Monthly Archives: September 2011

Swoon by Nina Malkin: Trivia Contest #2

Every Friday during our countdown to Swear by Nina Malkin, we’re offering up fun trivia questions based on the first book — Swoon — for your chance to win a set of both books! (And hey, if you already have your own copy of Swoon — you can give the extra one to a friend, then read Swear yourself!)

Each trivia question is based on information that can be found within the pages of Swoon — so if you don’t know, just flip open those pages.

Everyone who submits a correct answer will be entered each week to win a copy of Swoon and Swear by Nina Malkin.

Trivia Question:

What is Dice’s street address in the town of Swoon, CT?

Submit your response in the Week 2 Trivia Contest Form, along with all the pertinent info.

The Prize:

One (1) from this week will receive copies of Swoon and Swear by Nina Malkin

The Rules:

  • One entry per person
  • Use the entry form
  • U.S. only

The Deadline:

All entries are due by Thursday, October 6th at midnight (PT).

Questions? Leave ‘em in the comments & we’ll reply!

Win The Hunger Games Mockingjay-style Halloween Pumpkin

Want to celebrate Halloween in a literary fashion? How about with your very own Mockingjay pumpkin inspired by The Hunger Games?

You could make your own (there’s a spiffy pattern you can grab online here) — or you could win one that’s already finished & ready to go.

Novel Novice contributor Christie is a crafting pro when it comes to creating Halloween pumpkins. For years, we’ve featured her work on our old sister site, Novel Novice Twilight, where she created plenty of pumpkins with Bella, Edward, Jacob and others. She even won a contest on MTV for her creations!

Now, Christie has made a Mockingjay pumpkin — and we’re giving YOU a chance to win it! Here are the details:

The Contest

Tell us which character from The Hunger Games you’d most like to dress up as for Halloween (or for the movie premiere). Bonus points if you send us a photo. (Bonus points don’t actually get you anything, except our love & admiration … and yeah, we’ll probably post it on the site.)

Just fill out the Novel Novice Mockingjay Pumpkin Contest Entry Form for your chance to win!

The Prize:

One (1) winner will receive a hand-carved, 9″ craft foam pumpkin with the Mockingjay symbol (pictured, below) and a light. We’ll ship the pumpkin so you have it in time for Halloween!

The Rules:

  • One entry per person
  • U.S. only
  • Use the entry form

The Deadline:

All entries must be received by Friday, Oct. 7th

Questions? Leave ’em in the comments & we’ll reply!

The Best of Fateful by Claudia Gray

Today marks the end of our September Book of the Month feature on Fateful by Claudia Gray — but before we bid fareful to this gorgeous paranormal/historical fiction romance, we take a look back at the highlights:

Fateful-inspired Titanic Writing Contest

Write a short story (or part of a short story) that takes place on the Titanic. Be sure to pay attention to historic details, and maybe do a bit of research before you start writing. Feel free to use your imagination & be creative. In Fateful, Claudia Gray combines the Titanic story with werewolves — and we want you to feel free to mix up your genres, as well. (But you don’t have to — writing a classic historical fiction story is totally fine, too!)

Your stories may be as long as you’d like, but for the purposes of this contest, please ONLY submit between 250-500 words. It can be an excerpt or part of the beginning, but we can’t read entries longer than 500 words.

Submit your writing via the Fateful Novel Novice Writing Contest Entry Form & get all the rules & details here first before you submit!

The contest deadline is TONIGHT, September 30th, by midnight (PT).

Fateful Inspires Educational Content

We had LOTS of great ways to tie-in this book with education — from further reading materials, to exploring folklore or real-life history:

Showing Our Love for Fateful

Besides posting our review of Fateful, we also celebrated the release date, shared tour information for author Claudia Gray, and created some original desktop wallpapers:

One-on-One with Claudia Gray

We also interviewed Claudia about her fantastic book. See the entire interview here:

For the comments: What was your favorite part about our month-long feature on Fateful?

Exclusive Q&A with Swear author Nina Malkin: Part 2

Every Thursday as we countdown to Swear by Nina Malkin, we’ll be bringing you part of our Q&A with her — including our questions, YOUR questions & some flash questions. Here is part 2:

Reader Question: Will there be a book three exploring Dice’s new enhanced powers? That seems like fun. — BM Dimension

After my agent read SWEAR, she insightfully commented that SWOON is Sin’s story and SWEAR is Dice’s story. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it’s true.  Now I’d love to give everyone closure with a finale that’s truly the tale of them as a couple. Some people have a naïve notion of happily ever after, but anyone in a real relationship knows that, no matter how strong the bond, there will be challenges, internal and external. Plus, I’d love to move Sin and Dice out of SWOON for a while and set them loose in NYC together!

Novel Novice Question: SWOON and SWEAR, though definitely connected, are very different feeling books. Do you think some readers will like one book over the other?

Uh-huh, it’s possible that there’ll be a “Camp SWOON” vs. “Camp SWEAR” thing going on. For one, readers were rather split on the sexuality that frankly pervaded SWOON—some people found it a turn-on, while others were shocked—whereas SWEAR has a different tone. Also, as mentioned before, SWOON is Sin’s book and SWEAR is more Dice-driven. Plus, readers may be surprised by the changes in various characters—some may prefer the Sin of SWOON, the Pen of SWOON, while others will respond and relate more to these guys in the sequel.

Flash Question: Favorite cartoon?

Sorry, I don’t do favorites. Although I was recently turned on to Nina Paley’s animated film Sita Sings the Blues, which is gorgeous and funny and adorable and trippy and based on the Ramayana (catch it here).

The Q&As continue next Thursday!

Beyond Fateful: Afterlife & Balthazar by Claudia Gray

Today we look at Afterlife by Claudia Gray, the final book in her Evernight series — and Balthazar, an upcoming companion novel.

Destiny awaits Bianca and Lucas . . .

Bianca and Lucas have always believed they could endure anything to be together. When a twist of fate not only transforms Bianca into a wraith but also turns Lucas into a vampire—the very creature he spent his life hunting—they are left reeling.

Haunted by his powerful need to kill, Lucas can turn to only one place for help . . . Evernight Academy. Bianca is determined to remain with him. But with the vampire leader of Evernight waging a war against wraiths, her former home has become the most dangerous place she could be, despite the new powers her ghostly transformation has given her.

A battle between wraiths and vampires looms, and Bianca and Lucas face a terrifying new reality. They’ve overcome every obstacle life has thrown at them, but is their love strong enough to survive the challenges after life?

And here’s more about Balthazar, in stores March 6th:

Haunted by memories from his first days as a vampire, Balthazar has spent hundreds of years alone—without allies, without love. When he emerges from his isolation to help Skye Tierney, a human girl who once attended Evernight Academy, Balthazar has no idea how dangerous it will be. Skye’s psychic powers have caught the attention of Redgrave, the cruel master vampire responsible for murdering Balthazar and his family four centuries ago. Having learned of Skye’s powers and the remarkable effect her blood has on vampires, he plans to use her for his own evil purposes. As they stand together to fight the evil vampire, Balthazar realizes his lonely world could finally be changed by Skye…just as Redgrave realizes that he can destroy Balthazar once and for all by taking her for his own.

In a story filled with forbidden love and dark suspense, one of the most beloved characters in Claudia Gray’s New York Times bestselling Evernight series will captivate readers with his battle to overcome his past and follow his heart.

For the comments: Are you a fan of the Evernight series? Tell us what you love about them!

New YA from Maureen Johnson & Stephanie Perkins

Some rare Thursday YA releases this week — and they are a couple of big ones! Take a peek:

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it’s the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn’t notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

Lola & the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit — more sparkly, more fun, more wild — the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket — a gifted inventor — steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

For the comments: Tell us which new releases you’re most excited about! There are a lot of really great ones this week …

Countdown to Swear by Nina Malkin: Exclusive Quotes #2

It’s time for us to reveal a new quote from the upcoming Swear by Nina Malkin, a sequel to Swoon. Here is today’s tantalizing taste, picked by Nina herself:

And here’s a bonus quote, too:

My nemesis is a sociopath with bloodhound tendencies who, as an added bonus, is already dead and ergo indestructible.

Swear by Nina Malkin, pgs. 229-230

Tune in every week leading up to Oct. 18th for more quotes & other goodies from Swear!

On Banning Books: A Debut YA Author’s Perspective

Today, John Corey Whaley, the author of Where Things Come Back, guest blogs about his perspective on Banned Books Week — and I have to say, he pretty much embodies my own personal feelings on this subject, though he writes about it much more eloquently than I ever have. Thanks for stopping by, Corey!

 *          *          *

When I was in the 8th grade, I became quite tired of reading Hardy Boys Mysteries, especially after I figured out that they were, in fact, the same exact stories repeated over and over again by a room full of well-paid ghostwriters.  As a writer, it’s sometimes very difficult to admit to people that I was, from a very young age, a very lazy, hesitant reader.  I liked the idea of books—loved them so much that I amassed a large collection through Scholastic mail-in book clubs and begged my mother to take me to the bookstore when other kids were frequenting skating rinks and bowling alleys.  There has always been something about books … some indefinable magic that I feel when I pick one up, ruffle its pages, old or new, and smell the papery air flying my way.  Books are concrete in a world of invisible information and though it took me a while to become an avid reader, I somehow always knew this magic existed and was waiting for me to be a part of it all.

So, I’m in the 8th grade, I’ve set aside my Hardy Boys series and I’m looking for something different, something that will make me think.  I want to say that it was my father, who has always consumed books in massive quantities, who suggested to me that I try to find a copy of the Ray Bradbury classic, Fahrenheit 451.  Much to my surprise, the sparse library at Springhill Junior High School had a couple of copies and I checked one out soon thereafter.  From the first page, I knew this was something important.  If you aren’t familiar with Fahrenheit 451, it tells the story of a dystopian world, our world at some point in the unspecified future, in which all critical thought is outlawed.  Therefore, if one is caught reading in this society, he or she is put into a mental hospital and the books are burned.  All books, in this world, are burned.  I want to say that as a fourteen year old I probably hadn’t ever given two thoughts to the fact that being able to walk into a library and check out a book on any topic was a tremendous freedom.  But this book changed that.  I remember researching the burning and banning of books throughout history.  Naturally, articles on Nazi Germany and similar totalitarian governments, along with extremist religious groups, were the result of such reading.  And I imagined, even, that in some places of the world the very book that had gotten me thinking about burning and banning books, Ray Bradbury’s masterpiece, was most likely itself forbidden to be read.  Now I know what you’re thinking: This guy is about to compare the banning of YA books to the acts of Nazi Germany.  No, not so much.  I’m merely illustrating how this one novel opened my mind to much more than the world around me was willing to offer up without being asked.

Recently, there have been several stories in the news about banned books.  Yes, in 2011.  Where?  In the United States.  I was sad to see that recently, one of my very favorite novels, Slaughter-House Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., was banned by a school district in Republic, MO.  The major complaint, which led to the decision to have it banned, was that it taught students anti-Christian ideas.  Now, all religion aside, isn’t that just an outright breaking of the law?  To ban a book from public schools based on one religious group’s beliefs?  Yes.  Yes it is. My thoughts on it are such: a parent can dictate what his/her child reads, no problem from me there.  But a school district shouldn’t make that decision for them, and it most certainly shouldn’t tarnish the name of a classic work of American literature based on a few people’s personal impressions.

And even more recently the YA novel Tweak by Nic Sheff (in the interest of full disclosure, this novel was published by Atheneum, my own publisher), an autobiographical tale of the young author’s struggle with crystal meth addiction, was taken off of the summer reading list in Monroe Township schools in New Jersey, after parental complaints about the novel’s sexual content.  As a former teacher, I can look at this decision in two ways. First, I understand parental concern over sexual content.  I understand that a parent has the right to safeguard his/her child from the facts of life as long as he/she chooses.  But, there should be an option there.  If you don’t want your child to read the book with sexual content, perhaps the district could provide an alternative book exploring similar themes discussed in Tweak.  Sending out a message to thousands of students that reading novels warning against the dangers of drug addiction cannot be the right way to go about handling this situation.  How many teenagers have possibly ruled out ever reading Sheff’s novel because of their fear of being corrupted? How many have now picked it up simply to find the explicit content and absentmindedly skimmed through the more meaningful passages within?

My YA novel, Where Things Come Back contains profanity (even one f-bomb), some sexual references, and a few passages that could easily be interpreted as anti-religious.  So, I’ve thought about how I might react if I were to ever learn that a school or school district, or even a singular classroom teacher, banned my book.  In a way, I must admit, I think I’d be a little flattered.  I’d think to myself “you made them think too much, Whaley…you’ve really made it!” But, mostly, I’d feel like something I put years of my life into and a story that I envisioned would bring hope and critical thinking and understanding to young readers would forever be stained with doubt and mistrust.  That isn’t what any author wants; I think that’s fair to say.

I learned about banned books when I was fourteen and since then, I’ve tried my best to give novels, no matter how notorious they may be, a fair chance.  And I think that’s my major concern during Banned Book Week. I’m worried that banning books doesn’t so much stop people from reading them (see this article for one reaction to book banning done right), but may tell teenagers that it is okay to suppress thought, critical thinking, and autonomy in a contemporary, free society.

Since I was fourteen, I’ve read books about drug addicts, sexual deviants, alcoholics, criminals, murderers, zombies, ghosts, and even aliens.  So far, I’ve yet to do any drugs, drink a sip of alcohol (in fact, I am somewhat of a teetotaler), get an STD, break the law (okay, one speeding ticket when I was 17…), kill anyone, feast on human flesh, haunt anyone’s mansion, or attempt to invade any planets.  I was lucky, blessed even, to have parents who let me choose what I read.  And I chose to read anything that interested me and taught me things about the world that I may not have experienced in my young life.  I chose to read about people growing up in impossible circumstances so maybe I wouldn’t feel as if it were so impossible to do the same thing.  People like Holden Caulfield (The Catcher in the Rye) and Charlie (Perks of Being a Wallflower) taught me that teenage boys are allowed to be depressed and confused and not fit into the status quo.  They’re allowed to cry and to choose to do the right thing sometimes.  And I wonder where my life may have ended up had these two novels, both of which are frequently challenged or banned, hadn’t found their way into my life.  Maybe I’d have stopped writing stories about unique kids trying to deal with the world.  Maybe I’d have joined the football team and done keg stands and bullied kids who reminded me of my former self.  Maybe I would’ve let doubt and assumption take me over instead of thinking for myself and attempting to create my own stories.  I wouldn’t want to live in a world full of those possible me’s and I wouldn’t want you to either.  So, they can ban our books, but you know we will find a way to read them.  We will hide under the covers or in our closets.  We will sneak onto the roof or read in the middle of the aisle at our local bookstores.  You can make us doubt, but you can’t make us stop thinking.  That didn’t even work in Bradbury’s world, and they had flamethrowers.

Classic Worth Reading: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym

It’s his only complete novel. It’s kind of weird. Yes, it’s Poe – dark and morbid and full of all that sinister/graphic stuff. But it is also comical, mind-blowing (in that Post-Modern, irritating sort of way) and serves to further solidify Poe as a mischievous, quick-witted sprite – a modern day Puck wreaking havoc on his readers with moody fantasies and wild inventions. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe is ridiculous and hellish and disturbing all at once…and that’s what makes it a “classic worth reading.”

The story begins with a teenage boy and his best friend, who, following a drunken night of debauchery, decide to take a sailboat out to sea and confront a raging storm. After a death-defying escape, the boys realize they’ve tasted only enough adventure to wet their appetite, and conspire to stowaway on a Nantucket whale ship in search for excitement on the high seas. What begins as an innocent, young seafaring journey, contorts into a dark and terrifying tale of mutiny, cannibalism, savagery—even death.

But don’t be fooled. Poe isn’t merely exploring the dark-side of life at sea. Read closely and you’ll realize that he is messing with you. Poe is feeding his readers the biggest fish tale of all times, and we’ve swallowed it (some knowingly, some not) for decades. Of course, many of the early 19th century critics either ignored it entirely, or read Poe’s self-described “silly novel” as an elaborate hoax.

Who is Arthur Gordon Pym (the observant reader will recognize that the narrator bears a similar name to Poe himself) and is his account of this disturbing sea journey true? Poe’s problematic narrator and his suspect credentials, remains questionable, as well as his memory of his own story. Poe begins by declaring the story and the narrator as “respectable,” but the adventure quickly becomes entrenched in unbelievable details and gross superlatives.

Poe is writing in the early 19th Century in a style that blurs the lines between fact and fiction; He creates no clear boundary between life and death, no distinction between real and unreal. He crafts a verbal optical illusion for the reader, switching the point-of-view from third person to first at oddly intense and confusing moments. But this isn’t merely a case of point-of-view violation (Poe was a seasoned writer at the time of writing this novel). He’s doing it on purpose. Each time the reader gets comfortable, he shifts boundaries. It is difficult to believe any character is who he says they are (is the dog a monster, or his trusted friend?). Don’t expect to sail into traditional narrative waters while reading this gothic sea tale – it ain’t gonna happen.

But despite choppy waters, I could not help but be pulled-in, intrigued by the audacity of this insidious author to write such a “silly novel” at a time when it was thought that fiction must refer to all that is real and known in the world. And to be sure, despite the obvious dramatic inflation, the novel is dark — really dark.

I found the disjointed plot points, as well as the obscene descriptions of wounds, death, cannibalism, drifting ships of copses (and the like), to be a pleasantly uncomfortable experience. Although I felt intellectually mocked by descriptions of drunkenness disguised as sobriety, death-gaping wounds that heal in hours, and water that can be cut and layered, I couldn’t help but find amusement in the comic wit of Poe. And let’s face it, it’s rare to find a novel that simultaneously makes you laugh and scares the sh&% out of you.

If you love to get lost in the art of clever, unique, and well-crafted narratives, take this sea adventure, said to have inspired MOBY DICK, to the very edge of the known world – then journey beyond it. It’s the classic everyone should have read in high school. Don’t let just the literary critics have all the fun (they’ve been musing over this work for years). Jump on board this dark ship. It’s worth the ride.

Beyond Fateful: Hourglass by Claudia Gray

Today we look at Hourglass by Claudia Gray, the third book in her Evernight series:

Bianca will risk everything to be with Lucas.

After escaping from Evernight, the vampire boarding school where they met, Bianca and Lucas seek refuge with Black Cross, an elite group of vampire hunters. Bianca must hide her supernatural heritage or risk certain death at its hands. But when Black Cross captures her friend—the vampire Balthazar—all her secrets threaten to come out.

Soon, Bianca and Lucas are on the run, pursued not only by Black Cross, but by the powerful vampires of Evernight. Yet no matter how far they run, Bianca can’t escape her destiny. Bianca and Lucas have always believed their love could survive anything—but can it survive what’s to come?

If you liked Fateful, definitely check out the Evernight series! (And vice versa!)