Author Interview: Mary Lindsey author of Shattered Souls

Mary Lindsey's debut young adult novel, SHATTERED SOULS, is scheduled for release December 8, 2011 from Philomel/Penguin.

Having received a B.A. in English literature with a minor in drama from the University of Houston, she currently teaches acting to children and teens at a private studio in Houston, Texas.

Mary lives with her husband, three kids, two dogs, her daughter's pet rats, an Australian Bearded Dragon, and dozens of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches.

She is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette from the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

Tell us a little bit about your process and how you became a writer.

Like most kids, I composed stories, but I never wanted to be a writer. I was (and am) first and foremost a reader.

I majored in English with a focus on the classics and great works. A majority of my writing in college was literary analysis; in law school, it was technical writing and briefs. I avoided creative writing like the plague. I thought I was terrible at it. It was too hard to come up with stuff that wasn’t lame (It still is).

I started writing several years ago by accident. My daughter had just discovered teen literature and had burned through several popular series. She was lamenting the fact that most male heroes in paranormal books were demons, vampires or some type of inherently evil creature fighting their wicked impulses. She asked me why the hero couldn’t be a “normal” guy who has some kind of special/magical power, but wasn’t evil or didn’t believe himself evil.

I told her that for her birthday, I’d write her a book like that. (To this day, I have no idea why I would offer such a crazy thing. I’d never written fiction and had no desire to do so).

True to my word, I gave her a chapter a day for a month. The result was a 700-page young adult time-travel novel.

It had a cool premise, but was awful—truly awful with respect to craft. Reading a book and knowing what works is one thing; writing one is entirely another.

After spending a month writing 8-12 hours a day, I decided I’d found the perfect job. I LOVED it.

What was your favorite chapter/scene to write and why?

I loved writing the scene in which Alden and Lenzi first soul share. Even though it happens well into the book, it was the first scene I wrote. It was very different when I wrote it over four years ago—much more aggressive and dark.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

The toughest criticism came from an agent when I queried my first novel (which I mentioned in my answer to your first question. It was truly awful). She said a lot of nice things about the full manuscript, then closed with my first honest critique. “It’s a shame,” she wrote, “that your writing doesn’t live up to your premise or characterization.”
In other words, my writing sucked.

I was relieved when I got this rejection because writing was something I could learn. And I did. I read and studied and hired a private coach until I understood the difference between technical writing, of which I had done a lot, and writing fiction.

The best compliment came when Publishers Weekly reviewed Shattered Souls and called my writing “accomplished.” They didn’t just like the book; they mentioned my writing.

In light of my toughest criticism from that agent all those years ago, PW’s words validated all the time and effort spent to learn my craft.

What is easier to write: The first line or the last line?

Oh, the last for sure. I must have had ten first chapters and a hundred first sentences.

What are you working on now?

I’m writing a gothic YA inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s last poem, “Annabel Lee.” I’m excited to be working with Penguin and my editor, Jill Santopolo again on this one.

Thank you so much, Jen, for having me on your blog today. 

A thrilling debut story of death, love, destiny and danger

Lenzi hears voices and has visions - gravestones, floods, a boy with steel gray eyes. Her boyfriend, Zak, can't help, and everything keeps getting louder and more intense. Then Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, who reveals that she's a reincarnated Speaker - someone who can talk to and help lost souls - and that he has been her Protector for centuries.

Now Lenzi must choose between her life with Zak and the life she is destined to lead with Alden. But time is running out: a malevolent spirit is out to destroy Lenzi, and he will kill her if she doesn't make a decision soon.

The Book I'm Most Thankful For....

In case you missed it Beth Revis is holding a contest for Thanksgiving and asking those who enter to create a post about a book they are most thankful for.  I really had to think about what book I was most thankful.  There are many books that I am thankful for, for different reason.  I'm thankful for Twilight for introducing me to blogging and YA books. I'm thankful for Anna and the French Kiss for reminding how amazing contemporary novels can be and that one tiny connection to a character can make the book all the more enjoyable.  After some reflection I think the book I am most thankful for is Harry Potter.  It is the book that got me back into reading.  After being in college and only reading books about chemistry and biology, Harry Potter was the book my little sister gave me to enjoy and enjoy I did.  I found I read and reread the books just to live in that world.  There is something incredibly special about that series and I will always be thankful for being introduced into that world.

So what book or series are you thankful and why?

Author Interview: Phillip W. Simpson author of Rapture

Phillip W. Simpson is the author of over fifty children’s educational books. He has a background in archaeology, and has worked as a curator and archaeologist. The past has always had a huge appeal for Phillip, and he drew on much research for his first young adult novel, RAPTURE, the first in a trilogy to be published by Pear Jam Books.

Could you tell us 5 random facts about yourself?
  1. I used to own a comic shop
  2. My son and I have the exact same birthmarks on the back of our heads
  3. All my tattoos are of science fiction or fantasy characters
  4. My wife told me she was pregnant two days before I finished Rapture (he’s four months old now)
  5. I wanted to be Indiana Jones when I was younger (I trained as an archaeologist).
Tell us a little bit about your process and how you became a writer.
I submitted stories to magazines when I was a boy but never got anywhere. My teachers always thought I’d do something writing related as I was such an avid reader and did pretty well in the subject. Later, in my 20’s, I travelled a lot and used to email my escapades back to my friends. A few of these friends told me I should write a novel. I took their advice but my first novel bombed. By that point I was a teacher. Then I started writing kid’s fiction to be used in schools. The publishers I work for like the fact that I’m a teacher and writer. It’s also good practice for writing novels.

In terms of process, once I come up with a premise and a central character, the rest is relatively easy. I work out the beginning and the end first. The end is the most crucial for me. The rest of the book just gets me from point A to point B in the most interesting way possible. I write chapter summaries but sometimes ignore them completely, depending on my mood. I’ve been caught out before though when I’ve killed someone off that was crucial to a later scene. When I’m on a roll, I’m on a roll. I wrote the last half of Rapture in two weeks (40,000 words). Most of it I kept, too. I actually thought this was a better way to work because I was completely immersed and got a better flow going.

If I haven’t got a commission, I’ll work on my latest novel. Usually, I’ll write for a couple of hours in the evenings. The holidays are pretty much devoted to serious writing. I’ll start at 7am, work through until lunch and then write again until about 4pm when I give my wife and son some much needed attention. It sounds stupid but I’m really motivated at the moment because three of my friends have said they will tattoo my signature on their butts if I sell 50,000 copies.

Why do you feel you had to tell this story?
I love end of the world, post-apocalyptic settings. The whole Rapture scenario I find fascinating and I’ve always been drawn towards pseudo religious fiction. Constantine, for example, is one of my favorite characters of all time.

I’ve always been interested in demons and angels and I think the timing is right. There are all sorts of things going on in the world at the moment that make people think that the end could be coming. Natural disasters, financial disasters, predictions. I also wanted to investigate the concept of nature versus nurture because, as a teacher surrounded by children, I often wonder;  are these children a product of their upbringing or would they have been like that anyway? This led to the inevitable question: Are you evil because you are inherently so or can a loving, nurturing family environment counteract that? Sam embodies this concept.

What was your favorite chapter/scene to write and why?
I really like my opening chapter just because it builds suspense and there’s so much the reader doesn’t know yet. That whole waiting thing while something evil this way comes. I scared myself a little with this chapter. I also really like the chapter where the Black Ridge survivors fight off demons from behind their makeshift fortifications. I love sieges and the preparation that goes into them.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I was told years ago that I tell too much, rather than show. That was hard to take. I like to think I’ve addressed that since but I’ll leave the reader to judge that. My best compliment came from the friend (Brian Doyle) I dedicated Rapture to. He was the brother in law of one of my mates.  He had terminal brain cancer and came along to one of my poker nights and sat next to me. Afterwards, he said to his brother in law, Steve, ‘when are you going to introduce me to that writer friend of yours. I loved his first book. I read it twice.’ Steve told him: ‘you were sitting next to him all night.’ The next time we met, I promised I would dedicate my next book to him. He died shortly afterwards. I think that my novel was the last one he ever read.

Where's your favorite place to write?
I don’t like to be isolated. In our last house, I used the spare bedroom which made me feel a bit disconnected from what was going on. Even though I have the attention span of a goldfish, I don’t mind things going on around me. Since we finally got wireless, I write wherever the mood takes me. Usually in the lounge with the TV blaring in the background. I tune things out easily. My wife tells me that we have conversations while I’m writing but I don’t remember even talking to her. I think a part of my brain that controls social interaction operates on automatic whilst I’m writing. The rest of my mind is completely absorbed in the world I’m creating.

What character do you relate most to?
There’s no character in particular. Sam has some of my traits in that he likes spending time in the outdoors alone. He’s not alone by choice though. I consider myself an introverted extrovert – I like socializing but I like being by myself even more. I’m quite comfortable being by myself. I wrote my first book in an isolated cabin in the Australian bush. I spent a year there by myself with only my dog for company.

If you could have lunch with one of your characters who would it be and why?
Hikari. I love the cool ‘zen’ of him which all swordmasters or sensei seem to possess. Kinda like Yoda. I love Japanese food too, which is no doubt what we would eat.

What is easier to write: The first line or the last line?
Last line. Had that figured out from the start. The first line is really difficult. You have to make sure you capture the reader’s attention completely with just a few words.

What one YA novel do you wish you had when you were a teen?
Harry Potter. When I was growing up, YA didn’t really exist as a genre. I read the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings when I was about eight and then couldn’t find anything that interested me or was suitable. For lack of anything else, I started reading Stephen Donaldson, Julian May, David Eddings and David Gemmell. Stephen Donaldson (The first book of Thomas Covenant features rape, lepers, suicide etc) was particularly unsuitable for a boy my age but because of it, I developed a real taste for science fiction and fantasy. Harry Potter would’ve really filled that gap for me and eased me into adult fantasy rather than throwing me into it.

Do you have things you need in order to write ie. coffee, cupcakes, music?
Caffeine.  I know of some authors who like to listen to music while they write but I just tend to tune everything out.

What are you working on now?
The second book in the Rapture trilogy. It’s called Tribulation. My publisher wants to release it in 2012 so I’ve got my work cut out for me. I’m still in the planning stages but should get a good chunk written over the summer holidays. The third book, Apocalypse is scheduled for 2013 so it’s gonna be a busy couple of years. I’ve just finished some contract work (short books for young readers) and will probably write some more of those before the end of the year.

You can find more information on Phillip and his at

Blog Stop Review: The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

Title: The Faerie Ring
Author: Kiki Hamilton
Release Date: September 27th, 2011

The year is 1871, and Tiki has been making a home for herself and her family of orphans in a deserted hideaway adjoining Charing Cross Station in central London. Their only means of survival is by picking pockets. One December night, Tiki steals a ring, and sets off a chain of events that could lead to all-out war with the Fey. For the ring belongs to Queen Victoria, and it binds the rulers of England and the realm of Faerie to peace. With the ring missing, a rebel group of faeries hopes to break the treaty with dark magic and blood—Tiki’s blood.
Unbeknownst to Tiki, she is being watched—and protected—by Rieker, a fellow thief who suspects she is involved in the disappearance of the ring. Rieker has secrets of his own, and Tiki is not all that she appears to be. Her very existence haunts Prince Leopold, the Queen’s son, who is driven to know more about the mysterious mark that encircles her wrist.
Prince, pauper, and thief—all must work together to secure the treaty…

The Faerie Ring is a fantastic mix of historical fiction, romance and adventure.  Kiki Hamilton has crafted a beautiful story about an orphan with an extraordinary gift. 

First let's start off with the setting.  I love stories set in Victorian England and the setting feels incredibly authentic in this one.  The dialect and dress are perfect for the time period.  Tiki travels from the slums of London to the Royal Palace and Kiki Hamilton doesn't miss a beat.  

Tiki is the main character and a street urchin in Victorian England.  Tiki is also a girl which makes life all the more challenging.  She lives with a group of misfit pick pockets in order to make the best of her situation.  Tiki's pick pocketing adventures lead her to Reiker, the mysterious thief who decides to help and protect Tiki.  All of the characters are well developed and by the end of the story you feel like you are surrounded by friends.  

The story is well paced and will keep you guessing.  What does Tiki's strange birthmark mean and why does Reiker seem so taken aback by it? The questions will keep you turning the pages and the writing will keep you thoroughly entertained. The Faerie Ring is a fantastic read from debut author Kiki Hamilton.  I highly recommend it!

To see all the stops on the blog tour visit the Mundie Moms.  

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Banned Book Blog Hop

Banned Books Week starts today! Every Year the last week of September we celebrate the books that have been banned or challenged.  As a teacher I try to get as many books in the hands of my students.  Interestingly some of the books my students love the most are the ones that have been the most frequently challenged.  One of my favorite quotes is from Judy Blume, queen of being challenged or banned.

"Censors never go after books unless kids already like them.  I don’t think they even know to go after books until they know children are interested in reading this book. Therefore there must be something in it that is wrong."

To celebrate banned book week I will be giving away 2 books.  One from Judy Blume and one from any author on the most frequently challenged list of 2010. (See below)

Most Challenged Authors of 2010: Ellen Hopkins, Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, Sonya Sones, Judy Blume, Ann Brasheres, Suzanne Collins, Aldous Huxley, Sherman Alexie, Laurie Halse Anderson, Natasha Friend

To win a challenged book enter using the form below.  Also check out the entire Banned Books Blog Hop at I am a Reader Not A Writer

River of Time Blog Tour: Dreamy Itinerary in Tuscany

A Dreamy Itinerary in Tuscany
River of Time Blog Tour Stop #6

One of my favorite places in the world is Tuscany, or Toscana as the natives call it, in Italy. Two years ago, my husband and I escaped for a week in a villa, all to ourselves. With three kids and a dog, this was a major coup. And we’ll always look back at it as a trip we long to repeat.

If you fall in love with Toscana while reading the River of Time series, you too can go and explore. (Haven’t read the River of Time Series? Gasp! Catch an immediate Tuscany fix by reading Waterfall, Cascade and Torrent!) If you’re going, look for a villa to rent, preferably centrally located. We stayed near Montepulciano and Pienza at Terra di Nano, which offers both a private villa and lovely rooms in a larger building. It was to die for. To. Die. For.

So, right. Onto The Dream Itinerary…

DAY 1-2: Thursday-Friday

You’ll need ten days away to take full advantage of a villa, which is typically rented Saturday-Saturday, and taking into account the time it takes to get there and back. Take off on a Thursday from the USA, flying into Rome or Florence (arriving Friday, mid-afternoon), and spend the night just outside of Orvieto in a lovely inn named Locata Rosati. Be sure to reserve a spot at dinner with Giampero, the lovely host who enjoys fabulous evening meals with his guests, generously pouring his private label chianti.

DAY 3: Saturday

Hop the road early to check out Siena, one of the finest medieval towns in all of Tuscany (and featured in Waterfall). The big things to see here: the amazing, shell-shaped piazza, called Il Campo, the public building at the bottom (climb the bell tower to the top; it’s worth it); the gothic cathedral with jaw-dropping inlaid floors. Shop for groceries by two (stores are closed on Sunday and it can be crazy!), and check into your villa. Settle in, sit outside, smell the basil and rosemary and lavender on the air.

DAY 4: Sunday

Sleep in a little, grab some breakfast and decide where you want to go first. I’d head to Montalcino, a lovely medieval village known for it’s brunello wine and coming to Siena’s aid against Florence, back in the day. Walk the walls of the castle fortress (fortezza) to take in amazing views that stretch for miles. Shop for just the right bottle of vino to have with your evening meal. Return to your villa in time to watch the sunset.

DAY 5: Monday

Sleep in (this is a lovely, languid, relaxing vacation, remember!), break your fast, and drive to the relatively undiscovered Southern border of Tuscany to see the very cool Etruscan-roots village of Pitigliano, the Etruscan tombs described in Cascade, and the cascading hot spring pools of Saturnia, once frequented by Romans. Bring your suit—you’ll definitely want to get in with the locals. And it’s free!

DAY 6: Tuesday

Did you sleep in? Good! On this day you could head to someplace closer, such as the most “perfect Renaissance town” of Pienza. Tour the pope’s family palace, lingering on the deck to see Toscana from a different vantage point. Along the outer wall, you can grab a glass of wine and hang out for a while. It’s lovely.

DAY 7: Wednesday

On this day, you’ll have to get up early in order to grab a train to Florence, or Firenze, as they call it. Trust me, you don’t want to drive in or out. It’s as insane as Rome for tourists on the road. You’ve purchased tickets in advance to the Uffizi and Accademia (why hello there, David), so you can go straight to the front of the line and check out the most famous artwork in all of Italy. (You could spend days in this city—just hit the highlights, unless you’re an art freak, and tell yourself you’ll return.) For dinner, head to the northern edge of town for a fabulous feast at the trattoria where I celebrated my 40th, Il Latini. Return late, via train, and fall into bed.

DAY 8: Thursday

Rest and recover, heading out later to explore another nearby hilltop town or just drive about, soaking it in. San Gimignano with all the towers (very touristy)? The ghostly San Galgano, abandoned, roofless abbey outside of Siena and possible source of the Sword in the Stone legend (featured in Torrent)? A tiny village, barely a point on the map, that you feel the urge to check out? The point is to follow your nose and enjoy…

DAY 9: Friday

Drive to Montepulciano, perhaps one of the most famous hilltop towns, because of its succulent wine and lovely, curving streets. It’s touristy, but because of its size and setting, doesn’t feel that way. Good shopping, and especially good eats at Osteria Acquacheta. Head back to your villa to enjoy your last evening!

DAY 10: Saturday

Check out, head to Roma or Firenze, hop your plane and lean back, reliving all the memories you just made.

Lisa Bergren is the author of over thirty books, including the River of Time Series, as well as a travel blogger. For links to all the places she described above, see her posts on She’s heading back to Italy with her daughter in October, focusing on Rome and Venice for research, but she’ll be screaming in agony as her train zips by Tuscany.

Be sure to check out all the tour stops and the giveaway at MundieMoms!

Review: Griffin Rising by Darby Karchut

Title: Griffin Rising
Author: Darby Karchut
Publisher:Twilight Times Books
Release Date: June 28,2011

For centuries, rumors have abounded of a lowly caste of supernatural beings known as the Terrae Angeli. Armed with the power to control Earth, Fire, Wind, and Water, these warriors secretly serve as guardians for mortals in danger. But for one young angel-in-training, Griffin, life is hell as a cruel master makes his apprenticeship a nightmare. On the verge of failing, a new mentor, Basil, enters his life and changes it forever. Taking on the identity of father and son, Griffin and Basil forge a special bond where honesty and trust go hand in hand to secure Griffin's destiny as a Terrae Angeli. Griffin's belief in himself and the love of a mortal girl are the perfect combination in overcoming the darkest days of his life. But will it be enough for him to succeed? For Griffin, it's time to angel up.

Darby Karchut debut novel, Griffin Rising, is a great read.  I must admit I was a little worried about reading angels as that typically isn't my thing however this unique look at angels completely drew me in.  In this story the angels walk the Earth as guardians for humans and have the power to control earth, wind, fire and water. This is completely different from any other book I've read about angels. 

Griffin is a very likable character and you want him to succeed.  The story is told through journal entries, flashbacks and present action.  I really liked the journal entries as they gave insight into multiple characters and layer the story in a way that adds depth.  The various forms of storytelling also keep the pace moving making the book very hard to put down. 

One of the highlights of the book for me is the relationship between Basil and Griffin.  The relationship grows throughout the book and is enjoyable read.  I especially liked that there was a parental figure in the book as so often that is missing in YA.  Basil, at times, is tough on Griffin however it only authenticates the relationship they have.  

This was a great read and I recommend it!!

Griffin Rising on Amazon

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So after years of being an avid reader with little outlet to discuss all the fantastic books I read I have decided to blog about them. So welcome to my world of books and babelings!

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SoullessThe Cinderella SocietyDarkfeverThe Iron KingBrightly WovenSunshine

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