Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Stacey Voss, Author of THUNDER AND BLOOD, Virtual Tour Stop!!

OfficiallyMRS is hosting the first stop the virtual tour for Stacey Voss's Thunder and Blood!!

I have read a lot of vampire books. More than my fair share and certainly more than I ever intended to read. So many vampire books that when my father and I were talking about one of my favorite fictional characters at lunch, he asked in his sarcastic tone, "Well, Mary, is he a vampire?"

("no, dad, he's a faerie. Don't you listen?" I replied)

But this one sticks out from the rest. Thunder and Blood is a thrilling story about what happens when you drift through the fog,turn to the person (or dog) closest to you and say "Toto, I don't think we are in Kansas (or in this case, Thunder Bay, anymore)." But instead of a beautiful place with a Yellow Brick road, you enter a world of creatures you thought were meerly myths. Stacey Voss has created a brilliant story that will undoubtedly keep you on the edge of your seat.

When Sarah Ingram and her sister Christine left Thunder Bay on a chilly November afternoon, they thought that they were going on a weekend getaway, leaving their problems behind. What they didn't realize was that they would end up in a world that was, in many ways, very different from their own, but at the same time eerily familiar. Separated almost at once, the two women found themselves struggling to come to terms with the reality of their situation. How did this world become so different from the one they knew? What secrets were their new 'friends' hiding from them? Was it possible that there could be more to the vampire stories from their own world than simple myth?
With a well thought out story, well developed characters, and a writing style that kept me interested, Stacey Voss has gone above and beyond the call of duty for a first time author. Why this book was never picked up by a major publishing company, I will never know. I hope to be seeing much, much more from her. 11 out of 10 stars.
As apart of her Virtual Tour stop, Stacey agreed to do a mini-interview with me by choosing her five favorite quesitons from my previous interview with Victoria Schwab!

Did you always know that you wanted to be a writer?
I wrote my very first short story when I was five years old. I kept at it all through elementary and high school. I never imagined I'd be able to write a whole novel. Novels are HARD! I would always get stuck in that dreaded editing loop, where you get to a certain point and can't get any further because you just can't resist going back through what you've written already. Nanowrimo helped me to get past that because the whole goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days without editing at all. I managed it despite being on my honeymoon for two of the weeks.

What is your favourite part about being a writer?
I love watching my characters develop. The coolest thing is when they do something completely unexpected and I just sit back after writing it out and wonder "where did THAT come from?" Thunder and Blood developed like that. Lord Radek's late night discussion with Christine was like that. Whenever I'd get stuck I'd go sit somewhere quiet (usually in the bath) and just picture myself in a conversation with my characters. I'd really try to get into their heads and figure out what they, as a real person, would do in that situation. I know it sounds crazy, but I never claimed to be completely sane. :P

What advice can you give to young adults who want to write professionally when they are older?
Write as much as you can, and get involved in any writing activities offered by your school or community. Most importantly, constantly strive to improve and learn to take constructive criticism and learn from it. My writing is like my baby, and my first reaction when someone doesn't like something is to get upset. You need to learn to step back, breath, and look objectively at your own work from the other person's point of view. You may decide to take their advice (or not) but at the very least it gives you a glimpse into the mind of a different type of reader.

How did you get the idea for your book?
I first got the idea when I was a teenager, driving through the countryside just outside of my city. I was just cruising around, probably thinking about boys, when this incredibly thick fog just seemed to come out of nowhere. It was exactly like I described it in my book – that's where I got the image of the fog sliding over the windshield like a silk sheet. It was terrifying at the time, but when I finally emerged from the fog unscathed, I thought, "Wow, what a cool idea for a book!"
It took me several years before I actually used the idea and the first time I attempted to write Thunder and Blood (which was called something completely different at the time) I stopped very early on. It was put away again for about 8 years before I actually wrote it during the 2007 Nanowrimo.

How do you come up with your characters? Do you base them off of people you know?
Well, Sarah was developed when I first attempted to write the story. She was based off of where I was at, emotionally and physically, when I was about 24. People always ask me if Sarah is me, and I try to explain that she is who I was back then. I'm a very different person now, having remarried and lived in Europe for three years.
Adelaide is the only other character based off of someone I know, and that's only physically. My best friend is a beautiful red-head and I wanted to include someone like that in the book.
Other than those two, all of my characters are completely fictional.

One response that I found intriguing was the fact that Stacey wrote this book during NaNoWriMo, something that I just registered for today. Maybe someday you all will be reading my NaNoWriMo work as well and hopefully liking it as much as I liked Stacey's!

To find out more about Stacey and her book, Thunder and Blood, you can visit her author site, follow her on twitter, join her Facebook fan page or group, find her on Myspace, look her up on Shelfari, Goodreads, and Gather. You can also view her book trailers (Video 1 and Video 2) on Youtube. To purchase Thunder and Blood you can either click on the cover image of her book above or go to Cafe Press, although she does email free PDFs of Thunder and Blood by request on her site!
In honour of her Virtual Book Tour, Stacey going to let me offer my readers 25% off the normal book price (10.99 US) using the discount code 3Z8WYLY2 on the printer’s storefront. That code will be active until November 30th. So go buy your book!! Trust me when I tell you, you won't regret it!!
Thank you Stacey for letting me host this virtual tour!! It was a pleasure and I hope that you will include me in future tours!!
More to come,

Monday, September 28, 2009

Stacey Voss Virtual Tour

Stacey Voss, the author of Thunder and Blood, will be starting her virtual tour this thursday (October 1st), with OfficiallyMRS as her first stop. As a part of the tour, Stacey will be on OfficiallyMRS from 8am-4pm EST answering the questions posted by readers on the site. I just thought I would let you know so that you can start to think up some questions for her!!
More to come,

Wednesday, September 23, 2009



I just got an interview with Melissa De La Cruz about the Van Alen Legacy!! Squeel!

Just thought I'd let you know!


Monday, September 21, 2009

Where Are YOU From?

Hey Guys,
I am sorry that I haven't posted in a while. I am really busy READING and keeping up with my homework, but here is a list of great things to come on OfficiallyMRS.
I am going to be announcing the winner of the book contest tomorrow! You only have a few more hours to sign up!
I am in the process of writing a review for "Hex Hall" (ARC) and interviewing the author, the wonderful Rachel Hawkins.
I am participating in the virtual tour of Stacy Voss, author of Thunder and Blood on October 1st.
I am going to several book signings for sure the one for Melissa De La Cruz (and a few maybes if I can convince my parents: Cassandra Clare, Holly Black.)
I am about to do an author interview and review with Courtney Summers, author of Cracked Up to Be.
I am about to do a review of my advanced copy of The Van Alen Legacy by Melissa De La Cruz.

I have a question for all of you guys: I have been noticing I am getting a lot of international hits. If you are reading this, can you comment on what country you are from? This is just a curiosity thing to see where my readers are all reading from!! Thanks!
More to come,

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Melissa De La Cruz Book Tour

On October 8th, I will be taking another adventure, this time to the Barnes and Nobles in Skokie to meet Melissa De La Cruz. I am a huge fan of her books (btw, in case you didnt get the memo- I have in my possesion the ARC of Van Alen Legacy. I am working on it!!). Not only am I freaking excited to meet her but I am also very anxious about the following instructions:

Come dressed in your Blue Bloods finest and celebrate with me at a Van Alen Legacy vampire Ball! Reading, signing and beauty give-aways!

This is probably the most ridiculous and girly thing I will ever say.
What should I wear?
Any advice giver will win my undying gratitude and affection.
Make me look like a vampire.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Interview with Victoria Schwab

And now for my first ever author interview... drum roll please....

Victoria Schwab is YA lit author who is represented by Amy Tipton at FinePrint Literary Management. Disney Hyperion just bought her novel, The Near Witch, the first of hers ever to be published!! She was nice enough to do this author interview with me!! So here goes...

What is your full name?

Victoria Elizabeth Schwab

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Sacramento, CA and my family moved to Nashville when I was three, then back to San Jose, CA, and finally back to Nashville. So I basically split my childhood between the two.

How old are you?

Where did you go to school?

After attending an all girls' southern prep school (don't laugh!) I just graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, with a degree in book design.

Do you have siblings?

I am an only child! But I try to be as much work as two or three children, to make the family feel bigger.

Now for some legitimate questions about her book and the writing industry:

Did you always know that you wanted to be a writer?

I always wanted to work with words. I grew up on Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss, and then Blake, and when I was young I practically thought in rhyme. I didn't try my hand at fiction until I got to college, and I didn't try writing a book until my junior year. I tried every other genre first (poetry, screenwriting, short fiction) because I was determined I would be terrible at full-length fiction.

What is your favorite part about being a writer?

Aside from the incredible energy and enthusiasm of the writing community, particularly YA, I just love the way words sound. I love putting them together and listening to the way they work and flow. I love telling stories, and I love the WAYS you can tell them.

What advice can you give to young adults who want to write professionally when they are older?

I can't stress the importance of exposure. Expose your eyes and your minds to everything you can. Read books, of course, but also look around, and just generally be a sponge. Everything you encounter has a story, or can have one. I've been most inspired by the things I stumble on, from my morning walks to foreign cities to forgotten corners.

How in the world did you get published at 22!? How did you find time to write in college? Not even Meg Cabot got published until her thirties!!

The to-be-published at 22, NOT EASY. I didn't start writing full-length fiction until college, though (I wrote poetry in high school, much of it remarkably bad :p but it gave me a feel for words and the way they flow together that I try to capitalize on in fiction). In college, I took a few fiction courses, and between my Soph and Junior year I wrote a book! And I was happy, but it wasn't very good, and I put it away, and focused on school. The next summer, an agent named Nathan Bransford hosted a dialogue contest, so I pulled the book back out, and entered, and got third!
The prize was a query critique, but he loved the query and the story (I was 20 at this point) and he wanted to read the partial, then the full. During this time I polished up the book I'd shelved, and queried other agents, and thirteen days later I signed with Amy Tipton at FP, who I ADORE. But this book DIDN'T sell. It went on sub for months and months, and in February of this year, I started NEAR WITCH, to keep my sanity. And then in the summer, NW went out on sub! Right after my 22nd Bday. And then a couple weeks ago, it sold!

Well, by the time THE NEAR WITCH comes out, I'll be 23! Time flies.
I'll just add that I made time. If I had tried to find time, I never would have been able to. But it's almost always there, if you make it work. I set aside an hour here or there, and when I couldn't write, I thought about it. I joke that I did most of my plot work staring at the stripe on the swimming pool floor. If you can make space in your head to think about your stories, you can carve out time to write them down. That said, I didn't do much sleeping.

What are some of the books that have most influenced you as a writer and/or a person? What were your favorite books growing up? What are some of your favorite books currently? Any favorite authors?

Shel Silverstein influenced the way I saw the world, and still see it. As did fairy tales (I love fairy tales and folklore). The Giver, The Princess Bride, and the Secret Garden were some of my favorite stories (secret gardens seems to come up a lot in my writing, actually). I spent my teens with Harry Potter, so that definitely influenced me, too.

How did you get the ideas for your books? How do you come up with your characters? Do you base them off of people you know?

It's always a bit different, and I don't recommend my approach, but I always start with an image, or a line. I love words, and I love the way they sound, so I'll get a sentence sometimes that I love, and then unfold the story around it.
With my first book, the one that hasn't sold (my editor might decide she wants it), it is called THE SHADOW MILE. And it all started with an image of a door standing in an empty lot, without a room behind, just standing there, half-rotted. I walked past the door a few times on my daily walks in real life, and always wondered what it might have led to, once.
With THE NEAR WITCH, however, it was a line. The very first line of the book. "The wind on the moors is a tricky thing." I wrote that line, and had no idea what it meant. I went back to it six months later, and felt like the story was there, sitting and waiting for me.
It always starts its own way. You just have to keep your eyes open, and ask questions :)

My main characters are never people I know, though I do tend to base secondary characters on people I've met, teachers I've had, relatives...My main characters do, however, tend to embody something I don't, some trait I wish I possessed.

Tell us about Near Witch!! What should we look forward to seeing in this book? Will there be a sequel?

The Near Witch is fairy-tale like story set in northern England. Here's the shorter pitch:

There’s an old ghost story in the town of Near. It tells of a witch that lived
on the edge of the village, and gobbled up all the darkness, and sang the hills to sleep, and loved the children almost as much as the garden she kept beside her house.
Sixteen-year-old Lexi Harris, the daughter of a tracker, has heard
the stories her entire life, first from her father, and then from old Magda and Marta, who might be witches themselves. Everyone loves to tell the story, but everyone knows a different ending. Some say that the Near Witch blew away on a gust of wind. Others tell of darker things. Of murders and curses and buried bones.
To Lexi, they’ve always been stories, nothing more. But when a strange
and silent boy walks into the village of Near, and then the wind begins to lure children from their beds at night, she starts to wonder if there’s any truth in them. Could the Near Witch be more than a ghost story?

There is romance! And mystery. And suspense. There's also a different take on the meaning of "witch." In my book, it's not someone with a crooked nose who leans over a cauldron. It's something else. It has to do with the way we interact with the world. It's about the balance between man and nature, and those who are more earth and stone than flesh and blood. As far as sequels/prequels/companions, nothing official :)

Who is your favorite character in Near Witch?

I love all my characters :)

If you could pick one character in Near Witch to be real, who would you choose?

I would love it if the stranger, whose name is Cole, could be real. I have a crush on him :) I have a soft spot for wild + mystery + brooding.

If you could be one character in your book, who would it be?
If I could BE a character it would be my narrator, Lexi. I adore writing her, and she's a really strong, independent girl. I admire her.

What are you most excited to tell us about your book?

I just can't wait to share The Near Witch with you guys. I hope you fall for the characters and their world the way I did writing it. And I hope that, while you're somewhere between the two covers, your own world falls away. That's all I could ever want.

What are some things you were surprised about during the publishing/editing process?

It's a lot of work! And it's not all writing. AND even though it seems like it takes forever for a book to come out, there is a lot that has to happen, and the deadlines are pretty fast!

These are some goofy personal questions:

What is your favorite movie? Favorite TV show of the moment?

Movies: This changes ALL the time, so it's hard, but as far as shows: I am in love with Dexter, and True Blood, and So You Think You Can Dance. It's an eclectic mix :p

What was you favorite/ least favorite part of high school/being a teenager?

Well, I went to an all-girls southern prep school, and my favorite part was not having to think about what to wear (uniforms). My least favorite part was that I was one of the ONLY girls that wasn't a native Nashvillian, or a Debutante, so I often felt excluded.

Favorite song/artist of the moment?

My current obsessions: Blue Foundation, Tegan and Sara, A Fine Frenzy, Coldplay, Mirah, and Ludo.

Favorite color?

Slate blue.

Have any pets?

Haha, YES. I've always had animals growing up, and right now there are five. Three dogs: a golden retriever named Sammie, a terrier named Mitzi, and my 16-month-old puppy (a mutt including but not limited to golden, collie, and German Shepherd) Kuma. Two cats: Loki, and Oliver.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

England. No question. My mom's British, and I've always felt more at home on English soil.

If you were trapped on a desert island and you could only bring 3 items and 1 person with you, what/who would they be?

I'd bring The Princess Bride, a hunting knife, sunscreen (I am of the paler variety), and Bear Grylls, from the show Man vs. Wild. He seems like he knows what he's doing.

If the world was being invaded by aliens and you just won five million dollars in the lottery, what would you do with it?

I'd buy books! One, because I never have money to buy as many books as I'd like, and two, because maybe I could use them to barter with the aliens. I might also buy a place in England. And another cat.

Personally, I am really excited about this book! It sounds like it has all of the makings of what will be a fantastic story: suspense, romance, putting a new spin on what we think fairy tales and folklore are and that one creepy character that makes you wonder what the helk is going? on while still being drawn to them. My one disappointment: this book doesn't come out until 2011 :(. Still, I'm glad that I have something great to look forward too! Thank you Victoria for doing this interview with me!! I had a blast and you couldn't have been nicer! Keep me updated :P!! You can find out more about Victoria by reading her blog!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rest in Peace, Dr. Skalinder.

An unrelated note: one of my favorite teachers died today. He went by Dr. Skal and he was a great man with a big heart and a love for learning, the sciences, his family and his students. We all loved him and I was extremely fortunate to get to know him. He died too young. When we all remember our losses tommorow as it is the 9/11 aniversary, please keep him in mind.
Dr. Skal- you will be missed.
More to come,

Some Exciting YA News

Some very quick YA lit news...
  1. Disney Hyperion is going to be publishing a new series by Maureen Johnson. Yea!! Click here to read the press release!
  2. The first episode of The Vampire Diaries based off of the popular YA series by just had its first episode! All of you Twilight fans, get excited. From what I've seen, they are very similar. The Edward equivalent even kind of looks like Emmett....
  3. I just posted the countdown for the New Moon movie. Get excited.

More to come,


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Heist Society (ARC)

Have you ever wanted out of the life you were given? Wanted to distance yourself from the the family, or occupation, you were born into? That's exactly how Kat feels about her family and their chosen occupation, being some of the greatest and most notorious art thieves in the world (or art distributors as Kat likes to put it). In order to leave her con artist life, Katarina Bishop plans a con of her own, wiggling her way into one of the most prestigious boarding schools on the planet, Colgan.

That is where Hale comes in. The super-spicy, super-rich, mysterious and mischievous thief who has been Kat's friend since Kat broke into his house to steal his Monet (unsuccessfully, I might add). Hale gets Kat kicked out of Colgan with a little stunt involving the Principal's car and a fountain as he has recently discovered that Kat's dad has been falsely accused of stealing the paintings of a rather dangerous man, Arturo Taccone. With a deadline of 2 weeks set by Taccone, Kat leaves with Hale and a few members of her family to accomplish an impossible task, find and steal back Taconne's paintings before Kat's dad gets hurt. Friendship, romance, betrayal, threats, and danger are always present as Kat and her friends set off on a whirlwind adventure around Europe.
Here is a synopsis from the book jacket...

When Katarina Bishops was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre... to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Australia... to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own - scamming herself into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving "the life" for a normal life proves harder than she'd expected. Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring her back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat's dad needs her help. For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family's history- and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

From the bestselling author of I'd Tell you I Love You but Then I'd Have to Kill, Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy, and most recently Don't Judge a Girl by her Cover, Ally Carter, comes a thrilling story about art and the people who steal it.

Told from a 3rd person narration (verses the first person narration in the Gallagher Girl series), the plot and characters in Heist Society are ones that could undoubtedly be found in the same world that Ally created in the Gallagher Girl series. I wouldn't be surprised if one day Cammie and Zach were tracking down Kat and Hale. Both Kat and Cammie have training, language skills, and stealth that the average teenager does not have.

I loved this book as much, if not more than Ally's other books. I thought that the style of writing was much more mature so that teens my age felt comfortable reading it. I found that the characters were strong and realistic and that the plot was well thought out so that pieces of the story that you wouldn't think were important at the time are crucial to the resolution. In fact, I may have to read it again just so that I can pick up on all of the clues found in the beginning pages of the book. This book was really addicting and absorbing, so make sure that you have a long chunk of time where you can just sit down and read because you are not going to want to set this story down. If you liked the Gallagher Girl books, you will love Heist Society as well!

Thank you Ally for the AMAZING read!! I can't wait to see the official cover art! Also, thank you Molly over at Disney Hyperion for sending me this Advance Reader's Copy! It has been on my "I cannot wait until that book comes out, mark it on my calendar, countdown the days" book list since I first heard that Ally had another series coming out when I went to her book signing in Naperville.

Heist Society comes out February 2010. To learn more about Ally Carter and her books you can go to her author website, read her blog, or you can follow her on twitter!
More to come,


Monday, September 7, 2009

On My To Be Read List

School has started, much to my disappointment, and therefore the reviews are going to be slowing down a bit. But that doesn't mean they aren't going to happen. To give you all an idea of what's coming up and what books I am really excited to read are, I have decided to post my now explosive TBR pile. Here goes:
I just finished:
Heist Society by Ally Carter (ARC- release date February 2010) *starts jumping up and down*
I am about to start:
1) The Van Alen Legacy: A Blue Bloods Novel by Melissa De La Cruz (ARC- publishing date October 6, 2009)
2) Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins (ARC- release date March 2010)
These all will be read, though not necessarily in this order:
3) Secrets of Truth and Beauty by Frazer
4) Girlfriend Material (recently release ARC copy) by Kantor
5) Cracked Up to Be by Summers
6) Keeping Corner by Sheth
7) Karma for Beginners by Blank
8) Alphas (recently release ARC copy) by Lisi Harrison
9) Skeleton Creek by Carman
10) Psych Major Syndrome by Thompson
11) Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison
12) Fairest of All by Valentino
It's a pretty big list. Thanks so much to Molly at Disney Hyperion and Suzie at Fineprint Literary Agency for sending me all of these books!! I really appreciate it! I am so excited!!!
More to come,

Friday, September 4, 2009

How to Spot an Author in a Crowd

There are things that you notice when you've grown up around the arts. Or at least things you notice when you pay attention. String players lead with their heads, allowing their intellectual abilities to guide them forward both physically and mentally. Piano players lead with their hands. Dancers lead with their torsos. And the sign of a good actor is the seemingly deliberate and fluid actions that they make with a looseness and relaxed manner that suggests they could slip into any role of which they have been assigned, forming it and making it their own in a way only one who is stealing anothers identity can do, something I have tried and failed to master. Maybe that's why I've failed. Maybe I try to hard.
But as writer, we do the same thing. We steal the fictional identities of the people whose lives we control, molding it like a piece of clay until it's exactly how we like it. We lead with our hearts, working to rip the bits and pieces of our recollections and observations, bleeding it onto the pages that others, if we are lucky, will read. So where you might be able to spot a woodwind player in a city or an actor in a crowd, how do you spot an author?
The answer: They will always have a book with them.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Winner of The Book Playlist!!

A few days ago, I put up a contest to win a book play list by me and the winner was decided today. So I would like to congratulate elaing8 for winning this contest! If you could either post your email address or shoot me an email at so that you can pick a book off of my blog for me to make a mix for, that would be great! If you do not respond in the next week, I will choose someone else to recieve the book playlist!
I will also post the mix here to OfficiallyMRS when I am done with it, but the physical CD will be sent to elaing8!! Thank you to all of my followers for joining OfficiallyMRS. I really appreciate it!
More to come,

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