Friday, May 31, 2013

Our First-Ever Cupid's Arrow Spin!

Can you guess who drew which cupcake picture? Try to figure out which one is mine, and which is my four-year-old's and enter your responses in the comments section below for a chance to win an autographed copy of INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows! And, yes, feel free to snicker at my lack of artistic skills. Thanks to our mystery fan known only as Pixie Sprinkles for the Arrow.

Today's winner will be announced in Tuesday's post, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sweet Six Interview with Renee Collins!

I am SO PUMPED for today's Sweet Six interviewee -- not only is her book OHHHMAIGOSH unique, but she is one of my most adored peeps and I love her to death.

May I introduce...*drum roll*...RENEE COLLINS!




Renee is a YA writer and professional ponderer. She loves historical settings, fantasy, and semi-tragic romance. She is represented by the amazing Mollie Glick of Foundry Literary + Media, and her debut novel, RELIC, will be out Fall 2013 by Entangled Pub!




After a raging fire consumes her town and kills her parents, Maggie Davis is on her own to protect her younger sister and survive best she can in the Colorado town of Burning Mesa. In Maggie’s world, the bones of long-extinct magical creatures such as dragons and sirens are mined and traded for their residual magical elements, and harnessing these relics’ powers allows the user to wield fire, turn invisible, or heal even the worst of injuries.

Working in a local saloon, Maggie befriends the spirited showgirl Adelaide and falls for the roguish cowboy Landon. But when she proves to have a particular skill at harnessing the relics’ powers, Maggie is whisked away to the glamorous hacienda of Álvar Castilla, the wealthy young relic baron who runs Burning Mesa. Though his intentions aren’t always clear, Álvar trains Maggie in the world of relic magic. But when the mysterious fires reappear in their neighboring towns, Maggie must discover who is channeling relic magic for evil before it’s too late.

Relic is a thrilling adventure set in a wholly unique world, and a spell-binding story of love, trust, and the power of good.

1) Tell us about your book! 
RELIC is a historical fantasy set in the 1860's Colorado Territory. In this version of the Old West, miners don't dig for gold, but relics, the bones of long extinct fantasy creatures that still retain magical properties. Maggie Davis watched her entire town burn in a fire started by relics, and she's determined to find out who's behind it, even if it means risky alliances and learning to harness the power of relics on her own.

2) What scene in your book do you LOVE the most? 
Ooo, tough question. I'd have to say I loved writing every scene with Álvar Castilla. Because he's rich, charming and has dark secrets. What's not to love, right?

3) If you had to pick a character you LOVE (and not your own!), who would you pick and why? 
Jay Gatsby. And I've loved him long before the movie, mind you. I just love how hopelessly romantic he is, everything he did to try and win Daisy back, how fervently he believed he could make their love work again. It's so sweet and so sad at the same time.

4) What's the craziest/most memorable valentine you've ever received? 
My senior year, this guy put flowers or poetry on my desk in every single class I had that day. We weren't even dating! In retrospect, I'm wondering why on earth not.

5) If you were a Brach's Heart, what phrase would be written on you? 
Go for it.

6) The all-important choice: flowers or candy? 
Flowers! I'm a sucker for roses, cliche as that might be.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Find RELIC on Goodreads.
Preorder it through any of these various awesome venues.
Stalk Renee on Twitter and Blogger.

TRUST ME, GUYS -- you want this book. When was the last time you read a MAGIC WESTERN? Maggie and her crazy, dangerous world will steal your heart like WHOA.

Thank you so much for stopping by, Renee!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

CUPID'S ARROW: In which I profess my love for a land down under


I went to Australia, but I was not allowed to touch these vicious koalas.

That's right. AUSTRALIA. So if you know me or my (not so) mysterious alter ego at all, you know that I am a girl who gets around (*ahem* in a traveling sense, thank you very much). So of course I've been to Australia and of course it was epic and fabulous and so when Tez of Tez Says fame shot an arrow inviting me to profess my love for Australia, I grabbed that sucker right out of the air.

Sadly, I just got home from an epic journey across Scandinavia and all attempts to humiliate myself by singing were thwarted by my lack of time and skills, as well as my not-quite-smart-enough phone. Next time, people, I will have the technology. Or something.

Anyhoo, you will just have to imagine me singing the lyrics to this fine song I wrote about Australia. (Think of a very bad violin player accompanying 2 bullfrogs croaking and a smattering of brawling tomcats and you'll be getting close).


AUSTRALIAN THINGS 
(sung to the tune of Rodgers's and Hammerstein's MY FAVORITE THINGS) 


Men at Work, Midnight Oil, Silverchair too
Pitch Perfect's Fat Amy and the digeridoo
Actor Daniel Lissing--I've heard that he sings
These are my favorite Australian things.

Koalas and devils, wombats who need huggage
The good folks at Qantas who found my lost luggage
Christmas in summer and the fun that it brings
These are my favorite Australian things.

When the croc bites,
When jellies sting,
When I'm feeling sad,
I simply remember Australian things
And then I don't feel so bad.

Guys with hot accents playing rugby and cricket
Larrikinism instead of a ticket
Prawns on the barbie and Tanzanite rings
These are my favorite Australian things.

 

When the croc bites,
When jellies sting,
When I'm feeling blue,
I simply remember Australian things
And then I know what to do.
PLAN A TRIP! :)


No fake crocodiles (or silly writers) were injured during the creation of this arrow. 

Thanks for the arrow, Tez. Keep those arrows coming, people :)






Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sweet Six Interview with NATALIE WHIPPLE!



I'm super excited to present our Sweet Six interview with … with…

*extreme hyperventilation in progress*

Someone please get me a paper bag to breathe into before I pass out!

IT’S! 

IT'S!

NATALIE WHIPPLE!!

YESITBLOODYWELLIS!

Ohmigosh. Where’s that house elf with my smelling salts?

OK, sure, you probably already follow her blog. You probably already follow her on Twitter. You probably already pre-ordered Transparent, which just happens to be out TODAY. But you don’t know how she’ll answer these hard-hitting questions about candy. READ ON and prepare for the shock and awe, my friends!


1) Tell us about your book!

It's rectangular and has three hundred and...wait, that's not what you meant, huh. Oh fine, TRANSPARENT is about an invisible girl who runs away from her mob boss father in search of a normal life instead of crime. When you're the only one of your kind, even an invisible girl can't hide forever.

2) What scene in your book do you LOVE the most?

Well, the scene I love the most is a massive spoiler, so I will tell you the scene I love second best. It takes place in a Taco Bell. There is a burrito-eating contest, awkward conversations, intense competition, confusing crushes, and new understanding. I know, who knew so much awesome could happen at a Taco Bell?

3) If you had to pick a character you LOVE (and not your own!), who would you pick and why?

Cricket Bell from LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins. I don't even have to think twice about that. Seriously, he is my one true fictional crush. Cricket is pretty much everything I would have crushed on as a teen (and even now if it weren't so creepy old-lady stalker)—the pants and the tallness and the hair and the weird hobbies and the EVERYTHING. I always tell people they can have Étienne (from ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS) but Cricket is MINE BACK OFF LADIES.

4) What's the craziest/most memorable valentine you've ever received?

A water heater. No joke. One cold winter morning I walked out my front door to go to school and there was a beat up water heater on my porch. It had a poster taped to it that said, "Dear Natalie, Here's a water heater. Will you go to the Valentine's Dance with me?"

It was freaking awesome, and of course I said yes! Because, hello, a WATER HEATER.

5) If you were a Brach's Heart, what phrase would be written on you?

"Don't touch me. I'm prickly." I've never been much for lovey dovey stuff...and I really do have a giant personal bubble.

6) The all-important choice: flowers or candy?

Candy, duh. Dark chocolate. All the dark chocolate.


Thank you so much, Natalie! 

Well, what are you all waiting for? Go! Go to the bookstore now and get TRANSPARENT!

Friday, May 17, 2013

CUPID'S ARROW: Jude Law haiku guessing game

Today's Cupid's Arrow comes courtesy of Kierra of the fantastic blog All About YA Novels. She wanted one of the Valentines to venture into his/her writing cave and create beautiful poetry about beautiful man Jude Law. Well, Kierra, that can be arranged.

For the uninformed, Jude Law is a film actor who is equal parts handsome stallion and talented actor. Come for the British accent, stay for the bravura acting.


I decided to have some fun with this arrow. I turned it into a game. Below are 5 haikus, each about a different Jude Law movie. See how many you can get right. I'll post the answers Friday afternoon.

1) A charming playboy
Killed by his creepy pale friend
Identity thieved

2) Loved Nicole Kidman
Survived Civil War for her
And then he got shot

3) Detective's sidekick
 In Victorian England
Looked good with mustache

4) Gorgeous widower
Fell for an American
Over Christmas break

5) He cheats on black swan
Sleeps with Erin Brockovich
Everybody's sad

Thanks for the arrow, Kierra!

Cupid out.

(And congratulations to Stephanie Thomas for winning last week's Cupid's Revenge prize package! Don't forget to shoot us arrows for more prizes and fun!)

UPDATE - The answers to these haiJudes (see what I did there...):
1) The Talented Mr.Ripley 
2) Cold Mountain
3) Sherlock Holmes
4) The Holiday
5) Closer



Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sweet Six Interview with VERONICA ROSSI!!

Today for our Sweet Six interview, I was lucky enough to get New York Times Bestseller, VERONICA ROSSI to answer our questions.

Veronica's books are absolutely amazing--if you haven't picked up UNDER THE NEVER SKY or THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT yet, you'd better get on it. Like, RIGHT NOW. Well, okay, you can wait until you read the interview first. And maybe enter our contest from friday (who doesn't like free books?). But THEN. Go forth and read her books. And come thank me later. ;-)

Okay, so, here's a little info about Veronica:

Veronica Rossi is the author of post-apocalyptic fiction for young adults. Her debut novel, UNDER THE NEVER SKY, is the first in a trilogy. Released in January 2012, it was deemed one of the Best Books of Year by School Library Journal. The second book in the trilogy, THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT, debuted in January on the NY Times and USA Today Best Seller Lists. The final book in the series, INTO THE STILL BLUE, is expected to release January 2014.

Foreign rights to the UNDER THE NEVER SKY trilogy have sold in over twenty-five territories to date and film rights have been optioned by Warner Bros.

She completed undergraduate studies at UCLA and then went on to study fine art at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. She lives in Northern California with her husband and two sons. When not writing, she enjoys reading, painting, and counting down the minutes until she can get back to making up stories about imaginary people. 

Her work is represented by Josh Adams of Adams Literary.

And she's gorgeous, too! 

Veronica is one of the nicest, most genuine people I've had the pleasure of getting to know in this business. (And we're agent sisters!) And look at these gorgeous covers for her books:





Ah, Perry.... sighs... *shakes self* Wait. What was I doing? Oh, right. The interview. *ahem*

Here are her answers to our Sweet Six interview questions:

1) Tell us about your book!

I'm finishing up the UNDER THE NEVER SKY trilogy. Books one and two, UNDER THE NEVER SKY and THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT, are available. The final book, INTO THE STILL BLUE, will be published early 2014.

The series follows Aria, who comes from an advanced society that lives in domed cities, and Peregrine, who lives in the harsh, external world in an almost primitive existence. It's a coming-of-age story, a love story between the two leads, as well as a story about their societies, and which will triumph as the world rapidly deteriorates toward a apocalypse. Lately I've been calling it the Amazing Race between two societies, with the prize being that they get to live.

2) What scene in your book do you LOVE the most?

I've loved writing many scenes, but one of my favorites is the first time Aria and Peregrine kiss, in book one. Not gonna lie: that was fun to write.

3) If you had to pick a character you LOVE (and not your own!), who would you pick and why?

Hmm. Lyra Belacqua from Phillip Pullman's HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy. Just popped in my mind, but I love--LOVED--that character. Also, Katsa from GRACELING. For male characters, I really loved Travis from Trish Doller's SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL, and Jace from Swati Avashti's SPLIT. Now I want to reread all of those books!

4) What's the craziest/most memorable valentine you've ever received?

I once received a beautiful rose made of paper from someone unexpectedly. It wasn't crazy, but it was very memorable and thoughtful.

5) If you were a Brach's Heart, what phrase would be written on you?

Love
Life

Or, alternatively:

Live
Love

6) The all-important choice: flowers or candy?

Flowers! Specifically, peonies. I'm obsessed with them, I tell you. Obsessed.



Thank you so much for taking the time to do this Veronica! Isn't she the cutest? I can't wait for the last book in the series, INTO THE STILL BLUE, to come out early in 2014!! 


Friday, May 10, 2013

It's Time for CUPID'S REVENGE!


That's right, folks. Cupid is feeling a little naughty and instead of shooting those arrows at us, he's decided to turn them on you! Uh huh. You heard it. You are being challenged to play the fool.

So here's the deal. Below is a Rafflecopter form. You get a bonus point each for following the blog and following us on twitter, but the big-point-sheebanga is the limerick.

THE WHAT?

The LIMERICK.

Your challenge (should you be so brave except we've heard you're chicken and there's  no way you have as many guts as we do collectively so yeah right we'll see if you do it) is to write a limerick professing your love to:

a: jello recipes
or
b: circus clowns
or
c: meerkat colonies
or
d: pickle juice


Nobody said revenge was easy (and if you feel this is tough, no telling what arrow you'll send us on the above form tab for Cupid's Arrows *hint hint* *wink wink*).  But you see, we're sweetening it with a super prize!
video

(for those with no time to watch my silly video and miss my very bad hair, prizes are 3 YA books, candy, and revision supplies)


And to help you out here's Wikipedia's definition of a limerick: The standard form of a limerick is a stanza of five lines, with the first, second and fifth rhyming with one another and having three feet of three syllables each; and the shorter third and fourth lines also rhyming with each other, but having only two feet of three syllables. 

Good luck, our little candy hearts, may the Rafflecopter gods find you creative! We will announce the winner on next Friday's Cupid Arrow. And, I apologize to my international friends, but this is a US prize drawing.



Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Our Sweet Six: An Interview with Robin Mellom, author of DITCHED

Today we're hanging out with Robin Mellom, the kind and funny and crazy-talented author of the YA novel, DITCHED. 

Before we gets into the Sweet Six scoop, I have a cool confession. Two, actually. First, I grew up with Robin, and know how sweet she is IN REAL LIFE.:) Then, as life tends to go, we lost touch after high school. We reconnected recently (on Twitter of all places!) and how crazy is it that we both are YA authors? But cooler still is the fact that I read DITCHED and totally loved it . . . before I knew it was written by Robin. I didn't recognize her married name, and went I finally put two and two together--that Robin Mellom was the same Robin I grew up with (her maiden name is a Valentine sekrit :D)--I was over-the-mooon happy for her. BECAUSE IT'S THAT GOOD. :)

So let's talk DITCHED! :) Here's a sneak peek:


There's a girl.
Justina Griffith was never the girl who dreamed of going to prom. Designer dresses and strappy heels? Not her thing. That said, she never expected her best friend, Ian Clark, to ask her.

And there's a boy.
Ian, who always passed her the baseball bat, handle first.
Ian, who knew exactly when she needed red licorice.
Ian, who promised her the most amazing night at prom.

Then there's a ditch.
But when Justina is ditched, figuratively and literally, she must piece together--stain-by-stain on her thrift store dress--exactly how she ended up dateless...with only the help of some opinionated ladies at the 7-Eleven.

To get the whole store, Justina will have to face the boy who ditched her. Can losing out at her prom ultimately lead to finding true love?

Yes, DITCHED as awesome and funny and sweet as it sounds.:) Ready to meet Robin? Let's go!

1) Robin, tell us about your book!

In DITCHED: A LOVE STORY, a 16-year-old girl finds herself lying in a ditch the morning after her prom with no memory of the last twelve hours, which includes a disappearing prom date and a punk Tinkerbell tattoo. She must piece together—stain-by-stain on her thrift store dress—exactly how she ended up dateless…with only the help of some opinionated ladies at the 7-Eleven. But to get to the whole story, Justina will have to face the boy who ditched her. Can losing out at her prom ultimately lead to finding true love?


2) What scene in your book do you LOVE the most?

I had the most fun writing the scene that takes place in a tattoo parlor. I visited several different shops so I could set the right tone and include details that would make the moment realistic. The main character has a conversation with Fritz, the owner of the tattoo parlor, and it’s the turning point where she discovers what her date is really thinking. SO. MUCH. FUN!

(Interviewer's note: I LOVED THIS SCENE! *sits on hands so I don't spoil it* :D)

3) If you had to pick a character you LOVE (and not your own!), who would you pick and why?

I adore Bridget Jones. She’s snarky and vulnerable and flawed and funny. And I’d love to hang out with her. (Or smoke a ciggy with her.)


4) What's the craziest/most memorable valentine you've ever received?

In grade school, a boy once wove a ring out of some blades of grass and gave it to me. He said, “Here. I made this for you.” What more could a girl want??

(Interviewer's note: Robin, I'm dying to ask you who gave you this thoughtful gift. He was green before green was cool.:) lol) 

5) If you were a Brach's Heart, what phrase would be written on you?

“READ ME”


6) The all-important choice: flowers or candy?

Candy! Because when you’re on deadline and it’s midnight and you still have hours of work to do, stuffing your face with flowers doesn’t do much good.


So right Robin! Thank you SO much for hanging out with us today and talking about DITCHED. Such a fun read!

But wait...there's more.:) Robin is not just a YA author, she writes awesome middle grade too. Check out the cover of her first MG novel, THE CLASSROOM: The Epic Documentary of a Not-Yet-Epic Kid

Cool, right? And the second book in this series, THE CLASSROOM: Student Council Smackdown! releases June 25, 2013 from Disney-Hyperion. Perfect summer reading for your middle grade crew!

Alright sweet peeps, here's a little more about the awesomeness that is Robin Mellom:

Robin has taught grades 5 through 8 and has a master's degree in education. She lives with her husband and son on the Central Coast of California. The avocados there are AMAZING.:)

Want to contact Robin or learn more about her books? You can find her here:



Thanks again Robin!  *sends huge Valentine hugs from all the Valentine crew*

Friday, May 3, 2013

Cupid's Arrow: A Recipe

**UPDATE: We have a winner for the April Cupid's Arrow Giveaway! Ashley Francis, CONGRATULATIONS! We will contact you soon to arrange your fantastic bookish prize :)**

Keep in mind, ANYONE can win our monthly giveaways simply by submitting Cupid's Arrows. You automatically get entered into a fabulous contest AND you get to see us make fools of ourselves. What's not to love?

Today's Cupid's Arrow comes courtesy of Jillian Schmidt, who is allowed to remain my friend because, despite the horrific mishaps of this Arrow, it was actually not too humiliating. That might make you go "Well, what's the point of watching it if Sara isn't humiliated?" but trust me, when I say the Arrow was "not too humiliating," I do not mean that the video did not end up humiliating. But any humiliation sustained was entirely on account of my airheadedness and in no way should be blamed on Jillian.

Actually, it'd be more fun to blame Jillian. JILLIAN HOW DARE YOU DO THIS TO ME.

Okay, no more delaying it. I was supposed to profess my love to mine or my characters' favorite recipe and do so in a mock cooking show clip. Fun, right? Actually, it was. But like I said. Humiliation. Airheadedness.

*sigh* Fine, fine. Here it is. It's a little long, but I promise, the entire thing is really quite explosive.



Recipe for Hot Chocolate Lavender/Lavender Hot Chocolate/One of those combinations of words

(This recipe is adapted from this recipe.)

1/4 tsp lavender (I got mine at Whole Foods, but most grocery stores should have it)
2 cups milk
3 oz dark chocolate
1 oz milk chocolate (or more, because seriously, ounces? WHAT. Just throw a bunch of chocolate in)

Bring milk and lavender to a boil but DO NOT LET IT BOIL OVER OR YOU WILL REGRET YOUR ENTIRE LIFE.

Remove milky lavender concoction from stovetop and let steep for five minutes.

Strain milky lavender concoction to remove lavender buds from milkiness. DO NOT EAT THE LAVENDER BUDS OR YOU WILL REGRET YOUR ENTIRE LIFE.

Return milky lavender milk to pot and put on stovetop. Well, first make sure your pot is cleaned of any milky residue that might have gotten on the outside during the first steps. Not that I think you let it boil over. You're much smarter than me. You would never do such a thing. So actually, since you certainly didn't let it boil over, skip the cleaning step.

Add chocolate. CHOCOLATE YAY.

Whisk constantly and return milky lavender chocolate mixture to a boil until chocolate is melted and it looks delicious.

Carefully pour into a blender and/or cup and stir up really good to get it frothy but whatever you do FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON'T SHAKE IT. (Do you remember in the movie The Santa Clause where the little elf girl tells Tim Allen her special hot chocolate recipe and she goes "Not too hot, EXTRA chocolate, shaken not stirred"? I feel like my entire childhood was a lie now because CLEARLY hot chocolate CANNOT be shaken.)

Drink. Decide whether or not you like floral flavored things. Drink more. Eat the leftover chocolate. Figure out something exciting to do with all that leftover lavender.

Clean the chocolate off your ceiling. Oh wait, that's just me.