Friday, September 27, 2013

Cupid's Arrow: Dream Cast for DEFY!

Hey everyone, Sara B. Larson here!

Today for my cupid's arrow, I took a shot from our very own Sara Raasch to dream cast my book, if it were turned into a movie.

Here's the thing, I LOVE movies. Well, let me rephrase: I love WELL DONE movies. And when I write, I totally envision my book like a movie in my head. That's why I love using soundtracks while I'm writing, probably. But the trick is that I always have a really hard time finding the right actor to match the characters I see in my head. I have a REALLY hard time when I go see a movie based on a book and the actors don't fit the parts. And DEFY is particularly hard because all of my main characters are a blend of different ethnicities from the world of DEFY. So I guess what I'm trying to say is none of these are perfect, but if you kind of mash them together, you might get the perfect combo. Kind of.

So without further ado, I give you the main characters of DEFY!

For Alexa:

She's born and raised in Antion, the main setting of DEFY. It's a jungle kingdom that is kind of a melting pot of different peoples. Alexa and her twin brother Marcel, are half-Blevonese, another one of the kingdoms in DEFY. The people of Blevon have a sort-of Asian look about them, in my mind. So Alexa is supposed to have olive skin, hazel eyes, and dark hair. These actresses are close to how I see her, but if you combine them with the drawings I found below, then you'd be right on.
 Adelaide Kane - possible Alexa
 Crystal Reed - possible Alexa. 
 I do really like Crystal's look and think she could be a great fit. 
 Ignore the background stuff and the metal armor, and this could be Alexa. Also, she'd be in pants. And this would obviously be BEFORE she chopped off her hair. ;-)
 Or this, but in the uniform of the prince's guard, instead of this outfit and pretty feminine hairdo. 

So that gives you an idea of Alexa. But again, none of them are PERFECT. So feel free to imagine these characters however you want when you read DEFY. 

Now on to Damian! Again, he is a mix of two ethnicities, so he is supposed to have olive skin and dark hair, but piercing, deep blue eyes. So if you could mix any one of these actors with Godfrey Gao (at the bottom) you'd have the perfect combo. ;-)
 Don't know who this is, but he could be a pretty good Damian. His eyes need to be a bit darker blue...but I'm not complaining! 
 Henry Cavill - He could definitely be a great Damian as far as his acting goes and he has the dark hair and the blue eyes. And he looks dang good in boots, breeches, tunic and holding a sword! 
 Someone suggested Ian Somerholder for Damian, and I have to admit, he would be really good at the part. He definitely has the piercing stare down, and his blue eyes and dark hair are perfect. Not sure why the color went wonky with this picture, but you all know what he really looks like. ;)
 But again, none of them have the olive skin or the slightly Asian influence that I imagine in Damian's look. So take one of them and blend them with Godfrey, and you'd have a perfect Damian! Is that too much to ask? 
 See? Really good piercing stare. Love it.

Oh, oh... I found another possible Prince Damian:
Behold Brant Daughterty. Still no Asian influence, but dang. He's got the rest going for him!

And finally, Alexa's closest friend in the guard (beside her twin brother), Rylan! He's the hardest one of all, because he's supposed to have skin the "color of cream with a hint of melted chocolate stirred in" and deep brown eyes with gold flecks. Basically, I need to find the male version of Alicia Keys. But I can't find anyone that fits the bill! Do you know of anyone? In the meantime, these guys are as good a match as I can find. 
 Sara Raasch (who has read DEFY) suggested Dean Geyer, and I agree that he's a good fit (besides his skin and the fact that he would need brown contacts!). But other than that, he'd be a great Rylan!
Don't know who he is, but he's pretty close to how I see Rylan, especially the eyes. 

Sorry for the late update, but Jesse Williams could totally be Rylan. Wrong color eyes, but hey, what are contacts for? ;-) Thanks for the suggestion!

So that concludes my (probably rather confusing) attempt to dream cast my book! Again, none of them are perfect, so feel free to imagine my characters however you wish while reading. But it's always fun to look, right?? 

And if you have any suggestions, let me know! Thanks for the Cupid's Arrow, Sara, it's been fun! And if you wish to see all the pictures I've found (or will continue to find), be sure to follow THIS BOARD on  pinterest. :-)

Friday, September 20, 2013

CUPID'S ARROW: Where I Profess My ❤ for the Unrealistic Love Interest!

Welcome to another HEARTS GONE ROGUE addition of the Cupid's Arrow Challenge. 

Today it is my great pleasure to introduce you to the man I believe completely destroyed the realistic love interest for generations of teenage girls.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...Jake Ryan.

(For those of you unfamiliar with the above hottie, please step away from your computer, 
stick your head in the nearest oven, and pray for the light. There is no hope for you.)

As we all know, Jake Ryan was really a thirty-year-old man trapped in an eighteen-year-old boy's body. Because materialistic goods were meaningless to him, he didn't think twice about driving a Porsche while the other kids were stuck in beater Hondas, and wasn't fazed to be dating the hot blonde with dairy pillows bigger than Farmer Ted's floppy disc collection. Of course he wasn't--Jake didn't roll that way. He wasn't after status, he was after depth. He was after sincerity. He was after a flat-chested sophomore who was stupid enough to answer honestly on a sex quiz!
Seems to good to be true, right?!


But that is why we love him so much!!

No girl wants to daydream about a pimple-faced kid who lights his farts for entertainment. She wants a boy who's good looking, mature for his age, loyal, funny, smart and is willing to walk through fire, slay dragons, stake vampires, publicly humiliate snobby cheerleaders, or put her abusive father in his place/jail/the grave on her behalf, all within forty-eight hours of meeting her.

No, it's not a realistic expectation, but reality is no joke, yo! If not for our unrealistic love interests how would we survive fifteen years of marriage?!

So, now that I've told you about my unrealistic love interest, why don't you tell me about yours...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Valentine Files: Sekrit Title Trivia

Today we're talking titles. Specifically, our titles. And we thought we'd share some scoop about them. Fun scoop. Sekrit scoop. SCOOP NEVER SHARED BEFORE.

Until now.

So . . .

*cue drum roll* . . . *cracks open the Valentine Files*

14 Valentines, 14 facts. The Valentine files are OPEN.:) 

File: Have Title, Will Write*
       *also known as the File that makes JLaw say this:

Kristi: "I had the title before I even started the book. Luckily, my agent and editor loved it too."

(Did you read that? Title before words. Totally crazy.)

Kristen: "The minute I say this, everything will change* BUT ... Tabula Rasa has been my title all along. I think I'm a weirdo who thinks of the title even before I start writing the book. In fact, I sort of assumed it would get changed at some point or at least I was prepared for that possibility, having heard so many stories about titles getting changed. Tabula Rasa is just too odd. Too baffling. Too Latiny. But my agent liked it, and my editor and the marketing people seem to like it, and I'm kind of in shock, but hey, it seems to have stuck!"

(You are not alone, Kristen. See Kristi, above. :D) 

File: Title Perfection From Word One**

    **These titles got THIS from start to finish:

Lindsay: "My titles for both books never changed! :) I can't say WHY they are titled that way....but they're perfect! :)"

Bethany C.: "Like Lindsay, my title stuck. My title, SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS, is perfect because it captures the sarcastic, irreverent, is-this-offensive?, tone of the book while still making you laugh."

Philip: "I've never been good with titles, but thinking of THE BREAK-UP ARTIST was a stroke of luck. I knew I wanted to do something with break-ups. Then I remembered there was a show on Vh1 called THE PICKUP ARTIST. And whalla, THE BREAK-UP ARTIST was born. Usually I hit my head against the wall thinking of titles, but this one came to me right away and it's stuck ever since."

(Like love at first sight.:D)

NOTE: Not all titles were perfect from the get-go. Sometimes when we eyed our WIP titles, we felt more like this:

File: Working Title Not-Quite-Right and even Oh-So-Wrong

JRo: "My working title was THROUGH HIKERS. Through-hikers is the term used for hikers who tackle the entire length of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine or vice versa. Though the AT and an overnight barn that through-hikers shelter in do play a small role in NO PLACE TO FALL, none of my main characters goes for more than a day hike."

Sara R.: "My title went through a bit of a change -- waaaaay back when I wrote the first draft (like 10+ yrs ago), it was called GIVING LIGHT. But since very little between that first draft and what I have now stayed the same, that title didn't fit anymore. I came up with SNOW LIKE ASHES because it was actually a title I stole/adapted from one of my other projects that just fit this book better. And, shockingly enough, my editor didn't change it!"

Lynne: "My working title for NIL was DAYWATCH, because the teens are well, watching the days. But DAYWATCH rhymes with BAYWATCH which is so NOT what I was going for and the more I wrote, the less I like the working title. (NIL is nothing like BAYWATCH, unless BAYWATCH had cheetahs and wormholes and running and death. I'm pretty sure that's a no. :D) Thanks to my CP's, we came up with NIL before I queried. Like Sara R., my editor didn't change it. And I love it!"

(HIKERS GIVING LIGHT THROUGH DAYWATCH. A weird WIP title mash-up that still doesn't work. AT ALL.)

File: Second Time is the Charm

Jen: "DAUGHTER OF CHAOS was originally called THE NEXT RED WITCH. I received a really useful critique from an agent at the SCBWI Carolinas fall conference a few years ago, and he told me to change the title before I started querying. The first title came easily to me, but DAUGHTER OF CHAOS took lots of brainstorming and help from friends and CPs, but I LOVE this title!"

Amy: "My original title was ASHES TO ASHES in reference to the burial prayer because almost every character in the novel is dead. My editor wanted something more dramatic, so my agent and I came up with several suggestions, and my favorite was OF BREAKABLE THINGS. My main character suffers from a syndrome which makes her body drastically breakable, and so in death, she learns to piece together a mind so used to being cautious and limited. Thankfully, my publisher accepted OF BREAKABLE THINGS because so many aspects of the novel are about the fragility of life, optimism, and perspective."

(Dramatic win for both. :D)
File: Freaky Author Premonition

Anne: " PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG started out as NIGHT'S EDGE. One night, I said to my husband, "Hmm, I wonder when my editor will ask about changing my title?" (since I'd heard that many titles get changed during the editorial process). Well, the next day I got an email from my editor suggesting a title change! My publisher thought the title might sound too adult thrillerish, so we agreed to brainstorm separately and send each other lists of our ideas. We independently came up with the same title, so clearly it was meant to be. The phrase "night and fog" refers to a infamous Nazi decree target resistance fighters. I like to think of my main character, Gretchen, as Hitler's first "prisoner of night and fog". But you'll have to wait until April 22, 2014 to find out if she breaks free...

(Anne, we will ALL be consulting you for more predictions. Stay tuned. :D) 

NOTE: For some writers, titles are HARD. So hard that when we open our WIP and try to think of the perfect title, we feel like THIS:

File: Generic to MEGA-AWESOME 

Bethany H.: "I am terrible at titles. TERRIBLE. I usually just called it something really generic (two of my current WIP titles: JOURNALISM CAMP NOVEL and OZARK GOTHIC NOVEL.) So when I was getting ready to query, I asked my CPs to help me with a title. They suggested Landry Park, I didn't hate it, and luckily nobody on the publishing side hated it either!"

(Um, I think they LOVED it.:D) 

File: Potentially the Longest Title Ever 

Paula: "I am not one to obsess about titles so I will generally just slap something up at the top of the doc for file-naming purposes and wait for lightning to strike. The original plot of THE ART OF LAINEY involved a girl starting a local business helping guys win back their ex-girlfriends, often by pretending to date them to make their exes jealous. I called this masterpiece PSEUDO-DATE. When the local business turned into a successful website, the title became LAINEY MITCHELL'S NOT SO SECRET GUIDE TO WINNING BACK YOUR EX. Fun, yes? Then someone informed me my plot was a lot like the plot of the movie Easy A. After watching the movie, I decided they were right, so I altered the plot but may have been somewhat inspired by Easy A's hilarious parents. When Lainey's story became more about her and less about everyone else, the title became THE RULES OF LAINEY. Utilizing The Art of War was actually an idea that hit me during revisions, and when I changed the title to THE ART OF LAINEY, it settled around the story in a way that none of the other titles had done. I knew it was 'the one.'"

(Longest path ever to the awesome but THE ART OF LAINEY is so worth it.:D <3)

File: One Word FTW

Sara L.: "My original title was DAUGHTER OF WAR, but Scholastic decided they wanted to change it to a one-word title that really grabbed attention--a word that embodied the adventure, romance, and excitement of my book. I suggested DEFY, and everyone agreed that it was the perfect fit!"

(Love a killer one world title! hehe And DEFY is killer.)

Regardless of whether it was perfect from the start or went through a change (or two), now when we look at our titles, we all feel EXACTLY like THIS:

So there you have it!

Sekrit scoop on our debut titles! What do you think?

Pick your favorite title that didn't make it (or your favorite one that did!) and we'll shower your with chocolate covered popcorn. FOR REAL. I'm not joking. (I wouldn't joke about chocolate.:D)

Here's the deal: leave a comment, tell us your favorite title that didn't make it, tell us the worst title of the bunch that thankfully never saw the light of day (until now), or tell us your favorite title that did make it (including those crazy titles that were perfect out of the gate). Then, next week, we'll pick a comment using the random number generator and we'll send you some chocolate Valentine swag from a local chocolatier. Because we love chocolate and popcorn and books and ALL THINGS SWEET and generally we're just cool like that.:)


Note: The Valentine Files are now closed.:)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Cupid's Arrow: "Do A Painting About Why You Love Fruit"

So on Friday the 13th, I probably should have chosen a more superstitious variety of arrow, but this one called to me! I love fruit! I have an art room full of paint! I have students willing to give me honest feedback (plus I could for reals do it at work as I was "modeling" artistic behavior for my students.) And did I mention, I LOVE FRUIT?

Thanks, SP at for the fun arrow. If you'd like the fruit masterpiece, let me know (but if you don't, no hard feelings ;0))

ENJOY! (It's a little shaky cam the first 30 seconds - it does get better!)
(P.S., my main character, Amber Vaughn, loves fruit, too, but she prefers it in the form of her Mama's apple spice cake!)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Book Rave: Jessica Shirvington's EMBRACE series

Jen here, ready to swoon over some fabulous books!  Y'all are probably going to laugh at me when I confess that my current favorite YA series  involves fallen angels, but I can't help myself!  (I know, I know: the girl who writes about witches reads about angels?)

These books are SO good.  I'm talking about EMBRACE and the rest of Jessica Shirvington's unputdownable series.  Although all five books have already been released internationally, the 4th one (ENDLESS) is coming out NEXT MONTH in the U.S., and I can't wait to get my grubby little hands on it.  I made the mistake of reading a review of EMPOWER, book five, and I just have to say...once seen, these things cannot be unseen!  GAGH, hurry up, October!!

Why I love these books:


Violet Eden, the protagonist is fatally flawed, and I adore her.  This girl kicks butt but can't keep her hormones in check, and I love teen heroines who don't shy away from smexy things.  (Even though, in Violet's case, sex comes with way more baggage than expected, but that's all I'm gonna say.)


Phoenix is a fallen angel.  Linc is an angel hunter. They are both infinitely sexy, and you can't blame Violet for being torn.  Totally going to admit, however: I'm team Phoenix all the way.  Every time I read these books, I hear Ke$ha's song "Die Young", and it totally makes me think of Phoenix and smile.


There's some epic world-building going on here; Shirvington plays with angelic myths and tales from many cultures, but she's crafted a totally believable contemporary setting where fallen angels lurk and Grigori, angelic gate keepers, pursue them.  Throw in some fabulous settings and sparkling secondary characters, and I'm hooked!

The bottom line:

If you love paranormal romance, heroines with flaws and fire, and love interests who are hot and deadly, you need to read these books.  Go on, I'll wait.  Tell me what you think!

 What upcoming releases are you dying to get your hands on?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Writerly Habitats Contest #2!

ETA: Pat Edsen is our lucky winner! Pat, Anne B. will be in touch about your prize!

Oh, I’ve got a tricky one for you this week!

You are never ever ever—like Taylor Swift levels of never ever—gonna guess whose desk this is. OK, well, technically, you’ve got a 1 in 14 chance of guessing correctly. Oh, wait. Make that a 1 in 13 chance because we already know that it can’t be the lair of Sara Raasch because this is Sara’s native habitat.

Of course you can increase your odds of guessing correctly by KNOWING YOUR VALENTINES because there is a big ole clue the size of a wheel of Wisconsin cheddar in this picture. AND. We have yet another cat owner. Yes, you can just sort of make out a small bowl of kibble in the corner of the picture. I just hope that this person’s cat is nothing like the foul feline beast I had a few years ago, who has now passed over the rainbow bridge, may he rest in peace, although I hope he’s doing a bit of time in purgatory for peeing on my bed.

WAIT A GOSHDARN MINUTE. Now I just gave you yet another clue, and increased your chances of guessing correctly to 1 in 12.

Well, without further ado, here it is:


Let’s see what you think. Who does this desk belong to, my lovelies? 

A guess in the comment section, even a wrong one, enters you to win this signed copy of Skylark by Megan Spooner!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Hey sweet readers!

Today I'm raving about not only one of my all-time favorite books, but one of my all-time favorite series: the Jenna Fox Chronicles by Mary Pearson. I CANNOT RECOMMEND THIS SERIES HIGHLY ENOUGH! It will blow your mind, and haunt you for days, even weeks. Maybe forever. I recently finished the third book in the series, FOX FOREVER, (aptly titled, right?!) and weeks later, I'm still thinking about it.

It's that amazing.

I <3 this trilogy SO MUCH, for so many reasons. The first? The gorgeous covers. Because I can't help myself, I'm going to show you all three.:)

Book One

Book Two
Book Three

Aren't the covers stunning?! I think so too. I truly love all three books--for different but equally awesome reasons--but for this book rave, I'm going to focus on the first book, since it's the perfect introduction to this trilogy if you haven't read it already.

Here's the cover that I have of THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX (the original cover), along with the description from Goodreads:

Who is Jenna Fox? Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a coma, they tell her, and she is still recovering from a terrible accident in which she was involved a year ago. But what happened before that? Jenna doesn't remember her life. Or does she? And are the memories really hers?

This fascinating novel represents a stunning new direction for acclaimed author Mary Pearson. Set in a near future America, it takes readers on an unforgettable journey through questions of bio-medical ethics and the nature of humanity. Mary Pearson's vividly drawn characters and masterful writing soar to a new level of sophistication.

This book won oodles of awards, which you can find on Mary's website. And I think it deserved every accolade it received.

At the book's core rests the powerful question: "what makes us who we are?" It explores the very essence of humanity, while at the same time raises probing questions concerning the boundaries of medical ethics and bio-experimentation--all within the framework of Jenna's personal quest to figure out her identity. The characters are rich and layered, the pacing breathless. And the writing? Absolutely beautiful; it pulls you in from page one and never lets you go.

Having recently finished FOX FOREVER, the Jenna Fox Chronicles were as powerful for me as THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy. (Side note: here's an interesting fact: Suzanne Collins blurbed the second book, THE FOX INHERITANCE, calling it a "riveting" and "thought-provoking sequel." Yup, the second book is THAT GOOD too. Once you read the first, you'll be sucked in and I guarantee you'll be dying to read the sequel...and then the finale.:D)

Like I said at the start, I can't recommend this book--and series--highly enough. :)

So, have you read THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX? What did you think? And if you haven't read it, GO! Make it your #FridayRead, make it your #WeekendRead. But definitely read it. You won't be disappointed. I'll bet a a fresh-baked batch of chocolate chip cookies on it.:)