Monday, January 23, 2012

Guest Post with Author Cornelia Amiri + Contest

Daffodils and The Prince of Powys
By Cornelia Amiri

I live in Houston, Texas, a climate that is usually warm, so I’m already thinking about and looking forward to spring. The ancient Celts like most people loved spring. The ancient Celtic festival Imbolc, which takes place next month, February 1st, ushered in spring. When I think of spring, I often think of Daffodils. Not only are yellow daffodils the essence of spring but they also hold a place of sacred honor to the Welsh.

One of the daffodil's many Welsh names is Cenhinen Bedr (Peter's leek). St. David, also known as Dewi, the patron saint of Wales, was a monk who lived on bread, water, herbs and leeks. The day he died, March 1, 589 A. D., is celebrated each year in Wales as St. David’s day. At the battle of Heathfield in 633 AD, which took place in a field of leeks, St. David told the Welsh warriors to wear a leek on their helmet so they could tell them apart from the Saxons they were fighting. Legend has it that the wild daffodils open their buds on March 1st to remind people of Saint David. Also Welsh soldiers wear a leek or daffodil in their caps each year on St. David's Day. Daffodils are often worn in place of leeks in hats and buttonholes, because they’re prettier and smell much sweeter.

Even warriors, both present and past, loved daffodils. The 8th century Welsh Warrior King, Elisedd, has a pillar, a standing cross his grandson erected to honor his deeds in battle, which still stands in Powys near Eglwyseg Mountain.

In my new young adult novel, The Prince of Powys, King Elisedd picked daffodils at the hill fort of Dynas Bran and discovered the magic within them as he said, “Men like your sire and I are warrior kings. We have no time for pretty words and daffodils. We must look after our land and our people." As the stern-faced king spoke those words, he twirled a daffodil in hand.

Branda covered her trembling lips to keep from laughing. She gathered a bouquet of the yellow flowers and handed them to the king.

”Don’t tell Carthann that you picked these flowers," Elisedd said.

“No." Branda leaned in close to him. "Are you going to give her the daffodils?"

"Yes. Let her think I picked them, for it was my intent. It is why I offered to bring you here, I remember a time when I picked daffodils for her. The summer scents and a pretty maid meant much to me. You make me feel young again girl."

Blurb for The Prince of Powys:
In an age of heroes, Branda, a Saxon princess helps Blaise, a Prince of Powys, escape her father’s stronghold. In turn, he vows to escort the princess to her sister in Scotland so she can escape an arranged marriage. Instead, he holds her captive as his hostage in the unbreachable hill fort of Dinas Bran, where she captures his heart. Will Blaise be forced to throw away his honor for love or to tear out his heart for honor?

I included a picture of me with daffodil balloons at the Dafodill Festival in Round Rock Texas. For more more information about my young adult fantasy/romance, The Prince of Powys, please visit or my website

Blogging Contest:
I am giving away a Celtic leather bracelet. Please post a comment or question below and a winner will be randomly selected. Include you email so I can contact you if you win.


Thanks for stopping by Cornelia!
And be sure to check out her website and comment below to win the bracelet :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Guest Post with Author Derek Taylor Kent

The Scary Path to a Book Deal
 By Derek Taylor Kent (AKA Derek the Ghost)

My name is Derek Taylor Kent (AKA Derek the Ghost).  I recently received a three-book deal for my YA horror-comedy series Scary School, which came out June 21, 2011 ( How this came to be is a bit of a horror-comedy itself.

March 1994. At the age of 15, I undertake writing an epic illustrated fantasy series. It’s an ill-conceived cross between Dr. Seuss and Lord of the Rings, but I spend six long years trying to get it published. Nothing ever comes of it.

April 2005. Painfully abandoning the illustrated book series and inspired by Harry Potter, I spend a year writing my first novel: Scary School, Book 1: My Homework Ate my Dog. After completing the first draft, I submit it to a few agents and publishers. All rejections.  

Confused, I gave the manuscript to readers. I receive notes that suggest a heavy rewrite. Reluctantly, I spend months doing exhaustive rewrites, but I had to admit the book was greatly improved.

Early 2007. I feel the book is ready to submit once again. But I had a relentless day job and my spare time was filled with other projects. My Homework Ate My Dog goes on the backburner.

Another year passes.

July 2008. There’s a brief window of time off from my day job. I decide that it’s time to go full-out toward finding an agent or a publisher. If it doesn’t happen, it will probably be the end of my YA writing aspirations. 

The task before me is daunting. I have the Guide to Literary Agents and the Children’s Marketplace books. It would take me a year to reach out to every agent and publisher, and I only have a window of a couple weeks. So, I hire an assistant. His job is to send out packages to every single YA lit agent in America. I spend my time focusing on online querying.

Responses start coming in. I’m getting bites. About one in every ten I sent out is asking to read my manuscript or sample chapters. Most are rejections, but if you have a 10% positive response rate to your query, you know that you probably have something good.

August 2008. Eric Myers from the Joe Spieler Agency requests sample chapters. A week later he requests the complete manuscript. On September 20, 2008, Eric Myers is my agent. He is very enthusiastic and has a great track record.

December 2008. Every publisher my agent has submitted to has passed.

The only glimmer of hope is from a junior editor at HarperCollins who says that she “really likes my writing and the humor of the book, but what I was expecting from a book called Scary School: My Homework Ate My Dog was not what I got. I was hoping for a light, funny book about a Scary School for a young audience.”

She was exactly right. My title was screaming: silly/funny book for 8-year-olds, but I had given her a darker Harry Potter fit for 12-year-olds.

The editor concluded with: “I do feel there is a market for a Scary School book series for a younger audience should he feel inclined to write it.”

There it was. A bite from a publisher. The only problem was my “bite” felt like an orca whale. I’d have to write a whole new book for her, and I’d have to write it fast so she didn’t forget about me or buy another book in the same genre.

I sequester myself and complete the first draft of a new book series, just called Scary School.

The first draft is done by January 2009. I send it to my agent.  He’s a little shocked that it’s not a linear story like My Homework Ate my Dog, but we agree to send it to HarperCollins as is.

March 2009. The junior editor writes back: “This is exactly what I was hoping for. I love it! I think we really have something here!”

A few weeks later HarperCollins offers me a three-book deal for Scary School.

I dance around my apartment and weep with joy.

The advance is not enough to quit my day job, but it’s enough to create a website, hire a publicist, and print thousands of Scary School T-shirts.

As I write this, I am exactly one week away from the Scary School release date on June 21, 2011. I had to wait another two years before it was scheduled for release.

It was agony.

Over that time I have self-published what is now called Rudy and the Beast: My Homework Ate My Dog!  There’s still an issue with the title, but I won’t surrender it. I also self-published an illustrated book called Simon and the Solar System.

This year, I finished a new YA novel called Principal Mikey about a kid who becomes principal of his school. I think it’s my most well-written novel and is absolutely hilarious.

No bites so far.


Thank you for stopping by Derek! Be sure to check out his series and website.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (55): Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights an upcoming release that I'm eagerly awaiting.
This week I can't wait for Pandemonium: Delirium #2 by Lauren Oliver!

The first book Delirium was so unique and good, I'm quite excited to read the sequel. Lauren Oliver's books so far have all been so great that I'm expecting to devour and love this one too! It comes out very soon this winter on February 28, 2012. The absolutely stunning cover and summary below are from Goodreads:

I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare, 
pushing aside thoughts of Alex, 
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school, 
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn't Have) Review

Title: Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn't Have)
Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Number of Pages: 304
Genre: YA Contemporary
 Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: June 21st, 2011
My Edition: Kindle Book
Reading Level: Young Adult
Bought From: Amazon
Author's Website:

Summary from Goodreads:
2 girls + 3 guys + 1 house – parents = 10 things April and her friends did that they (definitely, maybe, probably) shouldn't have.
If given the opportunity, what sixteen-year-old wouldn't jump at the chance to move in with a friend and live parent-free? Although maybe "opportunity" isn't the right word, since April had to tell her dad a tiny little untruth to make it happen (see #1: "Lied to Our Parents"). But she and her housemate Vi are totally responsible and able to take care of themselves. How they ended up "Skipping School" (#3), "Throwing a Crazy Party" (#8), "Buying a Hot Tub" (#4), and, um, "Harboring a Fugitive" (#7) at all is kind of a mystery to them.
In this hilarious and bittersweet tale, Sarah Mlynowski mines the heart and mind of a girl on her own for the first time. To get through the year, April will have to juggle a love triangle, learn to do her own laundry, and accept that her carefully constructed world just might be falling apart . . . one thing-she-shouldn't-have-done at a time.
Ten Things We Did definitely proved to be more than just your average silly story of a high school girl, who is both party and boy crazy, and told the story of a girl struggling to get over her parents' divorce and just through life in general. The story tells the tale of all the various crazy things April did after her father lets her move in with her best friend, instead of moving far away from her hometown boyfriend, friends, and school. I loved how the author set up the story by intertwining the past events with the current events to show the reader what had happened in the past while maintaining the story in the present.

When I saw that the Kindle book was only 99 cents, I knew I could not resist buying it, and I'm so glad I did! I started reading it on my phone one night before going to bed and just couldn't stop reading. I ended up reading until 4 in the morning, it was just that hard to put down. I just wanted to keep reading and reading because the story was too funny and irresistible to stop. I finished it the next day and wished it hadn't ended. The ending ultimately surprised me, but overall, I liked it a lot. The last paragraph of the book was definitely the perfect, also ironic, way to end the story.

As a whole, Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn't Have) had the worksfunny, interesting characters, and a back-story with depth and not just your average story-line. It definitely would make for a great summer read or a quick, fun book to read in your free time. I do recommend! This was my second book I've read by Mlynowski, and it certainly will not be my last. I look forward to reading more by her, and hopefully, those will be just as good.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Box of ARCs Contest!

Hey all, my resolution for this new year will be to read more at college (yes I am in college now, majoring in English Lit YAY!) and to definitely BLOG more! I will try my hardest to read and review more books as well as juggle my school workload, work, and social life. 

Anyways I feel bad having all of these ARCs that I have either read, don't want to read, or know I will never read just sitting in my room soooo I will be sending a lucky winner a box full of ARCs (12 Total)! I want to send it before I go back to school so the contest will end MONDAY January 16th, 2012. I move back into my dorm the 17th so this will give me a day to bundle it all up and send it before I go back!

These are the 12 ARCs I am giving away:
(click the link to go to the Goodreads page to read their summaries)


- Open to U.S. addresses only
- Must fill out THIS FORM
- One winner ~ 12 ARCs (new and gently used)!
- Ends January 16th!
- Also since there are so many and a lot of them have been out for a while, if you have any of these just say so. If you win, I'll try to exchange one of them with a different ARC or another book.

+1 Commenting on any post (besides this one)
+2 For being a follower 
+3 Linking to Twitter, Sidebar, Facebook, Post, or etc.

Fill Out THE FORM and Good Luck!

Such a Pretty Girl Review

Title: Such a Pretty Girl
Author: Laura Weiss
Number of Pages: 212
Genre: YA Contemporary
 Publisher: MTV Books
Publication Date: January 2, 2007
My Edition: Bargain Book Paperback
Reading Level: Young Adult
Bought From: Amazon
Author's Website:

Summary from Goodreads: 
They promised Meredith nine years of safety, but only gave her three.

Her father was supposed to be locked up until Meredith turned eighteen. She thought she had time to grow up, get out, and start a new life. But Meredith is only fifteen, and today her father is coming home from prison.
Today her time has run out.
Such a Pretty Girl surprised me in many waysaltogether it was a powerful story about a teenager who is just trying to live and survive in a world with the father, who sexually abused and harassed her, once he is let out of prison six years earlier than she expected. It definitely surprised me by how much I was disturbed and disgusted by the little acts of unwanted affection Meredith's father displayed towards his daughter. I could never imagine being in that type of situation, which is one reason I love literature because it transports you to a world where you can experience the emotions of the characters you read about, without having to live them for yourself. I, however, would never wish this upon anyone to go through her type of situation, and I feel so sorry for those who have experienced this situation firsthand.

The story can easily be read in one sitting, which I tried to do, but it was hard to do so when the father just kept creeping me out so much. It is a very short book with very few characters and hardly any external plot going on but does have a lot backstory and underlying details that make the story very good but hard to enjoy because of the tough topic. Meredith was a strong female character who stood up for herself and had the support of her neighbors to do so, which without the love and support from them, she might not have ever been able to get out and most likely would have been abused again.

Overall Such a Pretty Girl turned out to be a novel that wasn't exactly fun or pleasant to read, but one where it tells an important tale of a strong girl who would not stand to be mistreated or abused again by her father or mother. This is the second book I have read by Laura Weiss, and I look forward to reading more of her books! Especially Ordinary Beauty which came out this past summer.