). I also have one New Adult novel, a Victorian gothic paranormal love story, that I hope to sell sometime this year, if my agent and I can find a publishing home for it!

PJHoover: What has been your favorite experience as an author thus far?

AGHoward: Hanging out and chatting with the readers who love your book and characters. THEY ROCK!

PJHoover: Please share your favorite inspirational thought!

AGHoward: You always pass failure on the way to success.

AGHoward: Thank you for having me, PJ! <3

PJHoover: Thank you so much for being here!

From Amazon:

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.


About A. G. (Anita):

A.G. Howard was inspired to write SPLINTERED while working at a school library. She always wondered what would've happened had the subtle creepiness of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland taken center stage, and she hopes her darker and funkier tribute to Carroll will inspire readers to seek out the stories that won her heart as a child.


P. J. Hoover is the author of the upcoming dystopia/mythology YA book, SOLSTICE (Tor Teen, June 2013), the upcoming Egyptian mythology MG book, TUT (Tor Children's, Winter 2014), and the middle-grade SFF series, THE FORGOTTEN WORLDS BOOKS (CBAY, 2008-2010). You can read more about her and her books on P. J.'s website or blog.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Would You Wear It?

So I was trying to think of a post, and I came up with the topic of jewelry (or jewellery, for our British and British-spelling Canadian friends), but when I tried to come up with some kind of angle that was deep, or insightful, or compelling in any way...well, let's just say Holiday Brain hit, and this is what you get:

Would You Wear It?

Good Jewelry: Good Jewels help you. They guide you somewhere important/safe/hidden, they gift you with untold powers, they make dead-ish, super old, mind-numbingly beautiful Faerie Queens get all glowy and come talk to you in the middle of the night and show you stuff you need to see. (oh, and if you've never read Sarah posting about her own jewelry talismans and the stories behind them, and how one inspired the design of Eye of Elena, you should).
Verdict: WEAR IT

Powerful, Ambiguous Jewelry: Amplifiers in SHADOW & BONE...trying not to give too much away...suffice to say if you're from Ravka, you might have certain powers, and those powers would benefit from a magical amulet of some sort, called an amplifier. Anyway, if you've read the book you'll understand why this one's ambiguous (I guess, technically, they could all be considered ambiguous). 

Also included here are the magic rings from The Magician's Nephew that transport the wearer to the Wood Between Worlds, which could be either the most awesome adventure EVER or terrifying beyond imagination. Seriously, be careful with those things!

Verdict: Depends on how you feel about amped-up power and possibly dangerous adventures

Cursed Jewelry: Cursed Jewelry is Bad News for the wearer. Just ask Katie Bell, who somehow survived the Floating Brain Death curse of the opal necklace, but will probably never wear another necklace. 
Verdict: Yeah, this one's a no, no matter how purty it looks in the shop window

Bad Jewelry: Bad Jewelry does Bad Things to Good People. MOTHER OF ALL EXAMPLES: Onering, Lord of the Rings. Need I say more? It bends hearts intent on good to betrayal, turns Galadriel into an alarmingly skinny photo negative of herself, and swells Frodo's eyes to alarming and greedy proportions. Good thing Gollum is there to take the fall for EVERYONE. *cries* (why is Gollum my favorite? always has been, even in the books) (well, Gollum and Samwise)

Those are all the examples I could come up with, but that's because I am horribly underread, in spite of all the times I was caught with a book in my lap during class (Babysitter's Club does not count as fantasy, and, as babysitting does not support the buying of much jewelry beyond the plastic variety found at Clare's, there weren't really any jewels of significance in that world). Feel free to school me in the comments! 

P.S. Jewelry is officially the hardest and most annoying word for me to type. It even beats 'appropriate'...well, almost. I HATE typing appropriate.

Friday, January 18, 2013

New Comment System!

Hello, fellow Inkies!

Just wanted to pop in to say that we've converted the Enchanted Inkpot comment platform back from Disqus to Blogger's native system. Many of us were having issues commenting and Disqus was acting unstable in some respects. We hope that this change to the Blogger commenting system will encourage more discussion on the Inkpot! We know that many of you simply come to read, but one of the biggest pleasures we take as contributors is to get into fabulous conversations over fantasy books, craft, reading, etc etc.

Cheers! Here's to a fantastic 2013 with many great books ahead!

Cindy Pon is the author of Silver Phoenix (Greenwillow, 2009), which was named one of the Top Ten Fantasy and Science Fiction Books for Youth by the American Library Association’s Booklist, and one of 2009′s best Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror by VOYA. The sequel to Silver Phoenix, titled Fury of the Phoenix, was released in April 2011. Her first published short story is featured in Diverse Energies, a multicultural YA dystopian anthology from Tu Books (October 2012). Cindy is also a Chinese brush painting student of over a decade. Visit her website at

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Hi! P. J. Hoover here, and today I'm thrilled to feature Laini Taylor, celebrating the release of the highly anticipated sequel to DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE!

DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, November 6, 2012)

So with no more introduction, here is Laini!


PJHOOVER: I love the blend of real world and myth in your worlds. The two worlds are layered so well throughout. What first sparked the idea for the worlds in the series?

LAINI: Thank you! The seed of the book was a scene that came out of freewriting, in which a blue-haired girl was arguing with her monster father. There wasn’t a big picture or idea, I didn’t have any premise or concept in mind, I just fell in madly love with these characters and wanted to know who they were. I have found my optimal process to be a systematic alternation of freewriting and brainstorming. Starting out, I love to just let go and see what happens, what seeds of ideas my mind flings wildly out, and which of them end up intriguing me the most. In this case, Daughter of Smoke & Bone pretty much arose from the fact that Brimstone was wearing a wishbone around his neck and was a peddler of teeth, both things that appeared by chance in that first freewrite. It took thousands of words (and several months) of what-ifs to get a complex plot to “snick” into place. So, what is initially born out of a state of forced creative abandon (freewriting) is pretty quickly subjected to a much more rigorous and analytical state of mind (brainstorming). This wasn’t really your question, but I guess the answer to your actual question is that the worlds weren’t pre-planned. I didn’t know starting out that there would be another world. I believe that my freewriting brain supplied “the other door” in the back of Brimstone’s shop—freewriting brain is always throwing me mysteries to solve!—and … it had to lead somewhere … and somewhere became Elsewhere.

PJHOOVER: When it comes to marketing, what do you think makes the biggest difference in whether a book is successful?

This is a great mystery to me, and probably always will be. My thought is that the greatest factor—and probably the only quantifiable one—is publisher marketing dollars. Authors feel a lot of pressure to generate heat and buzz, but it is just so hard. Unless you’re already famous, then your voice just won’t reach very far no matter what you do, and every moment you spend on marketing efforts is stolen from writing. It’s not that it wouldn’t be worth it if it worked, I’m just not sure it does. Depressing answer? Sorry. I might be totally wrong!

PJHOOVER: Finish this sentence, and tell us why. Writing is a lot like…

LAINI: Writing is a lot like … um … dieting. No, really! It takes a lot of will and discipline and stubbornness, and it really affects your emotional well-being. A good writing day and I’m on top of the world, filled with confidence, pride, calm, happiness. A bad writing day and I’m anxious, grumpy, self-scathing, good-for-nothing. It’s the same with dieting. In both cases, at the end of the day, my self-worth is up or down depending on how I did!

PJHOOVER: What has been your favorite experience as an author thus far?

LAINI: It’s very hard to say! My earliest awesome moment was at a writing festival, when an 11-year-old boy swooned at my feet! He was a fan of my Dreamdark books, and literally fell into a swoon, on the ground, upon meeting me. That was pretty great. After that, I’d have to say that the parties that my publishers themed on Daughter of Smoke & Bone were pretty much beyond my wildest dreams. Little Brown’s was in New Orleans, and included “smoke” and “bone” cocktails, props like skulls, a fortune teller. My UK publisher hired this amazing costume firm, Prangsta, to kit out a historic nightclub in Piccadilly—and I got to dress up like a chimaera!

PJHOOVER: Please share your favorite inspirational thought!

LAINI: For writers:
"Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal: my strength lies solely in my tenacity." - Louis Pasteur
I have a lot more on writing, and a whole column of favorite writing-related quotes here:

PJHOOVER: Thank you so much for being here!



Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Ar student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is--and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?


P. J. Hoover is the author of the upcoming dystopia/mythology YA book, SOLSTICE (Tor Teen, June 2013), the upcoming Egyptian mythology MG book, TUT (Tor Children's, Winter 2014), and the middle-grade SFF series, THE FORGOTTEN WORLDS BOOKS (CBAY, 2008-2010). You can read more about her and her books on P. J.'s website or blog.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Fantasy and Originality, or Tolkien Stole My Idea

"How to create an original, unique, deep, fantasy novel?" reads the Yahoo Answers question.

This question is marked RESOLVED, which delights me, but I am still going to say a few words here. (The answer the Yahoo readers selected is pretty good, though. Wisdom of the crowd!)

Fantasy writers sweat originality quite a bit, perhaps even more than other writers—maybe because it seems like fantasy should be originality’s own playground. The constraints are off! Do whatever you like!

Like that’s not paralyzing.

But the reality is that fantasy has its own conventions, many of them based in centuries of folklore and fairy tale, and your story of a boy and his elf has probably been told in one form or another a thousand times before.

So like the plaintive Yahoo Answers questioner, you might begin to feel that originality in fantasy is actually quite impossible. And sure: yours will not be anyone’s first dwarf. But in my opinion, that’s a wrong notion of originality, and I’ve got two big guns to back me up.

"Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different."
- T.S. Eliot

Isn’t that distinction brilliant? The difference between imitating and stealing is that when you steal something, you own it. You make it yours. And how do you do that? That brings me to the second quote:
"Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. [Emphasis added] If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent."
- Jim Jarmusch
Your soul, he says. That’s what authenticity means: you. Writing a novel is just a series of decisions, millions of them: every word a decision, every plot turn a decision, every character sigh and blink, a decision. And what are those decision based on? Nothing but your own deepest desires and inexplicable preferences, your own idiosyncratic longings and furies and joys.

At least, as a reader, that’s what I want. I want you. Not your surface politeness or charm, not your bland social gestures, not what you think I want to hear. I want your meat. I want your juice. I want your weirdness, your voice, your truest thing. I want the part of you that everyone who has ever fallen in love with you has loved. I want to fall in love with you, too.

And because you are, actually, a special snowflake, none other like you, then if you can give me your juice (not easy to do, and that’s a whole other subject)—if you can follow your own self in deep, and make every decision from your true heart—then everything you write will be authentic and original, no matter the number of dwarves and elves and heroes who one morning set out alone into the darkest woods.

Anyway, that’s what I think, or what I think today. I would love to hear what you think: about originality in fantasy writing, about artistic theft—and maybe also what books strike you as especially original, and why. Please say!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Happy Shameless New Year!!!

2012 was a banner year for the Inkpot - releases, awards, new book sales, critical acclaim.  How can we possibly top that?

Our bi-monthly shameless posts will show you!!!!

Case in point, or first shameless post of 2013 is just chuck full of awesomeness.  Don't believe me?  Take a look!

Starting off with a bang, featuring the cover release for Dawn Metcalf's INDELIBLE, he first in a new series from Harlequin Teen, which will hit shelves July 2013!

There's a new blog on the scene for 2013!  Lisa Amowitz, along with author Michelle McLean, has founded the new Scene 13 blog to showcase and highlight 2013 releases. In total there are 29 members including Inkies Lena Goldfinch, PJ Hoover, Ellen Booraem, Lisa Gail Green and Hilari Bell.

Speaking of Lisa Gail Green, she recently announced her 2013 debut THE BINDING STONE, the first in her Djinn series. Check back here for more updates!

We love collaborative Inkie efforts here in the Inkpot, so we're proud as punch about all the rave reviews for DIVERSE ENERGIES, a multicultural YA dystopian anthology featuring works by Cindy Pon and Ellen Oh.  Here are the latest reviews:

from VOYA:
Teen angst in the future makes for a very popular genre and this well-written collection should prove popular if promoted to the The Hunger Games or Divergent series crowd.

from Publisher's Weekly:
While there's not a single misfire in this anthology, particular works stand out. Ellen Oh's "The Last Day" takes place in a world torn apart by a decades-long war...and Cindy Pon's "Blue Skies" is almost painful in its longing for escape. Not only do these stories feature racially diverse casts, set all over the world or in space, some have gay and lesbian protagonists, giving readers plenty with which to identify.

More accolades for Anne Nesbet's THE CABINET OF EARTHS which appears on the Chicago Public Library's "Best of the Best" list for 2012 and is a Finalist for the 2012 Cybils award for Fantasy & Science Fiction (Middle Grade), along with Jennifer Nielsen's wonderful book, THE

And to top it all off, Shannon Hale just put THE CABINET OF EARTHS on her list of "'Girl'
books that boys love"!

Which dovetails into our big finale here with perhaps the most exciting news of all. Paramount Pictures has announced it has contracted with Bryan Cogman, story editor for HBO's GAME OF THRONES series, to adapt the screenplay for Jennifer Nielsen's THE FALSE PRINCE.  HBO?  GAME OF THRONES?  OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

See?  2013 is going to give 2012 a run for it's money...  :)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Deadwood by Kell Andrews

CONGRATS TO TINA for winning a copy of DEADWOOD!
There’s something evil in Deadwood Park.

Martin Cruz hates his rotten new town. Then he gets a message from a tree telling him it’s cursed — and so is he. It’s not just any tree. It’s the Spirit Tree, the ancient beech the high school football team carves to commemorate the home opener. And every year they lose.

But the curse is no game, and it gets worse. Businesses fail. Trees topple like dominos. Sinkholes open up in the streets, swallowing cars and buildings. Even people begin to fade, drained of life.

Martin teams up with know-it-all soccer star Hannah Vaughan. Together they must heal the tree, or be stuck in Deadwood Park at the mercy of the psycho who cursed it.

cindy: It's my pleasure to have Kell Andrews join us at the Enchanted Inkpot today! Your middle grade debut DEADWOOD is unlike any other fantasy I've read before, and I enjoyed it very much. I liked the idea of old magic instilled in nature and the trees. What inspired the root of your novel? Was it based on any myth or folklore at all, or perhaps even a tree in real life? (I just noticed my "root" pun. Wasn't intended, ha!)

kell: People all over the world have believed that plants have spirits. I wondered why, and that's why I created a tree mythology from a science fiction perspective. My reference manual was the 1973 alternative science bestseller, The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, which explores the idea of plant sentience. This was the book popularized the 1970s idea that you should talk to your plants to keep them healthy. Most of the evidence in the book is actually pseudoscience, but the David Attenborough 1995 BBC/Turner Broadcasting mini The Private Life of Plants is more scientifically rigorous and covers related territory about plant survival mechanisms. I drew on the companion book too. 

Then, from that starting point of plant ecology and botany, I tied in some of the culturally ubiquitous myths about tree beings of all kinds.

cindy: I remember Prince Charles saying he talked to his plants. And a television show that displayed plants growing toward a speaker that played classical music and away from one that played rock (or something noisy and "dissonant"). ha! A fascinating area of study, indeed. I really appreciated the relationships you created in your novel--from the sibling friendships between Hannah and her older brothers, to the uncertain and awkward bond between Hannah and Martin. Even that between Hannah and Martin and the Spirit Tree. Were these interplays something you consciously wanted to focus on (family and friendship) or did they arise on their own in your writing?

kell: It was important to me to put both Hannah and Martin in strong, loving families. When I first planned the novel, Hannah had five older brothers, but even I got confused, so I narrowed it down to two. And Martin might living with his cold, demanding aunt, but only because his mother has been deployed to Afghanistan. She still shows up as an influential character in the novel, even if just by Skype and instant message.

And of course the relationship between Hannah and Martin is central -- neither of them is the person the other expected, but each was the friend that the other needed at that time. It just takes them a while to figure it out -- there are so many social pressures at that age, and nobody is really sure of themselves, even when they look confident to others.

cindy: Whoa on the five older brothers! I think the two she had stood out well individually. And I loved your emphasis on family. That came across. I also noted and appreciated your inclusiveness of diverse characters in the novel--was this a conscious choice or something that came naturally?

kell: The town where DEADWOOD takes place is an important part of the story, and it's a diverse place, like communities I based it on and where I've always lived. Hannah is a white Anglo and Martin is Puerto Rican. I'm white, so I was nervous about doing Martin's character justice. I chickened out originally and made his mother and grandmother, who raised him together, white, while only his father was Puerto Rican. But although Martin's ethnic background isn't central to the progression of the plot, I realized it IS central to Martin himself. He asserted himself and his identity, so I changed his heritage to fit. I found that he held that cultural identity very close, reflective of his feelings for his mother and grandmother, and I hope it works.

cindy: I truly do believe in staying true to your characters and their stories. I'm glad Martin spoke up. =) Could you share with us a little about your process in writing DEADWOOD as well as your journey to publication?

kell: I wrote DEADWOOD while my former agent was subbing an earlier middle-grade novel. That one didn't sell, and I ended up on my own again. I queried agents with DEADWOOD, but it didn't work out. Still, I had faith in the story and it has some timely elements, so I didn't want to shelve it. I found Pugalicious Press, which has been a good fit. And now I have a new agent for my subsequent work.

cindy: It is a fabulous debut--well written, entertaining, thought-provoking and original! Congrats to you! And last but never least, what is your favorite pastry?

kell: Do maple walnut scones count? Because yum.

cindy: Oh scones count for sure!! Great choice! And thanks so much for stopping by the Enchanted Inkpot! To learn more about kell, visit her tumblr here!

Deadwood giveaway!

I will be giving away my copy of Deadwood to one lucky winner! Simply comment in this post to enter. +1 entry if you are a follower of our blog. +1 if you tweet or fb status, etc, with a link to this post and mention of Deadwood giveaway. I will pick a winner on Wednesday, 1/16 and post winner name at the top of this entry. Good luck! (Open to US mailing addresses.)

Cindy Pon is the author of Silver Phoenix (Greenwillow, 2009), which was named one of the Top Ten Fantasy and Science Fiction Books for Youth by the American Library Association’s Booklist, and one of 2009′s best Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror by VOYA. The sequel to Silver Phoenix, titled Fury of the Phoenix, was released in April 2011. Her first published short story is featured in Diverse Energies, a multicultural YA dystopian anthology from Tu Books (October 2012). Cindy is also a Chinese brush painting student of over a decade. Visit her website at

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy New Book Year!

Happy New Year! This is one of my favorite times a year; fat with promise, with hopes and dreams and goals...and fat with BOOKS!

SO MANY good books coming out in the next few months! I've asked the Inkies to help me get my TBR list all nice and corpulent and oozing with stories I can't wait to read. So here goes (I'll start):

In case you missed it, the first book on my list was featured last week on the Inkpot: PROPHECY, by our own super-awesome Ellen Oh. Go read the interview, and then go buy the book!

It's a good thing my signed copy of PROPHECY is winging its way to me right now, because all the other books on my list are SO FAR AWAY. *cries* I fell in love with TYGER TYGER a hundred years ago and have been waiting impatiently for the completion of the series ever since. Only five months to go for the release of WHEN THE STARS THREW DOWN THEIR SPEARS!

Another one that's even FURTHER away *shakes fist* is the second book in Sarah Rees Brennan's unassailable gothic trilogy, UNTOLD (UNSPOKENthe first book, is made of so much awesome it hurts my hurts it and then my brain is like THANK YOU SO MUCH I LOVE YOU MORE PLEASE)(and, thanks, Masters of the Book-Release Universe, that's the only semi-coherent link I can find because it doesn't come out until SEPTEMBER)

GRR. Let's move on to what everyone else is looking forward to. I need to be cheered up.

Lisa Amowitz:

Well, mine for starters!

BREAKING GLASS comes out in July 2013 from Spencer Hill Press and I may have another one to sneak in, but that's still up in the air..

But I am also seriously looking forward to the next installment in Laini Taylor's DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE trilogy, PRODIGY from Marie Liu (that's not out yet, is it?) THE GATHERING DARK, by my good friend Christine Johnson, and the next installment of Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Boy series. And anything that John Green puts out--as they say--I will read his grocery list. :)

Just started Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy (SHADOW AND BONE) and I LOVE IT--also loving Will's GOBLIN SECRETS--too much to read!!! Not enough time!!!

TRUTH. Looking forward to more Grishas and Ravens, myself.

More delicious books under the jump!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Ellen Oh talks about PROPHECY!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!  The Inkpot is thrilled, delighted, and jumping up and down today, because one of the books we have been looking forward to for years is finally out in the world!  PROPHECY, by our own Ellen Oh (whom we know and love as "Ello") has a story to tell that grabs you and does not let go:  "The greatest warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms . . . is a girl with yellow eyes.  Kira's the only female in the king's army, and she's also the prince's bodyguard. She's a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she's their only hope. . . ."
Anne, on behalf of the Inkpot:  I enjoyed PROPHECY so much!  I was going to say I gobbled it up in one gulp, but maybe it's more accurate to say it swallowed me.  There's not a slow moment in the whole book, and Kira the girl warrior is a such a sympathetic character, as well as being so very strong and mighty.   And there's a lovely map!  Perhaps I'll start my questions by asking about the map.
Ello: Thank you! The map is by my dear friend, Virginia Allyn, who is the most talented illustrator in the world! Ok so I may be a little biased in my statement but I would show my map as Exhibit 1 and our very own Inkpot header as Exhibit 2. Plus you can go here to see just how incredibly talented she is!

Anne:  Of course I had to pull out a map of modern Korea and compare it to your "Seven Kingdoms"!  (I was thrilled to find a picture of the "Nine Dragons
Waterfall" online--so I guess it really truly exists, though I gather it's hard to get to, being over the border of North Korea.)  Are those "seven kingdoms" historical fact?  Or part of Korean mythology?  Or made up by you?  And have you ever been to any of these dramatic and beautiful places you describe?

Ello: Yes, the Nine Dragons Waterfall are in the Diamond Mountains of what is now North Korea. At the top of the waterfall are a series of interlocking jade pools. When North Korea opened its borders to allow visitors to these famous mountains, South Koreans went in droves, determined to see what they believe is the most divinely beautiful place on earth before they die.  Take a look:The Nine Dragons Waterfall!!

I’ve never been there. In fact, I’ve not been back to Korea since I was a baby. I would love to go and see all these places in person and not just by video and photographs.

I decided to base Prophecy loosely on the time period between 300 and 360 C.E. in ancient Korea, when there were many walled city-states and warring kingdoms. Some of these city-states became famous kingdoms of ancient Korea. They were Koguryo, Paekche and Shilla - known as the Three Kingdoms.

So for the Seven Kingdoms of Prophecy, this is what I did:

Hansong Kingdom - based on the walled capital city of Paekche called Hansong. It is the location of modern day Seoul. But the sewer tunnels are completely fabricated!

Guru - based on Koguryo, the largest of the Three Kingdoms.

Kudara - based on Paekche, one of the Three Kingdoms.

Jinhan - based on Shilla, one of the Three Kingdoms.

Kaya - sometimes referred to as the fourth kingdom, Kaya is based on the kingdom of the same name.

Oakcho and Tongey are both walled city-states of the same name.

Anne:  I hope you do get to travel to Korea and see these places in person!  Inkpot Expedition, maybe?  Let me ask you something about your characters:  Kira is isolated by looking and being different from the people around her (how many of us have a nose for demons?), but I loved the way she was also surrounded by good friends, not to mention helpful brothers.  It's nice to see her looking out for young Taejo, whose own situation as political pawn and princeling is not enviable.  I can imagine a middle-grade version of this story from Taejo's point of view!  Were you ever tempted to try that? And did the story or your heroine come to you first?

Ello:  Yes! In fact, the first version of Prophecy was from Taejo’s POV. I wrote it from the viewpoint of a young prince who is said to be the hero of legend but then he is stunned to find out that the true hero is not him but his older girl cousin, Kira. So I wrote it first as a middle grade novel, which is fitting in that it was always my intent to write a book for my daughters. It became young adult when I changed the POV to Kira and when the book itself became darker and more violent. But still, not what I would call an older YA.

Anne:  Your fight sequences are wonderfully precise.  Do you have any martial arts experience yourself?  Your characters really seem to know what they are doing!

Ello: I had only a little bit of tae kwon do training myself. It was too expensive to train with a master. But I had plenty of fighting experience. I fought a lot growing up in NYC. I was always in trouble. I have always had a very smart mouth; the only difference now is that I’m better at keeping it shut. But when I was young, I was not known for discretion. And the one thing that would set me off was and still is, a racial slur of any kind. It didn’t matter how much bigger the other kid was or how many of them there were, I heard the slur and my mouth would go off. They were rip-roaring ugly fights. Nothing pretty or fancy or well choreographed. Just grab what you can and punch, bite and kick the hell out of whoever comes near you. Fast and dirty. That’s how I write my fight sequences. Someone criticized my fight scenes for being boring and over too fast and I just had to roll my eyes. That person clearly has never been in a real fight (When I say “real fight” I don’t mean a hair pulling cat fight or some drunken brawl.) I’ve had knives pulled on me twice (ran like a crazy person both times), I’ve had bones broken, and cigarettes burned into my skin. Real fights don’t last that long. That’s the truth of it. Someone is either running the hell away or getting their ass beaten. I’ve experienced both.

Anne:  Ello!!!  There's so very definitely a whole book right there, in the "rip-roaring ugly fights" of your childhood!  Maybe when your children are a little older?   . . . . Another aspect of your story that rings true is the political complexity of it.  I liked, for instance, the ambiguous and powerful uncle, who manages to be helpful and selfish at the same time.

Ello: I’m so glad you got that! That was what I wanted to come out of him because that felt right about royalty during ancient and dangerous times. There is no such thing as the perfect benevolent monarch. Both of Kira’s uncles are powerful kings who are flawed in very different ways. King Yuri of Hansong is small-minded and biased and insular in his thinking while King Eojin of Guru is power-hungry and ambitious.

Anne: Did you think up your title, or was that your publisher's choice?  Is PROPHECY also the name of the series, or just this first book?  What is the second book's title and when does it appear?  By the way, I thought you did a perfect job of ending at a satisfying point, while still leaving enough strings dangling to make us hungry for Book Two:  good job!  That's hard to do!

Ello: Well, I originally queried it as The Seven Kingdoms. Graceling hadn’t been published yet and we were in between the Song of Ice and Fire books 4 and 5. So it was The Seven Kingdoms when it sold. And then my editor asked for some new names so my agent and I brainstormed and came up with Prophecy, Warrior, and King, the Dragon King Chronicles. But then we dropped the Dragon King Chronicles and it became the Prophecy series.

Anne: You have encouraged so many would-be writers over the years!  Was there any particular piece of advice or comfort that kept you going, when times got rough or the waiting seemed particularly endless?

Ello: My personal mantra is more true now than ever before “Don’t let the Naysayers get you down!” There’s always someone trying to put you down. I don’t know what it is about human nature that likes to hate on people. It tends to trouble me because I truly love to celebrate people’s successes. But there is always going to be someone out there who feels like it is their job to put you in your place. Like you don’t have the right to try for a dream or succeed. Sometimes that person is yourself. You have to find some way to turn that voice off and just not listen to it.

Anne:  That's so true.  Every writer should have the entire previous paragraph taped to his or her wall! 
Kira has a tiger spirit that inspires her during hard moments.  If you had an animal spirit of your own, what do you think it would be?

Ello: Oh, I definitely relate to the tiger spirit. You see when my Mom was pregnant with me, she had a dream about a tiger. She was sitting in a meadow, perched on a rock when she noticed yellow eyes gleaming from the bamboo patch. The next moment a great big tiger leapt out of the bamboo and raced toward her. She fell off the rock and flung her arms over her head, thinking she would be eaten, but nothing happened. When she sat up, she found the tiger in front of her, just staring at her. It lifted up a paw and placed it on her knee and in its claws was a red peony. She went to a fortuneteller who told her that the tiger was the spirit of her baby, who would be a strong spirited child. That was me. Well, at least that’s what my mom always said.

Anne:  While I'm waiting IMPATIENTLY for book two (and hoping there will be more Jaewon in it), are there other good books about or set in Korea or fictional Korea-like places that you might recommend?  Your locations were so vivid that I really did not want to close the book and "come home."

Ello: Oh boy, I was immersed in a lot of history books and art books so it is hard for me to answer this question. To be honest, other than Linda Sue Park’s award winning book The Single Shard, I can’t think of any books like mine set in Korea. It is really a strong reason as to why I wrote my book. But my friend, Christy Farley’s fantastic book Gilded, which I was so lucky to read early on and is coming out this year, will also be set in both contemporary and mythical Korea. So maybe Christy and I can start a new trend!

Anne:  And now . . . the lightning round:

1. What are you working on just at the moment?

Ello: Revising book 2 and drafting book 3.

2. What books are you reading right now?

Ello: I beta for Marie Lu so I got to read the last of the Legend series and I want the world to know how AWESOME it is! I can give absolutely nothing away except that it is sheer and utter BRILLIANCE! And I have a bunch of books on my TBR pile that I’m just dying to get to like Throne of Glass, Days of Blood and Starlight, Girl of Nightmares, and so many more! I just need more time during my day just for reading!!

3. What other book out there do you wish you had written?

Ello: There are so many books that I jealously wish I had written but the one that makes me insanely jealous would have to be Robin LaFevers's Grave Mercy. I just adore that book so much!

Anne: (Oh, YES!  Grave Mercy just sweeps a person away!)

Thank you so much, Ello, and CONGRATULATIONS on this wonderful, amazing, fun
book you've written!

Ello: Thank you so much! I’m just overjoyed and thrilled every time I hear that someone enjoyed Prophecy. It feels like a dream come true.