Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The YA Spill (#7)

 Welcome to The YA Spill! 

The YA Spill is a (mostly) weekly meme where I'll have Q&A with YA book bloggers. As a founding member of a YA book blog, I've had the pleasure of getting to know many bloggers and even though I've stepped back from blogging in that capacity as often, I'm still a huge fan of reading YA book blogs and love hearing the blogger's opinions on the hottest books out there. 

So each week I'll be spotlighting anywhere from one to three YA book bloggers with a few questions on what they're currently loving and can't wait to read next. If you're a YA book blogger, and you'd like to participate in The YA Spill, please email me at cindythomaswrites (@) gmail (dot) com. 

 Please welcome this week's awesome participant:

Kris from Imaginary Reads

(Blog / Twitter / Goodreads / Facebook / Pinterest

What is the most recent book that you've read and loved? 

This is a toughie. There are so many outstanding books in the market nowadays. I’m going to go ahead and seriously talk about the most recent book I read that made my favorites shelf, which would be Endlessly by Kiersten White. I love Evie's wit and humor. And, bleep, I fell in love with a faerie midway through the book! My poor little heart is broken over the end of the trilogy.

What book recently surprised you? 

Tiger Lily. I knew it was going to be a dark retelling of Peter Pan, but it still blew me away. The characters are all broken and flawed yet compelling and endearing in their own ways. Each character has a story to tell, and I ended up sympathizing even with characters I wanted to hate. Also, the world building was spectacular. This book is a keeper.

What types of books do you wish there were more of? 

I'd like to see more contemporary novels out there, especially ones that get me thinking like Sarah Desen's books. It’s getting harder to find them with all the paranormal and urban fantasy books out there. I love paranormal and urban fantasy, but I like to read a good contemporary too!

The bigger problem I'm experiencing is finding YA books with diversity. Recently, I read Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan and found myself cheering over the great diversity I found in the book. It’s the book that made me realize just how few books there are in the YA market that cover diversity, so few that I'm ecstatic whenever I find even the smallest hint of diversity in a book.

I would also like more stand alones. While I love a good series, with so many series in the market nowadays, a good stand alone is refreshing and much more likely to stand out.

What book comes out soon that you can't wait to get your hands on?

There are a bunch of awesome books coming out, but I’ve already got a good number of them in the form of review copies. I’m really looking forward to The Forsaken, and I want Endlessly because I love it so much and want a finished edition to complete my Paranormalcy collection. I’m also looking forward to Rift by Andrea Cremer. I love her writing and world building and am excited to read the first book in the prequel series to Nightshade!

Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you became a YA book blogger?

My friends all know that I have two obsessions: ballroom dance and books. When I’m not studying, I am often either ballroom dancing or reading—or talking about one of them. Okay. I might also be taking picture of squirrels running around campus again, but that’s another story (in which I love stalking living creatures with my camera).

I began ballroom dancing late August of 2012 after my friend invited me to join the ballroom dance club with her. I fell in love with the sport and joined the ballroom dance team just so I could spend more time dancing. Seriously. I wasn’t even sure I’d be good enough to compete; I just wanted to dance. Well, I’ve been competing for almost a year now under the best coaches ever, and I’ve been holding my own on the dance floor. It helps that I have amazing partners to support me.

I founded Imaginary Reads five months before that, in April 2011, when I realized that I wasn't book talking as often as I liked and wanted to spread the book love to a wider audience. I spend so much of my time with books that they're a part of me. It's impossible for me to imagine a life without them. In fact, my dream is to work full-time in the children's book publishing business, specifically in the young adult section.

What is the first book you read & reviewed as a blogger?
Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon. I won a contest on her blog, granting me one of the first review copies ever made. Literally. I received a first edition ARC of the book back when it was still called The Carrier of the Mark, and HarperTeen hadn’t remade the cover with the lighter color scheme and the title change. I wasn’t yet a book blogger, but I felt the responsibility of reviewing the book since I’d received a title that few else had the privilege of reading yet. I posted the review on my personal blog and then copied it over to my book blog later when I started it. Actually, you could say that Carrier of the Mark is the reason I began book blogging because it was so much fun writing the review that I began reviewing more books on my blog, so much that I decided to created a whole new blog for the sole purpose of talking about books.

As a book blogger, you probably get lots of review requests. What is the best way for an author or publisher to receive a response from you when sending you a request?

It helps to be addressed personally, as it’s not that hard to find my name if you’ve even glanced over my blog, and it definitely helps to show that you’ve looked at my review policies. I like to see a request that includes the book synopsis and a link to the author’s site and Goodreads, so I can learn more about the book. I also like to see understanding and flexibility. While I’m honored that an author or publisher will take the time to contact me out of all the bloggers out there, I receive so many review copies that it’s impossible for me to accept every request that I receive. I appreciate it when the author/publisher understands my situation and is willing to work with my schedule.

I don’t like it when the request tries to sell the book to me. I don’t care to see glowing remarks from other readers copied and pasted into the email. That’s their opinion. A book that someone enjoyed may not be the book for me. I certainly don’t like to see the author’s book or anything attached if I haven’t requested it, unless I know the author and he/she knows I want to read it. And unless I know the author, I hate receiving a mass email from an author. I understand that authors have their own busy schedule, but with so many review requests coming in, it helps when an author shows consideration.

As an avid reader, are there any books that have stuck with you no matter how much time has passed since you finished reading it? If so, which one(s)? 

Anything by Sarah Dessen, Shannon Hale, L.M. Montgomery, or Tamora Pierce, to name a few. The books that I’ve read by them are books that I could reread forever. Add to that Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson, the Curse Workers series by Holly Black, and the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead. These  are just the ones off the top of my head.

If you were a YA character in a novel, which one would you be? Which one is most like you?

I’d be a side character. I don’t want to be the main characters, I want to meet them and be friends with them! There are a lot of characters I can relate with, but I don’t know which one would be most like me. Family and environment makes each of us unique! I could really relate to Mel in Team Human because of her desire to protect her friends at any cost and her desire to remain human. Gigi from Smart Girls Get What They Want is another character I can relate to. I was a quiet, studious girl back in the day, and it was in sophomore year of high school (like Gigi and her friends) that I decided to start branching out more. That was the year I founded the Environmental Awareness student group in my high school.

Is there anything else about you that you'd like us to know?
I would like to thank all the amazing authors out there. Without them, I wouldn’t be a book reviewer, and I’d lose half my childhood, as a large chunk of it was spent raiding library shelves. All my childhood librarians knew me. I was such a frequent visitor.

Thank you so much for joining me for the Spill, Kris. It was lovely getting to know you and your fabulous blog! 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Review & Author Interview: WILD INK by Victoria Hanley

Please help me welcome the wonderful Victoria Hanley to my blog today! Victoria is the author of several YA novels, including INDIGO MAGIC, just released earlier this year (Corgi Publishing/Random House). She is here today to talk about her nonfiction publication: WILD INK: SUCCESS SECRETS TO WRITING AND PUBLISHING IN THE YOUNG ADULT MARKET

I was given the chance to read this book, and to interview Victoria, and I'm thrilled that I did. As a YA writer myself, I found the information in this book to be informative and think it will be very useful to those writers who are just starting out and unsure of what the next and best steps are. 

Broken up into eleven chapters, WILD INK gives you all the information a writer needs to help them write and publish the best novel possible. It tackles topics from the different YA genres to self doubt and other obstacles that promise to get in the way of any good writing. Victoria also gives authors a great look into the differences between traditional publishing and the increasingly popular avenue of self publishing. I especially loved the chapters with agent and author interviews. There is an immeasurable wealth of helpful information in this book. I definitely suggest WILD INK to any writer who is interested in writing YA. 


How did this book come to fruition?

So many great Young Adult (YA) books are out there waiting to be written, and understanding the ins and outs of the YA genre can give writers a big advantage as they set forth on their own writing journeys. Personally, I’m in love with all things YA, and I was fortunate enough to find a great publisher for Wild Ink: Success Secrets to Writing and Publishing in the Young Adult Market.

What was the process of creating the book like?

Like planting an enormous garden under a sizzling sun while chasing butterflies during an earthquake. Put another way, this book was a process of gathering, organizing and sharing what I’ve learned about YA. I also found agents, editors, and other YA authors to give their knowledge and perspective. As often happens with writing, there was more depth, more difficulty, and more fulfillment than I expected at the outset.

What were your favorite parts of writing the book?

Well, I believe that finding your voice is the most important thing every writer must do, and Wild Ink allowed me a wonderful forum to work with my nonfiction writer’s voice. It was also fun reaching out to agents, editors, and other YA authors, many of whom agreed to answer interview questions. And I loved selecting short excerpts from various novels to illustrate the chapters on writing.

What were the hardest parts of writing the book?

As usual, just about everything took longer than I anticipated, from coordinating interviews to writing the chapters on novel structure to describing the subgenres of YA. But it’s all done now, and I’m so happy with the results. 

Thank you so much for joining me today, Victoria! It was a pleasure. 

You can find Victoria online: