Saturday, March 30, 2013

Vignette Writing Contest and Blog Blitz

I got this in my inbox from the illustrious Jessica Bell:

Vignette Writing Contest: 1,600 Euros in prizes!

Date: March 30, 2013 05:30PM
Venue: http://www.vineleavesliteraryjournal....
Location: Greece
Enter a vignette for a chance to win 1,600 Euro in prizes!

Visit the following link to enter: http://www.vineleavesliteraryjournal....

First Prize:
- A scholarship to the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca:
- Publication in Vine Leaves Literary Journal Issue #07
- Publication in The Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2013 anthology (print) 
- A detailed first chapter critique by co-publishing editor Dawn Ius.
- A copy of The Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2012.

Second Prize:
- A detailed first chapter critique by co-publishing editor Dawn Ius.
- Publication in Vine Leaves Literary Journal Issue #07 (and the possibility of being chosen for the anthology).
- A copy of The Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2012.

Third Prize:
- Publication in Vine Leaves Literary Journal Issue #07 (and the possibility of being chosen for the anthology).
- A copy of The Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2012.

Winners announced on or before May 31.

See who else going and get more info. 

Also, THIS:

DL Hammons of Cruising Altitude 2.0 is at the head of a new movement to share some love around the blogosphere. The first blog blitz was a huge success! You can get involved, liven up the writerly blogosphere a bit! 

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Are you #PitMad? (Pitch Madness is Here!)

That's my pitch for the fast-paced frenzy of awesome pitches that is #PitMad!

Brenda Drake is our hostess. She posted details and rules here.

Will you be joining the fun?
Agents are lurking.

Katrina's blog pic

Thursday, March 28, 2013

THE HOST (the movie) is finally here! #TheHostArt

I've been enjoying all the tumblr treasures at #TheHostArt:

According to The Soul Center, Stephenie Meyer will chose her favorite next week after this weekend's release of THE MOVIE!!! Squee!

I never win these things, naturally, because I am one of those people who LOVES art, has an eye for what she likes, but can't make it to save her life. Well, I can fake making it. So here it is, my Pixlr-aided creations!

My fan art for #TheHostArt contest.
It’s a revamp of the book cover image to reflect the story in its pages. Half in light, half in shadow, two parts in conflict.


This one’s my own eye, copying the concept from the book cover and using a quote from The Host:

“Perhaps there could be no joy on this planet without an equal weight of pain to balance it out on some unknown scale.” — Stephenie Meyer (The Host (The Host, #1))

Katrina's blog pic

More Love for STUNG by Bethany Wiggins

Follow the blog tour stops

IT'S HERE!~My interview with Bethany Wiggins on Operation Awesome.

And here's some fan art, original photo courtesy the author. I just tweaked it in Pixlr.

Fiona has awakened branded, alone—and on the wrong side of the wall.
STUNG the book on facebook
Le Book Trailer:

IN other news, tomorrow is the day for PITCH MADNESS on TWITTER #PitMad
More details and rules here

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Blog Tours, Book Reviews, and a Mystery Agent Contest!

The STUNG blog tour is now underway!

Especially tune in for my interview with Bethany Wiggins on the 28th! That'll be at Operation Awesome.

The SIDEKICK tour is ongoing!

Follow the stops

Read my Afterglow Book Reviews of PITY ISN'T AN OPTION by Jessica Brooks and SPELLBINDING by Maya Gold.

Last but not least, be sure to prep your pitch for April's Mystery Agent contest! Deets here.

Currently reading:
LIVES OF TAO by Wesley Chu (with my husband)
GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell (for book club)
A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L'Engle (with my sons)
UNDERSTOOD BETSY by Dorothy Canfield Fisher (with my sons)
An unpublished book by Jen McConnel (check out her other novels) (for Month9Books)

Currently writing:
COULD BE WORSE, a NA contemp romance, 41% done

Katrina's blog pic

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Blog Chain: Why I Love Speculative Fiction (in pictures)

Topic from Michelle McLean

What elements in your favorite genre make it your favorite? For instance, if your favorite genre is romance, what elements do you like in a romance story? A tortured hero? A spunky heroine? Steamy love scenes? Sweet romance? If your fave genre is sci-fi, what elements do you love the most (the characters, the science, the possibilities?), etc?

My favorite genre is kind of an umbrella genre: 

It's speculative fiction. 

This spans widely between sci-fi, dystopia, fantasy, paranormal, and just a touch of magical realism. What do I love about it?

List time!

  • hello, it's magic! Or science stretched to the limits of imagination. Either way, it's a heck of a lot cooler than what generally goes down at the 7-11... or Circle K.
Something is afoot at the Circle K.
  • symbolism. Contemporary and literary novels can also have symbolism, and it's done really well by those genres all the time, but nobody does symbols like speculative fiction does. There's just so much freedom to run wild with them (A Wrinkle in Time). Sometimes it's downright allegorical (C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien). Love it!
Wrath of the Ents (Lord of the Rings)
Inner courage and beauty (Chronicles of Narnia)
The Old Ones, wisdom (A Wrinkle in Time)
  • larger-than-life conflicts really force me to suspend my disbelief and let me get completely lost in the story.

  • unfamiliar settings, often exotic and/or terrifying. The setting also often provides the main source, or an additional source, of conflict (see above).
Peeta Mellark in the Hunger Games arena
Diagram of the ship Godspeed in Across the Universe
(it looks spacious, but you can't ever leave!)
  • character diversity - speculative fiction gives us an opportunity to delve into sensitive subjects like racism and other forms of prejudice in a safe place where the reader doesn't feel judged by the author. Many of my favorite books deal with these kinds of war-scale conflicts between groups who hate each other just for one shared trait, like a certain magical power (Beautiful Creatures) or descent (Star Trek, Twilight and Harry Potter), or maybe the district they were born into (Hunger Games).
Statue in the Ministry of Magic (Harry Potter)
Star Trek - know your alien races
  • gadgetry! Yes, I'm confessing. I'm something of a gadget geek. Whether it's science fiction, futuristic dystopian, or even steampunk and fantasy, there are often gadgets of some kind or another involved. A holly wood wand with a phoenix feather core (Harry Potter), a pill that erases only traumatic memories that have just been shared (Memento Nora), automatons that may or may not be trying to kill you (Soulless), a well-designed spaceship that doubles as the claustrophobic setting (Across the Universe).
Couldn't resist adding my favorite doctor with his sonic screwdriver
Plush pill (this one won't make you forget)
Holly wood wand with phoenix feather core
These automatons look murderous

These are the main reasons I love speculative fiction, which is why I love working for Month9Books! It's all speculative fiction all the time, and in my favorite categories: MG and YA.

What's your favorite genre, and why?

Next stop by

 Christine Fonseca's blog to see yesterday's blog chain post, 

and check out Demitria Lunetta's tomorrow.

Also don't miss the BLOG TOURS going on right now for Sidekick: The Misadventures of the New Scarlet Knight and Pity Isn't an Option (both tours linked at the top of my sidebar as well). There are giveaways involved!
Katrina's blog pic

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Madeleine L'Engle: A Heroine Worth Emulating

I have a new favorite author. She wrote this:

The Wrinkle in Time quintet

“We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes.” 
― Madeleine L'Engle

Read all her quotes on goodreads.

My six-year-old and I are in the middle (well, maybe a quarter of the way into it) of A Wrinkle in Time, reading aloud. The writing during the part when they're "tesser"ing to Uriel made me swoon, so I decided to look up some of the quotes on goodreads. What I found surprised me. There are many, many quotes by her that have nothing to do with A Wrinkle in Time. She's written over SIXTY books. 


That's phenomenal. And many of her books seem to be realistic fiction, like Meet the Austins. So she wasn't restricted to one genre.

Here I am trying to write one amazing book. I mean, yes, I've written six sub-par books, but this woman wrote SIXTY books. Books that were read by lots and lots of people. She had critics. Everybody does. But she just kept writing.

*hero worship eyes*

Who are your literary heroes?

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: #WIPfire: COULD BE WORSE

Yesterday's Links: The In Case You Missed it Edition

Tuesday seems like as good a day as any to do some #WIPfire-ing. A little self-indulgent, perhaps, but I feel like sharing today. It's a wedding and a funeral. More specifically, a wedding with a funeral flashback courtesy our protagonist, Graylyn Stephens.

Mock-up cover, for fun and inspiration

For reference, here's the twitter pitch for my unpublished manuscript, COULD BE WORSE:

An unlucky quality assurance rep, tired of landing in pot holes & hospital beds, turns to x-sports to prove her bad luck is gone for good.

Amyson is nothing if not a hopelessly corny romantic. The snow-draped conifers wear white just for her. She makes her entrance up the milky walkway as guests sit in fabric-covered metal chairs on either side, open to the biting breezes. Natural pine fragrance tickles my nose, and fresh air fills my thirsty lungs. I almost forget the cold.

A sweet bridal smile graces Amyson’s face. Completing the moment, two men on either side of her release ivory-winged doves, which I am fairly certain are taking the opportunity to escape their handlers and fly south for the winter. They rise up, up, up, vanishing into the last snowfall of the season.

Standing fourth down in a line of bridesmaids, I shiver through the organ music. (Really, how did they get that pipe organ out here?) But when the vows begin, I listen faithfully and force my bare arms to stay still at my sides. Amyson holds the lily bouquet to her heart, frail arms covered in white gloves up to her bicep, white faux fur trimming the sleeves so that no space remains exposed. The same trim curves round her neck, topped with pearls that glow in the winter sun. She is the princess of the forest. A dark, snow-covered veil of trees spreads out at her back forever. I won’t say I feel like one of her subjects. I mean, at least I am not sitting on the metal chairs. At the very least I am a member of her inner circle.

Jeff does sit, squirming on a metal chair in the fifth row back. I find his eyes and lift my eyebrows to him. My unspoken question is answered with a wrinkle of his nose and a wink. He’s taking his discomfort with good humor.

As Henderson and my sister exchange magical, binding words on this March morning, I wish I could say my heart flutters or that I suddenly become open again to adventure and romance. In spite of the adventures I’ve already had in the past two days, my heart feels tighter than ever. I can feel myself cocooning.

Jeff came to the wedding on a whim, almost on a dare. I see it in his eyes sometimes, this playfulness that promises only reckless endangerment. What have I gotten myself into? When we go back to Chicago, him to his busy law firm and me to the Classifieds, will I be forgotten? Am I his vacation from a life he means to continue without me?

This is why my mom said never to attend a wedding with a casual date. It brings up thoughts and feelings of commitment prematurely. And that can ruin a good thing before it has a chance to get off the ground.

Get off the ground. Perhaps that’s a bad metaphor for a couple who jumped out of an airplane on their first date.

I have to remind myself I barely know Jeff, all our talk of years-in-a-day notwithstanding.

The expression of peace and wholeness on Amyson’s face tugs at my tightly closed heart. Shivers run up my arms. Her breezy happiness touches parts of my soul that haven’t been aired out in a decade.

The luncheon passes in a blur of old friends and distant relatives whom I haven’t seen since my parents’ funeral. Just seeing their faces brings back the darkness of that week:

Amyson has locked herself in her room again, refusing to see anybody but me. It’s more than awkward facing my great aunt and uncle, strangers to me, and answering their questions, bearing their unsolicited advice as they judge every action I take on my parents’ behalf. I know I’m doing something wrong, forgetting some crucial bit of etiquette in funeral planning. To own the truth, I don’t care a bit.
“You need to have the flowers sent to the reception hall after the graveside service, so people can take them home,” Aunt Lisa says.
“Okay,” I say, wiping cracker crumbs from the kitchen counter. I’ve already seen the out-of-date will and my parents’ accounts, and I know this will be our last week living in our house. Funeral flowers are the last thing on my mind.
“Leave the poor girl alone, Lisa,” Uncle Fate tells her. “We’re here to help in any way you need it, Gray.”
“It’s Lyn,” I snap. “And we’re fine. I can take care of everything.” I know he’s trying to be kind, but I can’t bear sympathy from strangers who seem to think they have a say in what happens to my parents’ bodies. Bodies. Ashes.
“You don’t have to do everything, child,” Uncle Fate protests. “That’s why we’re here. You’re young. You’ve barely begun school. We can take Amy in until she’s an adult.”
“No!” My forehead feels hot. I wipe it with the back of my hand and shake the crumbs from the rag into a spotless sink. I’ve been cleaning nonstop since…
“Maybe this isn’t the best time to talk about this,” Aunt Lisa says. “We can come back in a week.”
“We won’t be here in a week,” I say. “I’m taking Amyson to my apartment in the city. We can’t afford to keep the house, and I already have the apartment anyway. Amyson needs me right now, not…” I trail off. It’s a miracle my frazzled mind retains any semblance of courtesy, but I stop myself before I say outright what I’m thinking. WE DON’T NEED YOU. GO AWAY.
Despite my restraint, my great aunt and uncle get the point. They’re gone the day after the funeral, flowers in hand. I hate them for leaving my parents’ funeral with a souvenir, a memento, like we were a stop on their tour of the Great Lakes. I hate them for offering to help when nothing anybody could do would ever make it right. I hate them for abandoning me to go it alone. Totally alone.
I knock on Amyson’s door. “Sweetie, please open up. Everybody’s gone. I need to see your face. Please.”
Her sniffles pause, and for a moment I think she might just open the door and let me in. Then a whimper takes over where the sniffles left off, and she’s muffling her sobs into the pillow once more. I turn around and sink to the floor, the door at my back.
Whipping out my cell phone, I dial the only number I know will bring my baby sister back to me. I call Charlie.

Katrina's blog pic

Monday, March 18, 2013

Links, In Case You Missed It Edition 3-18-13

Recent happenings in my online sphere:

My review for STUNG by Bethany Wiggins is up on Afterglow Book Reviews this morning!

Amazon bestseller lists: AMAROK wins three spots!

March Mystery Agent reveal!

Pens for Paws: Operation Awesome's item went for $170! Thanks to all who bid at this charity auction benefiting Fat Kitty City in California.

PITY ISN'T AN OPTION by Jessica Brooks has a new cover and the cover designer, Icey Books, is holding a giveaway for 9 more days! Go enter!

Books I'm reading right now:

SPELLBINDING by Maya Gold: I'm enjoying the delicious magic in this one.
THE LIVES OF TAO by Wesley Chu: well-paced and deep at the same time, not to mention very funny. I'm a quarter of the way through this one, reading slowly because I'm reading it with my husband who works all day. If I were reading it alone, I'd be done already, no doubt, because it's so intriguing and action-packed! But I'm being patient because I LOVE sharing a story with my hubz. We courted over the Harry Potter books. (Goodreads Giveaway going on now!!)
GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell: I'd really like to be done with this one already, but I'm only at 45%. It's for book club this Friday. Anybody think I can make it in time? (Hint: it's got over 1000 pages.)

My writing update:

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pens for Paws, Poison, and the Robin Hobb Blurb

OPERATION AWESOME's Multi-Pack of Awesome is up for bidding at charity auction Pens for Paws today (until tomorrow)! So if you'd like to win a 20-page critique from Yours Truly, along with a handful of critiques from other OA members and signed books/swag, too, get over and bid now! (Other items for bidding include agent critiques!)

Here's a screen shot of the Operation Awesome prize:
So much goodness, it didn't all fit in one screen cap! Go check out the rest:

"Bridget Zinn's first YA novel, Poison ...released by Hyperion on March 12, 2013. Unfortunately, Bridget died from cancer in May 2011 at the age of 33. Being published was Bridget's dream. Now, nearly four years to the day from her diagnosis, her novel is at last reaching readers. On her behalf, her friends and family want to celebrate her accomplishment and help get her book into the hands of readers."

Tragic story. But here's something that isn't tragic:

Bridget Zinn's book is beautiful!

And these reviews are beautiful, too:

Kirkus Reviews

"Don't let the title or cover fool you! No grimdark teen fantasy or angst-y heroines here; just a frothy confection of a fairy tale featuring poisoners, princesses, perfumers and pigs, none of whom are exactly what they appear (except maybe the pigs)…. Good silly fun—a refreshing antidote to a genre overflowing with grit and gloom."
Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly

"The late Zinn's debut novel unfolds as a romping, fairy-tale quest with more than one twist up its sleeve. The story is vivid, headlong, and occasionally tongue in cheek, and the narrative's dark moments never get too scary because everything else is so much fun." Ages 12–18. Agent: Michael Stearns, Upstart Crow Literary.Publishers Weekly

I don't know about you, but it sounds right up my alley. I can't wait to read it, and while I do I'll think of the author Bridget Zinn who didn't get to see these glowing reviews, or probably even the beautiful cover art. And I'll feel a little sad. But what better way to honor her than to share in her dream and enjoy the book she wanted to share with the world?

WONDER LIGHT: UNICORNS OF THE MIST has been blurbed! By International Bestselling Author Robin Hobb!

And here's the short blurb on the new cover:

Exhilarating! -Robin Hobb
Add it on goodreads
Pre-order it on amazon

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Amazon Daily Deal: AMAROK!!! (and Operation Awesome charity auction item)

Housekeeping: yesterday was a huge day for YA fiction fans (who to a person adore Veronica Mars), so we have to forgive each other for completely missing out on most everything else going on yesterday. I forgive you. Do you forgive me? Okay, good. So here are the links to yesterday's blog posts:

First I shared cover love for Angie Smibert's upcoming release, THE MEME PLAGUE (August 2013), book 3 in the MEMENTO NORA series. It is fabulous, by the way. If you haven't read it, go get Memento Nora and join the revolution.

Then my husband (yes, he is awesome) posted news of the Veronica Mars Movie kickstarter page and so I went all fangirl and blogged about it.

K, flashback over.

Today, special treat from Amazon: Amarok is in the Kindle Daily Deals zone! Woot, woot! Go Angela! (That's the incredible, sweet, and talented author of Amarok.)

Here's the cover, buy link, and blurb:

On Goodreads

AMAZON DAILY DEAL: AMAROK by Angela J. Townsend $1.99 today only

Emma's life has been hell since she moved from sunny California to a remote Alaskan town. Abandoned by her father and living with the guilt of causing her mother's death, she makes a desperate dash for freedom from her abusive stepfather. But when her car skids off the icy road, her planned escape leads to further captivity in a world beyond her imagining. Dragged across the tundra by an evil mountain man and his enormous black wolf, she learns that love can be found in the most unexpected places. Amarok, as she's nicknamed the wolf, is a young man from the gold-rush era enslaved by an ancient shaman. Emma's gentle touch and kind heart win his love and devotion. When a vicious madman--trapped in bear form by the same Shaman--attacks the travelers and injures Amarok, Emma must find the strength to face her fears and free the wolf she's come to love. But that means she must face down the evil shaman, a Siberian mammoth hunter from the ice age, and he has no intention of giving up his power to her.
If you'd like to get a feel for how this wolf shapeshifting story is unique, this trailer will take you there:

As someone who's read a lot of Angela's work, I can tell you her prose is delicious, her settings vivid like sweeping masterpieces. You will feel rooted in her world for the duration of the story. You will not be able to put it down between chapters because of her expert use of suspense. And your heart will break for the ordeals of her beloved characters. If you've never read Angela Townsend's work before, I urge you to take advantage of this deal and try her out. You may discover a new favorite author. :)

Currently reading:
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (for book club)
The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu (with my husband)

What are you reading?

UPDATE: Doh! Totally slipped my mind, but OPERATION AWESOME's Multi-Pack of Awesome is up for auction at charity auction Pens for Paws today (until tomorrow)! So if you'd like to win a 20-page critique from Yours Truly, along with a handful of critiques from other OA members and signed books/swag, too, get over and bid now! (Other items for bidding include agent critiques!)

Here's a screen shot of the Operation Awesome prize:
So much goodness, it didn't all fit in one screen cap! Go check out the rest:

Katrina's blog pic

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

VERONICA MARS MOVIE!!!! #VeronicaMarsMovie

Update: We did it! $2 million dollars raised in ten hours, $2.4 mil by midnight. Veronica Mars is funded! So now we just get to have fun watching the numbers slowly tick up day by day for 29 more days. Any bets on how big the final number will be? $60 mil? Anyone? Anyone?

Why is there a hash tag in my title? Well, because something incredible is happening and it's twitter-related, as most incredible happenings are.


Veronica Mars Movie being crowdfunded by fans through Kickstarter

Does it get any better than THIS?

A favorite tv show. Check.
With an unsatisfying season finale. Check.
Canceled before they could rectify it. Check.
Teased as a new FBI crime show. Check.
Dropped as a new FBI crime show before funding. Check.
Teased as a movie. Check.
Determined unfundable to the lament of millions of fans. Check.

But today? Today!! Today, this is happening. 

A Message from Kristen:dearest marshmallows...
I am currently the happiest blonde in a hamster ball the world has ever seen. We have been waiting so long to make this movie dream a movie reality, and it’s because of YOUR commitment, YOUR persistence, that we finally have a chance. We just have one more step to go.
You have banded together like the sassy little honey badgers you are and made this possibility happen. i promise if we hit our goal, we will make the sleuthiest, snarkiest, it’s-all-fun-and-games-‘til-one-of-you-gets-my-foot-up-your-ass movie we possibly can.
I promise to give it my all. i promise to work my hardest to give everyone a little bit more Veronica, and i will be oh so honored to do so.  

So what do we have to do to make this a certainty?

Donate a few bucks to the cause at Kickstarter.

It garnered a MILLION DOLLARS in donations in the first FOUR HOURS, earning it a spot as record-breaker in the First to a Mil Hall of Fame! But there's still about $700,000 to go before they reach the goal amount so the owners, Warner Brothers, will kick in for promotion, etc. 

Let's show them there IS a big enough fan base to justify a movie!

As excited as I am about Kristen Bell taking up her role as the intrepid, vengeful Veronica Mars once more (WHICH IS VERY EXCITED), I am also completely intrigued by the precedent this is setting for the relationship between viewers/fans and TV/movies. 

If fandom rather than ratings decides what airs, then the most beloved shows will stop getting canceled in the middle of storylines! 

Kyle XY, anyone? 

What show would you fork out money to keep on the air (or raise from the dead?)

A note to the creators if they happen to read this: PLEASE BRING BACK DUNCAN KANE!!

Katrina's blog pic