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Meet the newest reader in the Novel Novice family!

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If you’ve been wondering why blog posts have been so sparse lately, there are two big reasons.

1) My husband & I recently bought a new house, and moved in just four weeks ago. We have been busy painting, unpacking & doing assorted projects around the new place. There is still lots to do, but we love our new home.

2) On Wednesday, July 22nd my niece Jocelynn came into the world. She was born just after 7pm, weighing 6 lbs, 3 oz and measuring 19 inches, with dark hair and green eyes (we think; they appear to be changing color). She is tiny & squishy & sounds like a little velociraptor when she cries and I love her SO much!!!

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I started putting together her book collection before she was even born (she’s off to a VERY healthy start), and I can’t wait to share all of my favorites with her as she gets older.

So that’s why I’ve been sort of MIA lately — and why I will continue to be for the next few weeks. I AM hoping to get caught up on some book reviews and other posts soon, and plan to relaunch our Book of the Month feature starting in September with Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius.

If you want to keep up with baby pictures & house pictures & other random pictures I take, feel free to follow me on Instagram.

Happy Holidays from Novel Novice!

Merry Christmas & Happy Everything!

We are off today, celebrating Christmas with our loved ones (my husband & I are celebrating our first married Christmas … you can see our sickeningly cute card below). But TOMORROW …

Look for our holiday gift to you – the 2015 Desktop Wallpaper Calendar – tomorrow, December 26th. For today, go enjoy some quality time offline with your loved ones – or at the very least, with a good book!

Cheers to a wonderful holiday season & wishing you all the best in 2015!


Exclusive Q&A with A Thousand Pieces of You Author Claudia Gray: Part 3

Today, we’ve got part 2 our exclusive Q&A with A Thousand Pieces of You author Claudia Gray. Thanks for taking the to chat with us, Claudia. Readers – if you missed it, check out part 1 here and part 2 here. Today, it’s time for FLASH QUESTIONS!

Claudia GrayFavorite decade?

Depends on what for? Pop music? The 1980s. The amount of fun I’m having? Toss up between the 1990s and now. For fashion? … wow, I hope we haven’t seen that decade yet. I hope that one is still to come.

Must-have writing snack?

Bananas. NOM NOM NOM.

Favorite Disney movie? 

“Tangled,” as anyone who follows my Tumblr can attest.

The beach or the mountains?

The mountains — I prefer cool weather to heat. Also, beaches tend to get crowded; you can have some privacy in the mountains.

Song that can always get you dancing? 

Oh, God, it’s “Call Me Maybe.” Tell no one.

Name 5 things currently on your desk (or in your writing space), and share a photo, if possible.

1) A lamp shaped like a pug that is more attractive than you are currently imagining it, I promise.

2) My iMac, which now functions less as a computer and more as a stereo and a Netflix-viewing device.

3) The speaker system for the iMac. (See stereo mention above.)

4) Some glass vases, which aren’t there to hold anything, just to serve as decoration. I felt sort of impractical when I bought them, but IMHO they look great. (And when you work at home, it’s important to enjoy your workspace! Otherwise, the couch gets to looking too attractive — or maybe the bed — )

5) A candle from Fandlemonium, which is Harry Potter-scented. No, really! He smells delicious!

Exclusive Q&A with A Thousand Pieces of You Author Claudia Gray: Part 2

Today, we’ve got part 2 our exclusive Q&A with A Thousand Pieces of You author Claudia Gray. Thanks for taking the to chat with us, Claudia. Readers – if you missed it, check out part 1 here. We’ll have part 3 on Friday.

Claudia GrayThe different worlds Marguerite visits are all based on the concept of “what if.” What are some of the “what ifs” you considered but ultimately did not use in ATPOY?

I’m hesitant to share too many, because I might still use them! But one alternate world was deleted — a dystopian, totalitarian state where Marguerite worked in a factory, Theo was an imprisoned rebel and Paul was one of the elite state guards. That made it all the way to the draft of the novel I turned into my editor, and I loved a lot of things about how that world worked, but in the end it was too grim to fall where it did in the story, and moving it never quite worked. Now I doubt I’ll have time to get back there again. Maybe I’ll revisit it in some stories on Wattpad …

AThousandPieces_hc_cWhat sort of research went into each of the different realities Marguerite visits?

Varying degrees. I looked up some locations in London, talked with my friend Marina the Russian oceanographer about Russia and oceans, and spent a lot of time working with the world clock. (The Firebird allows you to travel through dimensions, but not through time, so if Marguerite leaps out of, say, Madrid — into, say, Beijing — she’ll appear at the time of day in Beijing that aligns with the time of day in Madrid when she left. Does this make sense? I won’t blame you if it doesn’t, because honestly it confused me so much.)

Ironically, the dimension I had to do the most research for was “ours,” the world Marguerite leaves from. In any other world, if some details didn’t align with reality, I could always say, well, that’s how it is in that universe. Not as much leeway here at home! Marguerite’s family lives in the Bay Area of California, so I arranged a house swap with someone who lives in Oakland. That gave me a chance to see the neighborhoods Marguerite would live in and visit most often, to check out a few of the most important real-life locations, and generally soak up local color.

There are definite positives and negatives to the alternate realities that Marguerite visits. What is one of the positive things you wish would make it into our world?

I wouldn’t mind some of the holographic technology from the futuristic world. And how about those personal-defense bracelets? Cute, practical and deadly: Just how I like my accessories.

And one last question: Paul. Can I have him? Like, can I just keep him?

Some versions of Paul are unavailable — but since everything that can happen does happen, in some dimension out there, you’re in luck. :D

I’ll take him! Thanks, Claudia.

Help Light the Night in Honor of My Dad

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I’ll never forget the day my parents told me my dad had cancer. I was 11 years old, and terrified of what it meant. Would I get sick too? Was my dad going to die? What would happen to him?

IMG_1558editedHe was diagnosed with a rare form of skin cancer called Mycosis Fungoides — a non-Hodgkin lymphoma. My dad was lucky. 20 years later, he is alive and healthy and here to be a big part of my life. In the past 20 years, he has helped me complete high school and graduate college; he helped my purchase my first home. He helped me start a new career – twice – and now I work with him on a daily basis, and will one day take over the company he founded. He walked me down the aisle. He even helped me brainstorm this very website. That’s right. Novel Novice owes a LOT to my dad.

I am so lucky and grateful that he’s around; that he survived. And it’s thanks, at least in part, to the work of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and their researchers

100That’s why, on October 25th, I will be participating in the Light the Night Walk, supporting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). My husband and my parents will also be walking, as we celebrate 20 years since my dad’s diagnosis. It’s weird to think you’d celebrate something as somber as a cancer diagnosis — but when the patient is still alive and kicking 20 years later, heck YES you celebrate!

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is on the brink of incredible breakthroughs that have already begun to change the lives of thousands of patients like my dad; treatments that can manage a person’s condition with a daily pill, therapies that seek out cancer cells and kill them, and the use of a patient’s own immune system to eradicate cancer not someday, but today.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light The Night Walk funds those treatments. Please consider donating to my walk and help us support the continued fight against these lesser-known cancers.

Book Review: Winterspell by Claire Legrand

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The Sugar Plum Fairy is not coming to the rescue in this darkly reimagined version of a holiday classic. Claire Legrand’s Winterspell is a luscious and seductive twist on The Nutcracker, which will enchant readers from the very beginning.

winterspellNew York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor’s ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother’s murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted–by beings distinctly not human. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they’re to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets–and a need she can’t define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won’t leave Cane unscathed–if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.

Winterspell is a mesmerizing read, with a richly imagined world, enchanting characters, and unexpected twists at every turn. The Nutcracker is a brilliant source of inspiration, and the story’s influence is sprinkled throughout the book — and yet Winterspell does not rely on this source material. Legrand has crafted her own plot, her own mythology, and her own dark turns for the story and her characters.

Most of my memories of The Nutcracker come from the Tchaikovsky ballet — and I remember a growing Christmas tree, a dancing teddy bear, and Clara being whisked off to the land of the Sugar Plum Fairy, where delicious treats dance for her delight. But Legrand has tapped into the story’s darkest elements for Winterspell: the kindly but mysterious (and sometimes sinister) Heir Drosselmeyer; the battle between the rats and the Nutcracker; a young girl’s disappearance from her home on Christmas Eve.

Winterspell is an intoxicating blend of fairy tale romance and darkness; there is beauty and evil interwoven throughout the book, from start to finish. The result is a mesmerizing story, and the inability to ever think of The Nutcracker in the same way again.

Winterspell is in stores September 30th.

What the Moon Said Review by Abby Bingham

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Review by 12-year-old, Abby Bingham.

When I read this book my heart just melted over Ester, a little girl from Chicago moon saidwho lived during the Great Depression. Ester doesn’t quite fit in with her family. Her ma is superstitious and is very strict. She believed if you do something wrong it could bring bad luck. For example, once Ester buttoned her shirt wrong and her ma made her go take it off , shake it out, and then put it back on. Ester found her mother’s rules to be difficult but they were deeply ingrained in her. After reading What the Moon said, I actually do some of the things Ma told Ester to do!

Life is hard for Ester and then one day her pa loses his job and they decide to move to a farm. Ester’s family is not happy but she is determined this is her chance to prove she is a hard worker and can do the job right. Ester has high hopes for a new life, but the farm isn’t everything she dreamed it would be. Ester continues to find peace with her mother and herself.

One of the reasons I loved this book is the emotions. I almost felt as if I was there feeling and hearing Ester’s thoughts. What the Moon Said is a book I definitely recommend because I know that you’ll fall in love with the characters , just like I did. You might even find a piece of yourself in one of them. I think everyone should read this book at least once in their lives. This book I will read again. I also hope Gayle Rosengren writes many more books.




More Ideas for Book Promotions

Sara | Novel Novice:

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Expanding on last week’s post, here are even MORE ideas for ways to promote your book. I’d LOVE to work with any of you authors and/or publishers out there through my family business, Jag Forms, on coming up with fun, creative ways to promote your latest title(s).

Originally posted on Jag Forms:

Last week, we featured some real-life examples of projects we’ve done for authors and publishers looking to promote their books. And in the past, we’ve talked about some popular promotional product ideas for books and authors.

Today, we want to share even more! These are some of our favorite ideas for authors and/or publishers to consider when promoting different books:

Character Swag

Maybe your character is known for wearing a plastic ring or a special charm bracelet. Or maybe he loves Hershey’s miniatures. Or maybe she wears a certain piece of jewelry, or has an iconic pair of sunglasses. Simon & Schuster recently sent out pairs of red heart-shaped sunglasses for Morgan Matson’s new book Since You’ve Been Gone. You’ll notice they’re the same sunglasses one of the characters is wearing on the book’s cover:

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Whatever this item is – why not produce it for your fans to wear…

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#RockTheDrop 2014: Some Thoughts

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So today was #RockTheDrop – an annual effort organized by readergirlz and partners to promote Teen Reads Day, by encouraging people to leave YA books out in the wild for teen readers to discover them.

tbd2014I’ve participated for several years now, and I discovered something this year: teachers and librarians have no idea what this is.

It was raining something wicked today here in Portland, OR, so I decided to leave most of my books inside at a couple of local high schools. I’ve left books at high schools before, but usually I darted in during quiet parts of the day and never encountered any school staff. I snuck in, left books, and snuck out.

This year I ventured out during lunchtime. (A mistake, perhaps?) At both high schools I visited, I checked in with the front desk, since it was so crowded, and I didn’t want security giving me the stink eye.

And at both schools, I was met by the most confused reactions. At one school, the woman I spoke to actually seemed cranky that I wanted to leave free books for students to find — and the security guard thought I was wasting my time. (I kindly told him to give the students more credit; not all of them may be readers, but I promised him there were readers at his school, and the right students would find the books).

At another school, I spent probably 20 minutes trying to explain the concept to the school librarian, who just seemed baffled by the entire thing. “But how do they find the books?” she asked. I tried to explain, the book was for anyone who walked by and discovered it. The administrator at this school was at least kinder than the first — but she also seemed sort of baffled.

So readergirlz and future #RockTheDrop organizers, here is my suggestion:

Every year, you give us a fantastic book plate to print out and affix to our books before we drop them out in the world. Maybe give us a pamphlet or brochure we can print at home and hand out to the teachers, librarians, etc. we encounter while trying to execute these book drops.

And maybe, you know, work to expand awareness of what #RockTheDrop is all about.

Meanwhile, here’s a look at all the books I dropped off this year:

rtd1 rtd2 rtd3 rtd4 rtd5For the comments: How do you think we can increase awareness of #RockTheDrop?

The Blessed Giveaway Winners!


The Giveaway for The Blessed sets have been picked and we are happy to announce our TWO lucky winners!

They are: Alicia Ezell and Breana Montgomery!  Precious Bloodpassionaries

Thanks for entering and happy reading! :)