Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sign Up to Help Reveal the Cover of THE FAERIE WAR!

The cover reveal for the third and final Creepy Hollow novel will be taking place on 
Wed 7 Aug
Sign up if you want to help out! 

If you can't see the live form below, click on this link.



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Book Reviews: Team Trinity by Fiona Snyckers | Friday Night Alibi by Cassie Mae

Title: Team Trinity
Author: Fiona Snyckers

Life at boarding school is not all diets, dresses and dances, as Trinity Luhabe discovers when her parents move overseas for a term. She has hardly settled into Sisulu House when she finds herself caught up in the most unexpected love triangle of her life. Zach is the school sports hero, while James is different to anyone she's ever met. One of them wants to control her - the other holds the key to an old secret that has been buried for a very long time. Will Trinity figure out who to trust before it's too late?

Coming from a very privileged background, Trinity is a character who initially comes across as spoiled and shallow. But she quickly turns out to be likable too! In this book, I found all the fun and excitement I always imagined boarding school to be when I was young. There are rules to break, best friends whispering secrets late at night, and boys to sneak off to visit. Although light-hearted and frivolous at times, this book deals with some serious issues: crash diets, self-image, and what a bad relationship can do to you. Not the obvious kind of bad relationship, but the sneaky kind. The kind you don't realize you're in until way down the line--if ever.
Will Trinity realize she doesn't have to change everything about herself before it's too late?

BOTTOM LINE: This fun boarding school adventure complete with secrets, mysteries, boys, and life lessons is perfect for a younger YA audience.

Title: Friday Night Alibi
Author: Cassie Mae

Rising star Cassie Mae introduces New Adult readers to a practical soon-to-be college freshman who seems to have everything—until a special guy shows her what she’s been missing.

In the wealthy town of Sundale, Kelli Pinkins has hatched the perfect plan to capitalize on her sweet reputation. For a generous fee, she will be every trust-fund baby’s dream: a Friday-night alibi, the “girlfriend” or “BFF” that parents dream about. With college approaching in the fall, Kelli’s services are in demand more than ever, which means that her social life is nonexistent. But Kelli is A-okay with that. She’s raking in cash for school. Besides, relationships are tricky, and sometimes very messy. She’d rather be at home on Xbox LIVE, anyway. Then the unexpected happens: She meets college stud Chase Maroney.

Chase isn’t like the preppy, privileged guys Kelli usually meets in Sundale. For starters, he’s twentysomething, always wears black., and he shoots back one-liners as fast as she can dish them out. But Kelli’s attempts to drive Chase away falter when she realizes that he treats her like he really knows her, like he cares about knowing her. When Kelli finally gives in to the delicious kiss she’s been fighting for so long, she faces a tough decision: make Chase a real-life boyfriend and risk her heart . . . or keep her clients and lose her first true love.

Hello, hilariousness! If I'd been drinking anything while reading the first few chapters of this book, it probably would have come out of my nose. Allow me to illustrate with an example:

If I thought he was cute (I don't!) I totally don't anymore. He may as well have said, "Look at this big crack down my body. That's right, I'm a talking butthole."

And thus begins Kelli and Chases's 'charming' relationship ;-)
But, as it turns out, Chase isn't all that bad. Even though he initially comes across as a perv with really bad one-liners (yeah, NOT the best first impression, Chase!), we come to realize he's actually a very sweet and genuine guy--after you get past all the pranks he and Kelli try to pull on one another.

Wow, the truth survived the gossip train. I was expecting some contorted story about how I yanked Chase's shorts down and shoved a tennis ball up his butt.

Chase is the only one who ends up being there for Kelli when everyone else thinks of her as nothing more than an alibi. Which is what she wants, right? She doesn't want emotion and love and kisses and hickies and someone who knows her. Or does she ...

BOTTOM LINE: Cassie's writing is fresh and original, making for an utterly enjoyable read with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. You'll be nose to toes in love with this book!

And with that, I have one more thing to say:

Dear Cassie Mae,
Thank you for writing an NA* book that has no swearing and no sex.

[start personal opinion]**

I've read several NA books, and a lot of them seem to consist of people jumping in and out of each others' (or one person's) bed. Now, some might say, "But that's what college-age kids do. They have sex." Yes, I'm sure that's true. But you know what else is true? There are a whole lot of college-age kids who aren't doing that! Yes. There are people out there who, beyond high school, still want to "save themselves" for the right person. There are so many other things I'd rather read about than just lust and sex. Like ... a great, original story! So thanks, Cassie, for giving me just that :-)

[end personal opinion]

*Some might call this upper YA, but since the book description says NA, we'll go with that.
**Really, though, people should know that all of this blog is just my personal opinion!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Textbook Famous!

The only time you should really get excited about a textbook is when you've WRITTEN WHAT'S IN IT!

At the end of last year when I was teaching for part of the day and planning a wedding for the other part of the day, I was also writing short stories for Grade 7, 8 and 9 Core Readers for English First Additional Language. And yesterday I finally got to see copies of these readers! And meet the other writers and the team that put the books together! (And eat cake, which was a very important part of the afternoon.)

I've never thought about writing picture books before, but I can now imagine the excitement a picture book author feels when they see the illustrations that go with their story--because there are all these gorgeous pictures that have been drawn to match my stories! SO. COOL!

The beautiful books.

There was an initial panic because the cakes were late, but they were worth the wait!

Author Alana Baranov checking out her work.

The four authors plus editor, illustrator and layout designer.

Meeeeeee! (But you knew that ;-) )

One of my stories in the Grade 7 Reader.
One of my stories in the Grade 8 Reader.

One of my stories in the Grade 9 Reader (I had so much fun writing this Facebook one!)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cover Reveal for Carrie Butler's COURAGE (MARK OF NEXUS, #2)

Completely gorgeous cover for Carrie Butler's second MARK OF NEXUS novel!

Rena Collins never thought she’d long for the past—back when affection from Wallace, her freakishly strong boyfriend, was the most dangerous aspect of her life. But now that the human-altering organization known as ERA has gone on the offensive, nothing is safe. Her bloodline is exposed, her relationships torn apart, and just when it seems like things can’t get any worse, ERA ups the ante. To save mankind from forced evolution, Rena will have to mend her broken ties and form a resistance... hand-in-hand with the one she hurt most. 

Where to find Carrie:

Where to find Courage (Mark of Nexus #2):

Book Bloggers may start requesting e-ARCs via this form

Participate in the Courage blog tour, happening October 14th–26th!

Watch the book trailer

~  ~  ~

And to make a GOOD DAY even BETTER (for me, at least!), look at this completely 
squee-worthy review I got from Bookchat, a South African Children's Books website!

* = Recommended     ** = Highly recommended     *** = Outstanding

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Indie Life: How is the Stigma of Self-Publishing Doing These Days?

Indie Life is a monthly feature hosted by the Indelible Writers.

~  ~  ~
I'm posing a question today: Is self-publishing still frowned upon the way it used to be?

I don't exactly know. My views have certainly changed. There was once a time when I thought the self-publishing route was the absolute last option. A total fail! But several years down the road I've done a complete 180. I'm excited to be an indie/self-published author! I like having control over every aspect of my books. I love the freedom I have to choose what I want to write and set whatever deadlines I want to set. And I admire others who've chosen this route as well.

I suppose because my own opinions have changed, I had this idea that the rest of the world was changing its opinion of self-published writers and books. And I think it has to a certain extent (look at the self-published authors who have ended up on various bestseller lists -- and I don't mean the Amazon category lists. I mean the Big Deal bestseller lists!), but I think there are still a huge amount of people in the writing/publishing industry who think of self-publishing as the highly embarrassing, distantly-related member that threatens to give their family a bad name.

From what I can tell, here in South Africa self-publishing is still Not Cool. When people ask me who I'm published with and I say "myself", I still sometimes get That Look! And here I am thinking, you should be more impressed, not less, because I've done the entire process myself!

So ... what do you think? What do your family and friends think? What do people you've just met think? Do you get That Look when you mention the word "indie" or "self-published", or does it really not bother people what publishing route you chose?

I want to know what people are thinking about self-publishing these days!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The World Final of the 2013 Kids' Lit Quiz - With Photos!

The Quiz

Wow. First let me say how impressed I am with the kids who took part in this world final. Their knowledge of literature is phenomenal! I don't think I could have correctly answered half of the questions they were presented with yesterday afternoon!

Despite what you may think, the "sport of reading" is exciting to watch! It works like this: The quizmaster asks the questions (which are pretty detailed, and usually quite cryptic) and the first team to press their buzzer gets to answer. If they get it wrong, they lose a point, and the other teams can still have a go at answering the question. Whoever gets it right gets two points. At the end of the competition, the team with the most points wins.

There were ten rounds, each a different category, and the competition became more intense the closer we got to the end. The South African team had been in second or third place most of the afternoon. In the final round, the New Zealand team, which had been behind us, suddenly came back, answering correctly a number of times. Then on the very last question, South Africa hit the buzzer first, answered correctly, and won the competition by one point! So exciting!

The quiz final was held at Durban Girls' College.

Look, look! My books!
The 6 teams on the stage, all ready with their hands on the buzzer!

The winning team from Roedean School, Johannesburg, South Africa. Congratulations! You are the top young readers in the world! (Photograph by Linda Whelan)

 The Gala Dinner

The gala dinner was held at uShaka Marine World. I assumed we'd be going to one of the restaurants there, but no. A buffet dinner was set up within the aquarium itself! So we were sitting right next to tanks of gigantic fish, sharks, sting rays, jellyfish, and other marine life. So cool! And what is extra cool about this aquarium is that the entire thing is built inside what's meant to be an upside down shipwreck.
Dinner was set up within the aquarium itself. So cool!

So it's all inside the rusted interior of an imagined shipwreck.

Our table was right next to one of the aquarium tanks.
Cool literary decor on the tables. I got to take the flowers home!

See? It's like an upside down shipwreck! You can see a table and some steps on the ceiling!

More upside down stuff! I can imagine ancient sailors steering this ship...
Gcina Mhlope (famous SA author, poet, playwright, director, actor) regaling us with an inspiring story.
And ... My husband will probably NOT be impressed when he sees I've put this picture here!

It was an all-around awesome evening. Oh, and the cherry on the top? The quizmaster himself--the guy who came up with this entire quiz idea 20-something years ago, the guy who makes up ALL the quiz questions every single year, the guy who must have read TONS AND TONS of children's books in his lifetime--has read my first book! And thought it was great!


Quizmaster, Wayne Mills. (Photograph from blogs.library.auckland.ac.nz)

In case you're interested, these were the schools that, out of all participating schools in their country, made it into the final:

Australia: Canberra Grammar School
Canada: University of Toronto Schools
New Zealand: Takapuna Normal Intermediate School
South Africa: Roedean School
United Kingdom: Cockermouth School

USA: Squadron Line Elementary School

Monday, July 1, 2013

Kids' Lit Quiz 2013 World Final is happening in Durban, and I'm going to be there!

[Click here to read my blog post on the event after it happened!]

Have you heard of the Kids Lit Quiz? To be honest, I didn't know anything about it until a few months ago. It sounds AWESOME, though! Here's what it's all about, according to one of their blogs:

The Kids Lit Quiz is an annual literature competition that tests the literary skills of children aged 10-13.  It was created in 1991 by New Zealand lecturer, Wayne Mills, as a way to motivate and reward good readers – in the same way that sporty kids get prizes and accolades for their achievements. From small beginnings in New Zealand, the quiz has grown into an international event spanning seven countries and five continents.

The participating countries include Australia, Canada, China, New Zealand, South Africa, USA and UK.  Every year, after regional and national heats, each country sends one team to a World Final, where the best readers from the English speaking world battle it out for the title of World Champions. It is an electrifying competition that has been dubbed the ‘Olympic Games of Reading’.

There is apparently no reading list, and the quiz master can ask any question based on anything ever published for children (novels, poetry, fairy tales, myths, nursery rhymes, graphic novels etc). Hectic! They say the kids who are training for this competition are reading up to five books per week. Wow! (And when do they find time to do their homework?!)

The 2011 World Final in Hamilton, New Zealand

I wish they'd had this kind of thing when I was young! I would have LOVED to participate in this competition (especially since I sucked at sports and had a major obsession with books. My primary school nickname wasn't Bookworm for nothing ;-)).

So where is this year's world final being held? Durban, South Africa
Have I been invited? Yes!
Am I feeling intimidated by the big name South African authors who will also be attending? (these people and these people) Absolutely!

But I'm super excited nonetheless. Exclusive Books will be there to sell the books of all the authors attending, so hopefully I'll get to be all cool and do some signing. Hehe ;-) AND GET STUFF SIGNED FROM OTHER AMAZING AUTHORS!