Category: Guest Post

Blog Tour: Fault Line by C Desir

faultlines (1)Today we have the privilege of having Christa Desir, author of Fault Line, here on Novel Thoughts to talk about her book! We’re so excited to be able to share this story with you but you must also be aware that this book may not be suitable for everyone, especially younger teenage readers due to themes of rape and difficult situations. Otherwise, this is one raw contemporary that will blow you away! Stick around at the end of the post to learn more about Fault Line and the author!

I did not set out to write a rape book. Frankly, I didn’t think I ever would. I always thought it was too close, too personal, that I carried too many stories around from survivors to be able to do justice to one.

And then one day Ben crawled into my head and wouldn’t leave until I laid everything out on the page. When people ask if this is based on a true story, I always say, “This is no one’s story and everyone’s.” Because there is truth in that. It is a work of fiction. There’s no Ben or Ani in real life. There’s just every survivor I’ve ever met, every one I worked with in hospital ERs, every one who I’ve heard tell their stories.

And there is this deep in my bones knowledge that you never really shake rape. You heal, you move on, you survive, but there is never a time when you forget and there is never a time when this isn’t a part of who you are.

Ellen Hopkins asked me on a panel at ALA if I was prepared for the flack I was going to get about my open ending. It was such an interesting question because this ending had proven polarizing for agents and editors alike. As a matter of fact, I added more to the ending in the final version so the ARC isn’t exactly right (Take note people who read ARCs, things can change quite a bit still). Although I still leave the ending open. Leave it as this final moment where we teeter on the precipice of “I don’t know if it’s going to be okay.” I just make it more obvious I’m doing that intentionally.

I ended this book on that precipice because I think sometimes we forget that teenagers live in a constant state of it. Every day they stand on that edge. We as human beings are works in progress, there are no happy endings, just happy for nows. Why would we think it’s any different for teens? Why would we want it to be? This is the best time in their life to be a work in progress. Try new things, figure out who they are and what they want.

But specifically, in the case of Ani and Ben, I did want to say something with my open ending. I did want to add a question into the cannon of YA literature dealing with rape. I did want to add a wrinkle to the immediate assumption that survivors heal and the bad guys get it in the end.

That is not the reality of rape as I’ve seen it. Rape is largely unreported and largely underprosecuted. Bad guys getting it in the end happened less than a dozen times in the 100+ rape cases I saw in hospital ERs over a decade. But further, the assumption of rape survivors moving on and healing was one I wanted to explore. Not because I don’t believe it, it has been proven to me over and over again by the army of survivors standing beside me in this work. But I wanted to explore it because of a survivor I met named Sarah.

Sarah participated in a survivor testimonial writing workshop with me in 2011. She is an amazing woman with a harrowing story of being sexually assaulted on the Appalachian Trail with 3 other friends the summer of their junior year. During a break in the workshop, I asked her what had happened to her friends who were also raped. She told me that one is still one of her closest friends, one doesn’t really like to talk about it, and one disappeared. I asked about the one who disappeared and Sarah said, “I don’t know what happened. She could be dealing drugs, she could be homeless, she could be dead. We lost her.”

We lost her. Those words echoed through me and would not leave my head as I wrote Fault Line. Not because that’s the ending I wanted for Ani, or even expected, but because it could be. The reality is that we lose survivors sometimes. And sadly, this year with two sexual assault-related suicides prominently in the press, this has become achingly obvious to me.

So I left my ending open. I asked a question and didn’t give an answer. But I hope I started a conversation that will lead to every single person doing their absolute best to make sure that we never lose a survivor again.

FaultAbout Fault Line:
Ben could date anyone he wants, but he only has eyes for the new girl — sarcastic free-spirit, Ani. Luckily for Ben, Ani wants him too. She’s everything Ben could ever imagine. Everything he could ever want.
But that all changes after the party. The one Ben misses. The one Ani goes to alone.
Now Ani isn’t the girl she used to be, and Ben can’t sort out the truth from the lies. What really happened, and who is to blame?
Ben wants to help her, but she refuses to be helped. The more she pushes Ben away, the more he wonders if there’s anything he can do to save the girl he loves.

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About the author:C Desir
I’m a YA author who loves dark contemporary books. My debut novel FAULT LINE comes out from SimonPulse October 1, 2013. My second novel BLEED LIKE ME will be released from SimonPulse in Fall 2014.

I am also a feminist, rape victim activist, and romance novel editor. I live outside of Chicago with my awesome husband and our three small children.

C. Desir Website
C. Desir Facebook
C. Desir Twitter
Fault Line on Goodreads

Loki’s Wolves Blog Tour: Who is Thor, God of Thunder?

If I’m being honest, Norse mythology is my absolute favorite. I hate that it has yet to be well received like the
other mythologicals. Growing up, I loved the idea of such powerful gods and pranking brothers. On top of that, Marvel turned them into powerful superheroes, using their powers for good or evil.

Ever since reading Neil Gaiman’s Odd and the Frost Giants many years ago, I have loved them and it’s about time we get a middle grade series devoted to these amazing characters in mythos history.

Today, I’m fortunate enough to have K.L. Armstrong, co-author of Loki’s Wolves, on the blog to give a little history into Thor, god of thunder. So, without delaying any more, here goes!

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I remember being in New York, in a cab with Melissa and seeing an advertisement for Thor. I said I hoped the movie would be good. Now, of course I hoped it’d be good because I wanted to see it, but my real reason was a little more self-serving. Melissa and I were in New York because we’d just sold Loki’s Wolves…a middle-grade novel based on Norse mythology.

Thor came out and it was a hit, and my youngest said, “Great! Now kids will know who Thor is!” That was the crux of the matter—Norse mythology isn’t taught nearly as much as Greek and Roman. Without that movie (and the subsequent Avengers) Melissa and I would have spent a lot more time explaining what this book is about.

But let’s pretend we didn’t get that marketing godsend and we still need to answer the question: who is Thor? Let me pull on my mythology-geek hat and give you a quick profile of the Norse god of thunder.

Thor is the son of Odin, the all-father, and Jord, the personification of the earth itself. He’s a god of power, controlling thunder and lightning and the mighty hammer Mjölnir. While Odin was the “head” god in the Norse pantheon, he was considered the god of the nobles. Thor was the god of the common folk and his main job was protecting them, which meant a whole lot of fighting.

“The mosaics showed scenes of Thor. Fight scenes mostly—when it came to myths about Thor, that’s what you got. Thor fought this giant, and then this giant, and then this giant. Oh, yeah, and a few dwarves, but they were really mean dwarves.” – Loki’s Wolves, page 54

Yep, lots of fighting, which is what endeared him to the common man. He wasn’t the smartest god or the wittiest or the best looking. He was just a really strong guy who went around killing monsters so regular folks didn’t have to.

That’s what I kept in mind when I created the character of Matt Thorsen for Loki’s Wolves. He’s an average kid with one real talent—fighting. In some books, that might lead him to become a bully, but as strong as the Norse god was, he never used his power that way. His gift was used to help, not harm. Matt might love a fight, but only in the ring, against a willing opponent. Like Thor, he’s not a tough guy or a bad boy. He’s just a regular kid with a special gift…one he hopes he can use to help save the world.

For more information about the book, check out The Blackwell Pages website.
Be sure to check out the rest of the tour stops this week!
Tuesday, May 7 – Bookalicious featuring Ragnarök
Wednesday, May 8 – Mundie Kids featuring Odin
Thursday, May 9 – Novel Thoughts featuring Thor
Friday, May 10 – Charlotte’s Library featuring Freya
Saturday, May 11 – Bewitched Bookworms featuring Loki
Thanks to Little Brown for letting Novel Thoughts be a stop on such a cool tour! Be on the lookout for our review coming soon and don’t forget, you can enter for a chance to win a copy of Loki’s Wolves HERE.

Guest Post: What I Wish I Had Known Before Publishing by Tiffany King

What I Wish I Had Known Before Publishing
By Tiffany King

I am literally living my dream. Actually, strike that because there was a time that even in my wildest imagination, I really couldn’t envision myself making my living as an author. Of course, now I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I can’t say that there is anything that I wish I had known before publishing because that almost implies that had I known what I know now, I may have never started, or maybe would have done things differently and that is so not the case. Regardless of how difficult the road has been to get where I am, every painstaking step along the way has been a learning process that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I believe the old saying that says “the harder I work, the luckier I get.” In my humble opinion, there are no shortcuts that will help you achieve success. You simply have to put in the work, and to do that, you must love what you do.

I have always been a reader. I have loved books for as long as I can remember. Writing a book, on the
other hand, is a different story. My original intent for my first book was simply to write something to give to my daughter. It was going to be for her eyes only. It was after I purchased my first Kindle reader that I heard about the ebook self publishing platforms that were beginning to emerge. Now, I am not here to write about self publishing versus traditional publishing. There are pros and cons to both, and as a matter of fact, many authors now are publishing both ways. That is an individual decision based on many different factors. For me, self publishing provided an opportunity to put my work out there without going through the slow tedious query process required by traditional publishing. Now that I warmed you up a little, let me now tell you not what I wished I had known, rather, what I know now that may help someone just getting started.

1. You must have thick skin.

Obviously, if you try the traditional publishing route, you will learn to accept rejection very quickly. The trick is to remember that quite often the rejection has nothing to do with the quality of your writing, but is simply the agent or publisher’s business decision. Timing is everything and the time may not be right to release your book about a vampire who stars in his own cooking show. Now, don’t think if you self publish that rejection road will be any less bumpy. You will absolutely get bad reviews and that’s okay. And before anyone that likes to review books goes on the attack, let me say that everyone is entitled to their opinion. This is America after all and lord knows we love to chime in. I just wish that sometimes people wouldn’t get so nasty with personal comments. I’m touched that my book moved you enough to write a review, even a bad one if you didn’t like it, but please don’t call me a whore. I mean come on, my children and their friends read these reviews. Here is the good news. Reading is subjective. For every person that wouldn’t wipe their rear with your book, someone else will contact you to let you know that they absolutely loved your story and that it changed their life. The point is: hang in there. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will.

2. You have to accept that marketing is necessary.

After the creating part is over, the really hard work starts. There is no magic wand that will instantly turn your book into an overnight best seller. Even traditionally published authors receive less help than you might think in marketing their books. If you are self published, the honor is entirely yours. The quicker you learn that publishing a book is a business that requires a great deal of hard work and dedication, the more success you will have.

3. Be professional.

What this means is that you are going to have to invest some money in your book if you want to be taken seriously. The publishing world is changing quickly. Self publishing is becoming more and more accepted every day. The reason for this is because the more successful self published authors understand the necessity of services like professional editors and cover designers. The bottom line is that these are necessary investments in your business if you ever expect to achieve any level of success.

So, there you have it. It may not be much, but hopefully there are a few tidbits in there to help anyone who has the next bestseller sitting in a desk drawer, but is too afraid to give it a go. Just remember that once you get started, don’t ever let anyone take away your dream.

About Tiffany King:
Tiffany King is the author of The Saving Angels Series, Wishing for Someday Soon, Forever ChangedUnlikely Allies, Miss Me Not and Jordyn: A Daemon Hunter Novel book one. Writer by day and book fanatic the rest of the time, she is now pursuing her life-long dream of weaving tales for others to enjoy.

She has a loving husband and two wonderful kids. (Five, if you count her three spoiled cats). Her addictions include: Her iphone and ipad, chocolate, Diet Coke, chocolate, Harry Potter, chocolate, and her favorite TV shows. Want to know what they are? Just ask.

Guest Post: Writing Distinct Characters by Jennifer Rush

Today we have the pleasure of having Jennifer Rush, author of Altered and Erased from Little Brown and Bot Wars from Dial, gracing the blog with some great writing advice everyone can learn something from! Jenn is seriously one of my favorite people ever and when I asked her to write this for us, she was thrilled to!

Jennifer Rush lives in a little town on the shoreline of Lake Michigan with her husband and two children. She
grew up wanting to be an Egyptologist, but realized she hated the desert and declared herself a writer instead. She won her first writing award in the fourth grade (a Mickey Mouse pencil was the prize) and has been crafting stories ever since. In her free time, she likes to read, Photoshop, and consume large amounts of caffeine. Be sure to also keep up with her on Twitter!

Writing Distinct Characters (see also: Sexy And I Know It)

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive about Altered is: How do you tackle writing distinct characters?

I usually take it to mean: How do you keep the Altered boys straight? How do you make them different from one another? While I don’t consider myself to be an expert on writing awesome! amazing! characters, I do have a handy little character development secret. But it’s silly. I am forewarning you!

Silly, I tell you! The secret is astrology.

If you’ve spent any time reading about astrological signs, then you know that each one has a specific set of characteristics. For instance, an Aquarian is known for being compassionate, imaginative, but super sensitive, and self-pitying. Sagittarians are said to be extroverted, honest, generous, but reckless.

You can find these basic sign descriptions at a number of sites around the Internet. And, regardless of whether you believe in astrology, you can’t deny that just an hour’s worth of research into the individual signs will give you huge insight into the building blocks of human characteristics.

When I was trying to write the Altered boys, and give them unique personalities, I figured out what their birthdays were and immediately set about making lists of their strengths and weaknesses depending on their signs. But, at the same time, I certainly didn’t want to write themas their signs. Not all Aries are independent and controlling (though a lot of them are *raises hand shamefully*). Their signs gave me the framework for their characters, and then I was able to flesh them out even more depending on what their backstories were.

For instance, Nick has a dark past, and I knew that, regardless of whether or not he has the memories of the things he experienced, some of that suffering would remain. If someone was born with a wicked sense of humor, and a stubborn streak, would they lose that if they suffered from amnesia? Or would they always be funny and independent? I like to believe that, for the most part, who we are, is who we will always be. So, even though the boys from Altered have no memories of their past, I still had to make sure they had personalities, based not only on what they’ve experienced in the lab, but also on who they were before the Branch.

Now! Fun challenge time! I’m going to list the birthdays/astrology signs of each boy, and the basic characteristics of those signs. See if you can guess which boy is which sign!

December 28th — Capricorn

  • Loyal
  • Distrusting
  • Resourceful
  • Likes to do things for themselves
  • Believes there is only a right way to do things, and a wrong way to do things (no gray area)
  • Often mistook as cold because of need to be self-sufficient

October 18th — Libra

  • Likes being part of a group
  • Easy to trust
  • An excellent friend
  • Afraid of making the wrong choice
  • The glue that holds a group together
  • Unreliable

March 27th — Aries

  • Independent
  • Leader
  • Stubborn
  • Generous
  • Protects friends
  • Puts too much pressure on themselves

June 24th — Cancer

  • Caring
  • Generous
  • Adapts easily
  • Isn’t bothered by being wrong
  • Clingy
  • Unpredictable

Answers below…DON’T CHEAT!
December 28th/Capricorn: Nick, October 18th/Libra: Trev, March 27th/Aries: Sam, June 24th/Cancer: Cas

Don’t miss both Altered and Bot Wars, available now!

Guest Post: Five Things I Wish I’d Known Before Publishing by Stephanie Lawton

Author Bio:

After collecting a couple English degrees in the Midwest, Stephanie Lawton suddenly awoke in the deepest reaches of the Deep South. Culture shock inspired her to write about Mobile, Alabama, her adopted city, and all the ways Southern culture, history and attitudes seduce the unsuspecting.

A lover of all things gothic, she can often be spotted photographing old cemeteries, historic buildings and, ironically, the beautiful beaches of the Gulf Coast. She also has a tendency to psychoanalyze people, which comes in handy when creating character profiles.

SHRAPNEL Synopsis:

It’s been six years since Dylanie and her family visited a Civil War site and the place came alive with cannon fire. Problem was, no one could hear it but her.

Now she’s sixteen, her dad’s moved out, her mom’s come out of the closet and Dylan’s got a spot on Paranormal Teen, a reality TV show filming at historic Oakleigh Mansion. She’ll spend a weekend with two other psychic teens—Jake and Ashley—learning how to control her abilities.

None of them realized how much their emotional baggage would put them at the mercy of Oakleigh’s resident spirits, or that they’d find themselves pawns in the 150-year-old battle for the South’s legendary Confederate gold. Each must conquer their personal ghosts to face down Jackson, a seductive spirit who will do anything to protect the gold’s current location and avenge a heinous attack that destroyed his family.



Five Things I Wish I’d Known Before Publishing

1. Not only will you not get rich, you will lose money if you’re not careful. (Easy on the promos, noob! You don’t really need to spend thousands of dollars on a huge book launch party!)

2. Your readers will make you cry—sometimes from bad reviews, but more often from their touching, heartfelt messages about how they connected with your story. It can be very, very humbling. I’ve also made a number of really good friends (both other writers and readers) during this journey, and I’m grateful for each one.

3. Every publisher is different. Some will hold your hand, some expect you to hold their hand, and others barely keep in contact. Navigate each of these as professionally as possible, but never be afraid to communicate or be your own advocate.

4. Organize, organize, organize—everything from book sales, business expense receipts, emails from your publisher, your publicist(s), fans asking for swag and bookplates, obligations to bloggers, etc. I have nightmares about emails I may have forgotten to answer, forever buried somewhere in the bowels of my inbox. The last thing I want to do is offend someone, but sometimes I’ll read an email on the run, mean to go back to it, but forget to eventually reply.

5. You will never again have the luxury of spending years perfecting a book. After the first, you must learn to write quickly or else you run the risk of losing your readers to the next big thing. Your story and name will quickly get buried if you don’t have something new to show the reading world. Additionally, while you’re buried deep in the writing/revision cave, trends will emerge and fade away. If you don’t poke your head out on occasion, you’ll quickly lose touch with the market and community.

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