Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Year I Turned 18...

Life was full of 'firsts' in the year I turned 18:

  • I moved away from home for the first time.
  • I got my first real boyfriend (the guy I dated for 5 weeks when I was 15/16 doesn't count).
  • I had my first kiss (see the point above. How did I manage to date someone for 5 weeks and avoid kissing him? That should have been a sign, right? Rachel, you don't even want to kiss this guy, why are you with him?!)
  • I went on a taxi for the first time. (And I'm talking South African taxi here! See the picture below.)
  • I went on a train for the first time (in South Africa).
  • I applied for a job for the first time.
  • I fought with my best friend for the first time.
  • I drove a car for the first time.
  • I realised for the first time that doing badly in a test or exam wasn't that big a deal. Life did not end! (Who knew?!)

Usually more packed than this!

Oh my hat, this was almost 9 years ago. I feel old!!

The quad of Fuller Hall, the res I lived in.

The view from Fuller Hall over the city of Cape Town.

Can you spot me? No? Okay, scroll down ...

My best friend and me. The one I fought with. We're still best friends. And she's a bridesmaid for my wedding :-)

The Year I Turned 18 Blog Fest is in honour of the release of Cally Jackson's The Big Smoke, a new adult novel in which both main characters turn 18 and head off to university where they face new challenges and try to figure out who they are.

Ceara’s desperate for love; Seb’s desperate to get laid. Ceara adores reading novels; Seb hasn’t finished a book in years. Two strangers, both moving from small country towns to Brisbane – the big smoke. As they prepare to attend the same university, their paths seem set to collide, but they keep missing each other. Maybe fate is keeping them apart, or maybe it’s just chance.

When the semester starts, things get complicated. Ceara’s best friend withdraws from her, Seb’s closest mate turns into a sleazebag, and the relentless demands of university make their stress levels soar. Before their first semester is over, both Seb and Ceara will be forced to question who they are and what they want from their lives. Will they have the courage to find the answers, or will they crumble under the pressure? And when they finally meet, will it be love at first sight or a collision of headstrong personalities?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Character Interview with Seb from THE BIG SMOKE

Guess who's joining us today?! Seb from THE BIG SMOKE! This is a New Adult novel by Cally Jackson that follows the lives of Seb and Ceara as they navigate their first year of university in a big, new city. It's great. You should read it!
(My review is here)

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Welcome Seb. Thanks for joining us today :-)

Thanks for inviting me. This is the first time I’ve actually been invited to be on a blog. Cally usually just quotes me without checking if I mind.

First things first: How would you describe yourself? 

Um, I’d try not to. But if I had to, I guess I’d say that I’m a country guy who’s attempting to get used to living in the city and going to uni. And not doing a very good job at it!

What do you think of the portrait of you on THE BIG SMOKE’s cover (lying there looking all laid back and sexy and stuff ;-) )? 

*looks at floor for a long period of time* Wow, okay. That’s embarrassing. You know how photos in magazines are always photo-shopped? Well, so is that one on the cover. I’m not nearly that ‘sexy’ in real life. I mean, it’s definitely me, but it’s the best version of me, not the way I look every moment of the day. Does that make sense?

I hear you haven’t read a book in years (*gasp* The horror!). If you were tied down and forced to read something, what book would you choose and why?

Probably The Big Smoke, so I’d know for sure all the humiliating things Cally has told everyone about me. Then again, I’d probably prefer not to know. 

Actually, there’s this book that Cally always says was one of her ‘inspirations’ for when she was writing the chapters from my perspective. It’s got some weird title. Catcher something. Maybe if I read that, I’d understand why Cally thought she could share so many of my private thoughts with everyone. Catcher in the Dry, that’s it… I think.

Do you have an embarrassing childhood memory you’ve never shared with anyone else (and now feel the sudden urge to share with ALL the readers of this blog?!)? 

Cally’s shared a fair few of them already so I guess I may as well add another to the list.
One time when I was about nine, my mate Brad convinced me that someone had been murdered in his house before they bought it. And, of course, the murder had happened in the room that I slept in. It got to about ten that night and I couldn’t hack it anymore. I was too scared, so Dad had to come pick me up and take me home. Soft, I know. Yet another thing that Brad will never let me live down.

When you moved to “the Big Smoke” you got a house mate. What was it like having to share your space with someone? 

Sharing a unit with Luke is… interesting. To be honest, we want to kill each other a lot of the time, cos he’s so friggen anal about the house being spotless all the time and I’m not the tidiest guy around. We’ve definitely had some big arguments over the past few months, and sometimes they’ve been over much more important stuff than me not wiping the gravy spots off the kettle. But underneath it all, Luke’s a pretty good guy. He just needs to take a chill pill every now and then.

Can you tell us exactly what you thought of Ceara during the very first conversation you had with her? 

It’s a bit hard to remember exactly what I thought of Ceara the first time I met her, cos my head was spinning like crazy. I pretty much saved her life. She was walking along the street reading a book and almost got herself run over, but I pulled her off the road just in time.
Okay, I guess I do remember a little bit of what I thought. Again, this is kind of embarassing to talk about, but what the hell - I thought she was intense but beautiful. I really wanted to spend some time with her and get to know her, but then my mate Heath came along and ruined the moment. If she had’ve asked me to skip my lecture and stay with her, I would have for sure. But she didn’t, so we went our separate ways.

Now here’s a deep one: What do you think about the concept of destiny?

Deep is one word for it. I’d probably choose ‘corny’, but anyway….
If you had’ve asked me that question a year ago, I would have laughed at you (still did, a little bit). But considering some of the crazy shit that’s happened since I moved to Brisbane, maybe there is such a thing as destiny, after all. Ugh, I can’t believe I just said that. Seriously, can you delete that last part? Please?

And lastly ... just between you and me (and everyone else reading this) ... are you sick of Cally yet? I mean, you’ve been stuck inside her head for a preeeeeeetty long time, right?! Must be good to finally get out!

Geez, you have no idea. That girl needs to get some professional help. I mean, she’d done a decent-enough job of telling my and Ceara’s stories five years ago, but then one critiquer told her that she hadn’t let the reader get to know the characters well enough, so she decided to re-write the whole bloody book.
I think she and Ceara have more in common than Cally will admit – they’re both total perfectionists. And book worms. And both a bit messed up in the head. Cally might deny it, but I’ve lived in her brain for 12 years now, so I reckon I’m in a good position to judge it. And just between you and me (and everyone else reading this), there’s definitely a loose screw up there somewhere. I’m just glad I’m escaping before the screw falls out completely. I feel sorry for her next bunch of characters…

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HAHAHA! Now that was fun, right?! ;-)

If you'd like to hear more from Seb, you can purchase a copy of The Big Smoke:
  • in paperback format from Cally's buy page (Australia and New Zealand) or Amazon (rest of the world)
  • in e-book format from Smashwords(preferred digital supplier), Amazon, iBooks,KoboDiesel and other e-stores.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Creepy Hollow Companion Ebook!

Remember that little blogging challenge that happens in April? The one that stresses us out for a full 26 blog posts? (Well, those of us who don't get prepared in time, anyway!) Well, since I went to the effort of writing 26 short pieces of fiction based on the Creepy Hollow world, I figured I may as well use them :-)

So. I present to you ... An A to Z of Creepy Hollow Fae!

Barnes & Noble

Before Violet met Nate, the human boy who followed her into the fae realm and turned her life upside down, she was the perfect guardian trainee. She followed all the rules and did her best to protect her human assignments. Goblins, ogres, trolls—Vi learned how to handle them all. 

In An A to Z of Creepy Hollow Fae, catch a glimpse of some of Vi’s past assignments, and experience the life of a faerie training to be a guardian. 

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Crazy Author Dance (In Honor of the Print Proof of THE FAERIE GUARDIAN)

Guess what, guess what?! The proof copy of THE FAERIE GUARDIAN finally arrived! Sooooooo exciting to hold my actual very own real life book in my hands! I think you can only really understand the insanity feeling once it's happened to you. It's like I'm looking at a book for the first time! There are actual pages with real words printed on them and the pages turn and my name is there and it's ALL SO AWESOME! See what I said about insanity? On top of which I felt the need to video this experience so that you can all see me dancing around like a complete fruitloop.

Feel free to laugh. I am here to entertain!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Book Review: The Big Smoke, by Cally Jackson

Ceara’s desperate for love; Seb’s desperate to get laid. Ceara adores reading novels; Seb hasn’t finished a book in years. Two strangers, both moving from small country towns to Brisbane – the big smoke. As they prepare to attend the same university, their paths seem set to collide, but they keep missing each other. Maybe fate is keeping them apart, or maybe it’s just chance.

When the semester starts, things get complicated. Ceara’s best friend withdraws from her, Seb’s closest mate turns into a sleazebag, and the relentless demands of university make their stress levels soar. Before their first semester is over, both Seb and Ceara will be forced to question who they are and what they want from their lives. Will they have the courage to find the answers, or will they crumble under the pressure? And when they finally meet, will it be love at first sight or a collision of headstrong personalities?

(Summary from Goodreads)

THE GOOD: Relationships, romance, drama, humour, heartbreak, coming of age--this book has a lot packed into it! It's a long book. Not long in a this-story-is-dragging-on-forever-I-wish-it-would-end kinda way. No, no, no. Long in a I-scored-two-awesome-books-in-one kinda way!! The chapters alternate between Seb and Ceara, two very different characters with distinctive voices. They're heading off to university with all their hopes, dreams, fears and expectations--which is already a lot to deal with before you add in the ordeals life is about to throw at them: eating disorders, horrible house mates, broken friendships, and more.

Ceara is the reserved, bookish type, so I identified pretty well with her ;-) And Seb ... well, he's a guy! I've obviously never been inside the head of a boy (duh!), but it seemed like the author did a great job of getting inside Seb's head. I LOVE reading a story from two points of view, and it was fascinating to see all the threads of these two separate lives interweaving, criss-crossing, just missing, and then finally coming together (how and when? I'm not going to tell you that. You have to read it for yourself!).

THE BAD: There really isn't anything to say here. I read an early ARC, so I can't comment on the absence or presence of typos or grammatical errors in the final version. (But I can tell you that the author is something of a perfectionist!)

THE PRETTY: I just love this cover. It's different from a lot of other covers out there. It's more arty, which is cool. And I LOVE the lights and the hazy reflection in the water!

So, if you're a fan of contemporary upper YA or NA, you should definitely check this one out when it's released later this month :-)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Promoting Writers & Bloggers: Kimberly Kinrade, Jolene Perry, Refracted Light

I came across this Pimp Your Favorite Writers/Bloggers post on Bethany Lopez's blog. Bethany said ...

"I got the idea for this post from my friend, Tameri Etherton. She hosts a Pimp and Promote post on her blog, and I thought it would be fun to do one here. The idea is to Pimp your favorite writers and/or bloggers, or promote something new that you have coming out.

So here are the favourites I'm promoting today ...

Kimberly Kinrade

I scored a free download of Forbidden Mind last week and LOVED it! I'm really keen to continue reading the series.
Jolene Perry

I'm currently reading and really enjoying Night Sky. Wish it hadn't taken me so long to get to it on my Kindle!

Refracted Light Reviews

This is a GORGEOUS book review blog that you just have to check out if you haven't already. Reviews, interviews, giveaways, blog tours, cover reveals and loads of other awesome stuff

Is there anyone you'd like to promote?

PS - Two months from today!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wedding DIY: Table Decor

Along with the help of a fabulously creative family friend/designer person, we're doing our own table decor for the wedding. Every table will be slightly different and we're going with kind of a vintage theme using silver and glass and flowers and ivy.

So I've been rummaging through my mom and grandmother's kitchens and doing stocktake of their stuff! It's been fun! Here are just some of the things I found... (And anything with a tag on is from my mom's recent wedding decor shopping spree!)

Yes, our fabulous family friend can even make spoons look like decor items! (Who would have thought...)

And, uh, we'll obviously remove the biscuits from the cookie jar and figure out something marvellously creative to do with it. (And those flowers were from our we've-been-dating-for-FIVE-years anniversary last week! Soon we'll have to start counting from zero again ;-) )

Monday, October 8, 2012

Whose POV are the extra Creepy Hollow scenes written from?

Okay, so the reason there are two prizes for the cover reveal giveaway I posted on Thursday is because there are two answers! Hehehe! So that means you actually had a slightly higher chance of guessing the correct answer :-) The two characters are ....




Nate and Ryn!

Which most of you guessed, so WELL DONE to you! There are 5 pages from Nate's POV, and about 9 pages from Ryn's.

And the 2 winners are ...

J. Haile
K. Fotinos-Hoyer

Congrats on your correct guesses! 
Gift cards have already been emailed to you :-)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Launching the Cover for THE FAERIE GUARDIAN!

Yippee, yippee, yay :-)

Protecting humans from dangerous magical creatures is all in a day’s work for a faerie training to be a guardian. Seventeen-year-old Violet Fairdale knows this better than anyone—she’s about to become the best guardian the Guild has seen in years. That is, until a cute human boy who can somehow see through her faerie glamour follows her into the fae realm. Now she’s broken Guild Law, a crime that could lead to her expulsion. 

The last thing Vi wants to do is spend any more time with the boy who got her into this mess, but the Guild requires that she return Nate to his home and make him forget everything he’s discovered of the fae realm. Easy, right? Not when you factor in evil faeries, long-lost family members, and inconvenient feelings of the romantic kind. Vi is about to find herself tangled up in a dangerous plot—and it’ll take all her training to get out of it alive. 

[This novel is a compilation of Guardian, Labyrinth, Traitor and Masquerade, and includes bonus scenes at the end.]

Release Date : 5 Nov 2012

And since this novel will also be published in print form, I get to show you the whole spread :-)

Click to enlarge

Giveaway time! 
Alrighty, so at the end of this book there are some "bonus" scenes that are NOT written from Vi's point of view. If you'd like to win a $10 Amazon gift card, all you have to do is guess whose point of view the scenes are written from! Enter your answer into the Rafflecopter widget below. There will be TWO winners.
The characters you can choose from (in alphabetical order) are:
  • Calla
  • Flint
  • Nate
  • Ryn
  • Scarlett
  • Tora
  • Zell

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you HEAPS to the following people who are helping to reveal this cover today or in the next few days. Virtual cupcakes for you all :-)

Vive le Nerd | Alex J. Cavanaugh | My Inner Fairy | Komal Lewis | Cherie Reich - Author | Ink in the Book | Juliana Haygert | The Peasants Revolt | Geek Banter | Queendsheena | Gwen Gardner, YA Author | So, You're a Writer... | Refracted Light Reviews | Michael Pierce | Jinky is Reading | Anything Imagined | Buried in Books | In Time... | Cally Jackson Writes | Dreaming in Black and White | Tangent Shell | Elise Fallson | Kittie Howard | Author Jacqueline Gardner | Eagle's Aerial Perspective | Worlds Away Book Blog

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Importance of Backstory

A short post to share a small insight...

I read two books recently. In Book 1, I felt connected to the characters. I believed their stories. I believed their relationships. In Book 2, the characters and their relationships felt like cardboard cutouts with no real depth. It was disappointing because this story could have been really great. I wanted it to be really great. In trying to figure out the difference between these two books, I decided it had to do with backstory and, linked to that, the rule that gets pounded into our writerly brains: show, don't tell.

In Book 1 the author shared, in little bits over several chapters, incidents from the two characters' pasts. This helped to SHOW the depth of their relationship, and it was easy to believe that they were best friends. In Book 2 I was told, "They were my best friends," or "I'd developed a crush on him recently," but I wasn't SHOWN anything to back this up. WHY would they be best friends, and WHY would she have a crush on him? I wanted to know a little about their history in order to come to these conclusions myself, instead of just being told.

So. This stuff they tell us to do? Like dropping bits of backstory here and there (not leaving it out, and not burying the reader under one ginormous infodump in chapter 1) and showing, not telling? It makes a difference! And you can very clearly see it when you read a good book and a not-so-good book back-to-back...

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In other news, Justine Dell is hosting a giveaway on her blog where you can not only win cool stuff, but also aid in the prevention of suicide. You don't have to spend anything. This giveaway is about getting as many entries as possible. For every 250 entries received, $100 will be donated to the cause. So please click here to enter, and don't forget to spread the word!