Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bringing Up The Rear...that doesn't sound right!

I've never enjoyed talking about myself, which is partly why I enjoy writing so much. When you write you can escape into your characters and typically your book overshadows you as the writer. But alas, today writers have had to learn how to sell themselves along with their books, so I'm forced to talk about little old ME!

I haven't always wanted to be a writer. When I was five I was certain I was going to become a veterinarian. When I was nine I was positive I was going to be Laura Ingalls Wilder and even insisted that my parents call me Laura and in return I referred to them as Ma and Pa. It wasn't until I was in my late teens that I toyed with the idea of becoming a writer. My interest however was not in writing novels, but in becoming a world traveling journalist. So in an effort to set that goal in motion I joined my high school newspaper, and eventually joined my University newspaper. After graduating from University I decided I would go to the University of Ryerson in Toronto, get my journalism degree and then get a job on the Toronto Star like my literary hero, Ernest Hemingway.

Life however threw me an unexpected curve ball that came in the form of a handsome man, who I eventually married. All of a sudden my life was that of a wife, traveling from province to province, in my husband's quest to find employment. My dream of becoming a journalist was over, or so I thought. In the next eight years we moved four times and had four children, and in that time opportunity presented itself and I took it. I got work as a part time reporter on a weekly newspaper in Ontario, which led to a freelance job with the CBC...I was lucky. That led to a freelance gig with the Los Angeles Times...again lucky!

After my youngest son was born I was watching a documentary on television about Japanese picture brides who came to Canada and the United States in the early 1900's, to marry Japanese men who had come to North America to seek their fortune. The idea stuck and from there I wrote my first picture book. I sent it out to four publishers, who all turned it down. I was discouraged and figured I should just give it up, but something told me to send it out again. This time I got a response and it was from a wonderful man named Peter Carver, who eventually became my editor. The book was published in 2007 by Red Deer Press and I couldn't be more proud of it.

In 2009 my second book, a middle grade novel called How to Ruin Your Life and Other Lessons from the Fourth Grade, will hit bookstores. I'm currently working on my next book, writing for two magazines and freelancing for Sun Media. When I'm not at my computer, which doesn't seem to be that often, I mother four beautiful and hilarious children who not only inspire me, but also act as my sounding board.

I can't guarantee where my writing will take me, but I can guarantee one thing...I'm gonna enjoy the ride! I couldn't be more pleased to be a part of this wonderful group of talented women. Each one is such a promising new writer with a very bright career ahead of them.

All the best
Carolyn McTighe (A proud member of The Novel Girls)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Girl Friday!

Hello! I’m Lesley Livingston and I’ll be your Girl Friday here at THE NOVEL GIRLS!

Right. So. About me.

- I am Canadian (one of the two resident Canucks here at TNG!).

- I am a writer and an actor (you can call me ‘actress’ if you want—makes me no never mind...) who routinely performs Shakespeare for adoring hordes of high school students. I’ve played Lady Macbeth more times than I’ve had hot dinners.

- I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta and I wanted to be a jockey when I was a kid—to the point where I would climb up on barbed-wire fences and fling myself onto the backs of the feral horses that grazed in the fields around our cottage... Yeah. That never went well.

- I have the distressing potential to become a Future Crazy Cat Lady. Fortunately, I would be accompanied in this endeavour by my Future Crazy Cat Man and, insofar as neither of us really wants to see this happen, we tend to keep each other in check—and the feline population of the house at a steady three.

- For almost three years, I hosted weekly sci-fi/ fantasy late­-night movie-marathons on a nationally broadcast show called Spacebar: I played a character called the Waitron-9000, a sparkly holographic waitress with an encyclopaedic knowledge of obscure B-movie trivia. More recently, I am a contributor to the geek-tastic online magazine/nerd community Hardcore Nerdity—a place where I truly let my geek flag fly and get to interview some really cool folk at the same time (check it out—but only after your done here!)

- I love performing and writing for teens. When I was at the age that my audience is now, I was an unrepentant egghead (which I remain to this day and thankfully does not preclude a love of shoes and shiny things!). I was captivated by stories of mythology and folk lore, past civilizations, and legendary heroes. I’m a Celtic Mythology geek, especially when it comes to stories of the Otherworld, Faeries and King Arthur. Eventually, I just started to draw on all those elements from those tales that were so dear to me and began to write my own.

- I’ve been a writer and performer for as long as I care to remember, and I freely admit that its due to some kind of perverse stubborn streak. This is craziness, this business. We all know that. But it’s the kind of craziness that, some days, feels like driving with the top down straight into a thunderstorm, radio blasting, laughing like a maniac and never mind the lightning and the bugs in your teeth, ’cause whatever happens and however scary and uncomfortable it might get, it’s sure gonna be interesting. At some point early on, I guess I just signed on for that ride. I’m so glad I did.

Now. About the book!

WONDROUS STRANGE will be released on December 23, 2008 by the marvelous people at Harper Collins and is the first in a Trilogy! Here’s an idea of what it’s all about:

Kelley Winslow is living her dream. Seventeen years old, she has moved to New York City and started work with a theatre company. Sure, she’s an understudy for the Avalon Players, a third-tier repertory company so far off-Broadway it might as well be in Hoboken, but things are looking up—the lead has broken her ankle and Kelley’s about to step into the role of Titania the Fairy Queen in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Faeries are far more real than Kelley thinks, though, and a chance encounter in Central Park with a handsome young man will plunge her into an adventure she could never have imagined.

For Sonny Flannery, one of the Janus Guards charged by Auberon, the King of Winter, with watching over the gate into the lands of Faerie that lies within Central Park, the pretty young actress presents an enigma. Strong and willful, she sparks against his senses like a firecracker and he can’t get her out of his mind. As Hallowe’en approaches and the Samhain Gate opens, Sonny and Kelley find themselves drawn to each other—and into a terrible plot that could spell disaster for both New York and Faerie alike.

So. In conclusion, I’m chuffed to be your Girl Friday and I thoroughly grok this grog (see—nerd alert—that was a Start Trek thing... sorry...) Thanks for letting me be a part of it, NOVEL GIRLS!

If you'd like to visit me elsewhere on the interwebz, please feel free to check out my website or come be my myspace friend!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thursday's Girl

Hi there! I’m Jillian Cantor, and I live in Arizona with my husband, two young sons, and three neurotic cats. In addition to being a writer, I’m also a stay-at-home mom. That means I spend most of the day watching The Wiggles, sweeping up cheerios (They are rampant, and they end up EVERYWHERE!!), and playing Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, or whatever game my older son invents on any particular day. Often we must also include his imaginary friends in the games, which I have to admit, makes me just a little proud that he is already inventing characters!

I read a lot as a child. My mom used to keep notebooks for me, listing every book I read, and I was constantly filling them up. My mom would also take my sister and me to the library once a week in the summer, and by the end of the summer, I’d have read every single young adult book in the two libraries nearest my house. During the school year, we got Book-It pizza slips from Pizza Hut for reading four books in a month. One year, I had a teacher who gave me a slip for every four books I read in a month, so when I read my 15-20 books, I ended up with four or five free pizzas each month. Luckily, I had a very good metabolism back then!

I still read a lot today – though not nearly as much as I did back then. I spend most of my free time writing or exercising (Having two babies in less than three years necessitates this, and I still do really enjoy pizza!). Plus, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten a little sidetracked with good (and bad) TV. My guilty pleasure is reality TV. Sometimes I think I’m fighting a bit of an addiction. I enjoy the good stuff like American Idol and Project Runway, of course, but I’ve also been known to watch some of the, um, other stuff, like Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood and High School Musical: Get in the Picture.

The first time I ever wrote fiction, I was in fourth grade. My humanities teacher, Mrs. “I” assigned us to write a story every week. My favorite one was about a set of twins whose mother decided to keep a secret from only one of them. What was the other twin to do: tell her sister or listen to her mother?

But it was a sign of things to come, because I love writing stories about sisters! I think maybe that’s because one of the most influential relationships in my life has been with my own sister, Rachel, who is three-years younger than me. As kids we fought all the time, over everything, My grandmother always used to tell us that when we grew up we’d be so happy to have each other, and I never believed her. But it turns out, she was right. We’ve actually grown to be really good friends. And though we live 3000 miles away we talk on the phone almost every day because. . . we want to!

My book, The September Sisters will be out on February 24th, 2009 from Laura Geringer Books (An imprint of HarperCollins). It's the story of what happens to an older sibling after her younger sister disappears, and it's a novel of loss, survival, mystery, first love, and of course, sisterhood. Here’s the jacket description:

Abigail Reed and her younger sister Becky are always at each others throats. Their mother calls them The September Sisters, because their birthdays are only a day apart and pretends that they’re best friends. But really, they delight in making each other miserable. Then Becky disappears in the middle of the night, and a torn gold chain with a sapphire heart charm is the only clue to the mystery of her kidnapping. Abby struggles to cope with her own feelings of guilt and loss as she tries to keep her family together. When her world is at its bleakest, Abby meets a new neighbor, Tommy, who is dealing with his own loss, and the two of them discover that love can bloom, even when it's surrounded by thorns. This exquisitely written first novel illustrates life as it truly is—filled with fear and danger, hope and love, comfort and uncertainty.

I’m so looking forward to being the Thursday Novel Girl and to writing and reading with the other five fabulous ladies! If you want to know more about me, I hope you’ll stop by My Website, or visit my Myspace page.

Till next week,

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


I’m officially a blogger. I can’t believe it! This will serve as the first of many confessions I’m sure, but . . . I never thought I’d ever blog. I don’t know that there’s a good reason for this old-school ideology, but never-the-less I’ve confessed it to you like I would my many missed dental appointments to my closest friends. Maybe it’s because I’m sort of A.D.D. and not a good enough manager of my time to even read the blogs of my friends, (well, there goes another confession) but I know I’m going to enjoy it. It gives me a chance to pretend I’m a columnist – a dream I’ve had for several years.

I’m the Novel Girl Wednesday, or Lisa Patton, as my parents named me, and I am so happy to be amongst this wonderful group of women. All of their books sound amazing and I look forward to holding each of them in my small, freckled hands. I think I’m the granny of the group as I have the oldest children. And they are my finest accomplishment in life. I gave birth to two of the kindest, sweet-hearted, funny, talented young men I know. Michael is my oldest child and at 20 years of age, he is already smarter than his mother. Well, actually, I think he may have proven that 15 years earlier, when he looked at me square in the face on Christmas Eve and asked me if I seriously expected him to believe that a man in a red suit, flew through the air behind eight reindeer and then landed on our steep, slate roof which was covered in ice.

His younger brother, Will, reminds me every day of myself at 18 when all I wanted to do was blast off to the next concert. I remember as a younger teenager swearing to myself from the backseat of my mother’s long, pointy, Sedan De’ville, while her Easy-Listening radio station ruined my after-school euphoria, that my own children and I would listen to the same music no matter what! It never ceases to amaze Will that his mama actually listens to Led Zeppelin at her age, well, I won’t confess that number but I will say I’m to the age where I don’t tell it anymore.

I also live with two adorable animals. Rosie, or Rosebud as I sometimes call her, is my funny little Havanese puppy dog and Snowbelle is my solid white 11-year-old kitty cat. Since Rosie has grown up with a feline for a big sister, I fear she thinks she is one by the way she gets up on the kitchen counters when I’m not looking or scratches the earth after she uses the potty. Sheesh, what have I done to that poor little dog by not buying her a canine playmate?

Writing a novel was not my life-long dream until about 12 years ago. Then, by all means, it became that dream. I think I kind of stumbled on it, actually, as my name had never appeared on a “by-line.” Oh, I had written various pieces in my jobs – everything from press-releases to radio spots, but I had never published a single thing. Way back in 1996 I got the idea for my novel, and wrote a few chapters. Then I took a job that required me to travel quite a bit so I stuck it in my drawer for eight long years. Plus I was raising my sons alone after a divorce, and work for me had to be full-time. It wasn’t until 2004, after the advice of a friend, that I decided to yank that thread-bare manuscript out of my drawer and take a serious stab at finishing it. After many long nights, early mornings and almost every weekend of my spare time, the end result is my first novel, my first publishing credit, my third child - Whistlin’ Dixie In A Nor’easter.

It’s the story of Leelee Satterfield, a sweet-sheltered southern girl who follows her husband’s dream of becoming an innkeeper in … of all places, snowy Vermont. When she arrives, two young daughters and her ancient Yorkie in tow, there’s a truckload of things nobody bothered to mention to her about life up North. It's a fish-out-of-water story with all kinds of calamity. Since the story is told in first person, through the eyes of a southerner (I’m a deeply rooted southern girl myself so I think I can write about southerners with some kind of authenticity) it falls under Southern Fiction, and from what my agent tells me, the actual genre is Women’s Fiction. I also lived in Vermont for three years myself, so I have tried to write about the differences in the two places in an informative but humorous way. The first line of my book might give any southerner an idea of one of the main differences between the two regions, “No one ever told me you can’t bury somebody up North in the wintertime.”

I’ll shut my mouth for today, but once again, I’m so happy to be called a Novel Girl with Carolyn, Jillian, Lesley, Maureen, and Tracy and have Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, as my publisher!

See you next Wednesday!

Signing off from Franklin, Tennessee,

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Hey everyone, I’m Maureen. I’m 28 and I live in a suburb of Chicago with my husband, one year old son and an assortment of morbidly obese pets. I love writing, drinking wine, going to Cubs games and traveling. My guilty pleasures are cheesy (and thus awesome) movies and television series from the ‘80s like Teen Witch and Small Wonder. (Please stop laughing.)

As a child, I inhaled every Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High book that I could convince my mom to buy. These books really fueled my love of writing (and possibly warped my views on fashion, but more on that later). So, at a tender school-age, I decided that I would become a writer.

My first attempts at writing as a kid always involved a group of four friends who were cool, popular and wore amazing clothes. What I never figured out was something sort of important: a plot. Which meant most of my stories ended after like four paragraphs.

Fast forward to high school and college. “Yeah, someday I’ll write a book,” continued to float in the back of my brain.

Finally, in the fall of 2005, I decided to just start writing. I still didn’t have one of those pesky things called a plot, but I yanked out a pad of paper and somewhere along the way, a great voice emerged. About a year later, I had a completed manuscript. Add another year onto the timeline, and I had an agent and a two-book deal.

My book, Was It Planned? is about a newly married couple and an unplanned pregnancy. It’s a hilarious take on the journey from happy hour to baby shower and all of the embarrassing, touching and shocking moments that come along with entering the world of Mom Jeans and minivans. It comes out from St. Martin’s imprint Thomas Dunne Books in summer 2009.

Shortly after I finished writing my book, karma laughed and I found myself unexpectedly pregnant. My husband suggested I tempt karma again and write a story about a married couple with a toddler living in Chicago who win fabulous riches in the lottery.

Yeah. I’ll get right on that.

Anyway, I’m thrilled to be a part of this new “grog.” My grog-mates all have fabulous books coming out and I cannot wait to read each and every one! The writing world is so full of heartbreak and soul-crushing that it’s amazing to find a little niche, a little community in the vast sea of publishing.

What else? Oh yes, I used to have a cat who was obsessed with Barbie clothes and lingerie, but that, my friends, is a story for another time.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The First Day

Wow. This is a LOT of pressure. When I told the rest of The Novel Girls that I wanted Mondays to post, it didn't occur to me I'd be writing the first post ever for our group blog. This is serious business! It's like the first day of school all over again, except I don't have to worry about what I'm wearing, or if any of the cute boys will notice me, or if I'll have any classes with my BFFs, or if I don't--who will I eat lunch with?

Okay, so maybe it's not that much like the first day of school, but there is at least one commonality: First impressions. Rather than looking good, I need to sound good. And honestly, it's so much easier to LOOK good, isn't it? Some nice clothes, a little makeup, the right hairstyle, and that's it. But to sound good, especially in text, you need to somehow portray your personality, as well as dishing about something interesting and/or entertaining, and you need to do so in an enjoyable manner.

This could be an entire post all on its own, and because I tend to wander off in different directions at the drop of a hat, I'll reign myself in for now. So I can focus on what I'm supposed to be talking about. Me, Tracy Madison. And my book, A Taste of Magic.

Let's start with me, because like most people, talking about myself isn't the most-fun-thing-ever, but-GULP-here we go...

The basic stuff: I live in Northwestern Ohio with my darling husband, four (yes, FOUR) children, a dog who greatly resembles a bear, a cat who doesn't know how to meow (she squeaks), and a bird who makes way too much noise. My kids range from six year-old twin boys, to a sixteen year-old son, to a seventeen year-old daughter. Yep. You read that right.

The sappy stuff: My house is hectic. And loud. But also filled with all those incredible real life moments that I steal mercilessly as fodder for my writing (blogs, articles, and yes--my books, too). I love most every minute of it. Every now and then (okay, daily--every single day--I wish for quiet), but I know that some day in the not too far distant future, I'll have it. And then I'll miss the craziness.

I'll miss the moments my daughter plops down next to my desk to tell me something about her day, her boyfriend, a class at school, or whatever. I'll miss the random hugs and proclamations of "I love you, Mommy" from the younger set. I'll miss my older son popping in to talk to me about writing, reading, and books he thinks I MUST read.

The quirky stuff: I'm addicted to reality shows (especially American Idol), I love, love, love a good cup (or pot) of coffee, and my favorite going-out-to-the-movies snack is popcorn with Junior Mints mixed into the bucket. Weird, yes, but that savory-sweet thing? I love it. I also hate to sit with my back to a room of people (don't know why), and will do anything I can to avoid having to do so. There's more quirk to me, but some things are better left for later!

The writer stuff: I've written forever. Okay, not really, but for so long, it feels like forever. I've always wanted to see my novels in print, and I've always worked toward that goal. It's so exciting, and so unbelievable, and so amazing that I've finally reached this goal.

My book, A Taste of Magic, is a March 2009 release from Dorchester Publishing, as a Love Spell Paranormal Romance. Every moment of this process, since the day I recieved "the call" has been filled with shiver moments.

Just last week, I had a new shiver moment when I received the cover art for the book.

You can see it over there --->

It's the one with the bright red lips. And the cute, pink, heart shaped cookie. Isn't it striking? Isn't it gorgeous? I'm so in love with it!

Wow, this post is getting long. Too late, huh? It's already long! Okay, okay, I'll wrap it up.

Before I take off to bury my head in the writing of my second book, here's the back cover copy for A Taste of Magic:

Elizabeth Stevens is one bite away from happiness.

Today is Elizabeth Stevens’s birthday, and not only is it the one-year anniversary of her husband leaving her, it’s also the day her bakery is required to make a cake—for her ex’s next wedding. If there’s a bitter taste in her mouth, no one can blame her.

But today, Liz is about to receive a gift. Her Grandma Verda isn’t just wacky; she’s a little witchy. An ancient gypsy magic has been passed through her family bloodline for generations, and it’s Liz’s turn to be empowered. Henceforth, everything she bakes will have a dash of delight and a pinch of wishes-can-come-true. From her hunky policeman neighbor, to her gorgeous personal trainer, to her bum of an ex-husband, everyone Liz knows is going to taste her power. Revenge is sweet…and it’s only the first dish to be served.

Writing this book was so much fun for me. The words seemed to pour onto the page with a force all their own. The idea initially came to me because the combination of magic, romance, and humor is irresistible to me.

As a kid, I loved the shows Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. They had these ingredients: magical, oh-so-funny, and oh-the-romance! A Taste of Magic, while different than these shows, grew in my imagination because of my love for Samantha and Jeannie, their leading men, and the magical mishaps that seemed to follow them around.

Want to read more? You can! I have an excerpt (the entire first chapter) at my web site. You can read it HERE. If you do, leave me a comment and let me know what you think. You can also sign up for my newsletter for ongoing news about me, my books, and special announcements. As an added bonus, you'll be in the running for some fantastic contests I'll be beginning in October.

Have a great week! I'll be here every Monday, rain or shine, but you can find me every single day (well, Monday thru Friday) at my personal blog. I hope to see you here AND there!