Review and Author Interview With J.J. Howard on THAT TIME I JOINED THE CIRCUS

Lexi Ryan just ran away to join the circus, but not on purpose. A music-obsessed, slightly snarky New York City girl, Lexi is on her own. After making a huge mistake - and facing a terrible tragedy - Lexi has no choice but to track down her long-absent mother. 

Rumor has it that Lexi's mom is somewhere in Florida with a traveling circus.When Lexi arrives at her new, three-ring reality, her mom isn't there . . . but her destiny might be. Surrounded by tigers, elephants, and trapeze artists, Lexi finds some surprising friends and an even more surprising chance at true love. She even lucks into a spot as the circus's fortune teller, reading tarot cards and making predictions.

But then Lexi's ex-best friend from home shows up, and suddenly it's Lexi's own future that's thrown into question.

With humor, wisdom, and a dazzlingly fresh voice, this debut reminds us of the magic of circus tents, city lights, first kisses, and the importance of an excellent playlist.

A few weeks ago I was at the bookstore, and I bought THAT TIME I JOINED THE CIRCUS because, admittedly, I was so captivated by the cover. I brought it home and put it on the to-read pile. It was one of the first books I decided to dive into. And I'm so glad I did, guys. This book is so well-written. Lexi is a main character you can relate to, cheer for, mourn and celebrate with. The circus setting is enchanting and captivating. And everything that happens within the story resonated with me. By the time I turned the last page, I may have cried once or twice.

So of course I had to have the author of this fabulous book stop by the blog. Without further ado, J.J. Howard. Thank you so much for your time and awesomeness, J.J.!

Tell us a little about your writing process!

Headphones and the project playlist help me tune out the world, although lately I’ve been experimenting with Pandora, because I need some new music! I go for a walk when I’m stuck and need a plot idea—it usually works.

What was the hardest part of writing THAT TIME I JOINED THE CIRCUS?

The circus setting itself was the biggest challenge, because I’ve never actually joined the circus myself! The book also goes back and forth in time from the present to the recent past. I didn’t have any trouble the first time or so through, but once you get in to really revising, it becomes harder to make sure everything fits together.

And (of course) how did you come up with the idea for this story?

I think I may have a pretty contemporary voice—but I am also very attracted to magic and fantasy elements in stories. The circus seemed like one of the most magical places you can go and still be in the real world.

How many stories did you write before you finished this one?

I finished a non-YA book—it’s very long and took about four years to write. It was amazing practice, but I also still plan to revisit it at some point! It’s a historical mystery—so that one called for a lot of research.

What was your journey to publication like?

Long! In all seriousness, it was pretty long. I started writing my first book in 1996. I put writing and querying aside for a number of years at one point, but when you turn and look backwards it still seems like a pretty long road. I didn’t take the traditional road, either (which is pretty typical of me!) I sold CIRCUS and then got an agent. I like to say I have this habit of doing things backwards.

What is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process?

Just the pure writing the story—the first time through. It’s so much fun to see where the characters take you. My favorite part of that is “mushroom” characters—it’s an analogy Diana Gabaldon (one of my favorite writers) uses. They are the characters who pop up out of nowhere and take over the plot! 

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I don’t know if I’m at the advice for other writers stage of the game ;) –but if there are any young writers out there wondering if they can do it, I say—if you have the urge, you probably can! People who love stories are going to read stories. Read a lot of excellent books by other people and then write. A lot. Write whatever you want without worrying about who will read it. Just like playing a musical instrument, you learn by practicing.  

What is your favorite quote, and why is it your favorite?

Oh, wow—I’m a quote maniac! That’s really hard. One of my all-time favorites is Hamlet’s line “There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.” It’s just so incredibly true that it’s almost upsetting!

Do you have any new writing projects in the works? Can you tell us about them?

I don’t have anything official—but I have written two more books, and they’re both contemporary YA. So fingers—and toes—are firmly crossed!

J.J. Howard is wearing headphones right now, most likely. She grew up in York, Pennsylvania, obsessed with music, movies, television, and pop culture. You can call her if you ever need to phone a friend for trivia on any of the above topics, but don't ask about sports, because she is hopeless at those (along with math). J.J. graduated from Dickinson College with a BA in English and Tiffin University with an MH in Humanities. She has been some of her students' favorite English teacher for a quite a few years (she even has a mug somewhere to prove it). That Time I Joined the Circus is her first young adult novel. J.J. would love to hear from her readers and is always ready to trade playlists:


Buy the book!

Strands of Bronze and Gold Blog Tour: Interview With Jane Nickerson

I love the title! How did you come up with STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD? 

Because I’ve been straining my brain lately to decide on one of a dozen names for the book I’m working on right now, I realize that the title STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD just came to me as a gift.  Partly I loved the words “bronze” and “gold,” and partly I wanted a reference to Sophie’s hair, since the original story references hair—as in “blue beard.”

So this is your debut. What has surprised you most about the publication process? 

There was so much I didn’t expect. I guess what has surprised me most are the many, many revisions and the time required even after an acceptance by a publisher. I would think I was done with everything, and then another set would come back to me—three different rounds of copyeditors even after Allison Wortche, my editor, was finished.  I’m so glad, though, that other eyes are checking on things because I really want the best possible results. They even caught things like words that were not in use in 1855, which made me happy because I hate anachronism.

Can you share a little bit about your writing process?

I start by filling a big fat notebook, with an outline of what I think is going to happen, the characters, preliminary research, etc. Of course all along the way there are surprises, and even major changes, but I do begin with the basics outlined—sort of like a skeleton to hang the flesh on.  The notebook starts out beautifully organized, but eventually it’s stuffed with scraps of paper where I’ve scribbled ideas as they come to me. I’m always anxious to really start writing, and it’s a relief when I do because I love it. I get quite OCD about it, and have a hard time stopping when I’m really on a roll. Evidently I even think about my story when I’m sleeping because sometimes I’ll wake up at 5:30 a.m. with a perfect scene or bit of dialogue in my head, and I’ll have to get up and go downstairs and write.  Kind of exhausting but interesting.

I adore the fact that this is inspired by "Bluebeard". What makes STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD stand out from other retellings?

For one thing, “Bluebeard” is not your basic princess-y, magical fairytale.  It has a villain and a situation which is apropos to modern times—a charming, abusive serial killer and a girl caught up in his web. Because of this there’s all the psychology of the abuser and his intended victim. There is no magic, actually, but there is a touch of the supernatural—I really love the ghosts of the murdered wives, who are beautiful, shimmery, and wistful, rather than scary. Then too, the historical setting is different from any retellings I’ve read.

What was the easiest and hardest part about writing this story? 

The easiest (and most fun) part was creating the characters of M. Bernard and Sophie. Those  two just seemed to pour out of me. Bringing M. Bernard to life was so interesting, with his charisma, his violent and controlling nature, and yet something a little confused and bewildered inside him—he really doesn’t understand the evil bit of his make-up. Developing Sophie and her voice was a pleasure—vain, naïve, and shallow at first (but light-hearted and sweet--I like her anyway), and then her character deepening and maturing as time goes on. The hardest part was the revisions as I tried to bend and mold the story into what it needed to be—because, if it had been easy to do in the first place, I would have done it to begin with. It was the real work of writing, rather than the fun. (Although it has its fun moments.)

STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD seems to be a unique blend of historical and fantasy. What made you decide to set this in our world, rather than one of your own creation?

Actually I started the story and wrote about a third of it in a western-European-type fantasy world. Then I woke up one morning and knew I had to move it to antebellum Mississippi. Partly, I suppose, it was in my head because we had recently moved from Mississippi and I was homesick for it. And there is still something so dramatic, charming, conflicted, and interesting about the small-town American South. As for the time period, all the years I lived in Aberdeen, I was fascinated by the Civil War—such a tragic time in American history, and the United States is still affected by it to this day. Anyway the setting really lent itself to STRANDS and to the other books in the series.

I was excited to discover this is the first in a trilogy. Is there anything you can share about the books to come? 

THE MIRK AND MIDNIGHT HOUR, also published by Knopf, will be out in spring 2014. It takes place during the Civil War and is loosely based on the “Ballad of Tam Lin.” The knight in the old Scottish ballad is a captured Union soldier in my retelling, and instead of fairies my story has voodoo practitioners. It has more fantasy/magical elements than STRANDS. I’m only about two-thirds through the first draft of the third book. It’s unsold so far, so wish me luck. A PLACE OF STONE AND SHADOW (which I think might be the title of this one), returns to Wyndriven Abbey (the house that was the setting for STRANDS), but years later, during Reconstruction after the war. The story is original—not a retelling. The abbey has been turned into a girls’ boarding school, and some of the deceased inhabitants of Wyndriven do not rest easy. As I’m now well into writing it, and I’m realizing that I have lots of good material, there may well be a fourth book. What’s the name of a series of four books? Quad-something?

Finally, will you tell us one thing about yourself? (Strange or otherwise!)

I am a constant daydreamer/storyteller to myself. At the grocery store I’ll see strangers and start coming up with a background for them. I wonder if all writers are more-or-less like that?

Interview with Author Carly Anne West: The Murmurings

I recently stumbled across a book on Goodreads. First the cover caught my eye, and then I read the summary. It was the first time I ever looked up the author and e-mailed her instantly. I need to do an interview, I said. Not want, you guys. Need. That's how excited I am about this book. And Carly Anne forever cemented a friendship with me by being obliging and even offering me a copy of the book. Which, rest assured, you will be hearing about sometime in the near future.

And onto the interview! Thank you so much for doing this, Carly!

Carly Anne West is a freelance writer with an MFA in English and Creative Writing from Mills College. She lives with her husband and son in Seattle, Washington. Visit her at

So of course I have to ask you how you came up with the premise for THE MURMURINGS.

I'll just put it out there: I lived in a haunted apartment. It wasn't a possession/poltergeist type of thing, but yeah, I heard murmurings. I dismissed it the first time it happened, but then the same thing happened to my husband the next morning. We each thought we were imagining it, so when he told me what had happened to him, I shared my experience, too. 

It was this weird sort of indistinguishable muttering or mumbling, and it only happened in this particular place in the apartment. It was around that same place that my cats would sort of freak out. They wouldn't go near that area of the living room (near a closet), and if they did venture in that direction, often they would back away really slowly with their ears back, and then they'd dash off. I heard and felt various things over the three years we lived there, and when we finally moved away, the property manager confirmed that other tenants had reported the same thing. It might have been nice to have that info prior to signing the lease, but hey, I got a book out of it!

That is so... cool. Oh my gosh. Best inspiration story ever.

What was the most difficult part about writing it?

Besides scaring myself? Let's see. Well, anytime I've ever written a story that involved an element of mystery, it's required a significant amount of revision. Clues need to be planted like little seeds throughout the story, and continuity is critical. You don't want to reveal too much too soon, yet you need to be conscious of pacing throughout. It's a labor of love for sure! It helps that I really enjoy a good scare, so I try to make sure the reader gets the same experience.  

Oh, I know what you mean with revisions. I'm sure you did a fantastic job, and I can't wait to be terrified!

Along that vein, I'd love to know more about your writing process! How long it took you to finish the first draft, do you outline, any habits or quirks you have, etc. 

My process has varied depending upon the project. For THE MURMURINGS, I honestly can't count the number of revisions. I started writing it as an adult novel while I was in grad school, but after setting it aside for some time, I returned to the book and realized that it was screaming to be YA. Once I changed that direction and embraced the temptation I had all along to move in the horror direction, things started to come together. 

I've tried both outlining and writing by whatever scene seemed to be calling to me on that particular day. For me, I think it helps to start with a character - my protagonist - and let her/him tell me a little story. Once I understand that struggle, I can usually form at least a loose outline (or timeline, or sketch). By no means do I adhere to that outline. It usually changes a billion times before I've reached the end of the story. But it helps me to at least see the trajectory. 

As far as habits ... especially when I'm writing an intense or scary scene, I get up and pace around every twenty minutes or so. I'm sort of a fidgety writer. I also munch a lot, so it would be wise for me to keep more carrots handy.

Outlines. Sigh. And maybe I should try the pacing; it certainly wouldn't hurt the waistline, considering how many snacks I scarf down. Yes. Carrots. We should eat those. After I finish this chocolate bar.

Have you always been a writer?

I guess I have! I might have denied that until recently. I was over at my parents' house, and my niece asked me to read her a book. I told her to pull a book from the shelf behind us, and she brought me "Susan and the Old Johnson House." Construction paper and plastic binder-bound, it was a book I wrote in fifth grade as part of a semester-long writing project for English, complete with illustrations and an author's bio (and my fifth grade class picture, crimped hair and all). It was, of course, a haunted house story. I had completely forgotten about it, and obviously I was really into this story at the time of its authorship because that thing was long. I started going hoarse when I was reading it and tried to skip some pages, but my niece caught on. Apparently, she's familiar with the story. So yes, since at least the fifth grade, I have been a writer.

I used to do the same thing! So cute. Clearly you were meant to write something scary.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Do not, under any circumstances, give up. Ever ever ever. The writing industry is full of rejection, but that's the case with a lot of industries. If you want it, work hard at your craft, read a ton, follow the authors you admire, and keep putting yourself out there. Someone will say yes, and there's an agent/editor/reader out there for you.

Very true. Couldn't have said it better.

I'm always curious about the submission process. Care you share the experience of your sale?

The day I found out about it is a pretty great story. I was working at my office job in San Francisco, and I knew my agent was shopping the book. I have an awesome, awesome agent (Steven Chudney) who is really good about keeping his clients posted on the latest and greatest when it comes to their manuscripts during the submission process. Well, he was getting ready to head out of town for a book fair but emailed me to ask if he could touch base before he left. He made it sound like it would be a housekeeping type of call, tying up loose ends, etc. 

So when he called, I just grabbed an empty conference room on my floor and sat down for what I thought would be a pretty standard chat. He started the conversation by going over the feedback and responses he'd received, and then he got to Simon Pulse. I was still pretty lax about the conversation because I thought he was going to tell me we were still waiting. And then he says "And Carly, they loved it! They'd like to make an offer!" I think my first response was "Wait, what?" Then I told him I thought I was going to pass out, to which he kindly asked that I not because he had some important details yet to discuss with me. 

At the time, I was actually pregnant, but Steven didn't know (actually, nobody outside of my family knew), so I really did start to feel a little woozy. After I thanked him so much for the call, he told me I could make it up to him by naming my first-born after him. A few weeks later, I told him I was pregnant. Meanwhile, the day he told me, I was trying to keep my voice down while I was in the conference room, as it was right next to the offices of a couple of high ranking folks at the company. 

I'm pretty sure I didn't succeed there. I got some looks.

Love this. Your agent sounds like he was messing with you! So I assume your child's name is Steven? Haha.

I see you have a book coming out in 2014, as well. Can you tell us anything about it?

Ha! A girl has to keep some secrets! I promise to make it worth the wait. It's another spooky one, though.

Sigh. Well, I tried.

About the book

Everyone thinks Sophie’s sister, Nell, went crazy. After all, she heard strange voices that drove her to commit suicide. But Sophie doesn’t believe that Nell would take her own life, and she’s convinced that Nell’s doctor knows more than he’s letting on.

As Sophie starts to piece together Nell’s last days, every lead ends in a web of lies. And the deeper Sophie digs, the more danger she’s in—because now she’s hearing the same haunting whispers. Sophie’s starting to think she’s going crazy too. Or worse, that maybe she’s not…

Guest Post by Author Kat Rosenfeld: My Road to Publication in 37 Steps

(Designed by Amber over at Page Turners Blog)

Confession: When I heard that I'd be doing a guest post on my road to publication, I felt intimidated and overwhelmed. Like many writers, the journey from "aspiring writer" to "published author" was long, arduous, and full of false starts and self-doubt — and in the end, it was only through a series of marvelous coincidences, helpful interventions, and some very good luck that I made it there at all. Also, in my case, it took six years, which is a really, ridiculously long period of time to cover in a standard, essay-style blog post.

So, in an attempt to not bore the pants off everyone and/or put you all to sleep, I've instead taken a look back at the whole process and condensed it down into a handy how-to guide -- one that shows how a person might go from laboring in miserable obscurity to having a real, actual book on the shelves at your local bookstore.

And by "handy", I mean "not handy at all", and by "a person", I mean, "one person, who is also me."

How to Become a Published Author in 37 Easy Steps

1. Move to New York with no intentions of being a writer. Work in publishing. Read lots of books. Date various guys until, out of loneliness, you settle for the one who isn't evil.

2. Join the corporate softball team. Meet a tall, handsome managing editor. Tell him you have a non-evil boyfriend. Kick yourself for being so damn committed.

3. Leave your publishing job for a job in PR. Tell everyone how excited you are. Tell yourself that you're really on the road to the career you're meant to have. Tell yourself that the tall, handsome managing editor isn't really that tall and handsome.

4. Begin to suspect that PR is not, in fact, the career you're meant to have. Begin to suspect that PR is kind of awful. Feel angry and stifled.

5. Start a secret blog. Spend your downtime at work writing an essay about that time your dress blew up in the Fulton Street subway station and a bunch of Japanese businessmen laughed at you. Be delighted when people comment and say that they liked it.

6. Begin to suspect that your non-evil boyfriend is kind of awful, too. Meet up every couple of weeks for beers with the tall, handsome managing editor when your boyfriend blows you off.

7. Admit to yourself that the tall, handsome managing editor really is that tall and handsome. Feel guilty.

8. Get blown off by your boyfriend for fantasy football pick night. Vow not to call the tall, handsome managing editor. Go home. Open your laptop. Write a short story out of boredom.

9. Send the short story to a writer friend. Tell her she's crazy when she tells you it should be a novel. Tell her you could never write a novel. Tell everyone you could never write a novel.

10. Start working secretly on a novel.

11. Discover that your crappy-but-at-least-he's-not-evil boyfriend is, in fact, SUPER FREAKING EVIL. And also, cheating on you on the internet. Dump him. Write a blog post about it.

12. Write lots of blog posts. Write a post about Harry Potter. Write a post about elevator conversations. Write a post about having maybe possibly sleepwalked out into the hallway of an apartment building you do not live in wearing nothing but your underwear.

13. Get five comments.

14. Get twenty comments.

15. Get an anonymous email from a person you've never met who tells you to please, please think about being a writer.

16. Feel empowered. Feel crazy. Quit your job in PR to work part-time as a copywriter. Freelance for magazines. Shriek the first time you see your by-line. Tell everyone you're going to be a writer.

17. Marry the tall, handsome managing editor.

18. Lose your job. Be despondent, until you realize that now, you can work on your novel ALL DAY LONG.

19. Finish your novel. Be very excited for one whole day.

20. In the cold light of the day-after-novel-finishing, become completely and totally despondent. Tell your tall, handsome husband that your novel sucks ass.

21. Tell him you're going to delete it.

22. Tell him that no you will not let him bring it in to work because it sucks ass and you're deleting it.

23. Repeat steps 20-22 for the next two weeks. Use the words "sucks" and "ass" as frequently as possible.

24. Well, okay, maybe he can show it to someone at work.

25. But only if he promises to show it only to the lowliest, most bottom-rung-of-the-ladder editorial assistant there is. Make him promise. Make him promise several times.

26. He lied. You are going to kill him.

27. Receive email from the publisher. She has read your draft. She thinks your novel has promise. Agree to do a rewrite. Grudgingly thank husband, but reserve the right to kill him later.

28. Get another copywriting job. Spend your days proofreading manuals for personal electronic devices. Collect freelance gigs. Work on your revision at night.

29. Lose your job again. Believe it's a sign from the writing gods. Become a hermit. Work on the revision all day, every day.

30. Send your completed revision to the publisher.

31. Wait. Wait. Wait.

32. Bandage the small, gnawed-looking stumps where your fingernails used to be.

33. Wait.

34. Run into publisher on the subway. She is going to email you tomorrow.

35. Because she is going to buy your book.

36. And she does.

37. When your crappy, evil ex-boyfriend emails you to say congratulations, tell him to go suck an egg.

Want more of Kat? She can be found on her website, her blog, Twitter, and Facebook

About the Book!

An arresting un-coming-of-age story, from a breathtaking talent.

Becca has always longed to break free from her small, backwater hometown. But the discovery of an unidentified dead girl on the side of a dirt road sends the town--and Becca--into a tailspin. Unable to make sense of the violence of the outside world creeping into her backyard, Becca finds herself retreating inward, paralyzed from moving forward for the first time in her life.

Short chapters detailing the last days of Amelia Anne Richardson's life are intercut with Becca's own summer as the parallel stories of two young women struggling with self-identity and relationships on the edge twist the reader closer and closer to the truth about Amelia's death.

You can find Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble as well as other booksellers.

Tour Schedule

7/9 - Kick-off & Giveaway at The Mod Podge Bookshelf
7/10 - Interview at Rescue Reads
7/12 - Review at The Story Siren
7/13 - Guest Blog at author Kelsey Sutton's Blog
7/15 - Debut Author Spotlight Interview & Giveaway at Page Turners Blog
7/16 - Guest Blog at 365 Days of Reading
7/17 - Guest Blog at Magnet For Books
7/18 - Interview at Steph Su Reads
7/19 - Giveaway at YA Bliss
7/20 - Interview & Giveaway at Reading or Breathing
7/21 - Review at The Mod Podge Bookshelf
7/22 - Giveaway at Midnight Garden
7/23 - Guest Blog and Giveaway at Reading Away the Days
7/24 - Giveaway at Books to Consider
7/25 - Guest Blog at Words Like Silver
7/26 - Review at Making the Grade
7/27 - Interview at Book Chic
7/28 - Guest Blog at The Mod Podge Bookshelf

For more info on future tours, as well as author info for being hosted on MPB, please check out the new Mod Podge Blog Tour Page on The Mod Podge Bookshelf.

Interview with YA Writer Chantele Sedgwick

Today I'm excited to introduce you all to YA writer Chantele Sedgwick. Chantele and I met in the blogosphere and my favorite thing about her is how supportive she is. We're lucky to have her as a part of the community!

From Chantele's bio: I am a wife, mother of three silly kids, a harp player and an avid reader of books. I enjoy reading and writing YA fantasy, urban fantasy and paranormal. I'm repped by Uwe Stender at TriadaUS Literary.

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

Thanks so much for interviewing me, Kelsey! I love your blog! I'm a stay-at-home-mom to three cute kids and I've been married 8 years to the love of my life. I've played the harp for a very long time, love to sing alone or with my sisters and I can play the piano a little, but not really well.

I've always wanted to play the harp. I'm a piano girl, myself. Hey, maybe we can give each other lessons!

2. Are you allowed to tell us anything about your book?

It's about a teenage guy who gets stuck being a fairy godmother for his last assignment at the Academy of Magical Beings. He has to grant three wishes to a troubled human girl to get his diploma and become a Sandman. There is humor, some mystery and a little bit of love!

What a unique premise! Can't wait to get my hands on it...

3. Have you always wanted to be an author? What was the first thing you remember writing?

Actually, no. I've always had stories in my head but never thought about writing them down until high school. I think the first story I wrote was about a bunch of high school kids stuck in a cabin with a bear trying to break in and eat them. Yes. I was very creative back then, haha.

Love it!

4. Will you share something about your writing style? Music, plotter/pantser, etc.

I used to write in complete silence, but having 3 kids and a hubby who likes to watch movies really loud I've had to adapt to noise. I love writing to music. It gets my creativity moving. Movie scores are the best to write to. As for how I write, I'm a total pantser. I do outline a little, but never the whole book. I know what I want to happen before I start writing my books, but things always change as I go along. I wish I could plot a little more, but I've gotten used to the fact that pantsing is just how I roll.

Don't worry, I'm a pantser too. And I love movie soundtracks; Lord of the Rings is the best.

5. What do you do when you are not writing?

Chase kids around most of the time! Read if I can. And I love watching movies with my hubby.

6. What was the last book you read?

Witch Song by Amber Argyle. Loved.

7. What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

Never give up. Truly. And write because you love it. You have to be the first one to love and believe in your work. If you can do that, you'll make it someday.

8. How did you find your agent?

I found him on querytracker. He was in the very last batch of agents I queried. He called me two days after I sent it to offer representation! Again, never give up!

Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla all the way!
Sweet or spicy? Sweet. Although I do like a little spice in life.
Dogs or cats? I'm a dog person.
It's been great having you on the blog today, Chantele. For those of you who would like to stalk get to know this lady even better, Chantele can be found on her blog or on Twitter.

Review and Author Interview: Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting

The missing dead call to Violet. They want to be found.

When Violet Ambrose's morbid ability to sense the echoes of those who've been murdered leads her to the body of a young boy, she draws the attention of the FBI. She is reluctantly pulled into an investigation that will endanger more than just her secret...but her relationship and possibly her life as well. 

Violet's life seems to finally bear a semblance to normalcy. She's got her friends, she's dating Jay, and her morbid ability hasn't come out to play lately. Violet dares to hope that things might stay this perfect, at least for a while.

All those hopes crash down around her when Violet "hears" an echo of something trapped. Something dead. Unable to ignore the call of the dead, Violet places a anonymous call to the police. She just wants to do the right thing. She doesn't want any attention, just the body found.  

At first, it seems like everything will go back to normal. But then Violet starts getting the phone calls. Someone from the F.B.I. wants to talk to her. Badly.  And then Violet starts getting threatening notes, even stranger phone calls, and a gruesome gift left in front of her house in the middle of the night. Normal is gone. But Violet clings to it, keeping everything that's happening from Jay and from her parents. 

Who's out to get Violet this time?  Should she out her secret and help the F.B.I.? And will she lose Jay in the process?

It's possible that I may have liked this book better than the second. I haven't been able to decide. What I enjoyed most, by far, was the romance between Violet and Jay. It's just so real and rich; we get to see the relationship develop, and what's great is it isn't all roses and sweetness. There are bumps, too. Then, of course, there's the suspense. I love how twice now Kim has managed to surprise me at the end when I thought I had everything all figured out.  

All the characters from The Body Finder are present, and we also get to meet some new ones. I won't ruin it for you, but there's one character in this book that makes my mouth water! And it's not Jay...

All I can say is this: Read it, guys. Desires of the Dead won't disappoint.

About the author: Kimberly Derting lives in the Pacific Northwest, which is the ideal place to be writing anything dark or creepy...a gloomy day can set the perfect mood. She lives with her husband and their three beautiful (and often mouthy) children, who serve as an endless source of inspiration for her writing.

1) We've all grown to love Violet and Jay and the rest of the gang.
When naming your characters, do you give any thought to the actual meanings?

For the main characters, I just picked names I really liked, but with the tertiary characters or the dead girls, I had a little more fun. For some of the killer's victims, I used the first or last names of people I know (mostly teens).  Of course I had to get permission from them and their parents first.  I sort of thought it would be hard to find people who wanted to be dead girls, but they loved seeing their names in the book! See, it's not just me who's creepy, apparently all my friends and family are too!

2) There were some emotional moments in Desires of the Dead. Have you ever cried while working on a manuscript?

I'll admit there was one moment in particular, where I got a little misty-eyed, but those are some of my favorite scenes to write the ones with big impact.  I feel like I'm rooting around in someone else's life and just
messing it up.  Please don't ask a psychologist to analyze that statement. ;)

3) How long does it take you to write a book? Can you describe your writing process?

It takes me about 4-6 months to get it ready to send to my editor, and then another few months of revising with her.  I'm a sporadic writer in the beginning, working here and there, until somewhere around the middle, at which point I can't seem to stop.  This is about the time I say goodbye to my family and sometimes to regular showers!

4) In Desires of the Dead, Violet actually has dreams before she finds the body. Are her powers growing, or was this more of a one-time-thing?

Since I can't answer this question without being too spoilery, I think I'll just send you the very first Desires of the Dead poster (when they're ready) to make you forget that I didn't actually answer this question.  You are getting very, very sleepy.

5) Assuming there's going to be a continuation for Violet, care to share any little tidbits that will make us grind our teeth in anticipation?

"Assuming" there is a book three, Violet will find herself in the most dangerous situation she has ever faced. And for Violet, that's saying something.

Thanks for your time, Kim! It was fun interviewing you.

Interview with YA Writer Monica B.W.

For those of you who haven't met her yet, I have here today - for the first time! - Monica B.W. Monica is a YA writer represented by Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Lit. Thanks for stopping by, Mon!

Oh, thank YOU for thinking about me! I feel honored to be here, on your blog. =)

Tell us a little about your awesome self.

Geez, I’m not sure about the awesome part, but I’ll still tell you about me.

I’m a YA fiction writer, represented by Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary. I live in Chile with my hubby, my three little boys, and a bunch of hens.

Are you allowed to tell us anything about your book?

Sure! The book my agent signed me with is about a girl who has uncontrolled out-of-body experiences, and she has to find her mom’s soul, which has gone MIA.

(This sounds amazing! Can't wait to read it...)

Have you always wanted to be an author? What was the first thing you remember writing?

Ha! No. When I was like 20, I had NO idea I’d want to be an author. In fact, I studied business.

The first thing I remember writing was a short Christmas story for a little contest in a newspaper or something. I think I did it because I was bored. I don’t even remember if I participated in the end or not.

Will you share something about your writing style? Music, plotter/pantser, etc.

I can’t hear music when writing. I get highly distracted.

I’m a plotter, and sometimes I’d like to be a pantser, since that way characters surprise you. (I love when characters surprise me!)

Some days, I can’t write a word if I don’t have a pack of cookies by my side.

(This is me when it comes to coffee.)

What do you do when you are not writing?

Besides reading? Playing or doing homework with my kids, or chauffeuring them. And feeding my hens!

During the weekends, we do stuff with my hubby, like visiting my in-laws or going on picnics.

What was the last book you read?

Fury by Elizabeth Miles.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

Ask yourself this question before doing anything: What would love do?

(I like that! It's something I haven't heard before.)

Speed round questions!

Choclate or vanilla? I’d like to say chocolate. Sounds more bad-assy? But I’m a vanilla girl. ;)

Sweet or spicy? Are you kidding? SWEET! 100000 times!

Dogs or cats? Oh, cats. I love cats. When I was little, I wanted to have a cat, but my dad hates cats, and that’s why he said no. So I thought, “Okay, I’ll have plenty of cats when I grow up.” Turns out my hubby’s allergic. So, you know, I’ve never had a cat =(

Isn't she great, guys? Monica can be found on her blog, her website, and on Twitter. She's so nice she'll respond to pretty much anything, even if it's random or even a little strange.