Guest Post from Natalie Sampson

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Pre-order the book here: http://www.amazon.ca/Should-Have-Been-GoodDay-ebook/dp/B01BID6X8A/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1455661460&sr=8-4&keywords=natalie+sampson

Thanks for the invite, Angela! You suggested I could chat about Henry’s voice which is def one of my favourite topics when talking about #GoodDay.

I’ve worked with people who have been diagnoses with autism for fifteen years or so now as a speech language pathologist. Autism is a disorder that includes a set of traits or behaviours but how each person exhibits and deals with autism is very different. Which means Henry is not fashioned off of any one person. He’s a composite of many people, including some I’ve worked with and some I’ve only read about. Now that autism is more widely known there is opportunity to read first hand experiences told or written by people with autism. It’s invaluable to have insight into some of their feelings and what leads to their behaviours, since often that is one of the hardest things for people with autism to explain and express. I tried to use this information to build Henry’s interests and actions.

Henry’s voice itself was actually the easiest of the four characters to write. This is probably true in part to the rigidity of his language. It needed the most editing though, to go through and make sure my voice didn’t slip in with a contraction or inconsistent pronoun. It was also the trickiest to make sure his perceptions were limited by the constraints I chose for him. Many people with autism have difficulty ‘reading’ contexts around them, including how other people feel and act. Figurative or abstract language can be challenging – this includes idioms but also sarcasm. Henry was very literal, while he knew some comments were Just a Phrase he wasn’t able to detect the less obvious uses of metaphorical language. It obviously caused him trouble, but at times saved him some pain too.

What was of utmost importance to me was that I present Henry with respect and compassion. I don’t want people to think Henry is a caricature or a flippant tool created to write a story. I hope that by reading Henry someone gains some appreciation for the challenges people with autism face, but also the contributions autistic people have to offer. One thing I know for certain from working with autistic people and their families is they are so much more than what a diagnosis identifies. Even if a person can’t communicate well, there is someone in that mind and body who is worth getting to know.

Btw, here is my review of It Should Have Been a Good Day.

Review: It Should Have Been a #GoodDay

27917489.jpgI will be on Natalie Sampson’s blog tour for her third book called It Should Have Been a #GoodDay which is due out at the end of February, so this is my review of her book to get all of you excited!

My first thing I’ll say is that this book reminded me of the diversity of voices in The Breakfast Club and the stunning conclusion of Stand by Me.

The second thing is a bit of a warning – you have to push past the stream-of-conciousness way Henry narrates his part of the story. It can be distracting but you have to allow yourself to be in Henry’s shoes.

Somehow Natalie pulls you directly into the minds of her main characters, and switches between voices seemlessly. As the reader you are naturally contrasting the experiences of Henry, Emily, Brogan, and Thomas. And if you’re me, you’re also comparing their lives to your own highschool experience (mine was somewhere between a Thomas and a Henry).

My heart was in my throat for so much of this story, and that’s because Natalie has a way of drawing you into the situation. It’s fascinating to see one incident from the minds-eye of four very different teenagers, and all the baggage that they bring to it (unaware of eachothers’ baggage of course).

I don’t want to spoil the story, but it is one of the coolest pieces of writing about the highschool experience that I have read in a long time. You will never look at a group of teenagers the same way.

You can enter the goodreads giveaway for an ecopy of the book here.

Review of Asp of Ascension

Pre-order on Indigo here!
Pre-order on Indigo here!

** Comment below to be entered in a draw to win your own e-book of Asp of Ascension! **

In Asp of Ascension, Bethany Myers introduces us to Nefartari Hughes (or Terry as she understandably prefers to be called). She’s every girl who went to high school and tried their best to ride through the middle of the crowd with their elbows in (so me for sure) with the added baggage of the traumatic loss of her mother.

Asp of Ascension is like Night at the Museum mixed with the humour of Mean Girls with a dollop of darkness from Should I Stay.

What sets Terry apart (much to her dismay at times) is her archaeologist parents who have passed on to her their love and understanding of ancient Egypt. What makes Terry special however is that she is starving for real relationships and has no idea how to be in one. Whether it is with she and Maud (a fantastic character who I wish I’d had the balls to be in high school) or with Zach, the prototype jock who turns out to be so much more than that.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I laughed reading this book, remembering parallel moments in my own life. I know that Terry is the hero of this story, but I have to say, I fell in love with Maud and her little family. Myers does a great job of bringing the corridors of high school to life and the dialogue rings true of the age group too. I happen to LOVE all things having to do with pharaohs so reading about Egypt and Cleopatra is just icing on the cake of a great read.

I’m instituting a new rating system and I give Asp of Ascension 4/5 sensible heels!
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Stay tuned for a guest post from author Bethany Myers on the research that went into her book!

 

Review from CanLit for Little Canadians

CanLit for Little Canadians!

This review of Thrice Burned over at the CanLit for Little Canadians blog is so glowing and lovely, I’d like to just transcribe it word-for-word (but I won’t!).

Here is a sample:

Reading A Portia Adams Adventure, whether it be Jewel of the Thames or Thrice Burned, is like revisiting the writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Just as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle often chose to recount several of Sherlock Holmes’ cases in a single tome, Angela Misri follows suit, extending the authentic and complementary nature of the series to those of the famous detective.  Thrice Burned is like having new Sherlock Holmes mysteries to read, only now starring an inquisitive and astute young woman (without the Asperger’s Syndrome tendencies) and in a London of the 1930s.  And it works so, so well.  Elementary, wouldn’t you say?

And you can read the full review (and enter to win a copy of Thrice Burned) on the CanLit for Little Canadians blog.

Looking for stops for the ON FIRE Blog Tour!

Want to be an all-important stop on the blog tour?
Want to be an all-important stop on the blog tour?

It’s that time already – Thrice Burned is ready to heat up the YA world starting in March 2015 – and that means I’m looking for blogs to tour!

Types of stops on the tour:

  • Q&A with the Author
  • Guest Post with topic of your choice
  • Top 5 or Top 10 lists

PLUS each Blog that participates gets to run a contest to give away an e-book copy of Thrice Burned!

The blog tour for Thrice Burned runs March 9 – 24, 2015 and we’ve got about 8 5 stops left open.

Let me know in the comments if you’re interested in participating – I would be honoured to be featured on any of your fantastic blogs my friends.

Blog Tour: a Q&A with Alisha Sevigny

This is a CUTE cover.

I’m on another blog tour friends, this time for fellow Fierce Ink author Alisha Sevigny’s book Kissing Frogs.

Before I go any further if you want to win an e-copy of this YA-Romance all you have to do is drop a comment below this post and I will randomly draw a winner from the names on November 22! ** Canada Only! **

You have two opportunities to enter –  on this Q&A with the author or on my earlier post where I Reviewed Kissing Frogs.

Now back to the matter at hand: Kissing Frogs is a contemporary YA Romance story and I had the chance to ask Alisha Sevigny a few questions as part of this Blog Tour:

  1. The set-up of Jess’ preferred life is subtle but easy to imagine from all your description – how did you capture the ambiance (such as it is) of high school?

I literally just imagined myself back in my old high school. Despite what the calendar says, it really doesn’t feel all that long ago! I put myself back in front of my locker, pictured Miles as my boyfriend and went from there.

  1. Lol; maybe its because I don’t LIKE to imagine myself back in high school that I am so in awe of your ability to do that! I love that Jess applies her ‘book smarts’ to becoming popular – does that strategy come from personal experience?

Not really. I got good grades, had some good friends, but never considered myself as particularly “popular”. I feel like I came into my own in university, where I was free to be who I really was, if that makes sense. In high school you’re assigned these roles and it’s easy to find yourself playing that part, even if it’s not who you really are. That’s one of the messages in the book, that you shouldn’t let others define you.

3. Amen sister. I love that quote by the way: “In high school you’re assigned these roles,” it is so true. Now, everyone has that boy who bugged them in middle school as a way to communicate that they liked you – how did you take on writing that story arc specifically? Moving Travis from annoyance to interest?

This took several rewrites to strike the right balance of moving Travis from annoying to possible love interest. In previous drafts, he was a bit more of a pain in Jess’s behind, and they were more antagonistic towards each other. However after one of my early draft readers commented, “I have a hard time picturing these two together,” I decided to soften both characters and have them start to get along a bit earlier in the book.

  1. I think it worked! Now, I feel like you’re sneaking a bunch of educational information about animals, conservation and Panama into the pages of this book – plan or nice side effect?

A bit of both! I wanted to really give the reader a feel for Panama. Personally, I love reading books that take place in exotic locales. It’s like traveling from the comfort of your couch (or wherever you read). The conservation information is a key component of the story but I wanted to incorporate it in a way where it didn’t detract from a fun read. Anything that was included, I made sure it served the story. I actually ended up cutting a lot of description as well as a few scenes that didn’t do so. For example, there was a scene when the kids go into Panama City to Casco Viejo (the funky historical district) and even check out the Panama Canal, but I cut it because in the end it wasn’t entirely necessary to the story.   

  1. Well a section I am so glad you didn’t cut was your epilogue —  it was NECESSARY. I was actually sort of freaking out when the book ended without telling us if Jess made it into Berkeley. Why did you choose to do it as an epilogue rather than wrapping it into the last chapter of the book?

Honestly, it just felt right to have it as an epilogue. Originally, the whole book took place in Panama (except that final scene) so it felt like it was a bit removed from the story, which I felt had been tied up on another continent. In addition, it hints at a sequel, and an epilogue is a good place to do that.

Thanks SO MUCH to Alisha for answering my questions and to Fierce Ink Press for supplying an e-copy of Kissing Frogs for one of my lucky commenters!

Blog Tour: a Review of Kissing Frogs

This is a CUTE cover.

I’m on another blog tour friends, this time for fellow Fierce Ink author Alisha Sevigny’s book Kissing Frogs.

Before I go any further if you want to win an e-copy of this YA-Romance all you have to do is drop a comment below this post and I will randomly draw a winner from the names on November 22! ** Canada Only! **

You have two opportunities to enter – today on this Review Post or next week where I will post my Q&A with the author.

Now back to the matter at hand: Kissing Frogs is a contemporary YA Romance story. Here is the blurb on GoodReads if you are looking for it.

I’m not a big reader of YA romance, but this was a well-told story that really takes you back to high school (at least if you were a raging nerd like both Jess and I were). Jess is the protagonist of the story and spent most of her school career as a great student well on her way to attending her dream college Berkley. She suffers (as we all did) from the usual tribulations of the shark tank that is middle-school with the added humiliation of a terrible nickname: Messy Jessie. Well as of the beginning of the book Jess has done what so many of us wish we could have – she has changed her fate – dramatically. She turns herself into a whole new person, using the intelligence that was focused on good grades to build herself into a popular high schooler. She has a popular boyfriend and popular friends, and no one at her new school knows that she was once the nerdiest kid in middle school.

Sadly a failing grade in biology threatens her high school utopia and Jess is forced to take remedial steps with a conservation trip down to Panama. This wouldn’t be so bad except the boy who started the whole Messy Jessie phenomenon is on the trip too… and he’s changed a lot too.

I’m not going to spoil the story for you but I will say it brought back a lot of memories of my own high school experience. Sevigny manages to speak with the voices of the teenagers without making this a morality story or an after school special. The kids are the kids we all grew up with, and the mistakes they make are the ones we all made. It captures the time and place so well I had to ask Sevigny how she did it (see that in the Q&A next week)! Finding out you are the person you tried so hard to run away from and that is alright is a message I think everyone will understand and appreciate.
I hope my 12-year-old son learns that when he reads this book (he started it last night).

What I didn’t expect was that I would learn so much about Panama and the conservation programs around the frogs. Loved that. Found myself googling a lot of the information so I could learn more.

If you like coming-of-age stories or have a kid in your life who is trying to find their place in the shark tank – I suggest you grab a copy of Kissing Frogs – you will not be disappointed.

Travelling Sale-Author: What I’ve learned so far

Photo Credit: Steve Rabbe
Photo Credit: Steve Rabbe at the infini-T Cafe in Princeton, NJ

I think I have now done enough of these book events to plan better for my upcoming events AND give advice to those of you about to head into your first bunch.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1. You are a Travelling-Sales-Author. Wrap your head around it and get comfortable with selling yourself, your brand and your books.

2. Bookmarks are a great reminder to people who don’t have the time/cash to buy your book right there, and the more fun the bookmark, the more likely you’ll be remembered!

3. If you’re reading from your book as part of your event, I suggest having two readings ready. For my own part since my book is being read by both children and adults, I have a few pages that are more action-oriented, that allow for more gestures and drama for the kids, and a more Sherlockian-tease for the adults. In both cases I have those readings as PDFs on my iPad (as you can see in the image above).

PayPal ‘Here’ VS the Square

4. If you’re selling your book yourself, keep lots of change on hand, and maybe look into getting a Square™ for people’s credit cards (I’m researching the options myself now). There’s nothing worse than having someone who wants to buy your book but can’t for those two reasons.

BTW: here’s a great review of Square VS the Paypal ‘Here’ device for reading credit cards
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UPDATE: The Paypal ‘Here’ is only available to a ‘select number of Canadian businesses’ right now, so it is not an option for me or my fellow Canucks!

5. A few days before an event (especially one you didn’t set up yourself – maybe your publisher or your agent arranged it) call/email the venue and ask if there’s anything they need. Every single venue I contacted asked for something – from some details about the book, to a physical book to put up in their window to some graphics for their Facebook Events pages. Get in contact and follow through because you BOTH want the event to be a success.

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My template

6. I didn’t believe this until I tried it, but posting physical flyers can help bring in walk-by traffic, so do yourself a favour and create some graphics for your events. I have a template I reuse by changing up the location and dates (see image to the left).

Then talk to the venue about the best places to post the flyers (every town is different). If you get the chance to post it in a local library, take the time to speak to the librarian because they will talk the event up to your potential fans as they come through the library.

7. Don’t be shy. A Book Event is no place for a shy violet my friends. You’re there to sell yourself, your book, your series and your brand. Do it with grace and humility, but do it. Sell it.

8. Leave lots of time for the author questions from other people who want to follow in your footsteps. Pay it forward! You didn’t get where you are on your own – so be THAT person for the next author struggling through the debilitating rejection letters or imposing edits.

Any others you would add Blog-o-sphere?

We have a Winner of the Wilds Side!

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Thanks to everyone who commented on the blog posts for Kat Kruger‘s final book in the Magdeburg Trilogy The Night is Found.

We have a winner and it is Rami Ungar! Congrats Sir, you will be receiving an email from the publishers very soon to arrange getting your e-copy of the trilogy. I hope you love it!