Monday, September 20, 2010

Win *The Monstrumologist* by Rick Yancey!

This is a scary book. The freaking creepy creatures, Anthropophagus, are unlike any monsters I've recently read about. The cover blurb by VOYA is actually on the ball when they say it's a cross between Mary Shelley and Stephen King; there's a historical, classic gothic genre thing working here, but modernized with gore.

The new paperback edition has the first chapter of The Curse of the Wendigo, (sequel).

So win it! Fill in the form below and spread the word.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Blog Tour for *Plain Kate* by Erin Bow AND Giveaway!

Plain Kate is Erin Bow's first novel and we're kicking it off with a blog tour! This is the first stop and I have to say it's fitting because Erin is a local author for me. I see her at the bookstore often and we're proud that she's garnered attention for Plain Kate that has stretched far outside our community.

Erin is a talented author and I devoured Plain Kate. Here's a little chat we had about her book, and if you live in Canada, enter below to win a finished copy!

Mandy: Hi, Erin! Thanks for making time today. :)

Erin: Hello Mandy! No problems.

Mandy: Summer has gone by too quickly. This September is a big month for you!

Erin: Crazy big. Release day is only ten days from now, which is scary and awesome. I don't know exactly what I expect to HAPPEN on release day, mind.

Mandy: It might feel more like a release month, rather than just a day. But for you, I'm sure the sun will be brighter. :)

Erin: The idea of someone actually reading the thing is -- overwhelming, is I guess the word I'm looking for.

Mandy: Plain Kate isn't the first book you've written and published -- will it be a different feeling when PK releases compared to past books?

Erin: I've had a little reader response trickle in from the ARCs. But even with that, I can't get used to the idea that people who aren't related to me are going to read the book. I think it will feel different. It's been different so far. I thought I was prepared for publishing a book, but the SCALE of publishing a novel with a big house is so different than publishing my poetry. It really is another world. I could probably put everyone who read my last book of poetry in a room. And not a huge room.

Mandy: And there's been quite the buzz at Arthur A. Levine, and Chicken House for your book.

Erin: The novel is much more out of my hands. It has more life of its own. There could be no better cheerleader for a book than Arthur. He's been amazing.He got up in front of this huge room of people at BookExpo and started talking about the books he'd worked on, Harry Potter and The Golden Compass and so on. And in the next breath he's talking about Plain Kate.

Mandy: Yeah, he has a few successes as an editor under his belt.

Erin: I knew it was coming but I still nearly fainted away. He deserves his successes, let me tell you. He's a genius editor, in addition to a good cheerleader.

Mandy: The role of an editor for a book isn't talked about as much as it should be. But I think they are instrumental.

Erin: Arthur certainly was crucial to KATE. The ending we came up with together is almost unrecognizably different. As in, different people live and die for different reasons.

Mandy: I noticed in one of your blog posts, as you were editing PK, that you completely changed the last few chapters before publication. What was there originally (broadly speaking, of course) that you felt needed to go?

Erin: Hmmmm, I am not sure how to answer that without spoiling things for those who haven't read it. One of the rules of magic in the book is that every gift has a cost. In the original version, the scales didn't balance. I wanted to give my characters a more happy ending, but I took too much away from them by doing so. The things that Kate discovers about herself at the end -- and they are important things -- have to come at a cost. In the original, they didn't. In the final version, they do.

Mandy: Oh wow, great answer, actually. The balance of magic is very important in PK. To the world of fantasy, typically.

Erin: Has to be. I can't remember who said that "if everything is possible, nothing is interesting." If you give people magical powers, you also have to give them increased burdens -- weaknesses or responsibilities. Or their lives are too easy.People with easy lives are dull to read about.

Mandy: Absolutely. Which is why I said that PK really reminded me of A Wizard of Earthsea. So much of that book is about balancing magic. And the importance of the shadow.

Erin: Earthsea is my all-time favorite!

Mandy: An absolute classic!

Erin: I didn't have it consciously in mind when the idea came to me about a girl who sells her shadow. But I think it must have been lurking in my dreams somewhere. I could really dissolve into fangirl squee about Earthsea at this point. The bit with Ged ... where he dreams about the shadow outside the door, and then it's inside the room, and YIKES. Those are great books.

Mandy: I like that you mention PK relating to a dream. Elsehwere you say it was "written under the spell of a Russian fairy tale". Can you say a little more about the tone of PK, how it relates to spells and dreams?

Erin: Hmmmm. I think it has a rather "high" tone, like a spell or a dream. It takes itself absolutely seriously. It doesn't have any of that modern irony that's so common (and usually quite enjoyable) in contemporary fantasy. It's not at all meta. I'm reading a book right now, quite a good one, that uses what it calls "the politically correct phrase 'person with paranormal identity.'" That's pretty much the opposite of the tone PK had to take. I think if it had stepped outside itself, even a little, it would have broken its own spell. But because it's unbroken, it can get away with spell-like elements: the stolen shadow, the talking cat, the ghost made out of fog.
Mandy: It is a serious book. And dark, like a traditional fairy tale. But there are definitely funny parts, most often involving Taggle, Kate's talking cat.

Erin: Taggle just about steals the show, doesn't he. But he's just saying what you know all cats are thinking. It's really an honour for us to get to live with them and pet them and give them fish.

Mandy: hahaha, do you own cats? They obviously have a special place in your imagination.

Erin: I have a cat: Augustus Asparagus, First Cat of the Empire. We call him Gus and sometimes he answers. I like how self-possessed cats are; I admire them. But would it hurt sales if I admitted I really want a dog?

Mandy: haha, it just might. Keep the dog thing under your hat for now ;) How amazing was Meg Rosoff's comment about Taggle being one of the most delightful talking cats in children's literature?

Erin: I swooned. I love Rosoff's work, and I'm so honored she loved mine. It's been interesting, her blurb. Sometimes the publisher uses the part about the cat, and sometimes they don't. I think mentioning the cat, and Taggle, makes it sound like a different book than it is. More Disney, you know? Talking animal sidekick he may be, but Taggle is definitely no Disney creature.

Mandy: I was going to say, after reading PK I think it's suited just as much for adults as for young adults. There is no Disney there.

Erin: I think in fact he'd object to "sidekick."

Mandy: I was personally worried, getting near the end, that you were going to make me cry. :) You must have been affected emotionally countless times while writing..

Erin: Did you cry? People cry...I cried, yes. I wonder if that's tacky, like laughing at your own joke. But I did.

Mandy: I was very moved by Taggle's whole story, especially how the book ends. He was the most real to me, as I read.

Erin: I delayed writing the ending for weeks and just about had a breakdown during the time. Finally I found myself at a Tim Hortons with an hour to kill before a radio interview, and I had nothing but my notebook, so I just sat down with some cranberry juice and scribbled it out. It was an intense experience, writing the climax. I'm sure the Timmy's people were about ready to call the Community Mental Health workers. Taggle is the most real, hmmmm? I live most with Kate and Linay, personally. But Taggle is very dear.

Mandy: Linay also was very vivid. He reminded me of David Bowie from Labyrinth! But Linay's story was a lot more complicated.

Erin: Awesome! He'd like that. He has a theatrical streak and probably just about has himself convinced that he's a goblin king. Linay is ... yes, complicated.

Mandy: I had a bit of a crush on him, I have to say.

Erin: You know how bad guys never think they're bad guys? But Linay is quite aware of what he's doing, and I think very torn about it. He has some intense regrets. I ALWAYS fall for the villians. And the tortured unhappy people. Perferably as played by Alan Rickman. Linay is a strange case. He's definitely the villian and he does terrible things to Kate.

Mandy: Hahahaha, me too! Love Alan Rickman. Linay IS pretty aware of what he's doing. I don't think he actually disliked Kate. He just needed something from her and she was willing to give it away.

Erin: But he's also the person who sticks by her, is most faithful to her, believes in her and tries to help her. No, he doesn't dislike her. He says he likes her, in fact, and he's not lying.
He just saw her as weak enough to exploit. The basic complication of the novel is: He's wrong.

Mandy: PK really is a coming of age story. Kate is tested by so many big life situations in one adventure. What is it about this time in a person's life when they leave childhood that is great fodder for story?

Erin: I'm not sure I know. It's certainly one of the classics, though. I guess "becoming who you are" is one of the fundamental human stories. I have had the odd complaint from reviewers that Kate's story is too reactive, that's she's too passive. I think of it differently: that she's surrounded by things that are bigger than she is, caught up in larger events -- as we all are -- and in the midst of that, she has to learn to take control of her own story.

Mandy: I didn't read Kate as being passive at all.

Erin: She does make mistakes, though, and certainly struggles with some decisions.

Mandy: That's a great line about her having to learn to take control of her own story.

Erin: I can see where that reads as "passive." My agent hated the middle bit of the book, which I always think of as the Stolkholm chapters. Kate stays somewhere she clearly shouldn't. But we're not always ready to jump free when we should, and she isn't.

It *is* a good line. I must use it somewhere.

Mandy: Especially since she's already lost so much by the middle of the book. Her mother, her father, her home. I imagined Kate would want to hold on to what she could. Like her art, woodcarving. It's the thing that keeps her together.

Erin: The truth inside the wood. You could (I am making this up on the fly) read that as a metaphor for her journey. She gets carved away to something stronger, more beautiful. But the woodcarving does keep her together. It's the one thing she has complete confidence in, and that never wavers, no matter what else happens in the book.

Mandy: I love that she carves even though she's not recognized by the Guild. The last thing I'd love to know: is there a sequel? Do you feel a sequel is necessary or maybe a companion book set in the same world, with different characters?

Erin: The British title of the book is going to be Wood Angel. I resisted that at first -- I'm so attached to PLAIN KATE -- but I've grown to like it. She is rather an angel of the wood. Something strong and good and out of place ... with a knife in her hand. I have no plans for a sequel. I know, that makes me rare among YA authors.

Mandy: It ends very well in itself. A complete story. All credits and debits balanced, magically and emotionally.

Erin: I won't rule out a companion book -- there are secondary characters in this book that I like -- but I feel as if Kate's story is told. She is not going to go on and save some different city. in book two. Right now I'm working on a few things that are entirely independent. I'm so glad you liked it, Mandy. Wordsworth is my bookstore, you know. A little slip taped to the cover there means as much as a starred review elsewhere.
Follow the full blog tour for Plain Kate and enter to win a copy of the book each time! See below for blog stops and dates. Good luck!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Industry Bigmouths: How Book Bloggers are Changing the Publishing Industry

When I started blogging last year I was amazed when publishers and those in marketing were paying attention to my posts. I would write a book review or offer a book for giveaway and I'd get an email offering an author to interview or another book for a contest. I started noticing that I was on industry emailing lists for online promotion, and it was happening for a lot of other book blogs, that I could see.

I think it's fascinating, the role that bloggers are playing in the publishing industry. As reviewers and "industry bigmouths" (a positive term for bloggers and online promoters within the publishing industry), book bloggers have changed the way books are promoted and popularized.

And I wanted to know more, so I turned to a fantastically smart and insightful lady who not only maintains her own book blog, A Certain Bent Appeal, she was also recently promoted to Online Marketing Coordinator at Penguin Canada. Her name is Bronwyn Kienapple and I couldn't wait to chat with her about the world of book blogs and publishing!

Mandy: You are the online marketing coordinator at Penguin Canada. 1) Holy Cow and 2) what do you do in a day?

Bronwyn: :) 1) It's pretty much my dream job. I started as the publicity assistant here two years ago but eventually began adding tasks to my job description that looked a lot more like online marketing. These included helping to build Penguin's Bloggers & Books Network. And I also started infiltrating online communities like LibraryThing, the Ning Book Bloggers page, and also contributing to the corporate twitter account @penguincanada. Now I get to do all of this full-time, which is amazing.

2) I do social media marketing. And I do updates, and update our microsites such as, etc. I also write the business to business newsletter, among other duties.

Mandy: And what is the Bloggers and Books Network? I've checked it out, but what is its function on the publishing end? Did you help develop it?

Bronwyn: Our former online marketing manager, Christina Ponte, built the concept. The Bloggers & Books Network is a network of top Canadian book bloggers. Interested bloggers can fill out the questionnaire at​k. The results come back to me and I enter that person into our database. They are then eligible to receive advance review copies of Penguin books. Myself, or one of our publicists, will email select bloggers based on their interests and they have a chance to receive a copy to review. So on my end, what I did was build relationships with these bloggers, find out their specific interests/reading preferences, and get books out to them that they'd enjoy reading/talking about.

The function of the Bloggers & Books Network is to get top Canadian bloggers talking about Penguin books. But selfishly, it's allowed me to meet some really cool Canadian book people too.

Mandy: Yeah I bet you've met some great bloggers via the network. I love the level of community online with book bloggers in particular. I'm fascinated by the rise in blogging and how popular it's become to the publishing industry. You must have seen this rise? How did it start, what were the signs? How do publishers see book blogs?

Bronwyn: When I first joined Penguin in 2008 our involvement with bloggers was minimal. This has only really exploded in the past year. People were interested in talking to bloggers but they needed to be educated on the purpose of blogs, the impact these blogs had on consumer purchasing habits etc. Now there is much more acceptance as to the role blog reviews have in getting the word out about our titles. I noticed in the US this year a lot of bloggers participated in Book Expo America and also that they had their own specific networking events. I see major publishers talking up bloggers all the time on twitter. Publishers have really caught on to how powerful some of these bloggers can be. A good example is Tricia Woods' Hey Lady blog. She has a lot of followers. She influences a lot of people.

This is a major sign that publishers take bloggers seriously. I think publishers see bloggers the way they see independent booksellers. In that they are hand-selling books to the consumer. It is one thing to run ads, to have a print review run in the Globe, to buy placement at Indigo. But a recommendation from a trusted bookseller has a higher likelihood of influencing a sale. It's a much more genuine, trusted interaction…

Mandy: you're awesome.

Bronwyn: Same thing with bloggers - they build a readership. The readers come to know the blogger and feel as if they are a trusted source, if they come to agree with that bloggers' book choices. Thus, any recommendation they make is much more likely to affect purchasing habits than most anything else.

*whew* typing at warp speed here!

Mandy: There is something about a personal recommendation made available by an actual reading blogger. Does it help that the blogger is seen as unbiased? I mean, Penguin sends ARCs out, but that never means a blogger has to say anything good about the book or even post about it?

Bronwyn: Absolutely. Some bloggers are clearly biased in that they are looking to receive products and thus don't want to print anything negative. But the same can happen with print journalists. Readers will sniff out this tendency. The bloggers we want to deal with are ones who are unbiased, who will tell their readers exactly what they think of a book, while still being fair. When I send out a book for review there is the understanding that the blogger will review it but I'd rather they posted their honest opinion than one that is skewed towards the positive. If their readers don't trust the blogger to be honest, then there is less of a chance they will jump to purchase a book if a good review is printed. We want this to happen.

Mandy: So there is no worry about posting a negative review? By that I mean an honest opinion that says "Hey, I just didn't like this book and here's why..."

Bronwyn: If it's searingly bad then obviously I would prefer they not post it but who am I to say? It's their blog so they call the shots. The only thing I dislike is when a blogger cuts down a book "just for the fun of it." But that very rarely happens.

Mandy: Your own personal blog, A Certain Bent Appeal, must give you a great perspective. You're a blogger AND you work within the industry. Is there any trend in blogger-ville that is on the way to happening? Something you see in the near future that will affect the blogging world, or some way the blogs are changing the publishing world?

Bronwyn: Book blogs are becoming much more savvy about marketing themselves, both to their readers and to publishers. As there are many more book bloggers now, they are able to share knowledge and drive traffic to each others' sites etc. This makes them much more powerful. They can also teach each other about how to interact with publishers - who to contact to get review copies, how to format their posts, what extra content they can add (which they can partner with publishers to get - like excerpts, photos, giveaways etc.). Dealing with publishers likely seems overwhelming but book bloggers are now as numerous as soldiers in an army and they have more collective bartering power.

Blogs are changing the publishing world in that the focus is shifting away from traditional print, radio and TV media. These avenues are still extremely important as they attract a large number of readers/listeners/viewer​s but at the same time, there is not as much book coverage to be had as there used to be. Online is expanding at a rapid rate and so publishers' focus is naturally shifting in that direction.

Of course, this takes a degree of savviness in terms of the online world so there is a bit of a learning curve. But not an insurmountable one.

Mandy: It also means that bloggers are coming out of the initial stigma of "anyone can start a blog; who says they are experts in their chosen field?"

Bronwyn: Well that stigma still exists. And to be honest with you, it exists for a reason. It takes a lot of time and hard work for a blogger to build his/her writing skills, readership, design skills etc. to a point where their blog has impact. But this still doesn't discount the casual blogger who has a dedicated (but possibly small) readership. As long as they influence some people (genuinely), then they have a place in the blogging world.

Mandy: Absolutely. The "voice" of a blog always keeps my attention. I love the header for your blog by the way!

Bronwyn: Thank you! I found the image (and used with permission) on deviantart.

Mandy: Oh really? I love how much free stuff there is online to help bloggers out. Content and programs and widgets and such.

Bronwyn: Yes, there is a lot of content and support that can be found online for free. It's just getting the knowledge to use those things that's the hard part!

Mandy: It does take a long time to develop. In your opinion, both as a blogger (and blog reader) and industry person, what are the indicators of a successful book blog? Why do you go back to the blogs you read regularly?

Bronwyn: A successful blog to me as a publishing person is one with strong metrics. And that have a large number of subscribers, either through Google Reader or what have you. Also a high number of comments. And that the blogger takes the time to really market themselves via Facebook, Twitter, online communities, Amazon reviews etc. This means translates as "hugely influential" to me. It's pretty bald, but it's what I look for. But as a blog reader, I look for more subtle things like design, in-depth coverage, writing style, passion etc.

I love a passionate reader who takes the time to really review the book, not just rehash the plot. I love depth of involvement with a text.

Thanks so much, Bronwyn!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Win a hardcover edition of *The Eternal Ones* by Kirsten Miller!

I LOVE the Kiki Strike series, which only consists of two books right now. The third book in the series will focus on master of disguise Betty Bent and is called The Darkness Dwellers.

In the interim, Kirsten has released another non-Kiki Strike book called The Eternal Ones--an epic love affair, reincarnation, and a murdered rock star. Plus 'Ouroboros' is a great word.

Kirsten has been seen around the internet describing The Eternal Ones as "sinister sexy strange". And she mentions being challenged by writing in the third person:

"I love writing in first person because it allows me to adopt a more conversational tone. And make lots of poo jokes. (Seriously, the Kiki books are full of them.) Writing in the third person was a challenge. I know it will sound a bit strange, but when I started The Eternal Ones, I didn't enjoy the sensation of spying on my characters. I got over it after a couple of chapters and let my characters' dialogue be the outlet for my unusual sense of humor" (interview with The Story Siren)

..And make lots of poo jokes. Nice. I kind of love Kirsten Miller.

So win her new book in hardcover! Enter via the form below and, as always, if you choose to pass along info about this contest via facebook, twitter, or if you follow EOS or become a new follower, tell me and be entered TWICE! Good luck!


*Zombies Vs. Unicorns Trailer*

I still fall into the Unicorn camp.

This trailer is awesome. It's short, has kind of stop-animation with 2D drawings, and engages that primal, comic-book nerd need to pair disparate entities together for a match to the death. My favourite part? the disgusting crunching noise at the beginning as the Uni imaples the Zomb.

Also, I wonder, can you have a Uni-Zomb (where the Uni has been bitten and returns as a horned Thestral looking thing) or a Zombuni (Zom-BOO-ni) (which is just a zombie with a horn on its head)? Huh? Ever think of that?

Friday, September 10, 2010

*Win* a Hardcover of *Clockwork Angel* by Cassandra Clare!

So I am back to blogging this week (late this week, I know), and kicking it off with a giveaway for a finished hardcover edition of Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare!

....and I KNEW it! Cliff Nielsen does the cover design. I don't know if you'll remember my love for Cliff, but maybe it's time I contact him for an artist interview. He's designed some great teen books, such as Ice by Sarah Beth Durst. And of course, Clare's earlier series, The Mortal Instruments.

A hypothetical snippet of that interview:

me: "Wow, how do you make it so shiny?!"
Cliff: "...uh,well, you know, I just do my thing..."
me: "FAScinating!"

I have yet to read the complete Mortal Instruments series, starting with City of Bones, but it's definitely on my Soonish list.

Clockwork Angel is the first in a planned series called The Infernal Devices. On her wicked-cool website, Cassandra says that you don't have to have read Mortal Instruments to read Infernal Devices. The latter is a prequel series which compliments the original series and shares a few characters. The world of the Shadowhunters, shared by both series, is well-imagined by the author and she gives a breakdown of its description and laws here. Clockwork Angel is set in an alternate Victorian London, with an Angel-hybrid paranormal/steampunk twist.

I love Cassandra's initial inspiration for the series:

"I actually got the idea for The Infernal Devices before I got the idea for The Mortal Instruments. It started with a strong mental image: the image of a Victorian-era girl and a boy standing on a bridge in London while creepy-looking mechanical monsters came after them. I had always loved the Victorian age in London, and always wanted to write a story set there; I knew I wanted to include steampunk elements, and I knew I wanted there to be a love story. I knew I also wanted to bring in fantasy and magical elements, and that the main character of the story would be a girl with an unusual power — the power to change her appearance and disguise herself as anyone" (full interview)

"standing on a bridge in London while creepy-looking mechanical monsters came after them..." what an awesome image.

So win a copy! Simply enter your name and email into the form below (information is never shared) and cross your fingers! Good luck to everyone. Contest ends September 20th!

Like this giveaway? Want to support this blog or future giveaways hosted by Edge of Seventeen? Pass on the word via Facebook or Twitter.

Glad to be back,



Related Posts with Thumbnails