Monday, December 24, 2012

See you in the New Year

The Enchanted Inkpot is taking a break for the holidays, but we'll be back with new posts and interviews in January 2013! Wishing you all the Joy of the Season--The Inkies

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Hi! P. J. Hoover here, and today I'm thrilled to feature our very own Kat Catmull, author of a book that is getting amazing reviews and acclaim. We here at The Inkpot are thrilled for Kat and all her success!

SUMMER AND BIRD by Kat Catmull (Dutton, October 2, 2012)

So with no more introduction needed, here's Kat!


PJHoover: You’ve run into an old classmate from high school and they’ve apparently been living in a cave because they have no idea you are an author. You tell them SUMMER AND BIRD just came out. They ask what the book is about. How do you describe it?

Kat: First I look shifty and uncomfortable and make some large, vague gestures. Then I say, “Well, it’s a late middle-grade fantasy? But not the swords-and-dwarves kind? More like the kind with some folklore and fairy tale, but magic realism, too, because the family’s emotional world is really realistic?”

And then when they start glancing over my shoulder to see if there’s someone else to talk to, I add hastily, “It’s about two sisters who wake up one morning and find that their parents are gone. They find a strange note from their mother that they interpret to mean ‘Come into the forest to find me.’ But they find a lot more than that in the forest: they slip into another world, the world of the birds, who are being ruled by an evil, bird-swallowing Puppeteer since their Swan Queen disappeared. The two sisters fight together and fight each other and their own fears and ambitions to find their parents, save the birds, and learn who they really are.”

PJHoover: What first sparked the idea for the book?

Kat: I was driving to babysit two little girls, the daughters of friends, and I thought I’d try being one of those cool kinds of babysitters who tell stories rather than read them. The names of the girls in the story, Summer and Bird, came to me instantly while I was driving, as did that first scene of their waking up in an empty house. As it turned out, the girls were not interested in abetting my self-identification as That Cool Kind of Babysitter, and had already picked out stories for me to read. But the idea stuck in my head, and a few years later I started writing it for real.

PJHoover: Do you give thought to the current market when coming up with story ideas and writing, or do you cast all that aside and let your muse take over?

Kat: For Summer and Bird, I was in such perfect ignorance of the current market that I could not have let it influence me if I’d wanted to. I read tons of MG, but most of it older stuff. Now I know a little more, but still I would say the market doesn’t influence my choices. Writing is so hard—I don’t see how I could bear to do it if I were writing anything but exactly what I wanted to write.

PJHoover: There are tons of books out there. What are five awesome reasons why SUMMER AND BIRD should climb to the top of a to-be-read stack?

Kat: Holy smokes. I am reading a lot of knockout middle-grade fantasy right now, from Goblin Secrets by our own EI-person William Alexander to The Peculiar, by Stefan Bachmann. So I feel rather humbly that my book doesn’t need to be elbowing anyone out of the way. But let me give it a shot:

1. A lot of reviewers have mentioned that this book is a great crossover read for adults, which means a lot to me, because that’s what I intended. Could be great book to read along with your child.

2. If you’re a folklore/fairy tale nerd, as I am, you will find much deliciousness in this book.

3. Although it’s a fantasy, it’s pretty deeply grounded in emotional reality as well. So if fantasy’s not so much your thing, but you’re interested in stories about the deep bonds and deep rivalries between siblings, and the different ways parents relate to different children: well, Summer and Bird is a lot about that as well.

4. My gorgeous cover was just named #2 on The Atlantic Wire’s “25 Most Wonderful Book Covers of the Year.” They called it “Melancholy, evocative, and totally vintage-now.” I mention this because “totally vintage-now” is a great description of the book as well. In other words, if you’re an old-school children’s book nerd—as, once again, I am—I think this book can really speak to you.

5. I’ve posted excerpts from reviews on my website, including starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist, which might do a better job of describing the book than I have!

PJHoover: How has the revision process been for the book? Harder than expected? Easier?

Kat: Harder, mostly because I had no idea what I was doing. First book! Also, I had no critique group—only a couple of people read my manuscript once it was finished (though they had some great and helpful suggestions that I incorporated before I submitted). Consequently, even the modest and excellent changes that my agent suggested were a bit of a shock; my edit letter, which was far more extensive, almost made pass out. But my publisher at Dutton, Julie Strauss-Gabel, is a superb editor. She made my book much better, and I learned an immense amount from working with her. And I am a lot sturdier now about feedback.

In general, I prefer revision to drafting, though. Drafting is so, so hard for me.

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

Kat: Oh man if I knew that, I would be rich beyond dreams of avarice. If anyone out there DOES know, call me <makes ‘call me’ gesture>.

I think if you’re writing YA, and you’re someone like Maureen Johnson or John Green who writes terrific books, then being a social media genius as they are, on top of the great books—that would help. But the thing about social media is, you really can’t fake it. You have to actually be yourself, and your self has to be genuinely engaging, as in genuinely charming or warm or incisive or hilarious or whatever.

Also: that’s YA. All the social media genius in the world won’t help you reach a middle grade audience. So . . . For MG, I have no idea. Hope for support from bookstores, librarians, and teachers, and thank them with all your heart when you get it?

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

Kat: Writing is a lot like . .. (Sorry, what? Faced with that incomplete sentence I panicked and played online solitaire for 15 minutes).

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

Kat: I’ve been loving reading at schools and school events. The other day I visited a girl’s school and talked with the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. When I read the first line of chapter 6 — “The Puppeteer was full of dead birds”—the whole room GASPED. I had no idea that interacting with kids was going to be the best part of being a writer, but it is.

PJHoover: Please share your favorite inspirational thought!

Kat: I tend to take comfort from sentences like Orwell’s “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.” Just because it’s nice I’m not alone! But for inspiration — well, I have this over my desk: an index card with a Venn diagram of two circles which do not intersect at all. The large one is labeled “Where the magic happens,” and the small one is labeled “Your comfort zone.” It’s a great reminder that when I’m feeling uncomfortable, uncertain, and scared, I’m probably in the right place.


About Kat:

Katherine Catmull is a writer and actor in Austin, TX. Besides her middle-grade writing, she is a sometime playwright, a freelance arts writer for the Austin Chronicle, acts on stage in various Austin venues, and does voice work for games like DC Universe Online (Oracle) and Wizard 101 (Myrella Windspar). Summer and Bird is her first novel; her second is also due out from Dutton Juvenile (Penguin) in spring 2014.


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, December 17, 2012

Wise advice is so last century—or is it?

In honor of the season, I thought we might talk about wise men in fantasy--the non-religious kind, otherwise known as mentors.  One of the first bits of advice given to new writers of YA, and even middle grade fiction, is that their kid protagonists not only have to solve the central story problem themselves, they need to do it pretty much on their own.  Wise adult advisers, who teach them what to do, get the same exasperated eye-roll from young reader that their parents do in real life.

And yet, the Mentor, who is pretty much the epitome of the wise adult advisor is a classic fantasy archetype—and if you’re going with the hero’s journey model, a necessary story element.  So how do modern fantasy writers, who write for modern teens, reconcile these two truths?

Personally, I’m not a huge advocate for the hero’s journey—and one of the reasons I’m not is that I don’t think the wise mentor is necessary in today’s fiction.  On the other hand, I have to say that model can still work fantastically well.  Up (which is one of the best stories I’ve seen in a very long time) is a classic hero’s journey—and the wise mentor in Up is Russell, the kid boy-scout.  I also have to admit that several of my own books have wise mentor figures.  I think the trick to making the wise mentor work, is to keep the mentor’s role entirely subordinate.  If the mentor offers wise advice and the protagonist simply accepts it and acts on it, that’s when the story fails.  If the mentor offers wise advice and the protagonist rejects or disregards it, and then goes on to discover his own truths for himself, then it’s OK if one of those truths is that the mentor wasn’t such an idiot after all.

So how do other fantasy writers feel about wise mentors?  An idea whose time has gone?  Or something that reflects a perennial human truth?  How do you use them?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

End of the Year Shamelessness

The end of the world the year is upon us.  Well, almost.  But I figured I'd better hedge my bets just in case the Mayans were right.

I am totally, utterly kidding.

But this is the last Shameless Saturday post of 2012, marking four years that I've been bringing you these updates.  It's still an honor to be able to share the deals and awards, reviews and appearances, cover reveals and trailer debuts of this very talented group of writers.

I'm getting mushy.

*shakes it off*

Anyway, here we go with the last bits of awesome this year, but don't worry, I'll be back January 5th with a whole new list!

THE CABINET OF EARTHS by Anne Nesbet is featured in a School Library Journal list of middle-grade fantasy books, and in some very fancy company.  Go Anne!

Speaking of end of year lists, THE FALSE PRINCE by Jennifer Nielsen has been named by Publisher's Weekly as one of the Best Books of 2012, to the New York Times Notable Books of 2012 list, and was a finalist in the Goodreads Best of 2012 Middle Grade List. It was also a silver award winner from the National Parenting Publication awards, and is part of the poll for MTV's "Best Novel of 2012." That's quite a rock star list!

And we have several Inkies on the Kirkus Top 100 Teen Books of 2012 list: THE CRIMSON CROWN by Cinda Williams Chima, GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers and THE BROKEN LANDS by Kate Milford!

Even my own little book TEN made a couple of lists this year, landing on the Los Angeles Public Library's list of Best Teen Books for 2012 and the American Library Association's Best Fiction for Young Adults and Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Readers.  Go me!

William Alexander's GOBLIN SECRETS recently won the National Book Award (I just love saying that!) but he's not done yet.  GOBLIN SECRETS just picked up an Earphones Award for audiobook narration.  Guess who narrated the book?  William.  Show off.  :D

Leah Cypess has some sparkly news. HarperTeen Impulse will be e-publishing a short NIGHTSPELL prequel in July 2013. The novelette is called Buried Above Ground, "in which the ghost of a nobleman's mistress sets out to solve her own murder but is not prepared for the secrets she uncovers." (Publisher's Marketplace)

Anna Staniszeski also has new e-book content: a free short story prequel called My Very UnFairy Tale Life: Jenny's First Adventure, available on Smashwords and Kobo (and it will soon be up on BN and iTunes).

Here's the description:
How does an average girl become a magical adventurer, anyway? Find out in this short prequel to My Very UnFairy Tale Life! (Includes fun UnFairy bonus content!

And it wouldn't be an end of the world the year post without a book trailer, would it? Here's the newly debuted trailer for PROPHESY by Ellen Oh!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Crimson Crown Interview

congrats, carl, on winning a copy of The Crimson Crown! thanks to all who participated! cheers, cindy
cindy: Cinda, it is an honor and pleasure to interview you for your final book in the Seven Realms Series: The Crimson Crown. I admit that I read this thick book in less than a day, incapable of savoring it slowly. I simply had to know what would happen to these favorite characters of mine NOW! You did not disappoint, and ended the series so fabulously. Many congratulations to you! 

We discussed your writing process when I interviewed you a year ago for The Gray Wolf Throne. I, myself, feel very bereft now that the series is done. How did you feel while writing this final book in the tetralogy? 

Cinda: This book was amazingly satisfying to write, since I'd been waiting so very long to write some of the scenes in it. I had a good head start on it when I finished The Gray Wolf Throne, since by the time I realized that I couldn't finish the story in three books, I already had a third of The Crimson Crown written (it was originally supposed to be a trilogy.) Although there were lots of editorial revisions along the way, I always had a clear vision of where I was going, though at times I wasn't sure how I was going to get there. Much like my characters, I suppose. After all I've put them through, I think they deserve a bit of a rest while I work on my Heir Chronicles spinoff. But I may yet return to the Seven Realms. 

cindy: It's always reassuring for me when I learn about the writing process of authors I admire. We all struggle through our processes! I read in a recent interview with you that you don't believe themes come first in novels, that they arise when you write the story. I do believe that often, what we find important personally can make its way onto the page. Looking back on the series, what do you think are some major themes in these books? And are you surprised by any? 

Cinda: All of my stories are about transformation--I find great comfort in the notion that we are constantly transforming ourselves. That it's never too late to go in a different direction, that we're never "finished" in terms of growth and change. When teens ask me what I would be if I were not a writer, I tell them that I've already been those things, and now is my time to be a writer. It's been such fun watching Han and Raisa transform over the course of the four books into the adults they're meant to be. And that's the job of adolescence. 

I'm intrigued by the notion of power and the effect it has on character. Many of the wizards in my stories are arrogant, ruthless people because they are powerful and they are used to having their own way. But there are always people who exceed our expectations. Who succeed against all odds. That's Han Alister. 

cindy: I think you tackled both themes of transformation and power fantastically. Han changed so much, but Raisa also grew. I realize after finishing this fantastic series that I don't know your journey to becoming an author. I know you have a background in nutrition. But how long have you been writing, and what prompted you to try and become published in the first place? (For me, it was a major change in my life--becoming a mother and staying at home full time. I needed to have something to call my own again, and it was writing!) 

Cinda: I was not a strong student in the early grades, but I wrote a poem in third grade, and my teacher praised it and hung it up at the science fair, and I thought, "Maybe I'm good at this." I've been writing, off and on, ever since. I wrote my first novels when I was in junior high, but got away from fiction when I was working my way through college. Too much nonfiction to write! 

Like you, I returned to writing when my children were small. It wasn't that I needed something else to do--I was working full time in nutrition--but I was experiencing so many new emotions as a parent that I felt the need to "get things down." I wrote personal essays and feature articles on health and parenting for the Cleveland newspapers. When my sons were thirteen and sixteen, I decided to return to fiction. I wanted to write something my sons would enjoy reading. I had an idea about a high school student in Ohio who learns he's among the last of a guild of magical warriors. That story became my first published novel, The Warrior Heir. 

cindy: Teachers are amazing, and it truly only takes a word of encouragement at the right time for a child I think, to change their life in a way. And I really loved The Warrior Heir--I didn't realize that was your debut! What will you miss the most about writing this series, Cinda? 

Cinda: Writing is like any other job--it's the people you miss the most when you move on.So I'll miss spending every day with those characters. The good news is that I'll be revisiting some old friends with a return to the Heir Chronicles. Also, it's always difficult to go from a polished, pretty final draft to an ugly first draft. Or, even worse, work on both at the same time, which is what you have to do when you write a book a year. 

cindy: Rough drafts are so painful for me, too! Could you tell us what other fantastic reads we have to look forward to from you in the near future? 

Cinda: Right now I'm working on two new books in the Heir Chronicles, a spinoff that involves new characters as well as old. The first will likely be called The Enchanter Heir, and is scheduled for a fall, 2013 release. 

cindy: Sounds fantastic! And since I already asked the pastry question, what is a favorite snack or indulgence of yours while you are writing? 

Cinda: Once I've satisfied my morning coffee addiction, I drink Market Spice tea from the Pike Place market--I drink it iced, all day long. As far as snacks go, I love love love popcorn, but don't usually eat it while writing (I don't want to get butter all over the keyboard.) 

cindy: I'm intrigued by the iced spice tea! I love iced teas myself. Thank you so much for stopping by as interviewee in your busy schedule, Cinda! 

Learn more about Cinda at her official website!

Cinda's publisher has been kind enough to donate a copy of The Crimson Crown for a giveaway!! 

1. Simply comment to enter for one point (include EMAIL). 
2. Tweet, facebook status, or blog about this interview and contest with a link to this post for +1 point. 
3. Become a follower to Enchanted Inkpot for another +1. 

Three points total! Ships to US addresses only. 

I will choose a random winner on Wednesday, 1/2/2013 and post name at top of this entry that day. Good luck!! 

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, December 10, 2012


I have this image in my mind of what an author does. An author sits at the computer (in my case) or in a comfy chair with a notebook and pen in hand (in the case of someone with much better handwriting than I have), and brilliant stories are written. But when I look at all the things I do with my time, I find that the writing is only one portion. There are so many other things I enjoy doing. Things not related to writing at all. So I thought I'd ask my fellow authors here at the Inkpot what their hobbies were also, and share them.

And I'd love to know what your hobbies are! What do you do besides writing (if you are a writer) or besides your main job (if you aren't a writer)?



When I'm not writing, I enjoy practicing Kung Fu (I'm working toward my 3rd degree black belt), making chain-mail, playing Wizard 101 (think Harry Potter meets World of Warcraft), and solving Rubik's Cubes.



I run a tiny card printing company - but I think a lot of use dabble in art on the side!
I'm on etsy as Parrack Prints :
I also love photography and am movie obsessed!



I have no creative skills whatsoever but I excel at eating.

I also love to watch kdramas - Korean dramas, so addictive! But I'm not allowing myself to watch any while I'm on deadline because once you start, you can't stop! And some of them have like over 20 episodes! I also love tumblr and have become addicted to making gifs. Mostly I gif food, badass fighting scenes, k-dramas and hot men. My husband must never find my tumblr!



Learning about Edgar A. Poe is my hobby. I have Poe jewelry and a first edition of the LITERATI, a sort of "annual" that he wrote. I have a costume that is correct for his period (New Romantic.) I asked Santa to bring me a Poe lunchbox I have my eye on!



I used to do a lot of handweaving and sewing, but that has gone by the wayside. I love gardening--as soon as I go into the garden, I can feel my blood pressure drop. I love to do genealogy (family history) because it's all about stories. And I'm trying to pick up the guitar again.



My hobbies include book and cover design. I've done mock covers of my novels for years and have just recently started doing it more seriously. (For example, I designed the cover for the second edition of my novella, shown here

I adore hunting down the perfect images--much like those orchid hunters in the rain forest ;)-- or simply admiring existing cover art, especially YA fantasy. Most recently I've been captivated by collectible hardcover books. After my latest batch of research (and what fun research it is) I plan to do some new cover designs myself, focusing on type as an artform.



My most regular non-bookish hobby is martial arts. I've been learning Fut Gar Kung Fu for the last six years--currently have my blue sash and am working on my first sword form. Which is excellent experience for when I write sword-fighting characters, and also just plain cool. :D I feel like a book character myself when I'm disabling imaginary foes.

I'm also an avid traveler--would be visiting someplace new every other month if I could afford it. So far I've made it to various parts of the US, Mexico, the UK, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Turkey, China, and Japan. Pretty much everywhere I've been, I want to go back and spend more time there to see everything I missed and see the things I loved again. But there are so many other places (Egypt! Thailand! Morocco!) I'd love to see too... If only flying across the ocean was not so expensive.



I play violin, viola, and piano--all sorts of music, from Beethoven to bluegrass. I write music, too, and have some songs out there in the wild that are on their way to becoming "Anon/Trad"--the greatest of all possible glories.

Also I write occasional sestinas. For all occasions, I mean: weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, retirements, or to commemorate particularly good games of Dictionary. :)



i have been a student of chinese brush painting for over eleven years. in fact, i don't think i would have written Silver Phoenix if it weren't for my interest in this art. my heroine ai ling is also a student, so i was able to incorporate much of the subjects and colors i love into Silver Phoenix and Fury of the Phoenix.

i love painting nature (flowers and plants) and small cute critters as subjects. but currently i'm painting my second chinese classic beauty and loving it very much.

chinese brush art is pure therapy for me, and just for joy and fun. it is a creative pursuit with no outside expectations, unlike writing, so i enjoy it that much more.

you can see my paintings on my website:

and i also sell cards of my paintings on etsy:



I garden because I like fresh vegetables and flowers -- but I hate doing it! I like to walk my dog and bake -- my desserts are usually yummy but not very pretty!



I'm partial to photography, knitting, and aimless wandering driving in search of oddball places. I'm also a bourbon nerd and an MMA (mixed martial arts) and muay thai (Thai boxing) fan. I used to train in muay thai until too many deadlines got in the way, but one of these days I'm going back.



Does designing book covers count as a hobby? Because other than writing, that is my main passion. I also like to do art that is totally unrelated to books, and really hope to get back into that. Oh--and I totally hate baking. :)



I love live theater, whether I'm directing the show, acting in it, or watching from the audience. For a couple of years, I wrote and directed musicals (with help, of course) for my kids' elementary school, including one show in which we staged a 30' pirate ship, complete with mast and sails.



I'm a historic cemetery wanderer, an obsessively detailed cookie froster, and an actress in lots of local theatre productions (there are many embarrassing pictures I could share, but I won't). I also play the piano, but only when no one's listening. And I like to make collages out of magazine ads from the 1940s-1960s.



I garden in the summer and knit in the winter, but sporadically in both cases and not very well. My obsession in the summer is finding the time to get out on the water in a kayak; in the winter it’s getting into the woods on my skis. Since I live in coastal Maine, where the weather can be chancy and we sometimes have a winter snow drought, I have to grab every opportunity that presents itself. Crossing my fingers for this year!



Camping--the decadent kind in a pop-up trailer, not the hard kind where you hike all day with a heavy pack. Board games--they've gotten a lot more sophisticated and fun in the last few decades. I'm also addicted to political TV. Hoping that one backs off a bit now that the election's over, but it never seems to back off too far.



Other than reading and writing, I'd say karate, baking, board games, costuming, puppetry, clothespin dolls, improv theater and elaborate theme parties. ...That's a hobby, isn't it?



My favorite thing (which counts as a hobby, right?) is to jump on the back of our Gold Wing cruising bike with hubby and explore the Great North West. My hobby goal is to learn stained glasswork. Classes begin in Feb!



My main hobbies are hiking and biking, and I don't do either of them at a particularly high level. (My bike is still the same one I rode in high school!) I used to love traveling, but I've come to accept that I need to take a break from it until my kids are older. Even so, I've attached a picture of from my traveling days, of one of the most fun activities I've ever done - snowmobiling on a glacier. That would totally be my hobby if I lived closer to some convenient glaciers.



Baking's my therapy - I find my bliss in buttercream and cookies and pie. Luckily, I like to walk, too, especially if there's a historic site on the way. I love music, so I fool around with the piano when I can, and I've just started singing with a local group - nothing remarkable, but it makes me very happy.



I've started taking photographs again, something I haven't done since college. With some turning-40 birthday money, I splurged on a good digital camera, an SLR, last summer, and I've been playing with it ever since. It definitely helps me look around me in fresh ways and think on different story ideas.


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.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Featuring J.A. SOUDERS and RENEGADE!

Today I'm so excited to feature fellow Tor Teen author, J. A. Souders (aka Jessica). I initially saw the cover for her debut novel, RENEGADE, almost a year ago and fell in love. I had to read it. And yes, it totally met all my expectations.

RENEGADE by J. A. Souders (Tor Teen, November 13, 2012)

Jessica has agreed to stop by the Inkpot and answer a few questions for us! So here we go!


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

JASouders: Renegade is about a girl—who happens to be the princess of the underwater world named Elysium—who thinks everything about her life is perfect only to find out that her entire world is a lie and her mother is a monster. It’s BioShock meets the Bourne Identity for teens.

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

JASouders: I was already with my agent when I wrote RENEGADE, but I just knew it was “the one.” When I gave it my agent, she fell in love with it and couldn’t wait to try and sell it. We worked on it for a few months to make it perfect and the entire time she talked it up all the time. When we finally went on sub, it only took about 5 weeks to get an offer from Tor.

PJHoover: I love the blend of fantasy and sci-fi in the beautiful underwater world! How did you get the idea for RENEGADE?

JASouders: The idea came from a blend of a lot of things. I’ve always wanted to write a story that takes place in an underwater city, but I couldn’t ever get it right. One day I was watching a documentary on people’s obsession with perfection and listening with half an ear to my son play the BioShock videogame. It hit me like lightning and the story poured out.

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

JASouders: This is a hard question, because there have been so many wonderful books lately. Well, personally I’d say people should read Renegade because

1) it has an awesome setting, it takes place in an underwater utopia (but there isn't mermaids or any mythological creatures.) I’m extremely proud of the world building of Elysium and it's citizens.
2) the romance. It's not the focus of the book, but it's an important part of it. It's just enough to spice things up without being too much. Plus no annoying insta-love! ; )
3) A seriously kick butt heroine who's pretty and feminine, but not afraid to get her hands dirty and protect those she loves.
4) a slightly reluctant hero, who isn’t afraid to take the back seat and let a female take the lead if it ups their chances of survival.
5) It’s a fast-paced thriller, with enough twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat and turning the pages.

PJHoover: If the apocalypse came, would you still find a way to write? If yes, then how and why?

JASouders: I’d definitely find a way. I’d MAKE paper and pencils if I had to, to keep writing. LOL. I can’t not write, so I can’t imagine even the apocalypse would keep from writing. I live in Florida, so the most practical would probably be to set up a solar array for electricity so I could run my computer.

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

JASouders: Word of mouth, I suppose. It doesn’t really matter how much you do if people don’t like your book, it probably won’t become successful. Because people have a habit of telling everyone and everything they come across they hated something. But they also love to share when they love something.

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

JASouders: ...pulling teeth from an angry alligator. :P

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

JASouders: Well, I’m working on developmental edits for book 2 and I’m writing book 3. I’m also outlining a mid-grade science fiction book that I’m really excited about.

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

JASouders: The readers. I love when people tweet or email me or and tell me how much they enjoyed Renegade. Some of the reviews are so passionate, even though I wrote it, it makes me want to go back and experience the book as they did. It’s just a totally awe-inducing and awesome feeling.

PJHoover: Please share your favorite inspirational thought!

JASouders: “Keep Moving Forward.” It’s from the Disney movie MEET THE ROBINSONS and it’s my favorite quote, because no matter how hard anything is, if you just keep moving forward, things will get better.

PJHoover: Thank you so much for being here!

JASouders: Thank you so much for having me!



J.A. Souders was born in the heartland with an overactive imagination and an over abundance of curiosity that was always getting her into trouble. She first began writing at the age of 13, when she moved to Florida and not only befriended the monsters under the bed, but created worlds for them to play together.
Because she never grew up, she decided she’d put her imaginary friends to work and started writing. She still lives in the land of sunshine and palm trees with her husband and their two children.

And you can connect with J. A. Souders here:


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, December 3, 2012

Topic of the Week: Presents!

So the season of gift-giving is upon us, and with it, a potential conundrum for bookish types. While most of us love to give and receive books as gifts, the latter can be a problem, as many of us already have a to-be-read pile ready to collapse under its own weight. So what are the alternatives? I am here today with some suggestions for Inkie wish lists (or items for Inkies to share with like-minded friends and family).

And yes, this list is composed almost entirely of items from handmade goods site Etsy, because as much as I love my officially licensed Hufflepuff beanie, I love it more when individuals get their creativity on.

First, we have perhaps the most gentle transition from books to read – books to wear from Etsy seller TheFableTribe:

All the World, Magic -- Book Glamourkin Pendant

Or you could try this bag from seller CraftCulture to haul your books around in, while letting everyone know where your genre loyalty lies:

Canvas Tote Bag-Large Carry All Recycled Organic Tote- Fantasy-Definition-Typography-Word

If you want to get creature-specific, there are these beautiful, delicate fairy wing earrings from seller SihayaDesigns:

 Sidhe Wings Earrings - Experimental Wings in Aurora Duochrome - Iridescent Fairy Wing Earrings

Or you could go with these adorable studs from seller huiyitan. Because seriously – tiny dragons!:

 dragon earring studs in sterling silver, handmade in the UK by Huiyi Tan

If mermaids are your jam, you could go with this lovely cardigan from seller MartyMay:

Mermaid Cardigan

And finally, if you or your loved ones have a few grand lying around, you can go with a customized hobbit hole from Wooden Wonders:


 Any other ideas spring to mind Share in the comments!

Happy Christmakwanzakah, y'all!

Alison Ching

Monday, November 26, 2012

What We're Reading

Sure, it's the start of the holiday season and our busy lives are about to get even crazier. But there's always time for reading, right? Instead of the usual hustle and bustle, here's what some of us Inkies are burying our noses in this week!

Ellen Booraem: I’m reading Bill Bryson’s A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING, which is a total gas. As the title indicates, it’s about everything, from the beginnings of the universe to the nature of viruses. There’s a lot of history: who discovered what we think we know now, when they discovered it, and how. Did you know that Yellowstone National Park is one giant volcano? That a square centimeter of skin has a hundred thousand bacteria? On a side note, I just finished GRAVE MERCY by Robin LeFevers, and if the sequel doesn’t hurry up I plan to hold my breath until I turn blue.

PJ Hoover: I am reading SCARLET by Marissa Meyer! I've been waiting for this sequel to CINDER since I finished the first book, and couldn't be more excited. Cyborgs. The future. It's all so awesome!

Katherine Catmull: I'm slowly savoring Philip Pullman's FAIRY TALES FROM THE BROTHERS GRIMM -- a great collection of stories, from hilarious to creepy, and the prose is clear as water.

Hillari Bell: The last book I read was CAPTAIN VORPATRIL'S ALLIANCE--a fabulous new addition to the Vorkosigan series. These are SF books with deep and wonderful characters, which I'd think would appeal to fantasy readers  (And besides, Lois McMaster Bujold has a delightful sense of humor!). Start this series with either SHARDS OF HONOR, or WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance is a great book, but it's a long way down the series, and a lot of the joy of it is that you know all these people so well, and care about them so much.

Amy Greenfield: I've just finished Stephanie Burgis's A RECKLESS MAGICK, the rollicking end to her delightful Regency trilogy. (It'll be published in the US in April as STOLEN MAGIC.) Now I'm reading WITCHLANDERS by our own Lena Coakley, which is a gorgeous, spellbinding story, a great wintertime read.

Lena Coakley: I'm reading the hilarious Jasper Fforde's second book in the Thursday Next series, LOST IN A GOOD BOOK.

Keely Parrack: I'm reading I CAPTURE THE CASTLE by Dodie Smith and loving the curious old fashioned sense of pacing and quirky storyline. Before that I read UNDEAD which is pure zombie fun! Like Sean of the Dead meets MEAN GIRLS! Next I'm reading WE'VE GOT A JOB by Cynthia Levinson.

Lisa Amowitz: I am reading DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor, and of course, GOBLIN SECRETS by Will Alexander. I've been busy, so I'm finding less time than I'd like for reading. I do have to say that, though I started DAYS before GOBLINS, I am finding myself drawn to the latter. The writing is beautiful and twisted and the macabre style calls to mind Neil Gaiman's THE GRAVEYARD BOOK. I am loving it.

William Alexander: Just cracked an advance copy of DOLL BONES by Holly Black. Comes out in March. It's beautiful, scary, and costing me sleep.

Leah Cypress: I just finished PROMISED by Caragh O'Brien, the final volume in the dystopian Birthmarked trilogy. I can't say much about the book itself without spoilering those who haven't started the trilogy yet, but I will say that I read the entire thing in a single day. At one point, I discovered that my 15-month-old son had pulled it off the couch and was sitting with it open on his lap, turning pages, apparently trying to figure out what was so interesting. Next up is BREATHE by Sarah Crossan, another dystopian novel with a fascinating premise.

Nancy Holder: I'm listening to the audio book of THE POE SHADOW by Matthew Pearl. I'm a huge Poe fan, so this is a really fun mystery about how Poe "really" died.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Today at the Inkpot it’s my pleasure to interview fellow inkie, Lena Goldfinch, author of the novella Language of Souls.  I adored Language of Souls. It is a novella jam packed with romance, mystery, adventure and suspense.  And how gorgeous is that cover??? 


Hi Lena, thanks so much for taking the time to answer all of my questions!  As you know, I loved The Language of Souls! It is such a unique story.  How did you come up with the premise?

Thank you! I'm not entirely sure where ideas come from. It's a very mysterious process. (Not unlike cooking, at least for me. ;)) I know at some point I started thinking about the idea of two people who had no common language. Would it be possible, under those circumstances, to fall in love? So much of how we form bonds with others is through conversation (language), but with language stripped away, could someone still win your heart?
Later, I had this concept that came to me about the soul, which is also mysterious and fascinates me. What if it was a physical, visible thing, something we carried around with us always? What if we needed to consciously protect and watch over it? And what if it could be taken from us or we could choose to give it away? So, that was essentially the sci fi/fantasy element that drove me to create the votif. Otherwise, the only "magical element" in the story is Solena's gift of healing.
And over and above all that—which are just the mechanics of the plot—was Solena and Rundan, two characters who stole my heart and kept drawing me back to their story. They wouldn't let me go until I'd completed it. And even after that, the story went through many layers of revisions.

One of my favorite things about the book was the vivid and richly painted world that you created. What are your world building techniques?

 At first, it's primarily intuitive, where a mish-mash of influences and images in my life spill over into each other and combine to make something new. The setting almost chooses itself, but then as the storyline develops, I start to questions things and do research. I'm heavily influenced by ancient Italy & Turkey, for example. I'm also absolutely passionate about culture and languages (with a title like The Language of Souls, perhaps that's obvious!). Art, religion, music, education, society, intriguing landscapes...all of these things collect as I'm researching. The differences between people sparks my imagination, and, maybe even more so, what we still have in common beyond those layers of differences.

Are their parts of you in any of the characters?

I wish! They're such amazing characters to me. I'd especially like to be more like Solena. She's so brave and so loyal, and she's extraordinarily kind too. She's driven by a genuine desire to save her beloved grandfather. And in her quest to save him, she gives too little thought to the risks to herself, which gets her into trouble. I wish I was more like that. I'm afraid I much less of a risk-taker!
The Language of Souls has something for every reader – romance, suspense and plenty of action.  Was it difficult to accomplish so much in a novella?

It's funny; I had rather naively set out to write a short story (along the lines of "I think I'll write a short story! Gee, won't that be fun?"). Then, come to find out, it's really hard to write short. I like writing novels and the long form suits me best as a writer, so writing shorter is a challenge for me. The earliest draft ended up sounding more like the first chapter of an epic series, and I simply didn't know how to fix it. So I set it aside and occasionally came back to it when I had some fresh vision. I really had to work hard to tighten the structure and to narrow my scope, but it still ended up being over 25,000 words! (Way too long for a short story, but perfectly okay for a novella.) I think because I'd set out to write a short story, it forced me to very economical and examine every word and sentence to make sure it contributed. The short answer though, is: yes, it was very difficult, and I actually failed at what I set out to do, which was write a short story :) , but I'm perfectly content with that. I really love this story.

What inspires you as an author?

People. People just intrigue me. I'll see someone in a store or I'll read a news article, and I'm just amazed at how many different types of people there are in this world. It provides me with endless inspiration. I'm also inspired by acts of faith or when I see someone who has a lot of personal drive, a mission, some personal passion....

And reading. I think being an avid reader from a very young age taught me a great respect for books and a deep love for stories.

What are you working on now?

I have a couple of young adult fantasy novels in the works. And also a "ghostly little short story," which is already threatening to become a novella.

Thanks so much, Erin!

Thank you Lena! I can’t wait to read what you come up with next!


Monday, November 19, 2012

Thankful For Fantasy

This is the time of year we reflect on what we are grateful for, so I asked the authors of the Enchanted Inkpot which fantasy book they are thankful for. The answers are below!

Lisa Amowitz:
Just one? Okay--Patrick Ness and the Chaos Walking Trilogy, The knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, Monsters of Men. (I still managed to pick three).

Hilari Bell:
One fantasy novel I'm thankful for is Patricia McKillip's Riddle of Stars Trilogy.  I'm not sure which book it was in, but these were the books that, through the sheer power of the way she used language, convinced me that I could shapeshift into a tree.  In my head, I knew that of course it was impossible, but in my heart I absolutely knew that people could do this.  And I was in my late 20's when I read those books.  Worth being thankful for. 

Shelley Moore Thomas:
As for me, I am thankful for The Search For WandLa by Tony DiTerlizzi.  It was my favorite fantasy read of the year because of the incredible world building, the awesome characters, and the mind-blowing twist that I did NOT see coming.  Well, done, Tony!  I find myself thinking about this book again and again.  There is such a timeless quality to this sci-fi fantasy that I am sure kids will be loving it for years to come.

William Alexander:
A Wizard of Earthsea. I read it when I was eleven, and it helped me decided what kind of person I wanted to become. 

P.J. Hoover:
The fantasy book I'm most thankful for is THE SILMARILLION by J. R. R. Tolkien. It's an amazing introduction to the history of Middle Earth, and I poured over it back when the LOTRs movies were coming out. I immersed myself so deep into the world and I loved it. And then, one day, I had a eureka moment. It dawned on me that I was spending a ton of time in a world someone else had created when, instead, I could be creating worlds of my own. So I started writing and haven't stopped.

Myself? I’m thankful for THE LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. That was the book that made me feel like another world did exist and was within my reach, a place where I could be special. It got my imagination working, and I’m pretty sure that’s why I do what I do today.

What about you? Which book are you most thankful for and why?