Feature & Follow #99 – Fictional Character Blind Date

Welcome to the Feature & Follow Hop, hosted by Parajunkee’s View and Alison Can Read!

If you’re new to my blog, I’d love if you would follow via one of the subscription options in the sidebar (LinkyFollowers, Networked Blogs, RSS or Email). Be sure to let me know in the comments how you’re following so I can return the favor!

This week’s question (which was MY SUGGESTION, by the way) is:

You are a matchmaker — your goal, hook up two characters from two of your favorite books. Who would it be? How do you think it would go?

Okay, I know I suggested it, but this is actually hard. So many characters in books are already paired off! I don’t want to pull someone out of a “perfect” pairing, which leaves relatively slim pickings. BUT, I can do it. So.

I’m starting with the guy: Kent McFuller from Before I Fall. Poor Kent. He’s so sweet and kind and loyal, and he really gets the short straw in that book.

I mean…other than Sam, who has to die every night for a week. That’s probably a slightly worse hand than what Kent is dealt. But still. I love Kent, and he’s the one I walked away thinking about when the book was finished.

Anyway. Now to pick a lovely lady for him.

I pick Marlee from The Selection.

She’s sweet, she’s gentle, she’s kind, she’s beautiful, she appears to be universally loved, and she’s admitted she’s not that into Prince Maxon. And you know why? Because she should be with Kent. I imagine it would go something like this:

Author Interview: Myra McEntire (@myramcentire)


From about an hour after I started reading Hourglass, Myra McEntire’s debut novel, I knew I had discovered a new “favorite author.” And after finishing its sequel, Timepiece, it was confirmed: I must read anything and everything Myra McEntire writes. Immediately.

Then I was privileged to attend an author event with Myra and Amy Plum, and guys, Myra is hilarious. She had me (and the rest of the audience) in stitches most of the time. Sadly, my camera ate my picture of the two of us together, so I guess I’m just going to have to go to one of her future events to get another photo.

DARN. *blatant sarcasm*

Or I could do as my husband suggests and try to worm my way into her personal life since we live in the same city (His logic: “Don’t famous people have normal friends sometimes?”) but as I don’t actually want to be a crazy psycho-stalker, I’ll just continue to read her books and attend her events and bug her on Twitter.

So as a treat for you today, and to celebrate the upcoming release of Timepiece (June 12, 2012!), I have the joy of treating you to my interview with Myra! Yay! In it, we discuss Hourglass, Timepiece, her third book [which Myra recently announced will be titled Infinityglass], and random trivia about Myra. Enjoy!

 

I think by now, we all know what your books are about. I’ve summarized and reviewed each book on my site, plus you go into detail on your site. But if you wouldn’t mind, because I have a 6-year-old and I think 6-year-olds are hilarious, would you ask your 6-year-old to tell us what your books are about?

Hourglasses. (Hee!)

[NOTE FROM LAUREN: I guess I was asking for that! My 6-year-old is also always extremely brief when I wish she would be verbose, and verbose when I wish she was brief.]

How did you come up with the idea for Hourglass?

I visited a writer’s group and had a really silly name prompt for a character. I wrote the required pages and thought it was over, but I had niggling questions that wouldn’t allow me to let the story go!

How do you come up with names for your characters? And did you happen to name Emerson Cole after the character of Cole in The Sixth Sense (the kid who sees dead people)?

Emerson is named after Ralph Waldo. You’ll see quotes from him at the beginning of my Hourglass books. And I did NOT, but I am stealing that idea now. Thank you.

The plotlines for Hourglass and Timepiece are both really complex. How did you keep track of everything?

I have multiple spiral notebooks, and I also do a lot of searching through my manuscripts on my computer.

Kaleb has his own love interest in Timepiece (who I completely adored), but did you ever consider making a love triangle between Kaleb, Emerson, and Michael? The building blocks are there in Hourglass… (P.S. Thank you so much for not making it a love triangle).

Kaleb and Emerson would give new meaning to the words “Hot Mess.” They were never intended for each other, and the person Kaleb ends up with was meant for him from the very first baby draft of Hourglass.

Timepiece ends with a huge new development. What can you tell us about the next book? Will there be a new narrator?

There are at least two or three more Hourglass books in my mind. They all have different voices.

How long have you been writing?

Always, but for publication since 2008.

How did you find your agent?

I went the traditional route. Wrote a book, polished it, and queried.

What was your reaction when you got your book deal?

I am not a huge reactor. Mostly I was like, “ Huh. That just happened. “

What advice would you give an aspiring writer?

Read, write and be stubborn.

What’s your solution to writer’s block?

Keep going. You can’t fix an empty page. I also recommend routine tasks like folding laundry or doing dishes.

What’s next for you after the Hourglass series comes to a close? You know, if that ever happens…which I kinda hope it doesn’t.

I’m halfway finished with another project, and I’m totally in love with it. I can’t tell you anything else, except it’s very different!

If the Hourglass movie gets made (and I REALLY hope it does), who would you cast to play Emerson, Michael and Kaleb? (And any of the other characters, if you have them cast in your brain?)

(This is an exclusive post for my blog tour!)

[NOTE FROM LAUREN: I tried, and failed, to get in on this blog tour. Maybe Infinityglass?]

What’s your favorite thing about living in Nashville?

I love the pastureland. It’s so gorgeous on some of these country backroads!

Who is your celebrity doppelganger?

Rob Pattinson. Errr ….

 

 

 

 

 

[NOTE FROM LAUREN: I'm not seeing it, Myra. For what it's worth, I'd say she resembles a young Meryl Streep. Yes?]

What is your ideal vacation?

Right now, I just want the beach.

Favorite ice cream flavor?

Coffee.

Favorite caffeinated beverage?

Coffee.

Favorite candy bar?

Coffee. Oh wait. Sea salt dark chocolate.

Favorite pizza toppings?

Veggies!

Favorite chick flick? Action movie?

Tangled (I always stop and watch it), and X-Men.

Favorite time travel story (that you didn’t write)?

Any Doctor Who anytime anywhere.

What are your 5 “desert island” books?

Bible, Wizard of Oz, all the Harry Potters (obvs I’m taking more than five).

[NOTE FROM LAUREN: Cheater.]

 

Thanks so much for talking with me Myra! I can’t wait to purchase my copy of Timepiece, and I’m probably going to need therapy or something to help me get through the next year until Infinityglass is released.

If you’re interested in my in-depth opinions on Myra’s books, here they are:

My review of Hourglass

My review of Timepiece

If you’d like to learn more about Myra, buy her book, or just bask in her awesomeness, here’s some ways to help with that:

Purchase Hourglass

Purchase Timepiece (releasing June 12, 2012)

Myra’s Website

Follow Myra on Twitter

Find Myra on Facebook

Throwback Thursday (5/31): Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Welcome to Throwback Thursday, a weekly meme hosted by The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books.

It’s the nature of book blogging to focus mainly on new releases, but there are thousands of great books out there that haven’t seen the “New Releases” shelf in years. We hope to be able to bring attention to some older titles that may not be at the top of the current bestseller list, but still deserve a spot in your To-Be-Read pile.

You don’t have to be a book blogger to participate! You can put up a Throwback Thursday post on your non-bookish blog; or if you don’t have a blog at all, just use the comments to tell us about a book you remember fondly.

Here’s how it works:
1. Pick any book released more than 5 years ago. Adult, YA, Children’s; doesn’t matter. Any great book will do.
2. Write up a short summary of the book (include the title, author, and cover art) and an explanation of why you love it. Make sure to link back to The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books in your post.
3. Link up your post at The Housework Can Wait or Never Too Fond of Books.
4. Visit as many blogs as you can, reminisce about books you loved, and discover some “new” books for your TBR list!

Feel free to grab the Throwback Thursday button code from the sidebar to use in your post.
 
My throwback for this week is…

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I was first introduced to Outlander  by a friend who insisted it was an amazing story, plus it was free on Amazon at the time (sadly, it’s not now), so I figured, what the heck?

Outlander is the story of Claire Randall, a nurse celebrating a second honeymoon with her husband, Frank, with a trip to Scotland in 1945. The trip is going wonderfully, until Claire accidentally touches an ancient stone and is abruptly and violently transported back to 1743. Utterly confused and completely out of her element, before she knows it, Claire has joined up with the powerful but dangerous MacKenzie Clan at Castle Leoch.

Desperate to get back to her own time and to Frank, Claire unwittingly finds herself in perilous situation after perilous situation. Further complications in Claire’s life include her tentative alliance with rebellious clansman James Fraser, and her appalling realization that her husband’s doppelganger ancestor, Jonathan Randall, is a sadistic and merciless psychopath.

Outlander is one of the most beautiful and realistic love stories I’ve ever read. It’s not insta-love. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. It’s complicated, it’s difficult, and it’s sometimes extremely painful. But it’s also beautiful and sweet and innocent.

As for the rest of the story…it’s just gorgeous. The settings are lush and vivid. The supporting characters are extremely well-developed. The mystery surrounding Claire’s accidental time travel is intriguing, and the tension between the MacKenzie Clan and the British soldiers is nearly palpable. The intricacies of life within the Castle Leoch are fascinating. And Jonathan Randall is one of the scariest and most dispicable villains…ever.

A warning to all the YA fans out there: Outlander is an Adult book, with a capital A-D-U-L-T. It does not shy away from torture, violence, and assault. Plus there are several explicit sex scenes. So if you are a fan of the glossing-over and the euphemising and the fading to black…this is not the book for you.

However, if you can handle the adult content, I highly recommend this book to fans of romance, adventure, time travel, and historical fiction. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful story. And as an added bonus, the series is still ongoing. Although Outlander was released over 20 years ago, the seventh book, An Echo in the Bone, was released in 2009, and the eighth book is coming in 2013.

This is a Blog Hop! Link up your Throwback Thursday post below!

Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner (@jamesdashner)

I checked out The Maze Runner from the library, having no real idea what it was about other than it was another YA dystopian, and I’d heard it was really good. And people…”really good” just does not do this book justice.

The Plot

Thomas wakes up trapped in a dark box, with no recollection of his past, his identity (other than his name), or his purpose. Soon, the Box is opened by a group of teenage boys he doesn’t recognize, and Thomas emerges from the Box into a bizarre world which is surrounded by huge concrete walls on all sides. No one can tell him who he is or why he is there, because they all started in the Box too.

The boys tell him that the he is in the Glade. And outside the Glade, through the huge doors in the concrete walls, lies the Maze. They have formed a small yet functional society within the Glade, surviving until the time when one of them can find a way out. And the only way they can conceive of to escape is to solve the Maze.

Every day, the doors open. The Runners go out, searching for an exit. Every night, the Runners return, the doors close, and terrifying monsters prowl the corridors of the Maze. To be trapped in the Maze at night is to guarantee a horrific death.

The Runners have been searching for an exit from the Maze for years, but have never found a solution. But Thomas feels an inexplicable pull to become a Runner. And although he can’t explain why, he thinks he can solve the Maze.

My Thoughts

Holy cow, people. This book was insane. I was completely riveted from page 1, something that rarely happens. Even with books I completely adore, it normally takes me a chapter or two to immerse myself in the world of the book. But with The Maze Runner, I was in that Box with Thomas. I was confused and uncomfortable and determined to make sense of the situation.

As the book went on, I, like Thomas, was completely perplexed and frustrated by the mystery of the Maze and why they were trapped in the Glade. But James Dashner had an uncanny ability to predict what I was going to ask, and then have Thomas ask that very question. For example, when they’re explaining that getting trapped in the Maze at night is a death sentence, I wondered if they’d attempted climbing the walls. Then Thomas asks, “Why don’t you just climb the walls?” So although I couldn’t figure out for the life of me how they were going to escape the Maze or why we were there, I was frustrated with the characters instead of at the characters.

The pacing of this book was excellent. While the action doesn’t really kick up until about 1/3 of the way into the book, I still felt my adrenaline pumping right away just because of the strangeness of the situation. There was suspense simply in not knowing why any of this was happening. Then, once Thomas gets his bearings a bit better, the real action picked up. So basically, I felt like I was having heart palpitations for the majority of this book. In a good way.

The characters were also well developed. While not every Glader was fully fleshed-out, the main ones all had their own personalities and layers. I felt like I knew these kids, and I found myself cheering for some and rolling my eyes with Thomas at others.

Even the dialogue, which I sometimes find really annoying in sci-fi/dystopian books when the author feels the need to throw in a bunch of made-up “future” slang, somehow felt natural in this book. Maybe it’s because Thomas draws attention to it almost immediately, saying it sounds weird and foreign. Since it’s acknowledged in the book, I accepted it and moved on. Eventually, it began to sound natural, to me and to Thomas.

Bottom line: I thought this book was amazing. It’s not for everyone. It’s got an extremely high “weird” factor. And the suspense that kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire book may not be what others are looking for. But for me, I completely and totally adored this book. I couldn’t put it down (literally. I read the whole thing in a day, something I was not planning on doing). It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever read. My only complaint is that my library doesn’t have Book 2 available RIGHT NOW.

Content Guide: Contains violence and death of children, constant feelings of suspense and peril.

 

Interview: Shannon Dittemore, author of Angel Eyes (@ShanDitty)


Today is the official release for Shannon Dittemore‘s debut novel, Angel Eyes! It’s a beautiful and exciting tale of tragedy and romance, angels and demons. Isn’t it pretty? I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of Angel Eyes, and you can read my review here.

In celebration of the release of Angel Eyes, I am privileged to be able to treat you to an interview with Shannon, who has been super-kind and friendly. In it, I ask some questions about Angel Eyes, writing, and just some random trivia about Shannon, because trivia is fun.

 

Where did you come up with the idea for Angel Eyes?

I’ve always loved biblical accounts of angels. There’s so much we don’t know and the topic is fodder for imagination. As a teenager, I was part of our church’s performing arts team. We traveled, did puppetry and mime. We danced and did skits. I’ve played Satan in nearly every medium I can name. Angels and demons have always been a part of my storytelling experience, so it was a very natural choice. The heartbeat of the story, though, arrived when I began contemplating the halo.

Brielle is a dancer and a photographer. Are you either of those?

I’m not. I dabbled in photography during high school, so the dark room at Stratus High resembles the dark room I learned in, but I didn’t pursue it after that. And the only dancing I did back in high school was to Carman songs with my church group, or in a cheerleading uniform at sporting events.

How did you come up with the names for your angelic and demonic characters?

I’m kind of instinctual here. Names either work for me or they don’t. One of my angels did get a name change after I read two different books with characters sharing his name, but the other angelic characters have remained the same since I drafted the story.

I never thought I’d read an origin story for the angelic halo! How much of the Celestial realm was Biblical research, and how much was pure imagination?

It’s mostly imagination, but my imagination was informed by scripture. As a theology student, one of the problems I’ve always had reading angel books is that I’m pulled out of the story constantly because I run into theological issues that don’t gel. Angel Eyes is absolutely fiction, but I did try not to blatantly contradict scripture.

Who do you view as your target audience for Angel Eyes? Christian teens, non-Christian teens, readers of all ages…?

I’m thinking Angel Eyes is a good fit for an older young adult audience. There are some intense themes presented, so if younger readers are interested, I’d recommend a parent reading first. And, while I’ve gotten great feedback from readers across the spectrum, I’m thinking the story will be best received by readers with a Christian background.

Without getting all spoiler-y, what can you tell us about the sequel to Angel Eyes?  Will we learn more about the history between Canaan and Damien?

Well! You will learn a lot more about many of my characters. How about that? At the end of Angel Eyes there are characters scattered across two realms. Some of them will return and some of them will not, but, yes, history will be revealed.

The Afterword is from Jake’s POV. Will we be hearing more from Jake’s POV in the sequels?

Yes!

How long have you been writing?

Always, I suppose. As a kid, I wrote poetry and plays. I journalled. I didn’t get serious about novelling until late 2008. My daughter was a couple months old and a horrible sleeper. Angel Eyes was conceptualized as I walked the floor with her one night.

How long did it take to write Angel Eyes?

My first draft was done in four or five months, but it was rough. I wasn’t in a hurry and had two small children at home, so it took me another year of editing and getting feedback before the manuscript was ready for representation.

What are you most looking forward to after your book is released?

You know, I’m kind of in the trenches right now. I have several deadlines looming: line edits for Broken Wings, which is the name of book two, by the way, and I’m drafting book three. Release date or not, I don’t know that I’ll really breathe until after the first of the year. So, that, I suppose. Breathing. Resting.

What is one piece of advice you’d give an aspiring writer?

Settle in for the long haul. I wish I could say I came up with that on my own, but I didn’t. I read it somewhere and it’s never left me. It’s so very true. The waiting never stops. Even after you’ve acquired an agent and a publisher has acquired you, you’ll still be waiting for something. Learn to be okay with it.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

I walk. We live in a court and I literally walk in circles until I’ve thought through a problem. My kids sit on the steps and watch, the neighbors wave, but I have to keep moving. Have to keep thinking.

What was your reaction when you got your book deal?

It was surreal. We knew a deal was possible, so for days I answered the phone all giddy and shrill. When it wasn’t Holly—my agent—I got downright moody. After nearly offending my husband, I decided I had to get my shrill under control. So, when Holly did call with the deal, I was very zen. I was in the kitchen, staring out the window at my humming bird feeder and I just kept thinking, “Holy heck. My dream publisher wants my book.” It took several days for it to set in.

What is your favorite Bible verse or passage?

That’s tough. I’m a huge fan of the book of Daniel. I also love Esther. LOVE Esther. Not surprisingly, I’m drawn to the books that read like stories, and one of my favorite verses comes from the Gospel of Matthew. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.—Matthew 6:33

What’s your perfect vacation spot?

It’s a tie. Disneyland and Hawaii. I’m rather excited about the Disney resort they’re putting on Oahu. Best of both worlds!

[NOTE FROM LAUREN: It's official. I need to go to Hawaii.]

What song is stuck in your head right now?

I can show you the world. Shining, shimmering, splendid…. I’ve got a three year old.

[NOTE FROM LAUREN: I have this stuck in my head right now too. I also have a 3-year-old. Freaky.]

What’s the most recent movie you’ve seen in theaters?

The Avengers! Just the other night with my mom and sisters. Captain America was my favorite Avenger until Iron Man started talking. What is it about snarky bad boys?

[NOTE FROM LAUREN: This was the correct answer. And will continue to be the correct answer until Batman is released.]

What are you reading right now?

I’m actually reading several things, which is not common for me. I’m reading A Wrinkle in Time because the other day I realized I couldn’t remember half the story. I’m also reading a couple WIPs by two aspiring writer friends.

What’s your caffeinated beverage of choice?

Coffee or Pepsi. Or coffee.

Favorite snack food?

Funyuns (don’t worry, I carry gum)

Name 5 authors that have inspired you.

JUST FIVE?!

[NOTE FROM LAUREN: Yes, only five, because I am really, really mean.]

Okay, without thinking too hard, here are five fabulous writers who are so good they make me cry:

Suzanne Collins

JK Rowling

Ted Dekker

Stephen R. Lawhead

Tasha Alexander

 

Thanks so much for being willing to answer my questions, Shannon! I wish you great success with Angel Eyes, and look forward to reading more about the adventures of Brielle and Jake!

If you’d like to support Shannon, you can buy Angel Eyesfollow her on Twitter, and Like her page on Facebook. I also encourage you to visit her website for more information about Angel Eyes and her other projects.